This and that on a Tuesday

WE NOW PAUSE FOR THIS WORD FROM OUR SPONSOR
“Our hittin’ is off, our fieldin’ is off, our base-running’ is off and, I dunno, maybe the managin’ is lousy, too.” — Casey Stengel, August, 1952. Seemed appropriate.

ONE MORE OLD-TIME STORY
Came across this yesterday in a 1954 Arthur Daley column for the New York Times. Hall of Fame pitcher Dazzy Vance is talking about when he played for another Hall of Famer, the combustible second baseman Frankie Frisch. “One day I hit into two double-plays and my manager, a mild-mannered and butter-wouldn’t-melt-in-his-mouth fellow named Frank Frisch blew his top. And the next day we’re playing an exhibition game against the House of David team, which has, believe it nor not, a 14-year-old girl pitching for them. Everybody starts hitting, and the bases are full when Frisch comes to bat. He hits into a double-play. Mad? He’s blazing when he gets to the bench. But I couldn’t resist. ‘Frank,’ I say to him, ‘I’ve hit into many a double-play in my life, but never against a 14-year-old girl pitcher.'”

20-GAME WATCH: YANKEES VS. BLUE JAYS
W-L
R/G
AB/HR
PA/BB
SB
CS
AVG
OBP
SLG

YANKEES 9-11 5.7 23.5 9.7 15 1 .279 .359 .466
JAYS 12-8 5.9 37.1 11.4 9 1 .297 .361 .451
ERA RA H/9 BB/9 SO/9 HR/9 OAVG
YANKEES 5.99 6.43 10.1 4.0 7.3 1.6 .287
JAYS 4.38 4.77 9.0 2.9 6.8 1.1 .257

A couple of splits for the Yankees: home ERA is 6.59, road ERA is 5.16. The pitchers are allowing 1.8 homers per nine innings at The Sequel, 1.2 on the road. The offense is hitting a home run every 20.3 at-bats at home, one every 25.6 at-bats on the road. Intriguingly, the Yankees are scoring more runs per game on the road, in part because they’ve hit in some bad luck at home, averaging just .285 on balls in play. I don’t have line drive splits handy, but one wonders if the Yankees have been so mesmerized by their home park that they’ve fallen into the Rockies-style of trying to hit fly balls. Just a thought.

A QUICK ONE FROM THE COMMENTS
A reader asked how or why I said that I didn’t expect Austin Jackson would be an impact player. The answer is that as good as he’s been, he doesn’t seem to have a big-time power tool. He’s hit only 26 home runs in 1,796 at-bats as a pro, including none this year (though he’s off to a fine start at .360/.430/.440). Baseball America says, “While Jackson’s power comes mostly to the gaps now, scouts and managers agree he’ll have average power as he continues to gain experience and strength.” They don’t really know that, of course; it’s just speculation, and I prefer to count birds in the hand, not hypothetical chickadees in an imaginary bush. As such, what I see right now is a player who might hit .280/.360/.420 in the major leagues. That’s not bad at all, especially coming from a center fielder — last year, the average Major League center fielder batted .268/.334/.420, .272/.338/.420 the year before.

If Jackson can do that in the middle pasture, his team will be ahead of the game (in the corners this wouldn’t be true). It’s not impossible that Jackson will do more than that, and he hits .360 the rest of the year we’ll be due for another conversation on the subject, and the same will be true if he starts lashing home runs every which way. Until then, though, Jackson the superstar center fielder remains conceptual, leaving us with Jackson the very decent player. It’s been very unusual for the Yankees’ system to produce even that much in a non-pitcher, so it would probably be ungrateful to ask for more just now.

THE AROUND (AND ABOUT)
Giants 11, Nationals 7: It wasn’t pretty, but Randy Johnson picked up win number 298. He can still get the strikeouts — he’s sixth in the NL in strikeouts per nine innings — but he’s also leading the league in home runs allowed. The overall results are mediocre, but it’s not clear that we should be expecting a whole lot more from a guy who will turn 46 in September… Ryan Zimmerman went 4-for-5 with two home runs. It was his 29th consecutive game with a hit. I doubt Joe DiMaggio is nervous yet, wherever he is. The Zimmerman of 2006-2008 was pretty consistent, batting .278/.338/.458, not bad, but not as good as what had been predicted for him when he was a first-round pick in 2005. It’s easy to forget that he compiled those numbers in the majors at ages 21 to 23.

Braves 8, Mets 3: Omar Santos’ .302 average (13-for-43) is a mass hallucination… The Mets didn’t actually hit all that badly in this game, they just couldn’t master Derek Lowe’s anti-gravity ball, hitting into three double plays. The NL East remains compellingly bunchy. If the Braves could get healthy, they might make a move, but as Brian McCann came back, Chipper Jones went out, and it smells like the Braves might be doing that kind of dance all year.

Reds 13, Diamondbacks 5: Willy Taveras’ 5-for-5 pumped his rates to .315/.381/.414, and with his defense that’s a valuable package. Too bad he can’t do that every year…

Indians 9, White Sox 4: More trouble for Gavin Floyd, which is depressing. The law of averages is no fun, as you’d like to think we have some freedom of action in this life… Carl Pavano won, though he didn’t pitch particularly well, and Jose Contreras went to the Minor Leagues. Under 15,000 watched it all in Cleveland. Thus endeth a slow day in the Major Leagues.

5 Comments

I loved the Vance/Frisch story! Thanks.

Julia
http://werbiefitz.mlblogs.com/

I’ve been screaming for two years that Zimmerman is a 30 HR guy, based on what he did at such a young age. He’s sitting at 8 already, on pace for 40+ (certainly a stretch) and hasn’t even had the chance to hit in the humid DC summer.

Speaking of center field prospects who are developing, maybe it’s time to bring back the old Markakis vs. Cabrera meter:

Markakis: .352/.434/.582
Melky: .333/.407/.531

(No, there’s no overabundant optimism here!)

Steve. Really enjoy this blog but I could do without THE AROUND (AND ABOUT) section. Honestly, it feels rather lazy to me, a punt that provides a half dozen too-easy observations about other teams/games/players instead of one more keen insight into the Yankees, which is what I come to your blog looking for. Better you should spend the extra time digging deeper in the Yankees than collecting inch-deep thoughts about the league. Just my opinion.

Otherwise, keep up the good work!

brianlevy- you’re right. I’d like to see Steve revisit the Melky thing, though there’s not much point until he’s had a bit more time to prove this is not another early-season fluke. But as i mentioned a couple of weeks ago, there is a possibility that he’s figured it out- he ain’t that old, really.

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