Cut to the Chase

July 23, 2014 | 17 comments | in Featured | by Louis Winthorpe III

headlynewguy
Headley gets a walk off base hit in the 14th in his first game as a Yankee

“Bombers” now averaging less runs per game than in 2013

July 22, 2014 | 31 comments | in Quick Analytical Blurbs | by SJK

After Monday night’s two-run offensive outburst, the Yankees are now averaging 3.99 runs per game this season. That ranks 16th in MLB.

Even more startling is that this run production is now less than the 2013 club, which averaged 4.01 runs per game.

Simply mind-boggling.

Sunny days keeping the Reds away

July 20, 2014 | 23 comments | in Featured | by SJK

Ellsbury NoMaas Sesame Street
4-4, 2B, 2 SB

Yankees swept the Reds with the assist of the sun, as the Reds lost a Brian McCann popup in the bottom of the 9th.

Padres get Angels top prospect for Houston Street (sigh)

July 19, 2014 | 23 comments | in Quick Analytical Blurbs | by SJK

ESPN:

The Los Angeles Angels acquired All-Star closer Huston Street and prospect Trevor Gott from the San Diego Padres for minor leaguers Taylor Lindsey, R.J. Alvarez, Jose Rondon and Elliot Morris in a trade on Friday night.

Now the Angels’ system is weak, but by trading a reliever, the Padres were able to get the best prospect in LAA’s organization in second baseman Tayor Lindsey. Baseball America also ranks him as the 93rd-best prospect in minor league baseball.

It’s not a king’s ransom, but it’s a nice piece. Plus, the Padres picked up 3 more prospects as well.

Wake up, Cash.

With CC gone, Brian Cashman needs to stop living in denial

July 18, 2014 | 15 comments | in Featured | by SJK

USA Today:

New York Yankees’ CC Sabathia will have season-ending knee surgery on July 23, general manager Brian Cashman said.

This announcement comes on the heels of the Yankee GM reiterating his desire to be an aggressive buyer on the trade market, particularly when it comes to the pitching staff:

“I have to reinforce our pitching, in my opinion,” Cashman said in a phone conversation Thursday. “I have things that I feel I have to try to do, that I’m trying to do, but it is easier said than done.”

“We have to try to improve, reinforce and upgrade, certainly,” Cashman said. “We certainly we would love to have some significant upgrades but when you lose four out of five starters, it is hard to re-materialize the same type of abilities with the guys you lost. It is whether you incrementally upgrade.”

First of all, it’s amazing that Cashman never mentions how the putrid offense (90 wRC+) needs to be upgraded. It’s always the pitching he talks about.

Secondly, when is enough enough? This is not a good baseball team. It’s been outscored by 37 runs. Tanaka is out. Sabathia is now out. It doesn’t take a man to stand there and get your head beat off. Stop this quest for mediocrity and media relevance. Why is it so blasphemous to take a knee and set the foundation for the next couple seasons? Stop this bullsh*t.

Thoughts before tonight’s game (July 18, 2014)

July 18, 2014 | 3 comments | in Quick Analytical Blurbs | by Rupert Pupkin

Thoughts on both teams before tonight’s game against Cincinnati:

I had taken the last series before the All-Star break off. In my last post of impressions of a given series/game, I had managed to jinx Masahiro Tanaka (elbow soreness, out at least 5 weeks), Brett Gardner (sat for the game with a lat strain) and Carlos Beltran (fouled a ball off his face, 7 day concussion DL) in one fell swoop of a post. It felt like it was all my fault, and I didn’t want to do any further damage.

In reality, though – the Yankees don’t need help being bad or mediocre. They were doing just fine on their own. Here’s hoping they pick it up for the “second half” (they’ve already played 94 games) and find some way to sneak into the playoffs ahead of AL East leading Baltimore (Yanks are 5 games back) or the second wild card leader, Robinson Cano’s Seattle Mariners (NYY is 3.5 back) by season’s end.

I don’t have much confidence in the roster in its present state, but crazier things have happened. I assume anyone else who loves watching baseball does so with the knowledge that a team is in it until they’re not. Until I see the Yankees eliminated mathematically, I will choose to disregard their .500 record and -37 run differential (4th worst in the AL) and hope for the best.

Yankees

Impression Lately: The team has managed to avoid outright sucking lately and instead settled into simple mediocrity. They are 47-47 and 5-5 in their last 10. I think that about sums up my impression.

Thing I Hope to See: A strong second half from Brian McCann. He seemed to have figured out a bit at the plate before the break – hitting .364/.371/.424 (.796 OPS) with 12 H, 2 2B and 2 RBI over the last 8 games. A resurgence (or even just a return to his career norms) would go a long way in helping the Yankees stay alive and seriously flirt with contention.

Player I Want To Watch: This is more about PLAYERS I want to watch more closely before moving on from them forever. I’m interested in seeing just how much longer the Yankees ride out the past success (relatively speaking) of both Kelly Johnson and Brian Roberts. There are guys in the minors (Rob Refsnyder!) and others in the majors (Zelous Wheeler, Yangervis Solarte) who are likely capable of producing similarly to these two veterans. At what point do we let the “kids” (some of these minor leaguers are not exactly fresh out of the womb) show us what they’ve got instead of leaning on someone’s experience? It’s an interesting question, as the Yankees have tended to prefer experience over youth regardless of output. Something to keep an eye on for the next month or so, as the playoff picture becomes clearer for baseball and for the Yankees.

Reds

Impression Lately: The Reds have been a weird team this year. They have some solid starting pitchers – Johnny Cueto especially (but Mike Leake and Homer Bailey are no slouches) and boast a team ERA of 3.46 to accompany a 3.90 FIP/3.69 xFIP. All told, they have good pitching from start to finish, with Aroldis Chapman being an elite closer. The Reds hitting has a slash line of .249/.309/.386. Their star hitter, Joey Votto, is on the DL. They rank 22nd overall among all teams in wRC+ (the Yankees rank 24, for reference). Their record is 51-44 and they have a +28 run differential. At the end of the day, they’re a better team than the Yankees right now.

Thing I’m Expecting Tonight: Mike Leake is pitching and, as I mentioned above, he’s a solid starting pitcher. Leake has a 3.54 ERA/3.72 FIP/3.42 xFIP, so it’s safe to say he’s a pitcher who generally allows about 3.5 runs per start. He has a .302 BABIP compared to his career .294 BABIP. All things considered, what you’re seeing is what you should expect to get from Leake. I’d love to see something better than that from the Yankees’ mostly woeful offense, but the stats speak for themselves.

Player I’m Afraid Of: Billy Hamilton – the Yankees need to do all they can to avoid letting this guy on base. If they can, they may want to consider ways of not hitting the ball to him in CF either. Hamilton can absolutely fly and is putting up a surprisingly great rookie season (he was up for a 13 game cup of tea last year and still managed 0.6 WAR) with a slash line of .285/.319/.423 to accompany his 38 stolen bases. He has 3.2 WAR, which is good for 22nd(!) in MLB. He is a fast, fast man who is starting to figure it all out at the ripe age of 23. I enjoy watching him play against other teams, but I’m afraid of watching him oppose the Yankees.

Updated playoff odds confirm Yanks should be sellers

July 14, 2014 | 26 comments | in Quick Analytical Blurbs | by SJK

The last time we posted the Yankees playoff odds was on June 26th. Since that update, both Fangraphs and Baseball Prospectus have dramatically reduced the Bombers’ chances of playing October baseball. It further confirms what we posted this weekend: Cashman & Co need to accept reality and sell.

Fangraphs (via CoolStandings):

10.4% chance of making the playoffs either as the division or wild card (down from 26.5% on 6/26)

The 10.4% probability is split between a 7.6% chance of winning the division and a 2.8% chance of getting a wild card spot.

Baseball Prospectus:

21.6% chance of making the playoffs either as the division winner or wild card (down from 39.7% on 6/26)

That 21.6% probability is comprised of a 16.7% chance of winning the division and a 4.9% chance of winning the wild card.

Know when to fold ‘em

July 12, 2014 | 41 comments | in Featured | by Vizzini

In reality, Masahiro Tanaka’s injury is not a catastrophic event that sends the Yankees from division contenders to hopeless losers. It’s not going to cost them 10 games in the standings, or even 5 games. And it shouldn’t be the prime mover that tells ownership to switch on a dime from ‘win now’ mode to rebuild mode. But if that’s what it takes — if Tanaka’s fall acts as a signal or the shedding of a psychological barrier, then so be it.

The reality is that Tanaka was just the best player on a bad team. His injury will likely cost the Yankees 2 or 3 wins over the remainder of the regular season. On a team whose run differential puts them behind 11 other AL clubs, Tanaka was the water wings that gave the Yankees hope of keeping their heads above .500 the rest of the way. The reality is that ownership should have been seriously considering their selling options since mid-June. If Cashman has not at least done his due diligence and quietly looked into what prospects his prospective free agents could bring back in a trade, then he is guilty of gross negligence.

In late July of last year, we called for the Yankees to trade their premier free-agent-to-be, Robinson Cano. Yankees fans, in the main, wouldn’t hear of it and there’s no indication that ownership ever entertained the idea. Predictably, all the Yankees got was two more worthless months from Cano in a season that ended on September 29th, and ceded the opportunity to obtain an elite young player. At the time of that article, the Yankees were 5 games over .500 with a -8 run differential. Baseball Prospectus’ playoff odds report gave them an 11% chance of making the playoffs. According to the betting markets, they had at best a 3% chance of winning the World Series.

Today, the Yankees are 46-46 and have a -38 run differential. Fangraphs gives them a 10% chance of reaching the ALDS. According to the Baseball Prospectus playoff odds reports, they have a 2% chance of winning the World Series. Fangraphs has them at 0.5% to win it all.

Only now are some starting to realize the impact of sacrificing strong young players to build around in exchange for a quixotic shot at sneaking into the playoffs with a bad team. The Yankees are caught in a downward spiral of win-now mania. Their only hope of avoiding having tracks ’13 and ’14 on repeat is to face reality and trade away the few valuable pieces they have. That means Kuroda and Robertson should be goners 3 weeks from now, if not sooner. Brandon McCarthy only brought back the DBacks Vidal Nuno, but perhaps after a couple more solid starts the Yanks can arbitrage him for a slight prospect upgrade…

…and that’s the list of potential trade chips. It’s a bright neon sign advertising the extent of how horrifically mismanaged this team has been in recent years. Brett Gardner and Dellin Betances are valuable players, so kudos to the Yankees for that. They’re the two lone examples of players the Yankees can build around. As far as trade chips to increase the stock of quality youth: Pineda and Nova are injured. Ellsbury, McCann, Teixeira, and Beltran have contracts (and varying levels of suck) that give them less than zero trade value on the trade market. Jeter, Ichiro, Roberts, Johnson are just bad at baseball and wouldn’t bring back prospects if they made league minimum. The rest of the roster is young filler that is incapable of contributing much to the Yankees, no less to a legitimate contender.

If we don’t see Kuroda and DRob moved before the deadline, it means the Yankees are committed to a strategy of passive suicide.

Late heroics

July 10, 2014 | 11 comments | in Featured | by SJK

Jacoby Ellsbury NoMaas Yankees Lionel Messi
Ellsbury’s golazo in the 14th gave the Yankees the win over Cleveland

Thoughts before tonight’s game (July 9, 2014)

July 9, 2014 | 13 comments | in Quick Analytical Blurbs | by Rupert Pupkin

Thoughts on both teams before tonight’s game against Cleveland:

Quickly from last night – Tanaka appears to be jinxed by me. I’ll no longer assume a quality start from him, or at least will keep it to myself from here on out.

Yankees

Thing I’m Expecting: If the ball is hit to LF, I expect Brett Gardner will catch it. If he doesn’t do that, there must be something wrong or the ball was hit too well for anyone to possibly get to it. Because this guy is “da bomb” out there in left.

Thing I Hope to See: Some kind of closure with Carlos Beltran. The guy has been just bad so far, and he’s got lingering injuries including a bone spur in his elbow which has relegated him to DH duties and limited his ability at the plate. Put simply, it may be time to just shut him down so he’s ready for next season. I haven’t seen him contributing in positive ways since the injury – with that walkoff HR from a few weeks back the only exception. He’s been bad and he keeps getting hurt. Might wanna protect the investment they made in him, as he’s signed for another 2 seasons. Someone from within the system (or even on the trade market, perhaps) can put up the same level of production as him, without literally sacrificing their arms and legs.

Player I Want To Watch: Brandon McCarthy makes his Yankee debut tonight. I’m hoping to see his stat line normalize. As has been discussed at length both here and elsewhere, his peripherals have suggested that his performance is much better than the back of his baseball card would indicate.

Indians

Thing I’m Expecting Tonight: Tonight is a bit of a wild card. Josh Tomlin is starting for Cleveland and he’s been relatively decent this season so far. I’m flummoxed as to what I should be anticipating tonight. I guess we’ll just have to watch and find out!

Thing I Hope To See: So Nick Swisher really stuck it to me yesterday, huh? All things considered, I was probably a little to hard on him. After all, he was a friend of NoMaas and did provide value throughout his tenure in New York. That said? I hope to see him pick up a golden sombrero tonight. Sorry, Swish!

Player I’m Afraid Of: I’ve already gotten into Michael Brantley and Yan Gomes, so the only one left with a positive offensive contribution to Cleveland is Carlos Santana. He’s third on the team in WAR (1.3) and despite a .207 BA, he boasts a .349 OBP to complement his 115 wRC+. He’s not lethal, but McCarthy and the other Yankee pitchers may want to tread lightly with the non-guitar playing Carlos Santana.

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