Aug 4, 2008

Movin' on up

Check me out over at my new pad, Pinstripe Alley, where I've begun and will be doing most of my future writing.


Jul 31, 2008

Farnsy for Pudge

This trade might not seem like a win at first glance. Kyle Farnsworth is having his best season since 2005 (ironically when he spent half the year with Detroit), while Pudge is having a pretty average season (for him). But Cashman, unlike the Marte/Nady deal, is selling high on Farnsy. Does anyone really trust Farnsworth despite a good season? It's quite possible (probable in my opinion) that Farnsworth was on a hot streak until his last two outings, when he gave up four hits in 1.1 innings. Cashman sold at the right time.

The Yanks are far more in need of a catcher than a reliever. The backup before today was Chad Moeller; now it's Jose Molina, one of the best defensive catchers in baseball this year.

Pudge will be a free agent after the season, and he'll likely be a Type A, netting the Yanks extra first and compensation round draft picks (if he declines arbitration (which Pete Abe says the Yanks won't even offer)). On the other hand, Farnsworth looks to be a Type B, which would only net us a compensation round pick. Would Pudge accept a one-year deal for $10-11 million? Or does he want to try to get one last multi-year deal?

There's more: the relief core is the strongest part of our team, so we're trading from an area of strength for an area of need. And the relief core will only get stronger: Brian Bruney is on his way back, Mark Melancon made a stellar debut for Scranton, Scott Strickland is having a phenomenal year there and Chris Britton is having another typically great season.

Pudge's game at the plate is much the same as Molina's, only he's far more successful. In other words, he's a hacker who can hit. He takes just 3.4 pitches per plate appearance, which is slightly below Jose Molina. Behind the plate, he's one of the best there's ever been, gunning down 36% of basestealers this year and 47% for his career.

- The trade takes some of the attention away from Joba (again). He was the starter the night the Nady/Marte deal was announced. Anyway, over his last four starts, the dude has completely dominated the opposition: 25.2 ip, 21 h, 5 er, 2 bb, 32 k.

Jul 29, 2008

They look aggressive to me

I don't know about you, but it's sure as hell seemed to me that Yankee hitters have been far more aggressive at the plate this year. Do the facts back that up? To BRef we go!

There are a few factors that can tell us whether they're being more aggressive. One is how often they're putting the first pitch into play.

- This season, Yankee hitters have put the first pitch into play 459 times in 4045 PAs. That's 11.3 percent. The AL, on average, is putting the first pitch into play 11.7 percent. So the Yankees have actually been slightly more patient in that regard.

Compared to last year, when the Yanks were the best offensive team in baseball, they put the first pitch into play 10.6 percent in 2007. So there has been an increase from last year.

- How often are they having two strike counts?

They're getting to two strikes in 46.7 percent of their plate appearances. The AL is at 47.4 %, so in this respect, the Yanks have been slightly less patient than the AL.

But compared to 2007, there's essentially no difference.

- How often are they getting to full counts? And are they taking more walks on a full count?

In 12.9 percent of their plate apperances, they're going to a full count. The AL is at 12.6 percent; so in this case, the Yanks are slightly more patient than the AL.

Last year, the Yanks were at 14.6 percent, so there has been a relatively significant decrease in full counts.

They're drawing more walks on full counts compared to the AL, but less than they did in 2007.

- What about putting 2-0 pitches into play? Because it seems like DJ swings at more 2-0 pitches than at any point in his career.

They've put 2.84 percent of 2-0 pitches into play this year, compared to 2.82 percent last year. Essentially negligible. While the AL is at 2.73 percent. So the Yanks are still less aggressive than the rest of the AL.

- How many pitches are the hitters seeing per plate appearance?

Some hitters are slightly below their career norms (Jeter, Arod, Abreu), while others are above (Cano, Giambi, Damon), so it pretty much balances out.

So I guess the conclusion is that the lack of offense this year (7th in the AL) is not due to the hitters being either too passive or too aggressive. Is it the aging factor? The injuries?

- Phil Hughes and Carl Pavano made their first rehab starts tonight for the A-ball Charleston Riverdogs. Neither allowed a run in five innings.

Jul 28, 2008

Posada officially done

He'll have shoulder surgery to repair a torn labrum and will need about six months to rehab. He should be ready for Spring Training in 2009.

- Damaso Marte is pretty good. In fact, he's the second best left-handed reliever in baseball history!

- Tonight's game was bad. What else can you say? Moose just wasn't fooling anybody. This was a game where Moose needed to scare someone. The hacks the O's were taking, even with two strikes, were indicative of the fact they knew they weren't in any danger. It also didn't help that not one close call (or so it seemed) went Mussina's way.

- Just one phone call away:
Mark Melancon took one more step toward the Bronx when he was promoted to Triple-A Scranton. Chase Wright joined him.
(RAB with the tip.)

Jul 26, 2008

The trade changed

It's not Kontos and Coke, but Karstens and McCutchen going to Pittsburgh. This definitely makes it look better from Pitt's side, as McCutchen is a fairly high ceiling pitcher, and Karstens already has shown he can be an effective ML pitcher. Both should do better in the NL Central as well.

- The trade (unfortunately) overshadowed the best game of Joba's career. His slider was darting and diving, his fastall averaged 95 mph, and he even tossed in a few nice curveballs and changeups. Did he throw at Youkilis? Probably. Did Youkilis run over his dog or something? Maybe. I remember when Pedro put two Yankees in the hospital in the same game. Until Joba does that, he's ok in my book.

Jul 25, 2008

Yanks trade Tabata and others for Marte and Nady

The full deal is Jose Tabata, Ross Ohlendorf, George Kontos and Phil Coke. Damaso Marte is an excellent lefty specialist, while Nady is a decent rightfielder. At first glance, I'm not happy.

Nady is having an extraordinarily good season, well out of line with his career averages. His 2008 looks like this: .330/.383/.535 (142 OPS+). Certainly a great season, but Pittsburgh is trading high; his career line is a slightly above average: .281/.337/.456 (108 OPS+). Range Factor shows him to be an above-average rightfielder. He's 29, so is at the peak of his career; it will probably all be downhill after this season. Nady is fairly versatile, having played 3b, 1b, and all three outfield positions in his career. However, with Abreu entrenched in RF, where does Nady play? Left-field, where he hasn't played since 2007 (when he played just 10 games there)?

Marte is an excellent lefty reliever, owning a career 141 ERA+, with 484 strikeouts in 454.1 innings. He absolutely owns lefties: .578 career OPS against them. What about 2008? Not quite as dominant: a .669 OPS against left-handed batters. Is that an aberration? It might be, because in 2007 he destroyed lefties - they had a .352 OPS against him. Ironically, Marte was with the Yanks for half a season before being traded for Enrique Wilson in 2001.

According to Cot's, Marte has a team option for $6 million next year, which will likely be exercised. Nady (as far as I can tell) is arbitration eligible.

Frankly, I don't understand the move because the bullpen is the strongest area of the team right now. Marte might be great, but he also might block guys like Cox, Melancon and Horne who deserve chances once they show they're ready (which should be soon). Both players are at or past their prime, and Nady is having a career year. The Yanks are buying high on Nady and selling low on Tabata and Ohlendorf (who are both having poor years).

Nady won't play his natural position of right-field because of Abreu, so where is he going to play? He hasn't played LF in over a year, so will he be expected to jump right into Yankee Stadium's spacious leftfield? Now that I think about it, he might be the 1b replacement for Richie Sexson, and occasional leftfielder.

- That was the Yanks best start of the year... after Wang's complete game shutout in Fenway of course. Just an incredible game by Joba. THAT'S why he became a starter: 7 ip, 3 h, 0 r, 1 bb, 9 k.

- Back from the dead, Carl Pavano is making a minor league start on Tuesday for the GCL Yankees. Monday will see Phil Hughes also make his first rehab start.

Thoughts on Shock, Barry and football rules

I'm very conflicted when it comes to Barry Bonds. I hated him for tarnishing the game's history with his PED-enhanced record-breaking homeruns. But if I hated him, shouldn't I also hate Jason Giambi and Andy Pettitte, who have admitted and apologized for PED usage? I don't hate Jason and Andy, and here's why: I'm biased toward Yankees (what can I say?), they apologized for their transgressions, they were already on the team at the time (meaning the Yanks would be bringing in a known PED user in Bonds), and didn't break any cherished records, all unlike Barry. Yeah, those are fairly shallow reasons, but reasons nonetheless. I wouldn't like the idea of bringing the Bonds-media circus to the Bronx, but hey, if he helps us win ballgames, he'll be tough to dislike.

- The Giants offense may suffer this year with the loss of Jeremy Shockey, but it was the right move in the long run - and until Jerry Reese fucks something up, I'm going to continue believing he's infallible. Shockey was one of the better tight ends in the game, and also an excellent run blocker. I still remember his first pre-season game when he bowled over some poor Houston DBs as a preview to his career. Unfortunately, he never truly lived up to the hopes of management or fans.

His incessant enthusiasm was fun to watch (usually), but got out of control at times, causing stupid penalties and demands for more passes. His refusals to work out with Eli in New York didn't help either, as the two never seemed to get into a rhythm. Eli would throw left, Shockey would break right. And the worst thing that could have happened to Shockey happened: the Giants won without him. Steve Smith and Kevin Boss proved they could make big catches with the game on the line. They discovered Ahmad Bradshaw was the most explosive player on the team. Eli Manning actually looked comfortable - no one ran back to the huddle screaming for the ball. Football is funny: the Giants lost Tiki Barber and Jeremy Shockey, two of the better offensive weapons over the last decade, and went on to win the Superbowl.

With a year of experience under the belts of Smith, Boss and Bradshaw, a healthy Plaxico, an O-line going into it's second year entirely intact, and with the addition of Mario Manningham, the offense might not skip a beat. I expect we'll see more four and three (with two backs) wide receiver sets.

- Speaking of football offense, this high school has the right idea. They're using six-WR sets with two quarterbacks. If only the NFL was that brave and creative. Although I'm not sure if NFL rules would restrict such creativity. I don't know why the NFL has to be such a stickler for contrived rules. If the offense wants to send nine WRs out for a pass, why shouldn't they be allowed? Where did they come up with the arbitrary rule that five men have to be on the line of scrimmage? Why five? Why not four or six? Imagine how exciting that would be to see nine WRs out there. Maybe because of that, the defense, if they wanted, could blitz just two guys (because there'd be only one blocker, the center). That kind offense would require a mobile QB; it would be perfect for Vince Young and Michael Vick. But what about making a backfield of Eli and Vick, where the defense wouldn't know whether Vick would be running or throwing, if Eli would be throwing or handing it off or throwing a short pass to Vick. And hey, if you don't want to run that crazy offense, there's always the the tried and true I-Form. But it would nice to at least have those options.