Saturday, July 12, 2014

The Genius Maker 7-12-14

I am am finally in my new home and getting settled in so the last few days I have watched a little more of the Yankees.  Outside of being too busy to watch and post in depth, this Yankee team isn't all that exciting and the moves the Yankees have made have not been very good.  That being said, I felt that today's game was an important one if the Yankees have any hope.  They really need to win the division games.  Of course, even if we can somehow win the division, the A's, Detroit and Angels are far more talented.  This is not a reason to stop trying, but it is a reason to not mortgage ANY future for present deals.

As for today's game.  I was annoyed when Jeter got thrown out early in the game when he was on 1st and 2 outs and Tex doubled.  Jeter running to 2nd turned and watched to see if the ball was fair and ended up just barely getting thrown out at home to end the inning.  He also fixed his helmet while running which might have slowed him a tiny bit as well.  But, why isn't he just off with 2 strikes, why stop and watch the ball?  That is very poor on his part.

Ichiro came up with 1st and 2nd and nobody out; if the game is close he should be bunting almost every time in that spot; not sure why he isn't?

As stated numerous times our infield defense is atrocious; Jeter didn't make a play last night that cost us that game and today Johnson made a terrible play that didn't cost us.  tex isn't even playing as well as normal at first base.

It is pretty clear that since year 1 of Girardi's hiring of our terrible 3rd base coach I have been all over him, but today we had two guys thrown out at home (I had no issue sending Jeter, but sending Ellsbury was absurd) and we lead the league with 16 guys thrown out at home this year...16!  Robby Thompson is a terrible 3rd base coach and Girardi should be fired for keeping him all these years; seriously.

I would also can our conditioning coach...whatever we are doing isn't working; crazy how many injuries again , especially with the pitching staff.  Not sure who is to blame, but the fact that it has been going one for a few years is enough of a trend for me.

On a positive note, Green looked great today and has been good in his 3 major league starts.  he didn't start the year well, but he has good command of a curve and a very good slider against righties and a fastball that he can turn over to sink at 92-94 and he can throw a 4 seamer when he wants to throw a little harder.  very impressive; hopefully he can stay sharp.

I won't be able to write as often but I will pop in from time to time.  Hope everyone is enjoying their summer!

Thursday, April 24, 2014

The Yankees and Pineda should have been much smarter about using pine tar or whatever substance Pineda wanted to use.  Even the coach of Boston said before the game I would hope he is more discreet about it.  After what happened last time with the same team, it was just stupid to do what they did.  The announcers (which I normally don't normally hear too much of the way I watch) were spot on in their comments.  It makes sense to have a legal substance for all pitchers to have grip.  They have a rosin bag for a reason when it is hot, so why not something that helps when it is cold?  Most pitchers do something in the cold to help with grip, but Pineda and the Yankees were just thumbing their noses at the rules and doing so against the same team they just had an issue with...

As for the game, I was disappointed that Lackey looked very good.  His slider was very good as usual, but he had great run on his fastball and was spotting pitches well.  Pineda was not as bad as it looked but credit Boston hitters for good AB's.  After Pineda started out throwing a consistent 93 in his early starts he has been consistently at 91 of late but getting it up there at 93 when he wanted a little more.  He has good movement though and his off speed pitches move as well.  I would like his changeup a little slower, but I like the way the Yankee pitchers are taking something off their fastballs at times and then bringing it harder when needed.  Tanaka did a great job of that the other night having a range of 91-95 on his fastball and it looked to me that there was a great plan of when to mix it up.  Of course, his breaking ball and fork ball were excellent and I was thrilled to see that.  I thought he was the great the other night!

Nova probably getting Tommy John surgery is a big blow; it is amazing how a guy is throwing and then shakes his arm and the next thing you know he needs Tommy John surgery. I shake my arm like that after every throw when I play softball...

A few other comments:

Jeter's defense has really been ugly.  He hurt Nova by messing up a fairly easy play up the middle on a ball that did have a lot of spin but he should have fielded the ball very close to the last hop to avoid the spin. In fact, on that play his first step was toward 3rd which made it even worse.   Then later on a routine grounder he threw it in the dirt and Tex couldn't scoop it.  Tex has played very poorly in the field this year as well.  In fact the Yankee defense has been pretty poor.  Even Gardner struggled yesterday in RF, but that does take some getting used to as the spin goes the opposite way and Gardner misjudged the ball down the line; even if he was afraid of the wall; he should have gone full speed and slid.

A bunch of nights ago, Ichiro was thrown out stealing on a play he beat the throw but ended up being tagged out because he has to have the worst slide of any very good base stealer in the history of the game.  He literally digs his front foot into the ground and it slows him up a lot, let alone the possible injury risk if he digs in too hard.  Next time you watch him steal, you will see a player that slows himself up sliding more than any player I have ever seen.  It is amazing he has stolen 473 bases with a success rate of 82%; if he knew how to slide I bet it would be closer to 90%.  That being said, he has played far better than we could have hoped so far and I hope he keeps it up (I doubt it though).  The crazy thing is he is hitting lefties at a .915 OPS and righties at .722.

McCann has started to go the other way with some power and that is very good to see.  I like that he is adjusting to the shift...take note Mark Teixeira!  I hate that mark says that he would not consider laying down a bunt or going away from his strength; I think it is absurd.  It doesn't mean he should change his entire approach, but what it means is if you get a fastball out over the plate or you wait on an outside breaking pitch you can serve it into LF and take a hit.  or lay a bunt down once in awhile and take the easy base?  The fact Tex has 1 extra base hit and has a pathetic .555 OPS makes you wonder why he is being so stubborn?  He will hit better regardless if he listens to me, but why not maximize your chances?

Kelly Johnson has done a nice job at the plate for us getting some power and being able to hit both ways so far (a little better against righties).

I am not sure how much longer we will keep the Brian Roberts experiment going?  He should not be playing against righties as I thought he was going to platoon with Johnson when we got him...that probably should still happen.  Of course, that is assuming Solarte can keep it up.  I can't get a good read on Solarte because he is such a free swinger.  Usually, that will lead to lower OPS based on not walking and getting himself out too much, but he has shown a good ability to make contact.  He appears to be much better from the left side of the plate than the right as his swing is quicker to the ball.  I just looked up his numbers and Solarte has an OPS of 1.076 against righties and .577 against lefties; I didn't realize there was such a large discrepancy, but I do like his swing and approach from the left side a lot more.

Scott Sizemore will probably platoon against lefties as he looks good so far.  I think he has had some tough AB's, meaning the pitchers have made good pitches against him and so far in only 8 AB's against lefties he has 4 hits (2 doubles).

Let's get this last game against Boston!

Monday, April 21, 2014

Before I get into last night's game and then a more thorough view of the team to date, I was looking through this site and down the right side of the page.  I was looking at my archive of posts and noticed that if I were a ball player the trend would be that peaked in 2010.  My posts started low in 08 and then increased to 29 in 09 until my peak of 2010 where I had 156 and then down hill to 111, 91 and only 40 last year. The way this year started and I am in the process of moving (only around the corner), I may need to work to get to 40...hopefully I can have a bounce back year!

Last night's game (Sunday):  Nuno did a nice job stepping in and mixing things up and seemed more comfortable starting than in relief where he might not "pitch" as much as throw strikes.  His stuff is not great, but yesterday he did the job for us.  In a 1-0 game I was surprised Girardi took Phelps out after only 1.1 innings and he had just struck out Myers to lead off the inning?   He wanted Thornton to face a lefty (Loney),  but when your starter is out after 5 you need to get some length out of someone who is looking decent.  Unless it is a key situation you should not be matching up so much in a tight game with 8 more outs to go; because it could be a lot more outs and in this case it was as it went into extra innings.

Speaking the obvious, our defense in the infield is pretty bad.  The one guy you expected to be your best, Tex, has been bad with 3 errors in limited time.  Even Dean Anna, who has been very good defensively blew one yesterday.  Roberts, who has been awful at the plate and weak defensively, had a poor call error against him as he clearly caught the ball on the attempted DP and then moved the ball toward his throwing hand and lost the ball in the exchange.  I am not sure why Girardi didn't review it as I thought it was clear?  It ended up costing us as we would have been out of the inning with no damage, but instead they tied the score.

Staying on defense; Jeter's lack of range has been extremely evident all year as many times I was very surprised he didn't get to a ball.  In this same 7th inning a rocket was hit to his right (in the hole) and Jeter was only able to dive similar to what a 3rd baseman would do on a rocket shot, but if Jeter could have taken a half or a full step he would have made the play.  I looked at the play in slow mo and other player did take a step; the reaction is just not there for Jeter.

I am glad to see Girardi not be afraid of taking Jeter out and in this game he took Jeter out after a leadoff single in the 11th to use Ichiro as a pinch runner.  It didn't work as Ichiro got thrown out and then Anna ended up batting in a key spot (not the way you would draw it up), but Anna did come through with the key AB in the game working a walk in a good 8 pitch AB where Anna was down 1-2 before working the count back and fouling off pitches before he held up on a breaking ball away.  This forced in the go ahead run after Maddon intentionally walked Ellsbury to load up the bases.  Maddon is not afraid to go the unorthodox way and I think he is an excellent manager.  I think he turned the game around in this series when the Yanks were up 4-0 and had a threat going when Jeter stepped to the plate in the 4th inning.  He decided to make a move early because this was the one opportunity to try and stop the bleeding and keep the game in check.  He yanked his pitcher early and brought in a righty to face Jeter...he got Jeter out and then Tampa came back and ended up blowing us out.  That was a key point in the game and Maddon knew it.

Two quick things and I will go through the players later tonight.  I hope Nova will be fine.  His stuff is good, but he just needs to get it under control as he hung far too many pitches, but give Tampa credit as they took advantage when he made a mistake.  I am very interested to see Pineda pitch again.  His first game I commented on him throwing a consistent 93 and getting up to 95.  This last outing he started about the same and then the rest of the game he was at 90.  I am not sure if anyone else said anything as he was very effective, but it was clear his velocity dropped a lot.  he was getting a lot of movement and that is probably better, but still showing the 93+ MPH makes the other pitches that much better.  He has done a great job of throwing strikes, walking only 3 batters in 18 innings.  I am interested to see how his velocity is though...it is possible the cold weather does impact this, but when he started at one speed and then it changed a lot I have concerns.  Like I said though, he can still be effective changing speeds, having good movement and hitting spots without walking many guys; and he has done that so far.

Hey, we are in 1st place!

Saturday, April 5, 2014

I watched game 5 and I thought Pineda looked pretty good.  His slider was clearly very good and his fastball was a consistent 93, but my hope is that fastball becomes a consistent 94+.  I liked that he is not walking many batters.

One item I wanted to discuss in the earlier games was when McCann got hit on a foul tip off his hand. I have had an issue about this for some time and after Cervelli went out last year (much after I already complained about a bunch of times) you would think the Yanks would be all over this?  Well McCann still was leaving his hand out in the open in that game.  However, since then he seems to be hiding it a lot more and that is a good thing.  It will not impact anything as you can take the hand out if you need to if a guy is running or even take chances in times like that, but with nobody on you surely can hide your bare hand...Hopefully we will see all the catchers do this.

In the 3rd inning there was a play at the plate and Cervelli was called out when the catcher was blocking home plate without the ball. As it turned out the umps reviewed the play and upheld the call.  Kay thinks it will be a big issue but I think it is the right thing that they are trying to do.  Of course, being an ex catcher I have a bias, but I never understood how a runner could just plow a catcher over even if the catcher was giving him the plate.  I once got hit by a linebacker running full speed and he came up with forearm to my lip and I literally went flying a good 5 feet (explains a lot).  They also were saying the catcher had to go get the ball and that is why he drifted to block the plate.  I do not agree with that at all, he didn't have to drift, he did what catchers always had done which was position himself to catch the ball and block the plate.  He could have just drifted over in front of the plate instead of drifting back and over to block the plate?  I have no idea how Kay harped on the wrong thing?  Of course, the other part that Singleton did mention was that I thought Cervelli was simply touching the plate before he was tagged and I don't know hwy Girardi didn't challenge that as he was safe.

the Yankees offense was just baffled by the knuckle baller today.  I skimmed a lot of the AB's so I do not have enough opinion on the hitting strategy today, but it clearly didn't work.  Without Tex the lineup is toothless.  They will need to win with pitching because their IF defense is not strong.  In fact, the first AB of the game Melky grounded a routine ball to Jeter who stayed back on the ball and then didn't have the arm strength to throw Melky out and bounced the throw and Melky just barely beat it out.  It was a terrible play by Jeter and I don't know how Melky got a hit when the fielder stayed back on the ball and then threw in the dirt even though it was picked.  It was an error and a play that should be made at least 90% of the time.

BTW, look at the previous blog regarding the first 4 games

Hello Yankee fans; yes I am still doing this! 

Let me get right to some predictions. 

I get the feeling CC will struggle opening day followed by a decent performance by Kuroda who will surprisingly have Mark Teixeira (our only good infield defender) fail him as Tex will fail the other pitchers as well, in the first few games.  The Yanks will lose the first two games before rebounding to equal their record after 4

Seriously, my comments through the 1st four games…This was written BEFORE game 5

I was glad to see the Yankees keep Dean Anna and Solarte for a few reasons.   I had written this about Anna in December, “may platoon with lefty Dean Anna (27) who is a guy the Yanks picked up as part of a trade with SD who couldn’t keep him on their 40 man roster.  This is a deal that could be an excellent one.  He had very good stats in the minors last year (.929 OPS against righties but in the hitting friendly Pacific Coast League), however, he has been a career minor leaguer.  I have no idea about his defense, but this deal is one that appears to be a good one.”  He is a guy who gives us flexibility and I did like that he played SS in game 4 so he can support the infield in many places.  If he can give us an 800+ OPS against righties I think he will be playing 2nd base a lot for us.  Anna, seems to have a good eye at the plate and I like high OBP guys.  Solarte was hot in the minors and I would rather give him a shot than Nunez who, as you know, I was never a fan of his defense.  It is early but Solarte has been our best player so far so let’s ride it out!

Game 1:  As I wrote earlier, CC didn’t look any different than last year as his command is not where it needs to be.  He needs to be spotting his pitches far better.  We were sleep walking at the bat most of that game. There was very poor defense as well.  McCann threw one away, but the ump was in the way.  tex was bad as well.

Game 2:  Kuroda did look pretty good but our defense didn’t help again and our bats were pretty silent again.  Kuroda won’t pitch to the same ERA as last year but he will be good; in fact, I am very excited about our starters and want to watch Pineda pitch because if he pitches well our starting staff is as good as almost anyone’s; CC may be our weakest pitcher.  I am very hopeful about Pineda and was one of teh few people in favor of the trade to get him and trade away Montero.

Game 3: Nova’s stuff looked good, but he had poor command with 5 walks (4 too many), but got through with the help of double plays.  We got just enough hitting to take our first game of the year.  Solarte did the heavy lifting for us and Robertson did his job.  Probably the most popular question I received in the off season was about Robertson and how he would do.  I don’t expect him to be Rivera, but his stuff is good enough where he shouldn’t be an issue.  He will blow 3-6 saves which is in line; hopefully it is close to the lower end. I am more worried about our infield defense and now Tex being out as he is important to our power of the team.   I do hate that Tex refuses to go the other way with the shift, even if it is to lay down a bunt.  I find the arrogance/stubbornness to be self-defeating.

Game 4:  I liked what I saw from Tanaka.  I was very interested in watching him and I liked that he was consistently at 93, and showed a good slider and a solid splitter and very good control.  I love the fact he doesn’t walk many batters (the same reason why I like high OBP guys on the offensive side).  It was a little uncomfortable to see the first batter of his Yankee career go deep on him, but it was a hanging split and Melky jumped on it.  The next inning Tex blew it by not taking the out at 1st, but after that Tanaka was sharp and honestly could have easily pitched the 8th inning as he had retired the last 12 batters he faced.  He had thrown 97 pitches, but he was in complete control and he is used to throwing complete games.  It was game 1 but I would have let him go until a batter got on.  Ellsbury and Solarte had great games and Robertson did his job; 2 for 2, even if this one was not a save.  I have to say that Girardi really ticked me off.  Why in the world would he leave Betances in to start the 9th just because we scored another run to make it a 4 run lead and not a save situation?  I mean it is absurd that he manages differently because of the save rule.  I honestly believe he would manage the 9th inning differently if they changed the save rule; which makes no sense to me.  Tex commits 3 mistakes in 4 games (I think he only got 2 errors as the throw home was a fielder’s choice), and now pulls his hammy again.  This really stinks as he needs to be at least solid for us.  If he is out for a long time, I wonder if we can try Soriano over there?  They did move Kelly Johnson to 1st and he made a nice diving stop.  Without Tex our offense may be very weak...of course that assumed Tex would be hitting well.

One other comment was when Ichiro was up against a touch lefty, with a runner on 3rd and one out with the score 5-3 in the 7th inning, it was a perfect opportunity to squeeze bunt.  Ichiro is not a good sac fly guy, he is also a good bunter so why not do it then?  Girardi refuses to EVER try a squeeze; I honestly don’t believe he has tried it yet, if anyone can refute that please do.  I would bet it didn’t happen more than once in his managerial career with us. 

Instant replay was very helpful for us as changing the call at first base allowed us to get 2 runs we would not have had.  I like it in baseball as the game is not bound by time like other sports.  Also, momentum is not as big a deal as other sports as well.

I will update the Pineda game after I watch it

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

12-18-13


 

Since Cano left the Yankees appear to be trying to “save face.”  Unfortunately, they have continued to react and not set out the plan of attack that they wanted. 

Beltran has been good the last few years (and his career).  He played the OF the last two years and played a lot of games (over 600 plate appearances each year with a combined OPS of .837).  Beltran will be 37 in April so the Yanks have gone old again, but he can play some DH to keep him fresh.  I would not have been in favor of spending this money on Beltran, but once Cano was gone it is not a bad move; I just think we are spending the money that could have gone to Cano (remember, my issue is not that I would have wanted to pay Cano what Seattle did…in fact I heard Cano would have taken 5 mil or so less to stay here and I would not have done that either – my issue was that we should have locked Cano up before he became a free agent and I am 100% sure we could have gotten him for MUCH less.  Remember that there were some slumps a year or so ago when I said they should speak to him now and sign him when he was struggling).  Beltran is the type of hitter who can hit good pitching (not a phrase I use often) and I only bring that up because mistake hitters feed off poor pitching and come playoff time they usually see less poor pitches to hit.  Please keep in mind this is not saying he is clutch (I have discussed this numerous times), I am just saying he is a hitter that is not overpowered by fastballs or has to cheat too much for plate coverage.  Of course, as he ages his skills are eroding.  But 45 mil for 3 years is more than Pedroia is getting (I won’t keep harping on this) and we are getting him at 37, 38 and 39 years of age.  He will help us but at 15 mil a year for 3 years, I would want more help.  It also highlights what I said last year; the wasted money on Ichiro (6.5 mil) and Wells (2.4 mil).  Ichiro is an OK backup OF’r, but at 6.5 mil I would want more…or at least a specialist at something.  His defense is still above average, but clearly not great. 

So my message has been about spending the money wisely.  So again, let me give some comparisons.  The O’s signed Grant Balfour to a 2 year 15 mil dollar deal.   Because of the bad deals we made last year we have 8.9 mil a year for Wells and Ichiro…would you rather have wells and Ichiro or a solid closer who has had around a 2.45 ERA the last 4 years and the last 2 years as a closer has saved 92% of his games?  I am not such a huge fan of Balfour (I believe we actually hit him), but my point is who would you rather have?  The answer is pretty clear.

The Yanks just signed Matt Thornton (2 years at 3.5 per year) and Brian Roberts (1 year at 2 mil).  These are pretty low level signings (which can add up), but these will help us.  Thornton used to be very good, but he still is effective and is kind of like Logan, although not as good overall (Boone had his best year last year), but a little better against lefties.  Boone is 5 or so year’s younger but for 2 years the signing is fine.  Boone got a 3 year deal that averages 5.5 a year as a comp.   All the money is a bit crazy so the comps keep it in perspective (for at least me).   Roberts is a good one year deal because he can hit lefties pretty well (.800 OPS) and he may platoon with lefty Dean Anna (27) who is a guy the Yanks picked up as part of a trade with SD who couldn’t keep him on their 40 man roster.  This is a deal that could be an excellent one.  He had very good stats in the minors last year (.929 OPS against righties but in the hitting friendly Pacific Coast League), but has been a career minor leaguer.  I have no idea about his defense, but this deal is one that appears to be a good one.

While on 2nd base, I was not in favor of the Gardner for Brandon Phillips trade straight up.  Phillips is a stellar defender which I like, but his offense is suspect (OPS of .706 last year but a career .749).  He is 32 and is signed for a reasonable 12.5 mil a year for the next 4).  It would not have been a bad deal considering what has already been done (I think the Yankee would have been better off not signing Ellsbury to such a long deal and try to lock up Gardner before he is a free agent), but I was fine holding Gardner as insurance for Ellsbury getting injured.  Basically, we decided to get Beltran and not get Phillips because we didn’t have to give up a player to get Beltran.

The Yanks are going for the Japanese pitcher Tanaka…it makes sense if he is as good as people say he is.   Hopefully Pineda is back (critical for us), but Tanaka would help a lot as CC performed like a 5th starter last year.  Hopefully it was an aberration year, but the loss of velocity is a huge concern.  If his velocity were the same and he just got hammered for a bad year I would feel much better.  But, honestly, last year, he simply had mediocre stuff. 

One final note as an ex catcher I must speak to…and that is the new rules they want to implement regarding collisions.  I have written a few times over the years wondering why catchers are allowed to get run over.  I am glad they are looking at it (it takes a star to get hurt before they wake up), but I think the rules should just be the same for all bases.  That is, no defender can block the path of a runner going into any base.  They must be allowed to slide into a base safely, you can only block the path with the ball either in the hand or in the glove.  This solves the issue.  Catchers must leave the back part of the plate for a runner as an example.  The next logical discussion will be runners breaking up DP’s and how they can’t interfere with fielders unless a slide into the base and slightly over base.  With instant replay becoming a larger part of baseball, the “area” play where the SS or 2nd baseman leave the base a little early should be enforced.

Tanaka next

Friday, December 6, 2013

The new signings!


I hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving!  I know it has been awhile, but …let’s get at it!
I hate the Ellsbury signing!  The Yankees have blown it!  They simply don’t understand what value means and they waste so much money and then still want to get under 189?   I do understand the "want" to get under $189 BTW.

The Ellsbury contract is basically a 7 year deal at 153 mil (21.86/year because of 5 mil buyout) or 8 years at $169 mil ($21.13/yr).  This allows us to get Ellsbury for 16 mil the last year if the Yanks want to.
I think they were smart to hold the dollar amount on Cano to 25 mil a year for 7 years.  I would have held at 6 years because I am not so sure who is giving out that type of coin, but I am ok 7 because he is your main guy and making him a Yankee for life has some value.  He has a chance to go down as the greatest 2nd baseman of all time…and will be up there.  BUT, how do you tell a proven elite player, that is yours, that you don’t want to go more than 25 and then you go give 22 mil a year for Jacoby Ellsbury?  WHAT?   JE is a very good player; in fact he is a slightly rich man’s version of Gardner who I think is very valuable, but 22 mil and at 7 years?  NO WAY!  Who was going to give him even close to that amount?  Who were the Yanks bidding against?  This is the same stupidity they did with ARod when they gave the 3 final years when they didn’t need to; 7 years would have gotten it done.  In this case 5 at 100 seemed more than enough to get it done; the Yanks just needed to be patient. 

Now how do you go back to Cano and say you are only worth 3 mil more than a guy who has had some injuries and his game is predicated on speed?  HORRIBLE decision and a much bigger risk than Cano.  Now the Yanks will sign Kelly Johnson for 3-4 mil so they chose Ellsbury and Johnson instead of Cano?  Johnson is an OK guy but not a difference maker.  Again, Ellsbury is a very good player, but his speed will be diminished 5 years from now and you have an albatross contract once again at the end.   I hope we can sign Cano, but I think this contract makes it highly unlikely and if nothing else hurts your bargaining situation.

Let me put into perspective why Boston just won the WS and we are acting like a desperate franchise.   Boston signed Pedrioa to a 6 year extension that starts in 2016 for a whopping $14.2 mil a year.  Yeah, 14.2 mil a year.   Ellsbury is a pretty similar worth to Pedroia when Jacoby is healthy.   Cano is a little better than Pedroia.  The Yanks should have kept Cano (and they would have), I mean would he really go to Seattle for a few more mil a year…no way, he wants to win and I would be surprised Seattle would give him some 8 year deal worth much more than the yanks anyway. 

Ellsbury had a career year in 2011 where he was truly elite.  He had a .928 OPS to go along with his speed.  He hit 32 HR’s that year but never hit more than 9 before or after (kind of strange).  He had injured years in 2010 and 2012 that were bad, but overall his career numbers show an OPS of .789 with adjusting for his SB’s he gets another 50 points for SB’s which puts him at an OPS of .840.   (this is pretty similar to what he did last year so that is a good expectation.  He is fast but not an elite defender, perhaps similar to Gardner in CF but probably slightly worse. (Gardner played elite in LF and was starting to play really well in CF)

The Yanks also signed McCann who is another huge risk.  Nothing is guaranteed, but the Yanks just shot their money on two risks.   Ellsbury is a low to mid .800 OPS guy and a good defender who has to stay healthy and McCann is a guy who is showing signs of slowing down from catching a lot.  I love offensive catchers and if he can come back to be a good hitter the risk will pay off, but again it is a risk because in 2012 he had the least amount of AB’s he has had since his rookie year to only have even less in 2013.  His career OPS is .823 (which is really good for a catcher), but his last 2 years were .698 and .796 respectively.  Now, we could look at all of this and say that the .698 was an aberration because it was only one bad year.  However, one thing really concerns me, and it is not that he was 0-13 in the playoffs last year.  It is that the 2nd half of last year his OPS was .680 and this is showing a little bit of breakdown over the past 2 years.  He also had an OPS of .858 at home and .740 on the road.  He is a big pull hitter so the short porch can help, but we better make sure we can offset the lefties out of the pen because most teams have 2-3 lefties in the pen (only we don’t) and in key AB’s lefties will be used.  His career OPS is just over 100 points higher against righties (.857-.744).

All in all, I think the Yanks messed up and far overpaid for Ellsbury.  The McCann contract was a lot as well, but our catching situation was terrible and now while risky should be at least average and could be very good.  17 mil was on the higher side, but I do think that was around where they needed to be to sign him.   I don’t love the signing but at least it makes some sense.  Ellsbury was just as risky but committed more money and overpaid for the risk…bad decision.

Now, let’s hope we get lucky with these…of course it could work out for a few years but I bet the last 2 years will probably going to be ugly.

Moving forward, I want to discuss some of the thoughts I had regarding the moves we made last year.  My main issues with the Wells and Ichiro signings had to do with the payments for the years but just as important; the road block for young guys to come up and contribute.  It is pathetic that in a year like last year we once again didn’t develop anyone!  This is a critical point as you never get a chance to see if the young talent can contribute and thus contribute cheaply.  It is fine if the older and costlier players are producing, but we didn’t get much, nor should have we expected much.  The big picture showed:

Ichiro – .660 ops and good defense for 6.5 mil for 2 years

Wells - .631 OPS for 11.5 mil (Yanks cost)  and 2.4 this year.  We are giving Wells 2.4 mil and my issue is that if you take both their salaries this year, for 9 mil. you could get a good player that can help.  Shoot, Pedroia was only 14 mil so if we don’t spend 5 mil on mediocre players a few more times you get a star.  Like I have said over and over on this blog, the yanks should go spend the money on the truly elite players and then fill in with young rookies/inexpensive people and then when making a run you see what is needed and you get a “Soriano” as needed.  BTW, Soriano costs us 5 mil this year as the Cubs pay 13 mil of his 18 mil this year.  Even if Soriano was not as hot as he was for us and he gave us his career numbers (.825 OPS) that makes more sense to fill in as needed.  I am not in love with his type of offense (not working walks and swinging at everything, but at least he can be productive.

Just going back to Ichiro…and the signing for 6.5 million a year for 2 years.  Last year I used the example of Chris Dickerson as someone we could have had for league minimum (400k) and he would do what Ichiro did.  Ichiro ended up with an adjusted OPS of .660 when you take SB’s into account.  Dickerson who didn’t get many AB’s finished with an OPS of .666 so they were pretty darn similar.  Of course, part of my argument was that a younger player (even younger than Dickerson) who is given a shot to play all the time could get better (in truth, they could get worse as well as they could get exposed as well).  The other part is what you could do with the 6 mil in savings as noted above?

Needless to say I am disappointed because I don’t think we get Cano now because of the Ellsbury signing.  If he can stay healthy he will help us, but I think we will at best get our monies worth if all goes perfectly and the odds are we will have yet again overspent needlessly.

Friday, September 13, 2013

9-12-13

We won and that is all that matters but this win didn’t gain too much for us as everyone who played won except of course Baltimore.  Texas and KC were idle.  It was huge to come back and win the last 3 games against Baltimore but Gardner being hurt is an issue as he is probably our 3rd most important position player (Behind Cano and ARod).  He had a twinge in his oblique and that can be an issue in baseball (has sidelined Joba and Nunez for over a month).  Hopefully they can shoot him up and keep him in the game…even if just a defensive replacement and pinch runner.

Some notes:


  • I was extremely pleased that Girardi recognized the righty lefty advantage that was discussed here and had the short leash on Hughes and I thought he took him out at the perfect time.  I also thought he did a good job with Huff as well.  Good job to change your “way” Girardi!
  • Both Huff and Hughes did their jobs allowing 2 runs in 6 innings of work (no walks).  Hughes was missing his spots like crazy, but he did have a little pop in his fastball.  Huff had a good changeup, which he used well
  • Unfortunately, Robertson was awful.  He was grooving fastballs with little movement and for some reason Stewart was not calling for breaking balls?  If you remember I mentioned Valencia being a first pitch swinger and a good fastball hitter.  Of course, Stewart called for a fastball and Robertson grooved it for a 3 run tying HR.  It was a brutal blow and it could have possibly been avoided if Stewart and Roberston used his good curve ball.  Later on they used the curve and got out of the inning. 
  • It was good to see our new SS (Ryan) contribute with the leadoff hit in the 9th.  After Baltimore messed up the sac attempt, Granderson bunted and they threw a wild pitch Baltimore walked Arod setting up 1st and 3rd with one out and Soriano grounded into what could have been a huge DP with a 2-0 count on him.  I thought he would beat it out but he didn't get down the line well.  Speaking of running, ARod is playing with a bad leg as you saw him literally jog to 3rd on a double. 
  • Stewart throws great but he had a bad game calling pitches and receiving/blocking last night.
  • The Genius Maker spotted his pitches pretty well and retired 3 straight batters (in his 3rd straight game of work) and picked up the win!  I was actually disappointed he picked up the win as I wanted him to get the save but the official scorer felt Robertson didn’t deserve the win pitching so poorly.  C’mon, throw Rivera another save please???  After the DP by Soriano I was concerned but Mo came through.
  • Now 3 in Boston before we get a day off and go to Toronto

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Somehow, only one out

Wow, one out!  The last 2 games against Baltimore were huge and tonight is no different.  Many of the teams are playing each other and control their own destiny down the stretch so any good wining streak can put any team in great shape.  Tonight’s game is very big and of course the Tampa games are as well…that being said, every game is big as the standings flip flop quickly as bunched up as they are.  Tampa has won only 4 of their last 20 or so and Texas is 2-8 in their last 10 so they are opening the door for us...and others.

The Yanks have shown very good comeback ability of late and it has been fueled mostly by the HR.  Last night was no different as Granderson closed a 3-1 gap to 3-2, then ARod tied up with a nice opposite field HR in the 6th and then in the top of the 9th Cano gave the Yankees the lead.  While the HR’s were key the Yanks did play some small ball.  Gardner got the Yanks started by walking, stealing 2nd, and then he moved to 3rd on an ARod ground ball and scored on a Cano GB.  Then the huge insurance run in the 9th occurred after Granderson tripled on a ball that was somewhat misplayed by Adam Jones.  Reynolds struck out and against the lefty, Girardi had to leave Overbay in their because you wanted to have your best defensive player in the field with a lead  and Lyle delivered with a ground ball infield single with 2 outs.  Obviously with Overbay running the ball had to be placed well and he definitely beat the throw but it was a long play…and a crucial one, especially in such a small park.

Rivera let up another run with 2 outs (seems to be struggling closing some of these out), but some credit needed to go to the Baltimore hitters, specifically Roberts, but also McClouth (who drove an outside pitch to deep center that would have been caught but Gardner was correctly positioned very shallow to give maximum chance for an out).  The Roberts AB was interesting as Rivera worked both sides of the plate but Roberts seemed to protect both sides well.  Rivera could get strikes on Roberts buy coming inside and having him pull them foul, but finishing him off was the hard part.  After a discussion, Stewart and Mo decided to come up and in on Roberts and Rivera nailed the glove perfectly, but Roberts got on top of the pitch and hit a single to RF to cut the lead to one.  Rivera did close it out by striking out Machado on a high inside cutter.  The Genius Maker also got a possible break on a call to Machado but it was close…might have been low but it crossed the plate.

Some other notes:

  • I said this last year and again this year (not sure if I said it in the blog this year), but I like ARod in the 2 hole.  He can hit to all fields, can take pitches to allow Gardner to steal and ARod gets on base (.383 OBP tied for team lead with Cano).  In fact ARod’s OPS is .896 and Cano’s is .899 to easily lead the team (Soriano 3rd with an .827…low because of his bad .298 OBP).
  • Gardner does not seem to be running as well as usual.  In his SB in the 1st, he got a decent jump and the pitch was a breaking ball in the dirt and while the throw was very quick, strong and accurate, usually on a breaking ball Gardner is easily safe and he was barely safe.  He used to get weak jumps and beat throws.
  • Stewart has not been calling great games lately IMO (the pitchers sometimes shake him off and have something to do with it as well) and we know he is not a good hitter, but he can throw with the best of them.  His last 3-4 throws have been excellent.  Great release, good strength on the throws as well and pretty good accuracy.  Yesterday he made another great throw.  That is clearly his strength.
  • I think shutting Jeter down will help the team.  His defense has been below average before the injury and with the injury he was as much a liability defensively as Nunez.  Further, Jeter was swinging awful and Girardi kept putting him up in the 2 hole and it was killing us.  His .190 BA and .542 OPS speak volumes.  I said this before and I still think it is true, Jeter should be playing 3rd base next year as he simply is not good enough to play SS and the Yanks are going to need to have that conversation with him. ARod could DH and play some 3rd base and or 1st.  Jeter is 39 and in June next year he will be 40…no shame in getting off of SS.
  • I like the pickup up of Brendan Ryan.  The Yanks needed a good fielding SS and you can see the range and the quicker hands and crisp arm he has.  He did miss a play he could have gotten in the hole, but the ball was hit very hard and you can see a guy who can play some very good SS and the Yanks need that desperately.  He can’t hit well, but I think you will see him start and get pinch hit for if needed, or we play Nunez and bring him in with a lead.  I
  • It is a shame, but the same things written here about Nunez still hold true, he simply is not good defensively and while he has been swinging better of late, his overall stick does not come close to making up for his defensive shortcomings.  For the year Nunez has an OPS of .666…but for the month of September (27 AB’s he is has an OPS of .935.  He should be used as a pinch runner and a pinch hitter.
  • Switching to the Girardi/Showalter spat…Girardi was foolish…stealing signs is not something to get mad at unless the batter is trying to look into the catchers signs when he is up.  Girardi should have shut up and not made an issue of it and instead change his signs.  Barking at the 3rd base coach was not his place IMO.