Joba's Innings in 2009

One question that has yet to be resolved about the Yankees’ starting rotation for 2009 is the number of innings that Joba Chamberlain can be expected to log in the rotation. Tim Dierkes tries to answer that question:

I asked eleven of my favorite baseball writers to predict Chamberlain’s 2009 regular season Major League innings total. Here are the results:

* Will Carroll, Baseball Prospectus: 175
* Peter Abraham, The Lohud Journal: 160
* Ken Rosenthal, FOX Sports: 155
* Peter Gammons, ESPN: 145
* Joe Pawlikowski, River Ave. Blues: 142
* Jerry Crasnick, ESPN: 142
* Ken Davidoff, Newsday: 141.6
* Rick Wilton, Baseball Injury Report: 140
* Rob Neyer, ESPN: 137.6
* Keith Law, ESPN: 125
* Jon Heyman, SI: 109

The average comes to 142.9 innings.

I would like to see Joba touch at the upper end of that range. Regardless, it seems pretty clear that nobody expects a 200 inning season from Chamberlain in 2009. This provides even more support for the position that the Yankees need to add an innings eater at the back of the rotation, as injury concerns and inning ceilings limit Joba, A.J.… Click here to read the rest

Torre: A-Rod a symbol of failure and self-concern

Michiko Kakutani (NY Times) has an excellent review out on the new Verducci-Torre book, The Yankee Years. In the book it seems that Verducci, with Torre’s insider knowledge and expertise, has crafted an insightful text about an evolving franchise and one that experienced (and some could argue is still experiencing) an “identity crisis.”

From Kakutani:

Torre and Verducci note that as the core of the old guard from the championship years dwindled — Tino Martinez, Scott Brosius, Chuck Knoblauch and Paul O’Neill were all history by 2002 — the front office tended to turn to imported All-Stars, who failed to congeal into an effective ensemble. The farm system, which had produced the likes of Derek Jeter, Jorge Posada, Bernie Williams and Rivera, was increasingly neglected, and Steinbrenner began to indulge his taste for what Torre calls “big boppers” like Jason Giambi, who the manager felt “wasn’t part of what we prided ourselves on: playing well defensively.”

This decision, Torre and Verducci write, “made for a whole different dynamic in the Yankees’ clubhouse.” A-Rod’s arrival in 2004 would cement this metamorphosis, and the authors say he became fairly or unfairly “the unmistakable shorthand symbol for why the Yankees no longer were champions and suffered at the rise of the Red Sox”: “Whether hitting 450-foot home runs or sunbathing shirtless in Central Park or squiring strippers, Rodriguez was like nothing ever seen before on the championship teams of the Torre Era: an ambitious superstar impressed and motivated by stature and status, particularly when those qualities pertained to himself.”

With each year’s failure to win a world title, Yankees management grew increasingly desperate, going for the quick fix instead of a long-term plan, bringing to the stadium a succession of aging hitters and what the authors of this book call a “collection of expensive pitchers” — including Kevin Brown, Jeff Weaver, José Contreras, Javier Vázquez, Jaret Wright and Carl Pavano — who “were ill suited for New York, either because they were too emotionally fragile or broken down.” Meanwhile, the team made only lukewarm efforts in 2003 to keep the clutch left-handed pitcher Andy Pettitte, who left for his hometown Houston Astros.

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Yanks Versus Sox: In Depth

I’m analyzing the 2009 version of the greatest rivalry in baseball: the Yankees and Sad Sacks, er Red Sox. I’m not sure if a solar flare hit the earth, the Prime Mover took his eye off our spinning blue marble, or what, but the natural order of the Universe has been disrupted. The Red Sox winning championships and the Yankees consistently coming up second best? This is not acceptable and I have a sneaking suspicion that it’s somehow responsible for this worldwide recession we’re currently undergoing. I can’t prove it yet, mind you (not for lack of trying), but I can’t help thinking these two tragic events are somehow connected.

What I can prove is that the planet has tilted back upon its proper axis and is spinning normally, again. The Yanks have signed the top three free agents on the market, possess a bustling bullpen of young, versatile power arms, and have several key contributors coming back from injuries (Posada, Wang, Matsui) while other Bombers are due for bounce back years (Swisher, Cano, A-Rod, Jeter).… Click here to read the rest

The Final Piece: Why NY Needs Pettitte Back

[Photo courtesy of MLB]

Photo courtesy of MLB

The New York Yankees have allocated over $60 million on free agents for the 2009 season.

Two of these high-priced players were starting pitchers with top-of-the-rotation stuff in CC Sabathia and AJ Burnett.

Sabathia throws a mid-90s fastball and a knockout slider, Burnett touches 97-98mph with his fastball and may currently feature the nastiest curveball in the majors.

Returning from a freak baserunning injury, the Yankees can call upon the groundball machine, Chien-Ming Wang, who, assuming a fully healthy right foot, should offer about 200 innings of sub-4.00 ERA ball. Wang’s turbo sinker also provides a nice change-of-pace when inserted between the power pitching of Sabathia and Burnett.

In terms of the top of the rotation, this impressive trio can compete with any other staff in AL East, and major leagues for that matter.

Behind the three veterans, the Yankees will again look at Joba Chamberlain as a blossoming #1 starter, with only an innings limit and last year’s shoulder tendinitis standing in his way.… Click here to read the rest

Commish For A Day #11: Realignment II, By Value

Since it is about the money, it’s mildly amazing we made it this far without this suggestion • realignment based on what each franchise is worth.

This is fully acknowledged as the bleatings of a beaten Blue Jays fan trying to rationalize his younger self’s shortsighted team-picking (they were really good in the ’80s, plus I’m Canadian). It seems to be a consensus here that baseball is in need of realignment, but the scenario floated here the other day kept the Jays in the AL East with two-thirds of Mt. YankRaysSox . No disrespect, but that won’t do.

One problem with the three-division format and unbalanced schedule is that it gives some of the franchises, considering their financial clout, a softer road toward contention.

In 2006, the St. Louis Cardinals (ninth in the most recent Forbes MLB Valuation) got in the playoffs with 83 wins. The L.A. Dodgers (fourth) got in with 84 last season. The Seattle Mariners were able to contend in the AL West for most of 2007, even though they weren’t a very good team (as 2008 proved).… Click here to read the rest