Oct 31, 2007

Coaching staff set

Great that they're keeping Long and Pena, and promoting Eiland to pitching coach. Cash is doing well. I don't know that much about the coaching of the other fellers - just that Meachem (the 3b coach) and Thomson (bench coach) have been in baseball for almost 40 years combined. The new bullpen coach, Mike Harkey, I'd never even heard of before tonight. It sucks losing Bowa, but if Girardi likes Harkey (his bullpen coach in Florida), then I trust him.

I wonder if a study can't be conducted that shows the effect of a good vs. a bad 3b coach...

Oct 30, 2007

More info on the Joes

Mostly linked to here because it's a free ESPN Insider article.

After that, check out how Torre used relievers during his tenure.
AL relievers with the most single season:

8 Yanks in the top 38, 3 in the top 10

Total Pitches
5 in the top 32, 2 in the top 11

9 in the top 41, 2 in the top 5

Since there are 14 teams in the AL, the Yanks should have appeared (on average) just once every 14 teams - or 7.1 %. The percentages for Torre relievers are considerably higher - 19.1 %. In the most extreme example, Torre had 30 % of the top 10 relievers (by innings in a season) during his tenure. Wow.

Oct 29, 2007

It's Girardi

- A good choice, if I may say so. Unfortunately, Donnie Baseball was offended and won't return to the Yanks in any capacity next year. I wish he would stay on as bench coach, but I understand not being comfortable sitting next to the guy he lost out to every single day.

- MLB criticized the timing of Boras' announcement to void the remainder of Arod's contract. Boras then apologized. What a liar. He knew what he was doing.

At least we'll get

Draft pick compensation from the team that signs Arod. They can offer him salary arbitration, a prerequisite for acquiring draft compensation. The Yanks would get a first or second round pick and a sandwich round (between the first and second rounds) pick.

Oct 28, 2007

'My god, what a prick!'

My first thoughts upon learning Arod opted out of his record-breaking contract. Fuck him. Let him walk. See if he can possibly get something better than what the Yanks were reportedly going to offer ($30 million average annual salary over the next seven to eight years. Something Boras said made absolutely no sense. "He really didn't want to make any decisions until he knew what they [Rivera, Pettitte and Posada] were doing." They still haven't made any decisions! All three could return to the Yanks, or all three could depart.

Cash will now likely focus on signing either Mike Lowell or trading for Miguel Cabrera or Garrett Atkins.

Pete Abe said it best:

Given that Rodriguez made his decision without first negotiating with the Yankees, it appears he never had any intention of staying in New York.
The circus will be somewhere else next year, and that is comforting...

As Promised

The analysis of Joe Girardi's treatment of pitchers in his one managerial campaign with the 2006 Marlins. While we wait to find out who it will be, perhaps this will help.

Part 1
Pitcher Abuse Points -
Since I'm not a member of BPro, I can't access their custom stat reports (which would have made this study much easier), so I did the best I could. Looking at Girardi's treatment of starters vs. Torre's treatment, we can see a few things. I looked at Pitcher Abuse Points (PAP) in 2006 (for starters over 100 ip) - Florida's starters accumulated a total of over 147,000 abuse points, whereas Yankee starters reached just under 48,000. This appears to be a huge difference until you realize Florida had six pitchers qualify while the Yanks had just four. A better way to equalize the measuring stick is to take the average PAP per pitcher: for Florida it was about 25,000 while the Yanks had about 12,000. So the gap isn't quite as big as it seemed but there's still a gap.

Outside of Total PAP, there's also Max PAP, which is the maximum for a single game by that pitcher. Randy Johnson (I'm so glad I don't have to type that name much anymore) had the highest single game PAP among the two teams: over 24,000! Then taking the average Max PAP of the teams puts the Yanks ahead - 7000 vs. 5000. So it seems Girardi pushed harder consistently but when Torre did push, it was very hard.

Then there's Avg PAP which is (as you guessed) average PAP per start. Florida's was higher: 800 PAP per start (not weighted toward number of starts), while the Yanks' average Avg PAP was just 360.

The problem with PAP is that pitchers who suck will never get abused (e.g. go beyond 100 pitches), so a manager with a great rotation will look like a task-master when simply looking at PAP. This is part of the reason for the disparity - the Yanks 4th starter was Jaret Wright, who pitched more than six innings just twice in 2006 (he basically sucked - should Torre get credit for not using him a lot? I don't think so). On the other side is Dontrelle Willis, a workhorse who pitched 223 innings in 2006 with a 3.87 era - should Girardi get penalized for counting on a great pitcher?

Conclusion: Torre has a slight edge here.

Part 2
Reliever Usage -
Using BRef's Play Index, I looked at the raw data for how Girardi and Torre used relievers in 2006. Three ways of using relievers would worry me, so I searched for them - 1. relievers brought in on less than 3 days of rest to throw at least 40 pitches, 2. good relievers brought in to blowouts, and 3. the same reliever brought in on consecutive days.
The first search produced 16 hits for the 2006 Marlins vs. 14 for the Yankees. That's a strike against Girardi. However, when you think about long relief, Girardi doesn't look as bad. He had to call on relievers in the first three innings seven of those times whereas Torre had the excuse of using a long reliever just thrice. Accounting for those, Torre takes the lead with 11 vs. 9 for Girardi.
The second search was tougher because how does one identify a 'good' reliever and a 'blowout'? I decided to go with relievers who had ERAs better than their team's ERA (and pitched over 20 ip). And a 'blowout' being a game in the 7th inning or later with a five run difference. For the Marlins it was: Borowski, Tankersley, Herges, Kensing, Pinto, Resop and Nolasco.
Borowski was used in 10 blowouts! (and pitched in 72 games)
Tankersley 3. (49 gms)
Herges 14! (66 gms)
Kensing 6. (37 gms)
Pinto 6. (27 gms)
Resop 9! (22 gms)
Nolasco 0. (35 gms)
So blowout games (48) divided by total games (308) = 16 %

For the Yanks:
Proctor, Rivera, Myers, Bruney.
Proctor 16! (83 gms)
Rivera 9. (63 gms)
Myers 9. (62 gms)
Bruney 4. (19 gms)
38/227 = 16.7 %

So they're pretty damn close with Torre using his good relievers a bit more often in blowouts. A strike against him.

The third search looked at how often Girardi used relievers (who pitched in at least 20 games) on consecutive days.
Borowski - 19 times
Herges - 11
Messenger - 9
Tankersley - 10
Kensing - 6
Pinto - 6
Resop - 3

So out of 436 relief appearances in 2006, 15 % (64) were made by pitchers on consecutive days. To have something for comparison, let's also look at Torre in '06. 487 total relief appearances by the 2006 Yankees:
Proctor - 20 times!
Farnsy - 14
Villone - 18
Rivera - 16
Myers - 20
Beam - 2

Torre used relievers on consecutive days 18.5 % (90 times). Another strike against Torre for bullpen usage. 3.5 % ain't that big a difference, but realize Girardi used just one of his relievers on consecutive days more than 13 times (Borowski at 19), while Torre did it with five different guys.

Conclusion: Girardi manages a better bullpen.

Part 3
Injury histories -
This part is all about Florida's starters, several of whom, after reaching career highs in innings in 2006 had either serious injuries or serious declines in 2007. Did Girardi's managing cause either? First off, who were the affected pitchers?

2006 - 223 ip, 3.87 era
2007 - 205 ip, 5.17 era

Scott Olsen:
'06 - 180 ip, 4.04 era
'07 - 177 ip, 5.81 era

Josh Johnson:
'06 - 157 ip, 3.10 era
'07 - 15.2 ip, 7.47 era (injury shortened)

Ricky Nolasco:
'06 - 140 ip, 4.82 era
'07 - 21 ip, 5.48 era (injury shortened)

Anibal Sanchez:
'06 - 114 ip, 2.83 era
'07 - 30 ip, 4.80 era (injury shortened)

This piece of evidence is the most damning of Girardi's managerial skills. All of these pitchers were under 25 in 2006, and with the Trio (Phil, Joba, Kennedy) set to be in the Yanks 2008 rotation, a manager who kills young'ins would be awful. Let's take it pitcher by pitcher.

1. DTrain's era went up nearly 1.5 runs, but I personally wouldn't blame Girardi - Willis' career high in innings was actually reached in 2005 (before Girardi), where he had a phenomenal era of 2.83. His innings went down in 2006, but his era went up a full run. If Girardi takes blame for his 2007 (5.17 era), then the 2005 manager (Jack McKeon) should take blame for Willis' 2006 season that saw his era go up a full run.

2. Scott Olsen showed the largest non-injury related decrease. His era went up almost two runs (!) in nearly the same number of innings. He was arrested in July, so perhaps there were off-the-field problems. He also suffered an elbow injury in 2005 after pitching 100 innings between the majors and minors. The fact that Girardi had him pitch 180 innings the next year (after an arm injury) is a strike against him (although perhaps not entirely the reason, e.g. the arrest).

3. Josh Johnson pitched 152 innings in 2005 (the year before Girardi). Joe G pitched him 157 in 2006. Nothing to really fault Girardi about there. He suffered a non-workload related injury (Tommy John in fact) in August of this year after pitching 37 innings between the majors and minors.

4. Ricky Nolasco is another case like Johnson's. He threw 162 innings in the minors in 2005, then 140 with Girardi's Marlins. He suffered 'elbow inflammation' this year, but again, a non-workload related injury.

5. Anibal Sanchez threw 136 total (minor league) innings in 2005, then 200 (between the majors and minors) in 2006. This 64 inning increase is a lot (a 30 ip a year increase is considered ideal). Here's the catch: Sanchez had Tommy John surgery and missed all of 2003. Is his arm the reason he missed most of 2007 (just 30 minor league ip), or if not, shouldn't Girardi have been more careful with a 22-year-old former TJ patient? Yes, probably.

Looking at the big picture, I do not think Joe Girardi was responsible for what happened to Florida's pitchers this year. All the cases outside of Sanchez and maybe Olsen are clearly not his fault but Girardi's taken a lot of unfair blame. And what about the GM? Shouldn't he shoulder some of the blame too? Brian Cashman and Nardi Contreras protected Joba this year - why didn't Florida's front office take similar action to protect Sanchez and Olsen? And that was with a rookie manager, not a 12-year, four-titled, future Hall of Famer.

Part 4
Some things to remember:
- the fact that Girardi has just one year to analyze (small sample size)
- I didn't address the belief that Torre has killed the careers of several relievers
- the D-Train effect, which radically skews the Marlins PAP numbers higher
- the Jaret Wright effect, which radically skews the Yanks PAP numbers lower
- I didn't look at Torre's pen usage outside of 2006
- Relating Girardi to Torre instead of the average ML manager (which would be way too time consuming)

This has only compared Joe Girardi's one year of managing to one year of Joe Torre's 27-year managing career. Both sample sizes are a bit small to draw any definitive verdict, but (in the case of Girardi) it's the only sample of his managing we have. Despite the sample sizes being statistically small, the conclusions do seem to jive with my own observations. I also haven't compared Girardi to Don Mattingly, the other front runner for the job. He has no managing experience outside of being hitting coach and then bench coach under Torre for the past four years.

Offer to Arod?

And a very lucrative one at that.

Oct 25, 2007

To get you revved for Sunday's game

I chose 'revved' over 'psyched' because, you know, I'm not 15 (and it's not 1993 anymore).

- Giant fans in the UK

- Eli bringing football to England

- Jints blitz packages in-depth

Oct 24, 2007

Manager announcement on Friday?

That would be extremely quick decision making by the Yanks front office. If today was the last interview (with Tony Pena), which it looks like, Friday is a possibility - although I personally don't expect a decision until next week. One day for a huge decision like that seems too important and time consuming to be made in just one day. But you never know...

Oct 22, 2007

Oct 20, 2007

Why do I want Joe G to replace Joe T?

1. He was a bench coach for Joe Torre in 2005. There aren't many better bosses to learn from, especially in terms of dealing with the media and with megastar players (egos).
2. He spent this season working in the YES broadcast booth. How else to learn how to deal with the media than to actually experience it?
3. Girardi won Manager of the Year for his one season with the 2006 Marlins. No, it ain't the most objective award, but he did manage to bring a seemingly awful team to a near .500 record.
4. You want someone the players look up to? Girardi was a hard-nosed player; he caught Mo Rivera and Andy Pettitte early in their careers and mentored Jorge Posada at the very start of his career (perhaps helping him become one of the best in the game?), and won three titles with those guys. I'm sure he'd have a shitload of respect from everyone in the clubhouse.
5. This part is mostly subjective, but he's young (43), smart, and has less loyalties than Torre. He can bring some new ideas, some freshness perhaps to a team that seemed to stagnate under the 67-year-old Torre. He seems very intelligent from listening to him on YES - almost everything he says oozes baseball intelligence; he's also got a great sense of humor and gets along well with Al Leiter, Michael Kay and Paul O'Neill (and Kenny and Bobby). Charm, charisma, whatever it is, he's got it and it could go a long way to helping a ballclub. Outside of possible loyalties to Mo, Pettitte, Posada and Jeter, no one else on the Yanks was a teammate of Girardi's, so all those feelings and egos that Torre was afraid to hurt because he was there 12 years (and seen somewhat as a father figure) would have no bearing on Girardi's managing. Objective managing is the way to go.

Why not?
1. If Girardi, off the Yanks coaching staff for two years gets the job, will Don Mattingly feel slighted? Yes, probably. Enough to leave the team? I don't know.
2. One of the big cons with Girardi is the way he got along (or didn't) with Florida's ownership during his season there. There's no owner more imposing or distracting than The Boss. And even if he's indisposed of, the Steinbrenner boys and Randy Levine seem to have taken a lesson from the pages of King George on how to disrupt a ballclub. Will Girardi be able to handle it the (usually successful) way Torre did? Since he served as Torre's bench coach, I believe he can.
3. The other big con with Girardi is how he (supposedly) treated his young pitching staff. Several Marlins pitchers reached career highs in 2006 in innings pitched, and this year they had terrible injury problems. Is Girardi at fault? Is he the right guy for a staff that will have three early 20's phenoms? This is a subject I'm going to tackle in depth, so stay tuned...

Oct 19, 2007

Another reason to dislike ESPN

During Joe Torre's press conference today, they kept flashing screens of where Joe ranked among Yankee managers. Two stats soured me - the first read:
'Most Consecutive Postseason appearances:
Joe Torre 12
Casey Stengel 5
Joe McCarthy 4'

The second:
'76 postseason wins (all-time record)'

A casual sports fan seeing this would think Joe was the greatest manager in baseball history. But as usual, ESPN twisted stats to meet their viewpoint. Stengel and McCarthy managed when only one AL team made the playoffs every year instead of four (since 1995). And Joe managed the Yanks in the wildcard/three-round era when playoff teams play at least three games and as many as 19 - teams now have by far the most opportunities to win playoff games. It's nothing major and most baseball fans know it, but ESPN should know better. As part of the media, they have a responsibility to represent the facts without trying to mislead.

So how many times did Joe manage the Yanks to the best record in the AL? To BRef for the answer...

So six out of 12 years is great, but they never had the best AL record more than thrice in a row as compared to Stengel's five or McCarthy's four. ESPN - the misleader in sports.

Oct 18, 2007

Torre's tenure is over

Wow. It happened so suddenly. More later...

So here's my take. For the Yanks front office, this was an attempt to have their cake and eat it too. They didn't want Joe to return but wanted to appease the fans and players, so they offered him a deal they knew he'd decline. It was a guaranteed deal for $5 million with an additional million for each round of the playoffs reached (for a potential total of $8 million). Reading over the Yankee blogosphere two camps have broken out: the Torre sympathizers and the Yankee front office sympathizers. The Torre people see the offer as a slap in the face (a salary reduction and only one year guaranteed) of the man that delievered the Yanks to 12 straight postseason appearances, 10 division titles, 6 pennants and 4 titles. The Yankee people understand the less-than-stellar offer and don't see it as an insult to Torre (he would still be the highest paid manager in baseball and could earn even more than he ever has, and frankly has disappointed with the highest payroll in baseball).

If I had to choose a side, it would be the Yankee side, and here's why:
1. Torre's base salary would remain the highest in MLB by a wide margin (40% more in fact than the number two managers: Lou Piniella and Dusty Baker ($3.5 million)).
2. When players have subpar years before hitting free agency, they generally take a pay cut - why should Torre remain immune to that after several underperforming years?
3. It's just time to move on. 12 years is a very long time in modern pro sports, and it's been studied and concluded that managers tend to do best in their first few years and when they're relatively young (Joe is long tenured and old).
4. Torre always had trouble managing a bullpen. He routinely brought Proctor and Vizcaino into blowouts - two pretty reliable late inning guys that always got burned out by season's end. I mean, the whole Joba Rules were developed for just this reason.
5. The same anxiety followed the firing of Buck Showalter and the hiring of Torre 12 years ago. That worked out pretty well. Just because something is different doesn't inherently mean it will be worse.

The major downside is that it may adversely affect the re-signings of Mo, Pettitte and Posada. Although if Joe Girardi is hired (my preference), his personal experience with each of those players could help bring them back to the Bronx. He caught Mo and Pettitte at the beginning of their careers and mentored Posada into the catcher he is today.

Oct 17, 2007

Arod willl NOT be pursued

by the Yankees if he opts-out, according to Cash Money. Apparently he recommended and convinced Yankee management of this opinion, which he's been stating all year. Good for him. Boras has suckered in how many franchises over the years into overpaying for his clients - but now that the biggest (and richest) team in the sport is out of the running (excluding a pre-opt-out extension of course), the price tag could drop precipitously. Hopefully this coerces the power couple (Arod and Boras, or Aras, or maybe Borod) to sign a modest extension to stay in New York.

PS: I actually have Scott Boras' cell and home phone numbers (assuming he hasn't moved or changed numbers in the last 3-4 years). Don't ask me how I got them because I don't want anyone to get in trouble (I'm not supposed to have them), but if I were to ever call him, what would I say? Any suggestions?

Who's slappy now?

I like 'Slappy Overswings McBaldy', RAB likes 'Shorty McSlappy', and NoMaas likes 'Slappy O'Hairless'.

Oct 15, 2007

Trades on the horizon...

In a recent interview with Scout.com, Nardi Contreras, the Yanks Minor League Pitching Coordinator, cited in veiled terms several times that the system has too much pitching depth, preventing deserving pitchers from being promoted to higher leagues. Considering how influential Nardi is within the organization (he developed the 'Joba Rules'), and assuming the former (that he feels some pitchers are stagnating), it seems likely that B-Cash will make trades this off-season using the Yanks enormous pitching depth to acquire players of greater need. Who might that be? Well, it depends mostly on who (if any) of the big four re-sign(s): Pettitte, Mo, Posada and Arod. That encompasses four extremely important positions: a good starting pitcher who gave 200+ innings, a great closer, a great catcher and the best third-baseman (if not player) in the game.

Oct 14, 2007

If Arod leaves

What to do? With Scott Boras asking for an astronomical extension for Arod, perhaps he will opt-out to be a free agent. What will the Yanks do in that case? There are basically two options with a dream third option that's unlikely to ever happen.

1. sign Mike Lowell
He'll be a free agent this off-season, is coming off his best year yet and is a better defender than Arod. The caution flags arise when we realize that Lowell had his best year in his contract year (danger! danger!) and had huge home/road splits. His Fenway OPS was .226 higher than his road OPS. His career OPS at the Stadium is a sub-par .786 and he'll turn 34 next year. I say stay far away.

2. play Wilson Betemit everyday at 3b
A far more efficient use of resources, considering Betemit's salary isn't even $400 K and he's just 26 years old. His career OPS+ is just 98, but perhaps with regular playing time (something he's rarely received) he could post numbers that more accurately reflect his immense talent. I could potentially see .270/.350/.450. His defense is about average for a third-baseman but his arm rivals Cano's for the best in the infield.

3. trade for Miguel Cabrera
How much would it take to get the hefty 3b/OF slugging phenom from Florida? A lot. The 24 year old Cabrera (career 144 OPS+) would cost a lot of prospects, but Florida is open to the idea of dealing him, as they can probably only afford one of Dontrelle Willis and Cabrera. Apparently they want young, ML ready starting pitching, and since I'm totally unwilling to give up Hughes or Joba, what about Melky, Kennedy, Horne, Tabata/AJax and Betances for Miggy? It could turn out to be way too much or not nearly enough. A lot of it depends on Cabrera's ability to get and stay in shape and how close Betances comes to reaching his mammoth potential. And the nice part is that Cabrera is actually a versatile (though poor) defender - he could play a below average 3b and OF, or be taught to play 1b and probably be just fine.

4. just sign Arod
The easiest and most risk-free option. I believe Arod wants to stay a Yankee and the Yanks want him. If he bolts for the 4th team of his career, he'll always (if not already) be seen simply as a mercenary/gun-for-hire type with no sense of loyalty or tradition and will go into the Hall of Fame never having a 'true' team or fanbase.

Buck sucks

And I think the world is finally (slowly) realizing it.

Sometimes the best trades

are the ones you don't make. Give credit to Cash Money for not trading Melky or Ian Kennedy for (as Sawx fans affectionately call him) Eric Gag-me. The ALCS is tied at 1 apiece as Gagne took the loss in the 11th.

PS: Curt Schilling got a standing ovation for his remarkable performance: 4.2 ip, 5 er, 9 h, 0 bb, 3 k, 2 HR... On second thought, maybe those were Indian fans giving him the ovation. Must have been.

Oct 13, 2007

Joba will begin games, not finish them

He will enter spring training as a starter. Nice!

Oct 12, 2007

How much for Santana?

Since I'm not an ESPN Insider, here is the Peter Gammons article paraphrased by MLB Trade Rumors:

Peter Gammons reported back on Tuesday that the Yankees have already made a Johan Santana inquiry. The tidbit mentioned a cellphone conversation where apparently a Yankee exec asked who the team would need to part with aside from Chien-Ming Wang to acquire the Twins' ace.

Makes sense that the Yanks would place a call on this; Santana's the best pitcher in baseball and they're the Yankees. And the general vibe seems to be that the Twins are at least listening on Santana. Wang or Cano plus another premium prospect seems a reasonable bounty. The acquiring team may require a negotiating window. And technically, Santana could have the Yankees on his 12-team no trade list.

So the Yanks are willing to give up Wang as the centerpiece of a trade for twice Cy Young winner Johan Santana. Now, I'd be willing to do that but it mostly depends (for me, not necessarily the Yankees) on the players surrounding Wang (who wouldn't be a huge loss in my opinion). The following is the likely order of players that Minnesota would want included in a deal: Joba, Hughes, Cano, Melky, Kennedy, Tabata, AJax, Horne, Marquez, Betances, Montero, Abe Almonte, Heredia (followed in random order by Whelan, Gardner, Ohlendorf, AGon, McAllister, Kontos, Miranda, Norton). It's such a tough call but there's no way I'd trade Wang and Cano for Santana. Those guys are younger, cheaper and add more to a ballclub than Santana alone. Joba and Hughes have ace potential and again, are younger and cheaper than Santana (who will turn 29 in March). The rest of the guys I would strongly consider, but would be most willing to part with Alan Horne and Jeff Marquez.

Melky is just 23 and already one of the best centerfielders in the AL. He's also a switch-hitter with speed. His career line of .275/.340/.388 is far from stellar, but his D makes up for a lot of it: he had 4.6 wins above a replacement level CFer this year. I know his D will only improve so the question is how much (if at all) his offense will improve over the next few years. I think it will - .300/.350/.450 seems like a reasonable expectation. An .800 OPS from a great CFer is SO valuable that I'd be slightly against trading Wang and Melky for Johan (bear in mind that if the Yanks were granted a window to negotiate an extension with Santana then I might rethink some of these ideas).

Kennedy showed me a lot this year (even winning Minor League Pitcher of the Year!) - he didn't get a lot of time in the bigs (19 ip), but excelled, sporting a 1.89 era and 1.16 whip.

Betances, Montero, Almonte and Heredia are all under 20 with super potential. I wouldn't want to give any of them up (I love prospects) but to get Santana would relent.

All of this could be moot though if Minnesota gets off to a good start and considers themselves in the playoff race. With Francisco Liriano returning sometime in 2008, they could attempt a run at a title and maybe even re-sign Santana (they have a new stadium opening in 2010 so they'll have extra money and will want to fill seats).

Oct 9, 2007

Quick thoughts

1. If a real starting 1b can't be acquired, I'd like to see a platoon of Duncan and Betemit. Good patience, good power, lefty/righty combo, young and not too bad on defense.

2. I predict Joba won't make his first ML start until at least May. He'll spend March and April working on his curve and changeup while keeping his innings in check. His curve is already solid, but to be a longterm starter he needs a solid changeup and they'll keep him in AAA to work on it before subjecting him to ML hitters.

3. Re-signing Mo is a higher priority than Posada, Pettitte and even Arod. Without him, who's the closer in 08? Farnsworth? Get real.

4. The only fulltime hitters who (historically statistically speaking) should improve are Melky and Cano. Every other hitter will likely decline (since they're all over 30). How will that lost offense be made up? Aaron Rowand, Andruw Jones, Torii Hunter? Arod is a great cleanup hitter, but the Yanks really don't have another stud hitter (with the 2007 exception of Posada). Will Cano turn into that guy? It's possible. Can Tabata or AJax make an impact next year? Only if they tear up Trenton and Scranton first.

5. Good point by David Justice the other night. Arod most likely wont repeat this season's stats, and if he has an 0-10 slump with 8 Ks and 10 lob sometime next year, he'll probably get booed. He knows that and why would he want that? He might very well choose to opt-out for Anaheim, LA or Chicago. If so, what would the lineup look like:
1. Damon LF
2. Jeter SS
3. Cano 2b
4. Posada C
5. Abreu RF
6. Shelley 1b
7. Matsui/Giambi DH
8. Betemit 3b
9. Melky CF
Doesn't seem too bad, but it wouldn't be the best offfense in baseball anymore. Again, a lot depends on the improvements the young'ins make: Cano, Melky, Shelley, Betemit.

6. Sign Kerry Wood to short-term deal to be a reliever. I'd love to add an arm like his to replace some of what Joba did this year. Make it an incentive laden but lucrative contract. Ideally it would be one-year with an option, but there are other teams willing to do better, so more realistically it would be two-years with an option.

7. The longer the Torre situation continues, the higher the chances that he returns. You could do a lot worse than Joe, but at this point I feel the team needs something fresh, and Girardi and Mattingly are my top choices.

8. Speculation about a potential trade for 'the best pitcher in baseball,' Johan Santana. I've said before that I would not be willing to part with either Cano, Hughes or Joba to acquire him. That said, pretty much anyone else I'd make available. And I think it would take something like: Melky (grudgingly), Kennedy (again grudgingly) and Wang; OR, Melky, Kennedy, Horne and Tabata or AJax. But why trade prospects for the guy when if we the fans and Yankee management have enough patience to wait for him to hit free agency after 08? Why pay twice for the same guy?

9. For the next two weeks, Go Tribe!

Oct 8, 2007

That's why MLB needs

a first round 'best of seven' series. Cleveland was a little better during this four game stretch, but I still think the Yanks were the better overall team (best record in the second half anyone?).

The sad thing is that we would have given Boston much more of a run for their money. Cleveland is highly unlikely to continue their insane hitting with runners in scoring position while the Yanks would be unlikely to continue their woeful RISP hitting. After all, during the 162 game regular season the Yankees OPS with RISP was .829 compared to Cleveland's .743. Boston must be ecstatic to face the Tribe (5-2 in 2007) instead of us who went 10-8 against them.

I won't kill Torre for deciding to start Wang over Moose because I agreed with it for several reasons: 1) Wang pitches much better at home, 2) short rest can be a blessing for a sinkerballer who tries to keep the ball down, 3) he only threw 94 pitches in Game 1, 4) I just didn't trust Mussina. He sucked though and was one of the main culprits behind the series loss: 5.2 ip, 19.06 era. When your 'ace' gets shelled like that it'll be tough to win any series - throw in the poor hitting (Jeter hit .176, Posada .133, Matsui .182, Melky .188) and that's the series.

The bad news:
1. Obviously, the season's over and the guys deserved a better ending.
2. At least a month of speculation about Mo and Jorge... oh wait, and a guy named Alex.
3. Boston has a better chance to win the LCS.
4. If they do win the series, I'll have to listen to a lot of shit from my New England relatives at Thanksgiving.

The good news:
1. A far less stressful October from this point on.
2. Guys like Joba, Phil and Shelley got valuable postseason experience (and showed they could succeed) which should help them next year.
3. The possibility of bringing in a new manager. I like Joe but as some of the postgame guys said, the players have to raise their intensity level in the playoffs and it seemed like they were simply duplicating their regular season approach.
4. Their resiliency - this team seemed dead in late May (I was 80% sure they'd miss the playoffs) only for them to turn around the season and nearly clinch the best record in baseball.
4. Four months until pitchers and catchers report.
5. The Giants are 3-2 and could easily be 6-2 at the half.

That's why he's called Phil Franchise

Although I personally prefer Phil Phranchise. He saved the game and season tonight (for at least another 24 hours). Clemens failed to get through three (with a bad hammy) so on came Phil who shut down Cleveland's offense for 3.2 innings. How ironic that the guy that nicknamed 'Little Rocket' picked up the 'Big Rocket' in possibly his last game ever? He became the youngest pitcher to ever win a playoff game for the Yankees.

Arod had his first hit(s) of the postseason, as did Posada and Matsui, but the big blow came off the bat of Johnny Damon who delivered a 3-run HR that gave the Yanks a 5-3 lead. Later on Robbie Cano ripped a bases loaded single to right that Trot Nixon misplayed into a bases-clearing triple. That pretty much sealed the win.

I didn't get to see much of Friday night's bug fest (I was out of town) - but I know Melky was the entire Yankee offense and even threw out a runner at home; and as the Yanks were clinging to a 1-0 lead, bugs descended into Jacobs Field causing Joba to uncork two wild pitches that allowed Cleveland to tie the game. In the 11th, Vizcaino sucked and Hafner ripped a 2-out bases loaded single to win the game...

Anyway, now that this is a series (literally, every other LDS ended in a sweep), the Yanks get to face Paul Byrd tomorrow who was shelled in his last start against us.
Wang will start on three days of rest (good for a sinkerballer) at home with Mussina waiting in the wings, so this game looks to be in our favor. A win tomorrow means Pettitte in Game 5 in Cleveland...

Oct 4, 2007

Well, it sure looks like Torre was wrong

to start Wang in Game 1 and start Matsui over Duncan. Like I said, it should have been Pettitte in Game 1, Hughes in Game 2, Wang in Game 3. Someone on some website said that of all the Game 1 starters in the playoffs this year, the one most likely to get shelled was Wang - and he was right. He had two outs and none on in the 1st before allowing three runs! WTF? Then there was Posada k'ing with the bases full and none out. After the Yanks pulled to within one, and Wang walked the leadoff hitter, I knew Torre should have pulled him, but no, he stayed in to give up a two-run HR that felt like the death knell.

What else went wrong? Outside of Ohlendorf getting bombed, Melky has become an automatic out (0-4), Arod walked twice but also went 0-2 with two popups, Posada, Matsui and Jeter went 0-12 with five Ks (leaving 12 men on base).

The good news? Abreu and Cano looked good at the plate, Hughes looked good in his first postseason work (despite giving up an 0-2 HR - inexcusable Phil), this was a game the Yanks were expected/supposed to lose (they're only down 0-1), and finally, the last two years when the Yanks have won Game 1 they've gone on to lose the series, so maybe a first game loss will reverse that.

PS: Is that stadium some kind of launching pad or what? I didn't think at least two of those HRs had any shot of getting out.

Oct 3, 2007

Yanks at Cleveland, Game 1 preview

Sabathia vs. active Yankees

Last start against: Sept. 1, 2004 in the Bronx - 6 ip, 3 er, 5 h, 4 bb, 3 k
The righties killed him while the lefties couldn't touch him. Matsui didn't get one hit in 10 plate appearances - why the hell is he starting over Shelley Duncan who has killed southpaws this year (although he fared better against righties in Triple-A Scranton)? And it's not like Matsui hit some screamers for outs against CC - he had one lineout in those 10 pa, but in his defense he only struck out once too (his first pa).

My lineup would be:
1. Damon LF
2. Jeter SS
3. Arod 3b (you're best overall hitter should be third)
4. Posada C (three RHB in a row to make it tough for Sabathia)
5. Abreu RF
6. Duncan DH (has killed LHP this year, unlike Matsui)
7. Cano 2b
8. DMint 1b (because he's been hot and Wang is a put-the-ball-in-play pitcher)
9. Melky CF (despite being ice cold, is a switch-hitter, good bunter and great outfielder)

And my rotation would be:
Game 1, Pettitte -
the most tested playoff pitcher the Yanks have, who's done slightly better on the road and dominated Cleveland in one start on August 12.
Game 2, Hughes -
a much better road pitcher that shut down Cleveland on August 10: 6 ip, 1 er, 4 h, 1 bb, 6 k.
Game 3, Wang -
his big home/road split puts him here.
Game 4, Clemens -
again, considering big home/road splits (and his recent injury), this makes the most sense.

Wang vs. active Indians

Last start against: July 3, 2006 in Cleveland - 5.1 ip, 5 er, 11 h, 2 bb, 2 k
The good news: he's owned Hafner and Martinez, holding them both under a .612 OPS. In fact, he's held the Cleveland hitters to an abysmal line - .228/.323/.368.
The bad: Grady Sizemore has killed him to a .333/.333/.778 tune in nine pa. And Wang has struggled on the road throughout his career - 3.04 era at home vs. 4.62 on the road (and even more so this year - 2.75 home era vs. 4.91 road era).

Ironically, neither of the starting pitchers have faced their opponent this season. Going by these numbers the Yanks have the advantage, but the wildcard is how will the Yanks do against Sabathia after not seeing him in three years? He's gone from being a good but raw pitcher to the Cy Young favorite...

Oct 1, 2007

Yanks MVP

Yeah, I know, Arod's a slam dunk not just for Yankee MVP but for the whole AL. But let's look at the numbers anyway, and maybe determine who would be the second, third and fourth choices for Yankee MVP.

I prefer three SABR-type stats: WARP (wins above replacement player) because it's a stats heavy equation that attributes wins to a player's offense and defense; Win Shares (similar to WARP but weighted slightly differently - Win Shares are artificially multiplied by 3 to create a wider variance between players, so I will remove that); and WPA (win probability added) because it accounts for the importance and 'timeliness' of a player's production (e.g. a 3-run HR in a close game counts more than in garbage time - however, it does not account for defense or a player's position).

10.9 WARP - crazy. Arod won 11 more games by himself than a replacement level third-baseman.
13 (39/3) Win Shares - the most in baseball!
7.51 WPA - again, the best in baseball. He won seven and a half games by himself!
A total of 31.4

Posada would be my vote for MVP runner-up before looking at the stats. Here they are:
8.2 WARP - Posada gets a boost from being a catcher.
8.7 WS
2.69 WPA
19.6 Total

If not for Arod having a historic season, talk would focus on Posada as the possible MVP.

Jeter will look great on offense, but his defense is what kills him.
6.2 WARP
8 WS
2.58 WPA
16.8 Total - so far, this order looks correct.

Cano might surpass Jeter. Let's see:
9 WARP - higher than DJ or Posada mostly because of his spectacular defense.
7 WS
-.01 WPA - so he was basically an average clutch hitter. I actually thought it would be more in the negative.
16 Total

Jeter comes out just slightly ahead despite Cano's better production due to his greater 'clutchiness.'

Wang was most likely the top pitcher due to the lowest era and the most innings.
7.2 WARP
5.3 WS
2.3 WPA
14.8 Total

Pettitte's last outing hurt his value, which is unfortunate because that game meant nothing.
5.9 WARP
4.3 WS
.52 WPA
10.7 Total

5.4 WARP
3 WS
2.32 WPA

He had the highest pitcher WPA on the team despite several big blown saves and his highest era since his rookie year.

Best Defensive Players
Here I'll go with a combination of FRAA (fielding runs above average) and Fielding Win Shares. I'll convert FWS into total runs saved.

Cano 23
Melky 13
Damon 5
Molina 5

Amazing that Molina racked up that many FRAA after playing just 29 games with the Yanks. Unless we can sign IRod or Zaun as the backup catcher, I'd like to see Cash Money re-sign Molina for another year (assuming he re-signs Posada).

Cano 23
Posada 22
Jeter 17
Melky 16

The thing that makes FRAA superior is that it's relative to the average player, whereas FWS does not. It makes far more sense that Damon was the team's 3rd best defender rather than DJ. And Posada is not a great catcher (he strikes me as about average), but he got a lot of playing time to accumulate all those FWS.

BPro also has defensive positions listed by average runs saved over a season (adjusted for all-time) - so in essence it's a descending list of defensive positions in order of importance:
1. catcher
2. shortstop
3. second base
4. centerfield
5. third base
6. corner outfield
7. first base

Just like the saying goes, 'defense up the middle wins games.' Fortunately, the Yanks have that - the total FRAA of Jeter (-6), Posada (-4) , Cano (+23) and Melky (+13) is 26 runs saved compared to the average up-the-middle defense. That's two and a half games won this season just by their D (going by the principle that 10 runs equals about one win).

BP, THT, FanGraphs, BaseballGraphs

Down he goes


56 points last week, 3 this week - go figure...