Sunday, October 7, 2007

Yanks to try The Rocket to stop Tribe advance

He's won 354 games in his career. His lifetime ERA is 3.12. He's been to the playoffs time and again. And he's been a winner in those playoff appearances.
He managed only six victories in those 17 starts. He has only pitched twice since August 19, the last time exactly three weeks ago today.

He's been battling elbow, and more recently hamstring, problems and he has also had trouble with blisters on his push-off foot.

But he is still Roger Clemens, and love him or hate him he has heart. Lots of it. And grit. And a searing competitiveness.
So what should we expect tonight when the Tribe takes on Clemens? Good luck on that one.

There are some things he can't control. If the hammy pops he'll be done. If the blister problem recurs his effectiveness may be diminished. The elbow problems haven't been mentioned too much lately. But is he, or are the Yankees, just keeping them quiet?

Let's assume none of the above have a major effect on Clemens tonight. That being the case, you can expect a gutty effort from a man who's nasty streak will be on display.

But will that be enough? Clemens did make it through the eigth inning twice this year, both times in July and before the parade of injuries. His typical outing has been six. Does that mean Joba comes in for two and Rivera one? Or will the Tribe get a crack at the soft middle of the Yankee bullpen?

Obvously I have no answers. Chances are some scenario we're not even thinking about will come into play.

For what it's worth, Yankee fans seem divided on what Clemens will bring to the table tonight. In one of those silly little click polls (which we also have on our site - their fun but meaningless) done by the Daily News today, 53% of Yankee fans say he'll come through, 47% say he wont. (That was as of 10:30 a.m. when I logged on).


While most of the papers here in New York have been speculating about Joe Torre losing his job if the Yankees don't go deep into the post-season, one local paper, The Record (northern NJ suburbs), has it from the horse's mouth. Torre's future is in the hands of the Tribe (and of course his own team).

Joe Torre's 12-year run as manager of the Yankees will likely end if his team does not rally to beat the Cleveland Indians in the AL Division Series, George Steinbrenner told The Record on Saturday night.

"His job is on the line," the Yankees' owner said in a phone interview. "I think we're paying him a lot of money. He's the highest-paid manager in baseball, so I don't think we'd take him back if we don't win this series." -- excerpted from a story by Ian O'Conner of The Record.
That could just be the old man's emotions getting the better of him, but I don't think so. Being bounced from round one three years in a row is likely more than The Boss will put up with. Obviously I'm hoping the Tribe will lock things up, but it is a shame Torre likely will be shown the door as a result.

Which brings us to a point made by the New York Times' Murray Chass today. In this year's first round of the playoffs three of the four winners, or leaders, have significantly smaller payrolls than do their first-round opponents.

In three of the four series, the team with the lower payroll was ahead — the Indians ($70.5 million) over the Yankees ($216 million), the Rockies ($60.6 million) in front of the Phillies ($100.6 million), and the Diamondbacks ($69.8 million) up on the Cubs ($113.5 million).

And Chass came up with this figure that seems startling, even for the Yankees:

In the 13 consecutive years that the Yankees have played postseason games, 1995 through 2007, they have spent just short of $1.6 billion on their payrolls — $1,589,672,681 to be more precise.
This figure is not readily available, like batting averages and earned run averages. But it was compiled from data obtained from various baseball offices. It’s a real number. It’s a mind-boggling number.
Roger Clemens, of course, will face the Tribe's Jake Westbrook tonight.

I've checked out about six or seven local papers here in the New York area and Jake has gotten a pretty fair shake from all but one of them.

They all described him as a cut below CC and Fausto and more suited to the Yankees wait-you-out approach at the plate, but who can argue with that?

All mentioned his very short stint with the Yankees before being traded to Cleveland for David Justice.

They all brought up his dismal night in April against the Yanks (it was dismal - I was there), and they all mentioned that he did a fair amount better in August (remember the Peralta-getting-picked-off-first-with-the-bases-loaded game?)

The Journal News, my local paper which covers the northern New York suburbs (by the way, I haven't paid my bill this month yet and maybe I wont), was less kind to Westbrook.

In his preview article, Peter Abraham called Westbrook "mediocre."

And then there's this gem from Rick Carpiniello:

At the All-Star break, the Yankees' comeback from their 14 1/2 -game hole had already begun, but they were buoyed by the fact that 15 of their next 25 games would be against Kansas City and Tampa Bay. Well, Westbrook and Paul Byrd are their Kansas City and Tampa Bay now, especially compared to Sabathia and Carmona.

I mentioned I would be out and about yesterday and likely to get first-hand Yankee-fan reaction to the Joba Chamberlain midge meltdown.

As predicted, Yankee fans saw the bugs as a key factor in the game.

Most of the guys I saw at a local football game are guys I know from the bygone days of Little League, or from high-school sports or the town pool. Most of them made good-natured jokes about the whole thing, but one guy then tried to make the case that Chamberlain actually did better than you should expect under the circumstances.

On to the Army football game, with a vastly different crowd. People I go to church with. There was no direct comment about the bugs, just some playful joking that there was no room in the row for me when I got there. I will say one of my friends - when the talk of the Tribe game had subsided - asked me if "Cleveland has those bugs all the time." He's kind of a scholarly fellow so he may have just been curious about midges and their habitat. But I don't really think so.

The professionals are still going on about the bugs too. In one story this morning Roger Clemens said if he were in charge he would have pulled the Yankees off the field. It wasn't clear from the context whether that comment was directed at Joe Torre or the umpires, but I'm assuming it was the latter.

Doug Mientkiewicz said if he had had bugs in his eyes on Travis Hafner's line drive he might still be lying on the Jacobs Field infield.

But Torre said he thought it possible that the bugs might have been more of a distraction for hitters, and so he's not biting on the Joba-broke-down-because-of-the-bugs theory.

My son said if it had been the other way around - if the Indians had coughed up a lead in the same fashion under the same circumstances - I "would be crying." He meant that literally.

You know what? He's probably right.


bobbydb19 said...

We'll know what Jake has after the 1st inning. The ump could be key. Needs to be calling the low strike. If he is not getting it in the 1st, could turn into a long game for Jake.

If Jake is on, he is tough. The game in August against the Tigers he was outstanding. And he was great against the A's in the clinching game.

Lets end this now. I want a relaxing few days

Ron Vallo said...

My stomach could use a few days off myself.

moose said...

3 sweeps PLEASE lets make it four
although the Red Sox do seem to be rolling right now
and we woulds have to win a game there

first things first - bobbydb19 is right - we need westbrook on and we will know early and we need a low ball strike ump

how about those browns !!!

a blow out like the sox over angels would be nice

Ron Vallo said...

I will admit it right off the top. I screamed at the TV when I saw Trot Nixon's name in the lineup.

It is high! It is far! It is GONE!!!!

moose said...

yep that was my reaction with nixon also

good sign - 2 innings - two double plays and roger looks done

moose said...

#%)*_%_A%*(+_%^*^ IT !!!!!!

Those TBS announcers are rooting for the yankees !!!!!

do we stand a chance with byrd tomorrow

Ron Vallo said...

it's still tonight.

Anonymous said...

dont think it is tonight anymore


bobbydb19 said...

Nixon had 2 RBI, but he let up 3 with that bonehead play in right. I think Wedge should have brought in Lewis earlier.

I think we are heading back to Cleveland. Like I need more stress in my life.

Need Byrd to give us a good 5. Then let bullpen take over. Jensen for 1, Perez for 1 or 2, then Bentancourt. All the more better if Byrd gives us more.

Ron Vallo said...

Byrd should not see the light of day. If he were a free-swinging young team, fine. But a team of professional hitters like the Yankees will eat him alive.