Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Damon's Gaffe Costs The Yankees And Other Stories

  • Blue Jays 2-Yankees 1:
There's an old axiom in baseball that when there's a weak defensive player somewhere on
damon pic.jpeg
the field, the ball somehow finds him. I doubt that's true statistically, but it just seems that way because their mistakes cost teams games and are therefore more prominent. The Yankees had to know that they were taking liberties defensively by putting Johnny Damon back in center field; they didn't have much of a choice given the struggles of Melky Cabrera and the return of Hideki Matsui, but it's a lack of fundamentals in Damon's game that should be of greater concern than one or two misplays.
Last Saturday against the Royals, Damon batted with runners on first and second in the bottom of the ninth inning of a tie game; logic dictates a bunt to move the runners over; manager Joe Girardi, citing Damon's lack of skill at bunting, allowed him to swing the bat and Damon struck out; Derek Jeter then grounded into a double play to end the inning. In the end, this didn't cost the Yankees in the standings because they won the game, but they had to play four more innings and use Mariano Rivera for two in what could have been a regulation game ending with the same result. Last night, Damon allowed two balls that hit his glove to bounce away and the second cost the Yankees the game.
While it's understandable that Damon no longer has the legs or arm to play center field on
damon error pic.jpg
a regular basis, this is still a player who has almost 1300 career games at the position; there must be a certain amount of savvy that he's accumulated to account for some of the physical deterioration, but he still played the position like an amateur, and that's a big problem. Damon got spun around on the play and may have been slightly out of whack because he's played the position so infrequently this season, but there's no excuse for a major league player not to hang onto a very catchable ball in that situation where the error cost his team a game that they couldn't afford to lose.
These circumstances don't have anything to do with Damon's weak arm, about which there's little that can be done; this is about basic fundamentals. The leadoff hitter has to be able to bunt when the situation calls for it; and the center fielder has to be able to catch the ball, period.
  • AL Manager of the Year should be closer than it will be:
It's clear that Rays manager Joe Maddon is going to win the American League Manager of the Year and he's a deserving candidate, but it's somewhat unfair that the job Ron Gardenhire
maddon pic.jpeg
has done with the Twins----this season and over his managerial career----has been so underappreciated. While Maddon's team has taken a tremendous leap from the netherworld that had been the Rays home for their entire existence, looks like a sure shot for the playoffs and might win 100 games, that doesn't account for the fact that his teams lost 100 and 96 games in his first two seasons as manager. Gardenhire has had solid teams, but maintains a consistent record of success in the standings despite losing stars due to payroll constraints and his teams execute fundamentally whether Johan Santana's on the mound, or Kevin Slowey's on the mound. There's something to be said for doling out awards due to a body-of-work and by that criteria, Gardenhire deserves the nod over Maddon partially because he's never gotten the recognition for being as good as he is.
Looking at the talent levels for both teams, they're very similar. Maddon has had to handle
gardenhire pic.jpeg
shepherding young players like B.J. Upton and discipline them without alienating them. Gardenhire's discipline is instilled in his players from the time they join the Twins organization with the simple threat of playing time being slashed if they don't play the game correctly. Both teams had limited expectations before the season started and have launched themselves into surprising contention. Both are worthy candidates and Maddon is going to win because this is the first time the Rays have had any success and he is deserving, but Gardenhire shouldn't be ignored and is actually a more deserving candidate because he's been historically successful and his accomplishments in 2008 are as, if not more, impressive than those of Joe Maddon.
  • If you're intent on throwing money down the toilet, give it to charity or, better yet,
    Chris Russo pic.jpg
    give it to me:
From today's New York Times----Christopher "Mad Dog/The Biggest Idiot In the World" Joins Sirius/XM Satellite Radio----let me say right here that this will not work.

No comments: