Tuesday, July 27, 2004

Sweatin' With The Oldies: Yanks 7, Blue Jays 4

No one ever said that having an All-Star team with a geriatric starting rotation would be easy.

The latest Yankee Savior, Orlando "El Duque" Hernandez, gets pulled after two innings with a "tight left hamstring". El Duque was huge in his last start against the Jays and Ted Lilly, blanking the Canadians through seven innings and striking out ten.

El Duque is followed in this start (again, against ex-Yank Lilly) by Juan Padilla, The Run Fairy, Brett Prinz, and Scott Proctor.

$184 Million you say? Where?

To their credit, the wage slaves of the Yankee bullpen did a creditable job: Padilla allowed one run in two and two-thirds innings; TRF (the highest paid guy of the bunch) only allowed one run thanks to Gary Sheffield and Jorge Posada (the bullet homer TRF gave up Eric Hinske showed why Heredia is useless as a LOOGY -- "[Hinske's] first homerun against a lefty this season," Singleton announced); Prinz and Proctor did a pretty good job holding the Jays down after Toronto feasted on TRF's pitching stylings.

Of course, the overworked money players in the pen were there to back the salarymen up. Only Tom Gordon was summoned to finish it up, but the 9th inning was a farce -- an object lesson on the silliness of using your closer according to the save rule. As the Yanks padded their lead, and then as Gordon experienced varying levels of adversity in the ninth, Mariano Rivera kept getting up and sitting down in the bullpen. Ultimately, even though Flash had a really rough spot there and it ultimately became a save opportunity for Rivera, the Sandman's services weren't needed.

But the fact is, the Yanks have about $38 Million on the disabled list, and that doesn't even count $14 Million worth of Jason Giambi, whose situation becomes more and more uncertain, but who isn't currently on the DL.

There is no timetable to Mike Mussina's return. He's 35. Kevin Brown is supposed to make one more rehab start, after taking on the NY-Penn League. He's 39. Jon Lieber's healthy right now, but he's been on the DL with groin problems already this season. 34. El Duque had his not-quite-back-from-shoulder-surgery DL stretch, and now this hamstring problem. He's 38, even if some sources still list him as being 34. Jose Contreras has had to spend time in the minors this year because his brain ... is not good. He's 32, but them's Havana years.

Javier Vazquez (waitforit), 27, is the only one that's made all of his appointed starts this season. Go figure.

Meanwhile, in the 'pen, we have a number of persons who -- how do I say it? -- lack gravitas. But aside from that, you have The Trio. Paul Quantrill, 35, has had leg problems and effectiveness problems this season. Tom Gordon, 36, is one of the most notoriously fragile relievers in baseball. A possible contributing factor is the fact that he usually declares himself ready to pitch after a handful of warmup throws. He's already had a "dead arm" period this season.

And then there's Mariano Rivera, who has looked tired blowing two consecutive save chances on Saturday and Monday. Mariano, like Gordon and Quantrill, is a "warrior", he's not likely to let on if he's hurting or complain that Joe Torre's pitching him (what feels like) every single game.

So that's the problem, in a nutshell. Building the way the Yankees have over the past few years consistently leads to one end result: old players with high salaries and the not-so-occasional injury.

The 2004 Yankees are a lot like the 2002 Yankees. Their fate in the playoffs doesn't really depend on their opposition, but on the state of their pitching come October. If the pitching is in the same state it's in right now, any of the current contenders will be able to tee off, and you'll have a series of high-scoring, highly-entertaining crapshoots like what we saw last weekend in Fenway, or July 4th weekend against the Mets. That's not good news.


With homers in back-to-back games, Jorge Posada's power drought might just be over.

Want weird deliveries? Check out Mike Nakamura, who seems to have revived the Dale Mohorcic straight sidearm pitching style.

Hard game for the YES Network, Kay's made a bunch of mistakes, and even the camera guys are having a hard time following the action.

Congrats to Sheffield on his 400th dinger, to Alex Rodriguez on his 29th birthday, and to Enrique Wilson on his 31st, 28th, and 42nd birthdays.


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