Insert sad emoticon

March 21, 2012 | 58 comments | in Quick Analytical Blurbs | by SJK

Yahoo Sports:

Montero wants to prove catching skills are no joke

I wanted to see how reputation and truth collided Tuesday. Montero was catching a full nine innings for the Seattle Mariners, who acquired him from the New York Yankees for Michael Pineda this offseason in one of the most ballyhooed trades in years: kid for kid, upside for upside, risk for risk.

Minutes after the Mariners wrapped up an 8-1 win, Montero stripped off his shin guards, chest protector and mask. He said he has caught since he was 4 years old and can’t fathom not doing it. Catching is part of his baseball identity. He’s OK with the Mariners’ plan to catch Miguel Olivo most of the time, giving Montero about one-third of the games behind the plate and the rest at DH, as long as he can transition into full-time duty next season.

“He’s hungry to be back there,” Wedge said. “He’s a good worker. We’re always looking to get better. He’s done a great job this spring. And we’ve got every reason to believe he’s going to be an everyday catcher.”

Source: AP Photo/Elaine Thompson

VOTE: Best/worst moves of the offseason

March 20, 2012 | 37 comments | in Featured | by SJK

What is your verdict?

The Pineda non-story

March 19, 2012 | 37 comments | in Quick Analytical Blurbs | by Vizzini

In a February 29th article by George King of the NY Post, it was reported that only Sabathia and Kuroda have guaranteed spots in the rotation. According to Girardi, Michael Pineda would have to prove himself if he wants to be a starting pitcher for the Yankees:

“He has to pitch. He has to stay healthy and he has to pitch,’’ Girardi said of Pineda, who was 9-10 with a 3.74 ERA in 28 starts for the Mariners but won just twice after June 17 and reported to camp 10 pounds heavier than at the end of last season. “I am a big believer that nothing is given to you in life. There are no guarantees. You still have to do your work and do your job. We are just not handing things over.’’

Now, of course Joe Girardi is going to say these things. He wants Pineda to work hard and not take anything for granted. Surely though, King doesn’t take Girardi’s words at face value. He doesn’t really believe that the Yankees’ overmanager might banish the Yankees’ best young pitcher from the starting rotation, right?


A few days later, on March 5th, King wrote another full-length article on how Pineda might not make the rotation because he’s a bit chubbed up:

What we know of Michael Pineda in the brief time he has been with the Yankees can’t be viewed as encouraging.

The 23-year-old righthander arrived last month and immediately admitted he was 10 pounds heavier than the 270 he carried at the end of last year with the Mariners.

That speaks to poor nutritional habits or a lack of exercise, each alarming for his age…So, Pineda isn’t a No. 2 starter. Nor is he a lock for the rotation.”

Now it’s starting to look like King is not only credulously taking the bait, but becoming a bit obsessive about the topic. On March 14th, he authored yet another piece, this time saying Pineda could be sent to the minors because he has three options left:

Paperwork might determine what the Yankees pitching rotation looks like, and it’s not out of the question Michael Pineda could start the season at Triple-A.

Wednesday, for the second straight day, manager Joe Girardi mentioned minor league options and how they may factor into the four-arm competition for the three spots left after CC Sabathia and Hiroki Kuroda.

That’s a possibility,” Girardi said about a hurler being sent to the minors to start the season. “Some of the guys have options if that’s what we need to do.”

And now King’s meme is spreading. ESPN NY posted an article by Andrew Marchand, who also speculates Pineda could be minor-league bound:

If Pineda doesn’t show control of 95-96 mph stuff, then wouldn’t the Yankees and Pineda be better served if he worked on things under the lesser microscope of the minors? It is one way for the Yankees to contain expectations, while continuing to foster Pineda’s growth.

Okay, let’s get this straight. There is no way Michael Pineda should be anything except a starting pitcher all year for the Yankees. Girardi, Cashman, Levine, and Steinbrenner all know this. Cashman did not trade the best prospect he’s ever had as General Manager for a pitcher to help out the homeless Triple-A team.

In order for Pineda to not be a starter out of the gate, Nova, Hughes, and Garcia would all have to leapfrog him on the depth chart. As starters, Nova and Hughes have xFIPs of 4.16 and 4.49, respectively. Michael Pineda is younger than both of those two and posted a 3.53 xFIP in his 171 inning debut. We respect our readers enough to not bother with an analysis of why Pineda should be in the rotation over Freddy Garcia.

Why some sports media outlets play dumb and try to convince their readers that there’s a real story line in a manager’s spoon-fed piffle is a mystery to us.

Digested, here’s our thoughts on Pettitte

March 18, 2012 | 36 comments | in Quick Analytical Blurbs | by Vizzini and Wade Garrett

Now that we’ve had some time to think about it, here’s a collection of thoughts on the mind-blowing Andy Pettitte signing.

1. Could end up being much ado about nothing

There’s no guarantee Pettitte can ramp it up in Tampa and prove to himself and coaches that he’s ready to pitch at a high-quality level. After all, he’ll turn 40 in June and hasn’t pitched in MLB since 2010. All this speculation and analysis might not mean sheeeettt.

2. What type of performance can we expect?

If Andy does get the call-up to the Boogie Down, what type of performance can we realistically expect? He was very good in his last season (3.28 ERA/3.85 FIP/3.89 xFIP), although he pitched only 129 innings due to a groin injury. If he’s in a slow decline phase, he could be average or slightly-above average. That’s a steal for $2.5 million.

3. We would not bump Phil Hughes to the bullpen to make room for him.

Unless Hughes is god awful, we would not jettison him to the bullpen to make room for Pettitte. First, Hughes is a former #1 prospect who clearly has a higher ceiling and longer-term future than a 39-year old Pettitte. Moving him to the pen means you are pissing away the opportunity to realize a very large potential value. Second, the Yankees already have the best bullpen in baseball. Adding another good reliever barely moves the wins needle.

4. Pettitte could provide an opportunity to reduce the amount of innings the top starters get during the regular season.

It could make for a meaningful advantage in the playoffs if CC, Kuroda, & Pineda have pitched significantly less innings than their opponent’s top 3. Maybe you skip a start every now and then, or rock a 6-man rotation at certain times like we saw in the latter stages of last season. Alternatively, you could reduce the amount of innings per start, and perhaps rotate some of the lower-tier starters as long relievers. However Joey G writes it up, it could mean fresher starting pitching come playoff time, when the importance of a top-heavy rotation looms large.

5. We hope the Yankees make their decisions based on baseball, and not placating the fanbase who still thinks it’s 1998

If it’s one thing the Yankees stink at, it’s dealing with the legacy/Core 4/headline-name players. What happens if the rotation is performing well, and Andy decides he’s ready to pitch in the bigs? Do the Yankees arbitrarily bump someone just to satisfy the large-nosed lefty?

Conversely, what if coaches realize that Andy can’t pitch at a high-quality level? There’s no certainty that Pettitte will be better than anyone currently slotted to take the mound. Will the front office tell him he’s not needed? Or will we see a Levine-like move to maximize ticket sales?

6. Some of the kids at AAA must really be dejected.

In December, we wrote “Help I’m in Triple A and I can’t get up“, regarding the cases of David Phelps, Adam Warren, and DJ Mitchell. This was before the Pettitte move. Now, the chances of them rotting away in the minors are even higher.

7. Let this be a lesson to all men

Andy spent a year at home seeing his wife on a daily basis. If only we all had a major league team to go back to…

Very, very sneaky

March 17, 2012 | 26 comments | in Featured | by SJK

We’ve underestimated the sneakiness.

What the *$#%

March 16, 2012 | 47 comments | in Quick Analytical Blurbs | by SJK


The Yankees have signed Pettitte to a one-year minor league deal, according to the YES Network’s Jack Curry, who reports the deal is worth $2.5 million. Pettitte, 39, had been in camp as a special guest instructor. At that time, he admitted that being around the Yankees might raise the temptation of a comeback.

NoMaas circa 2006

Brett, surely you jest

March 16, 2012 | 18 comments | in Quick Analytical Blurbs | by SJK

The Record /

Traditional baseball observers and proponents of new-age statistical analysis had to agree that Brett Gardner played Gold Glove-worthy defense last year.

The Yankees left fielder isn’t so sure.

“I really wasn’t completely pleased with my defense last year,” Gardner said on a recent morning at Steinbrenner Field. “I made some mistakes that I don’t normally make and I look forward to having a better year all around.”

“If I woke up this morning and you put me in center field, I’d be more comfortable than if I woke up and went to left field. It’s just the way it is. I’m sure it’d be the same way with Curtis,” said Gardner, referencing center fielder Curtis Granderson.

Does he not want to allow ANY hits to LF?

Do you believe in leprechauns?

March 16, 2012 | 16 comments | in Quick Analytical Blurbs | by SJK

Happy St. Patrick’s Day from NoMaas.

The Stealth Bomber Series: Interview with OF Ben Gamel

March 14, 2012 | 13 comments | in Featured | by SJK

In the our Stealth Bomber series, we talk to players in the farm system who aren’t yet on the New York radar, but hope one day to be so.

Ben Gamel was drafted by the Yankees in the 10th round of the 2010 draft. Committed to Florida State, the Yankees convinced Gamel to forgo the tomahawks and join the organization out of high school with an above-slot bonus. In 2011, the Florida product helped lead the Staten Island Yankees (A-) to a league championship, hitting .289./373/.432 over 55 games. His older brother, Mat, will likely be the starting first baseman for the Milwaukee Brewers this season. In the midst of Spring Training, NoMaas’ Sensei John Kreese sat down with the 19-year old lefty to talk about his season at Staten Island, hitting adjustments, his big-league brother, and more.

Sensei John Kreese: How’s spring training going so far?

Ben Gamel: Going well.

SJK: Did you go to the minicamp?

BG: Yes.

SJK: And then did you get to go home for a while?

BG: Yeah, for about two weeks.

SJK: What types of things are you working on in the spring?

BG: Trying to get timing back. Trying to find my arm slot. Trying to get back to where I was in the season.

SJK: Tell me how you think last season went.

BG: It was a success. We had a great group of guys. We won the league. I was happy with what I did and was able to contribute to that.

SJK: When we talked to Angelo, he said you were one of the guys that impressed him — he said that you really heated up towards the end of the season.

BG: Yeah, I did. I was out for about 3 weeks because I broke my finger. I was struggling, didn’t have that much confidence. And then when I came back, I hit a stride and went from there.

SJK: What clicked?

BG: The time off for my broken finger was actually a good thing. Me and the hitting coach, Ty Hawkins, figured some stuff out. It really helped me. We put in the work.

SJK: What did you figure out?

BG: The positioning of my hands. I moved them up, pre-pitch.

SJK: Along those same lines, what do you think you strengths are as a hitter and where do you need to improve?

BG: There’s always room for improvement. I need to get bigger and stronger, so I can impact the baseball more and stride more towards the ball.

SJK: What about defensively?

BG: My arms need to get stronger…it all ties in to getting stronger.

SJK: So what type of training are you doing to achieve the goal of getting stronger? Weights?

BG: Weight training, yeah. I also worked out with Grady Zapata [personal trainer]. He helped me and my brother a ton.

SJK: Big year for your brother this year.

BG: Yeah, huge year.

SJK: Was he excited when Prince Fielder signed elsewhere?

BG: I don’t know if he was excited that he left, because he and Prince were pretty good friends. But Mat is excited about the opportunity that he has.

SJK: He’s having a big spring so far too [.318/.423/.773].

BG: Yeah, he’s swinging the bat well.

SJK: Was there competition between you two growing up?

BG: He’s seven years older than me. We’ve always been close. And now we’re closer than we’ve ever been.

SJK: Has he offered you any advice on what you’ll go through?

BG: I saw him go through it. Don’t get me wrong, he always beat the sh** out of me. He puts it on me.

SJK: Is he still bigger than you?

BG: Oh yeah, way bigger.

SJK: So you still can’t beat him up yet?

BG: No, not yet. Maybe one day.

SJK: My little brother is bigger than me now.

BG: That gives me hope.

SJK: So, you saw your brother go through the minors. Is there anything about the minor league experience that was different than you expected?

BG: My first spring training. Everyone was saying how crazy it was going to be. It wasn’t like that. It was really relaxed and laid back. You just go about your business.

SJK: When I talked to some of your teammates, they told me that the Yankees don’t drill you into the ground. In other words, they don’t make you do hours and hours of practice. It’s not that type of environment. Is that true?

BG: Yeah, it’s true.

SJK: At the beginning of the season, do they set certain objectives for you?

BG: Yeah, we have “objective meetings” where we go over the previous year.

SJK: Did they already do that with you?

BG: Yes.

SJK: What do they want you to work on?

BG: First step in the outfield. They want me to impact the ball more.

SJK: Completely different topic, because I’ve always been curious about this…what do you guys do for food?

BG: We get breakfast and lunch. And for dinner, they give us meal money.

SJK: In high school, you were primarily a center fielder, right?

BG: I played some corners, but the majority of my time was in center.

SJK: So now they have you on the corners.

BG: I’m comfortable in the outfield, more so right than left.

SJK: Why’s that?

BG: I played right all season at Staten Island.

SJK: Have you met any big leaguers since you’ve been in Tampa?

BG: I’ve seen them more than I’ve met them.

SJK: So you didn’t run up to them for an autograph?

BG: [laughs] No. I try not to. I wanted to, believe me.

SJK: What guys at Staten Island stood out to you?

BG: Tyler Austin came up [promotion from GCL] and hit really well. Dante, Cito, Mason, Angie…all those guys.

SJK: Farm is stacked down in those levels.

BG: Yeah, we are.

SJK: Lastly, what are your goals for 2012?

BG: I’d like to break with Charleston. Just improve overall.

SJK: Excellent, Ben. That’s all I have for questions. We appreciate it. We’re look forward to following you this year and building off your success from last season. Best of luck.

BG: Appreciate it. Thanks.

Many thanks to Ben for taking some time out of spring training to chat with us. We wish him the best of luck in the coming season. Make sure you keep an eye on him.

Home-field advan…never mind

March 13, 2012 | 17 comments | in Quick Analytical Blurbs | by SJK

Last week, it was announced that the Yankees Triple-A team would play every game on the road this season, because of renovations to their home stadium, PNC Field.

That’s an extra 72 games on the road. Sixty of those 72 “road” games will be played in stadiums in upstate NY, which will rotate as the club’s “home.”

The Yankees’ AAA affiliate is where some of the farm system’s crown jewels will apply their trade, most notably Manny Banuelos, Dellin Betances, and Austin Romine. There’s some other solid prospects there as well, like Adam Warren, David Phelps, and DJ Mitchell.

And now, these players will not have the stability of a home park, something which has rarely happened in baseball history (maybe even the first time for an MLB affiliate). There will be more travel, more buses, more hotels — these are the kids who are on the brink of moving to the Bronx, and now they’ll be shuffled around like a local Little League All-Star team. So we have to ask: Is this a good thing for their development??

And we’re not the only ones posing this question…some of the players and staff are asking the same thing:

Pitcher David Phelps:

“It’s another obstacle you’ve got to climb,” Phelps said. “Whatever attitude you take into it, is how you’ll deal with it. If you go into it thinking it’s going to be worse than it really is, it’s going to be worse than it is.”

IF Kevin Russo:

“Every baseball team has a home base. It’s going to be a little weird just not having one,” said 27-year-old infielder Kevin Russo, embarking on his fourth season with the team. “Friends, family, girlfriend, they all don’t really understand. Even I don’t understand it.”

Media Relations Director, Mike Vander Woude:

“I don’t how much it will impact the players because they are used to traveling,” Vander Woude said. “We’ve got 84 of the 144 games that will be played within three of four hours of Scranton and that will help. It will amount to a few more hotel stays than we’d normally have.”

Maybe it won’t have an impact at all, but it’s definitely worth asking the question. They don’t call it “home-field advantage” for nothing.

Manny, are you too good for your home!?!

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