Yankees facing severely depleted Angels

It’s an inevitable part of any season that the Yankees have to go to Anaheim. Sadly, the MLB schedule doesn’t offer any NFL-style options, where you might not see a rival ream for a few years. Over the last five years, the Yankees have gone 7-15 against the former Disney vassals. That’s a fairly amazing number given the Yankees’ overall records in those years. In one ballpark, a team that averages 90-something wins a year becomes a 100-game loser.

Due to injuries and disappointing performances, the Angels have been playing a lineup far different from the one they contemplated at season’s outset. They’ve remained competitive anyway. Let’s look at the 20-game picture:

 W-L     RS/G     RA/G     AVG     OBP     SLG     SB     CS     HR/9     BB/9     K/9

YANKEES     14-6     5.5     3.8     .280     .371     .442     15     7     1.1     3.0     7.9
ANGELS     12-8     6.0     5.3     .275     .352     .440     16     6     1.6     3.6     7.4

vlad_071009_blog.jpgThe Yankees aren’t going to see Vladimir Guerrero and Torii Hunter, as they’ve both hit the disabled list. Scot Sheilds is unavailable. Kelvim Escobar is there too, though that’s no surprise — his spot on the DL is a rental with an option to buy. Howie Kendrick is back from the minors but has yet to win his spot back from Maicer Izturis, who is peaking at .302/.352/.422. Catcher Mike Napoli, one of the best surviving bats on the team, doesn’t play every day, although with the DH spot freed up by Guerrero’s absence, the Yankees may get an extra serving. Kendry Morales is having a strong year at first, certainly a stronger year than this page ever expected him to have; Bobby Abreu is doing his usual fine job of getting on base; another former Yankee, Juan Rivera, has been mostly healthy for once and is killing the ball at .313/.353/.531. In his last fifteen games he’s slugging .645 with six home runs.

On the pitching side, the Yankees will see Joe Saunders, Jared Weaver, and John Lackey. Saunders has been hammered in three of his last four starts, allowing 19 runs in 21.1 innings. Most intriguingly for a power-hitting team like the Yankees, he’s allowed nine home runs in those starts. Weaver’s work of late has also been patchy. As recently as June 15, he had an ERA of 2.05. Since then, he’s four starts and been battered to the tune of .296/.358/.510, allowing 20 runs in 23.2 innings. He’s still awfully hard on right-handers at .176/.232/.255, but the Yankees have so many left-handers and switch-hitters that they should be less vulnerable than most other clubs. Finally, Lackey is normally one of the best pitchers in baseball, but has had injury problems and hasn’t been himself all year. He seemed to be coming around in a series of four starts beginning in mid-June, posting a 2.70 ERA in 30 innings, but three of the four starts were against light-hitting teams, the Giants, Diamondbacks (both DH-free games), and Orioles. His last start was against the Rangers, and he was thrashed.

The Yankees are facing a severely depleted Angels club. Neither their starters nor their pen has been particularly effective. Their offense is down to just a few above-average pieces. The defense, normally a plus, is among the least efficient in the game. They may still be winning, but they’re doing it with mirrors. For once, the Yankees may be able to make a strong showing in Anaheim.

church_blog_071009.jpgJeff Francoeur for Ryan Church: Mets bought themselves another fixer-upper opportunity, but Francoeur may be too stubborn to be fixed, in spite of all his great physical tools. As for the Braves, Church is not a great player, and he’s five years older than Francoeur, but he’s an upgrade on the out machine that Francoeur had become. In a light division, small improvements of this nature can help swing the standings in a team’s favor. The Braves really impress with their willingness to reshape their team on the fly this year. They tried to jump Jordan Schafer ahead of schedule. That didn’t work so they dealt for Nate McLouth. Kelly Johnson has been sent down in favor of Martin Prado. Tom Glavine was released so that young Tommy Hanson could pitch, and now they’ve ditched one of baseball’s worst hitters. They’re not living with their failures, they’re deleting them. You can’t ask more from a general manager.

The Mariners picked up two minor league pitchers from the Royals for Yuniesky Betancourt. They had to send some cash along, but still managed to delete a contract that ran through 2011 with a 2012 buyout and promised to do very little for them over that span. Betancourt is a classic triple threat: he doesn’t hit, doesn’t run, and doesn’t field. Even if the pitchers, who are a couple of years off, never develop, they’ve wisely decided that they can pay Ronnie Cedeno less to make the same outs. If they’ve freed up enough cash to add a bat, they might even stay in their divisional race. The Royals might be one of the only teams in baseball that Betancourt can help, although they’ll dearly for the privilege. With Mike Aviles out for the year and spectacularly disappointing before that, they’ve had a parade of shortstops, none of whom has distinguished themselves. Overall, Royals shortstops have batted .208/.234/.281 this year. That’s miserable, and it has no doubt cost the Royals quite a bit in the win column, but you still have to question the deal from their point of view. They’ve gone from pathetic to miserable, which probably isn’t enough of an improvement to win the division, and they’ll be stuck with Betancourt for at least two and a half years. Unless the Mariners are paying all of his contract, it seems like a heavy price to pay for a bid at mere respectability.


  1. hitrun21@aol.com

    Recently, the Yankees have been playing great, but still I wonder why Cody Ransom is with the team. Unless given a fastball belt high and over the plate he just can’t hit the ball. His glove is more bronze than gold, so why not keep a “flourishing” Pena up with the squad.

  2. ckmvo@aol.com

    hitrun21, you are so right. The guy just looks lost. He’s a journeyman for a reason, Mr. Cashman, and now he’s no spring chicken. Let him jump onto 6 ft. high gym mats in Scranton. Let’s bring back Pena, or heck let’s give Yurendell De Caster a look. He’s somewhat battle-tested via the WBC. Seriously, it’s painful to watch Ransom. I’d rather see Hinske at short at this point.

  3. iamanycguy

    I’m sure RANSOM is a nice guy, but he can’t hit with PENA or HINSKE. If they want to give A-ROD or TEX a day off, HINSKE’s your best option. He can play both positions and he can hit. If JETE or CANO need a day off, you can’t do much better than PENA. It’s not that difficult. The next thing that has to be done is please, please put JOBA back in the bullpen. He can throw fire an inning or two, before it’s time for MO. No pitch counts. Nothing else to do but get people out with power. Very simple. Give his spot in the rotation to HUGHES, or even ACEVES. Let’s be honest, JOBA has been a failure in the rotation. Maybe it’s a head thing. Maybe he tires easily. Who cares ? We know what he has done in the rotation, and we know what he has done coming out of the pen setting up Mo. No brainer.

  4. stevg95

    It seems like the Yanks pitching just can’t seem to get the Angels out. And when they do, its either a deep fly ball or a close play at first. The Yankees offense continues to remain hot, but they can’t win if their pitching isn’t coming through. Hopefully the second half will turn things around! Oh and if you get a chance, check out my blog as I also cover the Yankees and the 2009 All Star Game.

  5. letsgoyankees

    “For once, the Yankees may be able to make a strong showing in Anaheim.”-Famous last words.

  6. elfmanlives@hotmail.com

    Hey Steven (and anyone else for that matter),
    I have a question about Joba as a starter. I guess I was always a “Joba in the Pen” guy, but I was never really that strong about my conviction so I can by no means say “I told you so!” right now. I’ve been more on the fence. However I guess I lean more towards the bullpen now because of his obvious struggles. His ERA is obviously up a bunch (basically to the point of being “mediocre”), his WHIP just keeps climbing, and most telling is the fact that his strikeout-to-walk-ratio is quite pitiful this year (less than 2?). Now with all of this said, do you still feel that it’s a good idea to keep him in the rotation and work out of this? Or in other words, do you feel that this is sort of a “growing pains” situation that he will work his way out of or might he be better suited for short work? Now granted we have no clue if his 98 mph fastball will magically come back when he only has to throw 15 pitches per night, but if Phil Hughes can throw peas from the bullpen maybe it might help Joba as well. Thanks.

  7. dzone720@nyc.rr.com

    A-Rod has a good series, but fails to come through in the clutch; Tex is lost; why is it that the Yankess can never do well against the Angels? Looks like the “rival ream” typo turned out to be all too appropriate.

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