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October 12, 2006

2007 Yankees Need "The Man"?

I've decided to try and think about baseball a bit today - to get my mind off other things. Specifically, I decided to look at the Yankees best hitters during their "ring run" and their best hitters during their current "ring drought." Thanks to the CBE, this is what I found:

HittersThenNow.jpg

During 1996-2000, Bernie Williams was "The Man" on offense for the Yankees. The numbers prove this to be true.

Since 2001, the Yankees have had players like Giambi and A-Rod produce at a rate near where Bernie was from 1996-2000. But, Giambi's issue has been staying sound enough to play and Alex Rodriguez, well, you know.

As much as I hate the expression, the Yankees seem to lack a hitter, recently, who can be "the straw to stir the drink" offensively - like Bernie Williams did from 1996-2000.

Since the Yankees line-up is full now - it's not going to be a matter of adding a hitter to the team. More so, it's going to be a matter of having someone from the current squad step up to be that "straw," everyday, without excuses.

Maybe Bobby Abreu can be that guy? Maybe it's Giambi staying sound and productive all season? Maybe it's A-Rod putting up another MVP season?

Someone in the middle of the Yankees line-up in 2007 needs to be a consistent offensive force for this team in order to match what Bernie Williams did for the Yankees from 1996 through 2000.

And...it's probably up to Abreu, Giambi and A-Rod to be take on the challenge and deliver next year.

Posted by Steve Lombardi at October 12, 2006 10:22 AM

Comments

I think that you've hit on something here, Steve. In a tense post-season situation, I always felt confident when Bernie, circa 1996-2000, stepped to the plate. I don't feel that with any current Yankee, with the exception of Jeter and he's not a power hitter.

I was relieved to see a baseball post up. All ready, I feel that everything that can be said about Lidle has been said.

Posted by: jonm [TypeKey Profile Page] at October 12, 2006 11:08 AM

They don't need someone on offense to be "The Man," they need pitching.

You have 4 players with triple digit RCAA totals, it ain't the offense :)

Posted by: Raf [TypeKey Profile Page] at October 12, 2006 11:37 AM

Anyone catch Lost last night? For those not familiar, they've been stranded on an island from September 2004 until the present time on the show, November 2004. One of the characters wants to prove that he can communicate with the world outside: "While you've been here, your fellow American re-elected George W. Bush, Christopher Reeve passed away, and the Boston Red Sox one the World Series." Jack, the strandee, laughs hysterically. "If you wanted me to believe that, you should've picked another team." "No, it's true they were down 3-0 to the Yankees and came back to win the ALCS and then the World Series. Jack laughs again until the other guy pushes play on a VCR/TV showing the final out. I hated to relive it again, but it was a pretty good moment. It's at the very end of the episode and you watch it on abc.com if you want a laugh.

Posted by: JeremyM [TypeKey Profile Page] at October 12, 2006 11:44 AM

I don't know, Raf. Watching the last 23 innings of the ALDS and all of the post-season series since game 4 of the 2004 ALCS, I certainly had the feeling that there was something wrong with the offense too. What that "something" is, I honestly don't know.

Posted by: jonm [TypeKey Profile Page] at October 12, 2006 11:47 AM

Raf - given the chances of the Yanks improving/getting pitching, you have to look at why their offense fails against good pitching too.

Sometimes the best defense is a good offense.

Posted by: Steve Lombardi [TypeKey Profile Page] at October 12, 2006 11:51 AM

Yeah, I saw that, Jeremy. It kind of sucks to have to relive that moment on a favorite TV show. What would have been even funnier is if Jack (whose father always said "That's why the Red Sox will never win the World Series") was a Yankee fan. Imagine THAT reaction? "What? Down 3-0? And came back against the Yankees? AND WON THE F-CKING WORLD SERIES?! Kill me now. I have nothing to live for." That kinda was my reaction, honestly. Though without the passion (I was pretty shell-shocked at the time.)

Anyway, it's interesting to note that Giambi has been the best hitter on this team since he came here (stunning, really, since he missed nearly two years and has hit .250 in two seasons). They have to find a way to give him time off so he's healthy for the post-season. He was healthy in the '02 playoffs and the '05 playoffs and hit well both times.

Posted by: baileywalk [TypeKey Profile Page] at October 12, 2006 11:52 AM

Sometimes the best defense is a good offense.
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They had a good offense; they led the loop in runs scored.

Posted by: Raf [TypeKey Profile Page] at October 12, 2006 12:07 PM

They had a good offense; they led the loop in runs scored.
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They have had good offenses, but, for some reason, those offenses fail in the post-season. This feels like heresy for me to say this, but maybe teams that have offenses that are less built on OBP and more built on making contact fare better in the post-season. The problem is that those types of offenses don't score as many runs during the season. So, maybe the only solution is to build up the pitching staff and defense during the season so that a team has two more good field/contact hitters in the lineup.

Posted by: jonm [TypeKey Profile Page] at October 12, 2006 12:15 PM

I don't know, Raf. Watching the last 23 innings of the ALDS and all of the post-season series since game 4 of the 2004 ALCS, I certainly had the feeling that there was something wrong with the offense too. What that "something" is, I honestly don't know.
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Slumps. You see them all the time during the regular season.

Take Bernie, for example.

1996: hit in the DS, LCS, not in the WS
1997: didn't hit in the DS
1998: didn't hit in the DS or WS, but hit in the LCS
1999: hit in the DS, not the LCS, or WS
2000: didn't hit in the DS or WS, but hit in the LCS

Posted by: Raf [TypeKey Profile Page] at October 12, 2006 12:17 PM

~~~This feels like heresy for me to say this, but maybe teams that have offenses that are less built on OBP and more built on making contact fare better in the post-season.~~~

I believe this, in my heart, to be true - but, every time I say it some sabermetric dude kills me for it.

Posted by: Steve Lombardi [TypeKey Profile Page] at October 12, 2006 12:23 PM

FWIW: RS, RA

1996: 9, 5
1997: 2, 1
1998: 1, 1
1999: 3, 2
2000: 6, 6
2001: 5, 3
2002: 1, 4
2003: 3, 3
2004: 2, 6
2005: 2, 9
2006: 1, 7

Posted by: Raf [TypeKey Profile Page] at October 12, 2006 12:30 PM

I believe this, in my heart, to be true - but, every time I say it some sabermetric dude kills me for it.
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I know and, in the past, I would have been just one of those sabermetric dudes. It seems like there has to be something more than a recurring collective slump.

Raf, what are those RS and RA numbers?

Posted by: jonm [TypeKey Profile Page] at October 12, 2006 01:06 PM

The Yankees don't need another "man" what they need is some spark. Someone to lead off who can get doubles/triples and steal bases. Johnny is too old and slow. Not another guy trying to hit the ball 800 feet. We have too many of those guys as it is.

Posted by: Ghostwheel [TypeKey Profile Page] at October 12, 2006 01:13 PM

Raf, what are those RS and RA numbers?
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Ah, sorry about that. Those are runs scored and runs allowed averaged over a season. (1996, Yanks were 9th best in scoring, 5th runs allowed)

I thought to use the average runs allowed by pitching instead of earned runs, as an earned run counts the same in the boxscore as an unearned run.

They've won and lost with great-good-mediocre pitching, they've won and lost with great-good-mediocre hitting.

IMO, they need to see what they can do about the rotation. If it means moving a hitter, so be it; it shouldn't have that much an impact on the offense. I know, I know, easier said than done...

Posted by: Raf [TypeKey Profile Page] at October 12, 2006 01:32 PM

We could add Pujols, Vlad, and Ortiz to this lineup and we still won't have the pitching to win it all next year. If we don't add 2 decent starting pitchers (Zito, Pettitte, Schmidt, whoever), we won't make it out of the ALDS. It all comes down to pitching. Game 1 was the only pitching matchup that favored the Yanks. We won. The pitching matchups in Games 2-4 favored the Tigers. They won. There's no magic bullet, no "man". We need pitching.

Posted by: christopher [TypeKey Profile Page] at October 12, 2006 01:35 PM

If you feel Damon is too old and slow and can't hit enough doubles and triples can you find someone better who's available?

35 doubles, 5 triples, 25 SB. He looks fast to me. But he's no "spark" in your mindseye?

What do you want? What do you expect of your leadoff hitter?

Posted by: RICH [TypeKey Profile Page] at October 12, 2006 01:42 PM

I don't think there's anything blasphemous about saying that high OBP guys aren't necessarily ideal for the postseason. It's been said here before: Postseason pitchers are GOOD - real good, in some cases. Waiting for a 3-1 count that may never come is a recipe for failure. The question is, if Donnie tries to change the approach of guys like Giambi, A-Rod, and Abreu, would they be as effective.

Also, Damon slumped miserably in the ALDS, probably due to injuries. He's nails and has been all season. And his approach is ideal: aggressive, spray the ball all over the place, and still get on base at a reasonable clip.

Posted by: brockdc [TypeKey Profile Page] at October 12, 2006 01:43 PM

And what Rich and Christopher said.

Posted by: brockdc [TypeKey Profile Page] at October 12, 2006 01:46 PM

Slumps. You see them all the time during the regular season.
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But to slump like clockwork every single playoff game but one since Game 4 of the 2004 ALCS? It can't just be a slump. It can't just be that the highest-scoring team in baseball forgets how to hit all at the same time.

It's a combination of facing good pitching and what JonM and Steve said - that maybe the OBP model just doesn't work that well in October. After all, getting men on base is fine. But you have to actually hit the ball to move them over/in. And that's where OBP fails and AVG/SLG take over. The Yanks have the SLG part. Maybe it's an approach thing? Maybe they just need to get a bit more aggressive up there, instead of waiting for the count to be 0-2 and then having to shorten up a swing on what could either be a fastball up or a breaking ball away. It's pretty hard to hit with a short, compact stroke when you have NO IDEA where the ball is going to be and you have too many places to look for it.

Posted by: MJ [TypeKey Profile Page] at October 12, 2006 01:48 PM

But to slump like clockwork every single playoff game but one since Game 4 of the 2004 ALCS? It can't just be a slump. It can't just be that the highest-scoring team in baseball forgets how to hit all at the same time.
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It isn't necessarily that everyone doesn't hit at the same time (for instance, Jeter and Abreu had a good series). I'm sure over the season, you could find times where the Yanks have gone 1-3 in the span of 4 games. You can find games where they didn't hit, but won, games where they didn't pitch, but won, and vice-versa.

Many of those games they lost were winnable; gms 4-5 in the '04 LCS, gm 5 of the 05 DS come to mind. Things happen during a short series that we would maybe gloss over during the long season.

Posted by: Raf [TypeKey Profile Page] at October 12, 2006 02:21 PM

If you can trade Arod for a young pitcher who goes, say 15-7, that's 8 wins right there. Plus maybe another young hitter.

You're using Cairo, a below avg hitter. What about just an avg 3b? If Cairo accounts for 99 runs, then an avg 3b must account for at least 120. So instead of 8 games, it's 6. Throw in that pitcher, and just maybe you're above where you'd be with Arod.

I remember when people would say 'Wait until Arod carries the team for 2 weeks.' I'm still waiting for that. Giambi has done it. Sheff has done it. Cano has done it. Arod has yet to carry this team for more than 3 games.

I know you'll produce all the stats in the world to correct me, but we had guys like Brosius, Tino, ONeill, (young) Bernie. I dont know why, but they just seemed to step up when it mattered most. Do I think Arod could hit a big HR to tie a WS game? No, honestly. But Brosius did, Tino did, Leyritz did. I just have no confidence in Arod to do something like that. His stats are padded (especially this year) when the game is decided.

Now what to do about it? I dont know. Perhaps stop going after cleanup hitters for every spot. In answer to the question, Cano COULD be that guy, except that he hits too low in the order. If it weren't for Matsui, Posada & Giambi, he'd be a great #5 hitter. Maybe he should be, but would it upset the others?

Posted by: 98Yanks [TypeKey Profile Page] at October 12, 2006 05:34 PM

Do I think Arod could hit a big HR to tie a WS game? No, honestly. But Brosius did, Tino did, Leyritz did.
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Soriano hit a big HR in 2001. After the '03 series, there were a lot of people who were happy to see him go. Leyritz did, and was traded the following season. Tino had another tour in the Bx last year and didn't contribute much of anything in the DS against the Halos.

Posted by: Raf [TypeKey Profile Page] at October 12, 2006 10:59 PM