Wednesday, April 2, 2014
Jacoby Ellsbury(L), CF: .000/.200/.000
Derek Jeter(R), SS: .333/.500/.333
Carlos Beltran(S), RF: .250/.250/.250
Brian McCann(L), C: .250/.250/.250
Mark Teixeira(S), 1B: .667/.750/.667
Alfonso Soriano(R), DH: .000/.000/.000
Brett Gardner(L), LF: .000/.250/.000
Brian Roberts(S), 2B: .000/.250/.000
Kelly Johnson(L), 3B: .250/.250/.500
Dexter Fowler(S), CF: .500/.500/1.000
Robbie Grossman(S), LF: .000/.000/.000
Jason Castro(L), C: .250/.250/.250
Jose Altuve(R), 2B: .500/.500/.500
Chris Carter(R), DH: .250/.250/.250
Mark Krauss(L), 1B:—-/—-/—-
Matt Dominguez(R), 3B: .000/.000/.000
Alex Presley(L), RF:—-/—-/—-
Jonathan Villar(S), SS: .333/.333/.333
Apparently $22M+ a year buys you a .200 OBP these days…
If the Yankees lose tonight, they will not finish above .500 this year.
HOUSTON — At least Derek Jeter never has to experience one of CC Sabathia’s Opening Day starts again.
Sabathia continued his trend of sloppy season debuts, getting rocked in the first two innings as the Astros cruised to a 6-2 win over the Yankees to begin the Captain’s final season Tuesday night.
“It got out of hand early,” Sabathia said. “I’ve got 34 more starts left. I’m definitely not going to pitch like I did tonight in the first two innings. I know I can pitch and I know I can get guys out. I feel great. I’m not going to beat myself up about this.”
Houston may be the worst team in baseball, again. So any game you lose to them is tough. Hopefully the Yankees can take the next two and put this one behind them.
Tuesday, April 1, 2014
CC Sabathia settled after Houston’s four-run first, but the damage was done on Opening Day.
There’s a pretty good chance that Sabathia may be the worst of the Yankees five starters at this point, but I hope he can turn things around.
The good news is that this is just one of 162 games that the Yankees will play this year. The bad news is that we have to watch them as much as 161 more times.
There were some encouraging signs, like Dellin Betances looking nasty and Mark Teixeira taking some decent swings from the left side, and even beating the shift once.
Jacoby Ellsbury , CF
Derek Jeter , SS
Carlos Beltran , RF
Brian McCann , C
Mark Teixeira , 1B
Alfonso Soriano , DH
Brett Gardner , LF
Brian Roberts , 2B
Kelly Johnson , 3B
Dexter Fowler , CF
Robbie Grossman , LF
Jose Altuve , 2B
Jason Castro , C
Jesus Guzman , 1B
Chris Carter , DH
Matt Dominguez , 3B
L.J. Hoes , RF
Jonathan Villar , SS
Still waiting to hear about the 40 man roster move the Yankees will be making to get Yangervis Solarte onto the roster.
Update: Nun-E has been DFA. I’m guessing someone will claim, maybe these very Astros.
I just don’t have my normal excitement level about this Opening Day. Maybe I’ll feel differently when I get used to all the new faces. Go people wearing Yankee uniforms!
Monday, March 31, 2014
Jacoby Ellsbury CF
Derek Jeter SS
Carlos Beltran RF
Brian McCann C
Mark Teixeira 1B
Alfonso Soriano DH
Brett Gardner LF
Brian Roberts 2B
Kelly Johnson 3B
LHP CC Sabathia
Seeing it in front of me now, I have to say I am not all that impressed.
Sunday, March 30, 2014
CAIRO 2014 v1.0 and MLB Projected Standings
I’ve posted the final pre-season version of the 2014 CAIRO MLB projections and they are available at this link.
Yeah, I know that technically the season has already started. You can ignore the Dodgers and Diamondbacks projections if you want.
Unfortunately because of time constraints I wasn’t able to run my full set of projected standings this year. But you can check out the following places for projected standings.
And here are CAIRO’s projected standings for 2014.
W: Projected final 2014 wins
L: Projected final 2014 losses
RS: Projected final 2014 runs scored
RA: Projected final 2014 runs allowed
Div: Division win percentage
WC1: Wild card win percentage
WC2: Wild card win percentage
PS: Postseason percentage (Div + WC1 + WC2)
W+/-: Projected wins within one standard deviation
This does account for the fact that Dodgers won the first two games against Arizona, which added about one win to their final projection and an extra loss to the Diamondbacks.
This lines up about where CAIRO has the Yankees pegged with my depth charts, around 84 wins and needing some good fortune to contend for the division, particularly since they’re in what looks l like the best division top to bottom in baseball this year.
It sounded pretty ominous when Yangervis Solarte left George M. Steinbrenner Field on Friday night. Be here tomorrow, he was told, but leave your luggage at home.
It meant he still had a job with the Yankees, but no seat on the team charter that was leaving for Houston following the conclusion of the final spring training game Saturday afternoon. Eduardo Nunez, Solarte’s only rival for the last remaining spot on the roster, had been told the same thing: Be ready to play, but not to travel.
It probably made for two sleepless nights for two anxious young men.
But the anxiety of Friday gave way to the exhilaration of Saturday, when Solarte was told the Yankees had decided to bring him along as their second backup infielder, a spot that became more important when Brendan Ryan, who was signed to serve as Derek Jeter’s backup, came down with a bad back and will begin the season on the disabled list.
Still, right up to the end, Solarte thought he, and not Nunez, was about to be shipped out. The Yankees called Nunez in to the office first, and asked Solarte to wait.
“I thought that was it for me,” he said.
So he grabbed a baseball and started searching for Jeter to sign it. “I thought at least I’ll take a memento of playing with Derek Jeter with me,” he said.
Instead, the Yankees will be taking him along, not only with Jeter, but to occasionally take Jeter’s place on the field.
How awesome is that story about Solarte trying to get Jeter to sign his ball as a memento but then finding out that he had made the team?
In any event, the Yankees have not yet announced the corresponding roster move to go with Solarte being placed on to the 40-man roster and Nunez being optioned to the minors. It certainly appears as though it will not be Nunez who will be removed from the 40-man, so I guess the next best bet would be Preston Claiborne.
Friday, March 28, 2014
The final roster spot in Yankees camp will come down to the last day of the spring, as utility infielders Eduardo Nunez and Yangervis Solarte have both been told not to pack for the trip to Houston.
Dean Anna was told that he has secured a spot on the roster, and the Yankees view Anna as the replacement for infielder Brendan Ryan, who will begin the season on the 15-day disabled list. That decision leaves Nunez and Solarte in limbo for one more night.
“Weird, a situation like that,” Nunez said. “It’s kind of weird, you know? You don’t know where you’re going on the last day of Spring Training. They said it’s still up in the air.”
Yankees manager Joe Girardi said that he had “nothing else to really report” about the situation with Nunez and Solarte. Nunez has played in 270 games for the Yankees over the last four years, while Solarte batted .429 this spring as a non-roster invitee.
This seemed at first to be a bit of a shock since Nunez is on the 40-man roster while Yangervis Solarte is not, so it seemed like Nunez and Dean Anna were going to be locks to make the team, since the Yankees could just send Solarte to the minors and see what happens. However, there is a twist in the story. Apparently, according to the New Jersey Star-Ledger’s Jorge Castillo, Solarte has an opt-out clause that no one seemed to be talking about until now where he has the ability to opt out of his deal with the Yankees if another team is willing to put him on their 25-man roster, and with the spring he has had so far it seems likely that he could find a team willing to do just that, so the Yankees might be in a situation where they have to decide between losing Nunez (or another player on the 40-man roster) or losing Solarte. If that is the case, then they might prefer to just add Solarte to the 40-man roster (and if they’re going to do that, then they might as well add him to the 25-man roster, as well). The fact that Brandon Rtan might not be able to play even after he comes off of the disabled list (he likely will still need an extended spring training after his official stint on the DL ends) is another factor that suggests that the Yankees would be better off having Anna and Solarte on the team instead of Nunez, since both Anna and Solarte are not embarrassments at shortstop while Nunez is.
In addition, there is always the possibility that the Yankees have another move involving the 40-man roster coming up, like a trade (or even a possible Stephen Drew signing). Preston Claiborne has made himself extremely fungible since late last season, so I could also see him losing his spot on the 40-man roster to make room for Solarte if need be.
The Yankees must make a decision by 3pm on Sunday, so it should be an interesting weekend. Congrats, by the way, to Dean Anna for making his very first big league roster!
The Yankees have informed right-hander Dellin Betances and left-hander Vidal Nuno that they are on the club’s 25-man roster to begin the season, rounding out the last of their bullpen decisions.
The hard-throwing Betances posted an 0.73 ERA in 12 1/3 spring innings, while Nuno had a 3.38 mark in eight spring innings, transitioning to the bullpen after competing for the Yankees’ fifth starter vacancy.
“We liked the camps that they had,” Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. “Betances had a great camp. We think Nuno gives us a lot of flexibility as far as a second left-hander, but also a guy that can give you some innings if you bring him in to face a left, right, left. He’ll give you a couple of innings.”
I think Nuno is wasted in the bullpen since the Yankees have David Phelps and Adam Warren, two very good long men, ahead of him on the depth charts, so I would have preferred to see the Yankees bring Matt Daley instead of Nuno but it is really not a big deal. The bigger deal is that Betances made the team. Let us hope that he can be the bridge to D-Rob this season (and not a burning bridge to D-Rob).
Tanaka was the Yankees’ most expensive bauble in a $491 million free-agent shopping spree that follows the team’s worst season in 21 years (85-77). He brings with him a 24-0 record from 2013 and a split-fingered- fastball that Towers’ scouts not only graded as a perfect 80 (on the scouts’ traditional 20-to-80 scale) but also said was “probably the best” they’ve ever seen.
As much attention as Tanaka’s splitter gets, his slider, which he throws more often, is underrated. Yankees scout Brandon Duckworth (Tanaka’s teammate last year with the Eagles) needed to watch him throw only one live batting practice session this spring to see that Tanaka’s slider had even more bite than he remembered. “Best I’ve seen it,” says Duckworth. The slicker surface of the major league ball creates later and sharper tilt on the pitch.
“If you get a good grip of the ball, the slider is more crisp than in Japan ... a better slider,” adds Tanaka. “The problem could be that sometimes the balls can slip.” Says Darvish, who has held major league hitters to a .160 average on his slider, “I totally agree.”
“Very few pitchers throw a slider where the dot disappears,” says Yankees special assistant Trey Hillman. “A hitter looks for that dot on the baseball as it spins to identify the slider. But only a few pitchers spin the slider so fast that you can’t see the dot. I’ve only had two of them: Darvish and Zack Greinke. Now I’d put Tanaka’s slider with them. It’s that good.”
Says another evaluator from an interested team, “With his stuff he immediately becomes the best pitcher on the Yankees’ staff—and it’s not close.”
Sounds good to me.
Thursday, March 27, 2014
Looking Ahead to 2014 - The Team
I’m still not sure how the rest of the 25 man roster will fill out by Opening Day, but I figure it will change throughout the year anyway so I took a stab at creating depth charts anyway. I don’t think I’m going to be able to run my full projection blowout this year, but I should be able to post CAIRO’s projected standings by Monday. Before that, let’s take a look at what the 2014 Yankees might look like on virtual paper.
I am calculating linear weights batting runs, defense and pitching runs allowed for CAIRO and the three projections available on Fangraphs (Oliver, Steamer and ZiPS) to get an overall view of the team. We’ll start with the position players.
As I said, these numbers are an estimate of the linear weights batting runs in each projection and CAIRO’s projected average defense using DRS, UZR and zone rating pro-rated to estimated playing time.
PA are based on a rough estimate of outs made. Obviously the hope is that the Yankees can keep their key players healthy. The Yankees scored 650 runs last season, and they should be a fair amount better than that this year health permitting, projecting around 708 runs on average with these playing time assumptions. Granted, that’s not a high bar to clear. Defense does not include catcher framing which is something that Brian McCann has rated well in so maybe you can add another win there. The defense should be better than average despite Jeter and Nun-E, although I think Jeter’s projection is somewhat rosy. He was 5 runs below average last season in very limited time and would be close to 50 runs below average if he played a full season in the same way. Kelly Johnson also hasn’t played a whole lot of 3B in his career and it’s possible he doesn’t play well there. On the plus side, maybe Nun-E won’t play as much as expected here.
The most glaring thing here to me is that the Yankees don’t have a true superstar hitter. They’re paying a few players like they are superstars, but they aren’t. The average AL team scored 702 runs in 2013, so that’s about where the Yankee offense likely projects for this season.
Pitching is obviously going to have to be better than average to make up for that, and it has a good chance to be.
I guess what’s most striking to me here is how much Oliver likes the Yankee pitching relative to the other projections. Part of that is due to the fact that Oliver does not adjust for park, but that doesn’t explain it all. Another part of it is that Oliver thinks Mashahiro Tanaka will be the best pitcher in the AL. It’s certainly possible but it’s not likely in my opinion.
Some of the bullpen projections are probably a bit pessimistic, particularly Dellin Betances who has taken well to the bullpen but whose projection includes a lot of time when he was a bad starter in the minors. I can also see Ivan Nova and Michael Pineda outpitching their projecctions. On the downside I’m still concerned about CC Sabathia adjusting to his reduced velocity.
So what does this all mean?
If you want optimism, Oliver’s your forecast. The other projections agree with my gut feeling that this is a mid-80s win team on talent and they will need a few things to go better than expected to contend.
That can certainly happen, of course. Last year’s Red Sox team looked like an 84 win team heading into the season. The 2012 Giants looked like one as well. But I’d feel better if the Yankees had better depth to cover for the risks they are carrying in the infield.
At the very least, this team should be more fun to watch than last year’s team. So that’s something.
Wednesday, March 26, 2014
Looking Ahead to 2014 - David Robertson
The unenviable task of replacing the legendary Mariano Rivera goes to David Robertson. Robertson has been brilliant over the last three seasons and should be able to handle the closer role if the Yankees can ever get him a lead.
FIP: Fielding-independent pitching
WAR: Wins above replacement (RA based for CAIRO/ZiPS, FIP based for Oliver/Steamer)
Robertson had a very strong 2013, include the best strikeout to walk ratio of his career. Robertson has steadily decreased his walk rate, which was the major concern with him. His strike out rate has also been declining, but it has led to a more efficient Robertson. Over his first four seasons Robertson averaged 4.40 pitches per batter faced, over the last two seasons he’s been at 3.98.
The projections generally agree that Robertson will pitch well again this year, although CAIRO likes him more than the rest, as it usually has.
2014 CAIRO Percentile Forecasts
I think Robertson will be his typical self, and should be closer to his 65% forecast than his baseline.
Robertson is in the final year of team control and I am not sure why the Yankees haven’t extended him yet. I have a hunch that it is at least partially because they want to see if he has the appropriate “closer’s mentality.” I don’t see any reason to think that Robertson can’t continue to get batters out just because he’ll be starting the ninth instead of the eighth. It’s true that at this point in his career his save percentage is not good, but that’s because setup men get granted lots of save opportunities in games that they will not be given an opportunity to save, so their blown save rates are disproportionate. Robertson has 124 saves and holds in his career in 134 chances. He will be fine.