Re-launched: NoMaas Live Game Chat

August 27, 2011 | 0 comment | in Announcements | by SJK

As we enter the home stretch of the regular season, we’ve relaunched our live game chat with new software. Experience live realtime chat with other Yankee fans without the hassle of constantly refreshing traditional game threads. Cheer, vent, complain, and (insert kneejerk reaction here) with all of your brethren — live!

So next time a Yankee game starts, head over to the new and improved NoMaas Live Game Chat.

But try not to get in a situation like this:

Leave the pitcher, take the cannoli

August 27, 2011 | 63 comments | in Featured | by SJK

Put AJ out of his misery, remove him from the rotation

Yankees drop bomb on Athletics

August 25, 2011 | 79 comments | in Featured | by SJK

Three grand slams destroyed the A’s

The “AJ Burnett can’t pitch in August” defense

August 25, 2011 | 24 comments | in Quick Analytical Blurbs | by Vizzini

When pressed recently in an ESPN interview on whether A.J. Burnett should be removed from the rotation, Brian Cashman came to Burnett’s defense:

“We have six guys who can pitch in a pennant race, period. AJ Burnett is having his typical terrible August. For whatever reason, he can’t pitch in August, I don’t know why. It is what it is. August is obviously not an effective month for him.”

Cashman did say Electric Stuff! hasn’t pitched like a #2 starter, but thinks that his recent brownouts should be discounted when evaluating his place in the rotation — for his performance will improve once the kids pack up their Justin Bieber lunchboxes and head back to school.

Discerning NoMaas readers surely will turn a jaundiced eye toward remarks of this ilk. We are used to hearing MLB broadcasters attribute some sort of causality to statistical flukes of small sample size all the time: Josh Hamilton hits better in the daytime because his eyes are blue, Robbie Cano can’t hit with runners in scoring position because he lacks mental toughness, David Ortiz is so calm in the clutch because he thinks all Japanese people look alike.

Returning to Cashman’s assertion, it’s easy to see why he thinks August is a cursed month for Burnett. AJ has been a Yankee since 2009 and has posted the following ERAs in August: 6.03, 7.80, 10.70. It sure seems like there must be something going on here, right?

Well, in 2010, August wasn’t Burnett’s worst month. In June, he made 5 starts with an 11.35 ERA. When you further examine Burnett’s career, Cashman’s picture of things disintegrates.

In ’08, August was only Burnett’s third-worst month. In ’07, Burnett had his very best month of the year in August, posting a 1.63 ERA. August was also Burnett’s best month in 2005, 2002, & 2000. In 2004, he somehow mustered a 2.83 ERA in August. Does this mean A.J. was an August Master early in his career but started to lose that mojo as the years rolled by? Not so fast — in 2001, he had a 7.39 August ERA.

Is this starting to look like plain ol’ random variation to you? Good, it should, and it should to Cashman as well. Burnett’s career 4.33 August ERA is the highest of any month for him, but so what? One out of every 6 pitchers is going to have their worst ERA in August (there’s 6 months in the baseball season). There have been 654 pitchers to pitch at least 200 innings in the last decade. We should expect 109 pitchers in that period to have August as their worst month just by random chance. A.J. Burnett is one of them.

This is a lot of digital ink to spill on a comment that Brian Cashman tossed out while taking a defensive posture at the media’s typically thoughtless probing. Yet, there is a deeper lesson here. Our minds have evolved to attach a narrative to every set of events we encounter. When we see a pitcher get rocked, we look for a story that explains the poor outcome. Watch a game on TV and an MLB broadcaster will come up with a single reason for almost every bad outcome for a pitcher. Much of the time the announcers are just plain making stuff up and the numbers will contradict their assertions. Even when the stats seem to support them, it is almost always a statistical blip.

In fact, there are countless factors involved in why a pitcher might get hit hard. Some are under his control to varying degrees: his mechanics, his velocity, his location, his pitch selection. Some are not: the batter’s mechanics, the batter’s guess at what pitch is coming, the fielder’s jump on the ball, the size and consistency of umpire’s strike zone, the wind blowing in or out, the temperature at the stadium, the length of the grass….all these factors pile up on each other and tend to drown out any single reason we may come up with to explain an event.

We are all prone to this habit of illusory correlation. It is a little unnerving to hear the Yankees’ General Manager so blatantly falling into this trap and professing patently silly reasons for his pitcher’s performance. It is disappointing to think that such a major decision as who will be in the rotation might be made based on fundamentally unsound reasoning. We’re hoping this was just a throwaway comment.


August 25, 2011 | 50 comments | in Featured | by SJK

Identifying overvalued assets and then throwing globs of money at them.

The best .346 OBP $180 million can buy

August 24, 2011 | 46 comments | in Quick Analytical Blurbs | by SJK

ESPN-NY on Friday night after Mark Teixiera eclipsed 1,000 Career RBI:

Teixeira…says he values RBIs more than any other stat. “It’s a nice number,” he said. “You get that many in only nine years, you think, ‘I must be doing all right.”‘

Well, he certainly doesn’t value on-base percentage, because Teixeira is on track for the worst OBP of his career. We asked earlier this month if Teixeira had Yankee Stadium’d his swing over the last two seasons, resulting in lower BABIP, lower average, and lower OBP results.

Whatever the reason, he’s not getting on base nearly enough to justify the monster contract that pays him $22.5 million through 2016. He ranks 30th in the AL in OBP and 17th in the league in wOBA (.370).

The big HR and RBI totals will probably fool the masses into thinking he’s an elite hitter in the league, but he’s not. The RBIs especially are inflated because he hits in the middle of a potent Yankee lineup. Stick him on a team with a lesser offense and the RBI defense would evaporate.

Tex is a very solid hitter, but he’s an overrated one.

Free outs: They’re Grrrrreat!

August 23, 2011 | 69 comments | in Featured | by SJK

Yankees 7th in the AL in Sac Bunts and climbing!! (11th in 2010)

How the Yankees spent the off-day

August 22, 2011 | 44 comments | in Featured | by SJK

One shining moment: Curtis Granderson did some TV work on Monday

Minor League Players of the Week, v17

August 22, 2011 | 3 comments | in Quick Analytical Blurbs | by SJK

Multiple rainouts and off-days make this week’s MLPW a little thinner than usual…

Adam Warren, 24 on 8/25, RHP, AAA
7 IP, 10 K, 2 BB, 3 H, 1 ER, 1 HR
Notable: Over 2 starts, 2 IP in rain-shortened start

NoMaas Ranking – 13

Previous 2011 MLPW Wins: 3

As we highlighted in April, Adam Warren has blown through the Yankees system. The 2009 4th round draft pick and NoMaas interviewee is already on the cusp of a major league call-up. Over 137.2 IP this season in Scranton, Warren has a 3.33 ERA and a 3.97 FIP.

While the ERA is certainly nice, Warren’s peripherals have taken a dip since the jump to AAA. His K/9 (6.09), BB/9 (3.07), and K/BB (1.98) are all worse than his career numbers, particularly those he registered at AA. This is something that Yankees Senior VP Mark Newman highlighted to us as an unwelcome development. He also has a less-than-desirable groundout/airout ratio of 0.69. Obviously, as the competition level increases, one expects some statistical declines. Plus, he only pitched 54 innings at AA versus the nearly 140 he’s thrown at AAA.

We’ll leave it at this. Warren is having a solid year at AAA, one that’s deserving of at least a cup of coffee. However, he looks like a back-end type, which is certainly an asset to have, but the Yankees have several of those.

Tyler Austin, 19, RHB 3B/1B, Short-Season
.478/.500/.826 in 24 PAs
Notable: 5 doubles, 1 HR

NoMaas Ranking – None

Previous 2011 MLPW Win – None

“Stone Cold” Tyler Austin is no stranger to MLPW, as he took home an honorable mention in July. He tore up the GCL to the tune of .390/.438/.622 before he was promoted to Staten Island on July 16th.

The 2010 13th round draft pick had a huge week, including a 6-for-6 performance on Sunday, August 21st. He entered Sunday’s game with a .250 BA at SI, and left with an average of .328. It was the first 6-hit game in the NY-Penn League since July 2007.

Of the eleven hits Austin had on the week, six were for extra bases (5 doubles, 1 HR). His Staten Island line now stands at .328/.388/.500. What’s even more interesting about the Georgia high school product is his penchant for stolen bases. Between both levels this season, he’s stolen 13 bases and been caught zero times.

Definitely a fun player to watch.

Honorable Mentions:

Dellin Betances, 23, RHP, AAA
6 IP, 8 K, 0 BB, 7 H, 3 ER, 1 HR

8 K, 0 BB in his Triple-A debut

Vidal Nuno, 24, LHP, A
6 IP, 8 K, 1 BB, 7 H, 2 ER, 0 HR allowed

Honorable mention last week too, independent league signing

Deangelo Mack, 24, LHB LF/RF, A+
.500/.533/.785 in 15 PAs

Sent back down to A+ from AA earlier in the month

As an added bonus, whenever someone says Dellin Betances’ first name, we often think of this:

In the conversation

August 21, 2011 | 43 comments | in Featured | by SJK

124.2 IP, 5.35 K/9, 3.10 BB/9, 1.72 K/BB, 0.87 HR/9, 3.97 ERA

54.8% Groundball Rate (5th in the AL heading into Sunday’s game – min. 110 IP)

Rookie of the Year?

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