Saturday, July 29, 2006

It's Groundball Daaaaaaaaaay!

When a pitcher posts an 18-8 GO/AO rate with one strikeout, you know his sinker is working. When that pitcher gives up 2 hits and a walk, with one double play mixed in, you know that he was a breath away from a perfect game. That was Chien Ming Wang, and he's our ace.

Yeah, I know Moose is the ace this year. He's been the best pitcher on the team from Day One. The thing is, Chien Ming Wang is 26 years old and gets better by the start. He's going to be around for a very long time because good sinkers make long careers. Ask Greg Maddux. The Indians said that Wang's sinker was the best they saw all year when he beat them on June 13th. Prominent sinker ballers in today's game are Brandon Webb of Arizona, who has the highest VORP in the sport this season at 57.9, and Carlos Zambrano of the Cubs, who is 8th with a 43.9 rating. Wang sat 30th in VORP prior to this start, sporting a nice 28.5 rating and among starting pitchers he is 4th in HR/9 innings. First is Jared Weaver, second is Jaret Wright, third is Roger Clemens, and 4th is Wang. Weaver and Clemens each have only started 7 ballgames, so it's hard to compare them to the other 2, but suffice it to say the ball stays on the ground and teams really have to earn their runs. (Jaret Wright is the best at keeping the ball in the yard among pitchers with more than 7 starts!)

As good as Wang was today, the Devil Rays manager, Joe Maddon, helped the Yankees out a lot by starting Travis Lee at 1B. Lee has been manning 1st all year for the hapless Rays, and is by far the worst regular player in the Major Leagues. His VORP is an atrocious -13.5 and he plays the easiest defensive position in the sport. You can almost close your eyes and pick a guy out of any minor league system that would do a better job than Lee. To illustrate his futility even further, his PMLV rating which Baseball Prospectus lists as "runs contributed by a batter beyond what an average player at the same position would produce in a team of otherwise league-average hitters" is a -25.0 and after his 0-3 against Wang he sports a .202/.293/.324 line. That hitting has contributed to a net loss of 25 runs(!) for the Devil Rays. Had they replaced Lee with a minor leaguer of average ability, they would have posted 25 more runs, and perhaps a number of extra wins. Stupid. Painfully stupid.

Exciting win today. Tomorrow is Big Unit against Jae Seo. Gotta like our chances against Seo. He's hovered at replacement level all year between the Dodgers and Rays. Let's replace his ass with a big day with the sticks. Go Yanks. See you tomorrow.