A very true story

August 3, 2011 | 41 comments | in Quick Analytical Blurbs | by SJK

Every year, a very good personal friend of NoMaas hosts an event which raises money to combat a fatal childhood illness. It’s a fantastic event for a wonderful cause. Part of the program is a silent auction, so businesses of all types donate items.

This year the event was held in a state home to both Yankees and Red Sox fans. Both clubs donated items to the silent auction.

The Yankees donated three baseballs each signed by a different player: CC Sabathia, Jorge Posada, and Mariano Rivera.

The Red Sox donated one signed baseball: Darnell McDonald

No additional commentary needed.

The Yankee donations

Has Mark Teixeira Yankee Stadium’d his swing to the extreme?

August 3, 2011 | 17 comments | in Quick Analytical Blurbs | by SJK

On Tuesday night, Mark Teixeira homered from both sides of the plate for the 12th time in his career, becoming the all-time leader in that feat.

However, since Tex’s hot start to the season, his monthly splits have been in decline:

March/April: .256/.392/.549
May: .259/.351/.534
June: .213/.312/.543
July: .264/.336/.425

It’s like he focused so hard on reversing his notorious first month slump, that he prematurely offensalated. And some of the fans have been pointing it out.

He’s still second on the team behind G-Unit in wOBA (.380), ISO (.217), and OPS (.879). And he’s having a better season than last.

What’s crazy though is his ultra-low BABIP of .236. His career BABIP is .298. In 2010, his BABIP was at another low mark of .268. Both of these represent career-worst levels for Marky Mark. So what’s going on and could his numbers be better if the ball started bouncing his way? Is this a case of bad luck or something else?

Here’s what we see:

Over the last two seasons, including this one:

- Career low line drive rates (19.0% in 2010, 17.1% in 2011)
- Career low groundball rates (35.5% in 2010, 35.3% in 2011)
- Career high flyball rates (45.5% in 2010, 47.6% in 2011)
- Career high infield fly rates (13.6% in 2010, 13.0% in 2011)

So, this really doesn’t seem so much like a case of bad luck, but more of a conscious adjustment Teixeira has made to hit more flyballs. Maybe it’s an attempt to get by the shift (although we don’t know how long defenses have played him like that). Maybe it’s an attempt to take advantage of the short porch in right field. Whatever the reason, it’s resulted in hitting that’s inferior to what we saw from Tex from 2007-2009 (including his first year in New York) and led to his monster contract.

Minor League Players of the Week, v15

August 1, 2011 | 7 comments | in Quick Analytical Blurbs | by SJK

Welcome to Dante’s inferno…

Preston Claiborne, 23, RHP, A+
6 IP, 9 K, 0 BB, 1 H, 0 HR, 0 ER
Notable: Over 2 relief appearances

NoMaas Ranking – None

Previous 2011 MLPW Wins: None

Drafted in the 17th round of the 2010 draft, Preston Claiborne put up a fantastic stat line over the week and left us no choice but to award the MLPW to a reliever for the first time in 2011.

After being drafted, the Tulane graduate (teammate of Rob Segedin) kicked off his Yankee career at Staten Island and received a late season two-level promotion (skipping over Charleston) to Tampa.

For the current season, Claiborne has a 3.32 ERA, 8.5 K/9, 2.9 BB/9, and a 2.95 K/BB over 62.2 IP. He’s been generous with the long-ball, allowing 8, but has generally kept the ball on the ground with a Groundout/Airout of 1.20. Looking back at his senior year in Tulane, he let up 6 HRs in 46 innings, so maybe he’s someone who offers them up. There isn’t enough data or context for us to tell with any certainty though.

His 62.2 IP is exactly double of what he threw last year for the organization, but as mentioned previously, he pitched 46 innings for Tulane in his senior year and then tacked on 31 more for the Yankees after he was drafted. He’s being utilized as a multiple-inning reliever. He’s 7th on the team in IP, 4th in strikeouts, and 1st in appearances. With the recent promotions of Ryan Flannery and Chase Whitley to Trenton, Claiborne is one of the notable names to watch in the Tampa bullpen.

Dante Bichette Jr., 18, RHB 3B, Rookie
.545/.583/.909 in 24 PAs
Notable: 2 more HRs

NoMaas Ranking – None

Previous 2011 MLPW Win – 14

Back to back MLPW wins for the Yankees’ 2011 top overall draft pick…he is simply crushing the baseball. His season line now stands at .350/.473/.564. He’s throwing pitchers into his inferno (get it?!?!?!).

Among qualified hitters, Bichette ranks 1st in the league in OBP, 3rd in BA, 4th in SLG, 6th in BB% (16%), 7th in BB/K (1.09), and 9th in ISO (.214). He’s tearing it up — but one of his team’s catchers is giving him a run for his money (keep reading).

Honorable Mentions:

Isaias Tejeda, 19, RHB C, Rookie
.352/.421/.823 in 19 PAs

Putting up better season numbers than Bichette: .366/.458/.695 (although in ~35 less PAs). In terms of performance, possibly the best hitter so far in the GCL. Five stolen bases in six attempts too.

Kelvin Castro, 23, RHB SS/2B, A+
.461/.533 OBP/.653 SLG in 30 PAs, 3 SBs

Having an outstanding campaign in Tampa: .321/.371/.485 in 256 PAs, 6/7 SBs

Cito Culver, 18, SHB SS, Short-Season
.292/.370/.541 in 27 PAs

Hit 2 home runs in one game (first two of the season)

Brandon Laird, 23, RHB 3B, AAA
.438/.438/.625 in 16 PAs

His first action since being optioned back after Eric Chavez’s return

Luke Murton, 25, RHB 1B/DH, A+
.458/.500/.666 in 26 PAs

Younger brother of Matt Murton

Wilton Rodriguez, 20, RHP, Short-Season
10 IP, 10 K, 2 BB, 7 H, 2 ER, 0 HR

2008 international free agent out of the DR

Graham Stoneburner, 23, RHP, AA
6 IP, 5 K, 1 BB, 6 H, 1 ER, 0 HR

First start in Trenton since April 21st

Reynaldo Polanco, 18, RHP, Rookie
5 IP, 9 K, 3 BB, 5 H, 2 ER, 1 HR

25:4 K/BB in 23 IP

Pat Venditte, 26, SHP, AA
5 IP, 7 K, 1 BB, 3 H, 1 ER, 0 HR

Splits noticeably better against LHB

Let off some steam, Ozzie

August 1, 2011 | 18 comments | in Featured | by SJK

The Yankees stick it to the White Sox in their series opener on Monday night.

Impromptu live chat tonight (8pm) with NoMaas’ Sensei John Kreese

August 1, 2011 | 3 comments | in Announcements | by SJK

We’ll do it live.

No planning. Yanks/White Sox on during the chat. We’ll talk the trading deadline. Whatever. And probably a special guest or two. We’ll kick things off at 8pm eastern tonight.

Yankees’ championship strategy: hope

August 1, 2011 | 73 comments | in Featured | by SJK

Breaking down the Yankees lack of activity at the trading deadline…

From Marc Carig of the Star Ledger:

But the Yankees didn’t walk away, according to a person familiar with the talks, until the Rockies declined the Yankees’ request for an MRI exam on Jimenez’s right shoulder. Lingering health concerns, questions about his drop in velocity and Jimenez’s recent performances were enough to squelch the Yankees’ interest.

If true, fair enough. We don’t know if it’s custom for teams to conduct MRIs at the request of a potential trading partner, but if the medical concerns were real, then benefit of the doubt goes to the Yankees.

Cashman on Colon & Garcia:

While Cashman admits “we’re in no-man’s land” in predicting the future performance of Colon and Garcia, Cashman named Triple-A right-hander Adam Warren as another legitimate big league starting option.

The Yankees are indeed in “no-man’s land” with these two, especially Colon. Bartolo hasn’t pitched over 100 innings since 2005. What happens if he goes down or his performance suffers due to fatigue? Adam Warren is having a good year at AAA (3.39 ERA / 3.95 FIP) and could fill in for a couple starts, but throwing out his name is really reaching at this point. Barring a catastrophe, the Yankees are going to the playoffs. Adam Warren, DJ Mitchell, and David Phelps are not starting a postseason game for the Yankees, but the club is counting on Colon help win them another championship. He’s pitched remarkably, no doubt, but to not bring in any playoff-quality depth is a big risk that we don’t agree with. If you openly acknowledge that you have no idea what to expect from Colon and Garcia — specifically calling it “no-man’s land” — that certainly sounds like you’re relying on hope as a strategy.

Cashman on promoting Manny Banuelos to AAA and potentially to the Boogie Down:

On Sunday, Yankees general manager Brian Cashman did not make a trade, but the team decided to promote top pitching prospect Manny Banuelos from Double-A to Triple-A. He will start on Wednesday for Scranton.

By the end of the season, the 20-year-old Banuelos could be an option as a major league starter or the Yankees could make him a lefty specialist to team with the inconsistent Boone Logan.

“We’ll see,” Cashman said. “It is time for him to make the next step.”

This is clearly a move to evaluate Banuelos as a potential LOOGY for the Bronx bullpen. However, it was only one month ago when Yankees Senior VP Mark Newman told us that Manny still “needs time”, has “walked too many guys”, and is having “fastball command issues.”

Jon Heyman on why the Yankees balked on Houston’s Wandy Rodriguez:

According to SI.com’s Jon Heyman, the Yankees offered to take on $21 million of the $38 million due to left-hander Wandy Rodriguez in trade talks with Houston. The Astros would have had to swallow $17 million to get the deal done.

With that kind of cash changing hands, the Astros would have needed to get a top prospect in return, and it seems doubtful the Yankees were willing to include one from the group of Manny Banuelos, Jesus Montero and Dellin Betances.

The Yankees recently gave terrible contracts to Derek Jeter and Rafael Soriano, two players who weren’t even close to deserving the deals they received. Yet, they choose to exercise fiscal restraint on a very high-quality pitcher (3 straight years with ~3.50 xFIP) who would add Colon/Garcia insurance, bolster their playoff rotation, and be a solid starter for the Bombers over the next 2-3 seasons. Don’t get it, especially when they wouldn’t have to hand over a top prospect if they picked up most of Wandy’s remaining contract.

Cashman on Ivan Nova:

I had no interest in moving Nova either.

That’s getting carried away.

Theo Epstein on why he traded for Erik Bedard:

[Bedard] really started to look like one of the better left-handed pitchers in the league again so we were certainly on him,” Epstein said of the scouting process that started in spring training in Arizona. “We scouted his first start back the other day in which he looked healthy. Rusty, certainly, but healthy. We thought, based on the looks from this year, his stuff was coming back, he was throwing well. He looks like someone who can really help us.

We’re really glad not to get just any starting pitcher but to get somebody who’s capable of shutting down any lineup in the league when he’s right. He’s certainly capable of pitching big games for us down the stretch and somebody with enough talent to take the mound in the middle of the pennant race or in a playoff game if that opportunity presents itself.

This is exactly what we said. It’s very disappointing that Boston acquired him.

Overall, we’re not pleased with the Yankees lack of activity. We absolutely love prospects and homegrown players. We get much more enjoyment out of winning when homegrown players contribute. The neglect of the farm system was one of the main reasons we launched the site in 2005.

However, it can be a dangerous to fall in love with every minor leaguer that comes along (not even willing to even trade Ivan Nova???). Guys like Wandy Rodriguez and Erik Bedard could have been had without surrendering any elite prospects — adding depth, improved postseason odds, and in Rodriguez’s case, a multiple year contribution.

Brian Cashman: Prospect hugger

*Props to Marshall Seymour and Vizzini for also contributing to this post


July 29, 2011 | 60 comments | in Featured | by SJK

What will Cashman do?

VOTE: The Circle of Trust

July 28, 2011 | 25 comments | in Quick Analytical Blurbs | by SJK

The Yankees starting rotation has been very good this season. In fact, it’s been one of the best in the American League, ranking 3rd in xFIP, 4th in FIP, and 5th in ERA. Yet, there seems to be uniform agreement that another starting pitcher needs to be acquired. It’s very strange. We can’t recall such urgency when a rotation has been this good.

There are concerns about the pixie dust surrounding Freddy Garcia, the fact that Bartolo Colon could pull a muscle when he gets up to pay the Chinese food delivery guy, the continued laboring of Phil Hughes, and the clap on/clap off nature of AJ Burnett.

Not to go all Joe Torre, but there seems to be a lack of trust in everyone not named CC…

So we ask…

Our two-step approach to the trading deadline

July 27, 2011 | 49 comments | in Featured | by SJK

As we get down to crunch time, here is our final plan of attack:

1. Get Ubaldo

According to MLBTradeRumors.com, the Rockies want three of the following four players: Jesus Montero, Dellin Betances, Manny Banuelos, and Ivan Nova.

Nova, you give away all day. The Yankees have back of the rotation types littered across AAA in guys like Adam Warren, David Phelps, and DJ Mitchell. They even have one rotting away in a mopup role in Hector Noesi.

Montero is finally starting to heat up (.293/.368/.586 in July) and there’s no question that his bat is going to be excellent. If he is moved to another position besides catcher, his value does drop, especially on a team like the Yankees. Regardless, if you want to acquire a premiere MLB pitcher, you have to give up a premiere prospect.

Betances and Banuelos are both top notch prospects, but again…you have to give to get.

Ubaldo is the truth. Jimenez is 27 (will be 28 entering next season) and the only major injury he’s had over the past few seasons was a cuticle issue. He’s locked up for $3 mil this year (pro-rated), $4.2 mil in 2012, $5.75 mil in 2013, and an $8 mil option in 2014. That’s huge value for a pitcher who ranks 10th in WAR among MLB starters since 2009. That ranks ahead of Jon Lester and Clayton Kershaw. Sorting solely by NL pitchers, he’s second only to Tim Lincecum. He would be a rotation centerpiece for the duration of his deal.

His fastball velocity is down this year, and we hope the Yankees would conduct their due diligence and avoid being Feliciano’d — but if everything checks out, this would be a hard deal to pass up. If the Yankees can acquire Ubaldo and still keep one of Betances, Banuelos, or Montero, then that’s a great move for the organization. Let’s try to avoid another Dan Haren for Joba Chamberlain situation.

2. Get Erik Bedard

Yeah, yeah, he’s always hurt. We know. Get some new material.

However, if one of the goals in making a deal is to increase the Yankees’ chances of postseason success, Bedard makes so much sense.

When he’s healthy enough to take the mound, Bedard is a fantastic pitcher — not too mention he’s left-handed, which is great for pitching in Yankee Stadium and against the Red Sox. He’s on a one-year deal, is having an excellent season (3.00 ERA / 3.59 FIP / 3.30 xFIP), and has had no arm problems. He makes his first start on Friday since coming off the DL with a sprained knee.

The whole concept of trading for a pitcher to throw a few games in the playoffs is really weird, since luck plays such a huge role in who wins. After all, you can have one of your pitchers be attacked by bugs. Yet, if you believe in that type of move, why not grab a guy who can dominate? If the Mariners want an arm and a leg, you pass on a rental. But, how much can the Mariners actually be asking for Bedard?

Acquiring both of these pitchers would cause a logjam in the rotation, but who cares…let time sort it out.

So there it is, we want Brian Cashman to get greedy.

*Props to Marshall Seymour and Vizzini for also contributing to this post.

Mariners earn invite to Hope Week

July 27, 2011 | 48 comments | in Featured | by Louis Winthorpe III

17 straight losses.

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