Batter's Box Interactive Magazine Batter's Box Interactive Magazine Batter's Box Interactive Magazine
Is this TDIB? Is it a report on the Jays and A's? You're asking me?

The real big news yesterday comes from the Bronx...

The last time Hideki Matsui missed one of his team's games was in 1993, when he was a 19 year old rookie with the Yomiuri Giants. He played in his team's final 39 games that year, and in each of the Giants' 1211 games over the next nine seasons. He joined the New York Yankees in 2003 and played in 518 consecutive games, the longest streak by any player at the beginning of a major league career.

All told, Matsui had played 1,768 consecutive games before breaking his left wrist last night trying to make a diving catch on Mark Loretta's first inning blooper. Because Matsui could not complete the half inning, the game does not count as part of the streak. So yes, he was in the starting lineup for the game that ended his streak. (Alfredo Griffin scored the game winning run in the game that ended his consecutive game streak, by the way. Way back when, Lou Gehrig kept his streak alive by being listed in the starting lineup as the shortstop, leading off, and immediately coming out of the game. Some of these rules... but I digress, as I am wont to do.)

Matsui will have surgery today, and is expected to be out for ten to twelve weeks. Ouch.

The Yankees already have Gary Sheffield on the DL, and the Bombers' corner outfielders for the immediate future will apparently be Melky Cabrera in left and Bernie Williams in right.

Yes, Bernie Williams in right field. Does anyone think that has a chance to work? Do you think there might be a few guys trying to first to third on this outfield?

Matsui is one of the few Yankees I actually like - it might be the hair, I like hair, I remember my own with great fondness - and I am disappointed to see this streak end. Obviously, it is remarkable indeed to play 1700 games in a row. But the question that is now much on my mind - what becomes of that posse of Japanese media who follow the Yankees from town to town and game to game? Do they get temporarily reassigned? Do they cover his rehab? Or are they supposed to try to get their readers interested in... oh, Tanyon Sturtze? Because I don't think that's going to work, although it's probably got a better chance than Bernie Williams in right field.

Anyway... on to the hometown nine.

The Blue Jays beat up on Oakland yesterday, to take two of three in the series. Oakland's best player is Eric Chavez - their best pitchers are Barry Zito and Rich Harden. None of them appeared in the three games You need to be good, and you need to be lucky as well.

Here is a tale of three ball players:

Season 34 134 24 36 7 0 12 31 0 .269 .369 .590
Season 33 127 23 37 4 0 12 28 0 .291 .393 .606
Season 33 124 32 34 9 0 12 30 1 .274 .361 .637
One of these lines belongs to David Ortiz. Another belongs to Carlos Delgado. And the third belongs to the guy playing third base for the Blue Jays. So, just in case you were wondering...

Star of the Game - The mighty Troy. Arma virumque cano.

Josh Towers pitched three fine innings in the series opener, and then got touched up for three runs and a pair of homers in the fourth inning. Down 3-0, Gibbons went to the pen for the fifth inning. One of the things Gibbons said afterwards was that he wanted to get the bullpen some work. I'm sure no one believed that - I think Gibbons was cranky, and afterwards was trying on various stories like so many new sets of clothes.

The lesson, at any rate, is that one should always be careful of what you wish for. The next night, Gustavo Chacin could only complete three innings, surrendering five runs and three homers (Chacin has allowed 10 HR in 39 IP this season, and still sports a 5-1 record, which is...unusual.)

Chacin reported discomfort in his elbow, and an MRI reported a strained forearm and a sprain of the ulnar collateral ligament. No one seems to think this is a serious problem, but he will surely miss a start or two.

Happily, Toronto's most consistent and reliable starting picther, Ted Lilly - yes, yes, Ted "the Tease" Lilly - was able to pitch into the eighth inning yesterday afternoon and give the relief corps a bit of a rest.

I got my first look at Francisco Rosario in the Wednesday night game - he collected his first major league win, and looked very impressive doing it. But he looks like a reliever to me. I saw a very nice 94-96 mph fastball, with movement and command - I saw an effective changeup in the mid 80s - but I didn't see anything else, and two pitches are normally not enough to get by as a starter. He threw some sliders, but none of them were any good. He did get Bobby Crosby to strike out on one that was eye high and a foot outside, but a) that was a gift, and b) that's not where the slider is supposed to go.

Casey Janssen, Roy Halladay, and Josh Towers get the call this weekend. The Jays still have not swept a series this season. Now would be a good time.
TDIB Friday: Jays Win, Yankees Lose | 36 comments | Create New Account
The following comments are owned by whomever posted them. This site is not responsible for what they say.
Chuck - Friday, May 12 2006 @ 08:37 AM EDT (#146774) #
While no team could reasonably be expected to satisfactorily replace two corner outfielders, the Yankees would appear to be more hard up than most. The team's continual lack of attention to assembling a reasonable bench will finalyl catch up with them, particularly if Sheffield is out for a while.

With the likes of Williams, Crosby, Cabrera and Cairo (??) figuring to get way more at-bats than is reasonable over the next couple of months, could this be the start of the long-awaited Bronx implosion?

The Jays may finally be poised to unload the balance of Hinske's salary, who can't help but look attractive to a desperate Yankee team right now, but would helping the Yankees be too steep a price?

Pistol - Friday, May 12 2006 @ 08:53 AM EDT (#146776) #

I believe it was two seasons ago, but at the end of the year the Yankees batted Matsui in the first inning against the Jays and then took him out of the game so he could get some rest, but keep his streak alive.  They may have even done this 2-3 times.  So his streak was always a little tainted for me.  But he has been remarkably durable (as have most of the Yankee position players prior to this year).

Williams is just brutal in the OF, and for that matter, at the plate too.  He played a relatively easy flyball into a groundrule double last night when he overran the ball in the RF corner.  Sheffield I'm sure will be back when his DL time is up, but that still leaves a good sized hole in the OF.  Of course, when you have that lineup you can afford a hole or two.

Craig B - Friday, May 12 2006 @ 08:58 AM EDT (#146777) #

Cabrera was hitting .385 at Columbus; he'll probably be fine.  Like with Robinson Cano, who only made it into the Yankees lineup because Tony Womack was shifted to left field when Bernie Williams struggled, and Aaron Small and Chien-Ming Wang, who only got their chances because Carl Pavano and Jaret Wright were even worse than anyone could have predicted, the Yankees will probably once again get younger and stronger (at least over the long term) purely on luck.  Once Matsui comes back, Cabrera will probably have proved himself (just as Cano and Wang did) and ther Yankees will have gotten stronger.

They truly are the Kramer Fantasy Camp of major league ballclubs.  It sickens me.

Mike Green - Friday, May 12 2006 @ 09:42 AM EDT (#146779) #

Luck, Craig?  Cano was in the Yankee system and was a fairly-well regarded prospect for years.  Cabrera the same.  Thanks to their wealth the Yankees do not need their farm system to be as productive as the Rays or Jays need theirs to be.  A good player here and there is enough for the Bombers.

Cabrera was somehow omitted from my Yankee prospects at a glance.  Mea culpa.  He's not yet 22, and hit respectably in the Eastern League last year, and has started the year hitting .385 with medium range power and a positive W/K ratio in 122 ABs in Columbus. 


Craig B - Friday, May 12 2006 @ 10:13 AM EDT (#146782) #
Luck in the sense that the Yankees never show any inclination to play their young players, until their hand is forced by circumstances.  Only when every bottom-of-the-barrel veteran on the roster has been exhausted to the Yankees give a prospect a chance.
Mick Doherty - Friday, May 12 2006 @ 10:24 AM EDT (#146783) #
I hope I'm wrong, but this from the NYY preview about six weeks ago:
    Now, if the Yanks DON'T stay healthy -- and one of these years, the Great Pinstriped Breakdown is bound to happen -- then this team's lack of depth could spell -- gasp! -- third place.
Mike Green - Friday, May 12 2006 @ 10:26 AM EDT (#146785) #

I don't know.  Teams that win perennially usually exhibit less risk tolerance than others.  In the case of the Yankees, the core of the  last few years- Jeter, A-Rod, Sheffield, Matsui- have been remarkably durable despite their age, and this has meant that there have been fewer opportunites for young position players.


Paul D - Friday, May 12 2006 @ 10:27 AM EDT (#146786) #
Someone on primer posted that Matsui is only the 6th or 7th most important position player on the Yankees, so this really isn't that big of a loss.

I was going to post back that Matsui is obviously better than that, but I started to think about it, and realized that a guy who's had OPS+ of:
2003    111
2004    139
2005    125

over the past 3 years, and plays every game, probably is behind:

Jeter, Posada, AROD, Sheffield, Giambi for sure, and probably Damon.  Depending on your feelings on positional scarcity, he might also be behind Cano.

Wow.  That is one loaded line up.

Geoff - Friday, May 12 2006 @ 10:59 AM EDT (#146787) #
I don't know.  Teams that win perennially usually exhibit less risk tolerance than others.

Perhaps this should be amended to 'Teams that spend exorbitantly usually exhibit less risk tolerance than others.'  I need not mention certain teams that have won often with great turnover of young talent and assumed plenty of risk without paying through the nose for proven players.
Mike Green - Friday, May 12 2006 @ 11:11 AM EDT (#146788) #

Actually, Geoff, it's true of most good teams.  Bill James' Law of Competitive Balance (the tendency for bad teams to improve and good teams to regress) has this as its foundation.  The quality of one's team affects the strategic incentives.  Or as a famous songwriter once wrote: "when you got nothing, you got nothing to lose".

I was thinking of Pat Gillick's comments when asked about Pat Borders' status after 1993 (the Jays had Randy Knorr and Carlos Delgado coming up in the system).  Gillick pointed out that Borders had been the catcher on 2 world champions, 2 AL champs and 4 division winners in 5 years, and that winning record meant that Borders was his catcher.  There is, of course, quite a bit of truth in Gillick's comments, but it illustrates why most winning teams exhibit less risk tolerance than losing teams.  There are, of course, exceptions on both sides of the coin.  

jjdynomite - Friday, May 12 2006 @ 11:49 AM EDT (#146790) #
Magpie, how did Griffin lose his streak if he was a pinch runner?  I really don't know, so I'm curious.  The only thing I could find in this Angels "Managers and Coaches" profile was that: "Had major league-leading consecutive game streak snapped at 392 vs. Cleveland (second game), May 27, 1984."
jsoh - Friday, May 12 2006 @ 12:58 PM EDT (#146793) #
From the ESPN article on Matsui:

Baseball rule 10.24 (c) states: "A consecutive game playing streak shall be extended if the player plays one half inning on defense, or if he completes a time at bat by reaching base or being put out."

So. Since Griffin only pinch-ran in the bottom of the 9th, scoring the game winning run, he didnt qualify under 10.24(c).

(as an aside: I need to stop reading Retrosheet during the day. Too much reminiscing)

Mike Green - Friday, May 12 2006 @ 01:40 PM EDT (#146794) #
Will Carroll weighs in on Chacin's injury.  At the beginning of the season, Carroll had all five Jays' starters as "red lights". That assessment still seems to me to have been harsh, but one cannot deny that events since then have tended to support it.
Mick Doherty - Friday, May 12 2006 @ 01:52 PM EDT (#146795) #

Arma virumque cano.

Shouldn't that be Arma virumque "Robinson" Cano?

DepecheJay - Friday, May 12 2006 @ 02:09 PM EDT (#146796) #
This actually may be a blessing in disguise for the Yankees in the short-term.  If they were to start Melky in right and Bubba Crosby, the Yanks would sport a very solid defensive outfield.  Damon has been absolutely tremendous in center, with the exception of his arm, hey.. I was there when Bengie Molina tagged from third on him AND SCORED! 

The Yankees really don't need Matsui and Sheffield's bats.  They are already loaded without them.  Sheffield's defense has gotten worse and worse as his injuries get worse.  Matsui is a very solid defender, but he lacks the range of Cabrera or Crosby. 

Now, if the Yanks go with Bernie in right instead, that's a joke.  The guy is DONE and could possibly be one of the worst RF's in the league if he were given time there.  The Yanks need to instead look at improving their defense, and Crosby and Cabrera gives them a GREAT defensive outfield.  For all the bashing the Yankees receive for having poor defense, an outfield like that combined with their great left side of the infield and Cano who has RAPIDLY improved into a stellar defensive 2nd basemen... look out.  The only weakspot is Giambi/Phillips/Cairo at 1st and Giambi is actually pretty good at scooping the ball, he just can't throw.  Posada is solid behind the plate and has one of the better arms for a catcher in baseball.  Not as bad a defense as some Jays fans would like to believe.

Sorry, but I don't think the Yankees are going anywhere.

Magpie - Friday, May 12 2006 @ 03:12 PM EDT (#146800) #
For all the bashing the Yankees receive for having poor defense

They have a very good third baseman, but they do have some issues elsewhere: e.g. the centre fielder can't throw, the shortstop can't field a ground ball to his left, the second baseman doesn't turn the DP...
Chuck - Friday, May 12 2006 @ 04:12 PM EDT (#146807) #
This actually may be a blessing in disguise for the Yankees in the short-term.

Were you referring to just the Sheffield injury, then I'd see your argument. Finding out if the 21-year old Cabrera is ready for the majors is something the Yankees are only prepared to do out of necessity. If he can parlay his MLB playing time into a role as either the team's 4th outfielder, or even as the starting RF, with Sheffield sliding to DH fulltime upon his return, then there's your unintentional upside to Sheffield's injury.

However, I see no upside to Matsui going down. Crosby may well be a better defender, but he can't hit a lick. Being forced to keep Williams in the lineup, and now as an OF rather than a DH, is not a good thing. Playing Cairo at 1B, as they did last night, is not a good thing. Nothing good can possibly come from Matsui's injury.

The Yankees really don't need Matsui and Sheffield's bats.

I disagree with this. When the pitching will let up, as it surely must, they will need to win with offense. To say the team could win with the bats of Damon, Jeter, Rodrigruez, GIambi and Posada alone, and survive four potential dead spots in the lineup, is a position I don't agree with. Yes, that's a terrific front five, but you've got some ciphers in the bottom 44% of the order.
Gitz - Friday, May 12 2006 @ 04:50 PM EDT (#146814) #
I am amazed at how little respect Robinson Cano gets. A .319 hitter, no matter his other flaws as a player, does not qualify as a "cipher." And Cano is still young enough to improve, and he had a decent rookie season, again despite his obvious lack of OBP. But a .458 slugging percentage for a 22-year-old is damned good.

You want "ciphers"? You just saw them on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday. I call them "Jay Payton, Jason Kendall, and Dan Johnson." Ok, you didn't "see" Kendall, but if you want a craptastic bottom third of the order, there you have it. I'd rather have Cano than about half of the A's regulars.

DepecheJay - Friday, May 12 2006 @ 04:56 PM EDT (#146815) #
Agreed Gitz.  What's most impressive about Cano is that he isn't as pull happy as most hitters his age.  The guy has the ability to not only drive the ball with authority to right, but to also serve the ball into left and back up the middle.  Add to that the fact that the guy has come a LONG way as a fielder in the past year and you've got some good reasons why many Yankees fans feel this guy will be one of the best second basemen in the league for a long time to come.  If I had to choose between him and Aaron, I'm taking Robinson without thinking twice.

And sorry about the sucktitude of the A's lineup.  I still don't quite understand why so many people saw them as the best team in Major League Baseball before the season began.  Sure they are a good team and a definite playoff contender, but the best in the bigs, not quite sure about that.

Skills - Friday, May 12 2006 @ 05:29 PM EDT (#146821) #

Just had a look at Dayn Perry's new power rankings and the Jays are up to #8.

I'm posting not because we should be excited about the Jays' rise in the rankings, but to credit Perry again for being, unlike many of his peers, a very objective analyst. Last season he consistently noted that the Jays were underrated and not far from contention. Then, during the offseason he was very harsh on the Jays about their trade of O-Dog for Glaus, because he thought that the loss in infield defense was a mistake. Although I was not happy to read this at the time, and so far it has not proven to be true, I'm glad to see him once again recognizing the plight of the Jays, this time in coping with the toughest schedule thus far. Kudos to Perry for giving credit where it is due and for being on point, albeit briefly, with his analysis.

Chuck - Friday, May 12 2006 @ 07:12 PM EDT (#146826) #
Chuck, you are forgetting about Cano, who is turning into a very solid hitter.

You're right. To characterize him as a cipher is unfair. But I stand by my position that the statement about the Yankees not needing Sheffield's and Matui's bats is not  a true one, particularly when the Plan B's represent such a huge dropoff.
Thomas - Friday, May 12 2006 @ 10:42 PM EDT (#146829) #
I call them "Jay Payton, Jason Kendall, and Dan Johnson." Ok, you didn't "see" Kendall, but if you want a craptastic bottom third of the order, there you have it.

As much as he may be struggling right now, it's not fair to Dan Johnson to lump him into that group. Kendall's obviously done and Payton's a fourth outfielder, but Johnson has his uses as 1B/DH. He'd be better if he could play the corner outfield or 3B, but he's no cipher.

He had success in his minor league career (only partial or full seasons counted):

2001 - A-  - 21 - .852
2002 - A+ - 22 - .871
2003 - AA - 23 - .869
2004 - AA - 24 - .937
2005 - AAA - 25 - .973
2005 - MLB - 25 - .806

There's nothing there that indicates that Johnson can't be useful as a 1B or DH for a team that doesn't have two sluggers at those positions.
Gitz - Saturday, May 13 2006 @ 12:50 AM EDT (#146834) #
I agree that to put Johnson with that group is incorrect, but not if we're talking about actual performance. I am not talking about what could be, I am talking about what is. And right now, the A's have a bunch of holes in their lineup, regardless of their potential, and one of those holes is Johnson. He is, for the moment, a cipher. Forgetting the stats for a second -- and those are plenty bad enough -- judging by how he looks at the plate, his bat speed is off; whether or not he regains that will go a long way to telling just how good he may be. On the other hand he is 26 years old. He's not likely to get a lot better than he was a year ago, and with his "old-player" skills, I'm not sure how much of a ceiling he had to begin with.

Not that I hold it against him or anything. Anyone is better than Bobby freakin' Kielty, who, because of all the injuries the A's have right now, was the DH and hit sixth against Chien Ming-Wang tonight. So much for all that "depth" the A's and their supplicants were hooting about. Unfortunately "depth" is not the same as "talent," and while the A's, like most teams, don't have the money to assemble a great bench, it makes it all the more imperative the players they do spend money on are reliable. Having to play people like Payton, Kielty, and Antonio Perez because of injuries to Frank Thomas and Milton Bradley isn't bad luck. It's bad planning. And Jason Kendall? Mmmm. Money well spent! But at least he has all those intangibles -- if only they existed, though.

Forgive the pessimism, but being an A's fan means enduring their wretched first two months of the season. It'll be better in June! (Crosses fingers.)
Gitz - Saturday, May 13 2006 @ 12:53 AM EDT (#146835) #
Incidentally I think Payton would be an excellent fit with the Yankees: he's a "proven veteran," his reputation exceeds his actual ability, and he's a former Red Sox who departed under ugly circumstances. Get on the phone, Billy!
Chuck - Saturday, May 13 2006 @ 10:33 AM EDT (#146843) #
I suggested Hinske at the start of this thread. I say that if the Yankees will bite, go for it. The Jays don't need anything back. What they would get is some freed up salary dollars that could be used later in the season, when some other team is looking to dump someone the Jays could use.

Hinske's on pace for just over 200 AB. That's hardly worth the $5M+ he's getting this year and due to get next year.

That said, I think the Yankees will aim higher (though use what to trade with, I don't know). Torii Hunter, an impending FA, might be in their sites (if you could talk Damon into moving to LF for the balance of the season, and that may be a tough sell).

Rob - Saturday, May 13 2006 @ 01:15 PM EDT (#146851) #
if you could talk Damon into moving to LF for the balance of the season, and that may be a tough sell

Actually, Damon said:
I had to do it for Carlos Beltran to make his job easier in the big leagues[...]it doesn't matter to me. Whatever needs to be done. It's all about going out there and trying to win.
TDIB Friday: Jays Win, Yankees Lose | 36 comments | Create New Account
The following comments are owned by whomever posted them. This site is not responsible for what they say.