Mazel Tov (And Lots of It)

All good news emanating from the Stadium today. Joe Torre notched his 1700th win (will he stay around for 2000?), Jorge may return this weekend, Bernie finally broke out (three hits including a homer), Lieber bounced back from a poor outing—all that and a win against the AL West division leaders.

This also seems a good time to acknowledge the contribution of Ruben Sierra, who homered again today. Last year it was Raul Mondesi holding things together for the Pinstripers during a dicey early season stretch. By the end of the year he was long gone and largely forgotten. We don’t know how long Sierra will be around this season, but whether he stays or goes, and whatever happens to his playing time, if the Yankees are in the running at the end of this season Sierra’s bat over the first month will be one of the reasons.

10 comments… add one
  • Good game today, and we are back in first place in the AL East. But my question is, how much of this is due to the Yankees getting their act together, and how much is due to us facing teams that have not put their best against us. I read that the A’s didn’t have a couple of their best players in the past few games, and the Sox definitely don’t. Don’t get me wrong, I believe in this team and I think they do look like the 1999 Yankees in that they never seem to quit, but I do wonder if we Yanks fans aren’t setting false expectations. I’d love comments/analysis.
    Oh, and at least Bernie and Jeter are hitting above .200. Come on guys, where’s the .300+ hitting we have seen!?!?
    I think this team can make it all the way, and I have faith in them, and my feeling is that A-Rod is helping that a lot. I’d love thoughts on that, too.

    Joe May 13, 2004, 11:45 pm
  • A-Rod seems to be sparking the team, no doubt. From what little I’ve seen, and from what I’ve heard, he’s always hustling, which I’m big on. But I know what you mean, the pitching has been a little shaky (Vazquez is 3-4?!?!) and inconsistent. But if Williams can get back some of his previous form, and if Jeter and Sheffield can heat up, we might have something here. But the Sox and the Angels are damn good too.

    JeremyM May 14, 2004, 12:28 am
  • I’m with JeremyM here: pitching is the key (and as SF so often notes, on this score the Sox are in better shape than our Yanks). I don’t really buy into Joe’s “our opposition was injured” line of argument, either. Most teams have injuries, and it’s not like the Bostons were facing teams running solely at their peek during the first month.
    Finally, cut Derek and Berns a little slack: it looks like they’re getting back to their old selves, but it’s going to take some time before those numbers approach the .300 level.

    YF May 14, 2004, 11:22 am
  • The Yanks may have been facing teams not at full strength but the key is still to look at Boston’s schedule over the same period. Boston’s recent schedule has been relatively weaker; since May 3 Boston have played Cleveland 7 times and have lost 4 of those.

    JCL (YF) May 14, 2004, 12:08 pm
  • I really don’t buy the “weaker” schedule argument, right now. How exactly do you evaluate the comparative strength of, say, the A’s, a slumping team whose cornerstone pitchers aren’t performing at top flight, with the Indians, a young team with at least one ace pitcher who happened to be on a roll when they met the Sox? If you want to do the math, go and add up the wins and losses of the Yankees and Red Sox opponents, and that will give you a better idea of true “strength of schedule.” My guess: negligible difference. This is not to say that there are not real scheduling effects. But these are far more complex than JCL suggests. You can’t just go through the months, put up an artificial number grade (1 is easy, 3 is tough) for each, and then expect that to have any meaning at all—it doesn’t.

    YF May 14, 2004, 12:44 pm
  • I am with YF here. The season is too fluid to project schedule “rankings”. A more important thing to look at is incidence of days off, travel schedules, etc. The Yankees held up through a west coast swing, a plus, but they hit teams who were playing horribly. So, a push.
    Looking at the Red Sox, you see that they are in a stretch of 21 consecutive days with games, and that may balance the fact that they are playing what we would all consider lesser teams. They ran into a hot Texas squad during a quick jaunt south, a sneaky long trip (if you’ve ever done it, almost worse than flying to Cali), and, though they haven’t traveled much at all otherwise, they are now meeting the Jays at a time when their weakened lineup is showing and the Jays are hot, likewise the Indians.
    In other words, the schedule is really tough to put rankings on, and all sorts of factors, from injuries to hot streaks to rainouts to airline delays serve to confuse our conventional wisdom about “tough” or “easy” paths. Speculation is unavoidable, but mostly an incredibly inexact science.

    SF May 14, 2004, 1:44 pm
  • I think a series against the A’s and Angels is tougher competition than two series against the Indians. Based on the way those 3 teams are playing now, I’d take the latter in a heartbeat in September if the division title is on the line.
    Of course rating schedule strength is complex (the college football BCS system is a fine example) but my 1 and 3 rating system is a relative system only looking at the Sox and Yanks using a quick-glance perspective. As YF agrees there are scheduling effects which means that not all months are created equally, so there has to be some months where one team has an advantage, and in May I think the Sox have an advantage. If someone asked “Who has a tougher schedule in July, the Yanks or Sox?” how would you answer that very quickly? I answered that hypothetical with a rating system.

    JCL (YF) May 14, 2004, 1:52 pm
  • I just read SF comments and do not understand the stance of SF or YF. Both YF and SF have expressed their subjective opinions on players but not on the schedule. What’s the difference?
    Let me put it another way. SF asked on one of his posts for me to break down the schedule in two-week snipets. Let’s go further and break it down to a 6 games series. Now, who has the tougher schedule during the first 6 games after the All-Star break? If you guys can’t answer Yanks or Sox then I’m confused how you can form an opinion about anything.
    Does SF actually think that days off and travel days are stronger determinations of a tougher schedule than the competition? JCL again confused by SF’s logic.

    JCL (YF) May 14, 2004, 2:02 pm
  • JCL – I should have said that there are additional factors (travel days, hot streaks, consecutive games played, etc.) that should impact just how tough we judge a schedule to be, in addition to factoring in who the opponent is. Simply looking at the name of the team being played is not enough. I hope that clears up my position.
    Just as an example, I (foolishly) thought that the Sox had an advantage playing Texas, that it was an easy series win. That was because of lineups and not much else. That assumption was totally off – the Texas staff was hot, the travel to Arlington is a really horrible trip (it was like a three-game west coast swing, which teams would never do). I was totally wrong, and with some hindsight I didn’t really think too smartly how tough the series was going to be – I should have factored in other items. I didn’t, and was as wrong as could be about the results.
    As for who you’d rather play in September, well, duh. Though my “duh” may be proven wrong, of course…

    SF May 14, 2004, 2:13 pm
  • I agree. I just don’t understand why I was originally criticized for rating the schedule.

    JCL (YF) May 14, 2004, 2:23 pm

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