You can’t be serious

Readers of this site know that not too long ago Baseball Prospectus released its PECOTA projections for the 2010 end-of-season standings. While the CAIRO and CHONE projections had the Yankees finishing as the top team in all of baseball, BP originally forecast the Bombers to miss the playoffs entirely.

The Yankee blogosphere didn’t let this slide even for one second, and SG from RLYW immediately found a flaw in BP’s methodology and wrote about it. Over here at Yankeeist, we poured through BP’s numbers and explained the flaws we saw here, here and here. (Many other blogs would have found this to be an onerous use of resources, but Yankeeist employs a crack team of statisticians.)

BP responded to the criticism and called mulligan, updating PECOTA not once, but twice. On the first update the Yankees wound up tied with the Red Sox atop the AL East. On the second update BP got with the program and put our boys back on top — until recently.
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Hughes Plans To Work On Changeup

From Chad Jennings (courtesy of RAB Twitter):

For now, Phil Hughes is only throwing fastballs and changeups in his bullpen sessions, and he expects to throw one more bullpen before he mixes in curveballs and cutters. He compared the development of his changeup to last year’s development of the cutter. “I’ll concentrate on it all spring,” he said. “Hopefully I’ll get it to a point where it’s a solid pitch for me. It just comes with repetition.”

Although Hughes does not need a changeup to be successful as a reliever or a decent starter, he may need one to be an upper echelon type starter. The cutter is simply a fastball variant, and I am not sure he can get by throwing a fastball or similar pitch 70-75% of the time. Mixing in a solid changeup, even if he only throws it once an inning, will help keep hitters off balance and will force them to refrain from sitting on the fastball and curve.… Click here to read the rest

I'd make a joke about denial and Egyptian rivers but I'm afraid David Wright would take it too literally

Super-earnest, reality-shunning third baseman David Wright really, really believes in his lovable ragtag band of underachieving (and $150 million) misfits, also known as the 2010 New York Mets.

Despite the fact that their 2009 season was an unmitigated disaster. Despite the fact that they have no reliable pitching after Johan Santana, even though there were several opportunities to go out and upgrade the rotation this winter (where were the Mets on John Lackey, Rich Harden, Ben Sheets or even Chien-Ming Wang?) Despite the fact that they inexplicably resigned Alex (career .291 wOBA) Cora . Despite that they have no catcher and once again played pining, unrequited lovelorn geek to Bengie Molina’s moderately attractive blonde cheerleader. Despite the fact that the players don’t trust the front office with regards to injury treatment and rehabilitation. Despite the fact that the GM’s continual employment lends further credence to the idea that anyone can be a general manager in Major League Baseball.… Click here to read the rest

The difference three years makes

He didn’t end up getting posted in 2005–but his legend continued to grow. He helped pitch the Japanese to the WBC championship in 2006, and walked away with the MVP. By this time, any or SOSH regular knew exactly who this guy was. People started raising their expectations. High estimates had his posting fee at $25 million, and in some cases $30 million (unprecedented numbers).

Of course, the times had changed. People had figured out that his gyroball was in fact a shuuto, basically a screwball mated with a changeup* (see him throw a few during the WBC here). Some people started to question whether his later years would be as productive given how much abuse his arm had taken as a youngster. But the numbers were there, and those who questioned his transition to MLB couldn’t deny that he’d made a lot of very productive MLB hitters look downright foolish in the World Baseball Classic.

*How do changeups screw?Click here to read the rest

Montero the outfielder?

In NoMaas’ interview with Brian Cashman, the GM was asked about Jesus Montero’s fate as a catcher.

He responded to the question, “Do you think [Montero’s] future is behind the plate,” with the following:

We hope so. His value is highest as a catcher. His bat will find a way into the middle of the lineup, that’s without a doubt. Whether he stays behind the plate, is a first baseman, a rightfielder, a DH – that remains to be seen. But he’s got one of the best throwing arms in the minors, he’s got some of the best blocking…he’s just so big, mechanically he takes a lot longer in his release. That’s an area he needs to shorten up.

Note that Cashman rattles off “right fielder,” before designated hitter, as if being a DH is the last option if everything else fails. From what I’ve read, Montero could play first base, though his lack of foot speed would preclude him from being an outfielder.… Click here to read the rest

Could Yanks pursue Park?

According to Sports Illustrated‘s Jon Heyman, 36-year old Korean-born right-hander, Chan Ho Park, could be a free agent pitching possibility for the Cubs, Rays, and, most importantly (for the purposes of this blog), the Yankees.

Park was once a pretty good, albeit wild, starter for the Dodgers from 1997-2001, though he was famously bad for the Rangers once he made the move to the American League in 2002. After a dreadful stint in Texas, Park was traded to the Padres in 2005, but he was hindered by intestinal bleeding brought on by Meckels diverticulum and, as a result, his year and a half stay in San Diego was a disappointment. He then split minor-league time with the Mets and Astros in 2007 only to return to the Dodgers in 2008, where he posted a 2.85 FIP as a starter in 5 games and a 4.91 FIP as a reliever over 70 1/3 innings. The Phillies, in search of pitching depth, then signed Park for $2.5 million for 2009, where he was initially used a starter, however, his numbers in 7 starts – 5.59 FIP, 5.67 K/9, 4.95 BB/9 – were terrible, forcing the club to try him as a reliever.… Click here to read the rest

Papelbon talks up Mariano

Jonathan Papelbon loves him some Mariano Rivera.

Here’s Papelbon discussing Mariano last month, on Boston’s the Sports Hub:

“Deep down in my heart, I would love to finish my career as a Red Sox. And I think everybody pretty much knows that, but that’s a very, very hard thing to do in this day and age. And the way the game is now, I have to understand that as well. Hopefully it works out to where I can stay here for a while and win World Series and break records in a Red Sox uniform like my buddy Mo [Mariano Rivera] has done over there in [Yankees] pinstripes.”

And here he is today, discussing Mariano again during a press conference in Florida:

Did you watch the postseason after you guys were eliminated?

I didn’t watch a whole, whole lot. I tried to watch guys like [Mariano Rivera] and see what they were doing, try to keep track of it as best as I could.

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25 Issues For Spring Training

With spring training now approaching, we can start to get get a feel for the answers and solutions to the questions facing the Yankees in 2010. Although this club is probably as strong as last year’s championship team, there are still plenty of issues that they will need to resolve on their way to a successful title defense. Here is my annual list of the top 25 questions facing the Yankees going into 2010, with last year’s list available here.

1) Steve, among others, has suggested on a number of occasions that Jorge Posada is likely to show signs of decline this season. Will that come true? Even if he does not decline in terms of skill, will he be able to stay healthy?

2) Who will be the backup catcher? Is the job being handed to Frankie Cervelli, or can somebody like Mike Rivera steal the spot?

3) Will Jesus Montero force his way onto the roster at some point?… Click here to read the rest

Five New Invitees

The Yankees invited five more players to Spring Training yesterday. Let’s look at these guys a little more deeply.

First up is RHP D.J. Mitchell. Mitchell was not listed in the Yankees’ top ten prospect list however, he had a pretty good showing in 2009. As a 22 year old in Charleston and Tampa, Mitchell posted a combined line of 140.1 IP, 124 H, 44 BB (2.8 BB/9), 125 SO (8.0 K/9, 2.84 K/BB), 1.197 WHIP, and a 2.63 ERA. Though he hasn’t pitched above A+ yet, it looks like Mitchell’s got some skills. Hopefully, he impresses the Major League guys in February and March, then rises quickly through the ranks.

Next is another RHP, Ryan Pope. Pope’s been with the Yankees since 2007 and has a career ERA of 4.26 in 295.2 innings. While the strikeout numbers are nothing too special–only 6.9 per nine innings–he’s displayed good control walking only 2.0 per nine innings. Pope reached Trenton in 2010.… Click here to read the rest