The Curse of Jerry Hairston, Jr./Eric Hinske:
 








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The Championship Caliber Yankees (10-6) @ Rays (7-9), Friday, April 18, 2014, 7:10pm
(103 Comments - 4/19/2014 2:51:51 am)

Fangraphs: Sullivan: Masahiro Tanaka’s Non-Secret Weapon
(28 Comments - 4/18/2014 6:47:24 pm)

The Championship Caliber Yankees (9-6) @ Rays (7-8), Thursday, April 17, 2014, 7:10pm
(149 Comments - 4/18/2014 3:26:21 pm)

Yankees.com: Offense, defense, pitching a winning blend for Yanks
(44 Comments - 4/18/2014 1:39:27 pm)

NJ.com: Mark Teixeira could return to Yankees Sunday; David Robertson targeted for Tuesday
(52 Comments - 4/18/2014 8:06:46 am)

Yankees.com: Pineda’s six shutout innings steer Yanks to sweep
(26 Comments - 4/17/2014 3:36:52 pm)

Cubs (4-8) @ The Championship Caliber Yankees (7-6), Wednesday, April 16, 2014, Double Header
(288 Comments - 4/17/2014 12:00:23 am)

Lohud: Murphy and Sizemore called up; Cervelli placed on 60-day
(29 Comments - 4/16/2014 9:07:48 pm)

NY Post: Why the Yankees are using the shift more than ever
(13 Comments - 4/16/2014 12:11:02 pm)

NY Post: Cervelli going to DL as Yankees continue to jumble roster
(23 Comments - 4/15/2014 7:29:53 pm)



Player

Current Projected

Look what people have to say about the RLYW!

CAIRO just takes the Marcels and changes the underlying assumptions and components in a bunch of ways that make the Yankees look better.
-alskor

Wow, two stupid posts in one day. I think you’ve reached your yearly quota.
sabernar

I don’t know if any of you current posters were around for that, but if so, I just can’t understand how you can call yourselves Yankee fans. Pathetic quitters is what you sounded like. Of the lame posts I could stand to read, the only person who had any confidence in the Yankees at that point was a (yeesh) Red Sox fan.
Jeter is King

Quite the attitude you have SG. Maybe you should shitcan this blog and join Steve at WasWatching? Or follow some other stupid team that has made the PS 15 of the last 17 years. Jeez… and some people think Yankee fans are entitled.
OldYanksFan




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Friday, April 18, 2014

The Championship Caliber Yankees (10-6) @ Rays (7-9), Friday, April 18, 2014, 7:10pm

NYY: Hiroki Kuroda (#18, 39, RHP, 2-1, 3.86) vs. TBR: Erik Bedard (#40, 35, LHP, 0-0, 0.00)

Lineups
The Championship Caliber Yankees
1. Brett Gardner (L) LF
2. All that Remains of Derek Jeter (R) SS
3. I paid $153 MIllion and All I Got Was Jacoby Ellsbury (L) CF
4. Alfonso Soriano (R) DH
5. Brian “Bust” McCann (L) C
6. Yangervis Solarte (S) 2B
7. Kelly Johnson (L) 1B
8. Tom Sizemore (R) 3B
9. Ichiro! (L) RF

Rays
1. David DeJesus (L) CF
2. Ben Zobrist (S) 2B
3. Matt Joyce (L) LF
4. Evan Longoria (R) 3B
5. James Loney (L) 1B
6. Wil Myers (R) RF
7. Logan Forsythe (R) DH
8. Yunel Escobar (R) SS
9. Ryan Hanigan (R) C

Erik Bedard is so talented he was once traded for Adam Jones, Chris Tillman and George Sherrill.

Hiroki Kuroda has never been traded for anyone.

Advantage, Rays.

--Posted at 4:12 pm by SG / 103 Comments | - (0)



Fangraphs: Sullivan: Masahiro Tanaka’s Non-Secret Weapon

In the early going, we have a couple outliers. Felix Hernandez has thrown about 42% of pitches in the zone, and he’s thrown about 69% strikes. Masahiro Tanaka has thrown about 42% of pitches in the zone, and he’s thrown about 70% strikes. Felix is interesting, but known — we’re aware he’s one of the world’s greatest pitchers. Tanaka’s still new, and the early results couldn’t really be much more encouraging.

According to The Frog this article may not be safe for work, so proceed with discretion.

--Posted at 8:50 am by SG / 28 Comments | - (0)




Thursday, April 17, 2014

Yankees.com: Offense, defense, pitching a winning blend for Yanks

ST. PETERSBURG—The Yankees turned yet another triple play behind CC Sabathia, their third since 2010, and got back-to-back home runs from Alfonso Soriano and Brian McCann in a 10-2 victory over the Rays on Thursday at Tropicana Field.

New York turned the triple play in the second inning on a chopper hit by Sean Rodriguez. With runners at first and second, third baseman Yangervis Solarte forced out Evan Longoria at third base and threw to Brian Roberts at second base to force out Wil Myers.

Roberts fired on to first base, where Scott Sizemore—playing his first career game at the position after being summoned from the Minor Leagues earlier this week—scooped a one-hop throw in time to retire Rodriguez.

The Yankees had turned their last two triple plays with Sabathia on the mound; on April 22, 2010, against the Athletics in Oakland, and on April 12 of last season against the Orioles at Yankee Stadium.

Solarte not only turned the triple play, but hit his first career homer, off Grant Balfour in the ninth.  He sure has been wonderful, even if he’s not really an actual MVP-caliber player.

I don’t feel like looking it up now, but I’m fairly certain the Yankees had lost something like 9 of the 10 times that Sabathia and Price have matched up prior to tonight.  So winning this was nice.

I still can’t get over how much velocity CC has lost without being officially injured.  He’s like Frank Tanana when he went from Frank Tanana to Frank Tanana.  Sabathia’s fastball was around 87 mph most of tonight, but he was effective so I guess we should be happy about it.  I’m not sure that he’s a good bet for sustained success with that velocity though.

--Posted at 9:38 pm by SG / 44 Comments | - (0)



The Championship Caliber Yankees (9-6) @ Rays (7-8), Thursday, April 17, 2014, 7:10pm

NYY: CC Sabathia (#52, 33, LHP, 1-2, 6.63) vs. TBR: David Price (#14, 28, LHP, 2-0, 2.91)

Lineups
The Championship Caliber Yankees
1. Jacoby “Can’t be bothered to start two games of a doubleheader after two days off” Ellsbury (L) CF
2. All That Remains of Derek Jeter (R) SS
3. The Tattered Remains of Carlos Beltran (S) RF
4. Alfonso Soriano (R) DH
5. Brian “Bust” McCann (L) C
6. Yangervis Solarte (S) 3B
7. Tom Sizemore (R) 1B
8. Brian Roberts (S) 2B
9. Ichiro! (L) LF

Rays
1. Ben Zobrist (S) 2B
2. Desmond Jennings (R) DH
3. Logan Forsythe (R) LF
4. Evan Longoria (R) 3B
5. Wil Myers (R) RF
6. Sean Rodriguez (R) 1B
7. Brandon Guyer (R) CF
8. Yunel Escobar (R) SS
9. Jose Molina (R) C

One of tonight’s starters has a long track record of success and a great fastball.  The other one has a 6.63 ERA.

The over/under on Longoria homers tonight is three.

--Posted at 4:25 pm by SG / 149 Comments | - (0)



NJ.com: Mark Teixeira could return to Yankees Sunday; David Robertson targeted for Tuesday

NEW YORK—First baseman Mark Teixeira and closer David Robertson, two players on the long list of injured Yankees, could be getting closer to returning.

Manager Joe Girardi said Wednesday night that Teixeira—who went on the disabled list on April 5 with a hamstring injury—will play three innings on Thursday (he didn’t clarify where exactly, except that it will be somewhere in Florida) and that he’s “right on track where we want him to be and [a return off the DL] Sunday is definitely a possibility.”

Girardi said Teixeira took a full batting practice Wednesday at the Yankees complex in Tampa, and also ran the bases.

Robertson, who was placed on the DL with strained groin earlier in the month, said “Tuesday is the plan” to return to the Yankees.

If Teixeira does come back, does it make the team worse?  I guess it depends on who’s healthy going forward, but it seems to me the best Yankee infield right now has Yangervis Solarte and Kelly Johnson in it, and Teixeira’s return complicates that unless the Yankees decide to cut bait on Brian Roberts.  It’s probably too soon to do that despite Roberts’ disappointing results to this point, but he’s limited to 2B which makes him sort of a poor bench option.  Then again, in Johnson, Scott Sizemore, Solarte and Dean Anna the Yankees do have some flexibility in the infield.

Roberts’ defense has looked better than I expected so far, and I do like the fact that he’s working deep counts (4.56 P/PA, higher than everyone on the team but Ichiro that’s had more than 1 PA).  But the hits aren’t falling in, and I don’t know if that’s just bad luck or the loss of some of the bat speed needed to get hits.  There’s a fairly good chance Roberts’ health will make the decision on him for the Yankees, so I’m not worried about it yet.

As much as I’m enjoying watching Joe Girardi mix and match his various non-Robertson relief options, getting Robertson back will be nice.  The bullpen has been fine, albeit a little scary at times, but it will look a lot better with a healthy Robertson in it.

--Posted at 8:43 am by SG / 52 Comments | - (0)




Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Yankees.com: Pineda’s six shutout innings steer Yanks to sweep

NEW YORK—The Yankees got to take a long look at what they hope will be the future of their rotation, as Masahiro Tanaka and Michael Pineda each turned in dominant efforts on Wednesday to help the club sweep a day-night doubleheader from the Cubs at Yankee Stadium.

Pitching under chilly conditions, Pineda whipped six efficient innings of scoreless ball in the evening contest, backed by a solid performance from Yankees newcomer Scott Sizemore as New York posted a 2-0 victory over Chicago.

Can the Yankees play the Cubs all the time?  I didn’t think Pineda looked great, but the weather was pretty crappy and six shutout innings are six shutout innings. 

Earlier today, Tanaka’s 10 K’s lead Yanks in twin-bill opener.

If this is what Tanaka does when he feels settled in, that spells bad news for the rest of the league. Tanaka limited the Cubs to a pair of bunt singles and struck out 10 over eight scoreless innings, pitching the Yankees to a 3-0 victory on Wednesday afternoon in the first game of a day-night doubleheader.

“I feel that I was a little bit more calmer, compared to the first two,” Tanaka said through an interpreter. “I’m very satisfied with how I pitched out there today.”

So were the Yankees, who watched Tanaka use his trademark splitter and a sharp slider to retire 14 straight Cubs after Junior Lake’s video-reviewed bunt single in the second inning.

After a great home stand, it’s off to St. Petersburg now to play a real major league team with the struggling CC Sabathia taking the hill tomorrow.

--Posted at 9:23 pm by SG / 26 Comments | - (0)



Cubs (4-8) @ The Championship Caliber Yankees (7-6), Wednesday, April 16, 2014, Double Header

Game 1: CHC:Jason Hammel (#39, 31, RHP, 2-0, 2.63) vs. NYY:Masahiro Tanaka (#19, 25, RHP, 1-0, 3.21)
Lineups
Chicago Cubs
1. Emilio Bonifacio (S) 2B
2. Justin Ruggiano (R) CF
3. Anthony Rizzo (L) 1B
4. Nate Schierholtz (L) RF
5. Starlin Castro (R) SS
6. Junior Lake (R) LF
7. Luis Valbuena (L) 3B
8. Mike Olt (R) DH
9. John Baker (L) C

The Championship Caliber Yankees
1. Brett Gardner (L) LF
2. The Tattered Remains of Carlos Beltran (S) RF
3. $153M for a singles hitter (L) CF
4. Alfonso Soriano (R) DH
5. Brian “Bust” McCann (L) C
6. Yangervis Solarte (S) 2B
7. Kelly Johnson (L) 1B
8. Dean Anna (L) SS
9. Scott Sizemore (R) 3B

The Cubs would not be outbid for Masahiro Tanaka.  Until they were.  Let’s see if they regret it today.

Game 2: CHC: Travis Wood (#36, 27, LHP, 0-1, 2.92) vs. NYY: Michael Pineda (#35, 25, RHP, 1-1, 1.50)

Lineups
Chicago Cubs
1. Emilio Bonifacio (S) CF
2. Ryan Sweeney (L) LF
3. Anthony Rizzo (L) 1B
4. Nate Schierholtz (L) DH
5. Starlin Castro (R) SS
6. Luis Valbuena (L) 3B
7. Welington Castillo (R) C
8. Ryan Kalish (L) RF
9. Darwin Barney (R) 2B

The Championship Caliber Yankees
1. Brett Gardner (L) CF
2. All That’s Left of Derek Jeter (R) SS
3. The Tattered Remains of Carlos Beltran (S) DH
4. Alfonso Soriano (R) LF
5. Yangervis Solarte (S) 2B
6. Ichiro Suzuki (L) RF
7. Tom Sizemore (R) 3B
8. Kelly Johnson (L) 1B
9. John Ryan Murphy (R) C

We’ll see how the loss of his pine tar affects Pineda in the night cap.  It would be nice if he continued to pitch well, but more likely he’ll have a bad game and we’ll hear that it’s because he no longer has grip.  Maybe the Yankees should trade him before this game for Jesus Montero.

--Posted at 11:08 am by SG / 288 Comments | - (0)



NY Post: Why the Yankees are using the shift more than ever

With just two weeks down in this baseball season — if we were at a football game, there would be roughly 11:11 left in the first quarter — the Yankees are on pace to win two more games than last year. Hit 18 more home runs.
And save 22 more runs via the defensive shift.

Yes, the Yankees have become hard-core believers in the shift. If the quality of their infield has dropped precipitously, with a new guy expected in time for Tuesday night’s game against the Cubs at Yankee Stadium, then they are getting far more bang for their buck.
“You’re going to be burned on it,” Billy Eppler, the Yankees’ assistant general manager/pro personnel, said Monday in a telephone interview. “You just want to have more instances of run-saving circumstances than run-yielding circumstances.”

Smart shifting can help cover for up some of the limitations of the Yankees’ infield defense, so I applaud this shift (get it?) in thinking.  The Yankees did shift quite a bit last year, they just did it poorly as their BABIP against with the shift was around .030 higher than it was without.  So far this year they appear to be doing it better.

--Posted at 7:45 am by SG / 13 Comments | - (0)




Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Lohud: Murphy and Sizemore called up; Cervelli placed on 60-day

The Yankees have announced their anticipated roster moves.

1. Francisco Cervelli was placed on the disabled list with a strained hamstring. The injury is serious enough that he’s going directly to the 60-day DL.

2. John Ryan Murphy was called up to replace Cervelli as the backup catcher. The Yankees have already had four different catchers on their roster this year.

3. Infielder Scott Sizemore was called up to give the Yankees a full bench. He’ll take the roster spot opened when Shane Greene was optioned to Triple-A. Sizemore gives the Yankees a second reserve infielder, which they haven’t had since Mark Teixeira landed on the disabled list. Sizemore has major-league experience at second and third.

Mel Hall can rejoice, as Sizemore has been freed!

Poor Cervelli.  He just can’t catch a break…

Seems like the right moves, particularly if they plan to play Murphy as opposed to running McCann into the ground.

--Posted at 6:05 pm by SG / 29 Comments | - (0)



NY Post: Cervelli going to DL as Yankees continue to jumble roster

Move over Mark Teixeira, David Robertson and Brendan Ryan, make room for Francisco Cervelli on the disabled list. And you might want to make room for others.

As expected, the Yankees put Cervelli on the 15-day DL Monday with a Grade 2 right hamstring strain. A Grade 1 strain is the slightest; Grade 3 the most severe. But, eventually, Cervelli could be headed to the 60-day DL.
The Yankees are likely to promote catcher John Ryan Murphy from Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre instead of Austin Romine, who was with the club briefly last week and was Chris Stewart’s backup last season.

While the Yankees lost Cervelli they were fortunate frontline catcher Brian McCann didn’t suffer a broken index finger Sunday night when he was hit on the hand while catching. X-rays Sunday evening were negative. His status for Tuesday night wasn’t addressed by the club.

You get the sense Cervelli is jinxed.

The Yankees could probably use another infielder, but they’ll have to make a 40 man roster move to get one onto the team.  They could 60 day DL Brendan Ryan if they don’t think he will be ready before the end of May, which is what I guess they will do.  They could also DFA someone like Preston Claiborne.  If the Yankees are deep in one thing, it’s right-handed relievers.

--Posted at 9:57 am by SG / 23 Comments | - (0)




Sunday, April 13, 2014

Yankees.com: Nova, Beltran lead Yanks to series win over Red Sox

NEW YORK—Carlos Beltran homered as part of a three-hit performance, and Ivan Nova pitched solidly into the eighth inning as the Yankees defeated the Red Sox, 3-2, in an eventful contest on Sunday night at Yankee Stadium.

Beltran hit his third homer as a Bomber, a two-run shot in the third inning off Boston starter Felix Doubront, as the Yankees secured their third victory in the four-game series against their American League East rivals.

Coming off two inconsistent outings to open the season, Nova found his groove and was able to limit Boston to two runs and eight hits over 7 1/3 innings, keeping the ball down more reliably.

Allowing Jonathan Herrera’s second-inning RBI single and a long Mike Napoli home run in the sixth, Napoli’s third of the year, Nova walked none and struck out four to log his second victory of the year.

Perhaps Beltran’s remains are not as tattered as I believed.

I am shocked the Yankees won this series.  But I’m happy they did.

--Posted at 10:19 pm by SG / 78 Comments | - (0)



Red Sox (5-7) @ The Championship Caliber Yankees (6-6), Sunday, April 13, 2014, 8:05pm

BOS:Felix Doubront (#22, 26, LHP, 1-1, 9.00) vs. NYY:Ivan Nova (#47, 27, RHP, 1-1, 8.68)

Lineups
Red Sox
1. Grady Sizemore (L) LF
2. Xander Bogaerts (R) SS
3. David Ortiz (L) DH
4. Mike Napoli (R) 1B
5. Daniel Nava (S) RF
6. A.J. Pierzynski (L) C
7. Ryan Roberts (R) 3B
8. Jackie Bradley Jr. (L) CF
9. Jonathan Herrera (S) 2B

Yankees
1. Brett Gardner (L) LF
2. The Tattered Remains of Carlos Beltran (S) RF
3. The Guy who got the money that would have been better spent on Robinson Cano (L) CF
4. Alfonso Soriano (R) DH
5. Brian “Bust” McCann (L) C
6. Yangervis Solarte (S) 2B
7. Kelly Johnson (L) 3B
8. Francisco Cervelli (R) 1B
9. Dean Anna (L) SS

Hmm, no Jeter with a lefty on the mound after a day off?

Ivan Nova is really testing my belief in him.  His first two starts of the season have not been good.  He’s probably not in any danger of losing his spot in the rotation yet, but you wonder if that will happen at some point if he keeps pitching like he has to this point.

In his career, he’s allowed the Red Sox a line of .303/.390/.465 and has an ERA of 5.03 and a WHIP of 1.699 against them.  Hopefully all those go down after tonight.

--Posted at 3:55 pm by SG / 217 Comments | - (0)




Saturday, April 12, 2014

Yankees.com: Comforts of homers: McCann powers win over Sox

NEW YORK—It was a cold winter afternoon when Brian McCann took on a private tour of Yankee Stadium, hearing a sales pitch from team executives who wanted to fit him for pinstripes. As McCann walked the hallways that day, he couldn’t help but think about what the cozy right-field dimensions might do for his power numbers.

It took a little longer than McCann might have anticipated, but the slugging catcher is on the board with his first home runs as a Yankee. McCann homered twice, going back-to-back with Alfonso Soriano once, and Carlos Beltran also cleared the wall as the Yankees thumped the Red Sox, 7-4, on a sunny Saturday in the Bronx.

The homers were part of a six-run pounding that the Yankees unloaded on Boston starter John Lackey, who permitted 10 hits in 5 2/3 innings, giving Hiroki Kuroda some welcome run support as the Yankees right-hander improved to 2-1 this season.

Mo bless DNYS.

The Yankees have already won two more games in this series than I thought they would.

--Posted at 6:21 pm by SG / 28 Comments | - (0)



Red Sox (5-6) @ The Championship Caliber Yankees (5-6), Saturday, April 12, 1:05pm

BOS: John Lackey (#41, 35, RHP, 2-0, 1.38) vs. NYY: Hiroki Kuroda (#18, 39, RHP, 1-1, 2.92)

Lineups
Red Sox
Dustin Pedroia 2B
Daniel Nava RF
David Ortiz DH
Mike Napoli 1B
Mike Carp LF
Xander Bogaerts SS
A.J. Pierzynski C
Jonathan Herrera 3B
Jackie Bradley Jr. CF

The Championship Caliber Yankees
Brett Gardner LF
Derek Jeter SS Brian Roberts 2B
The Obscenely Overpaid Jacoby Ellsbury CF
The Tattered Remains of Carlos Beltran RF
Brian “Bust” McCann C
Alfonso Soriano DH
Kelly Johnson 1B
Yangervis Solarte 3B
Dean Anna SS

--Posted at 9:10 am by SG / 83 Comments | - (0)




Friday, April 11, 2014

Red Sox (4-6) @ Yankees (5-5),Friday, April 11, 2014, 7:05pm

BOS: Jon Lester (#31, 30, LHP, 0-2, 2.51) vs. NYY: CC Sabathia (#52, 33, LHP, 1-1, 7.50)

Lineups
Red Sox
Jonny Gomes, RF: .174/.321/.217
Dustin Pedroia, 2B: .261/.261/.304
David Ortiz, DH: .275/.310/.500
Mike Napoli, 1B: .308/.400/.487
Grady Sizemore, LF: .308/.379/.500
Xander Bogaerts, SS: .314/.415/.371
Ryan Roberts, 3B: .000/.286/.000
David Ross, C: .222/.300/.222
Jackie Bradley, CF: .364/.462/.455
Total: .278/.354/.392

Yankees
Derek Jeter, SS: .290/.389/.355
Jacoby Ellsbury, CF: .351/.400/.432
Carlos Beltran, RF: .273/.324/.455
Alfonso Soriano, DH: .182/.250/.333
Francisco Cervelli, C: .273/.333/.364
Yangervis Solarte, 3B: .387/.441/.581
Ichiro Suzuki, LF: .429/.429/.500
Brian Roberts, 2B: .160/.333/.160
Kelly Johnson, 1B: .250/.323/.607
Total: .284/.355/.424

I would be shocked if the Yankees won even one of the six remaining games these two teams will play over the next two weeks. 

Shocked, I tell you.

--Posted at 3:21 pm by SG / 85 Comments | - (0)



Boston Globe: Questions swirl over substance on Yankees pitcher’s hand

NEW YORK — Michael Pineda had retired 10 of 11 Red Sox batters by the time anyone spotted the sticky, brown stain on his right hand.

As soon as Pineda fired a 93-mile-per-hour fastball by David Ortiz in the fourth inning, NESN announcers Don Orsillo and Jerry Remy started asking questions.

“What is on the hand of Michael Pineda?” Orsillo said.

Remy’s first assumption was pine tar.

“Could be Stickum,” Remy said.

When Pineda rubbed his hand into his glove after getting A.J. Pierzynski to fly out in the fifth inning, Remy surmised that it was to create a better grip.

We better see the same thing on CC’s hand tonight then.

--Posted at 9:00 am by SG / 38 Comments | - (0)




Thursday, April 10, 2014

Yankees.com: Pineda shines under bright lights of the Bronx

NEW YORK—The Yankees patiently waited more than two years to see Michael Pineda wearing their uniform in a home game. Finally presented with his first opportunity under the bright lights in the Bronx, the hard-throwing right-hander did not disappoint.

Making his Yankee Stadium debut, Pineda pitched into the seventh inning in a commanding seven-strikeout performance, leading the Yankees to a 4-1 victory over the Red Sox in the first meeting between the division rivals this season.

That was unexpected.  And awesome.  Pineda has looked good to great in his first two starts of the season and hopefully he can continue to pitch well.

--Posted at 9:34 pm by SG / 24 Comments | - (0)



Red Sox (4-5) @ Yankees (4-5),Thursday, April 10, 2014, 7:05pm

BOS: Clay Buchholz (#11, 29, RHP, 0-0, 12.46) vs. NYY: Michael Pineda (#35, 25, RHP, 0-1, 1.50)

Lineups
Red Sox
Grady Sizemore, LF: .364/.440/.591
Dustin Pedroia, 2B: .286/.286/.333
David Ortiz, DH: .278/.316/.500
Mike Napoli, 1B: .333/.415/.528
Daniel Nava, RF: .125/.200/.156
Xander Bogaerts, SS: .290/.405/.355
A.J. Pierzynski, C: .360/.360/.360
Jackie Bradle, CF: .400/.478/.500
Jonathan Herrera, 3B: .300/.417/.300
Total: .295/.356/.402

Yankees
Brett Gardner, LF: .300/.400/.433
Derek Jeter, SS: .259/.375/.296
Jacoby Ellsbury, CF: .364/.417/.455
Carlos Beltran, RF: .267/.324/.467
Brian McCann, C: .152/.176/.152
Alfonso Soriano, DH: .200/.273/.367
Kelly Johnson, 1B: .280/.357/.680
Yangervis Solarte, 3B: .429/.484/.643
Dean Anna, 2B: .143/.250/.143
Total: .276/.347/.420

Oh great, one of these.

I would be shocked if the Yankees won even one of the seven games these two teams will play over the next two weeks.  Their bullpen is missing their best reliever, their shortstop has the range of a tree stump, and their number three hitter has played professional baseball for 13 seasons and has cleared double-digit home runs exactly once in all that time.  Oh, and their catcher makes Chris Stewart looks like Barry Bonds circa 2002.  And their “ace” can’t dent bread with his fastball any more.  And their best CF is playing LF.

Other than that, I think the Yankees are looking great.

--Posted at 2:57 pm by SG / 152 Comments | - (0)



Q&A with the Replacement Level Red Sox Blog, Part 2

I just realized I never posted the second part of the Q&A with the Replacement Level Red Sox blog so here it is.  You can go read the second part of our answers to their questions here.

How excited are you by the player tracking technology that MLBAM previewed recently?

(Jose) More data is better than less.  I really like the idea of being able to track how quickly a player reacts and how efficient he is and running his route to the ball.  I think that can be really instructive, if a guy is good at those things he will adjust as he ages better than a guy (like Ellsbury in my opinion) who often just outruns his mistakes.

(MCoA) I’m kind of getting tired of baseball producing all these new important data sets I don’t have time to understand. Back in my day we had Runs Created and OPS+ and it was good enough for us. These fancy new statistics just detract from my enjoyment of the game.

Derek Jeter looks you straight in the eyes with his calm captainy gaze. Do you A) swoon B) wake-up because you are dreaming C) Wake up several days later with a gift basket D) YEAH JEETS!

(MCoA) Is this choose your own adventure? A -> D -> C -> B.

Would you rather have a) Jacoby Ellsbury or b) Grady Sizemore and $152 million?  Asked in another way, what is your opinion of the Yankees FO?

(MCoA) It took me a while to get over Ellsbury signing with the Yankees. I love Ellsbury. He provides all the joys of a pure speed player—get ready for some straight steals of home—with almost none of the frustrations (reasonable plate discipline, power, and contact skills). If you can look past your analyses of the contract, I think you’re going to have a terribly fun time rooting for him.

I am confused by the Yankees offseason. Cano is obviously better than Ellsbury and seems a better bet to age well. If they’d just sucked up that second round pick, they could have had the solidly above average Stephen Drew locked in for third base, backing up shortstop, with whichever of Brian Roberts or Kelly Johnson is most healthy and effective at second. The lack of depth on the infield boggles. I know these guys project to 1 WAR or whatever, but the risk of full-on below replacement Wilton Veras style disasters seems way too high for a contending team. A Masahiro Tanaka can cover for all manner of sins, I guess.

With AJ Pierzynski on the team now, has there ever been a Red Sox free agent signing that you hated so much when he played for another team that you couldn’t get past rooting for him as a Red Sox? Like, if Joba Chamberlain suddenly started pitching for the Red Sox, would it be hard to root for him?

(Jose) I’m a pretty simple root for the laundry guy.  Jarome Iginla was booed every time he touched the puck for the Penguins last year and now he’s one of the most popular Bruins.  I think it is most impactful where a player struggles.  I’m going to give a guy I like a little more rope than a guy like AJ.

(MCoA) I’m a sucker. I’ve completely talked myself into A.J. based on his appearances on the postseason teevee. He’s just a tough competitor, you guys.

Now that Cano is gone, is there a player worth fearing on the Yankees?

(MCoA) Masahiro Tanaka. That dude looks every inch a Cy Young contender and playoff ace. The Yankees are all about the pitching now, it seems. Behind Tanaka, Hiroki Kuroda will never age and Ivan Nova is probably pretty good. I dunno. If enough breaks right in the rotation, if Tanaka is a Cy Young contender, Nova is as good as his component stats, Sabathia figures out how to get results with diminished velocity, that’s a rotation that could carry a merely ok lineup to an easy division title. I’m probably being too optimistic—this is what I do every spring—but I see more potential for this Yankees team to underplay their ~85 win projection than to outperform.

How many home runs do you think Pedroia will hit in 2014 now that he appears fully recovered from his thumb injury?

(MCoA) Dustin Pedroia doesn’t recover from injuries. He just develops a new injury which sediments over the old one. I’m amazed Pedroia remains effective given what he’s inevitably playing through. He’ll have another Dustin Pedroia season complete with a month-long slump where the pain gets to be too much.

What do you think is a fair extension number for Jon Lester?

(MCoA) Lester’s a strange case. He’s actually been no more than average for going on two seasons. He has a 101 ERA- over 2012 and 2013. Lester is better than that, based on his component stats and pre-2012 performance, but the projection systems generally peg him around 2.5 WAR. That’s a nice pitcher, but it’s not a guy you’d give $100M to. That’s maybe a 4/65 kind of pitcher, and obviously Jon Lester ain’t signing for no sixty million dollars.

At the same time, Lester was an ace from 2008 to 2011, and he found that same stuff and command last year in the postseason. One thing we had noticed about Lester during his weaker outings was that he would get locked in to pounding the inner half of the zone with his fastball to RHB, and when his command wasn’t good enough, he’d get pounded. Lester needs to work inside with the fastball to get hitters to swing and miss on the cutter, but he seemed too stubborn to make adjustments when it wasn’t working. In the postseason, Lester mixed up his repertoire and showed real improvement. Is that sustainable? Who knows. This is all by way of saying that I could totally justify a 5/110 contract extension, and I can see the case for letting him walk. If Lester wants more than five years or significantly more than $20M per season, I’d probably say it’s better to start working in the kids. It kind of feels like whichever choice the Sox make, it’ll be the wrong one.

Which of the Red Sox starting pitchers are you most worried about?

(Jose) Lackey easily.  I think he’s the X factor in the rotation.  If he’s right then Lester/Buchholz are your aces, Peavy/Doubront are depth and Lackey is the guy that rounds it out.  He was kind of “eh” in the spring and he’s a mid-30s pitcher who isn’t that far from being historically craptacular.

How weird is this Jerry Remy thing? Should there be anything less meaningful to a baseball fan than an announcer’s private life.

(Jose) I’ll start with a disclaimer that I’m a huge Remy fan.  I attended a baseball camp he ran in the early 80s (real live MLB player Roger LaFrancois taught me how to block pitches!) and I still remember the way he used to bounce at the plate as he waited for pitches.  Earlier in the off-season I wrote on our site that I was glad he was coming back and that he shouldn’t be punished for his adult son’s misdeeds.

But (saw that comin’ didn’t you?) having listened to a few games this spring it is awkward.  I think it is terribly unfair for him to lose his job over the behavior of his adult child but right now listening to Jerry Remy announce baseball games makes the experience less enjoyable, not more enjoyable like it used to.

(MCoA) There’s a lot of evidence that Jerry Remy and his wife were effectively enablers for their monster of a son. Jared was arrested many, many times but never actually punished for his serial abuse of women in part because of the legal and material support of the Remys. I can’t get past it, and I am going to be watching the other feed on MLBtv for Red Sox games until Remy is out of the booth.

--Posted at 12:15 pm by SG / 4 Comments | - (0)



Yankees.com: Tanaka fans 10 in Yanks’ loss to Orioles

The game was supposed to showcase Masahiro Tanaka, the Yankees’ prized new starter pitching in front of his new fans in the Bronx for the first time, but even his dazzling debut and major offensive support from fellow newcomer Carlos Beltran weren’t enough, as the Orioles prevailed, 5-4, following a four-hit, two-run ninth-inning surge.

Hailed by opposing manager Buck Showalter as “the best acquisition of the offseason” before the game, Tanaka showed those in attendance why the franchise made such a financial investment in him. The $155 million man went seven innings, yielding three runs on seven hits and one walk while striking out 10. Orioles hitters whiffed at 22 of his 101 offerings, with half the misses induced by his splitter.

Honestly, I am on the whole relatively pleased with the Yankee season so far. I mean, a losing record is not good, of course, and I might be singing a different tune after the Yankees are finished with the Rays and the Red Sox, but 4-5 while mostly keeping pace with every other team in the American League East is not awful to me. Tanaka has looked great despite the fact that it looks like he’ll give up a home run per game. Pineda and Kuroda look good. CC doesn’t look awful. Of the starting pitchers, only Nova has been outright awful. They have a pretty good looking starting rotation and I expect them to keep the team competitive all year. And this is all while being supported by an offense that has a key player, Brian McCann, not hitting at all. If McCann even kind of sort of produced the Yankees would likely be 5-4 or better right now. And you have to figure a guy like McCann won’t hit this poorly all season. So I am not feeling bad about this team at all…yet.

--Posted at 3:06 am by Brian Cronin / 12 Comments | - (0)




Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Orioles (3-5) @ Yankees (4-4),Wednesday, April 9, 2014, 7:05pm

BAL: Miguel Gonzalez (#50, 30, RHP, 0-1, 18.90) vs. NYY: Masahiro Tanaka (#19, 25, RHP, 1-0, 2.57)

Lineups
Orioles
Nick Markakis, RF: .265/.278/.353
Delmon Young, DH: .333/.385/.583
Chris Davis, 1B: .310/.364/.414
Adam Jones, CF: .286/.344/.536
Matt Wieters, C: .370/.357/.630
Nelson Cruz, LF: .286/.394/.571
Steve Lombardozzi, 2B: .333/.333/.333
Ryan Flaherty, SS: .154/.185/.192
Jonathan Schoop, 3B: .192/.192/.269
Total: .278/.313/.423

Yankees
Brett Gardner, CF: .269/.387/.385
Derek Jeter, SS: .250/.379/.292
Jacoby Ellsbury, DH: .414/.469/.517
Carlos Beltran, RF: .185/.233/.259
Brian McCann, C: .172/.200/.172
Alfonso Soriano, LF: .192/.276/.346
Kelly Johnson, 1B: .238/.333/.571
Brian Roberts, 2B: .174/.345/.174
Yangervis Solarte, 3B: .458/.519/.708
Total: .262/.349/.376

The Orioles lineup yesterday had hit a collective .233/.273/.342.  With yesterday’s game they’re now up to .278/.313/.423.

All hope rests on the shoulders of the Yankees’ fourth starter.  Who could be a three one day.

--Posted at 4:07 pm by SG / 118 Comments | - (0)



NJ.com: Yankees: What’s to like and dislike after a week?

The Yankees are 4-4 a week into their 2014 regular season, and there have been plenty of ups and downs.

There have been moments where everything’s fallen into place, like when they got 6.1 strong innings from Hiroki Kuroda and the bats woke up in Monday’s win.

And then there have been times when it’s hard to see this team breaking out of the stacked AL East, like when Ivan Nova got roughed up and the Yankees couldn’t amount an offensive of their own Tuesday.

Here’s what we’ve liked and disliked so far.

Brendan Kuty runs through a few of the good and bad things that we’ve seen so far this season.  To his list, I’d add Adam Warren and Dellin Betances to the likes, and Brian McCann and the overall defense to the dislikes.

It’s still too early to get a good read on this team.  The pitching looks like it could be very good, but I am very concerned about the offense.

--Posted at 9:13 am by SG / 38 Comments | - (0)




Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Yankees.com: Matinee vs. Orioles gets away from Yankees

NEW YORK—Joe Girardi looked at his lineup card on Tuesday morning and remarked that he was not sure which reliever he’d ask to close out a save situation. It turned out not to matter all that much.

Ivan Nova was thumped for seven runs and knocked out in the fourth inning as the Orioles grabbed an early lead and continued to hack away against the Yankees, producing a 14-5 rout on Tuesday at Yankee Stadium.

Adam Jones, Delmon Young and Matt Wieters all homered for the Orioles, who connected for 10 hits in 3 2/3 innings against Nova. Baltimore piled on against Vidal Nuno, who allowed seven runs in 3 1/3 innings of relief.

I guess I can skip the encore of this one…

--Posted at 3:55 pm by SG / 10 Comments | - (0)



Orioles (2-5) @ Yankees (4-3),Tuesday, April 8, 2014, 1:05pm

BAL: Wei-Yin Chen (#16, 28, LHP, 0-1, 6.35) vs. NYY: Ivan Nova (#47, 27, RHP, 1-0, 3.18)

Lineups
Orioles
Nick Markakis, RF: .241/.267/.345
Delmon Young, DH: .167/.286/.167
Chris Davis, 1B: .269/.321/.385
Adam Jones, CF: .250/.296/.375
Matt Wieters, C: .391/.391/.565
Nelson Cruz, LF: .250/.357/.542
Steve Lombardozzi, 2B: .263/.263/.263
Ryan Flaherty, SS: .048/.091/.048
Jonathan Schoop, 3B: .143/.143/.190
Total: .233/.273/.342

Yankees
Brett Gardner, LF: .273/.385/.409
Derek Jeter, SS: .250/.400/.300
Jacoby Ellsbury, CF: .360/.429/.440
Carlos Beltran, RF: .182/.240/.227
Alfonso Soriano, DH: .136/.208/.136
Brian McCann, C: .200/.231/.200
Francisco Cervelli, 1B: .286/.375/.429
Brian Roberts, 2B: .150/.346/.150
Yangervis Solarte, 3B: .450/.522/.650
Total: .251/.346/.317

Another day game?  Luckily I don’t have to actually watch the game to make snarky comments about it.  How about that collective slugging percentage for the Bronx “Bombers?”

Nova did not pitch all that well in his first start, but held Houston to two runs.  If he walks five and strikes out one again today, he will not be so fortunate.

--Posted at 10:12 am by SG / 123 Comments | - (0)



NJ.com: Yankees call up Cesar Cabral from Triple-A to replace injured David Robertson

NEW YORK — The Yankees have promoted left-hander Cesar Cabral from Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre to replace injured closer David Robertson, who was officially placed on the 15-day disabled list with a left groin strain.

As luck would have it, the Yankees will be without their best reliever over a two week stretch where they play Boston seven times and Tampa Bay four times.  So I guess Cabral makes sense as a tactical option, particularly since the Yankees theoretically have three long relievers available to them.

--Posted at 9:10 am by SG / 5 Comments | - (0)




Monday, April 7, 2014

Yankees.com: Jeter helps guide Yanks in final home opener

NEW YORK—Derek Jeter took a few loping steps out of the batter’s box, seeming to allow himself a little extra time to take in the sights of his final home opener at Yankee Stadium. The deep drive off his bat smacked into the left-field wall instead of the palms of an eager fan, and the captain had to turn it on.

Jeter legged out that fifth-inning double, his left hand grasping the bag just ahead of the tag, and he could exhale with relief. Jeter would score as part of a two-run rally, helping the Yankees post a 4-2 victory over the Orioles on Monday in the season’s first game in the Bronx.

Receiving the loudest cheers during pregame introductions and joining former teammates Andy Pettitte, Jorge Posada and Mariano Rivera for a first-pitch ceremony, Jeter pushed across the Yanks’ first run with a third-inning double-play ball, finishing 1-for-4 in his return to the Stadium.

The Yankees squeezed 6 1/3 innings of solid two-run ball from starter Hiroki Kuroda (1-1), who scattered eight hits and struck out four without issuing a walk in his second start of the year.

That’s the good news.  This is the not so good news.

The win was closed out by Shawn Kelley instead of closer David Robertson, who is headed to the 15-day disabled list with a strained groin.

I have not been worried about the Yankee bullpen despite that fact that it is heavily populated by unproven players because I trust Joe Girardi to cobble something good together.  But that gets harder when you lose your best reliever.  On the one hand it will give some guys like Dellin Betances and Adam Warren a chance to pitch in more important situations.  On the other hand that may cause the team to lose some games.

But hopefully it won’t be too bad, and Robertson will be back at the end of his DL stint and this is not something that lingers.

--Posted at 3:59 pm by SG / 39 Comments | - (0)



Orioles (2-4) @ Yankees (3-3),Monday, April 7, 2014, 1:05pm

BAL: Ubaldo Jimenez (#31, 30, RHP, 0-1, 6.00) vs. NYY: Hiroki Kuroda (#18, 39, RHP, 0-1, 3.00)

Lineups
Orioles
David Lough, LF: .125/.176/.250
Nick Markakis, RF: .240/.269/.320
Adam Jones, CF: .250/.304/.400
Chris Davis, 1B: .273/.333/.364
Matt Wieters, C: .368/.368/.579
Nelson Cruz, DH: .200/.333/.550
Steve Lombardozzi, 2B: .333/.333/.333
Ryan Flaherty, SS: .056/.105/.056
Jonathan Schoop, 3B: .111/.111/.111
Total: .220/.265/.335

Yankees
Brett Gardner, LF: .278/.409/.444
Derek Jeter, SS: .250/.429/.250
Jacoby Ellsbury, CF: .333/.417/.429
Carlos Beltran, RF: .158/.190/.211
Brian McCann, C: .238/.273/.238
Alfonso Soriano, DH: .053/.100/.053
Brian Roberts, 2B: .176/.364/.176
Kelly Johnson, 1B: .222/.263/.444
Yangervis Solarte, 3B: .471/.526/.706
Total: .241/.332/.325

You may think that the Yankees are last in MLB in homers with 1.  Actually, the Royals trail them with none.  But now that the Yankees are back at DNYS where lazy infield flies find the seats, they may actually hit another homer or two.

Probably not today, but some time in this homestand.

Maybe.

--Posted at 9:38 am by SG / 154 Comments | - (0)



NY Times: Jeter, With His Final Home Opener Up Next, Climbs Career Hits List to No. 8

TORONTO — A year ago, when the Yankees opened their season in the Bronx against the Boston Red Sox, there was a noticeable void. It was felt during the pregame introductions when players like Kevin Youkilis and Travis Hafner were announced over the public-address system, but Derek Jeter was not.

It was felt again when the Yankees took the field and the player who ran to shortstop was Eduardo Nunez, not Jeter. In fact, Jeter missed all but 17 games last season as he experienced the most maddening, injury-marred season of his career.

But on Monday, Jeter — healthy and eager — is scheduled to be a part of all the festivities as the Yankees celebrate their 112th home opener, and Jeter’s last.

“We all look forward to the home opener,” Jeter said Sunday before the Yankees beat the Toronto Blue Jays, 6-4. “It almost doesn’t seem like the season is underway until you get your home opener. Especially missing last year, I’m looking forward to this one.”

The thing here is according to Baseball Reference, Jeter is actually ninth, not eighth.  Perhaps in haste to put Jeter into the all important eighth slot, people are ignoring Cap Anson’s 423 hits in the National Association.

100 hits would move Jeter past Carl Yastrezmski and into a tie for seventh with Honus Wagner.  116 would move him past Anson and into sole possession of sixth place.  It’s not likely he’ll get the 195 more hits he needs to pass Tris Speaker and get into fifth place by himself.

But it would be pretty sweet if he did.

--Posted at 8:11 am by SG / 15 Comments | - (0)




Sunday, April 6, 2014

Yankees.com: First homer puts Yanks over hump vs. Jays

TORONTO—Brett Gardner cracked the Yankees’ first home run of the young season and CC Sabathia bounced back from a rough outing in the club’s season opener as New York posted a 6-4 victory on Sunday at Rogers Centre.

The Yankees were unable to produce a long ball through their first five games of the season. An unlikely candidate to break that string, Gardner slugged a two-run homer in the fourth inning, part of the attack against starter Drew Hutchison.

Mo bless TPBG.  Is it a stretch to think he could lead this team in homers?

Didn’t get to see the game, so didn’t get to form any opinion on how CC looked.  But it sounds like it’s still a work in progress.

--Posted at 3:42 pm by SG / 12 Comments | - (0)



Yankees (2-3) @ Blue Jays (3-3), Sunday, April 6, 2014, 1:07pm

NYY:CC Sabathia (#52, 33, LHP, 0-1, 9.00) vs. TOR:Drew Hutchison (#36, 23, RHP, 1-0, 0.00)

Lineups
TBA

Given the Yankee “offense”, CC could pitch a gem like Michael Pineda and lose anyway.  Fortunately, CC has lost all ability to pitch anything even remotely resembling a gem, so he’ll get lit up, the Yankees will not score and this game will be a nice painless loss.

Enjoy.

--Posted at 9:51 am by SG / 98 Comments | - (0)




Saturday, April 5, 2014

Yankees.com: Despite loss, Pineda’s debut a success

The Yankees were thrilled to finally see right-hander Michael Pineda on the mound in their uniform on Saturday, firing a fastball with a free and easy motion after seeming to disappear for the last two seasons while he worked his way back from injury.

Pineda’s first Yankees start went into the books as a rousing success, as he provided six innings of one-run ball, but the heart of New York’s batting order was stymied by R.A. Dickey and three Toronto relievers, and the Blue Jays notched a 4-0 victory at Rogers Centre.

Dickey used his trademark knuckleball to blank the Yankees over 6 2/3 innings, scattering five hits and striking out six. He was supported by Josh Thole’s run-scoring single, which knocked home Adam Lind in the second inning. Melky Cabrera and Jose Bautista provided some insurance for the Jays with homers off David Phelps in the eighth.

Joe Girardi has managed David Phelps for the entirety of Phelps’ major league career, and yet he still thinks Phelps is the type of pitcher you bring in to pitch the 7th and 8th innings of a 1-run game. He is not. Phelps is not a bad pitcher, but he’s a guy who is almost assuredly going to give up some runs every time he pitches. When he gives you 5-6 innings, those runs are enough to keep you in the ballgame. When he gives you 1-2 innings, those runs crush you. I still like Phelps a lot, but he just is not the shutdown reliever you use in a 1-run game in the 7th and 8th innings.

In the end, though, it likely would not have mattered as the Yankees got shut out. The big culprits were the Yankees #3-5 hitters, who combined to go 0-12 with three strikeouts and one GIDP. You have to imagine that the odds are that that will not continue. So with that in mind, I think there was a lot to still like about this game. Pineda pitched very well. Ellsbury is still hot. The Yankees are getting guys on base, they just need to plate some of those runners. I think it likely is a matter of bad luck more than anything. I think Pineda’s good performance is a lot more likely to continue than Beltran/McCann/Soriano’s bad performance. In addition, when Dickey is on, he is filthy. The problem for the Blue Jays is that you never know which Dickey you’re going to get. Lights out Dickey or Batting Practice Dickey. Today was the former while he debut was the latter.

--Posted at 3:51 pm by Brian Cronin / 30 Comments | - (0)



Yankees (2-2) @ Blue Jays (2-3), Saturday, April 5, 2014, 1:07pm

NYY:Michael Pineda (#35, 25, RHP, 0-0, undef) vs. TOR:R.A. Dickey (#43, 39, RHP, 0-1, 10.80)

Lineups
Yankees
1. Jacoby Ellsbury (L) CF
2. Derek Jeter (R) SS
3. Carlos Beltran (S) RF
4. Brian McCann (L) DH
5. Alfonso Soriano (R) LF
6. Kelly Johnson (L) 1B
7. Francisco Cervelli (R) C
8. Yangervis Solarte (S) 3B
9. Dean Anna (L) 2B

Blue Jays
1. Melky Cabrera (S) LF
2. Colby Rasmus (L) CF
3. Jose Bautista (R) RF
4. Edwin Encarnacion (R) 1B
5. Adam Lind (L) DH
6. Brett Lawrie (R) 3B
7. Josh Thole (L) C
8. Ryan Goins (L) 2B
9. Jonathan Diaz (R) SS

After two long years, Michael Pineda will finally make his debut as a Yankee. 

--Posted at 10:25 am by SG / 131 Comments | - (0)



Yankees.com: Resilient Tanaka wins big league debut

The third pitch of Masahiro Tanaka’s career in the Major Leagues came to rest somewhere behind the 375-foot marker painted on the right-center-field wall at Rogers Centre, and the debuting rookie placed his right hand on his hip, kicking at the mound.

He was nervous, Tanaka would admit later, sensing something like what he felt while preparing for last year’s Japan Series. And as he did then, Tanaka was able to settle those emotions and give his new team a winning outing on Friday, pitching the Yankees to a 7-3 victory over the Blue Jays.

Tanaka, the Yankees’ $155 million prize, bounced back from serving up Melky Cabrera’s leadoff homer and a pair of second-inning runs to retire 16 of the last 18 batters he faced in a seven-inning performance, striking out eight without a walk.

“I was missing some spots earlier in the game, but as the game progressed, I think I was getting better out there,” Tanaka said through an interpreter. “Obviously I’m happy. I think No. 1 is that I’m relieved.”

It ended up being a very successful debut for Tanaka, who opened up a lot of comparisons to his rotation-mate and fellow countryman, Hiroki Kuroda, only with a filthy splitter. If Tanaka “only” translates into Hiroki Kuroda, the Yankees will be very happy with him over the next four years before he opts out and they extend him for too much money.

Jacoby Ellsbury had his first awesome game as a Yankee, including a stunning sliding catch in the sixth inning that we’ve all seen him make way too many times against the Yankees over the years, so it was sure nice to have it on the Yankees’ side for a change. However, I read some comments by Yankee media guys about how Ellsbury’s great game showed that it was right for the Yankees to rest him last night. I somewhat disagree, if only because if you seriously need to just “give a rest” to your $22 million player in the third game of the season just to get a great performance out of him in the fourth game of the season, then something is seriously wrong with your set-up.

Yangervis Solarte had another strong game, including good defense in the field (although he misplayed a ball that should have been an error).

Of course, this being the Yankees, they couldn’t go four games without one of their regular players getting injured. Mark Teixeira injured his right hamstring. They haven’t announced if he will be placed on the disabled list, but knowing the Yankees, it is likely that that this is it for Teixeira in 2014. I kid, I kid. It probably is at worst a 15-day DL trip, but still, pretty annoying to happen so quickly. Even more annoying is that Kelly Johnson apparently will be the everyday first baseman and not Brian McCann. At least that will get Solarte into the starting lineup as the third baseman until Teix returns.

Anyhow, great win. Let’s hope that Michael Pineda can be similarly impressive (or at least not suck) on Saturday.

--Posted at 2:27 am by Brian Cronin / 11 Comments | - (0)




Friday, April 4, 2014

Yankees (1-2) @ Blue Jays (2-2),Friday, April 4, 2014, 7:07pm

  NYY: Masahiro Tanaka (#19, 25, RHP, 0-0, undef) vs.  TOR: Dustin McGowan (#29, 32, RHP, 0-0, undef)

Lineups
Yankees
Jacoby Ellsbury, CF: .000/.222/.000
Brett Gardner, LF: .200/.385/.200
Carlos Beltran, DH: .182/.167/.273
Brian McCann, C: .375/.375/.375
Mark Teixeira, 1B: .182/.250/.182
Kelly Johnson, 3B: .167/.167/.333
Ichiro Suzuki, RF: .500/.500/.750
Yangervis Solarte, 2B: .600/.667/.800
Dean Anna, SS:—-/—-/—-

Blue Jays
Melky Cabrera, LF: .333/.333/.333
Colby Rasmus, CF: .071/.235/.143
Jose Bautista, RF: .273/.529/.818
Edwin Encarnacion, 1B: .063/.118/.125
Adam Lind, DH: .429/.556/1.000
Dioner Navarro, C: .188/.176/.188
Brett Lawrie, 3B: .071/.188/.071
Ryan Goins, 2B: .000/.000/.000
Jonathan Diaz, SS: .200/.333/.200

Obviously tonight’s game is all about a big MLB debut.  That’s right, Dean Anna will be making his long-awaited MLB debut tonight!

--Posted at 3:06 pm by SG / 139 Comments | - (0)



Newsday: Eduardo Nuñez asked for release and got it from Yankees

HOUSTON - Eduardo Nuñez figured the Yankees had had enough of him, so he asked for his release and got it.

The Yankees, needing to make a move on their 40-man roster to get Yangervis Solarte on it, designated Nuñez for assignment before Tuesday night’s season opener, ending the 26-year-old’s career with the club.
Nuñez, signed by the team as an amateur free agent in 2004, was disappointed by the Yankees’ decision to award the final infield spot, on the last day of spring training, to Solarte and told the club he’d like a fresh start somewhere else. That in itself is not unusual for a player to do and it likely influenced general manager Brian Cashman’s decision.

The Yankees have 10 days to either trade or release Nuñez, who will have interested parties. The Cubs, in need of infield help, could be interested, as could the Blue Jays, who need help at second and, after the Opening Day injury to Jose Reyes, short.

A source said the Astros, who would get the first crack at Nuñez if a trade isn’t worked out, could be an option, as well.

“I think it’s best for right now to give him a fresh start and we’ll see where that takes him,” Cashman said.

For those who feared a Nun-E return, fear no more.

Nunez was frustrating, but I still think he has a chance to be a useful player.  But the Yankees made the right move to release him I think.

I wish him well as long as he doesn’t end up in the AL East.

--Posted at 11:38 am by SG / 13 Comments | - (0)




Thursday, April 3, 2014

Yankees.com: Solarte shines in Yankees’ first victory of 2014

HOUSTON—Yangervis Solarte collected three hits and an RBI in his first Major League start, Derek Jeter moved one hit closer to claiming eighth place on the all-time list and the Yankees defeated the Astros, 4-2, on Thursday at Minute Maid Park.

New York picked up its first victory of the young campaign with a boost from the 26-year-old Solarte, who got the nod at third base and singled and doubled in his first two at-bats. The rookie also knocked home a run with a fluke seventh-inning single that fell between three fielders near the mound.

Jeter punched a fifth-inning RBI single off left-hander Brett Oberholtzer for his 3,318th career hit. He needs one more to tie Hall of Famer Paul Molitor.

Starter Ivan Nova had said that he thought it was important for the Yankees to get into the win column after losing the first two games of the season, and the right-hander did a good job of limiting the damage, taking advantage of four double plays from his defense.

Nova was not particularly sharp tonight, but the DP ball helped him get out of multiple jams and the Yankee offense was led by Solarte and Ichiro in picking up a much-needed win.

Are we ready for Masahiro Tanaka’s debut tomorrow?  I am looking forward to it.

--Posted at 10:43 pm by SG / 30 Comments | - (0)



Yankees (0-2) @ Astros (2-0),Thursday, April 3, 2014, 8:10pm

NYY: Ivan Nova (#47, 27, RHP, 0-0, undef) vs. HOU: Brett Oberholtzer (#39, 24, LHP, 0-0, undef)

Lineups
Yankees
Brett Gardner, CF: .167/.375/.167
Derek Jeter, SS: .167/.375/.167
Carlos Beltran, DH: .250/.250/.375
Mark Teixeira, C: .286/.375/.286
Alfonso Soriano, LF: .000/.000/.000
Francisco Cervelli, C:—-/—-/—-
Brian Roberts, 2B: .429/.500/.429
Ichiro Suzuki, RF:—-/—-/—-
Yangervis Solarte, 3B: .000/.000/.000

Astros
Dexter Fowler, CF: .500/.500/1.375
Robbie Grossman, LF: .143/.250/.429
Jason Castro, C: .143/.250/.143
Jose Altuve, 2B: .286/.375/.286
Chris Carter, DH: .143/.143/.143
Marc Krauss, 1B: .000/.000/.000
Matt Dominguez, 3B: .143/.143/.571
Alex Presley, RF: .000/.000/.000
Jonathan Villar, SS: .200/.333/.200

Apparently $22M a year buys you only 2 games in a row.

Getting swept by the Astros would be an ignominious start to the 2014 season.  It wouldn’t mean the season is over, but it would stink.

I’m excited to see Nova pitch, but I wish I could get excited about an offense that looks mediocre at best.

--Posted at 3:56 pm by SG / 134 Comments | - (0)



Player A vs. Player B

Player Pos Age PA BA OBP SLG OPS OPS+ TB BR zCH zPM zRS Salary
A 2B 31 15 .455 .600 .545 1.145 238 6 3.45 4 3 0 $24,000,000
B CF 30 9 .000 .222 .000 .222 -29 0 0.18 6 3 -2 $21,142,857

BR: Linear weights batting runs
zCH: Zone Rating fieldable chances
zPM: Zone Rating plays made
zRS: Zone Rating runs saved compared to average

--Posted at 12:22 pm by SG / 27 Comments | - (0)



Can Snake Eyes From G.I. Joe Never Be Portrayed as a Yankee Fan?

If you grew up in the United States during the mid- to late 1980s, it’s likely you have at least a passing familiarity with the animated series G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero, based on the Hasbro toy line of the same name, about a special mission force that combats the terrorist group Cobra. One of the most famous (or perhaps infamous) parts of the show was the public service spot at the end of each episode where a member of the G.I. Joe team would give common-sense advice to young people. Stuff like, “don’t pet strange dogs” or “don’t play with downed power wires.” The kid would invariably comment about how now they know what to do, and the G.I. Joe member would retort that “knowing is half the battle.” In keeping with that theme of “knowing is half the battle” (as well as Major League Baseball’s Opening Day this week), a reader wrote in, “There’s a crazy rumor that Hasbro does not allow Snake Eyes from G.I. Joe to be portrayed as a Yankees fan in any form of media. True or false?”

Let’s find out!

Find the answer out here.

It’s fun when my sports writing and my entertainment writing cross paths in an unusual fashion!

--Posted at 10:09 am by Brian Cronin / 4 Comments | - (0)



Q&A with the Replacement Level Red Sox Blog

We are doing a slightly belated season preview Q&A with our frenemies over at the Replacement Level Red Sox Blog.  The first part of ours was posted there yesterday so go there if you want to see more of me complaining about the Ellsbury contract.  Here’s the first part of our questions and their responses.

What are the expectations from Will Middlebrooks and Jackie Bradley Jr after their “disappointing” 2013s?

(Jose) I’d quibble with Bradley’s 2013 as “disappointing.”  He actually played well at Pawtucket after being at Portland the year before.  Expectations were unfairly raised for him with the hot spring but I think his season was exactly what you’d want from a prospect of his ilk and track record.  I think the “OK bat/great glove” profile is still pretty reasonable for him.  Every time I’ve seen him play the defense makes me think of Devon White, he has the same gliding style.  Offensively I think .260 with 10-15 HR is probably reasonable (given 550 PA).

I’ve been a Middlebrooks skeptic but I’m buying him right now.  I’m probably being unreasonably optimistic but I’m buying the story about his vision correction and the power is for real.  His defense is really the frustrating thing about him, he’s terrible over there but I can see 25-30 homers.

(MCoA) What Jose said on Bradley, basically, but I’m worried about Middlebrooks. He’s still very raw at the plate and in the field, and there’s a good chance he’ll never develop into an actual ballplayer.

Is Xander Bogaerts scary or really scary? What should we expect for 2013? The future?

(MCoA) Really scary. You can see my CFBPS post for something that is disturbingly close to my honest opinion of Bogaerts. I think the coolest thing about Bogaerts is how quickly he has been improving. At 19 he earned a call-up to Portland and while he showed very impressive power, his 21/1 K/BB ratio suggested a kid who would get found out against higher level pitchers. Instead he dedicated himself to putting together better at-bats and learning pitch recognition, and the next season he drew 65 walks and struck out 93 times in 515 PA between AA and AAA. He has brought that same plate discipline to the majors without losing any of his 70 power, and to my eye Bogaerts looks like a polished middle of the order hitter already. CAIRO projects him to a .332 wOBA—I’d take the over on that. By a lot.

The only question with Bogaerts is his glove, which looks adequate at shortstop but unspectacular. He’s young and quick enough that he can play there now, but as he fills out Bogaerts may have to be moved over to third base.

Why do you have so many good pitching prospects and who do you like most? Rubby De La Rosa?

(MCoA) The Red Sox drafted insanely well during the early Theo Epstein years. 2003-2005 netted Jonathan Papelbon, David Murphy, Dustin Pedroia, Jacoby Ellsbury, Clay Buchholz and Jed Lowrie. The results trailed off from there, and the 2008 and 2009 drafts yielded basically the null set. Theo’s final two drafts were a return to form. Anthony Ranaudo and Brandon Workman were supplemental and second round picks in 2010, while Matt Barnes and Henry Owens came in the first and supplemental rounds in 2011. On top of that, the Dodgers saw fit to hand us Allen Webster and Rubby De La Rosa in the Nick Punto trade.

As fun as they are, all of these prospects come with notable flaws. Owens is not a hard thrower, and he has racked up strikeouts with a fantastic changeup and a deceptive delivery which doesn’t show the ball to the hitter until the last second. His control is not great. Matt Barnes has a true plus fastball that he spots well, but the rest of his repertoire is a work in progress. Allen Webster is a converted position player who is still very much learning to pitch, and this shows up in regular lapses in command. Ranaudo has an injury history as long as his limbs. Workman seems like the most consistent of all of them, but the Red Sox appear to profile him more as a reliever. (He’s made the MLB roster as a reliever, and pitched well there in the stretch run last year.) De La Rosa looked like the leading light of this group based on past results, but he has not recovered anything close to acceptable command since his Tommy John surgery in 2011, and he’s easily the most likely bust of the group.

I think Ranaudo, if healthy, should be a cromulent major league starter. From Webster, Owens and Barnes, the Red Sox should be able to develop one front-of-the-rotation pitcher. As a stat nerd, I can’t help but prefer Ranaudo’s history of quality performance to the upside of Webster, Owens and Barnes. Subjectively, Owens is probably my favorite, though. I love a deceptive lefty with a pull-the-string changeup.

The Sox underperformed while imploding in 2012 and then overperformed while growing beards (and I imagine eating less chowda than normal) in 2013. What will they do in 2014?

(Jose) I think 87-88 wins feels about right and that’s the cusp of a WC berth.  The biggest thing the Sox have going for them (and in my opinion the biggest Yankee flaw) is depth.  I think the Sox can handle injuries as well as any team in baseball with the exception of Ortiz and Pedroia.

(MCoA) Yeah, I spent the entire winter arguing that the Red Sox needed to add a star to get to that 90-93 win projection, and they didn’t do it. The optimism of spring has me feeling like the Red Sox are probably more likely to outperform their 86-88 win projection than to underperform. I like the upside of Bogaerts and Sizemore, and I think the club has depth to cover almost any injury, as Jose said.

Did any of you grow solidarity beards? I had a beard this winter for the ridiculous cold, it was OK, but eating became… difficult after hitting the 3 month mark or so.

(MCoA) I thought I’d come to terms with the fact that I apparently never quite completed puberty, but I didn’t shave for a bit last fall anyway. There were… splotches.

--Posted at 8:02 am by SG / 16 Comments | - (0)




Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Yankees.com:  Yanks can muster little support for Kuroda

HOUSTON—The Yankees remodeled their batting order at a price tag of nearly $300 million, a spending spree deemed necessary after too many punchless evenings last season. Through the first 18 innings of this season, they’re still waiting for returns on that investment.

They might be waiting a while.

--Posted at 11:38 pm by Jonathan / 12 Comments | - (0)



Yankees (0-1) @ Astros (1-0),Wednesday, April 2, 2014, 8:10pm

NYY: Hiroki Kuroda (#18, 39, RHP, 0-0, undef) vs.  HOU: Jarred Cosart (#48, 24, RHP, 0-0, undef)

Lineups
Yankees
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

Astros
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.

--Posted at 3:52 pm by SG / 107 Comments | - (0)



NYDN: On Jeter’s last Opening Day, Yankees fall to Astros and Captain hit by pitch

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.

--Posted at 8:36 am by SG / 37 Comments | - (0)




Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Yankees.com: Season’s first inning sets wrong tone

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.

 

--Posted at 9:21 pm by SG / 14 Comments | - (0)



Yankees () @ Astros (), 7:10pm, Tuesday, April 1, 2014

NYY: CC Sabathia (#52, 33, LHP, 0-0, undef) vs. HOU: Scott Feldman (#46, 31, RHP, 0-0, undef)

Lineups
Yankees
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

Astros
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!

--Posted at 2:57 pm by SG / 158 Comments | - (0)




Monday, March 31, 2014

Lohud: Opening Day lineup set

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.

--Posted at 8:51 pm by SG / 41 Comments | - (0)




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.

Clay Davenport’s 2014 Projected Standings
Fangraphs’ 2014 Projected Standings using a combination of Steamer and ZiPS
Baseball Prospectus’s PECOTA projected 2014 standings

And here are CAIRO’s projected standings for 2014.

Date 3/30/2014
Iterations 100,000
American League
TM W L RS RA Div WC1 WC2 PS% W+/-
Red Sox 90 72 784 734 34.5% 12.5% 11.1% 58.1% 79-99
Rays 86 76 633 580 26.5% 12.2% 11.3% 49.9% 75-95
Yankees 84 78 735 706 15.3% 9.0% 10.0% 34.3% 73-93
Orioles 84 78 751 713 15.0% 8.9% 9.9% 33.7% 73-93
Blue Jays 81 81 798 784 8.7% 6.0% 7.8% 22.4% 71-91
TM W L RS RA Div WC WC2 PS% W+/-
Tigers 90 72 722 650 75.5% 4.6% 3.8% 84.0% 80-100
Indians 81 81 696 678 17.7% 8.5% 8.3% 34.5% 70-90
Royals 79 83 675 731 4.8% 2.4% 3.7% 11.0% 68-88
Twins 73 89 674 749 1.5% 0.7% 1.2% 3.4% 62-82
White Sox 69 93 669 776 0.4% 0.2% 0.3% 0.9% 59-79
TM W L RS RA Div WC WC2 PS% W+/-
Rangers 87 75 769 677 57.6% 10.8% 7.5% 76.0% 77-97
Athletics 83 79 696 651 24.9% 12.8% 10.9% 48.5% 73-93
Mariners 82 80 658 660 11.9% 7.7% 8.6% 28.3% 71-91
Angels 78 84 662 681 5.5% 3.9% 5.4% 14.8% 68-88
Astros 68 94 674 848 0.0% 0.0% 0.1% 0.2% 58-78
National League
TM W L RS RA Div WC WC2 PS% W+/-
Nationals 91 71 696 595 76.8% 7.9% 4.9% 89.6% 81-101
Braves 85 77 640 616 17.7% 16.8% 13.5% 48.0% 74-94
Phillies 78 84 620 643 4.0% 4.8% 6.5% 15.3% 68-88
Mets 73 89 581 641 0.9% 1.0% 1.9% 3.8% 63-83
Marlins 73 89 582 658 0.6% 0.7% 1.4% 2.6% 63-83
TM W L RS RA Div WC WC2 PS% W+/-
Cardinals 85 77 609 570 41.0% 6.5% 7.9% 55.4% 74-94
Pirates 85 77 576 553 32.7% 6.5% 8.2% 47.4% 74-94
Reds 82 80 657 651 19.5% 5.0% 7.1% 31.6% 71-91
Brewers 76 86 696 739 5.2% 1.5% 2.9% 9.6% 65-85
Cubs 72 90 626 693 1.6% 0.4% 1.0% 3.0% 61-81
TM W L RS RA Div WC WC2 PS% W+/-
Dodgers 91 71 626 553 58.9% 14.3% 9.0% 82.2% 81-101
Giants 87 75 606 557 27.3% 19.0% 13.7% 60.0% 76-96
Padres 80 82 599 593 6.0% 6.5% 8.9% 21.3% 69-89
Diamondbacks 79 83 617 624 4.2% 5.0% 7.1% 16.3% 68-88
Rockies 78 84 806 831 3.6% 4.1% 6.1% 13.8% 67-87

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.

--Posted at 4:48 pm by SG / 76 Comments | - (0)



ESPN: Solarte wins infield sweepstakes

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.

--Posted at 12:38 am by Brian Cronin / 17 Comments | - (0)




Friday, March 28, 2014

Yankees.com: Anna makes roster; Nunez, Solarte up in air

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!

--Posted at 10:56 pm by Brian Cronin / 27 Comments | - (0)



Yankees.com: Betances, Nuno rewarded with spots on 25-man 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).

--Posted at 10:54 pm by Brian Cronin / 4 Comments | - (0)



CNN: In Masahiro Tanaka, Yankees buy a ready-made ace

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.

--Posted at 8:15 am by SG / 59 Comments | - (0)




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.

Player Pos PA cairo oliver steamer zips avg def
Jacoby Ellsbury CF 525 69 69 66 73 69 6
Derek Jeter SS 450 49 45 48 47 47 -9
Carlos Beltran RF 550 83 77 79 76 79 -5
Mark Teixeira 1B 525 70 67 71 73 70 4
Brian McCann C 500 66 71 70 67 68 -2
Alfonso Soriano DH 550 67 68 62 73 67 1
Kelly Johnson 3B 525 61 61 62 61 61 -3
Brian Roberts 2B 350 35 32 36 35 35 -1
Brett Gardner LF 550 67 65 63 67 65 12
Starters 4525 567 555 556 573 563 4
Player Pos PA cairo oliver steamer zips avg def
Ichiro Suzuki OF 360 35 33 37 37 36 7
Eduardo Nunez SS 350 35 31 34 37 34 -12
Dean Anna IF 200 21 19 23 21 21 0
Brendan Ryan SS 250 19 18 19 21 19 10
Francisco Cervelli C 185 18 18 16 18 18 0
Zoilo Almonte OF 175 18 18 19 17 18 2
Bench 1520 146 138 147 150 146 7
Total 6045 713 693 703 723 708 11

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.

Player Role IP cairo oliver steamer zips avg
CC Sabathia SP 200 96 83 96 96 93
Hiroki Kuroda SP 200 91 83 95 89 90
Ivan Nova SP 190 90 83 90 89 88
Masahiro Tanaka SP 190 88 55 90 88 80
Michael Pineda SP 140 79 61 67 78 72
David Phelps SP 120 61 56 62 65 61
Vidal Nuno SP 65 33 28 35 36 33
Starters 1105 538 450 536 542 516
Player Role IP cairo oliver steamer zips avg
David Robertson CL 65 20 22 22 27 23
Shawn Kelley SU 60 29 24 26 30 27
Matt Thornton SU 50 21 19 23 23 22
Matt Daley MR 40 16 15 17 19 17
Dellin Betances MR 40 25 23 20 28 24
Cesar Cabral MR 30 20 16 14 18 17
Adam Warren LR 60 33 29 29 32 31
Bullpen 345 163 149 152 177 160
Team 1450 701 599 688 718 677

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?

stat cairo oliver steamer zips avg
RS 713 693 703 723 708
RA 701 599 688 718 677
Def 11 11 11 11 11
wpct .515 .574 .518 .510 .529
p162 83 93 84 83 86

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.

--Posted at 8:53 am by SG / 58 Comments | - (0)




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.

2013

IP H HR BB K ERA FIP WAR
66 51 5 18 77 2.04 2.61 2.5

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.

2014 Projections

projection IP H HR BB K ERA FIP WAR
cairo 67 54 5 24 80 2.64 2.80 1.7
oliver 63 50 5 22 78 2.98 2.75 1.2
steamer 65 53 6 23 72 2.94 3.17 0.9
zips 63 48 6 22 85 2.71 2.42 1.3
average 65 51 5 23 79 2.82 2.79 1.3

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

percentile ip h r er hr bb k ra era fip war
80% 81 50 17 16 3 20 96 1.91 1.82 1.97 2.8
65% 74 52 19 18 4 22 88 2.30 2.21 2.35 2.3
Baseline 67 54 21 20 5 24 80 2.75 2.64 2.80 1.7
35% 50 46 18 18 5 21 61 3.25 3.12 3.25 1.0
20% 35 37 15 14 5 17 43 3.82 3.68 3.80 0.5

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.

--Posted at 8:22 am by SG / 28 Comments | - (0)




Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Bombers Beat: Girardi: Pineda is fifth starter

Michael Pineda has won the fifth starter competition. The Yankees will look at Adam Warren, David Phelps and Vidal Nuno out of the bullpen, manager Joe Girardi said.

Not a big surprise.

--Posted at 3:20 pm by SG / 25 Comments | - (0)



Looking Ahead to 2014 - Shawn Kelley and Matt Thornton

With Mariano Rivera’s retirement, David Robertson ascending to closer and Boone Logan off to Colorado, the Yankee bullpen is going to look a lot different this.  While there’s still some uncertainty about how the Yankees will fill out the pen, Shawn Kelley and free agent signing Matt Thornton are expected to play important roles this year.

2013
Kelley

IP H HR BB K ERA FIP WAR
53 47 8 23 71 4.39 3.63 -0.1

FIP: Fielding-independent pitching
WAR: Wins above replacement (RA based for CAIRO/ZiPS, FIP based for Oliver/Steamer)

Kelley came to the Yankees in a spring training trade with Seattle and made the team out of spring training.  He got off to a bit of a rough start, with an ERA of 8.71 through his first nine appearances.  Then came a very impressive run from May 5 through August 20 where Kelley fanned 51 batters over 37.2 innings.  He had an ERA of 1.91 during that stretch of games and held opposing batters to a line of .165/.253/.263, helped by a BABIP against of .247. He didn’t pitch much after that, tallying only 5.1 innings over his last 10 outings of the season and got tattooed, allowing a line of .480/.517/.800 with an ERA of 13.50, fueled by a BABIP against of .526.  I don’t know if Kelley was hurt, fatigued, or just came crashing down to earth at that point, but it was a disappointing end to what had been a surprisingly good season.

Thornton

IP H HR BB K ERA FIP WAR
43 47 4 15 30 3.74 4.04 0.3

For the fifth straight season, Thornton’s ERA+ declined from a peak of 172 in both 2008 and 2009 to last year’s 114.  He’s been steadily losing a bit of velocity (although he still averaged around 94 mph in 2013) and his platoon splits have become a bit more pronounced.  Righties hit him for a wOBA of .370 in 2013, compared to a wOBA of .299 in his career.  Lefties were not as successful with a wOBA of .280, which was more in line with the .287 wOBA he’s allowed against them in his career.

2014 Projections and 2014 CAIRO Percentile Forecasts
Kelley

projection IP H HR BB K ERA FIP WAR
cairo 54 50 8 22 60 3.81 3.89 0.6
oliver 50 45 6 18 55 3.58 3.54 0.5
steamer 65 56 9 25 68 3.41 3.93 0.4
zips 49 44 6 19 57 3.88 3.68 0.3
average 54 49 7 21 60 3.65 3.78 0.5
percentile ip h r er hr bb k ra era fip war
80% 77 53 26 23 6 21 85 3.05 2.66 2.74 1.9
65% 65 52 26 23 7 22 72 3.64 3.20 3.28 1.2
Baseline 54 50 26 23 8 22 60 4.31 3.81 3.89 0.6
35% 40 42 23 20 7 19 45 5.08 4.52 4.62 0.1
20% 28 34 19 17 6 16 31 5.97 5.33 5.44 -0.2

Kelley was only available to the Yankees because he was coming off an injury in 2012, and he throws his slider about 50% of the time which may be part of the reason that he’s not a great bet to stay healthy.  In his career, Kelly actually has a reverse platoon split (.294 wOBA vs. LHB and .324 vs. RHB) but he had a more conventional split in 2013 (.329 vs. LHB and .308 vs. RHB).  If Kelly can pitch at his 65% forecast he can be solid as the primary set up man, but I am not sure how confident I am in that.

Thornton

projection IP H HR BB K ERA FIP WAR
cairo 67 69 4 20 64 3.21 2.86 0.9
oliver 54 53 5 17 44 3.47 3.67 0.4
steamer 55 52 5 20 46 3.60 3.76 0.4
zips 48 48 5 14 40 3.97 3.64 0.3
average 56 55 5 18 48 3.53 3.44 0.5
percentile ip h r er hr bb k ra era fip war
80% 83 66 25 21 2 17 79 2.71 2.27 2.11 2.0
65% 75 68 27 22 3 19 71 3.20 2.71 2.44 1.4
Baseline 67 69 28 24 4 20 64 3.75 3.21 2.86 0.9
35% 50 58 24 21 4 18 48 4.37 3.77 3.24 0.3
20% 35 46 20 17 4 15 33 5.08 4.40 3.73 -0.1

Because of the way righties have started hitting Thornton, he’s likely going to be used as primarily a left-handed specialist instead of a guy who will pitch full innings.  So I don’t think he’ll get much more than around 50 innings this year.  If his appearances against RHB are limited, I can see him exceeding his baseline projection on a rate basis.

Obviously, the biggest loss in the bullpen is Rivera.  But another potential loss that I don’t hear anyone talking about is bullpen coach Mike Harkey, who has moved onto Arizona as their pitching coach.  Harkey’s been Joe Girardi’s bullpen coach for Girardi’s entire managerial career in both Florida and with the Yankees.  I don’t know what a bullpen coach really does.  I do know that Girardi’s teams have generally had good bullpens, and have often gotten better than expected performances from some players and it’s possible Harkey deserves some credit for that.  The Yankees will need that again this year.  Hopefully new bullpen coach Gary Tuck will be up to the task.  And more importantly, hopefully Kelley and Thornton will both be positive contributors this year.

 

--Posted at 8:04 am by SG / 23 Comments | - (0)




Monday, March 24, 2014

Looking Ahead to 2014 - Phelps and Pineda

Since David Phelps and Michael Pineda are both vying for fifth starter to open the season, I’ll lump them together.  I will resist the urge to call them the Killer P’s.

2013

IP H HR BB K ERA FIP WAR
86 88 8 35 79 4.98 3.81 0.1

FIP: Fielding-independent pitching

Phelps’s 4.98 ERA in 2013 is a bit misleading, as nine of the 48 runs he allowed came in one brutal start in Baltimore.  Phelps saw time as a starter and reliever and his FIP of 3.81 was a better indicator of how he pitched for the most part.

Pineda spent 2013 rehabbing from labrum surgery and pitched 40 or so innings scattered at various levels in the minors.  He appears to be healthy, but his velocity hasn’t recovered back to where it was in his rookie season with Seattle.

2014 Projections
Phelps

projection IP H HR BB K ERA FIP WAR
cairo 100 100 14 41 89 4.34 4.37 0.7
oliver 111 112 16 41 98 4.20 4.39 1.0
steamer 144 139 17 57 119 4.43 4.25 1.5
zips 102 101 14 38 92 4.51 4.31 0.9
average 114 113 15 44 100 4.37 4.32 1.0

WAR: Wins above replacement (RA based for CAIRO/ZiPS, FIP based for Oliver/Steamer)

Phelps projects to be a bit below average as a starting pitcher, but if you can get his projected performance out of your fifth starter you’re going to be very happy about it.  These projections are a hybrid of starting and relieving, so we can probably assume he’d be a bit worse as a full-time starter and bit better if he’s primarily a reliever.

Pineda

projection IP H HR BB K ERA FIP WAR
cairo 91 87 14 35 78 4.61 4.53 0.5
oliver 82 77 12 29 75 3.97 4.33 0.8
steamer 48 44 6 18 44 4.02 4.12 0.6
zips 81 80 12 30 75 4.65 4.39 0.7
average 75 72 11 28 68 4.35 4.37 0.7

I debated whether I should even post these, because the data that was used to build them is pretty much irrelevant at this point.  Pineda’s doesn’t have the fastball he had in 2011, and the numbers from last year are meaningless because he was rehabbing and probably not pitching at full strength.  Pineda could be pretty good, or he could be horrendous.

2014 CAIRO Percentile Forecasts
Phelps

percentile ip h r er hr bb k ra era fip war
80% 165 136 65 62 15 52 148 3.57 3.37 3.38 3.0
65% 131 119 59 56 15 47 118 4.05 3.83 3.81 1.7
Baseline 100 100 51 48 14 41 89 4.57 4.34 4.37 0.7
35% 76 84 43 41 12 36 68 5.15 4.90 4.80 0.1
20% 54 66 35 33 10 29 48 5.79 5.52 5.38 -0.3

Baseline is probably about right for Phelps, but with more innings.

Pineda

percentile ip h r er hr bb k ra era fip war
80% 150 116 66 59 15 43 131 3.94 3.56 3.48 2.7
65% 119 102 59 54 15 40 104 4.47 4.06 3.94 1.5
Baseline 91 87 51 46 14 35 78 5.06 4.61 4.53 0.5
35% 69 73 44 40 13 30 59 5.72 5.22 5.02 -0.1
20% 49 58 35 32 11 24 42 6.45 5.90 5.65 -0.5

I’ll reiterate the uselessness of trying to forecast Pineda right now.

In theory, Pineda has upside that Phelps does not have.  But from what I’ve seen, Pineda isn’t throwing significantly harder than Phelps right now and there’s a pretty good chance he never will.  Pineda’s slider has looked great this spring, and if he can develop a workable changeup he might be able to be pretty good even with diminished velocity.  Pineda has put up a slightly better stat line than Phelps has this spring, although both have been very effective.

There are political reasons to think Pineda has the inside track on the fifth starter job, but even if Pineda does win it out of camp his innings will probably be restricted this year.  Because of that, Phelps will still be an important part of the team.

My guess, Phelps will get 15-20 starts this year even if he doesn’t break camp as the fifth starter.  And he should be up for the task.

As for Pineda, I figure that he should at least be as valuable as Jesus Montero.

--Posted at 12:55 pm by SG / 28 Comments | - (0)



Looking Ahead to 2014 - Ivan Nova

2013 started out badly but ended well for Ivan Nova, who has had to fight for a rotation spot throughout his career.  He may not have to do that anymore.

2013

IP H HR BB K ERA FIP WAR
139 135 9 44 116 3.10 3.47 3.7

FIP: Fielding-independent pitching

After four mostly bad starts, Ivan Nova was placed on the disabled list on April 27.  He was activated a month later, made two relief appearances and then was demoted to AAA so the Yankees could activate Kevin Youkilis and Mark Teixeira from the disabled list.  Yeah, that worked out.

Nova made three starts for Scranton/Wilkes-Barre then was recalled to start June 23.  From that poiint on he was the Yankees’ best starter, throwing 116.2 innings with a 2.70 ERA.  Nova scrapped his slider that had been a pretty effective pitch for him at points in the past and made more use of his curveball and it made a big difference.

I’ve been bullish on Nova because of his stuff, and I continue to be. But what do the projections think?

2014 Projections

projection IP H HR BB K ERA FIP WAR
cairo 156 162 18 51 124 3.99 4.07 2.3
oliver 169 174 19 51 131 3.95 4.06 2.1
steamer 173 168 16 57 138 4.04 3.80 2.6
zips 165 167 16 53 124 3.98 3.94 2.7
average 166 168 17 53 129 3.99 3.96 2.4

WAR: Wins above replacement (RA based for CAIRO/ZiPS, FIP based for Oliver/Steamer)

The projections are expecting Nova to give back some of his gains from 2013, which is what projection systems do.  But they are all in agreement that Nova is an above average pitcher now.  200 innings of his average projection would be worth close to 3 WAR.

2014 CAIRO Percentile Forecasts

percentile ip h r er hr bb k ra era fip war
80% 210 187 81 76 17 55 169 3.48 3.25 3.28 5.0
65% 182 175 78 73 18 54 146 3.86 3.60 3.59 3.5
Baseline 156 162 74 69 18 51 124 4.26 3.99 4.07 2.3
35% 119 135 62 58 16 44 95 4.70 4.40 4.30 1.2
20% 86 105 49 46 13 35 68 5.17 4.86 4.69 0.4

I need to see more of Masahiro Tanaka, but I think Nova has the most upside of anyone in the Yankee rotation.  He throws harder than anyone else in the rotation, and the only pitch that might be as good as his curveball is probably Tanaka’s splitter.  I actually think Nova’s 65% forecast is his floor and think that he could exceed that.

That being said, Nova’s shown flashes before and then disappointed and it’s not out of the realm of possibility that it could happen again.  Nova is out of options, so he shouldn’t have to worry about going back down to the minors like he had to in 2011 and 2013.

As I’ve mentioned repeatedly, I don’t have an emotional connection with a lot of the players that now wear Yankee uniforms.  More and more it feels like I’m rooting for laundry.  Nova is one of the few that I do feel a connection to, and I hope he can pitch like he did last year for many more years.

--Posted at 8:03 am by SG / 10 Comments | - (0)




Friday, March 21, 2014

CBS New York: Yankees Get ‘Good News’ On Ellsbury’s Ailing Right Calf

FORT MYERS, Fla. (CBSNewYork/AP) — New York Yankees center fielder Jacoby Ellsbury was sent for an MRI Thursday of his ailing right calf, which was negative.

No word on the status of his left calf.

--Posted at 8:25 am by SG / 46 Comments | - (0)




Thursday, March 20, 2014

Looking Ahead to 2014 - Masahiro Tanaka

The jewel of the Yankees’ offseason spending spree has to be Masahiro Tanaka.  The Yankees paid a steep price to land arguably the best free agent pitcher on the market. 

2014 Projections

projection IP H HR BB K ERA FIP WAR
cairo 179 173 21 34 141 3.68 3.61 2.8
oliver 205 176 15 32 193 2.59 2.63 6.1
steamer 192 186 22 40 156 3.76 3.66 3.5
zips 191 180 17 35 187 3.68 3.01 3.8
average 192 179 19 35 169 3.41 3.21 4.0

FIP: Fielding-independent pitching
WAR: Wins above replacement (RA based for CAIRO/ZiPS, FIP based for Oliver/Steamer)

I don’t know why CAIRO’s WAR projection is so much lower than the other projections despite similar rate stats and I am not that worried about it since we can project the team using runs and not WAR.  Oliver LOVES Tanaka.  The other projections all think he’ll be solid.  The Yankees are clearly leaning towards Oliver, despite their attempt to temper expectations by calling Tanaka a third starter.  Tanaka has youth on his side, but he’s also thrown a lot of innings in his career.

2014 CAIRO Percentile Forecasts

percentile ip h r er hr bb k ra era fip war
80% 217 175 80 70 17 30 172 3.32 2.89 2.91 5.4
65% 196 176 83 73 20 33 155 3.79 3.32 3.28 3.9
Baseline 179 173 83 73 21 34 141 4.16 3.66 3.61 2.8
35% 138 144 70 62 19 30 108 4.56 4.03 3.88 1.5
20% 98 113 56 50 16 25 76 5.18 4.59 4.36 0.4

Because we have more uncertainty in translating what Tanaka did in Japan, his range of forecasts is wider than most pitchers.  He could blow away his baseline and it wouldn’t surprise me, but he will be adjusting to a different workload in a different country against different opponents with a different ball in a disgraceful bandbox so that may be a bit optimistic.  I have some concerns about how much of his good control in NPB was due to not being afraid to catch the plate against weaker opponents and how that will translate to MLB, but I do believe Tanaka will be at least as good as his baseline.

Despite never throwing a pitch in MLB, Tanaka was signed to one of the most lucrative contracts ever signed by a pitcher.  Will he be worth such a massive investment?  It’s tough to say.  I would expect some bumps in the road along the way.  He’s looked great so far this spring, although that’s of limited utility.  But just the fact that he might be worth his contract makes him worth watching, and makes the Yankees a more interesting team.

--Posted at 8:12 am by SG / 16 Comments | - (0)




Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Looking Ahead to 2014 - Hiroki Kuroda

Hiroki Kuroda decided to return to the Yankees around the same time Robinson Cano left for Seattle.  Because of that, I wasn’t all that excited about it at the time.  Kuroda’s been great for the Yankees over the past two seasons and although he struggled a bit over the end of the season, there’s little reason to think that it was anything more than a blip.

2013

IP H HR BB K ERA FIP WAR
201 191 20 43 150 3.31 3.56 4.6

FIP: Fielding-independent pitching

Kuroda had arguably the best season of his career in 2012, and followed it up with a very good 2013.  He pitched about 18 fewer innings in the same number of starts, and tailed off appreciably from mid-August with a 7.33 RA and a 4.74 FIP after August 17 compared to a 2.39 RA and 3.41 FIP prior.  His BABIP against through August 12 was .251 and it leaped to .355 after.  His HR/FB rate was 8.3% through August 12 and 16.0% after.  He was likely outpitching his peripherals through the first selective set of endpoints and then was probably a bit unlucky over the second set.

2014 Projections

projection IP H HR BB K ERA FIP WAR
cairo 199 198 24 49 149 3.76 3.88 3.6
oliver 205 206 25 48 147 3.74 4.01 2.8
steamer 189 189 20 47 139 3.97 3.78 3.1
zips 178 177 21 42 135 3.74 3.88 3.4
average 193 192 23 46 142 3.80 3.89 3.2

WAR: Wins above replacement (RA based for CAIRO/ZiPS, FIP based for Oliver/Steamer)

Despite the difference in projected WAR, there isn’t a ton of difference in any of Kuroda’s projections.  The WAR difference comes down to an idealogical one.  CAIRO and ZiPS use RA to calculate WAR, Oliver and Steamer use FIP.  In his career Kuroda has an ERA of 3.40 compared to a FIP of 3.61.  It’s certainly possible that some of that gap is luck, but the projections do account for that with regression.  According to Baseball Reference, Kuroda’s been worth 5.5 and 4.1 wins above replacement for the Yankees over the last two seasons.

2014 CAIRO Percentile Forecasts

percentile ip h r er hr bb k ra era fip war
80% 222 191 84 77 20 43 167 3.41 3.13 3.28 5.7
65% 210 194 87 80 22 46 158 3.74 3.43 3.55 4.6
Baseline 199 198 90 83 24 49 149 4.08 3.76 3.88 3.6
35% 154 164 76 70 21 42 114 4.46 4.11 4.16 2.2
20% 111 127 60 55 17 33 82 4.86 4.49 4.49 1.1

In a vaccum I’d peg Kuroda somewhere between the 65% and baseline forecast, but there’s a pretty significant concern with him this year that has nothing to do with him specifically.  Among the 37 starting pitchers who qualified for the ERA title in the AL in 2013 (minimum of 162 innings), Kuroda ranked sixth in highest ground ball percentage.  It’s fair to say the Yankee infield defense right now is questionable at best, and it could be disastrous.  We’ll have to see what kind of impact that has on him.

Kuroda’s still a good bet to be a pretty good pitcher this year in what could be the last year of his career.  He may also serve an important role in Masahiro Tanaka’s transition to MLB, and it doesn’t hurt that his best pitch is a splitter much like Tanaka’s.  Because of that, I think it’s fair to say Kuroda’s value may be greater to the Yankees than just his contributions on the field in 2014, which should still be pretty valuable in their own right.

--Posted at 8:17 am by SG / 31 Comments | - (0)




Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Looking Ahead to 2014 - CC Sabathia

After being worth just about every penny he was paid over his first four seasons as a Yankee, CC Sabathia had a very tough season in 2013.

2013

IP H HR BB K ERA FIP WAR
211 224 28 65 175 4.78 4.10 0.8

FIP: Fielding-independent pitching
WAR: Wins above replacement (RA based for CAIRO/ZiPS, FIP based for Oliver/Steamer)

CC’s velocity was down to 91.1 mph last year, continuing a disturbing trend.

2009: 94.2
2010: 93.5
2011: 93.8
2012: 92.3
2013: 91.1

Through the first half of the season Sabathia was actually passable, with a 3.99 ERA but he was brutal after the All Star Break with an ERA of 6.12.  Opposing batters hit .302/.375/.471 against him in 359 PA over his last 13 starts.  I guess if you want some cause for optimism you could look at the fact that his FIP was much lower than his ERA.

2014 Projections

projection IP H HR BB K ERA FIP WAR
cairo 207 209 26 60 182 3.91 3.81 2.8
oliver 216 217 26 56 192 3.74 3.71 3.7
steamer 192 184 19 55 158 3.88 3.67 3.4
zips 196 196 23 53 180 4.03 3.62 3.1
average 203 201 23 56 178 3.89 3.70 3.3

It really is going to come down to whether or not Sabathia can adjust to pitching with a fastball that’s not really fast anymore. 

2014 CAIRO Percentile Forecasts

percentile ip h r er hr bb k ra era fip war
80% 230 202 93 84 21 54 203 3.64 3.27 3.20 4.9
65% 218 206 96 87 24 57 192 3.97 3.58 3.48 3.9
Baseline 207 209 100 90 26 60 182 4.33 3.91 3.81 2.8
35% 160 173 84 76 23 51 140 4.71 4.27 4.09 1.5
20% 116 134 66 60 18 40 101 5.12 4.65 4.43 0.6

I think Sabathia can be better than last year but I don’t see him pitching much better than the baseline, particularly given the fact that he was topping out at 88 mph in his spring debut.  If he can hit the baseline, he’d allow 22 fewer runs than last season over basically the same workload, which means a two win improvement relative to 2013.

CC is supposedly tinkering with a cutter now, but I’m not sure adding a pitch a few weeks before the season starts is going to return him back to where he was.  There have been plenty of pitchers who compensated as their velocity declined and there are plenty of reasons to think CC can do the same.  But there’s also a chance he can’t, and the Yankees are going to be stuck with another bad contract.

Including Sabathia, there have been 27 pitchers who amassed at least 45 bWAR by their age 30 season.  Excluding CC, 24 of those 27 pitched from age 31 on.  They averaged 20.6 WAR and 1224 innings over the remainders of their careers.  10 of them did not amass at least 10 more WAR, including Johan Santana who is currently at 4.8 and probably not likely to get to 10.  Roger Clemens is the runaway leader with 73.7 post-30 career bWAR.

The Yankees are on the hook to Sabathia for at least $76M over the next four seasons, $96M if his 2017 option vests.  Will CC age like Santana and essentially provide no value over the rest of his career, or can he change his style and continue to be productive? 

Time will tell.

--Posted at 12:34 pm by SG / 31 Comments | - (0)



Looking Ahead to 2014 - Kelly Johnson

The Yankee infield is a bit unsettled at this point, but right now it looks like Kelly Johnson will be the primary 3B even though he’s only played 16 games there in his career.

2013

woba:  Weighted on-base average
oWAR: Offensive wins above replacement level, position-adjusted

Johnson was in Tampa Bay last year and saw time in LF, 2B, 3B and 1B.

2014 Projections

projection pa ab h 2b 3b hr bb hbp so sb cs avg obp slg ops woba oWAR
cairo 536 474 113 18 2 20 54 4 131 11 4 .239 .320 .410 .730 .320 1.8
oliver 600 534 126 22 3 22 58 4 155 10 4 .236 .313 .412 .725 .318 1.9
steamer 378 332 79 15 2 13 38 3 93 7 3 .236 .317 .407 .724 .319 1.2
zips 499 444 103 17 3 18 51 4 134 10 4 .232 .315 .405 .721 .321 1.7
average 503 446 105 18 2 18 50 4 128 9 4 .236 .316 .410 .726 .321 1.7

Johnson has a decent walk rate and hits for pretty good power, but his batting average limits his value somewhat.  He’d be a really nice piece on the bench as a versatile defensive player who won’t kill you with his bat but he is probably a bit stretched as a regular.

2014 CAIRO Percentile Forecasts

percentile pa ab h 2b 3b hr bb hbp so sb cs avg obp slg ops woba owar
80% 590 522 136 25 3 27 67 6 132 15 2 .261 .356 .475 .831 .367 3.8
65% 563 498 124 22 3 23 60 5 132 13 3 .250 .337 .443 .780 .344 2.7
Baseline 536 474 113 18 2 20 54 4 131 11 4 .239 .320 .410 .730 .320 1.8
35% 402 356 81 12 1 13 38 2 103 7 4 .227 .300 .377 .677 .300 0.8
20% 268 237 51 7 0 8 23 1 71 4 3 .216 .281 .345 .626 .277 0.1

Johnson has hit .226/.307/.395 over the last three seasons, so it’s hard to see him exceeding his baseline by much.  He may benefit from playing half his home games in DNYS in the power department but that won’t help his average.

Defense

pos Inn DRS UZR ZR avg p150
3b 294 1 3 1 1 7
2b 800 2 0 -2 0 0
lf 526 -1 -4 -6 -4 -9

DRS: Defensive runs saved
UZR: Ultimate Zone Rating
ZR: Standard Zone Rating
avg: Average of DRS, UZR and ZR
p150: avg pro-rated to 150 games

I wouldn’t pay much attention to his 3B projection because of the small sample size there.  He doesn’t project very well in LF but if he’s playing out there the Yankees will have larger problems.  Johnson is also supposedly the primary backup at 1B this season, which means we are probably going to get a lot more Nun-E than we probably want to see.

Value

projection oWAR def WAR
cairo 1.8 1 2.0
oliver 1.9 1 2.1
steamer 1.2 1 1.4
zips 1.7 1 1.9
average 1.7 1 1.8

Johnson projects to be a borderline average player.  Yankee 3B hit .231/.293/.340 last year so he should be better than that.  That could be the theme of the 2014 Yankees.  Not great, but better than 2013.

Anyway, I liked the Johnson signing.  I think he offers the team some important flexibility and will do enough offensively to be a positive contributor.

--Posted at 8:12 am by SG / 7 Comments | - (0)




Sunday, March 16, 2014

Yankees.com: Tanaka strikes out six Braves in dazzling outing

Right-handers Masahiro Tanaka and Julio Teheran turned in strong starting pitching performances as expected, before a six-run fifth inning pushed the Yankees to a 7-4 win over the Braves on Sunday afternoon at George M. Steinbrenner Field.

Facing essentially all of Atlanta’s everyday hitters, Tanaka struck out six and allowed one run on three hits and two walks over 4 1/3 innings. The lone blemish against him came in the fourth, when Tommy La Stella doubled off the left-field fence to drive in Dan Uggla.

“That split-finger he’s got, it’s a good pitch. It’s a swing-and-miss pitch,” Braves first baseman Freddie Freeman said of Tanaka. “He spots up his fastball. I was watching it on TV when I came out of the game. He’s able to go in and out, and that split-finger’s a swing-and-miss pitch. He can throw it for a strike and also get you to chase on it. He looked real good today.

Sounds good.

In other news, CC threw five hitless innings in Panama against the Marlins (one day after being no-hit by the Marlins, the Yankees one-hit them).

As we get closer to the actual season, there is still a bit of uncertainty about the Yankee roster, primarily in the bullpen. Matt Daley has looked good and looking at his career numbers, is Preston Claiborne necessarily a better option than Daley? But if you go with Dellin Betances than there’s possibly not room for either Daley or Claiborne. I figure so far the locks are David Robertson, Shawn Kelley, Matt Thornton, David Phelps and Adam Warren (presuming Michael Pineda is named the fifth starter - Girardi has said that he is close to naming the Yankees fifth starter and it sure looks like it is Pineda’s to lose) and then I really don’t know. I would imagine it is two of Betances, Cesar Cabral, Claiborne and Daley, with Betances being close to a sure thing at this point so you would then you just have the question of what is more appealing, Cabral giving you a second lefty or Daley and Claiborne’s theoretical upside.

The 14th position player sure looks like it is Eduardo Nunez’s to lose, if only because of the fact that he’s already on the 40-man roster. Yangervis Solarte, though, continues his insane hot streak. He was 3-5 today!

Finally, in the first of many reports like this, Jacoby Ellsbury sat today (and will sit tomorrow) due to tightness in his right calf. But don’t worry, it is just “precautionary,” so it is likely that Ellsbury will still have a right calf this time next week. Likely, but not definitively.

--Posted at 11:15 pm by Brian Cronin / 33 Comments | - (0)



Yahoo!: Four Marlins combine to no-hit Yankees on night honoring Mariano Rivera

The Miami Marlins joined Yankees on this trip to presumably play the role of Washington Generals to New York’s Harlem Globetrotters. But in game one of the two-game series, Miami stole the show when four pitchers combined to throw the first MLB no-hitter of the spring.

Left-hander Brad Hand did the heavy lifting for Miami, covering the first five innings. He struck out six and allowed only one base runner on a hit batsman. Closer Steve Cishek handled the sixth, walking Brett Gardner and striking out one. The game was then turned over to reliever A.J. Ramos and minor leaguer Arquimedes Caminero, who collectively breezed through the final nine outs. Caminero ended the game emphatically with a strikeout of Adonis Garcia.

DFA everyone.

--Posted at 9:53 am by SG / 12 Comments | - (0)




Saturday, March 15, 2014

NY Times: Yankees Head to Panama and a Reunion With Rivera

TAMPA, Fla. — Joe Girardi had barely heard a comment concerning the weather in Panama when he blurted: “Ninety-eight, every day. Friday, Saturday, Sunday. Ninety-eight. The low is 75, and if you look during the middle of the day it’s not humid, but it gets humid at night. Believe me, I checked it out. It’s 98, 98, 98.”

Spoken like a tourist and not so much like a baseball manager who was taking his team to another country for a couple of spring training games.

Actually, though, Girardi is both.

“I’m interested in going,” he said. “I’m excited. I want to see the Panama Canal; see things I’ve never seen.”

He also wants to see how C. C. Sabathia performs in his next start, and assorted other things that a manager looks for during spring training.

The Yankees’ flight — they took a split-squad team — left Thursday night for Panama, just a few hours after the team beat Baltimore, 6-0, at Steinbrenner Field. The team will be in Panama for three days, sightseeing while promoting baseball in the country that produced one of the franchise’s greatest players, Mariano Rivera. It is the first time since 1947 that Major League Baseball will play games in Panama.

I always felt like spring training hadn’t started until Mo made his first appearance.  Unfortunately, those days are over.

--Posted at 8:10 am by SG / 5 Comments | - (0)




Friday, March 14, 2014

Looking Ahead to 2014 - Mark Teixeira

It’s been all downhill since Mark Teixeira’s fantastic 2009, and now we can add a significant wrist injury to our list of concerns.

2013

pa ab h 2b 3b hr bb hbp so sb cs avg obp slg ops woba oWAR
63 53 8 1 0 3 8 1 19 0 0 .151 .270 .340 .609 .262 -0.2

woba:  Weighted on-base average
oWAR: Offensive wins above replacement level, position-adjusted

Teixeira injured his wrist while preparing to play in the WBC.  Because of that, his injury was covered by MLB’s insurance. The Yankees used that money to trade for Vernon Wells, which is a whole other issue.

Teixeira tried to rush back without surgery and managed 63 putrid PA before having to be shut down for the season.  Because he was activated from the DL, MLB’s insurance no longer covered his absence.

2014 Projections

projection pa ab h 2b 3b hr bb hbp so sb cs avg obp slg ops woba oWAR
cairo 408 351 84 17 0 20 45 6 74 2 1 .240 .331 .462 .793 .342 1.2
oliver 600 518 122 26 0 25 68 8 107 2 1 .236 .329 .431 .760 .332 1.2
steamer 566 490 120 24 1 26 63 7 105 3 2 .244 .335 .458 .793 .346 1.8
zips 351 306 76 15 0 17 40 5 66 1 1 .248 .340 .464 .804 .356 1.4
average 481 416 101 20 0 22 54 6 88 2 1 .242 .334 .451 .786 .345 1.4

Even without his injury, Teixeira’s performance has been plummeting.  The wrist introduces even more uncertainty in how good he’ll be going forward.  The wrist mainly affects him when batting against RHP, which has been his weaker side anyway and is unfortunately the majority of the pitchers he’ll face.  I think trying to project Teixeira is a crapshoot.  There have been hitters who have come back from similar injuries, so it’s not unrealistic to think Teixeira can make it back.

2014 CAIRO Percentile Forecasts

percentile pa ab h 2b 3b hr bb hbp so sb cs avg obp slg ops woba owar
80% 613 526 140 32 2 37 77 12 98 5 0 .266 .375 .542 .917 .399 3.8
65% 510 439 111 24 1 28 60 9 87 3 1 .253 .353 .502 .855 .372 2.3
Baseline 408 351 84 17 0 20 45 6 74 2 1 .240 .331 .462 .793 .342 1.2
35% 306 263 60 11 0 13 31 3 59 1 1 .227 .308 .422 .730 .318 0.3
20% 204 175 38 6 0 8 19 2 41 0 1 .214 .286 .382 .668 .291 -0.1

I think Teixeira will not hit much better than the baseline, but could get to 500 PA which would make him worth two or three more runs.

Defense

pos Inn DRS UZR ZR avg p150
1b 765 6 5 2 4 8

DRS: Defensive runs saved
UZR: Ultimate Zone Rating
ZR: Standard Zone Rating
avg: Average of DRS, UZR and ZR
p150: avg pro-rated to 150 games

Teixeira should add some value on defense, dependent on how much he can play.

Value

projection oWAR def WAR
cairo 1.2 4 1.6
oliver 1.2 4 1.6
steamer 1.8 4 2.3
zips 1.4 4 1.9
average 1.4 4 1.8

Teixeira’s projected value is suppressed by the reduced playing time.  If he can give the Yankees a full season he could be in the 2 to 2.5 win range.

That’s not worth $22M per season, but it would be about two wins better than what the Yankees got out of 1B in 2013.  So that’s something.

--Posted at 8:20 am by SG / 60 Comments | - (0)




Thursday, March 13, 2014

Looking Ahead to 2014 - Brian McCann

Catcher was a gaping hole on the 2013 Yankees, and one the Yankees addressed quickly in the offseason when they signed Brian McCann to a five year contract for $85M.

2013

pa ab h 2b 3b hr bb hbp so sb cs avg obp slg ops woba oWAR
402 356 91 13 0 20 39 5 66 0 1 .256 .336 .461 .796 .347 2.6

woba:  Weighted on-base average
oWAR: Offensive wins above replacement level, position-adjusted

McCann missed the first month of the season recovering from shoulder surgery but after that he hit pretty well with an OPS+ of 115 compared to his 87 in 2012 which was likely due in large part to his shoulder injury. 

2014 Projections

projection pa ab h 2b 3b hr bb hbp so sb cs avg obp slg ops woba oWAR
cairo 497 439 110 16 0 25 52 4 84 2 1 .250 .334 .460 .794 .345 3.4
oliver 600 529 133 21 0 34 60 7 105 2 1 .251 .333 .484 .817 .354 4.1
steamer 551 486 127 22 1 26 56 4 86 2 1 .260 .339 .468 .807 .348 3.9
zips 472 419 108 15 0 22 49 4 86 2 1 .258 .340 .451 .791 .350 3.2
average 530 468 119 19 0 27 54 5 90 2 1 .255 .337 .468 .804 .352 4.4 3.7

The projection systems like the lefty-swinging McCann as he moves to DNYS, with the average forecasting him to exceed his career high of 24 homers.  As you would expect, McCann’s offense falls of significantly vs. LHP (career .239/.320/.424 vs. LHP and .285/.362/.495 vs. RHP) but the Yankees have an ideal platoon mate for him in Francisco Cervelli if Cervelli isn’t traded, so catcher should be one of the team’s strengths in 2014.

2014 CAIRO Percentile Forecasts

percentile pa ab h 2b 3b hr bb hbp so sb cs avg obp slg ops woba owar
80% 597 527 145 24 1 36 71 7 112 5 0 .274 .373 .529 .902 .396 5.9
65% 547 483 127 20 0 30 61 6 97 4 1 .262 .353 .494 .848 .372 4.6
Baseline 497 439 110 16 0 25 52 4 84 2 1 .250 .334 .460 .794 .345 3.4
35% 373 329 79 11 0 17 36 2 59 1 1 .238 .314 .425 .739 .325 2.0
20% 249 220 50 6 0 10 22 1 37 0 1 .226 .294 .391 .685 .301 0.9

CAIRO’s baseline is actually the second-least optimistic of the four forecasts shown here.  CAIRO must think McCann is still a Brave and has yet to apply the Yankee bias factor.  I think the baseline is about right in both rate of production and playing time.  He could hit for a bit more power than that, but I have a tough time seeing his average much above .250 given his hitting style and all the shifts he’ll be facing.

Defense

pos Inn DRS
c 953 -2

DRS: Defensive runs saved

In his career, McCann has thrown out about one out every four basestealers attempting to steal against him.  After the aforementioned shoulder surgery last season he was at the same rate, which makes him project as slightly below average in that facet of defense.  What these numbers don’t capture is pitch-framing, something that McCann measures quite well in.  I’m still not comfortable in the magnitude of pitch-framing’s impact on a catcher’s value, but I do think we can probably conclude that the total package of McCann’s defense is at least average to slightly above if the pitch-framing metrics have merit.

Value

projection oWAR def WAR
cairo 3.4 -2 3.2
oliver 4.1 -2 3.9
steamer 3.9 -2 3.7
zips 3.2 -2 3.0
average 3.7 -2 3.5

If McCann adds five runs of value with pitch-framing, he projects as around a four win player.  500 PA of McCann and 175 PA of Francisco Cervelli could be worth about five wins, which is five wins more than Yankee catchers were worth in 2013.

I saw McCann play quite a bit when I lived in Atlanta and he was wildly popular there.  Only Chipper Jones got louder cheers, and I saw him hit some rockets, including the one in this game which may still be airborne.  I realize he had a couple of incidents last year that make him seem like kind of a jerk, but I think he’ll win most Yankee fans over if he hits like I think he will.

We got spoiled from 1998 through 2010 with the offense that Jorge Posada provided out of catcher.  You can count the number of catchers who hit as well as Posada did over his career in a significant number of PAs on two hands and two feet.  Through age 29, McCann actually has a higher OPS+ than Posada did (117 vs. 115) although McCann has 2100 more PAs through that point.  That being said, one of the things that made Posada unique is what he did from age 30 on (.276/.376/.478, OPS+ of 124).  It’s not likely McCann will hit better over the next five years than he has so far. 

I don’t know if McCann’s prior shoulder injury and surgery makes him more at risk to get re-injured than the typical catcher given all the risks they typically face anyway, but it can’t help.

I wasn’t crazy about some of the Yankee moves this offseason, but I am fully on board with the McCann signing.  He will only be 34 in the final season of his contract, and barring injury he should be an asset through the life of it.

--Posted at 8:21 am by SG / 40 Comments | - (0)




Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Looking Ahead to 2014 - Carlos Beltran

Supposedly, Carlos Beltran has always wanted to be a Yankee.  The Yankees could have signed him after the 2004 season but chose to go with trading for Randy Johnson instead.  Over the last nine years Beltran has provided his teams with 35.1 WAR.  Nine years too late, the Yankees have finally brought Beltran in.

2013

pa ab h 2b 3b hr bb hbp so sb cs avg obp slg ops woba oWAR
600 554 164 30 3 24 38 1 90 2 1 .296 .339 .491 .830 .359 3.2

woba:  Weighted on-base average
oWAR: Offensive wins above replacement level, position-adjusted

Beltran had another very good offensive season for St. Louis, but gave up a fair amount of his value on defense. 

2014 Projections

projection pa ab h 2b 3b hr bb hbp so sb cs avg obp slg ops woba oWAR
cairo 571 511 147 27 2 27 54 2 95 5 3 .287 .356 .504 .860 .369 3.3
oliver 600 541 151 31 2 23 50 3 93 3 1 .279 .341 .471 .812 .352 2.4
steamer 609 546 153 29 2 26 53 3 105 5 3 .280 .345 .484 .829 .357 2.7
zips 542 495 132 23 2 26 46 1 105 5 3 .267 .327 .479 .806 .353 1.7
average 581 523 146 28 2 25 51 2 99 4 2 .278 .342 .484 .827 .360 2.5

I think CAIRO is making too much of Beltran’s move to DNYS.  The other projections seem more in line with what I would expect from Beltran.

2014 CAIRO Percentile Forecasts

percentile pa ab h 2b 3b hr bb hbp so sb cs avg obp slg ops woba owar
80% 611 547 170 35 4 34 65 4 91 7 1 .311 .392 .574 .965 .419 5.4
65% 591 529 158 31 3 30 60 3 93 6 2 .299 .373 .539 .912 .396 4.3
Baseline 571 511 147 27 2 27 54 2 95 5 3 .287 .356 .504 .860 .369 3.3
35% 428 384 106 18 1 18 38 1 75 3 3 .275 .337 .469 .806 .350 1.8
20% 286 256 67 11 0 11 23 0 52 1 2 .264 .319 .435 .753 .328 0.8

I think the 35% forecast is what I would expect from Beltran, maybe with a bit more playing time.  Beltran’s been pretty healthy after missing the bulk of 2009 and 2010, but at 37 I’m not sure how long the Yankees can count on his continued good health.

Defense

pos Inn DRS UZR ZR avg p150
rf 1124 -1 -8 -2 -3 -4

DRS: Defensive runs saved
UZR: Ultimate Zone Rating
ZR: Standard Zone Rating
avg: Average of DRS, UZR and ZR
p150: avg pro-rated to 150 games

There was a time when Beltran was a good defensive CF.  Now he’s probably a below average RF. 

Value

projection oWAR def WAR
cairo 3.3 -3 3.0
oliver 2.4 -3 2.1
steamer 2.7 -3 2.4
zips 1.7 -3 1.3
average 2.5 -3 2.2

Beltran is probably more average player than star at this point.  There’s nothing wrong with average, but I don’t think it’s worth a three year, $45M contract.  Especially when the player is 37.  Similarity scores aren’t necessarily all that predictive, but Beltran’s 10 most similar players averaged 1.8 WAR over the remainder of their careers.  Dave Winfield had the most WAR at 4.6 and he was a far better hitter than Beltran was at 36 (OPS+ of 159 vs. 128).

I guess it’s obvious that I’m pessimistic about Beltran.  I think the Yankees will be lucky to get four wins out of him over the next three seasons due to general decline and health risk.  I also think part of the reason he was signed is because of the belief that he is a clutch postseason player, which is nonsensical.  There’s no reason to think that because Beltran has hit well in prior postseasons it will carry into subsequent postseasons and if your team isn’t good enough to make the postseason who cares?

Maybe the Yankees can rest him and use him at DH to keep him healthier than I’m expecting, and it’s certainly possible he’s got enough left in him to be useful over the next three years.

Is the 2014 version of Beltran better than the 2013 Ichiro?  Yeah.  Is it a significant difference?  I guess it depends on how much you trust the defensive metrics that still peg Ichiro as a positive contributor.

If you go by Jay Jaffe’s JAWS Beltran has put together a Hall of Fame resume.  His 67.5 career bWAR is 2.9 WAR behind the average of the 18 CFs that are in the Hall.  His counting stats fall a bit short of the typical milestones (2228 hits, 358 HRs), but if he can stay healthy and productive over the next three seasons he could end up over 2600 hits and 400 HRs. 

Unfortunately for Beltran he probably won’t be able to add to his postseason resume over the next three years but what he’s done so far may put him over the top.

It would have been nice to have Beltran closer to his peak, but it wasn’t meant to be.  Hopefully he can stave off aging for a few more seasons.

--Posted at 8:13 am by SG / 53 Comments | - (0)




Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Looking Ahead to 2014 - Brian Roberts

The Yankees decided to let their best player leave, and replaced him with Brian Roberts.  Roberts was a pretty good player as recently as five years ago, but since 2010 he’s suffered from concussion-related issues and injuries that have kept him off the field and hindered his performance when he was on it.  He did manage to stay healthy in the second half of 2013 and he’s penciled in(hopefully very lightly) as the Yankees’ starting 2B this year.

2013

pa ab h 2b 3b hr bb hbp so sb cs avg obp slg ops woba oWAR
681 605 190 41 0 27 65 6 85 7 1 .314 .383 .516 .899 .384 5.8

woba:  Weighted on-base average
oWAR: Offensive wins above replacement level, position-adjusted

Oh, sorry.  Wrong 2B.

pa ab h 2b 3b hr bb hbp so sb cs avg obp slg ops woba oWAR
296 265 66 12 1 8 26 0 44 3 1 .249 .312 .392 .704 .309 -0.2

Roberts didn’t hit much in 2013, but he did stay on the field for most of the second half and he hit .250/.306/.450 in September.

2014 Projections

projection pa ab h 2b 3b hr bb hbp so sb cs avg obp slg ops woba oWAR
cairo 683 611 186 40 1 28 58 7 93 6 2 .303 .368 .514 .882 .379 5.4
oliver 600 533 154 31 1 19 56 6 77 5 2 .289 .360 .458 .818 .353 4.2
steamer 644 576 170 41 1 21 54 7 88 4 3 .295 .360 .477 .837 .359 5.0
zips 665 602 171 37 2 22 55 8 94 6 2 .284 .349 .462 .811 .358 5.5
average 648 581 170 37 1 23 56 7 88 5 2 .293 .360 .479 .839 .366 5.0

Oh, sorry.  Wrong 2B.

projection pa ab h 2b 3b hr bb hbp so sb cs avg obp slg ops woba oWAR
cairo 279 248 61 12 1 6 24 1 45 4 1 .245 .309 .366 .675 .298 0.5
oliver 600 539 126 26 1 10 52 1 101 7 3 .234 .300 .341 .641 .286 0.4
steamer 305 274 67 14 1 6 24 2 47 5 2 .245 .308 .369 .677 .300 0.6
zips 212 195 48 9 1 4 17 0 35 3 1 .246 .304 .364 .668 .299 0.4
average 349 314 75 15 1 6 29 1 57 5 2 .240 .303 .356 .659 .293 0.4

If you can’t say anything nice…

2014 CAIRO Percentile Forecasts

percentile pa ab h 2b 3b hr bb hbp so sb cs avg obp slg ops woba owar
80% 558 497 137 31 3 16 58 3 77 12 0 .276 .356 .447 .803 .355 3.0
65% 419 373 97 21 2 10 40 2 63 7 1 .260 .332 .407 .738 .326 1.5
Baseline 279 248 61 12 1 6 24 1 45 4 1 .245 .309 .366 .675 .298 0.5
35% 209 186 43 8 0 3 16 0 36 2 1 .229 .283 .326 .609 .270 -0.1
20% 140 124 26 4 0 2 10 0 26 1 1 .213 .258 .285 .544 .241 -0.3

I suppose if Roberts can get 560 PA he would be worth a win or so offensively.

Defense

pos Inn DRS UZR ZR avg p150
2b 436 -2 -1 0 -1 -3

DRS: Defensive runs saved
UZR: Ultimate Zone Rating
ZR: Standard Zone Rating
avg: Average of DRS, UZR and ZR
p150: avg pro-rated to 150 games

Roberts was once an above average defensive 2B.  At this stage, he’s probably not.

Value

projection oWAR def WAR
cairo 0.5 -1 0.4
oliver 0.4 -1 0.3
steamer 0.6 -1 0.5
zips 0.4 -1 0.3
average 0.4 -1 0.4

I used to call Roberts PITA, because he was a pain in the ass when he was on Baltimore.  I am surprised his career line against the Yankees is only .288/.344/.429.  I could have sworn it was 1.000/1.000/2.000.

I’d be surprised if Roberts is the Yankee 2B by the All Star Break.  I don’t see any reason to think he’s going to suddenly remain healthy after four seasons of not being healthy.  I also see no reason to think he’s going to hit particularly well if he does remain healthy.  So at some point he could be replaced by Scott Sizemore or Dean Anna or Yangervis Solarte or (heaven forbid) Eduardo Nunez.  But it’s safe to say no matter who ends as the primary 2B for the 2014 Yankees, he will be significantly worse than Robinson Cano was in 2013.

I think the Cano contract was a bad one.  I don’t think that signing a 31 year old player to a 10 year deal no matter how good he is at the moment is prudent.  It probably won’t be as bad as the Jacoby Ellsbury contract, but I digress.

I don’t see Roberts and whomever eventually replaces him changing the fact the Yankees will miss Cano greatly.

--Posted at 12:03 pm by SG / 54 Comments | - (0)



Looking Ahead to 2014 - Alfonso Soriano

In their misguided attempt to make the postseason with a woefully inadequate roster last year, the Yankees traded for Alfonso Soriano in mid-July.  Soriano hit pretty well after the Yankees acquired him, but it wasn’t enough to push them into the postseason.

2013

pa ab h 2b 3b hr bb hbp so sb cs avg obp slg ops woba oWAR
626 581 148 32 1 34 36 5 156 18 9 .255 .302 .489 .791 .340 2.1

woba:  Weighted on-base average
oWAR: Offensive wins above replacement level, position-adjusted

Soriano hit .254/.287/.467 for the Cubs vs. .256/.325/.525 for the Yankees.  He is still pretty much the player he was when he left the Yankees, a low-OBP, high SLG hitter who will strike out a lot. 

2014 Projections

projection pa ab h 2b 3b hr bb hbp so sb cs avg obp slg ops woba oWAR
cairo 600 550 137 28 1 27 38 5 154 9 5 .250 .301 .453 .754 .322 1.8
oliver 600 548 130 26 1 29 42 6 160 17 6 .237 .297 .447 .744 .321 1.5
steamer 593 544 127 27 1 25 38 5 147 11 6 .233 .287 .424 .711 .309 0.5
zips 566 527 130 27 1 32 34 5 157 12 6 .247 .297 .484 .781 .340 2.0
average 590 542 131 27 1 28 38 5 155 12 6 .242 .296 .452 .748 .325 1.4

These projections assume Soriano is in LF.  As a DH he would be about a win less valuable relatively.  He still projects to have pretty good power, but he makes too many outs.

2014 CAIRO Percentile Forecasts

percentile pa ab h 2b 3b hr bb hbp so sb cs avg obp slg ops woba owar
80% 648 594 161 36 3 35 47 8 153 13 3 .271 .334 .517 .851 .370 3.8
65% 624 572 149 32 2 31 42 6 154 11 4 .260 .317 .485 .802 .348 2.7
Baseline 600 550 137 28 1 27 38 5 154 9 5 .250 .301 .453 .754 .322 1.8
35% 450 413 99 19 1 18 26 3 120 5 4 .239 .283 .422 .705 .306 0.7
20% 300 275 63 11 0 11 16 1 83 3 3 .228 .267 .390 .656 .285 0.0

Soriano still appears to be in great shape and I suppose it’s feasible he could exceed his baseline projection, but I wonder how well he will handle DHing.  Most players hit worse as DH, and Soriano has only been a DH in 35 games in his career.  Because of that, I would not expect him to do much better than his CAIRO baseline.

Defense

pos Inn DRS UZR ZR avg p150
lf 1121 -4 8 0 1 1

DRS: Defensive runs saved
UZR: Ultimate Zone Rating
ZR: Standard Zone Rating
avg: Average of DRS, UZR and ZR
p150: avg pro-rated to 150 games

The disparity between DRS and UZR on Soriano’s defense in LF is interesting.  I thought he looked fine in the outfield and is probably about average defensively.  Although Carlos Beltran is expected to see most of his time in RF, Soriano may be a better defender than him at this point.

Value

projection oWAR def WAR
cairo 1.8 1 1.9
oliver 1.5 1 1.6
steamer 0.5 1 0.6
zips 2.0 1 2.1
average 1.4 1 1.6

These values are assuming Soriano is in LF.  As a DH he’d be about one win less valuable.  Since it’s pretty likely he will see a fair amount of time in the OF, we can probably split the difference and say he’ll be worth anywhere from 1-1.5 wins this year.

That’s not great, but it’s worth noting that Yankee DHs hit .189/.276/.307 in 650 PA which was only worth about 50 runs.  Soriano’s baseline projection over 650 PA would be worth 75 runs.

Soriano’s allegedly considering retirement after this season, and if this is it he’s had a heck of a career.  2045 hits, 406 HRs, 288 SBs, and a .272/.321/.504 career line.  Hopefully he has a good enough season that he doesn’t want to retire.

--Posted at 8:11 am by SG / 16 Comments | - (0)




Monday, March 10, 2014

NJ.com: Dellin Betances’ new pitch that might get him to the majors

TAMPA, Fla . — Dellin Betances snapped off several of them off in a row, the last making Matt Joyce swing and miss so hard a breeze was likely felt on Dale Mabry Highway — behind center field.

But what was it? A slider? A curve? Maybe a slurve?

“My slider is like a slurve,” Betances said. “I don’t know what to call it.”

Whatever it’s named, it helped 25-year-old Betances notch yet another scoreless outing in the Yankees’ 3-3 tie with the Rays at George M. Steinbrenner Field Sunday.

It’s also aided his emergence from potential bust to big-league bullpen candidate. A 2006 eighth-rounder given a $1-million signing bonus, Betances struggled as he climbed the minor league rungs until a breakout 2013 at Triple A.

I saw bits and pieces of yesterday’s game and caught Betances and he did look pretty good.  He does have an option left so it’s not a given that he will be in the big league bullpen to start the season, but on merit he seems like he should be.

--Posted at 8:13 am by SG / 31 Comments | - (0)




Saturday, March 8, 2014

NY Daily News: Michael Pineda throws two scoreless innings for Yankees in spring debut

It’s been more than two years since the Yankees dealt their top prospect for Michael Pineda, yet his next official pitch in pinstripes will be his first.

After two frustrating seasons following shoulder surgery, Pineda took his first step toward redemption Friday night, throwing a pair of scoreless innings against the Tigers in his spring debut at George M. Steinbrenner Field.
“I know it’s been a long time not seeing a major league hitter,” said Pineda, who allowed one hit and struck out four, throwing 21 of his 27 pitches for strikes. “I had a good focus tonight. I showed Michael Pineda.”

If Pineda is able to build on his first outing, the competition for the No. 5 starter job won’t be much of a competition.

Hearing Girardi and McCann talk about him sounds impressive…

“He was really good,” catcher Brian McCann said. “Pounded the strike zone with all three of his pitches. His fastball’s got that natural cut on it, which makes it hard for a hitter.”
Pineda came back out for a second inning, striking out Rajai Davis with the slider that made him so effective during his All-Star first half in 2011 with the Mariners.

“His slider was pretty much unhittable,” McCann said.

Tyler Collins flied out to center, then Pineda had his most impressive moment of the night, striking out two-time defending American League MVP Miguel Cabrera on another slider.

“It’s a good test,” Pineda said. “I faced him before; I know he’s a really good hitter, and I tried to make a good adjustment to make a good pitch and get an out.”

“It shows you his slider is pretty good,” Girardi said. “We knew that, though.”

I don’t even want to imagine what it will be like if this is for real. The Yankees rotation could theoretically be pretty damn interesting this season.

--Posted at 1:06 pm by Brian Cronin / 67 Comments | - (0)




Thursday, March 6, 2014

Yankees.com: Tanaka’s first start comes with new experiences

After a delay of one hour and 26 minutes, the skies cleared and Tanaka was able to turn in an interesting three-inning outing against the Phillies. He allowed a solo Freddy Galvis home run and one other hit, recording a strikeout with no walks, but said that he did not feel at the top of his game.

Asked to explain, Tanaka replied with a smile, “Because I’m human. I just can’t be perfect every single day.”

Tanaka may be a harsher critic than Yankees manager Joe Girardi, who said that he was “very pleased” by what he saw from the right-hander. Tanaka threw 25 of 41 pitches for strikes, recording a swinging strikeout of Chase Utley on a nasty 0-2 splitter.

“Obviously, he understands how the ball felt coming out of his hand better than I did, and the pitches that he made, but it’s a step in the right direction,” Girardi said.

So far, so good!

--Posted at 8:13 pm by Brian Cronin / 27 Comments | - (0)



NY Post: Mariners keeping eyes on Yankees’ Phelps

TAMPA — With pitchers Hisashi Iwakuma and Taijuan Walker sidelined by injuries, the Mariners are actively looking for help.

Their search led them to George M. Steinbrenner Field Tuesday night to take a look at Yankees starter David Phelps against the Orioles.

The Mariners had a scout watch Phelps, who is the leading candidate to be the Yankees’ fifth starter but who could be expandable with Adam Warren or, possibly, Michael Pineda finding his way into that slot.

Phelps danced in and out of trouble during a 2 ¹/₃-inning stint in which he allowed a run and five hits.

“It would be nice to get somebody out out of the stretch,’’ said Phelps, who worked on a changeup that got hit. “If that is as bad as it gets, I will take it.’’

Yankees scouts are searching spring training camps for help at third and second base. With Robinson Cano entrenched at second, the Mariners might move Nick Franklin, although it would likely take more than Phelps to pry Franklin away.

Franklin would be a nice pickup, but you wonder what else the Yankees would have to add to Phelps to get him.

--Posted at 9:01 am by SG / 20 Comments | - (0)




Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Looking Ahead to 2014 - Brett Gardner

I was on vacation when the surprising news came that the Yankees had extended Brett Gardner for four seasons.  Gardner’s become one of my favorite players and I was certain he would be gone after this year since the Yankees had signed Jacoby Ellsbury to his horrendous contract.

Extending Gardner was interesting for two reasons.  The first is that it seems to signal a shift from the Yankees’ general aversion to extending players before they enter free agency.  The second is that it gives us evidence that the Yankees are cognizant that a player that Gardner is valuable even if his value comes in ways that traditional offensive statistics don’t fully capture.

2013

pa ab h 2b 3b hr bb hbp so sb cs avg obp slg ops woba oWAR
609 539 147 33 10 8 52 8 127 24 8 .273 .344 .416 .759 .335 3.1

woba:  Weighted on-base average
oWAR: Offensive wins above replacement level, position-adjusted

Gardner followed up a 2012 season essentially lost to injury with a very good 2013.  He set a career high in plate appearances and slugging percentage, although his OBP was down a bit and he wasn’t very aggressive on the bases, stealing successfully only 24 times in 32 attempts compared to 47 of 56 and 49 of 62 in his preveious two full seasons.  Gardner missed the second half of September with a rib cage injury but should be healthy to start 2014.

2014 Projections

projection pa ab h 2b 3b hr bb hbp so sb cs avg obp slg ops woba oWAR
cairo 480 419 112 21 5 7 48 6 94 22 7 .267 .348 .393 .741 .328 1.9
oliver 600 533 142 27 7 8 52 7 126 23 7 .266 .338 .388 .726 .322 2.0
steamer 655 573 147 27 7 9 65 7 128 29 11 .257 .338 .372 .710 .317 1.8
zips 455 405 105 20 7 6 44 6 86 23 7 .259 .339 .388 .727 .325 1.7
average 548 483 126 24 6 8 52 6 108 24 8 .262 .338 .385 .723 .321 1.8

Gardner will be in left field this year, which means his offensive value relative to position will be a bit less.  But he projects to hit a hair above the average LF with a wOBA of .321 (average LF is usually around .320).  The significant amount of time he missed in 2012 is suppressing his playing time projections in CAIRO and ZiPS here.  Then again, Gardner tends to miss time for various reasons so it’s probably not realistic to pencil him for 650 PA this year.

2014 CAIRO Percentile Forecasts

percentile pa ab h 2b 3b hr bb hbp so sb cs avg obp slg ops woba owar
80% 649 566 165 34 9 14 74 11 140 36 6 .292 .386 .459 .845 .374 4.7
65% 565 493 138 27 7 10 60 8 116 28 7 .280 .365 .426 .791 .350 3.2
Baseline 480 419 112 21 5 7 48 6 94 22 7 .267 .348 .393 .741 .328 1.9
35% 360 315 80 14 3 5 33 3 67 15 6 .254 .324 .360 .683 .303 0.9
20% 240 210 51 8 1 2 21 2 42 9 5 .242 .303 .327 .630 .280 0.2

I think the gains Gardner made in power last year were real as his swing appeared a bit stronger.  His line drive percentage of 23.3% was higher than the 18.6% and 19.4% he put up in 2011-2012, and he hit the highest percentage of fly balls in his career.  Losing some grounders may cost him some batting average, but the increase in power may help him recoup some of that in other ways.  Because of that, I think Gardner’s 65% forecast is reachable.

Defense

pos Inn DRS UZR ZR avg p150
cf 769 4 0 1 2 3
lf 640 11 13 6 10 21

DRS: Defensive runs saved
UZR: Ultimate Zone Rating
ZR: Standard Zone Rating
avg: Average of DRS, UZR and ZR
p150: avg pro-rated to 150 games

One of the points of contention regarding Gardner’s value is if he’s really as good as the defensive metrics think he is.  I do think defensive metrics need to be taken with a grain of salt, but when all the systems come to the same basic conclusion I feel more comfortable that they are close to the truth.  He projects more around average as a CF but elite as a LF.  Keeping a second true CF on the team is probably important given Ellsbury’s frequent “fluke” injuries.  As Gardner ages, we should expect his defense to get a bit worse, but he should be above average in LF through the duration of his contract.

Value

projection oWAR def WAR
cairo 1.9 12 3.1
oliver 2.0 12 3.2
steamer 1.8 12 3.0
zips 1.7 12 2.9
average 1.8 12 3.0

Defense here is just adding his CF and LF projections.  As a full time LF he may be worth 2-3 runs more.  And you can add even more if he can exceed his average projected 548 PA.

The Yankees are likely valuing Gardner closer to 4 wins this year.  That would put him around 12 wins over the next four seasons using a 0.7 win per year decline. That means his contract would pay him about $5M per win.  It would also add a win to the Yankees’s in 2014 vs. his 3 win projection.

Can he do that?  I wouldn’t bet against him.

My guess is Gardner will be hitting ninth this year, which is sub-optimal.  But I can’t imagine the Yankees won’t lead off Ellsbury with Derek Jeter batting second so I don’t see anywhere else where he’d fit.

I’m happy Gardner will probably be a Yankee for the next few seasons although he does not have a no-trade clause so he could wind up elsewhere.  I just find myself more emotionally connected to players who came up through the Yankee system and with the Core Four down to one there are only a handful of those guys on the team now.

--Posted at 9:33 am by SG / 13 Comments | - (0)




Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Looking Ahead to 2014 - Derek Jeter

Derek Jeter made a somewhat surprising announcement a few weeks ago that he would be retiring after this season, although I suppose it’s not so surprising given his age and his health issues last season.  While he could change his mind, I doubt it.

2013
Because of his broken ankle in the 2012 ALCS, Jeter wasn’t able to do his normal conditioning work in the 2012-2013 offseason.  Because of that he never got healthy enough to contribute much.

pa ab h 2b 3b hr bb hbp so sb cs avg obp slg ops woba oWAR
73 63 12 1 0 1 8 1 10 0 0 .190 .288 .254 .542 .247 -0.2

woba:  Weighted on-base average
oWAR: Offensive wins above replacement level, position-adjusted

It was a disappointing followup to a great 2011 where he led MLB in hits.  Jeter claims to be healthy now and ready to go, but his health is probably a major concern this season.

2014 Projections

projection pa ab h 2b 3b hr bb hbp so sb cs avg obp slg ops woba oWAR
cairo 457 412 115 16 1 7 35 4 68 6 3 .280 .339 .376 .715 .318 1.8
oliver 600 544 143 21 1 8 46 4 90 4 2 .263 .323 .349 .672 .300 1.7
steamer 412 373 104 16 1 5 29 3 57 6 3 .279 .335 .371 .706 .314 1.6
zips 322 294 76 12 1 5 25 3 47 7 3 .259 .322 .357 .679 .305 1.3
average 448 406 110 16 1 6 34 4 66 6 3 .270 .328 .362 .689 .307 1.6

Jeter still projects to provide better than replacement level offense relative to other shortstops, but a large part of his value will be tied into how often he can play.  CAIRO and Steamer are essentially projecting the same performance for Jeter this year, while Oliver and ZiPS are in agreement that he will be less productive.

2014 CAIRO Percentile Forecasts

percentile pa ab h 2b 3b hr bb hbp so sb cs avg obp slg ops woba owar
80% 617 556 170 28 2 13 55 8 104 12 2 .306 .378 .436 .813 .361 4.2
65% 537 484 142 22 1 10 44 6 85 9 2 .293 .357 .406 .763 .339 2.9
Baseline 457 412 115 16 1 7 35 4 68 6 3 .280 .337 .376 .713 .317 1.8
35% 343 309 82 11 0 4 24 2 48 4 3 .267 .316 .346 .663 .294 0.8
20% 229 206 52 6 0 2 14 1 30 2 2 .254 .296 .316 .612 .272 0.2

I thought Jeter was done after 2010 but then he had a strong 2011 and an even better 2012.  I would not be surprised to see him at his 65% forecast, but I would bet he’ll be around the baseline in both rate stats and playing time. 

Defense

pos Inn DRS UZR ZR avg p150
SS 763 -10 -8 -9 -9 -16

DRS: Defensive runs saved
UZR: Ultimate Zone Rating
ZR: Standard Zone Rating

I’ve been blogging about the Yankees for 10 years.  WTF?  Anyway, in that time, I’d guess I’ve written more about Jeter’s defense than any other singular topic.  Except maybe about how awesome Mo was.  We can debate the precision of the various defensive metrics and how accurately they capture Jeter’s defensive value like we have for 10 years, but I feel comfortable saying Jeter will almost certainly cost the Yankees runs on defense this year, like he has throughout his career.  If Jeter plays half of the games at shortstop he projects to be about 9 runs below average. It will be interesting to see if Joe Girardi is willing to use Brendan Ryan in late innings of close games.

Value

projection oWAR def WAR
cairo 1.8 -9 0.9
oliver 1.7 -9 0.8
steamer 1.6 -9 0.7
zips 1.3 -9 0.4
average 1.6 -9 0.7

Yankee shortstops hit .228/.286/.312 in 645 PA in 2013 and were somewhere around 20 runs below average defensively.  I’d like to think the combination of Jeter and Ryan can do better than this year.

Jeter’s the last link to an era that was one of the best times ever to be a fan of the Yankees.  Yes, he was overrated by many.  No, that’s not his fault.  The farewell tour will likely get nauseating at times, but I’m sure the Rays will make up for it with a hideous sand sculpture of some sort.

It will be tough to see Jeter go, but I prefer that to the alternative of seeing him playing past the point of usefulness and dragging the team down.  I don’t think we’ll see that in 2014.

--Posted at 10:06 am by SG / 49 Comments | - (0)




Monday, March 3, 2014

CBS New York: Palladino: Fear Not, Yankees Fans — Slimmer Sabathia Will Be OK

Anyone searching for a jarring visual experience should have seen CC Sabathia throw against the Phillies on Saturday.

The fact that his fastball traveled at a molasses-slow (for him) 88 mph wasn’t the real story. It was how he looked after cutting 30 pounds over the winter.
The folks behind the plate can tell you. When facing them full-front, no problem. But once the formerly corpulent left-hander turned into his windup, well, it looked like a baseball was thrown from the Invisible Man.

OK. You figured it out. We’re just making a joke about CC’s new, svelte figure. After all, 275 pounds and the word thin can only appear in the same sentence under relative conditions, such as “CC has trimmed himself to a thin 275 pounds from the three bills and change he soared to last summer.”

And so, the jokes. But there is a serious side to this, and it has nothing to do with a radar gun. Sabathia’s speed either will or won’t improve as the Yankees move closer to Opening Day. But whether it does or not, anyone who knows baseball knows that location and movement have just as much to do with pitching success as speed and power. Sabathia will never become a finesse pitcher, but if he hits enough spots and his fastball has enough action on it, regardless of speed, he’ll be fine.

I have no idea if we should be worried about CC’s velocity after one spring training start, but I am not exactly enthused by the fact that he was topping out at 88 mph.  I’ll reserve my concern until we have a few more starts though.

--Posted at 9:28 am by SG / 43 Comments | - (0)




Sunday, March 2, 2014

Pitcher Gifs: EVERY PITCH IN MASAHIRO TANAKA’S FIRST SPRING TRAINING START

If you missed the game, don’t worry. We’ve Gif’d up every single pitch her threw so you can experience his first public outing just like you were there.

Before we begin, let’s quickly summarize the current scouting reports for the Japanese import:

- His primary pitches are a Fastball, Slider, Split-Finger, while he also mixes in a Curveball and Cutter, and is working on a Changeup.

- His Fastball often sits in the low-to-mid 90s, but can rear back and hit 97+ when he needs to. Not a whole bunch of movement.

- The Split-Finger is the special pitch that sets him apart. It’s his bread-and-butter, and he will find success if he’s commanding it effectively.  It’s the pitch everyone is dying to see.

- His best breaking pitch is his Slider, with his Curveball acting more as a ‘show me’ pitch. The Slider isn’t the most consistent pitch, but can be devastating when mixed properly with his Splitter and Fastball.

What a neat resource! Tanaka definitely looked good. The splitter he threw to Revere was amazing. It would be like porn if you were turned on by really good pitches.

Tip of the hat to Snuggles, who gave us the head’s up of this awesome article.

--Posted at 4:11 am by Brian Cronin / 19 Comments | - (0)



Yankees.com: Diminished velocity doesn’t concern CC or Girardi

CC Sabathia has grown tired of discussing the diminished velocity of his fastball, so the Yankees left-hander shrugged when he was informed that it had topped out at 88 mph in his first start of the spring.

“My fastball is what it is. If it gets better, it will,” Sabathia said. “If it’s not, it won’t. I can pitch. I’m fine. As long as I’m healthy, I’ll be good.”

Yankees manager Joe Girardi said that any chatter about Sabathia’s velocity does not concern him.

“I don’t make much of it,” Girardi said. “That was something people wanted to make a ton about last year, and I’m not going to make much of it. To me, if he’s downhill and locating, I don’t care what his velocity is. He’s going to get people out.”

My issue with these quotes is not that I think that CC throwing 88 right now is a major deal, as I do not. He has plenty of time to add some speed to the fastball. But this notion that it doesn’t matter how fast CC’s fastball is is just not accurate. It is an issue if CC’s fastball tops off at 88 MPH. Is it as significant as CC not locating the fastball? No, I would agree with Girardi that that is a bigger concern, and obviously plenty of pitchers used better locating to make up for their reduced fastballs as they got older and CC could easily be one of those pitchers. But reduced velocity on your fastball not only makes the fastball easier to hit but it also hurts CC’s excellent change-up, since there is less of a difference in speed between the changeup and the fastball. I do not believe that it was a coincidence that last year, with his fastball velocity at the lowest it has ever been (just over 91 MPH), that not only did hitters drive his fastball more than ever before (an ISO of .194 - up from .184 the year before and .144 the year before) but right-handed batters also crushed his change-up (an ISO of .187 after being under .100 for the previous six seasons).

So while I don’t think anyone should be freaking out or anything like that, as we have to see how CC will adjust to his new velocity (not to mention the possibility that he will gain MPH the more he pitches), I also don’t think anyone should be blowing it off as if the velocity of his fastball is not an issue at all.

--Posted at 12:42 am by Brian Cronin / 4 Comments | - (0)




Saturday, March 1, 2014

Yankees.com: Tanaka time: Righty embraces anticipated debut

When Masahiro Tanaka tried on his Yankees pinstripes earlier this month, he said that there was no particular team or player that he was looking forward to facing. They’d all be new, and so each assignment would be a terrific challenge.

Tanaka is preparing for the first of those tests. The right-hander is scheduled to make his highly anticipated spring debut on Saturday against the Phillies at George M. Steinbrenner Field (1:05 p.m. ET, live on MLB.TV), entering in relief to begin the fifth inning.

“I understand there’s going to be a lot of attention on the results, the numbers of what I do out there,” Tanaka said through an interpreter. “But for me, I’m not looking at it at all. I just want to go out there and pitch my style out there and see how it is on the mound.”

I am pumped!

Girardi also hinted as to when Tanaka would pitch in the rotation during the season:

While Girardi has not yet locked in his rotation for the regular season, he revealed on Friday that it is “pretty safe to say” that Tanaka’s first start is lining up for the third or fourth game of the year—either April 3 in Houston or April 4 in Toronto.

I think that that is very smart. Anyone know how that lines up with the Yankees’ first game against Boston?

--Posted at 12:56 am by Brian Cronin / 23 Comments | - (0)




Thursday, February 27, 2014

NY Post: Cashman knew Yankees needed overhaul after 85-win mirage

These 2014 Yankees have more ground to make up than you might realize. The good news for those of you who root for this team is the team’s decision-makers know it.
“Our team over-performed last year,” general manager Brian Cashman said Tuesday, before the Yankees defeated Florida State, 8-3, at Steinbrenner Field. “It’s a credit to everybody involved in that process. But the record didn’t reflect the talent. And so when you take a sledgehammer to the roster like we did this winter and spend the money we did, it’s more reflective of recognizing. Of not being fooled.”

While this should be obvious to any professional baseball general manager, it is still nice to hear Cashman say it outright. I also liked the part in the article where, while praising Joe Girardi’s managing skills, he still says that the Yankees’ record was mostly due to luck:

“I’d say Joe, our coaches, our players worked their tail off and fought every step of the way, and they earned that record,” Cashman said. “But if we repeated last year’s season 100 times, that [85-77 record] would’ve been the low end of probability.”

The run differential, Cashman added, is “more reflective of the talent on the field. When you over-perform, like the Orioles did [in 2012], you realize that’s more of an anomaly. And last year was a market correction.”

Of course, if Cashman realizes that he was starting with a 79-win team and he lost Robinson Cano’s six or so wins, you would have to imagine that he realizes that the Yankees still don’t project extremely well, no? So it is interesting that they seem more or less okay with going into the season with their current infield of Kelly Johnson, Derek Jeter, Brian Roberts and Mark Teixeira (better known as Kelly and the Ready-for-the-60-Day Disabled List Players). Although in another article by the Post they did note that the Yankees will be closely monitoring other teams during Spring Training to see if any interesting infielders become available, sort of like how they got Lyle Overbay to play first base last season. 

--Posted at 6:35 am by Brian Cronin / 40 Comments | - (0)




Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Yankees.com: Girardi, An Ex-Catcher, Applauds Collision Rule

An issue we’ve debated for a while in the comments is about whether collisions at home plate are good for baseball or not. Baseball recently announced that they were adding a new rule that would ban many collisions at the plate. Here’s Joe Girardi on the rule change (courtesy of Adam Berry):

“I think the way the rule was originally written, players weren’t sure if they’d be able to adapt quick enough to it, so they made some tweaks to it. I think it’s a pretty good rule. The biggest thing is, if you have a place to slide, you really need to slide,” he said. “We don’t want any of these unnecessary collisions because we want our players on the field, and we don’t want the health issues to come back and haunt players 10, 20, 30 years from now. We just don’t. Some of it’s right away.

“I think it’s a good rule, and I think it’s a really good step in the right direction.”

The new rule seems a bit confusing as to what collisions are still allowed, but in general I think that this is a great step forward.

--Posted at 3:54 pm by Brian Cronin / 27 Comments | - (0)




Sunday, February 23, 2014

Yes Network: Yankees sign Brett Gardner to extension deal

The Yankees normally don’t do extension signings in the midst of a players contract, but the Yankees made the exception for Brett Gardner.

According to Jack Curry of YES Network, the Yankees and Gardner agreed to a four-year, $52 Million deal which will start in 2015.

Well, that came out of nowhere.

So Brett Gardner is now locked in for the next five seasons. And at $13 million a year for 2015-2018, the Yankees sure seemed to get a decent value on Gardner, although with Gardner’s injury history, you could certainly understand Gardner’s willingness to lock in the big payday now (plus he might just legitimately want to remain a Yankee long term).

Good job, Cashman!

UPDATE #1: Apparently Gardner pushed hard to get a no-trade clause added to the deal and the Yankees wouldn’t budge, so I think Gardner just really wants to be a Yankee. Sadly for him, this deal is still very tradeable, so I wouldn’t necessarily presume he’s still a Yankee in 2018.

UPDATE #2: Some great quotes courtesy of Wallace Matthews at ESPN from Gardner:

“Free agency is something that, it kind of intrigued me, and it also kind of scared me,” Gardner said. “It’s probably the biggest decision I ever had to make in my life. I put a lot of thought into it, but at the end of the day, it’s a lot of money.

“Where I come from, that money or twice that much money, I’m not going to change the way I live my life.”

In addition, he had some choice words about wanting to remain a Yankee…

“It’s meaningful being able to play for New York, and hopefully one day I can retire and say that I didn’t play for another team,” Gardner said. “I think that would be awesome. There’s definitely a lot more media to deal with on a daily basis, and it seems like a lot more on the line day in and day out, but it’s something that I enjoy and it’s something that I take a lot of pride in. I love putting on these pinstripes every day.”

You’re awesome, too, Gardy!

UPDATE #3: More Gardner quotes. This time courtesy of Mark Feinsand and the New York Daily News:

“It’s something that’s been in the works for a little while. I made it known to them that I wanted to stay here and be a part of this. I learned from guys that come from other places that there’s no better place to play, so I look forward to staying here and helping the team win.”

Awwww…Gardy!!! How can you not love this guy?!

--Posted at 2:45 pm by Brian Cronin / 113 Comments | - (0)



ESPN: Andrew Bailey, Yanks reach deal

The New York Yankees have agreed to terms with reliever Andrew Bailey on a minor-league deal, according to a source.

Bailey is recovering from shoulder surgery, and as a result, the contract starts on minor-league deal.

The major-league side of the deal is worth $2.5 million and includes a 2015 option and buyout as well as incentives, according to a source. Should Bailey reach the majors, he’ll make a prorated base salary of $1.975 million, plus the incentives, the source said.

I love these types of deals. It tends to only be the big market teams that can afford to pay a guy basically on the chance that he returns to his former level of performance. Bailey has been essentially hot garbage since the Red Sox traded him and he began having shoulder problems and he will likely not be a major contributor for the Yankees in 2014, but for “only” $2 million the Yankees can get the benefit if he somehow does revert to his Oakland form and they also have a 2015 option if he doesn’t turns things around until late in the season. Smart use of the Yankee coffers.

--Posted at 1:47 am by Brian Cronin / 14 Comments | - (0)




Saturday, February 22, 2014

“Jeter Is Getting Pretty Old, Isn’t He?” under 25 edition: SS

Next up on our list of players not good enough for independent ball Yankee top 25 and under, are SS.  Like the other positions so far, there isn’t much in the upper levels who could help the Yankees anytime soon.  Unlike 1B (Bird) and 2B (Refsnyder, Katoh), there aren’t any young prospects to get really excited about.  However, there are several younger players who have enough going for them that they should still be on our radar, and will certainly be players I’m watching this year.

Carmen Angelini (25): Bats: R Throws: R.  133 wRC+ in 132PA at A+, but only 73 wRC+ in 262 PA at AA.
Angelini was once a toolsy 10th round pick by the Yankees.  It was thought he would grow into some power, steal a few bases, and play above average defense.  His first few years with the team, the bat never took off (high wRC+ was 73 as a 19 year old in Charleston), but then he was injured and missed all of 2010.  He came back in 2011 and started in Tampa…and was injured 9 games into the season and missed all of 2012 as well.  Last year a good start in Tampa led to a promotion to Trenton.  He didn’t hit there – even for a SS – but that was driven largely by a .265 BABIP.  Angelini isn’t much of a prospect, but depending on where Anna plays (both level and position), he may open the season as the starting SS in Scranton, and be only a step away from the big leagues.  I’m stretching it for Angelini, but I wanted someone above A ball on this list, and it isn’t out of the question that Angelini improves enough to be an occasional callup.

Snuggles: Angelini was given a really nice bonus for being taken in the 10th round back in 2007. But like Mike pointed out, he’s never lived up to any of his promise. He was drafted as an excellent defensive SS with good offensive potential, initially both looked bad, since he debuted with 42 errors in 131 games his first season, however since then his errors have dropped off significantly. He’s still a solid defender, but he really needs to hit as he moves into the higher levels to have any chance of making the ML. Angelini might have been a decent prospect if he could stay on the field, but in 5 years in the Yankees system he only managed to play 328 games. His age belies his lack of experience, but unfortunately them’s the breaks and Angelini is basically not a prospect anymore.

Cito Culver(21): Bats: R Throws R, wRC+ of 92 in 466 PA of A, 153 in 66 PA of A+.
Culver is of course a player that is often tossed out as an example of how the Yankees’ drafting is broken, their player development is broken, and how he isn’t even a prospect.  There is some truth to that, but part of the problem is also expectations, and part is not appreciating how young he is.  Culver started 2013 repeating low-A.  But he started the year differently, as he gave up switch hitting in Spring Training.  For the season, his BB% went down slightly (to 10.3%, still very good), power went up a lot (from .069 isoP to .112), and BABIP from .268 to .312.  His wRC+ of 92 certainly isn’t good – especially repeating a level – but for a (supposedly) slick fielding SS, it actually isn’t bad.  Also, other than a big dip in May, his numbers got better as the season went on.  He reported feeling more comfortable as well.  Culver adds some on the basepaths, but not much.  He stole 13 bases last year, but in 18 attempts (after going 22 of 33 the previous year).  He clearly needs some work on stealing bases.  It will probably never be a big part of his game, but if he improves a little will still be an asset.

The big thing w/ Culver is his defense.  It’s pretty unanimous that he has an excellent arm, possibly even elite.  After that it’s a mixed bag of reports.  Some reports I’ve read have him as a smooth fielder with a lot of range, and he just needs some mechanical cleanup to be an elite defender.  Others have him as so-so range, a bit clumsy, and needs a lot of work.  They still feel he’s major-league SS quality, but more of acceptable than excellent. 

Though his success was middling, the Yankees deemed it enough to promote him.  He rewarded them by doing very well in A+, though with all the usual SSS caveats.  I think he’ll start 2014 at A+.  If his late season success was a result of getting comfortable hitting righties from the right side of the plate, I could see him getting a mid-season promotion to AA (as there isn’t much ahead of him), and he’s suddenly on the 2016 radar.  If his defense is just average, he’s probably about an average SS w/ a wRC+ of 90.  If of course either his defense is closer to elite like some think (+10), and/or he can get that wRC+ up around 100, you’re looking at a 3-4 win player.  Can he do these things?  Can he justify the Yankees’ investment in him?  My best is…sort of.  He’ll probably be an above average defender, and I think he’ll probably hit enough to be a starter in his prime, like 1.5-2.5 wins.  I think that easily justifies the Yankee investment, but that he’ll still be looked at as a disappointment.  I’m certainly anxious to see if he can take the next steps this season.

Snuggles: Culver is a weird topic. Outside of Brackman, he’s the obvious poster-child for poor Yankees drafting in recent years (I think this is quite overblown). However, he is from upstate NY and the colder climates are generally under-scouted and undervalued (Trout went at the end of the 1st round!), so there’s a chance the Yankees saw something in Culver. and given his explosion in Tampa, maybe they were right. I’ve never heard anything bad about Culver’s defense, although he range isn’t anything special, his arm makes up for it. Tool-wise Culver could end up as a good average, good OBP SS with great defense. Obviously, the 3+ years of terrible performance in the 3 lowest leagues indicate this is unlikely, but the possibility is there - I’m not a huge fan, but it’s too early to write him off and ditching switch hitting may have fixed him

John Murphy (23): 6th round of the 2013 draft, Bats: L Throws: R wRC+ of 38 in 137PA at Staten Island.
Murphy is just above an “other”.  First full year of pro ball he didn’t walk much, didn’t hit for much power, and didn’t really do anything to make you think he’ll start the year anywhere other than Extended ST.  But already 23 (or will be at beginning of April), they may just throw him to the wolves and see what happens.  Whether that’s Charleston right off the bat, or after short-season ball starts, I don’t know. Never want to discount first year pro guys too quickly, but it is unlikely Murphy is anything more than a career minor leaguer.

Snuggles: I don’t really have anything to say about John Murphy, he was a cheap college senior sign and isn’t anything more than an org player

Abiatal Avelino (19): Bats: R Throws: R wRC+ 108 in 67 GCL (Yankees 1) PA, 79 in 76 SI Yankees PA.
FanGraphs isn’t reporting his time with the Yankees 2 GCL team, but there he hit for a 1.067 OPS. and stole 17 of 18 bases.  Overall stole 28 of 32 bases in 51 games; that’s an 80SB clip over a full season.  He was also in Marc Hulet’s “next five” of the Yankees top 10 prospects.  Avelino is reported as a solid defender.  He takes a walk (10.4%, 11.1%,  and 5.3% at three levels) and barely strikes out (10.4, 4.9, and 7.9).  Not much power so far - though he had 9XBH in only 81PA in Yankees 2 - but has a little room to grown, and he’s only 19.  I imagine ExST and a return to SI – another reason Murphy may go to Charleston to start the year.  Not out of the question a very slight improvement on offense (wRC+ north of 90) could get him to Charleston early in the year.  Avelino is still a long ways away from the majors, but at only 19 they have time to let him grow.

Snuggles: Avelino is probably the best SS prospect the Yankees have at this point, at least tool-wise. It helps that he had a pretty successful state-side debut. He has the tools to do just about anything well, except for power at this point, but it is believed that he will develop some power as he develops. My new rule is to not get excited about a player until they’ve hit A+, but I’ll definitely be following Avelino closely this year.

Tyler Wade (19): 4th round Bats: L Throws: R. 147 wRC+ in 198PA of GCL.  16.2% BB%. 11 of 12 SB.
Like Murphy, don’t want to discount first year pros.  Unlike Murphy, a HS SS taken in the 4th round is someone you can get excited about.  At 6-1 (officially), Wade is a guy you can project to grow into some power, but still have the chops to stick at SS.  He struck out a bit much for a guy with so little power (21.2% K, .062 ISO).  But he’s still very young.  Yankees were impressed enough to give him a cup of coffee in SI, which is rare for a first-year HS player.  I imagine Wade is another guy who will start the year in ExST.  I’d bet he goes back to GCL to start the year, with Avelino in SI and Murphy in Charleston.  Mid-season I could see each moving up a level.  Wade has some tools, and may be the most well rounded of the current SS prospects.  At the same time, none of his tools (other than maybe patience) stands out.

Snuggles: Wade isn’t as potentially exciting as Avelino, but he has one ability in spades - patience. As long as he can continue to hit decently, his ability to take a walk will carry him pretty far. He’ll likely never hit for power, and he’s probably not going to be a .300 guy, but he’ll likely hold his own with the bat and walk enough to allow his very good baserunning to accrue value. Defensively he’s good but not spectacular. He’s the kind of guy who will plug along quietly and perform decently at each level.

Others: Ali Castillo (25), Jose Toussen (24), Jose Rosario (22)

In summary, the upper levels (like 1B and 2B) are barren for SS prospects.  However, once you get to the lower levels, you have some nice players, and you can see a clear path where each starts at a level, and could be promoted up by year’s end.  None of these guys will knock your socks off, but each has enough going for them where improving on one or two things could vault them from borderline prospect, to a guy you expect to be in the majors.  I think we’d be happy if just one of them could do that.

Snuggles: Katoh has been taking reps at SS and reportedly is only missing the arm to man the position. He could definitely strengthen the Yankees depth at SS if he continues to hit and can improve his arm strength enough to move to SS.

--Posted at 6:41 pm by Snuggles T. Porcupine / 3 Comments | - (0)




Friday, February 21, 2014

ESPN: Tanaka Nasty to Romine

Romine was one of four Yankees—Ramon Flores, Antoan Richardson and Adonis Garcia, a non-roster infielder and outfielders, respectively—to “hit” against Tanaka in his first live batting practice session, and his first impression of Tanaka’s stuff could be summed up not in a word, but in a sound.

Watching Tanaka throw a split to Flores as he awaited his turn, Romine let out a “Wooo!” that was clearly audible to reporters standing behind the batting cage.

“I think he threw a split and I had to turn around and ask what the pitch was,” Romine said. “I’ve never seen a ball move like that before. I haven’t had the chance to catch him yet, but from a hitting standpoint, like I said, I’m glad he’s on our team.”

Tanaka seemed surprised by Romine’s assessment. “I don’t recall anyone saying that they’ve never seen anything like that before,” he said. “But some people have told me that it’s a really, really good pitch.”

Well, that’s good to hear at least!

--Posted at 6:46 pm by Brian Cronin / 13 Comments | - (0)




Thursday, February 20, 2014

Baseball America: 2014 Baseball America Top 100 Prospects: The 25th Edition

4. Masahiro Tanaka

Who said the Yankees have a bad farm system?  They’ve got the 4th best prospect in baseball!

Other Yankees prospects on the list include Gary Sanchez and ...Masahiro Tanaka. Gary Sanchez is also on the list.  I think that means the Yankees have 4 of the top 100 prospects.

--Posted at 7:17 am by SG / 36 Comments | - (0)




Wednesday, February 19, 2014

NY Post: Yankees don’t think they need Stephen Drew, but they’re wrong

Early in the offseason, the Yankees – with so many holes to fill – used a strategy of making many offers at one time, letting agents know that with each signing, they would re-assess and pull some bids. The Yankees actually made Drew an offer at that time, believed to be for two or three years, when the shortstop was still looking to do considerably better – four or five years.

And, as it happened, the Yankees spent more than they anticipated on players such as Brian McCann, Jacoby Ellsbury and Masahiro Tanaka and, at some point, rescinded the offer for Drew. And once Tanaka was signed and the $189 million dream was crushed, Hal Steinbrenner put a clamp on going any further. That means they are not bending for Drew, a decision they believe is made a tad easier because they were worried about the condition of his ankles and hips anyway.

At this moment, though, Drew seems a good risk, particularly because he played healthy and well last year for the champion Red Sox. His request is down to two years with an opt-out after one.

Sherman then makes a strong point when he notes that if Johnson doesn’t pan out at third or if there is a shocking injury to Brian Roberts, the Yankees will go trade for someone. It will happen. And since the odds of Johnson not working out or Roberts being injured (in some shocking twist of fate) are so strong then it really makes more sense just to get Drew now.

Sherman actually wrote to Hal Steinbrenner on the issue and here was his reply:

“No team is without concerns. We will address those concerns as we go, just as we did in several areas last year. … I am comfortable with our payroll as it stands now. Tanaka put us way over the $189 million, but I believe it will prove to be a solid investment. The rest of the pieces we will figure out as we go — just as all other teams do. We have a very good club and we will continue to improve in areas that we see need it; not just in areas that need it on paper. We need to see what actually transpires in those areas and react.”

It seems like he’s basically reiterating what Sherman says - they’ll make a move during the season to address the problem, but by then it will cost a lot more than a two-year contract and the 55th pick in the draft (and the requisite slot money). It just makes more sense to get Drew now. As Keith Law said the other day , “[Drew] is such a perfect fit for the Yankees that I can’t fathom their apparent disinterest.” Me neither, Keith.

--Posted at 1:40 am by Brian Cronin / 56 Comments | - (0)




Tuesday, February 18, 2014

North Jersey: Klapisch: Yankees’ Mark Teixeira promising 150 games is a reach

TAMPA, Fla. – Hand on his heart, Mark Teixeira says there’s no reason for the Yankees to panic over the lingering tightness in his right wrist, that it’s the expected surcharge of last summer’s surgery to repair a torn tendon sheath. Teixeira, in fact, says you can put him down for 150 games this season, even if common sense screams in protest. One hundred fifty? Seriously?

Teixeira’s wrist, after all, ranks among the Bombers’ top three unanswered questions for 2014, right there with Masahiro Tanaka’s arm and Derek Jeter’s ankle.

No one, including Teixeira, has a clue whether he’ll ever recover his home run stroke after playing just 15 games last year. And even if Teixeira fully heals from the wrist operation, his previous breakdowns — a hamstring injury in 2010 and a calf strain in 2012 — say plenty about the trend line.

Teixeira, who turns 34 in April, has been in decline since 2007, when his OPS stood at .963. It’s fallen every year since then, bottoming out at a career-low .807 in 2012.

As Klapisch says, there are two concerns with Teixeira this year.  How often can he play, and how well can he hit when he does play?  CAIRO is projecting 408 PA of .240/.331/.462.  With his defense that projects to be worth about 1.4 WAR.  If he gets 600 PA, that pro-rates to about 2.0 WAR.  He’s being paid like a 3-4 win player, but odds are he won’t get there.  But the Yankees probably need him to exceed his CAIRO if they are going to contend this year.

 

--Posted at 10:00 am by SG / 50 Comments | - (0)




Monday, February 17, 2014

RLYW’s Official We Haven’t Received a Cease and Desist Request Players Under 25: 2B Edition

Second base is rarely the home of interesting or particularly good prospects. It’s generally the home of failed SS prospects. However, the Yankees actually have a few solid 2B prospects, which is nice because they have a pretty major hole with Cano leaving. There’s no Cano or anyone really close in the Yankees system, but 2B is far from the worst position in the Yankees system. I’m going to start with the closest guy (Corban Joseph excepted - he’s a year too old) and run down to the younger prospects.

Jose Pirela (24) Throws Right, Hits RIght - .272/.359/.418 in 530 PA at AA for a 118 wRC+ (10.6% BB and 11.5% K) and .304/.333/.304 in 24 PA at AAA for 81 wRC+ (4.2% BB and 8.3% K)
10 HRs, 42 XBH, 19 SB, 3 CS

Jose Pirela is not an exciting prospect, but he is a pretty steady one. He’s one of those guys who sort of crawls up the MiL levels. He doesn’t have any outstanding skills, but he doesn’t really have any underwhelming skills either. After running through Rookie Ball, A and A+ in a year a piece, he seemed to have met his match in AA, posting a sub .650 OPS in his 2011 campaign. While he bounced back to a .800+ OPS in 2012, it wasn’t enough to get him promoted to AAA with both Corban Jospeh and David Adams blocking him so he returned to AA in 2013 and had another solid year with a .750+ OPS earning himself a late season promotion to AAA.

He can play other positions, but only profiles as average or above average at 2B. On offense he controls the zone well with a good eye and the ability to make contact. He is basically a gap hitter, but he can get one out every once in a while. If he has one above average tool it is his hit tool where he is above average and has the potential to post a .300 season or two and to back it up with a solid OBP.

Looking back to 2010, he had a 30 SB campaign, but every other year points more towards him being a guy who can be a threat, but not a constant worry for opposing pitchers. He’ll likely be more of an 8-13 bag guy. Given the state of the Yankees infield and Pirela’s extended experience in the high minors, he has a solid chance of making it to the ML this year. Once he’s there, he’s not going to be anything dynamic or breathtaking, but he’s going to be solid and do everything decently.

Mike K’s note: I saw Pirela play last year.  I see him as a future UIF, maybe even a super-utility as he’s played a little outfield.  If he becomes a Randy Velarde type the Yankees will be thrilled, but I think that’s his ceiling.  Barring a Stephen Drew signing, he’ll spend time in NYY this year.

Rob Refsnyder (23) Throws Right, Hits Right - .370/.452/.481 in 62 PA at A for 173 wRC+ (9.7% BB and 19.4% K) and .283/.408/.404 in 507 PA at A+ for 140 wRC+ (15.4% BB and 13.8% K)
6 HRs, 35 XBH, 23 SB, 6 CS

Rob Refsnyder was pretty hyped coming out of the draft and fresh off of an MVP award winning College World Series performance. Even though he played OF for Arizona, the Yankees selected him as a 2Bman, the position he manned in high school. He scuffled a bit in A ball in 2012, hitting to a .680 OPS and not really having a position. In 2013 he made all the hype seem justified, crushing A ball to begin the season to a tune of a .933 OPS and continuing his run into A+ with a .812 OPS and more walks than Ks. To be fair, no one doubted that he could hit, but conquering A ball in his first full season like that is still pretty nice.

What makes his 2013 more impressive is that he was in the midst of transitioning to 2B full time, and not having a good time of it early. However, it was reported that his defense rapidly improved as the season went on, making his high error total slightly misleading. Refsnyder has great zone control (he posted .400+ OBP at both levels in 2013) and pitch recognition, and a solid swing which will allow him to be an above average hitter, even if his power never ends up grading out above average. He’s not going to blow anyone away on the bases speed wise, but his baseball intelligence gives him a chance to be a solid low double digit threat. Despite only recently converting to 2B, many see a lot of potential defensively and 2014 will be a big year for Refsnyder.

It seems like Refsnyder will open the season at AA and if he has another year like his 2013, his stock will skyrocket. Refsnyder can hit and hit well, even if he’s never going to be a significant HR threat. He can run well enough to be a threat on the base-paths and his legs and bat are good enough to play in the OF if he can’t stick at 2B. Fortunately he seems to be quite talented if raw in the infield and while the Yankees may not want to be patient, they will probably be willing to wait on Refnsyder if he needs another year after 2014. That being said, he has a chance of being more or less MLB ready in 2015. (I actually wasn’t all that excited by Refsnyder coming into this, as I did research, the more I liked him, of course a lot depends on his continued success in transitioning to the IF.)

Mike K: 23 in AA is a bit old, but it’s only his 2nd full season of pro-ball.  I’m high on Refsnyder too, but he’s got to get to AAA by mid-season to be more than a stopgap.  I think he’ll do that, but Trenton is a tough place to hit.

Angelo Gumbs (21) Throws Right, Hits Right - .213/.261/.351 in 218 PA at A for 75 wRC+ (6% BB and 25.2% K) and .214/.265/.302 in 170 PA at A+ for 61 wRC+ (4.7% BB and 18.2% K)
4 HR, 29 XBH, 16 SB, CS 6

Angelo Gumbs is also a OF convert, but since he was drafted out of HS, he’s younger and quite a bit more raw than Refnsyder, despite playing SS in high school giving him some middle infield experience. Gumbs is a pure tools guy, his best season was his solid A ball campaign in 2012 where he eclipsed .750 OPS and ran unchecked on the bases. However, his 2013 was pretty disastrous as his average dropped 60 points bringing his OBP and slugging down with it. A tooled up 2B hitting .750 in his first full length pro season is exciting. Repeating the same level and regressing the next year is not.

Gumbs scouting report is one of great potential and rough reality. He has crazy fast hands (think Sheffield) which gives him great power potential for a middle infielder. However, he gets stuck trying to violently pull the ball (hey Sheffield again) and is very aggressive. He sees the ball pretty well and generally does a good job of swinging at good pitches, but his aggression and over-swinging have led to a good number of Ks. If he can balance everything out, he’ll be a solid hitter with good power.

Gumbs’ aggression/approach vs. talent issues manifest themselves on the bases as well. He is fast and aggressive on the bases which allows him to rack up some pretty nice stolen base numbers. But his instincts aren’t superb and he is a bit over aggressive, so he is vulnerable to being picked off and running himself into outs. Defensively it is more of the same, Gumbs is very talented but inconsistent.

Gumbs has the ignominious “honor” of being one of the few real prospect who was demoted in 2013, after his disastrous first half in A+ the Yankees swapped him to A ball for Refsnyder. The bad thing is that his line in A was basically the same as his line in A+. Gumbs’ potential is tantalizing, he’s pretty handily the highest upside 2B prospect in the system, but a lot needs to come together. A lot.

Mike K: 2012 was derailed by a pretty significant lower leg injury.  I’m certainly hoping that a lot of Gumbs’s issues this past year are just a result of recovering from the injury and lost development time.  I think they’ll start him in A+, but another stint in Charleston wouldn’t surprise me, with the idea being let him regain some confidence, and then May/June promote him to A+ and Katoh to A.

Gosuke Katoh (19) Throws Right, Hits Left - .310/.402/.522 in 215 PA for 171 wRC+ (12.6% BB and 20.5% K)
6 HR, 22 XBH, 4 SB, CS

If you can remember all the way back to the 2013 draft (about 9 months ago), you might remember some excitement about the first round when the Yankees drafted Jagielo, Judge and Clarkin in the back half of the round. The next day was filled with a bit of confusion as the Yankees nabbed Gosuke Katoh (19) R/L with their 2nd round pick. I remember watching the video of him and thinking how poor of a swing he had – Ichiro-esque and without power. To make matter worse, while he was supposedly good defensively, his arm limited him to 2B. A mediocre slap hitting 2B is not what you generally look for in the 2nd round.

Katoh clearly didn’t give a damn what any of the naysayers thought and crushed the GCL (Rookie level) to a .310/.402/.522 line. His power was especially surprising given his wiry build and youth. Despite his good results, it’s important to note that this was in the GCL and Dante Bichette Jr lit up the GCL too.

Katoh is still a project and has to fill out his frame to keep up his power as he climbs the ladder, but he has the tools to be a solid player. He looks to be a solid hitter with surprising power and good speed, on the defensive side, he’s supposed to be great, although limited by his arm. There is some hope that the Yankees can improve his throwing enough to stick him at SS. If he can shift to the other half of the double play combo, his already solid prospect status will get a nice boost. Katoh is a little bit too young and inexperienced for me to get super excited about, but there’s something there.

Others: Jose Rosario (23), Claudio Custodio (24), Hector Crespo (22), Derek Toadvine (22), Jake Anderson (22), Bryan Cuevas (20 - big year in the dominican league in 2012, OK in GSL last year), Jose Javier (22)

--Posted at 3:12 pm by Snuggles T. Porcupine / 35 Comments | - (0)



NYDN: Kevin Long, Yankees couldn’t get through to Robinson Cano on lack of hustle

TAMPA — Kevin Long considers Robinson Cano practically a son, they grew so close over the years in the Bronx. And that bond, forged during their countless sessions in the batting cage, allows him to speak frankly about the $240 million man who is now a Seattle Mariner.

That is, while Long couldn’t be prouder of what Cano accomplished as a Yankee, it bothers him that neither he nor anyone else could get through to the second baseman about his notorious lack of hustle, knowing it’s likely to tarnish his standing, especially with the fans.

“If somebody told me I was a dog,’’ Long said here Sunday, “I’d have to fix that. When you choose not to, you leave yourself open to taking heat, and that’s your fault. For whatever reason, Robbie chose not to.’’

Long was talking about Cano’s habit of not running hard to first base on routine ground balls, nothing else. And it was particularly frustrating for him because he helped Cano overcome his other bad habits over the years, centering around his nonchalant nature that once led Joe Girardi to bench him for lazy defense.

I tend to think that someone that averaged 160 games played out of 162 over the last seven seasons would not be classified as a dog, but that’s just me.  I seem to remember Paul O’Neill not hustling on routine ground balls and never hearing a word about it, but for whatever reason people chose to focus on that with Cano and ignore the fact that he did just about everything else brilliantly.

No big deal, he’s Seattle’s problem now.  How will they possibly deal with Cano dogging his way to 5-7 wins?

--Posted at 9:10 am by SG / 17 Comments | - (0)




Friday, February 14, 2014

Yankees.com: Yankees among teams scouting Cuban shortstop Aledmys Diaz

Who will man shortstop for the Yankees next year after Derek Jeter retires? Well, here’s one possibility.

FOX Sports’ Jon Morosi reports that the Yankees were among the teams in attendance today to watch a showcase for Cuban shortstop Aledmys Diaz in Arizona. The Cardinals, Blue Jays, Mariners, Padres, and Giants were also on hand.

Diaz, 23, hit .315/.404/.500 with 12 home runs and 11 stolen bases in 313 plate appearances at-bats during his last season in Cuba from 2011-2012. There are questions about his defense, so his future might actually be at second base.

For comparison’s sake, Yoenis Cespedes hit .333/.424/.667 in Cuba.  If Diaz translated similarly he’d hit around .250/.310/.350.  If there are questions about his defense, then I’d have to question his projected value.

But there’s no harm in scouting him.

--Posted at 9:07 am by SG / 51 Comments | - (0)




Thursday, February 13, 2014

And Then There Were None

Bernie Williams was the first Yankee that I really watched develop from minor league prospect to Hall of Fame caliber MLB player, even if he didn’t quite reach the bar.  When Bernie came up in 1991 he was joining a team that had finished last in the AL East in the previous season and was on its way to going 71-91 that year.  He didn’t have a great rookie year, but he showed flashes of what would eventually come and by 1993 he had established himself as the starting CF on a team that was steadily improving.  The Yankees probably would have made the postseason in 1994 if not for the lockout, and then they got the wild card in 1995 and lost a heart-breaking series in the ALDS to Seattle.

For a lot of Yankee fans, Derek Jeter is actually the player that Bernie was for me. 

I’d love to say I remember Jeter’s debut in 1995, but I really don’t.  He got called up towards the end of May and spent a couple of weeks in the majors and didn’t really do anything of note, hitting .234/.280/340 in 50 PA before being sent down until September.  I do remember him getting called up and making a couple of appearances in September.  While Andy Pettitte established himself in 1995 and Mariano Rivera pitched a fair amount, Jeter and Jorge Posada were really footnotes that year, although the fact that Posada made a pinch-running appearance that year in the ALDS tickles me to no end.

I had no idea what was coming next.  I don’t think any of us did.  The fact is, the majority of prospects never pan out.  While Jeter and Posada and Pettitte and Rivera were all considered decent to great prospects, the odds were against them becoming what they eventually did become.  But 1996 saw Jeter, Rivera and Pettitte become key contributors.  It took Posada a few more years to join the mix.  Jeter won the Rookie of the Year in 1996 and the Yankees won the World Series, something they hadn’t done in 18 years.

And we still didn’t know what was to come.  After a disappointing end to the 1997 season, the Yankees demolished MLB in 1998 and Jeter was probably the most valuable player on the team that year, finishing third in the AL in the MVP balloting.  He followed that up with a sublime 1999 that had him as probably the most valuable position player in the league.  Although he never replicated that season again, he continued to provide the Yankees with offense that few teams were getting out of the shortstop position.

As I became more aware of statistical analysis in baseball, I began to resent the deification of Jeter by the mass media.  I’m a bit of a contrarian and the fact that Jeter was so fawned over started to turn me against him.  Despite what some people would like to believe, I never actually ‘hated’ Jeter, but I probably underrated him because of that.  I would focus on the fact that his defensive metrics didn’t match his reputation and that he wasn’t as good as the talking heads made him out to be.  He didn’t occupy the same place in my fandom that Rivera or Bernie did.

The faces changed around the core over the next decade, but Jeter kept on keeping on.  There are way too many memories to list, but I often think about his 2004.  On May 19 Jeter had 183 PA and was hitting .187/.250/.265 in a season that was heading to disaster.  Over his next 538 PA he hit .329/.387/.543 and salvaged a season that looked lost.  And of course, he had his famous sprint/dive into the stands in the July 1 game that year, saving a game that felt like a postseason game that the Yankees would eventually win in 12 innings.

When Jeter hit .270/.340/.370 at age 36 in 2010 (an OPS+ of 90) I thought he was done.  But he proceeded to hit .308/.359/.411 (OPS+ of 107) over the next two years.

I had a hard time getting into last year’s team.  I never thought of myself as a fair-weather fan.  I mean hell, I’m a Buffalo Bills fan and I don’t even remember the last time they had a winning record.  But last year’s Yankee team wasn’t very good and didn’t hold my interest much.  Is it a coincidence that they also didn’t have Jeter for almost the entire year?  Their problems were larger than that, but I can’t help but think that not having him around made the team feel different.

I don’t think the 2014 Yankees are a particularly good team.  They can contend if a lot of stuff goes right, which could happen.  One of those things would be Jeter defying his age, staying healthy and hitting well enough to compensate for his defensive limitations. 

Bernie’s 2003 knee injury ended up turning him from a great player to a replacement level player and as much as I was a fan of his, it was tough to watch him at the end.  Posada’s concussions cost him his job at catcher and his offense out of DH wasn’t good enough although he did end his career with a strong ALDS in a losing cause.

We were fortunate enough to see Rivera and Pettitte exit baseball while still being valuable players.

I hope we’ll get to see the same from Jeter.

--Posted at 10:01 am by SG / 35 Comments | - (0)




Wednesday, February 12, 2014

YESNetwork: Derek Jeter has announced that he will retire following the 2014 season

‏@YESNetwork

Derek Jeter has announced that he will retire following the 2014 season.

--Posted at 2:12 pm by SG / 96 Comments | - (0)




Tuesday, February 11, 2014

RLYW’s Own Prospects Under 25 Thing That Is Totally Not Copying Keith Law (It Totally Is): 1B

So reviewing the Yankees’ system and what they’ve done right and wrong was a noble goal for the offseason.  But like the Yankees having a farm system regularly churning out replacement players, it didn’t happen.  I’d like to think it isn’t because Clay and I are total failures at this, and instead it is because of circumstances not entirely in our control.  That review however will take even longer to complete.

Snuggles note: The Yankees have made some changes in the MiL system this off-season and I suspect we will continue to see some personnel changes through the next year or so. This actually gives us a nice endpoint to use as we look back and build a framework for how we can look at development in the near future

So with that said, Clay and I (along with J) decided that right now we should go ahead and start the process of previewing the 2014 season.  SG I’m sure will do his normal preview for the major league level.  But we want to take it more from a prospect point of view.  Keith Law does a “top players 25 and under” every year, so we thought it would be a good idea to do so for the Yankees.  This will both add a few players already contributing to the major league team, and also eliminate a few players in the minors who may still prove useful.

We’ll be doing these lists individually, so we may have a few different players; I may consider a few players to have a future that Clay does not, and vice versa.  Players will be listed in reverse order of highest level achieved first, down to furthest away from majors.  Each of us will have a “favorite” player in each position we’ll go into in depth, and everyone else will got a short blurb.  We’ll start at first base because, well, that’s the easiest.  First and DH are pretty much interchangeable right now.  If a player hits enough that they’ll use him at DH, he’s probably playing a lot of first as well, and has a shot in the majors.  So without further ado…

(2014 age in parentheses)
Saxon Butler (24) - Bats R, Throws L: 332 PA across A, A+, and AA, 5HR, 8.4% BB rate, 102 wRC+ in 252 PA at Tampa

Yankees had no one in AAA or majors who was really a first-baseman and under 25, and Roller and Clark will be 26 next year, so Butler is it the closest to the majors.  He walks at a decent clip and doesn’t strike out a ton.  Didn’t show much power in Tampa (only .119 ISO), but showed decent power in 2013.  He’ll probably start 2014 in Trenton, not really anyone blocking him from moving to AAA mid-season.  Looks like a AAAA player though, who may good enough to play in majors, but not likely to stick.

Greg Bird (21) - Bats L, Throws R: 573 PA in A ball, 20HR, 18.7% BB Rate(107 walks), .223 ISO, 170 wRC+

Bird of course was converted from C to first base.  By some accounts, he’s the best hitter in the Yankees’ system.  He obviously walks a ton in the minors.  It remains to be seen if it is patience, or passiveness.  He’s also got a fair amount of power, though we’d like to see it develop a bit more as a 1B.  He led all players (min 400PA) in the South Atlantic league in wRC+.  FanGraphs had him adding ~47 RAA.  If he’s an average defensive 1B, that’s a 3+ win player.

There are of course concerns about Bird.  At age 20, he isn’t young for his league, though he’s age-appropriate.  There are some concerns that he may not be aggressive enough at the plate, that his power is merely adequate.  He also strikes out a lot, though considering he’s a power-hitting, high walk 1B that shouldn’t be unexpected.  And of course he just made the full time switch from C to 1B, so there are concerns about his defense.  And finally, concerns about his health as back issues limited him to 122PA the prior two seasons.

All those concerns aside, Bird appears to be a complete hitter.  If he were still catching he’d be a top prospect in the game.  But he isn’t.  So instead his numbers are starting to look a lot like Joey Votto in the minors.  We can only hope his career arc goes anything like that.  Bird will likely start the year in Tampa, and I think if he hits like he did in Charleston, he’ll find himself in Trenton by this summer.  I even wouldn’t be surprised if he spends some time in AAA, depending on where each team is in the playoffs.  Bird has a solid shot at being ready in 2015 at some point, if/when Teix gets injured again. I don’t really see any area that he needs to improve on, though a little more power and a few less strikeouts wouldn’t hurt.  Keep working on defense at first.

Snuggles: I think it’s important to remember that while Bird was age appropriate, he was playing with very little experience in 2013 due to previous injuries. IMO, 2014 is a pretty big year for Bird, and by extension the Yankees development team. To really explode as a prospect he needs to learn to be aggressive in the zone while maintaining his patience/discipline. This change should theoretically land him in fewer 2 strike counts allowing him to cut down on the Ks he racks up due to his extreme patience/passiveness and even potentially improve the rest of his batting line. That being said, it is a change that is far easier said than done. Ultimately, Bird needs to make sure that he stays on the good side between passive and patient, at this point, that seems like what will make him or break him as a prospect/MLB player. Like Mike has pointed out, he is poised to move very quickly, and the Yankees have shown more willingness to aggressively promote in the last year or two. Bird is a prospect to keep an eye on, and really the only 1B prospect with meaningful potential in the Yankees system right now.

Michael Ford (21) - Bats L, Throws R: 136 PA in A-, 123 wRC+, 14.7% BB rate, .139 ISO

Normally a player at that age and level with those numbers wouldn’t be a “prospect”.  But Ford was an undrafted rookie, so first year of pro ball I’ll list him.  Especially since the list is so light.  I imagine he’ll start the year in ExSI, with a shot at starting the year in Charleston.  Good year at Charleston and he’s on the radar.

Others: Matt Snyder (24) - L,R, Reymond Nunez (23) - R,R, Austin Jones (21) - L,R, Christopher Breen (20) - R,R

Snuggles: I had a chance to see Austin Jones play this summer (he goes by Bubba Jones), he looked OK - he didn’t really impress but he was solid. In the games I saw, he did a solid job of putting the bat on the ball but didn’t really connect with that much power, he seemed more like a gap power guy than your prototypical 1B HR threat.

Snuggles: Just to annoy Mike, I’m going to add 2 players to the “other category.” Rob Refsnyder (R,R) spent non-insignificant time at 1B in the low minors in 2013 and hit well, I’d also like to include Peter O’Brien (R,R) who actually didn’t spend any time at 1B in 2013, because I’m crazy like that. Now, I think it’s very unlikely that Refsnyder ends up at 1B, but I think there’s a significant chance that O’Brien does. Refnsyder has played a ton of positions for the Yankees MiL system so far, I think they just want his bat in there as much as possible, but he was drafted as a 2B, which he played in HS, and played OF in college. O’Brien was drafted as a catcher, but is questionable to stick there, the Yankees are also trying him at 3B, but I would not be surprised to see him end up in a 1B/DH role eventually, fortunately he can hit the ball, so that’s not a prospect death sentence.

Thanks to Mike K. for getting us started on this, I’ve been busy/lazy and 1B in the Yankees system is pretty uninspiring (I suppose if you have to have a really boring position prospect wise 1B isn’t a terrible choice). -Snuggles T. Porcupine

--Posted at 11:10 am by Snuggles T. Porcupine / 39 Comments | - (0)



CBS Sports: Two years after trade, Michael Pineda finally ready to help Yankees

It’s hard to think of a high-profile trade that worked out as poorly for both teams as 2012’s Jesus Montero for Michael Pineda swap. Montero hasn’t hit (89 OPS+) and was suspended 50 games for his ties to Biogenesis last year. Hector Noesi, the other guy who went to Seattle, has a 64 ERA+ since the trade. Class A righty Jose Campos missed most of last year with an elbow problem. He was the other guy New York received.

Pineda, meanwhile, has not thrown a single big league pitch since the trade due to a shoulder injury. He suffered a torn labrum during spring training 2012 and has been on the mend since, throwing 40 2/3 minor league innings late last summer as he rehabbed. Pineda reported to the Yankees’ complex early for camp and says he’s finally ready to help the team, two years after the trade.

“I’m feeling 100 percent right now, and my body is in perfect shape,” he said to the Associated Press today. “Everything is in the past. I’m ready to go.”

Pineda is one guy I am excited about in 2014.  While the track record for pitchers returning from shoulder surgery is not great, there have been some success stories like Anibal Sanchez and I’m hopeful Pineda can be an important part of the Yankees this year.

--Posted at 9:17 am by SG / 7 Comments | - (0)




Monday, February 10, 2014

NYDN: The high cost of winning! Yankees head to Tampa with lots of new toys and questions

Joe Girardi might need a scorecard to figure out who everybody is when the Yankees open spring training later this week.

Gone are Robinson Cano, Mariano Rivera and Andy Pettitte among others, while newcomers Masahiro Tanaka, Jacoby Ellsbury, Brian McCann and Carlos Beltran are expected to assume large roles as the Yankees take aim at a return to the postseason.

Alex Rodriguez will also be missing, after being suspended for the entire 2014 season and dropping his lawsuits against Major League Baseball and the players’ union.

Will the new-look Bombers have what it takes to capture their 28th World Series title? They’ll have to answer these five questions during the next seven weeks before Opening Day on April 1.

When we were kids, my brothers and I were really into Star Wars toys.  So any time our parents surprised us with a new action figure or space ship we got excited.  Of course, to my parents any robot = Star Wars, so occasionally they would come home with Maxx Steele and expect us to be happy about it.  We weren’t.

That’s how I feel about the Yankees spending spree this offseason.  Too much Maxx Steele.  Not enough Star Wars.

--Posted at 9:33 am by SG / 56 Comments | - (0)




Sunday, February 9, 2014

NYDN: Yankees looking to make improvements on farm system

It’s all part of the work being done on the Yanks’ oft-criticized farm system. Down the hall from Newman’s office sits a “PhD in advanced math and statistics,” says Newman, a statistical analyst devoted to the player development department. The Yankees have added other staff and scouts.

They will have a second team in the rookie-level Gulf Coast League for the second straight year. Having more players might enhance the chances of more prospects emerging. Will it all show up on the field soon? That, of course, is unknowable now. But, Newman says, “We’ve got some bright dudes here. (The system) is going to go back up, odds are.”

Ooh, a PhD.

--Posted at 11:35 am by SG / 26 Comments | - (0)




Friday, February 7, 2014

McCall: Cashman: Yankees view $155M pitcher Masahiro Tanaka as a No. 3 starter

New York Yankees general manager Brian Cashman told ESPN radio Friday that newly-acquired Japanese star pitcher Masahiro Tanaka has potential to a No. 3 starter.

Tanaka, 25, recently signed a seven-year, $155 million deal with the team, which is the fifth-largest contract ever for a major-league pitcher and the biggest for an international player. He can opt out after four years.

But Cashman downplayed Tanaka’s potential impact.

“We view him to be a really, solid consistent No. 3 starter,” Cashman said. “If we to get more than that, all the better. He’s got a great deal of ability.

This reads as Cashman trying to manage expectations on Tanaka as much as anything, but that’s going to be awfully hard when you give him one of the largest contracts that any pitcher has ever gotten.

But I don’t think it’s unrealistic to think that #3 starter is Tanaka’s most likely outcome.  And while that would certainly help the team, it’d sure feel like a disappointment to me.

Update: In other news, Alex Rodriguez is dropping his lawsuit and accepting his suspension.  He had no chance in hell of winning, so better now than later.

--Posted at 4:44 pm by SG / 39 Comments | - (0)



Fangraphs: 2014 Preview: New York Yankees

Why are the Yankees going to win 93 games?
The prediction on the Yankees is strongly based in the fact that the past two years that the Yankees have not had superb seasons and have had very good outputs. It is shocking to say that the Yankees have not had a great amount of success considering how much money they spend on their team, but that is the truth. At some point, Joe Girardi may need to be given some credit for managing the egos that the Yankees have and for making sure that they are at the top of their games. Last year’s team had no reason to win 85 games and there is more talent on this team.

Fangraphs, changing the underlying components and assumptions in a bunch of ways that make the Yankees look better.

--Posted at 9:24 am by SG / 33 Comments | - (0)



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