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.

Jul 22, 2008

Moose wins no. 13

Has you noticed how rarely Moose has been throwing his changeup recently? He threw just three today - all for strikeouts, and didn't unleash the first until the last pitch of the 7th inning. He's a lot of fun to watch.

- Missed this somehow: Jeremy Shockey was (finally) traded to New Orleans - for a 2nd and 5th round pick. His enthusiasm will be missed, but not his attitude.

a lil' hot stove

The Yankees are considering trying to acquire Seattle lefty Jarrod Washburn, who's been a solid back-of-the-rotation starter during his 11 year career. Apparently, Seattle would be willing to take Igawa, a mid-level prospect and cash. If that's true, the trigger has to be pulled. End the OKei experiment. Washburn has been a Yankee-killer, so this falls under the "If you can't beat 'em, join 'em" category. At worst, Washburn will be a good lefty reliever.

- It's translating! Edwar Ramirez and David Robertson have sick minor league stats, and it seems that with regular work now, it's translating to the Bigs. Nice work by Cash and Girardi. (thanks to Pete Abe for alerting us.) In his last five innings, Robertson has allowed just one hit, two walks and nine strikeouts. Edwar has been even better: over his last 11.1 innings, he's allowed just one hit (including nine straight innings of no-hit ball), two walks and 16 strikeouts.

- Posada's throwing problems could continue "well into 2009".

Jul 21, 2008

Bad news on a good day

The Yanks won their fourth in a row (12-4 behind another lucky Sir Sidney start), but news came down that Jorge Posada could miss the rest of the season with a labrum injury. Jose Molina will fill in more than adequately behind the plate, but it's at the plate where Posada's loss will be felt most.

- Watched the Trenton Thunder game from July 17 (against Portland) and I just had to expound the virtues of Austin Jackson, who went 4-4 (including two doubles) with a walk. Three of the hits were to right-centerfield and the fourth was a lined shot to center, all on outside pitches. I was extremely impressed with his approach and ability to not only hit the other way, but for power. He looked like a major leaguer. What I didn't see though was his ability to hit inside pitches, which Portland stayed away from entirely. He can clearly handle outside pitches, and if he can handle the inside ones as well, he's a stud in the making.

- If you haven't seen The Dark Knight yet, you're missing out. A great movie, much better than the first, and the critics nailed it: Heath Ledger truly is remarkable as the Joker. I never thought I'd say this, but his Joker is at least on par with Nicholson's.

It ain't all great memories

(This was written specifically for River Ave. Blues, so now that it's been posted there, I'll do the same here.)

Remember when you used to love going to Yankee games? For me, although I certainly did, it’s hard to even recall why.

Let me explain…no, there is too much. Let me sum up. My father’s company (that he co-manages) was able to acquire box-seat season tickets when the Yanks were at their lowest: 1989 (”It’s a whole new ballgame” was the motto that year; I still have a bumper sticker with it.) I went to at least 10 games each year through the 90’s — saw the Jeff Maier home run in ‘96, Tino’s Game 1 grand slam in ‘98, Clemens spraying the fans with champagne in ‘99, and the following year throwing a bat at Mike Piazza. Each year though, my access to tickets waned as demand among my father’s clients increased. My father and his business partner sold all the playoff tickets in 2001 for several reasons: they were bordering on unaffordable, the offers/requests from buyers/clients were too strong to turn down, and they (and I admittedly) thought they’d be in the World Series about every year.

So I guess you could say we were part of the problem — the reason the attending fan base started to change to more corporate/casual-fan types (the ‘glitterati’ — you know, people who glitter). We definitely deserve some of the blame, but other reasons for that change include the success of the Yanks, the ensuing demand for tickets, and the freedom that gave the Yankees to raise prices astronomically.

There used to be knowledgeable, passionate fans in attendance, but a side effect of the team’s success is that those fans were forced out by demand. In fact, my wife and I prefer sitting in the $18 upper deck seats where the fans actually care about the game.

Does anyone, anyone, still do the YMCA? I pity the grounds crew that must endure that contrived garbage (aimed purely at casual fans) on a nightly basis. Then there’s the relentless audio bombardment that doesn’t let up until “New York, New York” has played several times. And what ever happened to organic chants, cheers and general fan enthusiasm? On countless occasions have I witnessed organic chants snuffed out by the PA system blaring some canned chant or music that we’ve heard a thousand times.

There’s just a lack of understanding of what the fans want, like the refusal to show video replays (of close plays) on the jumbo-tron. I know they don’t want to show up the umpires, but they do it all the time in the NFL, why not in MLB? I had no idea Jeff Maier had even reached over the wall until I got home that night to see the replay. That brings me to my next point: while all the cons of attending a game have increased over the years, the pros of watching from home have also increased. The advent of HD, surround sound, the YES Network and DVR have combined to make the home-viewing experience better than being there. And where would you rather sit, on a plastic folding chair or your living room couch?

Then there’s the food situation. I can order in a large pizza for the price of about three disgusting slices at the Stadium. $9 for shit beer? No thanks. I’ll take my favorite, Dogfish Head, which runs $9 for a six-pack. At my only game this year, the trio in front of me ordered food and drinks through the waiter service. It took almost two hours to get something akin to two beers, a soda, chicken fingers, a hot dog, and a sandwich (for $71 plus tip). It’s basically fast-food quality, only slow. I learned my lesson long ago and now bring soda, water, sandwiches, peanuts and seeds to every game. It saves money and time (outside of tasting better). The vendors don’t even come down to the box-seats; to get food you have to order through a waiter (and wait the requisite hour plus) or leave your seat to catch up to a vendor or wait in line at the food court.

Transportation has become more difficult. Instead of spending an hour (each way) and $20+ getting to and from the Stadium, I can spend that time walking my dog, cooking dinner, watching the post-game show, watching another ballgame, etc. Parking is absolutely FUBAR around the Stadium, and I have a knack for being the first car locked out of the parking lot (it’s happened twice) – I mean I was literally the very first car that cops started putting traffic cones in front of to block out of the garage. You might suggest taking the subway, which I did many times when I lived in Manhattan and Queens, but it’s hardly better than driving, only more cost efficient. The worst subway ride of my life followed a Yankee game: a hefty, teenage boy stood near me holding the ceiling rail on a hot summer day (you know what that means), and the stench emanating from him was unbelievable. It was hold your breath horrible, and there was no where to go as the train was completely packed.

On top of that, my wife and I have a talent for attending rained out/rain delayed games, which now kills us because we live in Philly (have since last May). I was upset to find out the new Stadium will not have a retractable roof. I know it would cost about $400 million, but they’re spending over a billion dollars already, and the Stadium’s supposed to last more than 50 years, why not make the investment that would ensure a complete and on-time game every single day? Yet another reason we have and will be attending fewer games.

My father’s tickets, $250 a seat this year, will jump to the $500-$2500 range next year, and they’re not even being guaranteed the same seats in the new Stadium. He’s going to try to “move back” to affordable territory: back section of the field level or front section of the upper deck (we hope).

With all that being said, I’m certainly going to a game at the new Stadium, but more for the novelty, not to watch my beloved Yankees.

This might come off as whiny, but don’t get me wrong, I still enjoy attending games in person, just not as much as I used to; and the preceding was a summary of my problems as a cathartic exercise. I know this is a season to celebrate the Stadium, but I for one will miss nothing but the history. As far as I’m concerned, the original Yankee Stadium was destroyed in 1974.

Jul 18, 2008

Sexson and ratings

To address their .732 OPS against southpaws, the Yanks signed former Mariner slugger (and I use that word loosely) Richie Sexson to a league minimum contract. At this point, he can't be worse than Wilson Betemit and will only play against lefties, so it's a low risk move. And he does hit lefties well: 1.045 OPS this year (albeit in 71 plate appearances) - his career totals aren't quite so hot: just an .879 OPS vs. southpaws. This presents a frightening scenario, what if Sexson regresses to his career norm? Then the situation is no better off and probably even worse than a right-handed Wilson Betemit. If that happens, Sexson can always be released, but the damage done will be irreversible.

- The 15 inning All-Star Game received great ratings, which will only further empower FOX and MLB that the 8 p.m. start time is perfectly suited. What kid watching on a Tuesday night stays up to 2 a.m.? I understand that 15 innings is an aberration, but even the normal All-Star game lasts until near midnight because of the frequent pitching changes and longer commercial breaks. Not a good formula for future fandom (how's that for alliteration?).

Jul 15, 2008


I didn't think hitting a home run out of the Stadium was possible, but Josh Hamilton came as close as I've ever seen, and made me actually believe it was possible. The most impressive was the shot that hit half-way up the wall behind the right-field bleachers.

And what the hell was Rick Reilly thinking? He made stupid and awkward comments throughout the telecast that I'm sure he believed were clever. The first was a diatribe about there being no minorities in the Derby (to which Karl Ravech, after a long, uncomfortable pause, said "Interesting concept.") He followed by slamming Arod, saying something to the effect of 'Arod couldn't put on a show anywhere near Josh Hamilton.' Really? The future all-time home run champ couldn't even come close? Then the final 'Huh?' comment was a knock on atheists; apparently because Hamilton is a born-again Christian, it "was a bad night to be an atheist" according to Reilly.

- Chase Utley cursed out the fans who booed him. That will only hurt him in the long run. New York, especially Met fans, don't forget quickly. He later apologized.

- The NYPD (not surprisingly) felt the need to choke a fan trying to catch a home run in the black seats.

Jul 12, 2008

Halladay was just too good

But Joba was nearly as good. If not for Posada, Cano and Betemit errors, he walks off with a line of 7 ip, 5 h, 1 r, 0 bb, 9 k. He allowed just one extra-base hit (I'm not counting the double that was lost against the ceiling of the dome). The most encouraging part is that Joba's control is improving: he threw a ridiculous 73% strikes, walked none, and got nine groundouts and just two flyouts. Outside of a sloppy 3rd inning behind him, this might've been his best start.

The Yanks managed a whopping two hits. What next, a run? HA!

Two runs or less counter: 32 out of 93 (34%)

Jul 11, 2008

Posada wants to catch

But Girardi ain't letting him (yet). It's not just that Molina is a better catcher - he's a much better catcher, so it's hard to blame Girardi.

- Phil Hughes will throw off a mound tomorrow for the first time since April. "The Yankees are hopeful [he'll] return in September." Ugh. Basically another wasted season for him.

Jul 10, 2008

Pen blows it

I spoke too soon. Jose Veras came in and promptly served up a two-run shot that won the game for Pittsburgh. Despite this article's title, it was really the offense that blew it. Two runs off Paul Maholm... Paul Maholm? Arod: 0-4, Cano: 0-4, Melky: 0-4, Molina: 0-4, even Justin Christian and Mike Mussina got hits.

Just when this team looks like it's going to go on a tear, they don't - story of the season.

As Pete Abe astutely pointed out, the Yanks have scored two runs or less 31 times this season (in 92 games). It means they have the slimmest of chances in a full third of their games. That's pathetic, especially with two first-ballot Hall of Famers and several multiple-time All-Stars.

- Great interview with Mark Newman, the Yanks VP of Baseball Operations, as he discussed the farm system. The most intriguing part:

There’s a health risk with pitchers, there’s a performance risk with hitters. When you see a pitcher in college or high school throw 98, or 95, or 92 with plus movement…if you see a breaking ball that spins, if you see delivery, if you see command, because they’re the initiator, we feel confident about that transferring to professional baseball. Pitchers are fragile physically. Hitters on the other hand, high school hitters are going to see an 80 mile per hour fastball most of the time. He’s going to hit with aluminum. He’s not going to see quality breaking pitches. And he’s not going to see a closer coming out of the bullpen that throws as well or better than the starter...

Typically, where we pick, the gold-plated, can’t miss position player is already gone. There’s some (hitters left), but you feel more certainty with the pitchers.

- For those who don't know, I despise Joe Buck. And here's yet another reason why. He watches 'barely any' sports, and watching sports is 'not part of [his] day, not part of [his] night.' And this guy is FOX's number one sports commentator?! Fine, I understand that he has a job, a baby and a wife, etc., so how about finding someone that does watch sports? I know, a radical idea for FOX.

- Thanks for voting in the Bill Belichick poll. The final tally:
36% - the NFL should asterisk Belichick's New England tenure.
33% - the Pats should be penalized (again) by the NFL. (They already lost a first round draft pick.)
27% - Belichick should be suspended.
19% - the Pats should have their titles stripped.
16% - Belichick should be banned from the NFL.
15% - let the Pats' opponents record their defensive signals (what the Pats were convicted of).
7% - ignore what Belichick and the Pats did.
(it adds up to more than 100 because voters were allowed to choose multiple selections.)

- A good MLB draft recap over at Saber Scouting. Listen at the 12:00 mark when they field my question!

Jul 9, 2008

Anyone still miss Joba in the pen?

Another stellar game from Yankee pitchers as they held Tampa Bay to one run in two games. Sir Sidney worked his magic again, allowing just one run despite nine baserunners. Veras, Farnsy and Mo (for two innings) shut the door as the Yanks finally got that second run in the bottom of the 10th.

The bullpen has a ridiculous .438 OPS against this month (Alberto Gonzalez territory), and it will drop even further after today's game. For comparison, the starters' OPS against is .825 (making ever hitter look like Jorge Posada).

Jose Molina's defense is so good that it's hard to take him out the lineup despite his .229/.268/.318 line. He's gunned down 25 of 52 base-stealers - that's a 48% clip, the best in baseball (for catchers with at least 25 games played).

What was Grant Balfour thinking, throwing a changeup (his 2nd or 3rd best pitch) to Abreu with the winning run on base? His fastball his the upper 90s and no one's been able to touch it recently, yet he pulled a Mark Wohlers and served up the game-winning hit.

Jul 8, 2008

Harden dealt to the Cubbies

That NL Central race is heating up!

Jul 7, 2008

The King of Pick-offs

Some off-day reading for y'all -

Inspired by a conversation with my father-in-law about Andy Pettitte, I decided to try to discover who has the best pick-off move in history (via stats). Bear in mind though, pick-offs have only been recorded since 1956, so we don't know about some of the great pitchers before that time (e.g. Cy Young, Walter Johnson, Lefty Grove, etc.).

Going by total career pick-offs, Andy Pettitte ranks second to Steve Carlton. No surprise that southpaws top the list. Both Pettitte and Carlton are quality lefties, and both had/have pretty lengthy careers. The main reason Carlton bests Pettitte is longevity: he threw roughly twice as many innings, and hence has about twice as many pick-offs. That's not really fair to Pettitte, who has a better pick-off-per-inning rate than Carlton.

Pettitte picked off a runner every 31 innings. Carlton every 36 innings. The 'King of Pick-offs', though, might just be Darold Knowles, who nailed a base runner every 24 innings. He isn't higher on the list because he threw just 1092 innings, primarily as a reliever for nine different teams during the 60's and 70's.

That's not the conclusion though, because Carlton and Knowles pitched in more pitcher-friendly eras (meaning they generally had less base runners, hence less pick off opportunities). The real stat we need to find is pick-offs-per-base runner. We find this by adding hits and walks, subtracting home runs, and dividing by pick-offs. I'm not going to account for hit-batters and double plays as they roughly cancel each other out.

Carlton picked off one of every 42 base runners.

Pettitte: one of every 39 base runners.

Knowles: one of every 32 base runners.

Again, Knowles is the best, but we're not quite done.

Who was the best at keeping runners from stealing - who put the most fear into base runners?

We can find this by calculating total base runners, then dividing by attempted steals.

Carlton: one of every 11 base runners attempted to steal.

Pettitte: one of every 15 base runners attempted to steal.

Knowles: one of every 28 base runners attempted to steal.

So now we can make the educated assumption that Darold Knowles is one of, if not the best pick-off artist of the last 50 years.

(I wish there was video of him, but alas, I could find none.)

Jul 6, 2008

Sabathia to Milwaukee

From Yahoo -

The Milwaukee Brewers just made themselves legitimate contenders in the National League Central.

According to published reports, the Cleveland Indians on Sunday traded reigning American League Cy Young Award winner C.C. Sabathia to the Brewers for a package that includes top prospect Matt LaPorta.

Sabathia could be on the mound for Milwaukee as soon as Tuesday against the Colorado Rockies, the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel reported. The deal is contingent upon paperwork being finalized and medical reports being exchanged.

The left-handed Sabathia will become a free agent at the end of the season and already had turned down a lucrative contract extension to stay in Cleveland. it is believed he will test the market at the end of the season, meaning he may just be a three-month rental for the Brewers.

- C-Rod no more: Cynthia will file for divorce from Alex tomorrow. He will become the most eligible bachelor in New York, although he might already be spoken for.

- Damon to the DL: Johnny Damon was placed on the disabled list for the first time in his career. Justin Christian was recalled from Scranton.

Jul 5, 2008

Odds and Ends

- Brian Bruney and Phil Hughes are making slow progress returning from injuries. We could see Bruney as soon as late July, and Hughes as soon as early August.

- Not to be forgotten is the (potential) gem of the Sheffield trade, Humberto Sanchez, who has thrown 3.2 innings for the Gulf Coast League Yankees down in Rookie Ball. Management will look to move him slowly (coming off Tommy John surgery), but I expect he'll finish the year with Triple-A Scranton. Both him and Melancon could be huge additions to 2009's bullpen.

- The big move this team needs to make in the off-season is acquiring C.C. Sabathia. He's not having a great season, but his numbers have been skewed by a terrible start. After his first four games (18 ip, 32 h, 14 bb, 14 k, 13.50 era), he's been his usual dominant self: 104.1 ip, 85 h, 20 bb, 109 k, 2.16 era). And best of all, he'll be just 28 next year, still in the heart of his prime. A top three of Sabathia, Wang and Joba would be sweeeeet. But he's not worth a two-month rental and the loss of our top prospects.

- A win might be nice today, then we could salvage a split tomorrow. If there is a bright spot, it's the bullpen, which has allowed just three earned runs in it's last 29.1 innings.

Jul 2, 2008

Deja vu

Melky didn't bunt (or hit), neither did Arod, Joba couldn't find the strike zone; apparently Mo can't pitch in a tie game and Posada can't throw out a runner if the game depends on it (oh, wait...).

Now we have to rely on Sir Sidney Ponson to merely avoid a sweep.