Moving on

For the Yankees, in realistic terms, it means that the bullpen is one inning weaker. But also being realistic, the bullpen is the one area that can afford the hit. Even one inning weaker for the Yankee bullpen means a very strong unit out there. If push came to shove, Phil Hughes could easily make up that inning. Of course, we will have to debate the issue of sticking with Hughes in the rotation first. Much more pressing are the injuries to the outfield that have put the Yankees in a roster bind and have caused them to use far inferior players both defensively and offensively for the last week and for who knows how much longer.

In a long season, three straight losses is a drop in the proverbial bucket. A hot streak can erase such things from memory. What is perhaps being exposed is a team that lacks depth in position players. Perhaps only Joe Girardi and Tim McCarver may believe in Eduardo Nunez‘s potential. Eric Chavez is out. So the Yankees are left with the Jayson Nix players of the world. Creaky Andruw Jones and Raul Ibanez in the outfield are exposed for what they are after watching Nick Swisher and Brett Gardner consistently make the plays out there. We are talking about role players suddenly having to be sole players. It doesn’t work.

Losing Mariano Rivera certainly bites. It bites as a fan and it bites for his lost inning of work. But of greater concern is the continued struggles of Mark Teixeira and Robinson Cano who cannot take up the slack of having to use inferior players when other regulars go down. There are continued concerns with the rotation, this current roster problem and the so-far, total absence of Cano doing what Cano usually does. But does Rivera’s injury and these other concerns bring panic? Of course not. This is a strong and talented team that will still win its share of games. Mid-season moves will be made. There is no sense kicking the chair until the team is mathematically eliminated in September. And it is way too early to believe that will ever happen.

William Tasker grew up in Bergenfield, New Jersey but has lived in New England since 1975 and in the far reaches of northern Maine since 1990. Tasker is the author of nine (non-baseball related) books and, besides writing here for three years, has written for his own site at www.passion4baseball.blogspot.com since 2003.

9 thoughts on “Moving on

  1. David

    In my public communications facilities to the rest of the world (e.g. Facebook), I've only ever said two things that could remotely be considered "religious" in nature:

    "Merry Christmachanukwanzakah"

    and

    "In Mo We Trust"

    This one's going to take a little bit longer to get through, I think. I'm pretty sure I'm not alone there, either…

  2. jay_robertson

    What you said; a fellow fan just posted OMG OMG OMG….. last nite. My immediate worry was that we lost Alex, or Jeter, or Granderson. I was actually relieved to find out it was Mo.

    While I'll miss the heck out of watching Mo in a close game, it would have been far worse to lose any of those three…

    or Martin…or Cano, or even light-hitting Tex. Because, as poorly as they are playing right now, the replacement options are far worse.

    • John

      This hurts emotionally as a fan Jay. I always pictured Mo walking off the field for the last time having closed another win not injured in a cart. Hope he comes back for a swan song, but that's really up to him.

      • jay_robertson

        No doubt, no argument. Just trying to be "rational." I've been watching Mo since he was the 8th inning guy – and will no doubt miss him more than anyone else. But this spring prepared me – we knew the end was near – just not THIS near.

        • David

          I'm not sure I'm ready to be rational about the possibility of never seeing Mo pitch again, except to toss the Home Opener first pitch next year.

        • John

          Definitely. It's the abruptness of it all. We were all prepared for the end coming, but slowly warming up to it. Then BAM this happens. Too sudden for such a great player. But seeing later posts, maybe this isn't the end after all?

  3. not Montero's dad

    I'm concerned that Robertson's talents will now be wasted protecting 3-run leads in the 9th instead of getting out of tough situations in the 8th…which now falls to Soriano, I presume.

    Here's to hoping that Girardi does what the Nationals did when Drew Storen went down: keep the effective 8th inning guy (Tyler Clippard) in place, and shift someone else tot he closers role.

    • Mike

      You know I just looked this up and was surprised at what I found. Baseball-Reference defines leverage as follows (for the 1st plate appearance of the pitcher’s appearance):
      High Leverage: >= 1.5
      Med Leverage: 0.7 – 1.5
      Low Leverage: <= 0.7
      aLI (Average Leverage Index): The average pressure the pitcher or batter saw in a game or season. 1.0 is average pressure, below 1.0 is low pressure and above 1.0 is high pressure.

      For 2011 and 2012 seasons, here's how it breaks down:
      D-Rob: aLI of 1.7 in 2011 and 1.4 so far in 2012. Out of 81 appearances in 2011-12:
      (56%) 45 were high leverage
      (22%) 18 were medium leverage
      (22%) 18 were low leverage

      Mo: aLI of 2.2 in 2011 and 1.9 so far in 2012. Out of 73 appearances in 2011-12:
      (68%) 50 were high leverage
      (19%) 14 were medium leverage
      (12%) 9 were low leverage

      Mo came in at #3 in the MLB in 2011 in aLI at 2.2 (The Angels Jordan Walden led MLB with 2.5). The Yanks top 6 in 2011 with overall aLI rank in order:
      3) Mo – 2.2
      31) D-Rob – 1.7
      37) Soriano – 1.6
      81) Logan – 1.2
      125) Wade – 0.9
      141) Ayala – 0.8

      If the object is to use your best pitcher in the highest leverage situations, but at the same time working within the confines of the "assigning a particular inning to a particular guy," we should want D-Rob to take over the closer role rather than Soriano.

      But if we forget the #s for a minute, you would then lose the ability to bring in D-Rob the strikeout artist when you're in a jam in the 7th or 8th when you REALLY need a K. So does it make more sense to instead move Soriano to the 9th when he'll have at least a clean slate to work from most of the time?

      Or you know, managers could just do the logical thing and bring in their best guy based on the leverage of the particular situation instead of wedding him to an inning. It just happens that the 9th will have MORE higher leverage situations overall compared to the 8th. But are you really going to feel good when Soriano is jogging in with bases loaded and none out? His peripherals suggest he's been lucky with his 2.00 ERA so far (4.51 SIERA, 4.55 xFIP, 3.19 FIP) while D-Rob has been untouchable.

  4. roadrider

    I'm concerned that Robertson's talents will now be wasted protecting 3-run leads in the 9th instead of getting out of tough situations in the 8th.

    … or the 7th, or the 7th and the 8th.

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