23 July 2003

The Rich Get ...Older?

The Yankees, with their unbridled obsession to, either win the most, or make the most noise losing, have made yet another move, acquiring 309-year-old Jesse Orosco for three cases of Big League Chew and two tickets to a future Yankees home game. Or something.

It doesn't seem that they really needed another lefty reliever, since they've already got southpaws Dan Miceli, Chris Hammond, and Sterlling Hitchcock in the pen, not to mention right-handers Antonio Osuna, Armando Benitez and Mariano Rivera, who are all historically as good against leftys as they are against righties, if not better.

But for better or for worse (HINT: worse), they've now got Orosco, too. This will be Orosco's eighth different team (he pitched for LA twice), in his long, LONG, illustrious career. The only significant record he holds is for career games pitched, and so I suppose the only reason he's really hanging on is to pad that record, so that if some young whipper-snapper comes along, say, John Franco, and thinks that he can wrest this accomplishment from Orosco's dry, wrinkly, calloused, arthritic hands, he'll have another think coming.

Orosco used to be a pretty effective reliever against all comers, but of late (that is, the last ten years or so) he's been relegated to LOOGY status. Which is fine, because he sucks at getting righties out:

Right 47 22 2 10 6 6 0.426 0.482 0.660 1.142
Left 57 0 2 7 4 16 0.228 0.290 0.351 0.641

Or, to put it simply:

Righties: Think Rogers Hornsby
Lefties: Think Rogers, Fred

Can't you hear it?

"Pinch hitting for Jeremy Giambi, number twenty nine, Gabe Kapler..."

Of course, you had to expect that Orosco was gonna have a hard time maintaining his control as he got older. I understand that it's been especially tough for him to keep the walks down since they lowered the number of balls required for a walk from 5 to 4.

Actually, the guy they got Orosco to "save" them from, Chris Hammond hasn't been bad, overall. It seems to me that a 2-0 record, 3.02 ERA, with 13 holds and one save in 15 opportunities, pitching 41+ innings and striking out 32 while walking only 7 is pretty good, and it is. But there are two problems:

A) Hammond hasn't been nearly as effective against lefties (.303 BA/.342 OBP/.424 SLG/.767 OPS) as he has against righties (.253/.273/.295/.567). Being a LOOGY, this is his primary responsibility, and a .303 batting average against just ain't gettin' the job done.

2) Hammond hasn't been nearly as effective against anybody this year (respectable 3.02 ERA) as he was last year (insane 0.95 ERA). So they think that something's wrong. Bob Gibson's ERA nearly doubled from 1968 (1.12) to 1969 (2.18), but the Cardinals didn't run out and acquire Bill Henry, just because he was available.

Oh well. If anyone can afford to make this mistake, it's the Yankees.

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