Thursday, June 28, 2007

Prospects Safe

Just as I knew was the case, and contrary to BS hack journalism that seems to be the prevailing trend in the current competitive climate, Brian Cashman isn't trading his prospects, whatever his job status may be. This from ESPN Radio:

"Still, with Steinbrenner's words still ringing in Cashman's head, the GM vowed not to trade any of the Yankees' top prospects, such as starter Phil Hughes.

"I'm not worried about saving my job," Cashman said. "I'm not worried about doing my job. In doing my job, you have to balance both [now and the future.] I don't think it is a tough call. You have to make the right call. I'm not being paid to save my job. I'm being paid to do a job."

Cashman said that Steinbrenner agrees with this stance on not trading prospects.

"At the same time, [Steinbrenner] doesn't want to give up those young guys either," Cashman said. "But that could always change, too.""

The last note is Cashman's ominous footnote that should be attached to any comment concerning The Boss, but really means very little and should be ignored. I'm sure that the tabloids will run some kind of story tomorrow about this and use the last part as the main catch.

"Steinbrenner May Conduct Fire Sale on Yankee Farmhands" (Bastards. Long live blogging!!!)

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

So Much For Roger

He must be regretting his decision to come back this season every waking moment. He has to be a part of a sad sack team of declining, overpriced guys on their way to Autumn golf, and he is stinking it up to boot. The money is good at least.

It's emblematic of this entire season that Hughes popped his hamstring and Roger came back to a dying club to contribute more ugliness. It's fitting that Johnny Damon's physical decline has become so swift, yet they won't DL him. Abreu is the guy that Philly loved to hate. Cano regressed to the mean that the experts predicted. Mussina is surlier than Randy Johnson ever was and it doesn't seem like he even cares. It's almost like an extraordinarily delayed reaction, in which the predictions about his adjustment to NY made all those years ago are coming true now. He'd rather be in Pennsylvania coaching Little League than dealing with the Bronx.

I'm going to give up on this team soon. I can feel it. It's already half in my head to give up and start thinking about next year. Once I make that move finally, I'll try to get more positive in my posts and focus on what really needs to happen to pick up the pieces and reshape this franchise. The first order of business will be thinking about a fire sale before the trading deadline. The Yankees always buy at the deadline (and they probably will again this year) but I think they should sell. They should sell Mussina to Philly. They should sell Abreu to the Cubs or the Padres or something. They should sell Damon to the wolves. Giambi? Probably unmovable. Anyway, that's for another day.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

It's over.

That was the death knell of this season. Even if the Yankees miraculously pull out a playoff spot, why bother following this mess anymore. The Yankees are worse than bad, they are frustratingly irrelevant. Who even cares about what's happening with the Yankees in 2007 outside of New York? It's like the Bombers have suddenly become the Milwaukee Brewers and the Milwaukee Brewers have become the Yankees. Ironic isn't it?

The only reason to follow the Yankees the rest of this season is to see how many more ways they can find to lose ballgames. I think there are 6 million ways to die, and the Yankees will try them all out before the season is finished. Ugly.

There will be changes. I just hope that they are either made before anyone pulls the trigger on a desperation trade that hurts us long term. Sit pat. Ride out this hideous season. Let whatever happens, happen. Regroup with a new plan for 2008. Seriously, DO NOT MESS WITH THE FARM.

How bout them Brewers?!

McCarried Away

Anthony McCarron of the Daily News adds to the annals of hack writing today by drumming up the sale of newspapers via insinuation designed to stir the passions of Yankee fans everywhere. Here's a representative piece of the article for you to chew on:

"Other White Sox players who could be available include free-agent-to-be Mark Buerhle, Paul Konerko and Jose Contreras. Texas first baseman Mark Teixeira's name will come up in trade talk all summer. Milton Bradley is available after being designated for assignment by the A's last week, but a Yanks executive said the team wasn't interested in the hot-headed outfielder.

The Yankees had inquired about Reds first baseman Scott Hatteberg (.286 average, seven homers, 23 RBI) and were told earlier that the Reds didn't want to trade. That could change, however, because Cincinnati is in sixth place and Hatteberg is 37 and unlikely to return.

In trade talks that the Yanks have been involved in, teams are targeting their young pitchers, but the Yankees are reluctant to deal Phil Hughes. According to a report on, the White Sox and Yanks talked about Buerhle, who would presumably take Kei Igawa's place in the rotation, and Chicago brought up Hughes, Joba Chamberlain and Ian Kennedy, three prospects the Yankees are high on.

While Yanks GM Brian Cashman considers Williams one of his best friends among fellow GMs, they're not that close."

One of the most ridiculous things that McCarron does here is give his readers the impression that the Yankees have been in discussions with Chicago about bringing in Buerhle, Konerko, or Contreras with someone among Hughes, Joba, and Kennedy going back in return. He never draws the line directly, but you know what he's up to. Cashman has been boneheaded on a few occasions in the past. He is far from being that short sighted or stupid. Who among those three players is worth the money they are being paid or the type of prospects that are being bandied about in this conversation? Hughes is so far and away better than those three players combined, is paid nothing, and will be back sometime in August. Oh yeah, he's still just learning to shave and drink beer. Joba is currently the best pitching prospect in the organization and not all that far from the Bronx. He has university experience, is also cheap and young, and will eventually be better than both the pitchers named in the deal. Kennedy is also advanced and rising on the organizational charts. Everything I said about Hughes and Joba is true of Kennedy as well.

If you are going to trade Hughes, you'd better be getting Johan Santana in return. If you are trading Chamberlain it had better be something like Sabathia or Zambrano coming back. Kennedy is worth more to me in two years than Buehrle or Contreras in 2007, and 1st base is the least of our worries. If we don't have enough on this roster to make the playoffs, and it means the difference between keeping our treasured young arms, I say play golf Derek Jeter. Hang out on the beach Alex Rodriguez. Cashman is not that stupid.

Monday, June 25, 2007


Not to usurp the cathartic post I wrote earlier today, but you really should see this as a Yankee fan. ESPN e-ticket story on Pavano....

Sunday, June 24, 2007


I'm trying very hard not to overreact to the recent failures on the West Coast. My gut tells me that this is the most humiliating series of losses in recent Yankee history, but memories can be short when a team leaves these things in the past with a stretch of excellent play. The thing is, the Yankees have rarely been in a position in the standings where each June loss is as important as they have become now. The 5 losses in 6 games that we just endured to the Rockies and Giants saw the Yankees outscored by an average of 5-3. The pitching wasn't Johan Santana, but it wasn't Jose Lima either. It was the hitting.

The humiliation of the final loss in San Francisco comes from watching a $200 million team starting Melky Cabrera, Miguel Cairo, Kevin Thompson, and Wil Nieves. It comes from the desperation that saw Roger Clemens enter the late innings in relief, only to give up another run. Is this the kind of team that $200 million buys? The Yankees are experiencing the same 2007 that the Red Sox endured last season. One of the sport's highest priced teams playing like a 3rd place plodder. The frustration comes from not being able to put your finger on one major problem. It's endemic. The pitching has been mediocre most of the time. The hitting has fizzled far too often. The pen has been shit on enough occasions that you wonder if they will ever be able to get another out. The free agents signed to big money just a few years ago are now reaching that point in their careers when the big money that we spent to outbid everyone else is now being spent on past their prime, broken down, stiffs. Most of the players on the club have made inexcusably bad fielding errors at one point or another, and some more than others. (I'm talking to you Melky and Derek.) The manager looks asleep half the time, and clearly has outstayed his welcome in New York. Not that he's THAT bad, but he's been in the job too long.

I'll never give up on the season. There's a lot of baseball left, and we've seen what this group is capable of, but I think the 2008 Yankees need to look a lot different than this team. Even if, by some miracle, the Bombers win the Series this year, the signs are all there. You can't count on a team of aging players to stay consistent. They are just as talented as they were in their salad days, but they are old. They can't do it everyday anymore. Consistent are A-Rod, and Jeter, and Posada. The rest, not so much. The pitching is especially guilty of this, but you can hardly blame a pitcher for getting old.

Cashman gets a lot of blame for this, and may pay with his job eventually. The thing is, I looked at the deals he's made over the last couple of years, and the deals that Theo Epstein has made and it's hard to figure who has been better. Theo was the goat on the hot seat last season, but he looks like Boy Wonder again. Cashman was lauded as a genius for the young pitching he acquired for castoffs, but is now fighting for his job in the killing fields of June baseball. Epstein was killed for Beckett, while Hanley Ramirez turned into Miguel Tejada II and Anibel Sanchez threw a no hitter. Now Beckett is a Cy Young candidate and he is getting pats on the back. Matsuzaka was a costly move that has panned out more often than not, but didn't come without detractors. Lugo and Coco Crisp have joined J.D. Drew as dead weight in the Red Sox lineup, but the best record in baseball will help people to remain blind in their love for Theo.

Cashman signed Pavano, so he gets a big strike. He admits that the Pavano deal was one of the greatest learning experiences of his career, and I think we all know how much he regrets it. The Damon deal looked like the work of a genius as it robbed Boston of its heart and soul, while kicking the Yankees offense into nuclear overdrive last season. Now it's the anti-Beckett for Cash Money. A deal that looked great, which has turned into a huge dud. Unlike Theo, some of the other moves that Cashman has made haven't been so awful, but get a lot of scrutiny now that things have turned so bad for the team. Humberto Sanchez is out with Tommy John surgery while Sheffield is mashing for the 1st place Tigers. In the short term, that deal looks like a boneheaded move, but when Sheff is wearing out his welcome and on the verge of retirement, we might just see Sanchez a big part of the Yankees resurgence.

Likewise, people knocked Cashman for not getting enough for Randy Johnson. I wanted Micah Owings, and he is contributing this season as a starter for the D-Backs, while Ross Ohlendorf is on the minor league DL. Alberto Gonzales has been awful at Scranton and will soon lose his job as Attorney General. The thing is, Randy Johnson wanted out. He wanted to go to Arizona to be near his family and held most of the cards. The D-Backs aren't stupid and they also know that he's 90-years old and coming off back surgery. We got what we could get, and now Unit is on the DL with another herniated disc. It's over for him probably, and we have a few decent prospects for what amounts to a bag of bones and an attitude. Luis Vizcaino may have something to contribute before it's all said and done.

Signing Bobby Abreu last season was genius. Watching him crap himself for over a month, makes it look awful. Another anti-Beckett move that isn't as bad as it looks right now. Kei Igawa hasn't been very good, and we spent too much money for him, but I highlighted in a recent post that his numbers against good teams have been excellent. He's had 3 hideous outings, 3 great outings, and one so-so. If he turns out to give us a 4.50 ERA and a handful of innings, it's a poor deal that won't kill us. The main killer for the Yankees is the horrendous bench that Cashman put together. With a $200 million payroll, Cash tried to skimp on BUC and utility infielder and frankly first base. All of those things have flopped. With injuries to Damon, Giambi, and Minky we've been exposed. Melky is occasionally great, and often WAY overmatched. He's an everyday player for this expensive club. Cairo has been called into duty as a regular and he's junk. Look at the numbers. Andy Phillips? Kevin Thompson? WIL NIEVES??!! These are Yankees?

I'm all for giving minor leaguers a chance to fill in where needed, but it's out of control. There aren't Cano and Wang waiting in the wings to save us as they did those years ago. There is talent, but it's still working it's way up. Can we kill Cash for this philosophy? Yes, maybe. It's horrible in the short term, and potentially very good long term. If we end up winning 4 out of 5 World Series with Wang, Hughes, Chamberlain, Tabata, and company we'll forget about this season. If not, this will be an ugly mark on Yankees history that rivals anything we've ever endured given the payroll and the profile.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

A Torre Loss

That's a Torre loss if I've ever seen one. Put up another sheep next to Joe's picture NoMaas. Here's why:

1. Top 10, Thompson leading off. The young guy gets a single to spark our rally. This is not a bottom of the 9th walk off situation. Abreu bunts. First, WHY??!! Abreu's career batting line is .300/.410/.500 and that kind of player shouldn't bunt. EVER. Those numbers tell you that he will get himself on base 41% of the time, which is better than all but the top 2-3% of players in the sport. His .500 slugging means that there's a very good chance he will hit an extra base hit, which would easily score the speedy Thompson. Second, he failed to get down a good bunt the first time. Everyone in the park knew it was coming. You saw him fail once, and Thompson is inexperienced at 1st. You actually drew a temporary reprieve for your insanity, but it all when awry and you ended up giving away an out. You may as well have had him stand there with the bat on his shoulders and take 3 strikes. Matsui's strikeout with one out and the bases loaded was a devastating failure, but it all started with Abreu and Torre.

2. Scott Proctor batting??!! Why did you call up Basak if you're not going to use him. I know you're trying to squeeze more work out of Proctor, but he'd already thrown two innings and a bunch of pitches. Accept the fact that he'd done his job and move on. The Yankees are not in a position anymore to piss away at bats in extra innings games. We're headed backwards now, not forwards. Losing ground in both the division and wild card after we stormed back is just a waste.

3. Scott Proctor pitching to a left handed batter with Mariano Rivera available. You'd managed 39 pitches and 2.2 innings of work out of Proctor. Runners on 1st and 3rd with two outs is a chance to escape after Proctor very nearly gave away the game to the previous batter on an infield single by Omar Vizquel. 39 pitches is a lot of pitches, and Proctor was very wild to Vizquel one batter earlier. Why chance it? You'd battled that far and Mariano is just the guy to come in and throw the cutter to the lefty. What happened? Proctor gives up the walk off single on the first pitch. Senseless.

By no means is this a "Fire Joe Torre" post, but he lost this game for us with a little help from Hideki Matsui and Kevin Thompson in the 10th. We're falling farther and farther back in the wild card, and the division can just be kissed goodbye at this point. Can we count on another hot streak like our recent run? I think it's possible, but we just crapped ourselves on this West Coast swing, and it will be very tough to make up for it now.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Igawa's Back

Well, it looked good for a few innings. Igawa's never going to be a great Major League pitcher, but he can bring some value to the team if he pitches the way he did for at least part of today's game. It's in the best interest of the Yankees to avoid pitching the former Hanshin against patient lineups, limiting him as much as possible to the bottom team in the league, but he can be serviceable. I enjoy reading PeteAbe's LoHud Yankees blog, but I find myself increasingly in disagreement with him on several points. His comments today on Igawa rubbed me the wrong way, actually.

"You simply can’t walk Ray Durham twice with Barry Bonds on deck. How can an experienced pitcher do that? This is not a kid, this is a guy who was an All-Star in Japan. It doesn’t speak well to the quality of the hitters in Japan—or the Yankees’ scouting in Japan."

As for point number one about Ray Durham. 100% in agreement. With regard to the comment that Igawa was an All Star in Japan, check out our man's BB/9 over the last 4 seasons he played in Japan:

2006 2.11
2005 3.13
2004 2.43
2003 2.53

For the Yankees this season, Igawa has posted a 4.33 BB/9, which is about 2 batters per 9 more than he walked with Hanshin. I think you see Matsuzaka going through the same thing in Boston right now. It's not a surprise that Japanese hitters aren't up to MLB snuff as a group. Is anyone surprised by that? It seems like a kind of a pot shot to me that is a little unwarranted given the success of virtually every Japanese position player to move to the Majors. We know Matsui doesn't hit the same number of home runs. The league average pitcher is better in the Majors than the league average pitcher in Japan. Likewise, the league average hitter in Japan is worse than the league average hitter in the Majors. The sun rises in the east and sets in the west.

The fact of the matter is, you can't easily account for Igawa's up and down season. Here's a dirty little secret that will toss PeteAbe's jab at Japanese hitters out the window.

Against Baltimore, Tampa, and Seattle

13.1 IP
25 hits
7 walks
22 ER
7 Ks
14.85 ERA
1.650 WHIP
1.00 K/BB
4.725 K/9

Against Oakland, Cleveland, and Boston

17.1 IP
10 hits
7 walks
4 ER
14 Ks
2.08 ERA
0.981 WHIP
2.00 K/BB
7.269 K/9

The first three teams are basically league average at best, and piss poor at worst. The second group of three include the best team in baseball, the second best run producing offense in the sport, and an A's club in the top third of the AL in OBP. It's a simple matter of inconsistency. The performance against SF was sort of a tweener with respect to these two groups. It's tough to knock Japanese hitters or the Yankees Japanese scouts on Igawa when three of the best clubs in the sport couldn't hit him. Hanshin fans knew that he was inconsistent and it frustrated the shit out of them for 3+ years. Many Tigers' supporters breathed a sigh of relief when he was posted, not because he was awful but because he was tough to cheer for as a fan. When he took the mound you could either find yourself elated or ready to kill after 5 or 6 innings.

The other thing PeteAbe has been doing a lot is referring to those people who disagree with him about Josh Phelps as "statheads". First, that's an insult to statheads everywhere. If you properly use statistics, you can make a very convincing argument for why Josh Phelps is a more valuable player at 1st base than Mientkiewicz, Cairo, or even Andy Phillips. All you have to do is compare the number of runs that he will give up due to poor defense and the number of runs his bat will create with the appropriate playing time. It's probably not a pretty picture, but it would at least get you close to the truth. The "statheads" that PeteAbe is referring to are generally folks who have discovered RATE statistics, range factor, and the like, which many more informed "statheads" will tell you are not a very good measure of first base defense. Every position's defensive responsibility is different. There is a wonderful "Defensive Spectrum" devised by Bill James to help us understand which positions are most challenging with respect to their defensive assignments. First base is only a step closer to the center than DH. Basically, a first baseman has to scoop balls in the dirt, bounce between the bag and the gap to keep runners honest while fielding their position, field a few bunts, and maybe make a throw every once in a while. If you have a gold glove first baseman, wonderful. Kudos. Congrats. If not, it's not that big a deal.

The qualifications for being a good defender, or a league average defender, at first are not measurable by RATE or range factor the way the others are measurable. I should throw catcher in there as well. Mientkiewicz is a better defender than his RATE statistics, so Pete has a point. He scoops and throws and fields the position cleanly. He plays behind runners and makes diving stabs. Cairo also makes a few plays in the field that Phelps probably can't. At the plate it's obvious. Minky creates 3.38 runs/27 outs. Phelps created 3.80 per 27 outs. Cairo is at 2.55 run per 27. At worst the argument between Phelps and Mientkiewicz is even given the defensive situation. The argument that Pete and his minions at LoHud Yankees blog are engaged in is the wrong argument to begin with. The choice that is being given is a false one. It's not either/or, it's to platoon or not to platoon. Phelps didn't get enough at bats as a straight platoon, and that's the fatal flaw of Torre's philosophy.

Anyway, I'm a fan of the LoHud blog and I'll keep reading, but I think it's worth noting that some things are just best left unsaid. By calling out people on the other side of your argument as "statheads" you place yourself in the same category as Murray Chass or Tim McCarver or Joe Morgan. The whole clogging up the bases thing comes to mind. Statistics are our friends as long as we use them responsibly....meaning correctly.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Greater Dynasty: Yankee or Ming

There's not much info out there about the newest Yankees from China. The Chinese Baseball League is really a startup and while the Chinese have had baseball in some respect since the 1800s, it never took off like it has in Taiwan, Korea, and Japan. That's changing and it can only be good for the sport. It's probably too early to expect any players from China to do anything Stateside, so you have to wonder why the Yankees would have two young kids come over to play in their system. I think there are a couple of good reasons:

1. The Yankee brand gets first dibs.

You can't overestimate the impact of this. Chien Min Wang is Taiwan's favorite son, and that extends to any Chinese who care about baseball as well. The Chinese government considers Taiwan a part of its domain, wrongly in my opinion, but there are some cultural points that connect the nations and Wang is a part of that from a baseball perspective. Now the Yankees have two legitimate sons of mainland China in the system and the publicity that goes along with it.

2. They are only 19.

If the scouts say these kids have potential, and the scouts are any good, it's better to bring them to the minors to grown in a bigger and more challenging environment to see how far that talent will take them. If they have Major League tools, albeit very raw ones, the only way they have a chance to put them to the test is by playing against the world's best in the minor leagues. If they stay in China, they won't get the coaching or the level of play that would best stretch their potential. At 19, they stand a chance to grow and fill some needs in the farm system down the road, even if they eventually wind up playing somewhere like Japan.

3. What if....

This is kind of an extension of the other points. If either of these players has been scouted with any kind of real thoughts about stardom, we could get great value before anyone else has cracked the market. That's a stretch, but there has to be at least a 1% chance that a Major League contributor has been mined from a group of raw and unrefined Chinese players. Let's hope against hope that this is true, although we probably should expect nothing.

Here's what I dug up on these players:

Zhang Zhenwang - catcher, Tianjin Lions #22
19 years old, 5'11", 176 pounds

Zhang played for the Chinese entry to the 2006 Konami Asia Cup, won by Nippon Ham and MVP Yu Darvish. He didn't play in any of the 3 games. China was blown out in each. Before that, he was a member of the Chinese WBC team. He played a half inning as a defensive replacement in the final game against Taiwan, in which they were eliminated. He never batted. In his most recent game against Shanghai, he batted 9th and went 0-2 with a walk.

His favorite player is Daisuke Matsuzaka.

Liu Kai - LHP, Guangdong Leopards #28
19 years old, 6'1", 172 pounds

It's tough to find anything on Liu, as he's not as experienced internationally as Zhang. I see that his favorite player is SoftBank Hawks pitcher Toshiya Sugiuchi. He may have struck out 16 in a game against Shanghai recently. I checked both Chinese and Japanese news stories about it, so I think it's right. The team is the one part I'm not so sure about. Whichever team it was, 16 Ks is pretty sweet.

In his most recent appearance for Guangdong, Liu closed out an 8-6 victory with 2.1 innings of scoreless relief. He allowed a single and two walks during those innings against Beijing on Saturday.

That's all I have now. When I find more, I'll let you know. New storm's a brewin' folks. Good to be out ahead of it.

See you tomorrow. Go Yankees!!!

Chess King

All I can say is, if Wang's slider is that good now, he's unhittable. What he did with the slider against the Mets is uncanny. That's the slider that Matsuzaka had in Japan, and the one he's only had marginal control of since coming to the States. If Wang has his plus fastball, his world class sinker, and can throw that slider.....whatever. I actually thought that Clemens presence in New York may be a good opportunity for Wang to add the patented Clemens Splitter to his arsenal, because I think he could learn it and I think with the sinker it would be devastating. That slider almost eliminates the need, but sinker, slider, splitter would be Cy Young material.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Baseball Prospectus Chat

Greetings COH readers.

I will be hosting a chat at Baseball Prospectus on Thursday, June 14th at 12pm ET. For most of you that's today. For me, it's actually a 1am start on the 15th, so I'll be able to tell you all about the future.

Join me for a little Q&A and tell your friends. The more the merrier. I'll be ready to answer your questions about Japanese baseball, and hopefully anything else you might have on your mind about the current crop of Japanese players in the Major Leagues.

Thursday, June 14th and 12pm ET. Be there.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

What a Win, What a World

So many sinkerballs. I felt like that game should have been played below sea level. Wang outduels Webb and Bobby Abreu continues his scorching June. What's not to like. The Bombers are at .500 and are climbing past the pretenders in the wild card hunt. I predict that three weeks from today we will be either tied or in the wild card lead. That day.....Independence Day. The Fourth of July. Write it down.

I was over at checking out the updated standings when I noticed something a little funny. At least it struck me as funny. You'll notice that it's hiding in the left margin of this post, inconspicuously. It looks like an ad, but it's there for this comment. "Mike Mussina is pitching today!" I'm not sure that's exactly the sell that the good people at MLB TV were looking for. Yeah, Moose still has something left in the tank and we expect good things from him. Certainly we expect better than the 5+ ERA he's vomited from the mound this season. I don't think anyone ever gets excited enough about a Mike Mussina start that it deserves an exclamation point. "Roger Clemens pitches today!" That I'd understand. Moose, huh? Good luck to you MLB TV.

The other note today is actually posted over at Matsuzaka Watch. It's not baseball related, but I had no place to put it. It's related to good ol' Wacky Japan. Trust me. Go there and ponder the madness......

Make Enemies and Friends

Off day for the Yankees. Time to break things up with a little something from Lutan Fyah and Chezidek courtesy of the German selectahs at and YouTube, the home for all the best in dub plate sessions. Thanks and praises. Master Star Sound!!!

Sunday, June 10, 2007

9.5 Weeks

Although there is really nothing sexy about 9.5 during these recent weeks (boy am I stretching for this theme), the Yankees current place in the standings looks a lot more like Kim Basinger than John Merrick.

The Red Sox scored 22 runs over their 7 game West Coast swing, which is 3.14 runs per game. If you take out the 10 run outburst in the first game against Arizona, they scored 12 runs in 6 games, which is easy to calculate at 2 runs per contest. Fortunately for the Yankees, the Red Sox woes coincided with a stretch against some pretty awful clubs. We did a number on both Chicago and Pittsburgh and have closed the gap a little bit. The wild card is a 5.5 game deficit, which isn't beyond reason now. Even 9.5 games looks like something we can make a good run at, the way things are shaping up now.

What more can be said? Abreu and Cano look great. A-Rod continues his MVP season. Jeter is Jeter. Melky is playing very well, especially in center. The only weird thing is that it all has happened since Giambi stopped "clogging up the bases with his bad heel" as Tim McCarver mumbled during the last series with the Red Sox. Giambi has some real value as a threat, but I like the way the offense looks with Damon at DH and Melky playing the field. First base without Mientkiewicz really hasn't lost much, and it's rather amazing that Miguel Cairo is a significant offensive upgrade over Mr. Eye Chart.

Here comes Arizona. They are one of the worst teams in baseball at putting runners on base, so we will have a good shot at another series win with Wang, Mussina, and Pettitte taking the hill. That sounds really good. The Red Sox get 3 games with Colorado. Let's hope Todd Helton and company can put up some crooked numbers against the Red Sox frontline guys. See you tomorrow. Go Yanks.

Rocketing Forward

Since the Yankees and Red Sox met at the Stadium at the end of May, both clubs have played 18 games. I'm cherry picking this period simply to illustrate something interesting about the ebb and flow of a season. Both clubs have gone 10-8 since that time. The Red Sox went 6-3 to close out May and have started June 4-5. The Yankees finished May with 2 out of 3 against the Beantowners, but slumped badly with a 3-6 finish to the month. June has seen the Yankees go on a 7-2 tear, effectively making up the ground that they gave to the Sox when the deficit in the standings stood at 14.5 games.

The Red Sox opened the season going 16-8 in April and 20-8 in May. The Yankees, by contrast, went 9-14 and 13-15, respectively. Each month is a 7 game separation in the standings. This month, to date, we've made up 3 games on the Red Sox. According to BP's Adjusted Standings, we should be about 5.5 games back of the Red Sox. That is all without Rocket in the rotation. Those numbers are built on Pythagorean wins and losses, where runs scored and allowed are factored into an appropriate record. Here's where we stand today:

Red Sox
322-238 (61 games)
5.28 runs scored/gm
3.90 runs allowed/gm

329-285 (60 games)
5.48 runs scored/gm
4.75 runs allowed/gm

Isn't there something obvious about why we're so far behind the Sox here? Runs allowed for the Sox is very very good, while it's awful for the Yankees. To translate those numbers to a 162 game schedule, you'd get the following"

Red Sox


Lets take a look at the ERA for the Sox and the Yankees by starting rotation:

Schilling (3.49) vs. Wang (3.73)
Beckett (2.88) vs. Pettitte (3.11)
Matsuzaka (4.63) vs. Mike Mussina (5.63)
Wakefield (4.22) vs. Rasner/Igawa/Pavano/Karstens (6.43)
Tavarez (5.25) vs. Hughes/Clippard/DeSalvo/White (4.96)

Here's where the stability of Clemens takes over. Replacing the combination of 4 semi-established, Major League back end guys with Roger Clemens means that we can significantly improve our run differential with one simple, but expensive move. Even if Rocket pitches to a 4.00+ ERA, he'll be shaving runs off the prior results every week. Likewise, the #5 spot is easier to fill because you only have to plug in Clippard until Phil Hughes is ready in August some time. Clippard has been fair and has actually managed to pitch to a 3.60 ERA and .235 BAA in his 4 starts. If he If he regresses, we'll look to Igawa. If he turns out to be a complete bust, Cashman will figure something out. Bring up Ian Kennedy!! ;)

The other ERA that seems out of whack is Moose. He's just got to get better, even if it's only a little over a run per 9. He's not that bad. He should be able to muster a 4.50 at worst this season, which means he has a bunch of great starts ahead of him. The gap will close. The only question now is will it be enough.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Hard Boiled Wang

I ran this artwork last season, and I'm reviving it now as NoMaas has done their own version on the same theme. Great minds think alike.........

Monday, June 04, 2007

Heroes and Villones

Ron Villone came up to the Yankees as his minor league deal was set to expire. Anyone with half a brain knew this was a bad thing. Here is an interesting split for you:

Villone appearances 1-4

7.2 IP
4 hits
2 walks
3 Ks
no runs allowed
0.00 ERA
.783 WHIP

Villone appearances 5-7

2.1 IP
9 hits
3 walks
no strikeouts
7 runs allowed
27.00 ERA
5.143 WHIP

Why Lord? Why?

Abreu for Dye?

Rumors are being floated about a trade between the awful, awful White Sox and the semi-awful Yankees involving Bobby Abreu and Jermaine Dye. At least in terms of name value this looks like a swap of equal players, equally slumping this year. What it is in reality is a stupid trade for the Yankees. Why?

Bobby Abreu
career OPS+ 135
career EqA .311
career RC27 7.46

Jermaine Dye
career OPS+ 109
career EqA .268
career RC27 5.80

That deal is so bad, you'd almost have to draw and quarter Brian Cashman for making it. Look at the EqAs! Both players are struggling. What that means is that both will get it going. When they both get it going, Bobby Abreu will get it going at a much more effective rate than Jermaine Dye. If you make this trade, and both players get it going, you will be the team getting it going much less than the other team gets it going. Got it?

Sunday, June 03, 2007

Pirates of the 9th Inning


That's how you spell "DL" in Doug Mientkiewicz speak. You never want to see a guy get hurt. Never. As much as I wanted to see Minky out of the lineup, and as good as he's been at 1st defensively, the kind of injury he sustained is really unfortunate. I can't say I'm sorry to see someone else getting his at bats though.

Let's look at what the Yankees first base 4-some has done with the bat:

Doug Mientkiewicz (2007 to date)
138 plate appearances
OPS+ 77
EqA .228
WARP3 0.7
RC27 3.15

Josh Phelps (2007 to date)
66 plate appearances
OPS+ 106
EqA .263
WARP3 0.9
RC27 4.80

Andy Phillips (2006 performance)
263 plate appearances
OPS+ 77
EqA .225
WARP3 0.3
RC27 3.78

Jason Giambi (2007 to date)
179 plate appearances
OPS+ 122
EqA .286
WARP3 3.5
RC27 5.79

Okay, putting Giambi in there is cheating, but it shows you that despite his atrocious defense, that probably would end up costing runs over the course of the season, he probably is still a greater value to the Yankees standing at the bag with a glove on his head than the other 3 players. He's out, so the point is moot. Replacing Minky with more Phelps and a dash of Phillips is probably more of the same based on what Phillips did in 2006 for the Bombers. He looks a lot like Mientkiewicz version 2007 with the stick. However, if he can translate any of the success he's enjoyed at the AAA level, we may actually benefit a great deal from the injury. Here's Andy Phillips' AAA career 162 game average (including 2007 to date):

162 games
631 AB
110 runs
188 hits
30 2B
5 3B
35 HR
109 RBI
65 BB
113 K
.298/.364/.527 for an .891 OPS

Those numbers look pretty good. He hasn't been able to do anything resembling this at the Major League level, but then again he's only had 294 at bats in 142 career games with the Yankees. He actually had a very nice June last season, OPSing .970 in 69 at bats. One thing is obvious, he should never hit against lefties, particularly with Phelps on the roster. Phillips left-right split is fairly extreme. Let's compare his and Phelps MLB career splits:

Left .188/.224/.265 (.489 OPS in 102 at bats)
Right .250/.288/.458 (.746 in 192 at bats)

Left .291/.355/.483 (.838 OPS in 443 at bats)
Right .256/.327/.462 (.789 OPS in 820 at bats)

The irony is that Phelps should get all the at bats, given the fact that his numbers against righties are better than Phillips over a much longer sample. Still, as a platoon, this could be a decent solution to the 1st base round robin that we've been looking at for awhile. To give you a sense of what Phillips adds to the Yankees if he takes over Minky's position as the lefty batting platoon-mate of Josh Phelps, Minky had a .722 OPS against righties in just over 100 at bats. That's about Phillips territory. Don't expect much to change at the bottom of the order if Phillips gets to hit. More at bats for Phelps would be a good thing, but don't count on it.

Saturday, June 02, 2007

It's On!

Scott Proctor: Super Fool.

On one hand, Proctor throwing at Youkilis' head was a message that the Yankees aren't going to take being thrown at anymore. We get plunked at a fantastic rate and we never retaliate effectively. Proctor nearly gave Youk a close shave on his goatee, which was uncalled for, but I don't think he was head hunting. I think he was trying to throw under his chin to make a point after the Cano HBP, but he missed. It can happen when you throw 94-95 and don't have Mariano-esque control.

There will be fireworks before this series is up, for sure. I expect a fight. I don't know what kind of fight there will be, but Jason Varitek is likely to be involved. Can't you see it? A fight at this point would be very bad for the Yankees, and would hardly be a big deal to the Red Sox. Suspensions to both teams might kill the Yankees, while slowing the already wicked pace of the Beantown boys. The Sox can survive a little ruffling of their feathers. The Yankees can't at this point. We need to string together a few more weeks of nice play to put a dent in the Tigers' 6 game wild card lead. It's already underway, our assault on the wild card. We need to follow through.

What happens if the Sox plunk Jeter? I say, "We fight." Jeter and Posada are perhaps the two Yankees that we can't afford to lose, so you have to protect them. One of those guys gets hit and you have to throw at Ortiz and Manny hard. Damon, Matsui, A-Rod, Cano, Abreu, Melky, Minky.....what do you do? If beanball is on the menu, how do you react? The umpire is sure to issue warnings at the first sign of trouble, and perhaps it would be smart to offer them prior to the game tomorrow. Mussina's not throwing at anyone, so it takes the bullet out of Schilling's gun. I honestly don't think he's throwing at anyone either though. Beckett is the guy in the series finale. Both pens are also in prime position to play tit for tat, particularly if any game is a laugher.

As for actual baseball, we've strung together a couple of good games now. Wang was not great, but got the job done after Wakefield imploded. I think I'd give the Sox the edge in the Schilling/Mussina matchup, and I'd give the Yankees a very slight edge in Pettitte/Beckett. We hit the Red Sox starters well, but Mussina hasn't been in good form so far. The key is to win the series and put more pressure on Detroit. If we can be within 2 or 3 games of the wild card by the end of June, I think we'll have to consider it a successful month. Being less than 10 behind the Red Sox would also be a success. To make things interesting, I'm going to make predictions on each game, whenever possible. Just a little spice to see how good my prognostication skills are. If I'm good someone can take me to AC or Mohican Sun. Tomorrow.

Red Sox 6, Yankees 5