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April 30, 2007

Yanks Worst April In Nearly A Quarter Century

WorstStartSince1984.jpg

For this reason alone, someone should get a pink slip. This isn't "just a bad start." This is a major break-down. Yankees fans, do you agree? If so, who should pay the price for this? Your comments are appreciated.

Posted by Steve Lombardi at April 30, 2007 10:51 AM

Comments

If you've got to blame someone, then clearly it's Cashman. He DID put this team together. He had too much faith in Pavano and too much faith in Japanese pitcher.

He did trade away Unit, and granted it was a needed move, but he was a guy who gave 200 innings. He also traded away Sheffield for a guy who won't be back till 2009. Yes, Sheff needed to go too, but he did have a once feared bat. (Basically, I'm saying we got nothing out of that trade except the fact Sheff didn't go to Boston.)

Maybe Cash can even be blamed for injuries, IF he is the once who hired those new performance enhancement guys.

I think Torre, and yes he has mismanaged some games, is doing the best with what he has. it's not his fault the pitchers aren't doing their jobs (starters). I also think that having ex-yanks like Mattingly and Guidry on the bench isn't helping either. Is that Cashman's doing too? (really, that's a real question)

So yeah, Cashman.

Posted by: dave24s [TypeKey Profile Page] at April 30, 2007 11:21 AM

Fire the guy who's the new strength & conditioning coordinator (or whatever his title is). Obviously he hasn't helped the starting rotation.

Posted by: rbj [TypeKey Profile Page] at April 30, 2007 11:24 AM

My question for everyone is what they think will be accomplished by a mid-season firing. Especially after only one month. I get the feeling that the firing of Joe Torre would have very disastrous results in the clubhouse, full of players who (other than perhaps A-Rod) adore Torre. Firing Torre removes any sense of character, resolve, and chemsistry for this team- for those fans who think that sort of thing is important, Torre needs to stay.

I also don't see how the performance of this team can be blamed entirely on the front office. There was no place on the 2007 and especially 2008 New York Yankees for Randy Johnson, Jaret Wright, and Gary Sheffield. Sheff was not willing to DH and he was awful at first base, so there was no way to keep him around. If you think that Randy Johnson (11 IP, 6.55 ERA) or Jaret Wright (10.3 IP, 6.97 ERA) would have saved this team from being in last place at the end of April, you are sorely misguided.

Making major (Manager, GM) changes mid-season is generally a mistake; those kinds of changes should be after the season when a new regime can develop a plan. If it is true, however, that the new workout program is hurting the players... those people need to be fired. That's all I can say. When 80% of the rotation is injured and 70% of the lineup isn't hitting, it doesn't matter how deep the team; they're going to struggle.

Posted by: mehmattski [TypeKey Profile Page] at April 30, 2007 11:32 AM

Firing coaches and managers mid-season is stupid; firing managers and coaches at the start of May is a disaster.

The Yankees shouldn't fire anyone. I don't like Joe Torre, and I thought he should have been fired after last year's playoffs, but firing him now will accomplish nothing. He HAS lost a few games for this team, and his moves often infuriate me, but this team has a lot of problems beyond Torre. The pitching fell apart all at once to start the year -- Pavano, Mussina and Wang were all DL'd at the same time; Chase Wright got rushed up to the majors and Karstens threw a game before he was ready in their place.

Firing Joe Torre -- who, despite his flaws, is DEEPLY loved by his players -- would send this team into an even deeper tailspin it could not recover from.

It's so disgusting how the press is feasting on this team. They are drooling over its struggles. They love it -- they love writing these "Should George fire Torre?" headlines. It makes me wonder why anyone would want to play here.

It's amazing that we find ourselves here right now. I felt so good about this team coming into the year. The offense looked unstoppable for a while, and I assumed the starting pitching would be good enough coupled with a strong bullpen to do damage.

But it's been such a weird year. The crazy weather to start, the injuries, Mo going Brad Lidge for nearly a month.

I think that's why everyone needs to chill out and not do anything rash. If this is still the case after May, fine, let heads roll. But don't fire Torre -- or anyone else -- based on a bizarre month. Let's see if a rotation of Wang, Pettitte, Hughes, Mussina and Igawa can come together and get the team back on track.

Posted by: baileywalk [TypeKey Profile Page] at April 30, 2007 11:43 AM

I agree with mehmettski above - what exactly does a May firing accomplish? I don't think anyone doubts this team's commitment to winning. The fact is that a lot of things have not gone our way so far, but I still don't think there's anything fundamentally wrong with the team. Getting rid of Uncle Joe or Cashman doesn't bring Mussina and Pavano back from the DL.

Posted by: mickleib [TypeKey Profile Page] at April 30, 2007 11:47 AM

I'd give it two more weeks before doing anything drastic. The reality is our starting pitching staff has had a complete physical meltdown. Mussina, Pavano, Wang, and now Karsten will all spend stints on the DL in April. This, in turn, caused the bullpen to go up in flames. Randy Johnson wouldn't have helped that. Wang will be better now that he's had a few outings (he'll get the ball down with more consistency and return to form). Moose will be back and will do fine against the teams we should beat. Andy has been mostly okay, but in the current situation he needs to be great all the time, every time. The Karsten injury hurts, but perhaps Igawa is starting to get tuned into MLB baseball (pitch up in the zone and die). I think his occasional wild pitches may go back to that issue about the leather on American baseballs having a different feel and texture. Less of an issue for a power arm, but very important for a touch pitcher. We'll see where Hughes is after he's had 2 or 3 starts away from Yankee Stadium. I saw him in Tampa and he didn't quite look ready yet. Some time at this level will only help him.

If we are still sucking wind in 2 weeks, Torre has to go, if for no other reason than there are no other moves to make. I'd move Girardi in. He can't do anything about the starting pitching blowing up in the 4th inning 4 times a week, but he'll get everything possible out of the offense, baserunning, and defense. That could allow us the steal 1 game a week over what we’ve been doing.

The bigger isssue right now is Boston is clicking on all cylinders. Their starters have been much, much better than ours, which minimizes a suspect middle relief corp. They've got three starters giving them quality and length, plus Ol' Coin Flip (Wakefield) is good for a decent outing half the time. Look at the contrast, Boston has 4 starters with 30+ innings pitched. The Yankees don't have a single guy with 20 innings!

Posted by: #15 [TypeKey Profile Page] at April 30, 2007 12:00 PM

"He did trade away Unit, and granted it was a needed move, but he was a guy who gave 200 innings. He also traded away Sheffield for a guy who won't be back till 2009. Yes, Sheff needed to go too, but he did have a once feared bat. (Basically, I'm saying we got nothing out of that trade except the fact Sheff didn't go to Boston.)"

So, dave24s, what or who would YOU have gone for with the Sheffield/Johnson deals? Who would you have asked for in return for those two?

To blame Cashman for injuries in the minor leagues (with Sanchez) and not overlook the terrible starts from Johnson and Sheffield is quite an oversight...

Do you legitimately think that with Randy "6.55 ERA" Johnson (who has only gone 11 innings in two games, no 7 inning games), Jaret "I hurt myself again" Wright, and Gary "Below the Mendoza Line" Sheffield would have helped this team in the April that we just had?

Constructing one of the top 5 best farm system in a matter of the two years he has gotten FULL control of the baseball operations on the Yankees is an accomplishment in itself, especially with our wealth of pitching prospects...

I agree with the majority of the comments here, especially baileywalk's comment... let's wait it out and not panic, period.

Posted by: B(rent) [TypeKey Profile Page] at April 30, 2007 12:02 PM

Ask me again during the all-star break. Then again in October...

The way I see it, once the rotation stabilizes, the bullpen won't be as overworked.

The Yanks'll be fine.

Posted by: Raf [TypeKey Profile Page] at April 30, 2007 12:13 PM

Interesting to note how some of those seasons with the lowest winning percentages turned out.

2005--95 wins
1985--97 wins
1984- 87 wins

in fact, only in 1990-1991 did the team end up with less than a good record after a bad april. And those were the worst Yankee teams I have ever seen--there is no way this team is winning 67 games. It was a bad 10 days, for sure, but there is plenty of time.

That being said, Joe Torre may be nearing the end of the line here. His bullpen use has been questionable, and bunting with your third place hitter, slump or no slump, is terrible. It seems like he is starting to panic, which has always been one of his virtues.

Posted by: Gabe [TypeKey Profile Page] at April 30, 2007 12:17 PM

"For this reason alone, someone should get a pink slip."

Who do you want fired, who will be the replacement(s), what do you expect to accomplish with the move(s) and how long will you give the successors?

If you have those answers then you have a plan. Without a plan it seems to be a knee-jerk idea to make changes at this time.

I wouldn't make any personnel changes (manager / coach / executive) at this time and I don't see a need for changes in the short-term future either.

Posted by: RICH [TypeKey Profile Page] at April 30, 2007 12:31 PM

The big fear that I had about this team was that the pitching was old and brittle. Mo is 37 and had to be shut down for a month last year. Moose is 38 and is no longer good for 30 starts. Pettitte is 35 and has been injured off and on for the last three years and is taking his career one year at a time. Wang has now been on the DL two of his first three years in the league--and now we're hearing about a fingernail issue. I get the sense that Wang is always going to have something to deal with. Farnsworth can't pitch two games in a row because of his back. I thought he was given 3 years and $17 million to take stress off of Mo.

Right there you are talking about your top 3 starters and top 2 relievers. You certainly can't blame this on Torre or the coaches--you have to look at Cashman.

I think Cashman is a bright guy who thinks things through. But the results have just not been there. He has spent a fortune on disappointment after disappointment. From Randy ($57 Million) to Pavano ($40 Million) to Wright ($21 Million) to Farnsworth ($17 Million) to Igawa ($46 Million). Let's also not forget roughly $30 Million for Kevin Brown and $56 Million for Javier Vasquez. And we should also throw in the $23 Million given to a 38 year-old Mussina who has pitched 6 innings so far this year.

I'm sure Cashman calms The Owner and everyone else down by saying "Once we get healthy we'll be all right." But there is a distinct possibility that this staff will never get healthy enough. And if that's the case, there is plenty of reason to worry that what we saw in April was not an aberration, but a preview of things to come.

Posted by: Joel [TypeKey Profile Page] at April 30, 2007 12:37 PM

I understand the teeth gnashing but think we should hit the pause button. They have actually outscored their opponents. Their winning percentage is well below what should be expected. While not wholly attributable to luck, I think luck has a lot to do with it. Across a season these should even out, and I think Torre/Cashman should get another month before such a drastic move.

Posted by: festus [TypeKey Profile Page] at April 30, 2007 12:43 PM

Your headline is very misleading. The Yankees are basically in the same position as they were two years ago. I remember driving around at that time listening to Mike and the Mad Dog. Chris Russo was gleeful that the Yankees would not make the playoffs. Mike kept saying he was looking forward to the summer of fun. If I remember, the Yankees did just fine that season.

Posted by: David Pinto [TypeKey Profile Page] at April 30, 2007 12:48 PM

It isn't time to panic yet, and now is actually the time to leave things as is. Just a few numbers to put it in perspective. It is fair to assume that 95 wins gets you into the playoffs in this era of parity. There are 139 games left, they need 86 more wins in the next 139 games, or a roughly .620 winning percentage (this would net a 100 win season if applied all year). This is very doable if the starting pitching gets healthy. Boston had injuries last year that caused a tailspin like the Yankees are in now, the difference is that the Yankees have time to get healthy and make the playoffs. There have been stretches in the last several years where the Yankees have gone 2-8 in their last 10 and still won 95+ games. The reason this seems worse is that 5 of the losses have come from Boston and the way they have lost the games. If you fire someone, get rid of Pavano, take what you can get. They need to show that they won't keep someone who is there to collect a paycheck.

Posted by: wally26 [TypeKey Profile Page] at April 30, 2007 01:22 PM

I remember this teacher we had in high school, Mr. Roberts. He was a former phys-ed teacher, but became our Social Studies teacher halfway through the year because our actual teacher, Ms. Stern, went on maternity leave. Roberts was affable, good-natured, and easy (we basically got to use Social Studies as a study hall for the rest of the year). While he was there, we all received A's for basically doing nothing. Most of us loved Mr. Roberts - and were pissed when Ms. Stern returned in May - because he'd never really asked anything of us.

That's kind of how I see Torre. He's the baseball version of Mr. Roberts.

Still, I agree that firing Torre and/or Cashman will do more harm than good 25+ games into the season. At the same time, Cashman is profoundly overrated (his best move thus far has been taking advantage of a Philly salary dump) and Torre's on-field management is horrendous and getting worse.

In the short term, I do think yoga should be made a mandatory part of in-season conditioning for this team.

Posted by: brockdc [TypeKey Profile Page] at April 30, 2007 01:55 PM

~~~The Yankees are basically in the same position as they were two years ago. ~~~

People always like to point to 2005 and say "The Yankees did fine that year." Funny, I remember the 2005 Yankees as a team that had to fight like mad, up to the last series of the year, just to make the post-season...and who were then a team that was fried come the start of the play-offs. That's not doing fine.

Posted by: Steve Lombardi [TypeKey Profile Page] at April 30, 2007 02:28 PM

"They've got three starters giving them quality and length, plus Ol' Coin Flip (Wakefield) is good for a decent outing half the time.
Posted by: #15"

His ERA is 2.59 and out of 5 starts 4 have been quality ones. At this point he'd be the ace of the yankee staff. You might want to look up the definition of "coin flip". I don't think it means what you think it does.

Posted by: xxxdanxxx [TypeKey Profile Page] at April 30, 2007 02:34 PM

~~~Who do you want fired, who will be the replacement(s), what do you expect to accomplish with the move(s) and how long will you give the successors? If you have those answers then you have a plan. Without a plan it seems to be a knee-jerk idea to make changes at this time.~~~

I believe that Cashman and Torre should both go. What will that change this year? Nothing. This year will be, what it will be...because you have to play the cards you have at this point.

But, rather than fire Torre and Cashman at the end of the year - which will happen - and then give the new "team" only 5 months to work on the situation, I would rather fire them now, bite the bullet, and then let the new guys have almost a year to work on improving the situation.

Posted by: Steve Lombardi [TypeKey Profile Page] at April 30, 2007 02:35 PM

With the 5 remaining months to "improve the situation" what specific things do you want your new GM and Manager to change?

You're treating a baseball season as if it's a football season and sound more like the old Steinbrenner than the person issuing statements these days.

Posted by: RICH [TypeKey Profile Page] at April 30, 2007 02:48 PM

~~~With the 5 remaining months to "improve the situation" what specific things do you want your new GM and Manager to change?~~~

Build a starting rotation that can hold up. Figure out what they're going to do with A-Rod, Posada, and Abreu. Get a first baseman. Start working on moving Jeter from SS. Stuff like that...which Torre will never do, and Cashman has proven that he can't.

Posted by: Steve Lombardi [TypeKey Profile Page] at April 30, 2007 02:51 PM

Torre is gone after this year, but firing Cashman would be plainly stupid.

If Cashman is canned, what makes you think this team won't revert right back to 2004 with Stein's "boys" making calls and hiring players without the GM's knowledge? Cashman is running the Yankees right now (all aspects of the Yankees). This team needs one leader. If he's run out, then it will fracture again, and it could lead to more chaos. What happened before Cashman took control cannot be underestimated.

The most important thing Cashman has done is rebuild the farm system, and committed the team to the draft and international free agency. Firing Cashman makes no sense -- since his efforts over the last few years will bear fruit very soon.

Also, people need to realize two things: 1) no player's performance is guaranteed, and 2) a GM has to pick among what is out there.

Cashman would love to have a rotation that includes Santana, Halladay and Peavy, but those guys weren't exactly available. Who did he miss out on in free agency?

He knew Farnsworth was a risk, but who else was out there? They tried to get Howry and Eyre that year but they went elsewhere.

Cashman tried to get Matsuzaka -- who, by the way, has actually underperformed so far -- but the Red Sox bid so high no one could touch them.

I STILL don't think Pavano was a horrible signing at the time, and the Vazquez deal was brilliant (it didn't work out, but at the time it was brilliant -- no one knew Javy would fall so far).

Cashman has also brought in players like Chacon, Small, Bruney and Proctor who have saved this team.

Simply saying our players aren't good enough doesn't cut it when you rate a GM. You have to consider what he had to pick from.

Posted by: baileywalk [TypeKey Profile Page] at April 30, 2007 02:56 PM

"Build a starting rotation that can hold up."

Easy to say. Where is the new GM going to come up with these solid starters for the next 5 months? Remember, these are the steps you want your replacements to implement these next 5 months.


"Figure out what they're going to do with A-Rod, Posada, and Abreu. Get a first baseman."

OK. That's at least something needing a plan.

"Start working on moving Jeter from SS."

You want the new manager to do this in-season? You're such a calming influence.

Posted by: RICH [TypeKey Profile Page] at April 30, 2007 03:21 PM

The Cashman record in signing free agent pitchers has been nothing short of a disaster. Jaret Wright was unnecessary. Cashman could easily have picked up the relatively inexpensive one year option on Jon Lieber. Farnsworth never was--and never will be--the pitcher that Tom Gordon is and Cashman insulted Gordon with a ridiculously low-ball offer and then proceeded to offer Farnswoth nearly twice the money. Cashman seemed stumped when Mike and the Mad Dog said that the book on Igawa was that he was essentially Kaz Ishii--which is probably the case. And it wasn't the Vasquez trade which I had a problem with, it was dumping $56 Million on him before he did anything which was dumb. (I might also mention NOT being particularly aggressive when it came to resigning 21-game winner Andy Pettitte after the 2003 season.)

When you rate a GM you also have to take into account the resources he has at his disposal. Cashman's have been close to endless. By way of comparison, his crosstown rival Omar Minaya has rebuilt a franchise from a standing start in two years--with less resources.

Posted by: Joel [TypeKey Profile Page] at April 30, 2007 03:31 PM

~~~If Cashman is canned, what makes you think this team won't revert right back to 2004 with Stein's "boys" making calls and hiring players without the GM's knowledge? ~~~

Simple. The new guy needs to make sure that he has the "total control" deal that Cashman has/had. If it were me, I would make it a term of employment.

Posted by: Steve Lombardi [TypeKey Profile Page] at April 30, 2007 03:57 PM

Arrrggghhh. Another post lost to "not being signed in." Ah, anyway...

In brief: Omar has the same resources as Cashman; that's how he was able to overspend on Pedro, Wagner and Beltran. (He also gave the farm away to get DoLuca and Delgado; if Cashman did this, the fans would go nuts.) Three of Omar's starting pitchers -- El Duque, Maine and Perez -- were give-aways or throw-ins. Pelfry was a hold-out draft pick they had to pay five million dollars to. LUCK.

Vazquez's deal was actually 45 million over four years, which was great value at the time (Cashman had to sign him because Javy would have become a free agent at the end of the year).

We don't know WHAT Igawa is just yet.

Just tell me this: who did the Yankees not get in free agency that could have helped? Who? Pedro? Burnett? Millwood?

The choices have been limited. Cashman can't create these players out of clay. They have to be there for the taking.

Posted by: baileywalk [TypeKey Profile Page] at April 30, 2007 03:58 PM

I do think Cashman's record is a mixed bag - which makes him (at least, in my mind) pretty average. I never had a problem with the Javy deal. Unlike Kei Igawa, scouts raved about his stuff, he was young, and he already had a successful track record. Don't blame Cashman for Javy crapping himself.

But I can't help but think what could've been with Cash's passing on Beltran - and tend to think this to be his biggest blunder as Yankee GM.

Posted by: brockdc [TypeKey Profile Page] at April 30, 2007 04:06 PM

"You want the new manager to do this in-season? You're such a calming influence."

Heh. Something tells me Steve's a Piniella guy.

Posted by: brockdc [TypeKey Profile Page] at April 30, 2007 04:10 PM

~~~Something tells me Steve's a Piniella guy.~~~

Sweet Lou does have a great MGR resume.

Posted by: Steve Lombardi [TypeKey Profile Page] at April 30, 2007 04:52 PM

~~~who did the Yankees not get in free agency that could have helped? Who? Pedro? Burnett? Millwood?~~~

How's that Suppan guy doing for the Brewers this year?

Posted by: Steve Lombardi [TypeKey Profile Page] at April 30, 2007 04:53 PM

Simple. The new guy needs to make sure that he has the "total control" deal that Cashman has/had. If it were me, I would make it a term of employment.
=====================
Who out there has the clout to make that demand?

Posted by: Raf [TypeKey Profile Page] at April 30, 2007 05:16 PM

The best G.M. candidate would have that clout Raf.

Posted by: Steve Lombardi [TypeKey Profile Page] at April 30, 2007 05:23 PM

I can't see an outsider coming in and saying "give me total control over everything." Especially after what Cashman had to go through to get it. I can easily see "the braintrust" saying that they tried that before and it didn't work.

Who do you have in mind to replace Cashman?

Posted by: Raf [TypeKey Profile Page] at April 30, 2007 05:35 PM

How's that Suppan guy doing for the Brewers this year?
------

You've gone over the deep end, man.

Suppan: 3-2, 33 IP, 35 hits, 6/17 BB/K, 2.95 ERA. In the NL. He's pitched against such powerhouse offenses as the Pirates, Cardinals, Marlins and Dodgers.

Plus, you can't forget about his career (those averages tend to work out). You really think he's worth ten million a year?

Posted by: baileywalk [TypeKey Profile Page] at April 30, 2007 06:22 PM

Bailey - I would take Suppan, in a heartbeat, at that price, over Pavano and Igawa right now. No brainer.

~~~Who do you have in mind to replace Cashman?~~~

That's an excellent question. I want to say someone like Frank Wren...but not him. Someone with a resume like him 'tho...former player, did scouting, worked for the best GM's, even was a GM once as a learning experience...someone with all that.

I'd love to see someone like Dick Tidrow get a shot...but, he'd never leave his hometown SF.

Posted by: Steve Lombardi [TypeKey Profile Page] at April 30, 2007 08:07 PM

Look, George is never going to get rid of Cashman. Cashman is like a son to him. My general point about his free agent pitcher moves has been amply made by all the above debate. His work in this department, given his resources, leaves a lot to be desired.

And guys, please don't forget that great Jose Contreras for Esteban Loiaza deal.


Posted by: Joel [TypeKey Profile Page] at April 30, 2007 09:40 PM

~~~ His ERA is 2.59 and out of 5 starts 4 have been quality ones. At this point he'd be the ace of the yankee staff. You might want to look up the definition of "coin flip". I don't think it means what you think it does.~~~~

Posted by: xxxdanxxx

Since 1999 Wakefield is 80-81 with an ERA of 4.31. Sounds like a coin flip to me, which, yes, is better than the certitude of failure we've seen from most of the Yankee starters so far. The reference is to not knowing on any given night if his knuckler will dance.

Posted by: #15 [TypeKey Profile Page] at May 1, 2007 08:44 AM