Thank you, Tom Verducci

April 17, 2012 | 31 comments | in Quick Analytical Blurbs | by SJK

It’s not often we give props to a member of the MSM, but Verducci today knocked it out of the park with his article about closers. While the article had more to do about injuries and the specialization of bullpens, this was our favorite part of the piece:

Managers are motivated by the save statistic, throwing three-out save chances to their closer like bones to a dog. The game universally has embraced this idea that a closer can’t come in to a tie game on the roadbetter to lose the game with a lesser pitcher than run your closer out there without a save in hand.

In general, closers are inefficient investments. It’s not just that they break down; Wilson, Soria, Madson, Bailey and Farnsworth will earn $30.2 million combined this year, whether they pitch or not. It’s that paying a guy $12.5 million to throw 60 innings — but, good Lord, not when the game is tied on the road and only when about half the plate appearances against him are truly high leverage — is a waste of a great arm.

Thank you, Tom. The ‘slave to the save’ is probably the most ridiculous thing in baseball, and it’s refereshing to see a member of the MSM call this out. Saving the closer for save situations only is completely idiotic.

Gerry Davis’ baffling strike zone on Monday night

April 16, 2012 | 38 comments | in Quick Analytical Blurbs | by SJK

Remember, these graphs are from the umpire’s point of view.

There’s at least 10 pitches so far out of the strike zone, that it’s unbelievable that they were called strikes.

Davis really screwed up when left-handed hitters were at the plate, which particularly disadvantaged Yankee hitters (red triangles are pitches thrown by Minnesota). But how is a hitter supposed to react when he’s calling balls off the outside corner too (noted by green dots)?


When is this going to end?

Minor League Players of the Week, v1 of 2012

April 16, 2012 | 10 comments | in Quick Analytical Blurbs | by SJK

MLPW returns for another season. We’ll normally be compiling Monday through Sunday performances, although this edition’s numbers include a few extra days.

Pitcher:
Chase Whitley, 22, RHP, AAA / AA
8 IP, 10 K, 2 BB, 2 H, 0 ER, 0 HR
Notable: 3 appearances — 2 at AA Trenton, 1 at AAA Empire State / Scranton

Since being drafted in June 2010 (15th round), Chase Whitley has flown through the Yankees system. After splitting time between Tampa and Trenton in 2011 (42 appearances, 91 IP), he pitched twice for Trenton in the opening week of the season and was then promoted to AAA. In his debut for Empire State/Scranton, he pitched 4 innings of scoreless relief with 3 strikeouts.

Hitter:
Tyler Austin, 20, RHB 1B/3B/COF
.438/.471/1.031 in 34 PAs
Notable: 3 HRs, 3 3B, 4 2B

Is it safe to say that this kid is one of the best hitters (if not, the best) in the Yankees system? The recent NoMaas interviewee was the top hitter at each of his stops last season (Gulf Coast and Staten Island), and he’s continued his torrid pace at Charleston. He’s also been playing RF, which he told us he’d be seeing more of this season.

Honorable Mentions:

Cody Johnson, 23, LHB DH, AA
.375/.444/.792 in 27 PAs, 3 HR

If he could only cut down on the strikeouts

Jose Campos, 19, RHP, A
11 IP, 11 K, 3 BB, 1 H, 0 ER, 0 HR

Other piece in the Pineda/Montero deal, could have easily been this week’s winner.

Nik Turley, 22, LHP, A+
11 IP, 13 K, 5 BB, 11 H, 2 ER, 1 HR

Not a “big radar gun guy“, but the 6’6″ lefty is coming off a very solid 2011, which was cut short by a broken hand.

Michael O’Brien, 22, RHP, A+
10.2 IP, 11 K, 1 BB, 9 H, 1 ER, 0 HR

Started 1 game, and pitched 5 scoreless in relief of Andy Pettitte.

In the ‘They Aren’t Close to Being Ready’ Category…

Manny Banuelos, 21, LHP, AAA
5.1 IP, 2 K, 7 BB, 14 H, 6 ER, 1 HR

This was over 2 starts, he’s now on the 7-DL with a sore back.

Dellin Betances, 24, RHP, AAA
8.1 IP, 9 K, 7 BB, 11 H, 10 ER, 3 HR

Also over 2 starts, allowed 3 HR in his second start.

Jeter bangs Angels, leaves gift basket

April 16, 2012 | 39 comments | in Featured | by SJK

Jeter’s tremendous start continued with a 2-5 performance (2B, 3-run HR) on Sunday night.



Is the shift ruining Mark Teixeira’s life?

April 14, 2012 | 41 comments | in Quick Analytical Blurbs | by SJK

Over the past year, we’ve highlighted Mark Teixeira’s annually declining numbers, particularly when it comes to hitting left-handed against RHP. We’ve even questioned if he’s Yankee Stadium’d his swing, resulting in less line-drives, more pop-ups, and more flyballs.

But maybe it’s the “The Shift” that is affecting his numbers more than anything. Look at his dramatic dropoff in BABIP (Batting Average on Balls In Play) over the last few seasons, and in particular against right-handed pitching:

Overall BABIP:

2009: .302
2010: .268
2011: .239
2012: .208

BABIP vs. RHP:

2009: .290
2010: .255
2011: .222
2012: .200


Basically, 75-80% of what he hits as a left-handed batter is falling into the glove of a defender, and the numbers get more dramatic with each passing season. Having nearly every defensive player on one side of the field is probably a big reason for that.

And with the “The Shift” becoming more popular and Tex so far not showing any signs of adapting, the reality is that the recent version of Teixeira might be the one we’ll have through 2016 — a version that is far less productive than what the Yankees believed they were signing for $180 million.

Kuroda to Angels: “Coward!”

April 13, 2012 | 37 comments | in Featured | by SJK

8 IP, 0 R, 8 H, 6 K, 2 BB


Their bats, their runs, everything…GONE!

Francona: “Go f*** yourselves.”

April 12, 2012 | 67 comments | in Quick Analytical Blurbs | by SJK

Boston Globe:

Don’t look for former manager Terry Francona at Fenway Park when the Red Sox celebrate the 100th anniversary of their beloved ballpark a week from Friday against the Yankees. Francona is still smarting from the way things ended between himself and the Red Sox after the collapse of 2011.

“Somebody went out of their way to make me look pretty bad,’’ Francona said, referring to a story by the Globe’s Bob Hohler that cited unnamed club sources expressing concerns that Francona’s job performance may have been affected by his use of pain medication. “It’s a shame. I’m sure they’ll have a great event and I was part of a lot of that stuff there, but I just can’t go back there and start hugging people and stuff without feeling a little bit hypocritical.’’

The Sox have invited every living ex-player and manager back for the ballpark’s centennial celebration, but Francona rejected the offer in a phone call with owner John Henry last month, and again Monday when Lucchino called.

“Larry called me yesterday,’’ Francona said Tuesday. “I was in a phone store in Arizona. I had three people standing around me. I was at a little bit of a disadvantage. He got a little perturbed at me, telling me I was being unfair to them. I called him back last night and left him a message. He called me back and we ended up getting into an argument. I just feel like someone in the organization went out of their way to hurt me and the more we talked I realized we’re just not on the same wavelength. They’re probably better off going forth and leaving me out of it.’’

Until I’m more comfortable with some answers on what happened at the end of the year, I don’t want to have much to do with the organization and that’s a shame,’’ Francona said Tuesday.


Swisher handles Birds, Yanks sweep

April 11, 2012 | 26 comments | in Featured | by SJK


I’m riding a ostrich, bro!

And the crowd whispered, “Raul”

April 11, 2012 | 52 comments | in Featured | by SJK



The Raul Ibanez fielding thread

April 10, 2012 | 27 comments | in Quick Analytical Blurbs | by Marshall Seymour

The Raul Ibanez signing was questionable even when we thought he was going to be an exclusive DH. On Sunday, we learned that Girardi plans to use Ibanez in the field, moving this deal completely into the realm of stupidity.

Excluding Ibanez, the Yankees have four outfielders who are capable defensively (to varying degrees), making his appearance out there even more confusing. Just how bad is Ibanez in the field?

Last year, he posted the worst UZR of any outfielder in baseball at -18.9.

Over the past three seasons, Ibanez’s UZR of -21.1 is 7th-worst among all ML OFs. He also ranks in the bottom 10 of outfielders according to both Total Zone and the Fangraphs’ Fan Scouting Report over that same span.

At one time, his bat might have been able to counter this atrocious defense, but Ibanez is clearly showing his age, having a steady decline in wOBA over the past three seasons: .379 to .341 to a backup infielder worthy .306 last season. That last figure, coupled with his defense, led to a -1.3 WAR — good for worst in the majors in 2011. In other words, largely because of his defense, Ibanez was arguably the worst full-time player in baseball last season.

If Ibanez is used exclusively as a lefty DH option and can rebound from last season’s pedestrian .747 OPS versus RHP, then this signing could provide some value. However, if Girardi continues to use him in the field, Ibanez will provide zero to negative value. He has no place anywhere on the field if he’s not wearing a helmet.

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