Thoughts before tonight’s game (July 8, 2014)

July 8, 2014 | 2 comments | in Quick Analytical Blurbs | by Rupert Pupkin

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

Shane Greene looked like a viable starting pitcher last night. Here’s hoping he’s got more performances like that up his sleeve. With David Phelps picking up his performance lately, the team could use another viable option to give them length at the back of their rotation. A trade for a SP upgrade wouldn’t hurt – their rotation is presently constructed as Tanaka/Kuroda/McCarthy/Phelps/Greene – but is not the most glaring need. If Greene sticks around (meaning he continues pitching well), it could be a nice bridge to whomever they might trade for to bolster the rotation, or Michael Pineda, if he ever figures out how to stay healthy and not use banned substances in clear sight.

Yankees

Thing I’m Expecting: Tanaka time tonight. I expect the Japanese stud to do what he does. I called for his 17th straight quality start last week against Minnesota but he somehow managed to give up 4 runs (despite still winning the game). Tonight, I’m going to go back to the well and saying he’ll go 6 innings or more and allow 3 runs or less – in other words, I expect another quality start from Ma-kun.

Thing I Hope to See: More offense. The team has scored 14 runs in its past two games, which seems like a week’s worth given their performance as recently as, well, a week ago. I’d like to see them keep it going tonight against Cleveland’s SP Trevor Bauer, who has been the definition of mediocrity with a 4.42 ERA (4.43 FIP/4.14 xFIP). Bauer is prone to the long-ball, allowing 1.37 HR/9 and 11.5% HR/FB. There’s no reason they can’t punish him early like they did yesterday with Justin Masterson, a much better pitcher.

Player I Want To Watch: Brian McCann was 3-5 with a 2B in last night’s victory. I want to see if he can keep up this hitting, especially in light of Terry Pendleton (his former coach in Atlanta) commenting that he’ll never be comfortable in NY. I’d like for McCann to prove otherwise.

Indians

Thing I’m Expecting: As previously mentioned, Trevor Bauer is not a very good starting pitcher. I’d expect him to prove this worthlessness tonight.

Thing I Hope To See: It was interesting to see Nick Swisher getting booed last night. Remember when he responded poorly to similar treatment in his final games with the Yankees? Remember when he turned down a qualifying offer from the Yankees because he thought he’d get Jayson Werth money? I hope to see Swisher play his way out of the starting lineup. It’s true what fans, media and opposing players used to say about Swisher – you only like the guy when he’s playing for your team. Although, if I were rooting for Cleveland, I doubt I’d like him very much at this point.

Player I’m Afraid Of: Yan Gomes is an outstanding catcher. He is second on the team in WAR (2.6), only 0.4 points behind Michael Brantley. Gomes made a great throw to nail Brett Gardner trying to steal last night and is by all accounts one of the best young backstops in the game. He’s also got a wRC+ of 113, so he’s no slouch at the plate either.

Stay classy, David

July 8, 2014 | 13 comments | in Quick Analytical Blurbs | by SJK

Boston.com:

David Ortiz is not happy about being dragged through the mud again in the latest PED brouhaha.

In a conversation with WEEI.com’s Rob Bradford before last night’s 4-0 Red Sox loss to the White Sox, Ortiz spoke about being involved in media commentary following Red Sox starter John Lackey’s no-comment-comments about Orioles DH and Red Sox killer Nelson Cruz, who received a 50-game suspension last season for using performance-enhancing drugs via his involvement in the Biogenesis scandal.

Ortiz was then apparently irked when he saw coverage of the verbal sparring on MLB Network Monday afternoon. Ortiz told Bradford that the host of the show featuring the Lackey-Cruz-Showalter discussion said Ortiz had received a “free pass” regarding performance-enhancing drug use in the past.

“I call it straight up bull@#&! ‘Cause let me tell you, you don’t get no free pass here, especially a guy like me,” Ortiz told Bradford. I don’t get no free pass. So that free pass bull@#&! that they want to talk about over there, they can shove it up their ass.

Well, that’s not good to hear

July 8, 2014 | 5 comments | in Quick Analytical Blurbs | by SJK

NY Post:

Terry Pendleton believes it’s all three, which is why McCann’s former longtime hitting coach isn’t shocked by what the catcher is going through.

“New York is not Brian,” Pendleton said before the Braves fell to the Mets 4-3 in 11 innings. “That’s my opinion. I knew if he chose New York, there would be more than he expected or knew about. He’ll never be comfortable with that.”

“He became a pull hitter over the last three years or so,” Pendleton said. “When he got to the big leagues, he hit the ball everywhere. That’s what made him so good.”

“If you’ve got pull on your mind, it doesn’t matter how far the fences are back,” said Pendleton, who last talked to McCann during spring training. “He’s going pull. That’s his mind-set right now. The ball he hit out the other day, he didn’t hit good.”

Greene shines in debut

July 8, 2014 | 0 comment | in Featured | by Louis Winthorpe III

greenedebut
Shane Greene: 6 IP, 4 H, 2 ER, 0 BB, 2 SO, 1 HR

VOTE: Should the Yankees be aggressive buyers on the trade market?

July 8, 2014 | 14 comments | in Quick Analytical Blurbs | by SJK

We recently penned an article about how we think the Yankees should not trade for David Price, but rather keep prospects and stop this cycle of striving for mediocrity and media relevance…at least for the remainder of this season.

But do you agree? Let us know.

Thoughts before tonight’s game (July 7, 2014)

July 7, 2014 | 3 comments | in Quick Analytical Blurbs | by Rupert Pupkin

Thoughts on both teams before tonight’s series opener against Cleveland:

The Yankees suddenly look better simply by dropping two of the worst pieces of hot garbage on the 25-man roster. Vidal Nuno is off to Arizona, Alfonso Soriano is gone (THANK YOU SO MUCH) and Brandon McCarthy joins the rotation, along with Shane Greene as Chase Whitley heads to the bullpen (for now, at least).

The team doesn’t look much better, but it sure FEELS better to watch them now. I don’t have the overwhelming senses of dread I got from watching Soriano play or Nuno pitch anymore, which is a good thing. The team is currently 1 game over .500 with a 44-43 record through the first 87 contests, and their run differential remains negative at -32. They are the only team in the AL with both a negative run differential and “winning” record. They are 4-6 in their last 10 games played and are still within easy striking distance in the division, 3.5 games behind 1st place Baltimore. They are currently projected to have a 22.2% chance of making the playoffs (per fangraphs).

Yankees

Impression Lately: The team looked great over the weekend, granted against one of the worst teams in baseball. They took 3 of 4 from Minnesota and could have easily have swept the series if not for an ill advised, errant throw by Francisco Cervelli in extra innings of Saturday’s game. Maybe, possibly, hopefully, these recent wins and roster moves are signs of good things on the horizon.

Thing I’m Expecting: Jacoby Ellsbury had a great performance yesterday, going 2-5 with a HR and 4 RBI. His slash line currently sits at .284/.352/.398 on the year – which is not bad at all, but is something you’d expect to rise given his career rates. I wanna see him get on a little hot streak in the next few games/series before the All Star Break.

Thing I Hope to See: It would be nice to see Shane Greene make a good start and give the team another arm for the rotation or bullpen. Hopefully McCarthy contributes likewise, as the team has not had pitching problems per se – but they have had issues getting length out of the rotation.

Indians

Impression Lately: The Indians have had a similar season to the Yankees, albeit in a tougher division (who’d have thought the Central – or rather the Royals – would be this competitive this late into the season?). They’ve been up and down all year. They are currently one game under .500 with a 43-44 record which places them 6 games behind Detroit. They have a much better run differential than the Yankees, at -13 and have won 6 of their last 10. Fangraphs places their playoff odds at 21.8% coming into today.

Thing I’m Expecting Tonight: Justin Masterson is starting for Cleveland and he’s had a bit of an odd season so far. His 5.16 ERA is mitigated somewhat by a 3.97 FIP/3.94 xFIP and his strikeout rate is relatively high – 8.63 K/9. He’s still a ground ball machine, with a rate of 59.3%. The Yankees have had some trouble with him, so I’d expect a quality start tonight. Hopefully Greene can match him or at least hang in there.

Player I’m Afraid Of: Michael Brantley, and it’s not close. The guy has been a pitcher’s nightmare this season – 13 HR, 57 RBI, 10 SB, 8.4 K% (holy sh*t!), a slash-line of .321/.385/.511 to complement a wRC+ of 155, meaning he’s 55% better than the average MLB position player. In short, he’s a beast at the plate, and I’m afraid.

Congrats to Dellin Betances

July 7, 2014 | 5 comments | in Quick Analytical Blurbs | by SJK

What a remarkable turnaround.

His career was literally on the verge of implosion, and the Yankees moved him to the bullpen as a last resort. Now, he’s an All-Star.

Awesome, awesome story.

Nuno for McCarthy: Good Fantasy Trade; Real Life, Not So Much

July 6, 2014 | 18 comments | in Living in Mom's Basement | by Vizzini

Brian Cashman has loudly signaled his intentions to upgrading the injury-ridden Yankee rotation. He accomplished that in an exchange of Vidal Nuno for Brandon McCarthy, two pitchers who are not what they seem.

On the surface, Brandon McCarthy has posted a 3-10 record this year, accompanied by an unsightly 5.01 ERA. However, as any competent fantasy owner knows, one of the first things you look for in a buy-low target is the difference between a pitcher’s ERA and his more skills-driven xFIP. The difference in McCarthy’s ERA and xFIP (2.89!) is the biggest in the major leagues. His skills are impeccable: He maintains a healthy strikeout rate (7.6 K/9), while walking nobody (1.6 BB/9) and keeping the ball on the ground at 55%.

That’s all masked by a horrific trifecta of bad luck: a .345 BABIP, a 67% left-on-base rate, and a 20% HR/FB rate that is by far the highest in baseball. In truth, Brandon McCarthy is an above-average pitcher who might well be finding his stride and peaking just as the Yankees have acquired him. There’s no doubt he upgrades the Yankee rotation this year.

On the other side of the ledger, few Yankee fans are weeping over the loss of Vidal Nuno. Nuno got his cup of coffee last year, posting a 2.22 ERA in his 20 innings — but this was the opposite of the McCarthy effect. Nuno had a ridiculously favorable BABIP (.219), strand rate (89%), and HR/FB% (6.5%). All that masked an
xFIP of 5.32, and voila: Nuno’s ERA in 78 innings this year is 5.42, with skills that are a bit better (4.41 xFIP) but still well below-average (113 xFIP-).

Nuno was a 48th-round pick, he made nobody’s list of top ten list of Yankee prospects, and he wasn’t going to figure it all out this year. Yet, where McCarthy is a free agent at the end of the year, Nuno is under team control for the next five seasons. That’s plenty of time for him to work his way into an average MLB starter or useful bullpen piece at a guaranteed below-market salary.

Nuno’s minor league record hints at some potential. He dominated every level from A- to AAA along the way to being promoted, striking out 5 times as many batters as he walked over the course of 5 seasons.

Cashman did what said he was going to do: he made this year’s rotation better — and he did it in a way that would make a savvy fantasy owner proud, trading a piece that wasn’t going to help this year for a guy whose smart-person’s stats reveal him to be way better than his silly-old-codger stats.

But unfortunately for Cashman, he plays in a keeper league with some annoying real life constraints. In real life, he has owners that set arbitrary, self-imposed salary caps. In real life, young team-controlled players are growing in value as other teams are catching up to the Yankees in spending and locking up their young stars long term. In real life, Brandon McCarthy has been in the league since 2005 without ever coming close to pitching 200 IP. He pitched 170 innings once and his next most prolific season was 135 innings long. It’s uncertain whether he’ll still be there if the Yankees make the playoffs, and even then he doesn’t start Game 1 or 2. Most importantly, in real life, McCarthy projects to be about a 1-win upgrade the rest of the year on a bad team that would need a lot more to become legitimate contender.

In a vacuum, this is a a shrewd deal by Cashman. In context, it’s another example of sacrificing longer-term stability to ensure short-term mediocrity and moderate relevance.

Should the Yankees trade for David Price?

July 5, 2014 | 10 comments | in Featured | by Vizzini

The three most prominent and consistent names on the pitching trading block over the past few weeks have been David Price (3 WAR to date), Jeff Samardzija (2.1 WAR), and Jason Hammel (2 WAR). Now that the best team in baseball (team payroll= ~$75 mil) has taken the latter two off the market, Price is left as far and away the most intriguing player we know to be available.

Brian Cashman had already made it known he was looking to acquire an impact arm. Now with CC Sabathia likely out for the rest of the year, he is surely feeling increased pressure to acquire a top starter who can help close the seemingly manageable three-game gap between the Yankees and first place.

Price is a very appealing target. He ranks as a top 10 AL pitcher in FIP and WAR, and a top 3 pitcher in K/9, BB/9, and xFIP. He’s averaged 207 innings over the last 4 seasons. He would replace Vidal Nuno in the rotation, so the Yankees would get nearly his full value above replacement level. And should the Yankees sneak into the playoffs, a Tanaka-Price duo would give the Yankees the most formidable 1-2 punch of any team save for the Dodgers.

All that said, Cashman should not take the bait. There’s a question of whether if this trade is even a possibility in the first place. Price will command a huge return, and the Rays are sure to ask for the moon from a division rival. The Yankees farm system might well keep them out of the running. Even if the Yankees could put together a competitive package, they should hold onto their prospects and just let the clock run
out on this season.

As good as Price is, he is not going to make the Yankees a legit contender. While three games isn’t a ton to make up, the Yankees are long shots to beat out both the Orioles and Blue Jays for the division and even less likely to get a wild card. Their mediocre 43-42 record hides a putrid 39-46 Pythagorean record. Only 3 teams in the AL have a worse run differential.

Consider this: The Yankees expected win percentage so far this year is .460. The Blues Jays expected win percentage is the same as their actual win percentage .534. If the Blue Jays only played .500 ball the
rest of the way, the Yankees would have to somehow be a .540 team for the remainder of the season. That’s not impossible, but it’s a long shot even with Price in the fold. And it doesn’t account for the Orioles keeping pace.

The Yankees have proven over the last two seasons, the folly of depending on the free agent market in lieu of developing prospects in this era of baseball. David Price is an excellent pitcher, and he might be worth the prospect haul to another team that just needs a 2 or so win push to make the playoffs. The Yankees are not
that team.

Yanks so far sign 8 of the top international prospects

July 5, 2014 | 5 comments | in Farm System | by SJK

Per Baseball America’s international free agent tracker, the Yankees have so far signed 8 of the top international free agents in this year’s class of kids — including the #2 overall prospect as rated by BA.

It was first reported in December and then in February that the Yankees planned to go bananas on this year’s IFA class — risking financial ramifications for 2015 and subjecting themselves to a 100% luxury tax.

It looks like those initial reports have become a reality. The club is making a big bet that this 2014 class of international free agents is a rich one, as they’ll be restricted in spending for 2015. Here’s what we wrote back in February:

Based on the latest Collective Bargaining Agreement, the Yankees are only “allowed” to spend ~ $2 million on international free agents this year (signing period begins July 2), and they’ll be taxed 100% on any amount over that — so that would be a HUGE outlay for a bunch of 16-year olds. Plus, if they decide to give a middle finger to the new CBA rules, they reportedly won’t be able to sign any IFAs for over $250k in 2015.

We don’t know these 16-year olds from a hole in the wall, but it’s great to see the Yankees finally flexing their financial muscle to build up the farm. Better late than never…

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