Tuesday, June 20, 2006

The Doldrums

Yup. The Yanks are in the doldrums these days. Actually, I don't know exactly what "doldrums" are, so I'm going to look it up and link to it earlier in this sentence. Only on a blog will you see a convoluted sentence like that.

I use the Matsui injury as a convenient benchmark for examining the Yankees this season. May 11th is probably a completely arbitrary day in the long run, but somehow it seems like the most significant event in the season to date and something that will force us to alter the strategy for success on a daily basis. The Sheffield injury has had an equally devastating effect on our ability to dominate opponents, but the lingering nature of the injury is less ideal to use as a milestone for Yankee failures and successes. May 11th it is then.

Before May 11th the Yankees had come out scoring 6.2 runs per game while allowing only 4.4 in posting a 19-12 record(.613). After May 11th, the Yankees are averaging a run less at 5.3 runs per game while giving up 5.1 and have posted a 19-18 record(.514). As I said, the date is generally an arbitrary point in time, but it shows that we've been on a downward trend in runs scored and an upward trend in runs allowed. Our +/- for runs during the post-Matsui portion of our current season is +.2 which tells you that we should be hovering at .500 (which we are).

A-Rod is tied for second among all third basemen for errors(11), Robinson Cano is tied for second among all second basemen(7) and first among those in the AL. Giambi and Andy Phillips are tied for 3rd and 4th among first baseman respectively, at 5 and 4 errors. Their combined 9 errors would rank them second among all players at that position. The Yankees as a team are tied for 24th in fielding percentage at .981 and have comitted 49 errors placing them 9th in baseball in that department.

As a team we're 3rd in average (.284), 1st in OBP (.368) 7th in SLG (.450), and 2nd in overall OPS (.818). The OPS has been high all year with a 1st place .890 in April, 14th place .764 in May, and a 6th place .812 so far in June. Our 390 runs ranks 1st in the Majors. With runners in scoring position we go .284/.394/.471 as a team (7th/1st/5th) and with runners in scoring position and two outs we go .264/.408/.433 (11th/1st/5th). It doesn't appear there's anything wrong with our hitting. Let's look at pitching.

As a team the Yanks post a 4.33 ERA which puts us in a tie for 11th place in the Majors and 5th in the American League. Our 1.36 WHIP puts us in 8th place in the Majors and 4th in the AL. We are 25th out of 30 teams in strikeouts at 404, and post a 24th place 6.01 K/9. They are tied for 19th in the Majors with 58 induced double plays, although the middle of the pack is so close that a good week would vault the team into the top 5 or 6 teams in baseball. Our OPS against is .717, which is good for 4th in baseball and 2nd in the AL. We've found ourselves struggling as the season has gone on however as teams have begun to hit us harder. In April the OPS against was .668 (3rd overall, 2nd AL). In May it increased to .723 (6th overall, 2nd AL), while June has seen another jump to .774 (19th overall, 12th AL).

What you see by looking at these numbers is that the hitting remains strong, while the pitching is middle of the road and the defense is awful. What to do? What not to do?

What to do...stabilize the pen. I have no data to back this up, so I'm going to talk out my ass for a second. My impression is that the starters have been decent for the Yankees. Johnson has been good and bad. Mussina continues to be good. Wang has been terrific. Wright is fair. Chacon is a disaster. We could use a solid upgrade near the front of the rotation to become a dominant staff, but a fair #4 would help a lot. The pen has given up the majority of the killer runs (again, out my ass) and we haven't found a single consistently reliable pitcher in the middle innings yet. Dotel will help a lot, and maybe we'll see Farnsworth, Villone, Proctor, and Myers drop into roles they are more suited to filling. No need to give up the farm on anything, but if a decent trade is out there, maybe we should look into it.

What not to do....no trades for high priced sluggers. I've said it before; I have a great love for Alfonso Soriano. It's not a numbers thing, or I'd be looking at some other guys, but I loved watching him play. Don't trade anything valuable for him. We don't need a big bat. If we can swing Reggie Sanders for some middle of the road minor leaguers maybe I do it. He's a good player, worth adding at the right price. Again, nothing significant should leave the farm for him.

What the hell CAN we do....the worst defenders on the team are the most reliable offensive weapons. A-Rod, Cano, Giambi, and even Jeter to some extent have been kicking the ball around in the infield, but they aren't going anywhere. We have to solve our defensive problems with our bats, and much better pitching. We have the bats, the defense is what it is for better or for worse, and the pitching remains the main concern. Will the Yankees make a move? Only Cash Money knows for sure.


Steve Lombardi said...

I just wanted to say that I like your blog and have added it to my list of links. Keep up the god work.

Count Zero said...

Hell of a good analysis -- couldn't agree more with your final conclusion.

Mike Plugh said...

Thanks guys. I'm enjoying the blog, and trying to enjoy the season. Hopefully the team will put together a strong streak of wins that can separate us from the pack. It will take consistently good pitching, but it's possible if the top 3 can win a bunch in a row and the bats can support the others.

It's all like comedy.....timing.


RollingWave said...

I think the recent skids mostly had to do with choking in the clutch than anything else.... the Yanks are still getting a ton of guys on... just not enough of them back.

The pitching is okish, the main problem remains Torre's bad use of the pen that often result in disastors.

I think as a whole, the team is fine, it's the luck that isn't (which has been the case since... oh Matsui and Sheff got hurt?)

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