I was listening to Friday’s ESPN Baseball Today’s podcast and was less than shocked to discover they had predicted the Yankees to finish third in the A.L. East. Now, I have no problem with anyone picking the Yankees behind Tampa or Boston. They are both tremendous clubs, and I think it’s pretty much a toss up between which of the three mega-powers will emerge from the division. I did have a problem, however, with the ignorant reasoning that went along with their prediction. There are two specific issues I want to address.
#1: The Yankees were predicted to win 87 or 88 games. What!!!??? This is just sheer lazy thought. All Karabell and Pascarelli had to do was look at the records last year to find that the Yanks won 89 games with 2 decent starters but now, with 5 starters ranging from solid to studly, the Pinstripers will somehow win LESS!? They offer zero explanation for why they will win less games despite substantial upgrades at catcher, first base and each rotation spot. Additionally, every major statistical projection model in existence has the Yankees winning at least 90+ games, and there’s a good reason for that: these models actually look at statistics!
#2: The Yankees have a shaky bullpen which is much worse than Boston’s. This is more lazy, unprepared commentary that is a typical belief among the media types who don’t bother looking at statistics. One easy glance at the rankings last year will show that the Yanks had the 5th best pen in the A.L. which was two spots BETTER than Boston, despite having to pitch over 60 more innings!! Anyone with any knowledge of the game will tell you that overextending a bullpen due to poor starting pitching will wreak havoc on bullpen stats, yet the Bombers were a solid fifth despite pitching the third most innings in the A.L. They’ve also fortified the pen by having Marte and Coke available all year, which should make them among the most versatile relief corps in all of baseball. Add in probable appearances by young studs like Melancon and Robertson by mid-season and there’s little question that the pen should be better, yet somehow Pascarelli and Karabell insist that it’s sooo much worse than Boston’s? How does that make any sense?
I would have some sympathy for these guys because they have to cover all of baseball and can’t be expected to have detailed knowledge of the vagaries of every single club, but this wasn’t an off-the-cuff series of answers to some live q & a session. This was a prepared segment in which they had time to do research in advance. They knew they were previewing the A.L. East and had plenty of time to take a long look at all the relevant stats, but they clearly did not do so. These are the clearest and most obvious stats to look at, so they obviously did absolutely no research at all. They just lazily mailed in their performance without even trying. Come on guys, I know the podcast is free, but take some pride in your work.