- Posted: 9:49 AM, June 11, 2012
1. Johan Santana. He got absolutely shelled Friday night, in his first start following his June 1 no-hitter. True to character, Terry Collins took the hit, saying that Santana was rusty due to his two extra days' rest and that's why the Yankees clobbered him for four home runs.
Given Collins' open stress the previous week about leaving Santana in the no-hitter for 134 pitches, his words Friday night started a meme of just how many things to which Collins would own up...
Q. Terry, what about David Wright's error on Sunday?
A. That's on me. I should've told David to take his time with Andruw Jones running. Or, you know, jogging.
Q. Terry, tough break on Russell Martin's homer that bounced off the top of the right field wall and into the stands.
A. My fault. Back in the period of 2006 through 2008, when the Yankees were planning the dimensions for their new Stadium, I should've figured out a way to get past security and change the dimensions so that Scott Hairston had a chance to catch Martin's flyball.
Q. Terry, what do you make of global warming?
A. I stay up nights, beating myself up for not doing more to stop it.
Gotta love Collins' sense of accountability, but gosh, he definitely did the right thing in letting Santana take the two extra days. Time will tell concerning Santana's long no-hitter.
2. Brett Gardner. We'll find out more this week about Gardner's ailing right elbow, but it sure doesn't seem good, after he couldn't even make it through a full minor-league game Friday night.
The Yankees definitely miss Gardner's defense, speed and ability to get on base. They're getting by all right without him, but using Raul Ibanez and Jones as the primary leftfielders sure wasn't the plan. So as I wrote in Sunday's Post, outfield might trump starting pitching when it comes time for the Yankees to assess their trade needs.
The Yankees are now 34-13 when they hit at least one home run in a game and 0-12 when they don't homer. Surely, that is partly flukey - small sample size - and another part is common sense; there's nothing that will get you closer to the win column than a home run. Nevertheless, it also reflects the Yankees' failures to hit with runners in scoring position. To play good situational baseball. It's in that area where the speed of both Gardner and the demoted Eduardo Nunez are missed.
Could Nunez be the new leftfielder if Gardner can't return anytime soon? Not at the moment; he's on the minor-league disabled list with a right thumb injury. If the trade market doesn't look encouraging, however, and Nunez heals, he'd be worth trying out there in a minor-league stint, no matter how bad he has looked in previous auditions. He certainly has the athleticism to pull it off.
3. Yankees starting pitching. As a corollary to the previous item, the Yankees' rotation looks miles ahead of where it was back in April, and it seems to have dodged a pair of bullets over the weekend. First, Hiroki Kuroda got nailed in the left foot by Daniel Murphy's seventh-inning lin drive and had to leave the Stadium on crutches. He now seems on track to make his next start Wednesday.
Then yesterday, Andy Pettitte -- who had a classic start, keeping the game close in the second inning when it looked like the Mets were in a position to blow things wide open -- fielded a sixth-inning Hairston comebacker with his bare hand. He stayed in the game and wore a bandage afterwards and professed faith that he would be all right.
We'll see how Ivan Nova does tonight, but a quintet of Nova, Kuroda, Pettitte, the surging Phil Hughes and ace CC Sabathia might prove to be one of the better units in baseball. With no obvious upgrades easily attainable between now and July 31, this group might be it.
4. The Mets. Yeah, just in general, they're trending downward, as I wrote in today's Post.
Could they defy the trend? Certainly. If Santana stays healthy, R.A. Dickey keeps pitching like a Cy Young Award candidate and Jon Niese contributes, then they're not going to get blown out very often. And maybe Ike Davis is finally waking up.
However, there sure are a lot of holes on this team: Defense. Bullpen. Back end of the starting rotation. Jason Bay. This is not a team that will have much room for error, particularly during the interleague schedule.
It's up to the Mets to change their mathematical fate. It can be done. It won't be easy, though.
--The Roger Clemens trial could finally conclude this week, although I'll believe it when I see it. In any case, Clemens' wife Debbie provided some most interesting testimony on Friday when she confirmed that Brian McNamee injected her with human growth hormone in the Clemens' home. Debbie Clemens says it was in 2000 and with Roger Clemens not home, while McNamee says that Clemens was home and that occurred in 2003.
What was most striking, though, was Debbie Clemens' blase attitude toward HGH. It's not like she was doing heroin, she testified.
Given that Roger Clemens' whole storyline is that he would never, ever do anything as horrible as use HGH, it probably doesn't help his case that his wife regards it as about immoral as jaywalking. In the bigger picture, though? Debbie Clemens is right. HGH by itself doesn't accomplish a great deal. It's when you combine it with more potent stuff that it can really pack a wallop, and that's why it can't be taken without a prescription.
You know how I know this? Because I attended a Congressional hearing on February 12, 2008 - the day before Clemens and McNamee squared off in front of the very same House Oversight Committee - and the committee listened to multiple medical experts explain how the impact of HGH is grossly overrated.
This is the same Congress, of course, that has spent the past eight years or so invested in moralistic blah-blah about how illegal PEDs "ruined" the game of baseball and whatnot.
--Finally, your Pop Quiz that appeared in yesterday's Post, from Bob Buscavage of Moriches: Name the famous slugger who appears as himself, and travels by cab to Yankee Stadium, in the 1928 film "Speedy."
The answer is Babe Ruth. Although Lou Gehrig also appears in the film as himself.
--Have a great day.