Bullpen issues: Give the kids an actual shot

July 16, 2011 | 41 comments | in Quick Analytical Blurbs | by SJK

The Yankees bullpen is a mess. Here’s the first step on how to fix it.

The first person who should be called up ASAP is George Kontos. The 26-year old reliever is having a fantastic year in AAA: 55.2 IP, 9.5 K/9, 2.7 BB/9, 3.47 K/BB, 6.7 Hits/9, 2.26 ERA. We brought up Kontos to Mark Newman in our interview at the end of the June and here’s what he said:

SJK: Last question, with Joba, Feliciano, and Soriano going down, are there any other arms we should be paying attention to? Maybe George Kontos?

MN: You hit the nail on the head on the guy. He’s healthy now and he’s throwing the ball better than ever. His fastball is 92-93. He’s got a swing-and-miss slider. If his strike rate with the fastball improves, he’ll certainly be an option for us. His slider is legit. It’s late, it’s quick. It’s 85-86. His strikeout rate is 9.5. His walk rate is as low as it’s ever been. He’s doing well. He’s putting himself on the map.

Working against Kontos though is a high HR rate. He’s allowed 8 home runs, resulting in a HR/9 of 1.3 (and 3.92 FIP). His groundball/flyball ratio is 0.60, so he doesn’t really keep the ball on the ground. He’s also benefiting from an extremely high Left on Base percentage of 93.9% and a very low BABIP of .239.

But still he’s striking out a career high 27.4% of batters he faces and has pitched well enough to get a shot. We’re not asking him to be the savior of the bullpen, but let the boy water your plants.

Also, don’t forget about Kevin Whelan. He’s been even better than Kontos (10.3 K/9, 1.9 BB/9, 5.33 K/BB, 1.0 HR/9, 1.86 ERA, 2.96 FIP). He just came off the DL after a 1.2 inning stint with the big club in the second week of June. We’re open to the fact that his walk rate could be fluky given his career average, but he deserves another shot too. But since he performed poorly in his quickie in the Bronx, he’ll either get the Hector Noesi treatment or never again see the banking executives who litter the front rows of the Stadium. Meet how the Yankees treat pitching prospects in 2011.

We still think the Yankees need a high-caliber reliever, especially after Joba going under the knife. Hopefully, Rafael Soriano can be that if he ever pitches again this year. But the Yankees can definitely improve at the fringes of the pen, and sometimes prospects can turn into productive components if you give them an actual chance.

Yankees lose first audition of second half

July 14, 2011 | 42 comments | in Featured | by SJK

0.2 IP, 6 H, 2 BB, 0 K, 8 R, 3 ER, 0 athleticism (and not helped by error-machine Eduardo Nunez)

VOTE: Grade Girardi’s 1st half

July 13, 2011 | 54 comments | in Featured | by SJK

This should be fun.

Where the Yankees rank midseason

July 12, 2011 | 43 comments | in Featured | by SJK

An examination of where the Bombers rank in various categories…


2nd in WAR (21.6)
2nd in wOBA (.346)
2nd in OPS+ (111)
2nd in Runs/Game (5.17)
2nd in OBP (.340)
3rd in SLG (.444)
2nd in OPS (.784)
1st in ISO (.186)
1st in BB% (10.1%)
t-1st in BB/K (0.58)
1st in HRs (123)
3rd in SBs (81)
1st in wOBA versus LHP (.357)
t-2nd in wOBA versus RHP (.339)
3rd in wOBA with RISP (.332)

Starting Pitching:

4th in WAR (8.7)
3rd in xFIP (3.78)
5th in ERA (3.62)
6th in K/9 (6.66)
6th in K/BB (2.29)
8th in HR/9 (0.93)
3rd in Groundball Rate (46%)


3rd in WAR (3.5)
9th in xFIP (3.91)
2nd in ERA (3.11)
5th in K/9 (7.86)
7th in K/BB (2.01)
1st in HR/9 (0.55)
2nd in Left On Base % (77.9%)


1st in UZR/150 (7.50)
2nd in Total Zone Fielding Runs Above Average per 1,200 innings (5)

Sources: Baseball-Reference & Fangraphs

Mark Teixeira looks like a horse, but he was the Yankees’ 2nd-best hitter in the first half.

Minor League Players of the Week, v12

July 11, 2011 | 3 comments | in Quick Analytical Blurbs | by SJK

Minor League Players of the Week (v12):

Dellin Betances, 23, RHP, AA
6 IP, 9 K, 2 BB, 4 H, 0 HR, 1 ER
Notable: 6 ground outs vs. 1 air outs

NoMaas Ranking – #7

Previous 2011 MLPW Wins: 6, 7, 9, 10

We swear we’re not doing this on purpose, but Betances keeps putting up the best pitching performances in the system. He’s basically had a monopoly on the award this season, which obviously speaks well to his production. However, there haven’t been many other starting pitchers who have been overly exciting to date (other than perhaps Manny Banuelos, Jairo Heredia, and Nik Turley). This is why we asked Mark Newman to compare the farm system this season to last.

After his latest start, here is how Betances measures up to the rest of the Eastern League:

6th in Strikeouts (86)
4th in ERA (2.62)
7th in Walks (40 – meaning the 7th most walks in the EL)
4th in K/9 (10.32)
5th in BB/9 (4.76 – meaning the 5th highest BB/9 in the EL)
3rd in Batting Average Against (.193)
19th in FIP (3.69 – not as impressive because of the walks)

Abraham Almonte, 22, SHB CF, A+
.320 / .433 / .640 in 30 PAs, 1 SB
Notable: 5 BB vs. 3 K

NoMaas Ranking – None

Previous 2011 MLPW Win – None

Signed as an international free agent in 2005, Abraham Almonte had a big week going 8-25 with 5 walks. The once-second baseman turned centerfielder hit two home runs and a triple, as well as stealing a bag. It was a rare offensive displayed from young Abe.

Almonte only played 15 games in 2010, as he fell victim to shoulder surgery. Almonte is not much of a hitter as his 242/.318/.340 season line shows (.255/.337/.380 career). Where he adds value is on the basepaths. He’s stolen 131 bases in 172 attempts (76%), including 17 bases this year (7 CS). In the year before he got hurt, he grabbed 36 bags in 41 attempts.

If he could only get on base more often….

Honorable Mentions:

Tyler Austin, 19, RHB 1B/3B, Rookie
.392/.413/.620, 3 SBs in 29 PAs

13th round pick in the 2010 draft, .377/.434/.623 with 9 SBs (0 CS) on the season

Raymond Kruml, 25, LHB OF, AA
.428/.428/.678 in 28 PAs, 2 SBs

29 SBs (9 CS) on the season

Jose Rosario, 19, RHB SS/2B, Rookie
.434/.458/.565 in 24 PAs

2009 international free agent

DJ Mitchell, 24, RHP, AAA
7 IP, 5 K, 2 BB, 4 H, 0 ER

Back-to-back excellent starts

Shane Greene, 22, RHP, A+
6 IP, 7 K, 2 BB, 3 H, 1 ER

Pitching much better than his 3-9 record suggests, 3.81 FIP

*Props to Zolio Almonte for winning the Florida State League Player of the Month for June. He took home a NoMaas MLPW during the month too.

No one’s buying the blue collar myth anymore

July 11, 2011 | 30 comments | in Quick Analytical Blurbs | by SJK

Comcast Sports New England:

What started as a blowout turned into a brawl on Friday night at Fenway Park.

After jumping out 8-0 in the first inning, the Red Sox had a commanding 10-3 lead over the Orioles in the bottom of the eighth. With one out and David Ortiz at the plate, the game had fended off rain showers and looked to be nearing its end.

That is, until Orioles reliever Kevin Gregg threw inside to Ortiz.

And then he did it again.

Ortiz took exception to the pitches and began to walk toward the mound, but retreated to the plate where he popped out to centerfield. Gregg shouted to Ortiz as he ran toward first base and was promptly ejected by home plate umpire Mike Estabrook. Once again, Ortiz headed toward the mound — and this time, no one retreated.

“I think you show them that we’re not backing down,” said Gregg. “We’re not scared of them – them and their $180 million payroll. We don’t care. We’re here to play the game. We have just as much right to play the game here and we’re going to do everything we can to win.”

C is for Cookie didn’t like that:

When asked about Orioles pitcher Kevin Gregg’s comments on Friday regarding the Red Sox payroll, Jason Varitek responded, “We have some youth too, so they can literally kiss my rear end.”

Hello opt-out

July 10, 2011 | 33 comments | in Quick Analytical Blurbs | by SJK

We first said it in December. We said it again in February. And now you can bet your house on it (even though your mortgage is probably more than the house is worth). CC Sabathia will opt out of his contract at the end of the season.

Why wouldn’t he? He’s is the midst of one his best seasons, perhaps even the best. He’s thrown 23.2 consecutive scoreless innings. The Yankees don’t exactly have the reputation of being shrewd negotiators. We witnessed the Cliff Lee bonanza (Lee was 32 at the end of the 2010 season, Sabathia will be 31 at the end of this season).

He’ll have four years left if he doesn’t opt out, which will put him at age 35 when he’s looking for next contract. Why wouldn’t he opt out now, and turn the remaining four years into a 6-8 year deal?

He has every reason in the world to opt out. And he will.

VOTE: Does Mr. 3000 have gas left in the tank?

July 10, 2011 | 18 comments | in Quick Analytical Blurbs | by Louis Winthorpe III

When Derek Jeter went to the disabled list, he was hitting a miserable .260/.324/.324. There was no other word to describe his output other than ‘awful.’

Since he’s returned on July 4th, he’s hitting a phenomenal .391/.417/.696 through his 5-for-5 milestone performance.

So the question is: Is this just a case of small sample size, or is this a sign that Jeter may still have some average to above-average productivity left in him?

Congrats, Legend

July 9, 2011 | 37 comments | in Featured | by SJK

It’s like the receding hairline grew back to the 90s high top fade. Five-for-five. Great battling ABs versus one of the game’s best pitchers. Home run for the milestone. The Stadium was rocking like the days when fans weren’t priced out. What a day for Derek Jeter.

We happened to be at the game — favorite moment was when Rays manager Joe Maddon motioned to his players in the dugout to come up to the rail and clap. Johnny Damon came right out of the dugout and applauded, and then Maddon gave him a fistbump when he went back in.

An amazing feat in an amazing career.

The ballwashing is getting out of control

July 8, 2011 | 21 comments | in Quick Analytical Blurbs | by SJK

Yankee legend, absolutely. Hall of Fame player, no doubt. But the ballwashing is getting way out of hand.

From SI.COM’s Joe Posnanski:

Derek Jeter, almost the second the fans begin to say his name (before they get the “urr” in DEH-rick JEET-urr) holds out his glove toward the fans. He does this without looking, while staring in at the batter. It feels to me like the perfect Derek Jeter gesture. He’s saluting the fans while never taking his eye off the game. He seems to me to be saying, “I hear you, and I love you, but I’m working right now.”

Come on, really? The guy isn’t dying. He’s about to get 3,000 hits. Let’s enjoy the accomplishment without eulogizing him in every freakin’ article.

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