Sunday, June 29, 2008

Observations From The Subway Series

  • Andy Pettitte's return from a rain delay:
You have to wonder if Joe Girardi was having flashbacks to when, as manager of the
Marlins, he allowed Josh Johnson to return to the mound after a rain delay and was blamed
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for Johnson eventually needing Tommy John surgery. Now managing the Yankees, Girardi allowed Andy Pettitte to return to the mound after a rain delay of a little less than an hour. Coincidentally, both situations were in games against the Mets.
Of course there are differences between the two circumstances; Pettitte is a veteran who should be allowed to have a strong say as to whether or not he's fit to go back out to the mound after a delay;
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Johnson was a rookie who shouldn't have had any say at all in whether or not he returned to the game. Girardi's been blamed by Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria for the injuries incurred by their young pitchers, so it would be natural for him to be reluctant to take the risk of returning a pitcher----any pitcher----to the mound after any kind of delay, but it showed Girardi's fortitude and was a good sign in
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his managerial future that he didn't let the Johnson incident cloud his decision and sent Pettitte back out there. There's still no evidence that Girardi's handling of Johnson in that one incident precipitated the injury one way or the other, but most managers would have figured it was better to shield themselves from criticism by removing the pitcher. It's a good attribute for a manager to have when he does what he feels is necessary rather than what's safe in the eyes of the media.
  • Why do they play the Superman theme song when Fernando Tatis comes to bat?
If there's any player in the big leagues who personifies the exact opposite of Superman, it's
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Fernando Tatis. Does he choose to walk to the plate to the theme song from Superman? If he doesn't and they're looking for something more apropos, they should try to play the song backwards to signify the opposite of Superman----Bizarro Superman----because that's about where Fernando Tatis is in comparison at this point in his career.
  • Carlos Delgado and Darrell Rasner:
Critics are pointing to the weak pitching that Carlos Delgado used to fatten his homer/RBI total this weekend, but it's unfair to rip a 36-year-old, clean-playing first baseman for what he can't do in the twilight of his career. Delgado can't catch up to the power fastball anymore, especially inside; nor is he suited to being one of the main RBI threats in any team's lineup.
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The injuries to Ryan Church and Moises Alou have put Delgado into a position that he can no longer handle and he's relegated to hitting his homers against mediocre-to-poor pitching, and there's nothing wrong with that. If anyone's to blame for Delgado's exposure for what he is, it's the Mets front office for leaving him stranded as the lone second tier power threat after David Wright and Carlos Beltran, especially since they know the injury history of Alou and weren't sure what to expect from Church in his first opportunity to play every day.
Darrell Rasner received great credit when he arrived from the minor leagues and had a series of solid starts rescuing an injured and beleaguered pitching staff, but he's also shown that he's more of a journeyman than a legitimate starter for a team that has designs on contending for a championship. His fastball
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is eminently hittable and he occasionally loses command; for a pitcher with such limited stuff, Rasner has to be perfect or hope that the Yankees score a bunch of runs; when that doesn't happen, he's vulnerable.
The Rasner situation reminds me of when Jon Lieber was pitching for the Yankees against the Red Sox in the 2004 ALCS and had pitched brilliantly in game 2 outdueling Pedro Martinez. All we heard was how Lieber worked fast, pounded the strike zone and challenged
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the hitters; the accolades lasted until game six when Lieber gave up four runs in 7.1 innings and was outpitched by Curt Schilling as the Red Sox tied the series. With pitchers who don't have dominating stuff, their results depend on many factors including the umpire's strike zone; whether they're able to get their breaking balls over or have enough movement on their fastball to prevent it getting hit into space like Delgado's crushed shot off of Rasner. He's a fifth starter at best and the Yankees need to beef up their pitching if they're even going to make the playoffs because if they don't hit with guys like Ranser on the mound, they don't win.
  • Oliver Perez turns another corner, or does he? Or maybe he doesn't; or maybe he does; maybe...maybe not?
I wouldn't get all excited about Oliver Perez's performance today; he's historically pitched his best (while with the Mets) in high-pressure games against the Braves and Yankees or in playoff games. Much will be made about the mechanical adjustments made by new pitching
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coach Dan Warthen, but Perez's problems don't have anything to do with his mechanics to any great degree; his problems are in his spacious head; he's like an expensive sweater that would unravel completely with the pulling of one strategic thread and he's just as likely to fall apart in his next start as he is to pitch as well as he did today.
The departure of Rick Peterson and his constant harassment of Perez and harping on little details ad nauseam probably helped the pitcher feel less claustrophobic while working, but that doesn't have anything to do with five days from now. More than any other pitcher, Perez is truly a guy who's a variable from one start to the next.
  • Jose Reyes throws a tantrum when Carlos Delgado drops his throw:
I'll be in the minority in saying this, but Reyes had a right to be irritated about Delgado dropping that throw. It was a bit high, but not so high that it should have clanked off of
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Delgado's glove and given Reyes an error. Reyes shouldn't have thrown his glove and the buffoon Michael Kay harped on it in the Yankees post-game, but it's not that big of a deal. Delgado has veteran cachet in the Mets clubhouse and if it bothered him, he'll let Reyes know it. Reyes needs to tone down his overt displays of anger when things don't go well for him on the field, but this wasn't such a big deal that people like Kay should act so indignantly about it in what was more of a customary dig against the Mets from a broadcaster who hates them than any reaction over a player's emotional display.

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