Y'know how Hollywood waits until X-mas to put out really big hits destined for Oscar contention? The same goes for baseball blogging. Flotsam Media just mocked up a great new stat called GRIT (General Requirements of Intangible Talent) and we all have some thanking to do. This is a new metric that will revolutionize mockery everywhere, and I'm tempted to petition Baseball Reference and Baseball Prospectus to add it to their data sets. (I'm dead serious).
Go take a look at this brilliant piece of work and thank the Gods for blogs (Steven A. Smith, Bill Conlin, and Murray Chass be damned).
Hat tip to the eternally excellent FJM.
Sunday, December 23, 2007
Y'know how Hollywood waits until X-mas to put out really big hits destined for Oscar contention? The same goes for baseball blogging. Flotsam Media just mocked up a great new stat called GRIT (General Requirements of Intangible Talent) and we all have some thanking to do. This is a new metric that will revolutionize mockery everywhere, and I'm tempted to petition Baseball Reference and Baseball Prospectus to add it to their data sets. (I'm dead serious).
More stupid Johan talk. Apparently, the Globe is reporting that the Red Sox will score Santana if the Yankees don't include Ian Kennedy in their deal, and soon. I laugh.
If Minnesota wants to take the Red Sox flotsam for Santana, congratulations. More power to you in Fenway. I think the Sox have finally crossed over into Steinbrenner territory and while there's no guarantee that the highest payroll in the sport is going to win you the Series, they are adopting our former ways. Great. They are the same as us. Makes for a more interesting rivalry.
I think it would be great to have Santana, but giving up more than we've offered is beyond insane. You don't need the best pitcher in the sport to win it all, as much as it helps. Having 3 top quality starters at bargain basement prices is more valuable to me and is more conducive to dynasty building, where Santana would be a win now deal.
Here's hoping that he's a Red Sox and that we beat his ass repeatedly.
Monday, December 17, 2007
I missed the live airing of A-Rod on 60 Minutes last night, but I just finished watching the clips available at CBS.com and I've come away with a few impressions.
First, A-Rod is very very controlled. This isn't new. We all know that he is extraordinarily image conscious. He was deliberate in his answers and tried to remain focused throughout the interview.
Second, he denied using PEDs of any kind. I don't believe he did, but it's irrelevant at this point. We'll never know who did and who didn't, so any successful player is open to scrutiny. I choose to believe him. The disingenuous remarks, to me, were his denial of direct knowledge of any player's use of PEDs. He was very "blinky" throughout his answer, and while I don't expect him to sell anyone out or admit to being a silent enabler of drug abuse, I find it hard to believe that ANY player alive didn't know what was going on, or see something suspicious. These guys spend way too much time together.
Third, Katie Couric has to be the worst interviewer in the history of television. She looks and sounds like someone on mood enhancing drugs and she was completely overmatched in that interview. She clearly has no functional knowledge of baseball or sports in general and sounded like a dimwit trying to ask A-Rod about his swing. I'm biased because I think she's one of the most egregious examples of news as entertainment there is, and that's one of my pet causes. She's vapid, cotton candy and has no place in a serious conversation of any kind. I picture her sitting on the floor with a chimpanzee playing marbles and cooing about how well the chimp uses his opposable thumbs. Giggle.
I wish someone like Charlie Rose had conducted the interview. Couldn't they at least get Ed Bradley?
Saturday, December 15, 2007
Andy Pettitte made a statement today regarding his use of HGH. Here is the good majority of the AP article that is important to understanding this as a human issue.
"Andy Pettitte used human growth hormone to recover from an elbow injury in 2002, the "If what I did was an error in judgment on my part, I apologize," Pettitte said Saturday in a statement released by his agent. "I accept responsibility for those two days."
"In 2002 I was injured. I had heard that human growth hormone could promote faster healing for my elbow," Pettitte said in the statement released to The Associated Press by agent Randy Hendricks.
"I felt an obligation to get back to my team as soon as possible. For this reason, and only this reason, for two days I tried human growth hormone. Though it was not against baseball rules, I was not comfortable with what I was doing, so I stopped.
"This is it -- two days out of my life; two days out of my entire career, when I was injured and on the disabled list," he said. "I wasn't looking for an edge. I was looking to heal."
Pettitte was not linked to steroids in the report, and he emphasized he never had never used them.
"I have the utmost respect for baseball and have always tried to live my life in a way that would be honorable," he said. "If I have let down people that care about me, I am sorry, but I hope that you will listen to me carefully and understand that two days of perhaps bad judgment should not ruin a lifetime of hard work and dedication.
"I have tried to do things the right way my entire life, and, again, ask that you put those two days in the proper context. People that know me will know that what I say is true," he said.I think this set of remarks shows that mistakes can be made that aren't related to overt cheating. Not everyone involved in this report was looking to affect on field performance or transform themselves into a hulking home run hitter or fireballing ace. It doesn't excuse Pettitte for violating the ethics of the sport, if not the law, but it does explain a lot. If we believe the connection of Roger Clemens to the allegations in the report, that's a different story. Clemens prolonged his career by years and earned tens of millions of dollars in doing so. He stayed on top of his form well beyond the shelf life of his body, due to prolonged cycles of drugs....again, if true.
If any one of us, under pressure to perform our work or schooling despite physical weariness or mental exhaustion, pop Adderall or load up on speed does that make us a pariah? If we do it once or twice and realize the error of our ways, does that mean we should be lumped in with serial abusers and cocaine addicts? There has to be some perspective beyond the whitewashing of Mitchell Report names as a clan of monsters. We, as fans, have to think more critically than many of us are to see the complexity of the issue and the variety of issues at stake. The media, for its part, should treat its news with similar sensitivity.
It makes me sick to see the Red Sox blogs loading up on this. Even FJM, for all its good work, is guilty of broadly condemning every name in the report without ever stopping to consider how accurate it is, or at what level each name is involved. Boston Dirt Dogs has an entertaining bent on the Sox and Yankees most of the time. They rib, and poke, and rub us the wrong way, but they generally stay above the filth of the fray. Not this time. They are almost reveling in the news that several Yankees were involved, without ever ONCE acknowledging that Mitchell is a Red Sox employee and did very little to specifically investigate the Red Sox. There may or may not be a manifestation of the apparent conflict of interest in the report, but regardless it is out there and is a part of this public discourse. Failing to acknowledge it while simultaneously taking liberties in the portrayal of Yankees in their gleeful treatment of the topic is classless.
I think it's unfortunate that Andy did what he did. I believe his version of the story, and I think there is room to put his story in perspective. He was honest about his involvement and owned up to the wrongness of his participation in this mess. It doesn't erase the past, but it does put it in perspective. Giambi for his part has taken a similar path, although never coming right out and spilling the beans. The difference between Pettitte and Giambi, and the reason that I still like Pettitte where I can't stand Giambi is that Andy made a short term mistake and reversed course. Giambi fueled an entire career and made 100s of millions of dollars by doping. He is bearing the effects of his doping today and is virtually useless to the team as a result.
The bashing of Pettitte and the public shame will never disappear as long as he shall live. It's over for Andy Pettitte. He's as big a stain on the landscape of baseball as Barry Bonds. That's due to the naming of names without appropriate context. Now that the context is here, it doesn't matter because the mythology is already established and the horse is out of the barn. If only the general public were a little smarter and a little better at thinking critically. That's too much too ask though. As long as people spend more time watching SportsCenter than they do reading books, that's the culture we have created. Alas.
Thursday, December 13, 2007
Lost in the Mitchell Shuffle was the news that the Rangers released Akinori Otsuka. I believe they are on the verge of signing former Rakuten closer Kazuo Fukumori, so they drop one Japanese reliever in favor of another. The Yankees might want to think about Otsuka as a short term bullpen guy. He'll be 36 before the start of next season, and he's coming off an injury plagued 2007, but he's a gifted pitcher with a successful past.
Career, between San Diego and Texas, Otsuka posted a 2.44 ERA in 232 innings of relief. He saved 32 games for Texas in 2006 and sports a G/F ratio of 1.70 over 4 seasons. His strikeout rate has plummeted in recent years, but his G/F has simultaneously risen to almost 2.00 at the same time. He has held batters to a batting line of .222/.289/.311 career. His 2007 salary was $3 million, but you have to think he'd take less to pitch for the Yankees after his injury plagued year last season.
Offer him $2.5 million for one season and bring him in. You could do a lot worse in this market and what do you have to lose? Get on the phone Cashman.
I've been chatting over at Bronx Banter today, and I realized that some of the things I had going there would make for a decent COH post on my feelings today. Here they are, unedited and strung together in a paragraph by paragraph format:
The interesting thing to me is not the content of the report but the existence of the report itself. For months and months the idea of the report as a transformative moment in the sport has permeated discussion. The idea that a bombshell was going to be dropped featuring some of the biggest stars in the sport was common referential context for the whole thing. What it ends up being is a mostly circumstantial, dimly lit path linking a few networks of players. The names are mostly those already suspected or known and the report is going to fizzle into the ether once pitchers and catchers report in February. The importance of the whole research and its place in baseball history is suspect and the hype that has accompanied any discussion of it for all these weeks and months is like everything else in the 24-hour news cycle: sketchy, fleeting trivia.
From the press conference: "Obviously, the players who illegally used performance enhancing substances are responsible for their actions. But they did not act in a vacuum. Everyone involved in baseball over the past two decades – Commissioners, club officials, the Players Association, and players – shares to some extent in the responsibility for the steroids era. There was a collective failure to recognize the problem as it emerged and to deal with it early on. As a result, an environment developed in which illegal use became widespread."
That quote is a perfect illustration of the political whitewashing that the report represents. It does what the 911 Commission did. It does what any politically motivated document does in the current media climate. It provides a catharsis for a societal crisis, perceived or real, by naming a few names, slapping a few wrists, and eventually blaming everyone and no one all at once. That's why I said that the existence of the report is more interesting than the content. It is less a piece of paper with information than a symbolic cleansing of the public palate. It's a facilitator of purgation that allows us to move on. That is the only importance of the document.
The idea is that the report's only value is in the purgative. It draws a picture based largely on filling in the gaps between legal evidence and pure hearsay by insinuation. If that's the best you can do, you should avoid naming names at all. From a legal perspective, I'd guess that the players have no recourse for slander, but from a purely ethical standpoint, with the knowledge that what is printed in the mass media becomes truth via repetition, it would be better to avoid names without hard, damning evidence. The discussion here about Pettitte illustrates that better than anything. Score another one for the corporate government media complex.
This whole thing feels like masturbation, only without the pleasure.
Would this report as a PUBLIC document still have served the same purpose had the names been "redacted"? As a private document, used only for MLB's internal debate on drugs, it may be instructive to have anecdotal evidence linking specific teams and players to the problem. As a PUBLIC document, the only value in naming names is to sexy up the issue for the 24-hour news cycle, blogs, and random water cooler chatter. If you have shaky legal evidence linking a player to this issue, then you have shaky grounds to try him in the court of public opinion as well. If I were the union, I'd make a HUGE HUGE stink over the naming of names on these grounds.
The problem with this report and its release to the public is that it produces a mythology about steroids and baseball in which the main characters are now set in stone. There was no legal basis for the naming of these names, but by mass-mediated communication the mythology becomes ubiquitous. If anyone has the stomach for reading Roland Barthes "Mythologies", he breaks down how the whole process of mythologization works. Wikipedia's entry on his book states, "Barthes refers to the tendency of socially constructed notions, narratives, and assumptions to become "naturalized" in the process, that is, taken unquestioningly as given within a particular culture." I would argue that this is what's happening to Clemens and Pettitte here. Particularly Pettitte. Bonds is a man with direct legal links to this issue. Giambi is also an admitted user, as is (apparently) Sheff. There are others. Pettitte has been linked by this report to performance enhancing drugs with only the most circumstantial evidence, if you can even call it evidence, yet he is lumped in with the legally damned. His name is all over the headlines today. Mass-mediated communication channels have now fueled the mythologization of Pettitte as a PED monster, and he will never be able to extricate himself from it. It's over. That's why the names should have been redacted for public use.
Wednesday, December 12, 2007
I posted a little update on the Japanese free agent crop at Baseball Japan. Headlining the post is the new Cubs' outfielder Kosuke Fukudome. A sneak peek:
Kosuke Fukudome - outfielder
Fukudome signed a 4-year deal worth 48 million with the Chicago Cubs. Those were the numbers I expected as well as the destination. For what it's worth Nate Silver at BP posted the following PECOTA for Fukudome, noting that the numbers are built on a truncated 2007's data. Bump the plate appearances by 100 or so and you get the idea that a 40 double, 20 home run season isn't out of the question. The .905 OPS also looks very nice.
PA R 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB CS BA OBP SLG EqA VORP WARP
465 80 30 4 15 58 70 94 9 3 .289 .401 .504 .303 29.2 4.4
Saturday, December 08, 2007
Apologies to my good friends at BP, but I thought I'd cut and paste Hideki Matsui's numbers here to make a few points about the current rumors. If you'll notice below, Matsui's career batting line is .295/.371/.485 and in 2007, a year that was supposedly a disappointment, he put up basically those same numbers. How does a guy go from being a clutch, True Yankee, fan favorite to being an almost universally regarded has been? I would argue that people have lost their minds. In order to make this argument without being labeled a Japanese player PR man, which I have been from time to time in the past, I want to use these numbers and others to show why this possible trade is a bad idea.
Actual Batting Statistics
YEAR G AB H 2B 3B HR R RBI SB CS SO BB GDP BA OBA SLG
2003 163 623 179 42 1 16 82 106 2 2 86 63 25 .287 .353 .435
2004 162 584 174 34 2 31 109 108 3 0 103 88 11 .298 .390 .522
2005 162 629 192 45 3 23 108 116 2 2 78 63 16 .305 .367 .496
2006 50 172 52 9 0 8 32 29 1 0 23 27 7 .302 .393 .494
2007 143 547 156 28 4 25 100 103 4 2 73 73 9 .285 .367 .488
. 680 2555 753 158 10 103 431 462 12 6 363 314 68 .295 .371 .485
Advanced Batting Statistics
<---------ADJUSTED FOR SEASON----->Matsui's career EQA is a very respectable .290, and in 2007 he posted a 32.4 VORP and a 4.0 WARP1. Prior to the wrist injury, Matsui had a 43.8 VORP in 2005 and a 6.2 WARP1. If the level of play that you expect from Matsui is somewhere in between the two seasons, you'd have to get a pitcher like the 2007 A.J. Burnett, Daisuke Matsuzaka, or Andy Pettitte back in a deal. Sure Noah Lowry and Tim Lincecum were both of comparable value to Matsui last seasonby that system, but the Giants are not going to give up Lincecum in this deal and Lowry simply has no place on this team. Where does he fit? Which of our young guys is going to stay in AAA for Lowry?
YEAR OUT UEQR EQA EQR BRAR BRAA FRAR FRAA PRAR WARP1
2003 452 92 .271 86 29 9 1 -12 0 3.3
2004 415 116 .306 107 55 36 -1 -12 0 5.9
2005 447 109 .293 104 47 26 9 -3 0 6.2
2006 122 32 .296 29 14 8 7 5 0 2.3
2007 403 98 .286 88 37 19 -1 -10 0 4.0
. 1839 446 .290 415 181 98 15 -32 0 21.7
The BP list of most comparable players features 1996's Paul O'Neill as it's best match. 1999's Larry Walker and Dave Justice are also on the list, as is 1986's Keith Hernandez. Matsui has more value as a DH for us right now than anything we can realistically expect to get back. He is a perfect guy for the situation he's in. In the context of the Yankees offense, he'll drive in 100 and score 100, while hitting .300 on the year. He's a solid and consistent performer that comes at a fairly economical price in 2008. Certainly, he's a better all around player than Damon, who has put up a .265 - .280 EQA for the Yankees and had a 3.5 WARP1 last year. His defense is actually worse than Matsui's in many respects and he is ill suited to the leadoff role that we ask him to play. Jeter should be up there.
If there's a guy that needs to be shipped out to cut salary and bring back a bullpen arm, it's Mike Mussina. In the NL he can still have an effective 2008, and the Phillies would probably love to have him. It just works. What can we get back from Philly, considering they have dealt with us in the past (Abreu/Lidle)? Maybe we can figure out how to get a guy like James Happ from the Phillies for Moose. Throw in a little money to offset the salary, and make a deal.
Tuesday, December 04, 2007
Entirely Sox Propaganda Network
This from Jayson "I Don't Have a Shred of Journalistic Integrity" Stark (emphasis mine):
"While Hank Steinbrenner set deadlines and publicly lusted after Johan Santana, the Red Sox just bided their time and stayed in the game.
And what do you know? As Monday night turned into Tuesday morning at the winter meetings, suddenly it was the Red Sox who loomed as the favorites to pull off a deal for the best pitcher in baseball."
....and this:"But if the Red Sox wind up sweeping Santana out from under them -- and adding him to a rotation that already includes Josh Beckett, Curt Schilling and Daisuke Matsuzaka -- it will be fascinating to see if the Yankees feel the need to respond by reeling in another ace of their own.
'If the Red Sox get Santana," said an executive of one NL team that's grateful to be in the other league, "they might be the best team in the history of the frigging universe.'"
Is that the dumbest collection of sensationalism anyone's ever seen? If the situation was reversed, the Red Sox will have been the crafty and frugal club that is content to ride a team built to win the World Series. They have nothing to prove. And so on. The Yankees would be making a bold, but desperate move. Good thing the Red Sox are the geniuses they are, and know how to play dumb old Hank Steinbrenner by sweeping the rug out from under him and becoming the best team in the history of the frigging universe. Ugh.
So Johan Santana is really out of the mix. In a way, it's really too bad. Look at the top 5 similarity comparisons to Johan Santana at age 28:
1. Tim Hudson
2. Roy Oswalt
3. John Candelaria
4. Juan Pizarro
5. Bob Welch
6. Mike Mussina
I know. That's 6, but Moose was hanging out there and needed inclusion for reference. Overall similarity comparisons have Oswalt as the top overall match. The upside is that he would continue to be the dominant guy that Oswalt has been. Roy Halladay is somewhere on that list as well, as is Jake Peavy. Those are names you like to hear. The John Candelarias, Juan Pizarros, and Bob Welchs of the world are not what you are looking to spend prospects and a billion dollars to acquire. You develop those guys or pass on them in free agency.
Let's look at Danny Haren:
1. Oil Can Boyd
2. Brad Penny
3. Jim Lonborg
4. Joel Pineiro
5. Ben McDonald
The overall comparison isn't worth adding to this list, except to say that Bedard is there. Oil Can Boyd??? Brad Penny??? This is the perfect illustration of why you DO NOT EVER IN YOUR LIFE SPEND BIG ON FREE AGENT PITCHERS UNLESS YOU ARE DAMN SURE THEY ARE FIRST BALLOT HALL OF FAMERS. Ahem.
Trading away any of our top prospects for Haren is a sure fire way of making the Javier Vazquez mistake all over again. Jeff Weaver. Carl Pavano. Haren may be better than those guys, but I think the Big Three each have the potential to be ENORMOUSLY more talented than Haren. At worst, Kennedy should sniff that level. Why cave in on this situation. There has to be some organizational sense. With Pettitte and Wang fronting the rotation and Mussina holding down the back end, you can afford to watch the kids grow and see what they are. If you still want to trade them later because you think their value has peaked and there's something irresistible out there, do it. If not, you have a veritable pitching factory at your disposal in the minors now.
Ugh. Just say no.
As this has gone on, I've become more and more content with the idea of keeping our Big Three, as RAB calls them. I have been campaigning for Santana here for a fairly long time, but the idea that we have to break the prospect bank before we break the actual bank is silly. Santana is likely to toss a 140 ERA+ for a few more years, so the Red Sox can front their rotation with a couple of ace-caliber pitchers. That still guarantees nothing. It's not like we don't have excellent talent in the Big Three, and it comes cheaper, younger, and with less strings attached. By the time they are hitting their stride and posting ERA+ in the 100-teens to 130s, Betances, Brackman, Horne, Heredia, Sanchez, and others may be on their way up. That's the way we do things.
It's not to say that this drama is over. This kind of thing has a life of its own, and we could still see Hughes pack his bags for Santana. Whatever. At this point, I don't think we should make a deal for Bedard or Haren. If it means one of the Big Three, forget it. What's the point? Kennedy, generally considered the least of the three, is going to be as good as Bedard in a few years (if he's not close already), and Haren is no guarantee. He has inflated value based on his 2007, and Beane loves to operate this way. Sell High. Buy Low. If it ain't Santana, it ain't a Yankee.
Enjoy Lester or Ellsbury or Johnny Pawtucket, Minnesota. You had your chance and now it's over (hopefully).
Sunday, December 02, 2007
The hot stove madness surrounding Santana, Boston, and our beloved Yankees has reached the point of absurd. Speculation abounds. Minute-by-minute "Santana Watch" vigils are being held on the internet with much of the same debate being conducted in comments sections and bulletin board everywhere.
Here's the way it looks.
Yankees offer Phil Hughes, Melky Cabrera, and a mid-level prospect.
Red Sox offer Jon Lester, Coco Crisp, and mid-level prospects.
Dodgers may have made an offer of some kind.
Seattle and a handful of others are interested.
To my mind, unless Boston makes either Buchholz or Ellsbury available, our offer trumps theirs. If the Dodgers want to give away the farm, they can probably acquire him. If the Angels want to reverse their decade long trend of hanging onto their prospects, they can have him. Santana has a no trade, so he does get some say in his destination. This boils down to the Twins playing hard ass with everyone and demanding the moon. They have a young GM trying to show that he's the equal of anyone in the business, and a prime trade chip that comes along once a decade.
I am for acquiring Santana for Hughes and change. I always have been. I think it's a fair deal, and one that helps the Yankees win over the next 4-5 years. We have enough on the farm to absorb this and keep rolling strong. Joba, Kennedy, Horne, Betances, Brackman, Sanchez, Jairo Heredia, Clippard, etc....etc....and the draft keeps on rolling. If only one or two of those guys ends up in our rotation, it still works. Hughes is a symbol. A very high profile and important symbol to Yankee fans. Digging beneath the symbolic value of the player, there is also reason to believe he will be a very good pitcher. How good, how soon are the important questions.
Of that group, only Cano is young. The rest of those players are all set to decline in the near future, and many have already done so precipitously. Not to mention Giambi, who will be a ghost soon. The Yankees are built to win it soon. Fact is, they are still built to win it all multiple times soon, but not beyond three or four years. Johan Santana fits. He will probably give us a 140 ERA+ over that period. Will Phil Hughes? It's not impossible, but nothing is certain.
The sticking point to me is the Twins approach. They are doing everything exactly right from their position. So far, they are masterful. The thing is, we don't need Santana half as much as Jorge Posada said. If they are demanding the moon, and they should, we still have to consider the double jeopardy of prospects and salary. In terms of straight value here, players for players seems okay, but the addition of free agent money makes the deal almost prohibitive. Adding better players in the deal is idiotic and the Yankees should walk away. I'm not scared of Beckett, Santana, and Matsuzaka. That's an unbelievable rotation, but I'm high on our kids and I'm also high on the idea of Kennedy and change for Haren instead of Santana.
If the Twins don't get Buchholz or Ellsbury out of Boston, and we pull out of the thing, they hold onto Santana until the trade deadline. A desperate team will cave in at that point, possibly, although a kind of philosophical collusion could come into play where teams let Santana go to free agency and then blow him away. I expect he'll go into the season with the Twins and things will progress from there. This is all posturing and flexing by the teams involved, especially the Twins. Hughes was a step toward Minnesota in making a fair deal. The rest is excessive.
Final word. Wang, Hughes, Joba, Kennedy, Moose. That rotation is lacking in experience, and people are hemming and hawing about the Yankees lack of guaranteed quality. All the pundits out there are talking doomsday for the Bombers if they don't add a big name veteran. It's admittedly worrisome, but I also think it's overblown. The talent is unquestionable. Hughes will be as good as anyone we had last season. He already showed he is capable of big things. Joba is an ace in the making, if only injury stays away. Kennedy should be a solid #4 in this rotation. Certainly better than any #4 we had all year. Think about it. We made the playoffs with a shitty Clemens, shitty Moose, Igawa, White, Rasner, Karstens, and a host of other pretenders making starts. Hughes, Joba, and Kennedy are a gigantic upgrade. If a veteran guy is what we need to give innings or something, go for a Jon Lieber-type who can fill out the back end and save some young arms on occasion.
I still hope for Santana, but pox on the Twins if they think they can play us for fools in this negotiation. Good luck Boston. You can have him.
Thursday, November 29, 2007
I'm not in the business of hating on PeteAbe, because generally I like his blog, but there comes a time every so often that I think he's thick and needs calling out. So far, the Santana situation has been a lowlite for the LoHud Yankees blog. The last post I put up will give a clue to my feelings about his commentary, but today features another round:
"Lester is better and has more of a track record than Ian Kennedy and Crisp is a proven Major League player. Melky Cabrera is a better hitter and far cheaper, however. Phil Hughes and Cabrera trumps Lester and Crisp, I think. Then it’s a question of what other prospects to include."
Lester is a better player than Ian Kennedy. Hmmmm.....Drafted out of high school, Lester has a career 3.33 minor league ERA with about a 2.5 to 1 K/BB ratio. In 26 Major League starts he has a 4.68 ERA and about a 1.5 to 1 K/BB. He has a history of cancer. Ian Kennedy is a guy with NCAA experience, a career minor league ERA of 1.87, better than a 3 to 1 K/BB, almost 10 K/9. In his short MLB experience he posted a 1.89 ERA over 19 innings. He had a back problem last season. Certainly the track record with Lester is longer, but it's also much less impressive. I don't believe for one second that Jon Lester is better than Kennedy. At best it's a push. In fact, if I were the Twins I'd ask for Buchholz as a starting point. Lester isn't enough unless Ellsbury is in the mix, and by all accounts he's not.
Melky is a better hitter than Coco Crisp? Crisp is a career 94 OPS+ with a batting line of .280/.329/.409 over 4+ seasons. Melky is a career 90 OPS+, granted in limited action, with a batting line of .275/.340/.388 career. If you want to hypothesize that Melky WILL be a better player than Coco when he matures as a pro, I might buy it, but does anyone believe that his upside is substantially better than Coco Crisp? Plus, Melky is a very good defensive player, but he doesn't sniff Coco Crisp for range factor.
This has nothing to do with the deal itself, but we have to think before our fingers dance around the keyboard with wild guesstimates about what kind of value players have. Lester and Coco Crisp is an insult. Kennedy and Melky is an insult unless you include Horne or Jackson. It's going to take Phil Hughes to get Johan Santana, and shouldn't it? If the Yankees were on the other end, wouldn't they demand Hughes? I would.
Wednesday, November 28, 2007
From Pete Abe:
"This pitcher was 3-2 with a 5.70 ERA against teams from the AL East last season (not counting the Yankees).
He was 5-7, 4.04 in the second half of the season, allowing 88 hits (16 of them home runs) over 98 innings. The 33 home runs he allowed for the season were nine more than in any other previous season. Scouts have noticed he appears hesitant to throw his slider.
He has one victory in five career playoff starts."Pete is talking about Johan Santana, maybe just to be provocative, but it's uncannily stupid. Johan Santana's career ERA+ is 141, which is 14th ALL TIME. Last season he put up a 130 and held batters to a .225 BAA, and only an increase to .236 post-All Star break. The cherry picking of those numbers is insanity. During that same period, Santana had a 5-1 K/BB ratio. That tells the story better to me than the load of horseshit that Pete posted.
Also the comment about his playoff wins is just nonsense. The first 3 of his 5 playoff starts occurred in 2002 and 2003, years in which Santana started 32 games and pitched in 72. He was a part time reliever in both seasons, at 23 and 24 years old. The two starts he's made since show these combined numbers:
I don't need to get into it any more than that. Stop shitting on Santana to rile readers and generate traffic Pete. He's one of the greatest pitchers in history, and if he pitched in NY he'd be spoken of in the same breath as the All Time greats. Maybe you don't like the trade options, but don't distort the truth in making your case. It's absurd.
Monday, November 19, 2007
It's official our interim-free agent third baseman has been named the 2007 American League MVP in what must be one of the most foregone conclusions in recent sports history. What was in doubt was which clowns would be the latest hack idiots to prevent a runaway locomotive from winning it unanimously. Here you go:
The only two first-place votes that didn't go to Rodriguez were Tom Gage from of The Detroit News and Jim Hawkins of The Oakland Press in Pontiac, Michigan. (firstname.lastname@example.org) Send your warmest F&%^ YOU's to these gentleman for making a mockery of their roles in determining historically significant moments in the sport. No, they didn't affect the outcome, but there is absolutely ZERO rationale for their votes. None. Believe me, if David Ortiz were up for MVP with A-Rod's numbers and Alex had produced Magglio Ordonez' stat line, I'd vote for Ortiz in a flash. If Satan went up against Jeter in the same situation, I would have to cast my vote for fire and brimstone. He would deserve it.
This is unnecessary, but....
Alex Rodriguez (177 OPS+, .339 EqA, 39 Win Shares, 96.6 VORP)
Magglio Ordonez (167 OPS+, .336 EqA, 36 Win Shares, 87.8 VORP)
Clearly Magglio Ordonez had a season for the ages. What he did all year was superhero quality play. It was also clearly 2nd place to the historical season A-Rod put up in New York. Going by counting numbers, A-Rod looks ridiculously lopsided against Magglio's production, but it's still a clear win in the advanced metrics division as you see above. Nowhere did Ordonez outplay Alex in that stat line. This is a case of two local guys with a stick up their rear ends about Alex Rodriguez, or the Yankees, or their own little shitty world and they want their names in the paper as having "taken a stand" for their home town hero. They can probably get Magglio Ordonez to sign a few extra bats for them or something.
At any rate, we have the guy on our club that's won two of the last three AL MVPs and he's gonna do it again next year....and the year after....and the year after....Magglio Ordonez will still go down in history as a footnote.
Thursday, November 15, 2007
A thought just shot through my head about the Alex Rodriguez circus.
Fact: A-Rod is a historically important player (Yankee) on the level of Dimaggio, Ruth, and Mantle.
Fact: Every human being, including those players, is plagued by some kind of character "flaw".
Fact: New York is the modern media capital of the universe.
Fact: Baseball is defined as much by its rich tapestry of stories as the results on the field.
I state these premises to illustrate that any of the great players (Yankees) in history, with their personal peccadilloes, would have found themselves in the media circus in exactly the same volume that A-Rod does today had they played in the climate of journalism that permeates the tabloid/ESPN world that is 2007. Dimaggio for his combative and protectionist personality. Ruth for his syphilis, drinking, binge-eating life of excess. Mantle for his alcoholism. These players, by and large, got a break from the good old boys network of players and writers that prevailed in their day. A-Rod is no better or worse a person or player than those Yankees, but is unfortunate enough to live in 2007. Much of the image that A-Rod is burdened to carry with him is of his own creation. He's a phony. I still think, like the Yankees before him, that history may treat him better than present. When it's all said and done, and the day-to-day dig for news is over for him, our view will soften and all we'll remember are the home runs. Hopefully the champagne and championships. Just a thought.
Lost in the A-Rod drama, I forgot to respond to the most significant moment in the offseason. Jorge Posada signing on to finish his career with the Yankees is the best news we could have wished for, even if it seemed likely that he'd stay. I've written here before that Posada, in my opinion, is the true Captain of the Yankees...no disrespect to Jeter. He is the fire. He is the leader. He is the engine that drives the team on the field, in the clubhouse, and there is no player I'd rather have associated with the Yankee legacy than Jorge Posada.
Wednesday, November 14, 2007
Considering the Yankees' situation and their statements about not negotiating after the opt out, here's the way the conversation HAS to go down between the team and the player in order to make this thing work:
Team: If you negotiate with any other team after we make you an offer now, it's over forever.
A-Rod: I agree 100%.
Team: If Scott Boras negotiates with another team on your behalf after this conversation, it's finished...forever.
A-Rod: I understand completely.
Team: Okay. In that case, you have 1 hour to accept or decline this deal, or it's finished forever.
A-Rod: I won't need 5 minutes. Where do I sign.
Yeah, it seems he might be on his way back. Make no mistake, his image has taken a HUGE beating across the sport as a result of Boras' lead. A-Rod is a grown man, so he can't be expunged from the role he played in upstaging the Series and turning his back on the Yankees. He looks like the fake that he really probably is, but this is the right move for both parties in my book. I was in favor of letting him walk and not reopening negotiations with Alex after the opt out. The Yankees needed to hold their word and not cave in if for no other reason than to show they mean business.
A-Rod coming back, on hands and knees essentially, is the only way that this can happen without the Yankees looking weak. Still, you and I were ready to move on without him and we were ready as fans to stick to our principles. The Yankees can't be played by Boras or anyone else. We made threats and we had to keep to them. This is a slight step backwards in that regard, but we hold the cards. We can still flip him the finger and go after Lowell or whoever else is out there to man the hot corner, good or bad. We can do it, and the fans are behind it. A-Rod coming back without Satan in his corner is huge from a power standpoint. It's also the kind of contrition that will eventually win the fans back for Alex. Make no mistake, there are fences to mend if in fact he does come back. He shit in our backyard with the opt out, and no one will ever forget that. If he does anything like what he did in 2007, all will be forgiven eventually. Opening the Stadium in 2009 with A-Rod is a smart move and it gives us a little more ammo in making other moves as well.
Monday, November 05, 2007
Sunday, November 04, 2007
Hey COH fans....if any of you are left.
My grad work has been fairly intense recently and I've all but given up blogging for a little while. I'm trying to find time going forward to keep up with the latest Yankees news and chime in with a few opinions here and there. I'll go with a few quick hits today to keep you busy, and perhaps use this format to stay on top of COH without writing anything too in depth until major news occurs. As my schedule calms down, longer and more in depth work will follow.
1. Torre to LA
It seems our former skipper has landed a sweet 3-year deal to manage in Chavez Ravine and he's bringing Donny Baseball and Larry Bowa along for the ride. Poor Mattingly. He will never, ever, ever, ever get the Dodgers job and it's dubious as to whether he'd ever get any other job either. He's got to stay visible and hope that Joe Girardi will fall on his face, or pull a Buck Showalter and wear out his welcome in the Bronx. I don't see that happening. Torre will have an easier task in Dodger-land staying in the playoff picture. The NL West is garbage and he should have a good enough payroll to stay in contention. The problem is, it's no guarantee with the younger and more talented teams in that division. Those clubs appear to be rising, while the Dodgers have little young talent to speak of and will likely be on the decline. It's possible we see "Clueless Joe" reemerge in LA. He can only fail, really. If he goes to the playoffs, he looks great. If he wins it, he's a genius. If he fails to do anything, he tarnishes his image prior to going into the Hall. I think the latter scenario is most likely and it's not a pretty picture.
I can't even get into the comments that Boras and Alex have been making about their opt out. They are not worthy of consideration as anything but birdcage liner. In my wildest dreams, I wish the Yankees would come out and make a statement that they will never deal with a Boras client again, regardless of his talent or perceived value. That might hurt the club in the short term, and it would almost certainly burn bridges they don't want to burn, but it would also hurt Boras to an extent. It would rob him of one big piece of leverage that he loves to use in any negotiation. It won't happen, but it should. Every fan in the world has had enough of Boras. He shits on the sport more often than he contributes to it (has he ever made a significant contribution to improving the sport?) and his clients end up with sullied reputations when it's all over. Bring in Joe Crede for Damon and wait out Sublett's development.
To me, and I should have trumpeted this at COH for as long as I've been writing, Jorge is the real captain of the Yankees. I love Jeter, but he's not a captain type. Posada is the type of player that makes a great captain in my opinion. He's honorable, hard-working, passionate, a leader (both on the field and in the clubhouse), and he represents the Yankee way as well as anyone I can remember. Frankly, the Jeter personality that people associate with the Yankees is only half the equation. Torre and Jeter were both perfect ambassadors for the team, the organization, and the sport. They are class acts and deserve all the respect we can afford them, but there is also something to wearing your heart on your sleeve and staying in people's face from time to time. Posada is always ready to grab a pitcher in the dugout and lecture him about what he's doing wrong. He visibly cares, and that's the missing ingredient for most Yankee fans who long for Paul O'Neill. Don't long for Paul O'Neill. Posada has been there and he's better than Paul O'Neill. Embrace "Hip-Hip" Jorge. He HAS to be back in 2008 and beyond. We have no one to replace him on the field or in the hearts of the fans. From now on he is the COH Yankees captain...apologies to Jeter.
I'll get back to you all when I have a minute. Chime in at the comments section and let me know what you think. Your comments will help me drive my writing over the next couple of months, so I'm counting on you to support me a bit. See you on the flip. Go Yankees!
Sunday, October 28, 2007
Holy shit. A-Rod opts out according to ESPN. That would appear to be all she wrote for Alex in New York....or at least in the Bronx. Boras is probably gambling on the fact that the Cubs or someone as yet unknown will fork over silly, crazy, stupid money and that the Yankees will cave on their stance to stay out of free agent negotiation with him.
I hope Cashman sticks to his guns and lets him walk. Screw him and screw Boras. They are apparently made for each other. We're truly entering a new era of Yankee baseball folks. I'll be back to write more about this as it happens.
Saturday, October 13, 2007
One of my astute readers, Chris, posted this in the comments section of the last post:
"It's a forgone conclusion that Joe Torre is finished as manager of the New York Yankees.
I completely disagree. I don't think Joe is going anywhere. The Yankees should have let him go after 2003, and they had legitimate chances to drop him after '04, '05, and '06. I doubt they'll do it now. More than likely, he'll get a one year deal at about $4 million."
Very nice analysis, and I must say that I'm of the belief that Torre will be back with the team next year. The buzz is there in the press already, but think about it. David Ortiz and several of the Red Sox players defended him openly. Mariano is willing to walk with Torre up in the air. The young players all came out in support of Joe, as did the veterans. Basically, anyone who is involved in the locker room or the diamond is on Joe's side. Donny Baseball, who might be in line to take over for Joe, even barked his support for Torre to sip his tea from the dugout next season.
After some initial hemming and hawing, I've also come around. I think fresh blood in the dugout and on the field may be just what the doctor ordered for the Yankees, but to be honest it makes little difference whether Joe is the manager or not. As I've said all along, Joe didn't win those 4 titles, and he didn't lose the series we've played since 2000. He's loved by his players and respected by the opposition. He's horrible with the bullpen, but does a fine job with most other aspects of the game (please tell Jeter to never bunt again). If it means that much to the team to have Joe Torre at the helm, he should be at the helm. Don't forget, a lot of the guys who are with us now came to play for Joe. His reputation as a player's manager is justified, and adds value to our free agent pursuits.
Anyway, I still think it makes no difference one way or the other on the field, but it makes a lot of difference in the handling of the media and the clubhouse, where he shines.
On another semi-related note, I see that the O's fired Leo Mazzone. Mazzone's reputation took a bit of a hit in Balitmore, where he couldn't work the same magic he did with Cy Youngers Maddux, Glavine, and Smoltz. To that I say, "How can you expect a guy to work miracles with Steve Trachsel, Daniel Cabrera, and Jaret "Ouchie" Wright?" The O's system is a mess, and outside Eric Bedard, who Mazzone did refine nicely, who else is there?
Daniel Cabrera would be the name that hurt Mazz the most. Cabrera is thought to have lights out stuff, but no control. His lack of consistency in the zone makes him a perennial disappointment. I suggest that Mazzone could have done a better job with Cabrera, but it's also fair to believe that Cabrera is beyond saving. A pitching coach is not a miracle worker. They can't take you or me and turn us into Major League prospects. They can occasionally take a talented kid and refine his motion and delivery to the point where he finds a few extra miles per hour and control of a decent breaking ball. The best of the best can turn league average guys into frontline starters from time to time. The success of a pitching coach is more often defined by his ability to tweak already established talent to perform consistently well over the course of an extended period of time. Mazzone does that very well. What he can't do, and what no one can realistically do, is take a pitcher with no "feel" and transform him into an All-Star. Those cases are found once or twice in a generation. (Roy Halladay?)
I think the Yankees should look into paying Mazzone to be the pitching coach, or at the very least the director of organizational pitching instruction, or some such role. Guidry is okay. Fair job so far. Mazzone would be better from our bench, rocking back and forth next to Torre while he sleeps. Failing that, get him in the Yankees family.
Last thing. If A-Rod opts out, Cash should stick to his guns and let him walk. Let the Red Sox or Cubs pay him $35 million a season for 15 years. We have to show the world that the Yankees aren't going to be held hostage by any agent or any player, no matter the talent. It's important to take ourselves out of that negotiation strategy and show that we are in control of our own financial dealings. We aren't a negotiation chip for anyone. I want A-Rod back and I'd be willing to pay him silly money to finish his career in pinstripes, but not if he opts out. Even if he were to sign with the Red Sox.
Tuesday, October 09, 2007
It's a forgone conclusion that Joe Torre is finished as manager of the New York Yankees. Is it fair? That's really hard to say. There are a number of sides to the issue that are championed by various entities around the team. There is the "Joe Must Go" crowd, led by NoMaas. There is the ambivalent crowd that probably appreciated Joe Torre, but has no real loyalty to him over the team. I think that's most folks actually. Then, there are the people that LOVE Joe Torre, led by his players and folks stuck in 1996-2000.
I consider myself in the middle group actually. It's completely unfair to blame Torre for what's come of this Yankees team since the final out in 2001. He's not a good in game manager, but he was good enough to go along for the annual 100 win push. His moves in the playoffs neither won 4 championships, nor got the team knocked out early the last 7 years. The manager rarely matters that much. Joe was loved by his players, and that says something. Free agents wanted to play for the Yankees as much to play in the Yankee clubhouse as they did for the money. Part of the reason for that love was Torre's loyalty to "his guys" and the even-keel demeanor that kept things professional and calm. That's something in the Bronx Zoo.
By all accounts he handled working for Steinbrenner very well. There were numerous occasions that Joe could have fought with The Boss in the media, but chose to play it low profile. That was smart. The drawback to Torre's personality was the sense that he was often asleep at the wheel, lacked the fire to motivate his players, and generally didn't get it. There's truth in both views. There's also truth to the knock that Joe stubbornly stuck with veterans like Villone, Sturtze, and others. Those guys had no business on the club, but wore the veteran badge of honor to Joe. Loyalty is good. Loyalty can cost you if you don't know how to wield it properly.
In the end, it's time to part company with #6. I don't think he deserves to be vilified or blamed. I don't think he deserves to be canonized either. We should remember him as a class act that presided over one of the most successful eras in Yankee baseball, and lasted well beyond what conventional wisdom would have told us his tenure would be at the start. It's time for new blood. That's true of the manager as much as it's true of the players on the roster. This group has outlasted its run, and we need to change the chemistry. That starts with the manager and ends with some of the guys on the field.
I wonder what will happen with #6. Will it find its place on the wall in Monument Park, retired, or will it go to the next hot young player to walk through the door? I'd put it on the wall as much to remember 1996-2000 as to celebrate Joe, but it probably deserves to go out there with #2, #20, #21, #42, and #51. If not, Joe's name still sits on the leaderboard of Yankee victories as manager. That's a prestigious list that you can never take away. Goodbye Joe. I wish you well in your next job, or in retirement. You deserve our thanks.
Monday, October 08, 2007
C Jorge Posada (He's Ageless and the "Real" Captain of this team.)
2B Robinson Cano (The face of the next generation)
SS Derek Jeter (Bad post-season can't erase HOF career)
3B Alex Rodriguez (You need him. He needs you. Pay the man.)
LF Johnny Damon (Keeps things loose and should bounce back healthy)
CF Melky Cabrera (Young. Cheap. Great arm. Decent bat.)
DH Jason Giambi (Unless you can trade him, you're stuck with him.)
SP Johan Santana (Trade Wang and Hughes to get him. Just do it.)
SP Andy Pettitte (He can still get it done.)
SP Joba Chamberlain (The Future)
SP Ian Kennedy (Polished and Promising)
SP Mike Mussina (Unless you can trade him, he's your #5 man.)
CL Mariano Rivera
You'll notice that I've left 1B, RF, and the entire relief corps up in the air. I also left Matsui off the team. Realistically, most of the relievers will be back, as will Godzilla. You'll probably see Mientkiewicz again and you may even see Abreu after that 9th inning homer against Borowski. Very little may change. I'm simply proposing that we look into moving Matsui, letting Abreu walk, and exploring some options to get younger, faster, and more dynamic. I'd love to dump Giambi and Moose as well, but they are paid a lot and seem rather hard to pawn off on anyone. I'd try a Moose to Philly thing, and I'd try to pay some of Giambi's salary to get him out.
The biggest thing I'd do in the offseason is get Johan Santana. I love Hughes' potential and Wang is a very nice pitcher. You have to give value to get value. Wang is a 120 ERA+ type guy and Hughes looks like he will eventually be in that neighborhood as well. He could be better. It's hard to trade away two young arms that make the minor league money for the forseeable future, but Johan Santana is a once in a blue moon guy. Here are his ERA+ numbers since becoming a full time starter in 2004:
2004 - 182
2005 - 153
2006 - 161
2007 - 133
Even in his down season this year he had a 133 ERA+. He's not 30 until opening day at the new stadium. The last time a Yankee posted an ERA+ of 133 or better for a full season was Mussina's 142 in 2001. The last time we had a pitcher post an ERA+ of 150 or better was Andy Pettitte in 1997. How about the 182 that Santana had in 2004? Anyone close to that? No. There are only 3 Yankees in the franchise history to have higher ERA+ than Santana's 182. Guidry had a 208 in 1978. Spud Chandler had a 197 in 1943. Lefty Gomez had a 191 in 1937. If you loosed the criteria to include Santana's 161 in 2006, you only add an additional six Yankees to the three I mentioned already. None of those seasons came any later than 1964. Go get him unless (1) the Twins won't take Wang and Hughes, or (2) you think Hughes will be able to put up a 150 ERA+ on a number of occasions.
You're going to spend big this offseason on A-Rod, Posada, and Mo. You can let Abreu walk and plan for Giambi's exit in 2009. Face it, we need the best pitcher in the world on our team so we can win one of these bloody series. Santana twice in an ALDS is nasty with the Yankees' offense. He also comes from the left side, so you can own Yankee Stadium. Just do it.
More later when I feel more sane.
I won't hide it. I dislike the Giambino intensely. He's so good that Cashman forked over $100 million, but he was on 'roids and whatever else and now he's a shadow of his former self. Yeah, he can still OPS 1.000, but for how many games? How many big moments will he flail away? If any team will take him off our hands next year, I'd pay half his 2008 salary.
Very interesting game yesterday. Clemens looked every bit his age, as he did much of the year with the Yankees. Good sense probably would have had Hughes making that start anyway, but there are a few factors that sometimes trump good sense. Clemens status and salary are two of those factors. The reverse can be said against Hughes. The facts bear out that Hughes is probably a better pitcher than Rocket right now...October 8th, 2007. It worked out very well. Tonight will be a nail biter.
All the analysts say that Wang's sinker should be in top form on short rest, and there may be some wisdom to that, but I have the jitters about his ability to win a big game for the Yankees right now. I think he's gifted and mentally tough, but I think the jury is still out in this kind of situation. He can make or break his reputation in tonight's game. Paul Byrd, on the other hand, can pull one out of his ass and make Eric Wedge look like a genius. There is no other alternative. If Byrd is awful, and the Yankees end up winning this game, Wedge will look like an idiot, but an idiot that everyone kind of expected to criticize after starting Byrd.
The key to this game will be getting on Byrd early and handing Wang a lead. If that happens, we win. If not, and the reverse is true, we probably lose. I just have a feeling about it.
River Avenue Blues' Joseph P. has a very interesting take on the intentional walk to Matsui last night that set up Cano's big hit. I was sitting next to my wife watching the game and turned to her during the Matsui at bat to criticize Wedge for the move. I explained the strategy behind his decision, but felt that the conventional thinking was not applicable in the context of the Yankee lineup. Matsui was far more likely to hit the ball at someone in that situation, and while you may surrender a run, it is better than pitching to Cano with the bases loaded. Cano (despite my lack of research on his ground ball tendencies) doesn't hit into double plays. He is a line drive gap hitter and is far more likely to get a big hit in that situation than the hobbled Godzilla.
[Editor's Note: I just checked Robbie's GO/AO ratio and see that he had the 8th most ground outs to air outs in the Majors. So much for metrics. My belly full of guts got it right that time. ;)]
Pete Abe over at the LoHud blog has a couple of things that I wanted to comment on. The first is his question about why Don Mattingly gets a bigger ovation than Jeter and A-Rod and company. Pete grew up a Sox fan so it's not surprising that he doesn't understand this. Only a non-Yankee fan would even raise the question. Anyone my age remembers the Yankees when they were good but not great and couldn't get over the hump. One guy carried the torch of Yankee Pride with him during that time. Don Mattingly. That is the tattoo of the 30-something Yankee fan. Mattingly's legacy. Bobby Murcer did it before him. Ask Michael Kay.
The other thing is the excellent discussion on who replaces Clemens on the roster. Pete names names, but in the end goes with Edwar as his choice to replace Rocket over IPK. Kennedy may have never appeared in relief, but his 3-4 innings in a game 5 could be the difference between advancing and going home. Edwar may only get you a few outs, and may also give up a run or two. No thanks.
Go Yankees. We play today. We win today. That's it.
Sunday, October 07, 2007
I happened to think the Yanks are going to win the next 2 days. I don't know what to think about a return to Cleveland, but I feel okay with the idea that they will be making that trip. This is ugly though, no doubt about it.
If they win tonight, I'll be back to post about Game Four. If not, Torre is 100% gone and you can bet there will be MAJOR changes on the roster. That will be the subject if the unthinkable happens.
What's for sure right now is that the Yankees offense does not work in the post-season for whatever reason. We've seen it since the 2004 collapse. The pitching is the real problem though. Pettitte was brilliant, and Joba should have been out of that inning, if the locusts hadn't come down. The thing is, it got to Vizcaino and he blew it. The key to winning in baseball is so simple it's painful. Throw strike one. The Yankees don't do it enough. Wang didn't do it at all in Game One, and the bullpen (outside Joba and Mariano) doesn't do it at all. Sabathia and Carmona threw strikes. They also sport much better ERA+ numbers than any Yankee starter. That's a repeat of all the recent playoff ousters. Opposing teams start pitchers who throw strikes and sport superior ERA+ numbers than the Yankees. I propose that to win next year, we will have to get at least one guy with a 130-140 ERA+ at the front of the rotation and another in the 120's as a #2. Wang can be that #2, but the guy in the 130s-140s isn't on the team yet. (Joba?)
Go Yankees. Win it for Joe, if that's what it takes. Get 'em Rocket. For old times' sake.
Thursday, October 04, 2007
Not to bump my playoff prediction and Yankee commentary, but I thought I'd turn you on to a piece I wrote with Kevin Goldstein at Baseball Prospectus. We split the responsibility for writing an HWB preview, with Kevin focused on the MLB prospects playing in Hawaii and I focused on the Japanese prospects. With the Hawaii season heating up, you'll want to read our article.
Hawaii Winter Baseball republished the story on their own site, and it can be read by clicking here. Double your pleasure with Yankees playoff baseball and a little light reading on the side. Don't forget the prospects in the October madness.....
Wednesday, October 03, 2007
I'm feeling a real mix of emotions on the night before the Yankees take the field in Cleveland. For the last few days I've fluctuated between confidence and doubt.
I'm confident that the Yankees have what it takes to win the whole thing this season, where they've fallen short every season since 2000. The club had the best record in the sport over the last 3 months or so, and when you think about it the Yankees played 12 games better than the Red Sox over that same period. Had we been tied, or a
game or two back, we would have won the division by 10 games.
On the other hand, I don't feel like we have the kind of dominating pitching that shuts teams down. Wang is superb, but when he's not inducing ground balls he's league average. Fortunately, he usually induces ground balls. More simply, ball is up Wang goes down. Pettitte is good, but he's not the lock down type pitcher in his mid-30's that he was in his late 20's. Clemens is a mystery. He earns his paycheck by throwing up goose eggs in the post-season, so all eyes will be on him. Sabathia and Carmona will have an opportunity to put the Yankees in a huge hole, and both have ERA+ numbers that would make most grown men blush. The question will be, is the Yankees' offense THAT good this season? We saw what is possible last year when we couldn't buy a hit.
My gut tells me, though, that this team is a little different. This team feels different and they aren't swaggering into the playoffs with the sport's best record this season. They clawed and scratched to get in, and I think they learned something along the way. They learned the kind of dedication and focus that it takes to win every night. Every night was important, and every night was a fight. That's playoff mentality, and the Bombers feel they've been locked into that mentality for months.
For the hell of it, I will post a complete playoff prediction here, just for fun. I'm going to pick the Yankees to win it all, (1) because I believe they will, and (2) if I didn't what's the point in being a fan? Here goes:
Phillies vs. Rockies (Phillies in 5)
Cubs vs. D'Backs (Cubs in 3)
Phillies vs. Cubs (Phillies in 7)
Red Sox vs. Angels (Red Sox in 4)
Yankees vs. Indians (Yankees in 5)
Red Sox vs. Yankees (Yankees in 6)
Yankees vs. Phillies (Yankees in 5)
Wednesday, September 26, 2007
Congratulations to the New York Yankees for their 13th consecutive playoff appearance. An amazing comeback from a dismal first half makes this very special. We will be a force in the post season. Believe me....no one wants to see the Yankees right now. Thank you A-Rod for persevering the rude reception in 2006 to show the world why you are the greatest living player and the 2007 AL Most Valuable Player. Go Yankees!!!!!!!!!
Monday, September 24, 2007
I'm going to keep this short. Sweep TB and sweep Baltimore and we're going to win the division. Six games, six wins, one more Division Title. Boston will lose two. I guarantee it. Anything short of running the table and we're the wild card. Mark it down. Go to work fellas.
Saturday, September 22, 2007
So the Yankees win perhaps the ugliest and most painful game I've ever witnessed. The bad pitching spread from the Bronx all the way to Tampa apparently as Al Reyes blew a save that would have put the Yankees back within a game of the Red Sox. That's not an isolated incident either. Look at his last two appearances versus Boston:
1 hit (HR)
1 BLOWN SAVE
4 hits (2 doubles, 2 HRs)
1 BB (intentional: Ortiz)
Consider that those two D-Rays wins would have helped the Yankees by putting us in a tie in the loss column with the Red Sox and we should be sending a few "toughs" from Legends Field to Tropicana to make Reyes and offer he can't refuse.
Game still not over, but I can't resist posting again. The pen is shit. Farnsworth is the most egregiously awful of all the players on our roster. He's stealing money. If he's on the post-season roster (provided we are in the post-season) I will personally drive to the Stadium and clothesline him. Ugh.
Last night was unfortunate, but it was a very tough game. Great competition. One timely homer decided it. Tonight is 100%, undeniably, inexcusable. We've wrested the lead from Toronto with huge innings time and time again. We're talking 3 and 4 run innings. A-Rod has been magnificent. The pen comes in and throws ball one, ball two, line drive single one, line drive single two, walk three, etc.....
It's the top of the 4th now, and Hughes just gave up a 2-run single to the previously 0-23 Thigpen. He had Thigpen 0-2 and let him foul off 100 pitches before giving in with a weak, loopy curveball.
I've held off on posting this sentiment for a while, but I've almost typed it several times. I'm unimpressed with Phil Hughes. He's young. He's obviously got some gifts. He just doesn't have anything resembling a commanding presence on the mound. Make no mistake, I'm not saying he's bad. I'm not saying he isn't ready or that he doesn't belong, but I'm still unimpressed.
Considering he was named as the top pitching prospect in the sport, he hasn't lived up to his reputation yet. Joba and Ian Kennedy both look much more dominant and comfortable than Hughes, not to mention Yovani Gallardo. Fastball....okay. Curve....inconsistent. Other pitches?
A perfect example of Hughes' unimpressive outings is one at bat in today's game. Adam Lind's ground rule double to left scored the Jays first run. Lind entered the game hitting .230/.273/.381 and Hughes fell behind him 2-0. Both pitches were little dinky-dunky crap that should never come out of his hands, let alone to a bad hitter like Lind. It may be unfair considering the difference in velocity, but Joba doesn't ever throw like that. Strike one might be a 98-100 mph fastball or an 88 mph slider, but they usually are in for strike one. That's an effective way to pitch. Face it, if you throw strike one you get a huge advantage. They either hit it, make an out, or you're in a position to control the remainder of the at bat. If you throw ball one, you have to come back with a strike or risk really getting in trouble. That one pitch can make or break an at bat.
Hughes' key to success is trusting his stuff and challenging hitters with it. He's too good to be playing around on the mound. He's not Mike Mussina at the end of his career. He's not Tom Glavine. Until he decides he's going to do that he'll get Guidry out there with that now familiar stern visage lecturing him mid-inning. He'll get another dozen visits by Posada mid-at bat. Hopefully, he'll come out next season with a new attitude. He has to.
Friday, September 21, 2007
It's not over in the wild card folks. 4 games now. 2.5 behind the Sox. No reason to panic, but that was a completely anticlimactic 14 innings of baseball. After the 9th and after Mo, Joba, and Viz you just KNEW the Bombers were going to win it. Each creeping inning passed, and it became less and less likely. That magic feeling wore off and then there was Zaun. If Frank Thomas, Vernon Wells, Alex Rios, or Joe Carter hit the game winner you'd tip your cap and remark at what a great game that was. Greg Zaun. Meh.
Wang versus Halladay.
Beckett versus Kazmir.
Could you start the final push with a pair of more dramatic matchups? I'll give you my take on both games and perhaps offer a prediction for what we might see in what promises to be the best drama of the year for a one night stand.
First, I will look at the two pitchers going in the other matchup. Career versus Tampa Josh Beckett hasn't been all that good. A small 4 game sample shows the following numbers for Beckett:
This year Beckett is probably going to walk away with the Cy Young though. He's a bit different in 2007, and has only really faced Tampa once. He dominated them to the tune of 6 innings, 9 hits, a walk, 3 runs, and 9 strikeouts. The Red Sox won that game 15-4. They scores 6 in the first, 3 in the second, and 4 in the third. Hardly a tough day at the park for the Boston boys.
Beckett's opponent tonight is Scott Kazmir, who seems to kill Boston. His career numbers against the Beantown Boys are:
This season Kazmir has started 5 games against Boston and has 30.2 innings pitched, 28 hits, 13 walks, 1 home run, 40 Ks, and a 2.64 ERA. It's hard to argue that Kazmir doesn't have Boston's number. What's more the Red Sox come in on a 4 game losing streak in which they've only managed 8 total runs. They were shut out 1-0 by Kazmir on the 10th of the month and are without Manny, and possibly Youkilis, Crisp, and Ortiz. All are ailing in one way or the other. I expect to see two of the three play, but Manny is definitely out. With the troubles the Sox are having the pen also is without Okajima for the next 5 days, and I have a hard time seeing them win if several of the regulars miss the game. My prediction:
Tampa 4, Red Sox 3
On to the Yanks and Jays. Halladay is a flat out monster. That is, when he's healthy. He's up to 210 innings now, but all signs point to a very tough ace heading into town. Halladay has had very little in the way of bumpy roads in recent weeks and months and looks every bit the Cy Young caliber pitcher we all know and hate. Against the Yankees his numbers are outstanding, with a 3.10 ERA, 1.19 WHIP, and .247 BAA in his career. He's been good against the Bombers again this season and I expect him to be lights out again.
Wang has been very good lately. He didn't pitch well in his last start in Boston, but really hit his stride after some early August struggles. Unfortunately for the Yankees, Wang's worst outing of the year came in a 15-4 loss to Toronto when he only went 2.2 innings and allowed 9 hits, 2 walks, and 8 runs. Ouch. His career numbers aren't very good against Toronto either, with an ERA approaching 5.00, so I don't see things going our way tonight. Unlike the Red Sox, however, the Yankees are on a goofy roll, winning 12 of 14. Of those two losses, one was lopsided in Boston and the other was an Ian Kennedy masterpiece that unfortunately ended in a tough 2-1 walk off loss thanks to Chris Britton. That means that we were really close to winning 13 out of 14, and in my book that means we're nuclear hot. I still can't see it tonight. My prediction:
Blue Jays 6, Yankees 3
If my predictions hold, we'll stay 1.5 back and the race will continue. I'm just hoping that all the numbers that we've seen are moot with the recent explosion by the Bombers and we'll pull out some whooping sticks against Halladay. If we can do that, look out. See you tomorrow. Go Yanks.
Wednesday, September 19, 2007
Tuesday, September 18, 2007
2.5 games back? How did this happen? Are the Bombers just playing games with us, or are they actually about to catch the Red Sox? The wild card seems all but sewed up now with Detroit staring at winning all 10 of their remaining games to even have a shot. I've been saying that the Yankees should only worry about the wild card until they get it, which I think is now. Who knew that we'd be in the division picture at this point, as well?
The Sox are still without Manny and Youkilis and they play at Tampa and home against both Minnesota and Oakland. The Yankees are home for Toronto and away for both Tampa and Baltimore to finish things out. If we can close things out with a win tomorrow and then an 8-2 run to finish the season, the Red Sox would need to finish 7-3 to take the division, thanks to our win in the tie breaker (the season series). Basically, counting on a win tomorrow, we need to beat the Red Sox by 2 games over the final 10. Don't you think that's doable people? I do.
I'm going to say the Sox close things out at 6-4. Here we go....
Thursday, September 13, 2007
A lot has happened this season, some of it eye-gougingly frustrating and some of it worthy of celebration. At the All Star Break the Yankees were a dismal 42-43 for the season. That's a winning percentage of .494 and a 162 game pace of 80 wins and 82 losses. Ouch. The last Yankee club that was that bad is found way back in Buck Showalter's first year with the club, 1992. That Yankee team went 76-86 and finished 4th in the division. I'm willing to bet that more than a few blog readers are either too young to remember those days and can't envision what that means in the Bronx.
The fact is, the Yankees are the highest payrolled club in American sports. Finishing out of the playoffs for a team with this kind of budget and the kind of resumes that its players boast is unthinkable. A disaster of incalculable proportions. The beauty of baseball is, the end of the season almost always meets expectations, be they individual statistics, team goals, or concessions sales. These Yankees are finding their late season correction just at the right time and have put up the best record in baseball since the break. Since early July, the Yankees are now 41-19, which is a .683 winning percentage and a 162 game pace for about 111 wins. I think it might be interesting to look at the batting and pitching lines for the key Yankee regulars to identify just how well they have played.
Jorge Posada - .359/.465/.647
Robinson Cano - .341/.400/.559
Derek Jeter - .281/.354/.376
Alex Rodriguez - .320/.441/.675
Hideki Matsui - .312/.375/.525
Melky Cabrera - .308/.355/.460
Bobby Abreu - .321/.389/.578
Johnny Damon - .279/.363/.421
I left out the rotating cast of first basemen because Phillips, Duncan, Giambi, and now Mientkiewicz simply don't have enough of a sample size to be worth examining individually. Collectively, I'd be willing to bet that the numbers are very nice, but I don't have the time or patience to sort them out. One interesting note is that Derek Jeter is by far the worst Yankee regular since the All Star Break. The average and on base percentage are substandard for Jeter, but the lack of power is startling. He's not a power guy by any stretch of the imagination, but .376 slugging is Juan Pierre territory. You know that the sluggish numbers are a product of the Captain playing through injuries for the team, but they are awful nonetheless. The notable improvements on this list are obvious. Cano and Abreu have been smoking hot and have joined Jorge and A-Rod to present a frightening combination of hitters scattered throughout the lineup. There is no safe stretch of innings for opposing pitchers. One of those guys is going to get his turn at bat every single time you take the mound.
The pitching should be interesting as well.
Chien Min Wang - 4.13 ERA, 1.36 WHIP and more hits than IP
Andy Pettitte - 3.14 ERA, 1.36 WHIP, reduced walk totals but more hits than IP
Roger Clemens - 5.06 ERA, 1.52 WHIP, and more hits than IP (.299 BAA)
Mike Mussina - 6.22 ERA, 1.80 WHIP, more hits than IP (.359 BAA!!!!!)
Phil Hughes - 5.28 ERA, 1.35 WHIP, fewer hits than IP (.237 BAA)
Clearly, Pettitte and Wang have carried this club from a pitching perspective. Clemens and Mussina have been downright awful. At their prices, one might argue criminally awful. Phil Hughes' numbers have been deceptive. He's pitched very well for the most part. His trouble has been with walks followed by XBHs. The BAA is very nice and he's kept the ball from falling in more often than not. Ian Kennedy seems to have sorted out a spot in the rotation that covers Clemens and Mussina given any injury or ineffective pitching concerns. I wonder if he'll be carried on the post-season roster.
The concern for the Yankees in 2007 looks about the same as the end of 2006. As we appear to creep closer to a playoff spot, the offense is carrying the load, while the pitching is barely adequate most nights. In the playoffs, that mix has exposed us the last few seasons with last season's ALDS standing out above the rest. The names are there. Clemens is prime among those famous surnames. The question now will be, "Can he give us 3 more lights out starts before calling it quits?" Those starts are, of course, big games in the ALDS, ALCS, and WS. Moose is almost a guy to write off as a loss at this point, but I'm encouraged by the prospect of having Hughes, Kennedy, and Chamberlain in the pen for the playoffs to enter at the first sign of trouble.
The pen is a mess really. Who is included on a post-season roster? Bruney? Britton? Igawa? Farnsworth? Villone? Edwar? The last three names on that list would probably have to be penciled in as "yeses" based on our knowledge of Torre. The first three would qualify as "nos", with Chamberlain, Hughes, and possibly Kennedy in the mix. I wonder what you think.
Here's to a fun last couple of weeks. Go Yankees!!!
Wednesday, September 05, 2007
Hey fans of COH.....what's left of you. I've moved back to New York from Japan, at least temporarily, and I'm getting my life set up. At the moment I'm struggling with internet access so the blogging is a bit thin. To bad. Things are just getting interesting and I enjoyed the final game of the Yankees sweep of Boston at the Stadium.
Please don't give up on me. I will be back in a matter of either hours or days, so keep the faith and continue supporting COH as you have been all along. Back in the NYC mix again folks.....
Saturday, August 25, 2007
I just woke up at 3:00am to see the final innings of the Detroit opener. Sean Henn vomited up the game and we are now dropping slowly out of the race. Seattle is still catchable with a tough schedule and 3 games at the Stadium, but the Yankees are finding ways to lose again and we are in a troubling and precarious position right now. We lost the opener to the Angels after a grueling marathon and now we've duplicated that feat against the Tigers. Talk about demoralizing for fans and players alike.
I'm not sure what's going to make me feel optimistic when I wake up later. I'll figure it out, but the team is certainly making it hard. Clemens may finally have run out of whatever it was that was propelling him into his 50's as an ace. I think it was radioactive NL Central rocks or something.
Thursday, August 23, 2007
The Angels series proved to be quite a let down for the Yankees. One of these years we're going to abuse the boys from Anaheim the way we have the Rangers and Indians over the last decade. It will be sweet revenge to turn the tables on them after the grief they've caused us lately. The victory last night was a very good way to salvage the series as the key members of the playoff race collectively dropped their games, allowing us to redeem one of our stumbles out West.
Joba Chamberlain has quickly become my favorite Yankee and I'm amazed to see the control he has of 97, 98, 99, 100 mph stuff and an 85 mph slider that bites hitters off at the knees. For a 21-year old kid he has poise and command beyond his age and it's very encouraging to see that he is seated next to the Rocket in the clubhouse. If his stuff is legit and he has his mechanics under control, I feel as though he may be the better of the two young aces currently on the big league roster. With the kind of power he has, his future just might translate to more long term success than Hughes, although it's too soon to know anything for sure. I'll enjoy watching though.
This post is about Alex Rodriguez. You could post about A-Rod everyday if you really wanted to. I try to stay away from it because A-Rod can turn into a circus of giant tabloid proportions if you overdo it. In this case, I want to make the case for signing him long term. Here goes:
Cashman has warned A-Rod and Boras that the Yankees will be out of the sweepstakes if he decides to opt out. I have to support that philosophy 110%. There's a point where the most powerful sports franchise in the world (not named Real Madrid) should set the terms of its own negotiations. The Yankees have too many resources to be played by the likes of Boras. Anyone can be replaced. The A's have repeatedly proved that. I don't think, however, that either party wants to part company. A-Rod could go down in the pantheon of greats as a Yankee, which holds a certain prestige level that is accompanied by cold hard cash, if that happens to be on his mind. The Yankees like to have the best player on the planet on their team, especially if he is in the conversation for the greatest player of all time when it's said and done. The Bonds' home run record might be reachable if A-Rod stays healthy and productive and he would look good breaking that mark in pinstripes.
The opt out is the only real obstacle to having Rodriguez in our uniform for the rest of his career and I believe that the situation will be dealt with (if it hasn't been already) behind closed doors. A-Rod doesn't opt out and the Yankees, as a billion dollar plus franchise, splash outlandish money on him to stay. $30 a season for 8 years is stupid, but in this case I'd make an exception. The extra $3 million in 2008, 2009, and 2010 will bump his annual up to $30 million. Those years would see the Rangers continue to pay between $6-8 million, and A-Rod would then get a straight $30 million a year from the Bombers for 2011-2015. He will be ridiculously overpaid by the end of the deal, but I think this is an exception worth making. Outside of Albert Pujols there is no better player in the prime of his career. Miguel Cabrera may be another marquee guy that the Yankees could pursue that would get the team more value, but the thing is you aren't sure that he will be available to you. A-Rod is in house and he is having a historic season. He already holds the Yankee record for most home runs by a right handed hitter, when he set the mark with 48 in his 2005 MVP season. The third baseman is destined to shatter that this season as he already has 42 with 6 weeks to play. Rodriguez may end the year with homers in the mid-50's, which would look positively unreal when compared to the greats that have worn the Yankees' uniform over the last 100 years.
Not since Mantle hit 54 in 1961 have the Yankees seen anything like this. Maris' 61 is historical, but Mantle's iconic status makes that number so memorable. A-Rod is an icon and his on the field accomplishments in our uniform vaults him among the greatest players to ever suit up in any city. The Yankee aura adds to that legend and he seems like the kind of player that should carry our banner into the Hall of Fame. The money is less of an issue when you consider the bargains that we have on our hands these days. Wang, Hughes, Joba, and Kennedy could be the staples of our rotation for many many years to come. That at a minor league pricetag. Add in Betances and Brackman and you have to like the financial situation. Add in Cano, Melky, Tabata, and anyone else that might emerge in the next few years and you have the recipe for a low payroll, high value roster. There's money to overpay on Posada, Mo, A-Rod and other aging vets that we hope to hang onto. The big money that we overpay is offset by great value in the minors and in young MLB talent. Eventually, the retirement of those Yankee legends will make way for bigger contracts for the current crop of young studs, and the replacement we develop will keep us in the black. It's a great system that almost seems unfair for a billion dollar franchise.
You may or may not like to give Alex that kind of money, whatever your opinion of the man and the player, but I'm voting yes to the expense. If he can repeat this year's performance a few more times before it's all said and done, and if he can remain consistent enough to approach Bonds, we will all be happy about it in the end, whatever the price. Of course, he will be judged by the Yankees ability to win a Series or two before it's all said and done. Whether that's fair to him or not, I can't say, but I believe and I'll continue to be a fan until there's reason not to be. That would take an opt out, or some move to the Red Sox. Otherwise, high paycheck or not, he's my guy.
Wednesday, August 15, 2007
It's the end of 4 now and Phil Hughes has been bad. 79 pitches is almost 20 per inning. He has been wasting a ton of pitches and has had questionable control throughout. It's tempting to think of him as an ace already with all the hype, but he's a young rookie with virtually no experience above AA. He'll contribute, and occasionally dominate, but starts like this are sure to rear their ugly heads from time to time.
One thing that I always question is why managers sit their best players against opposing aces. I know that Bedard is a tough lefty, so you think about giving a day off to some of the weary left handed hitters, but the Yankees' lefties are All Stars for a reason. They can hit lefties too. I don't ever think it's a good formula to start Betemit, Phillips, Duncan, and Molina on the same day. It's not fair to Phil Hughes and this late in the season with as much as there is at stake.....questionable.
Come on fellas....come back!
Tuesday, August 14, 2007
Holy cow! What's a world without Scooter going to be like? Condolences to his family. A Yankee legend and a classy man in all respects has passed. You will be missed as a friend in all our homes. See you on the other side Phil. I hope you're up there either playing short for Heaven's Yankees or calling the game.