Top Yankee storylines of the 2010 season: Can Curtis Granderson be this year’s Nick Swisher?

Below is the first post from our newest contributor, Joe Montesano. Please give Joe a warm Yankeeist welcome.

This time last year, you were hearing a lot of whispers about how Nick Swisher was primed for a bounceback year (OK, I wrote it). Swish was coming off an embarrassing season in Chicago, where he set a career low in wOBA, while batting just .219. This, though, was a prime example as to why batting average is not an indicator of actual performance. In the article linked above, I labeled Swish unlucky, and for good reason. Even though his line drive rate was a career high, his BABIP was just .249. Hitting the ball hard, with the same relative frequency, resulting in fewer hits = UNLUCKY.

That brings us to Curtis Granderson. Yankee fans are all at half mast thinking about the fact that Grandy hit 30 home runs in 2009 while playing half of his games in a canyon, but there is more to what he can, and in my opinion will, add to the 2010 Yankees.… Click here to read the rest

Aceves’ back may open door for Logan

In his latest post, Joe Pawlikowski of River Ave discusses something that been quietly bubbling under the surface this spring. Alfredo Aceves has been having back trouble for his past few starts, and he may begin the season on the DL. That would open the door for a 2nd Lefty, either Boone Logan or Royce Ring. He writes:

All spring long Joe Girardi has expressed a desire to carry two lefties in the bullpen. Given the team’s construction, however, that didn’t seem realistic. Seven pitchers lay claim to the seven bullpen spots, only three of whom have options. With David Robertson, Joba Chamberlain, and Aceves ready for significant roles, there is no way the Yankees would option any of them. It seemed for a while that Girardi would have to settle for a bunch of righties who fare well against both same and opposite handed batters. The Aceves injury, however, now appears to open a spot for either Boone Logan or Royce Ring, both of whom have fared well this spring.… Click here to read the rest

Are the Red Sox suffering from sticker shock?

Consider that they’ve now put $185 million into 11 combined years of Lackey and Matsuzaka, neither of whom is as good a pitcher as Josh Beckett, and both of whom are larger injury risks based on their history. Maybe the kitty has run dry; maybe they really do think Beckett is injured; maybe they’re just using the press as a negotiating tactic (though this wouldn’t look great given that both sides have agreed to not discuss negotiations with the press. Oops.)

My best guess as to what’s really going on? They want to prop Kevin Youkilis up, by finally, finally, freeing him of the title “ugliest player on the Red Sox”.

You be the judge.

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Graphing The AL East Projections

Dave Allen at Baseball Analysts compiled the projected standings created by the various projection systems, and created a nifty graph to present the data:
[image title=”AL_East” size=”full” id=”16287″ align=”center” linkto=”full” ]

As you can see, most of the systems have the division finishing in the same order, going Yankees, Red Sox, Rays, Orioles, and Blue Jays. PECOTA is the lone outlier, but they have been tweaking their system the entire spring and the standings have vacillated with each tweak. The data confirms the generally held belief that the division will be a dog fight between three teams, with the other two likely to come in at below 80 wins. On paper, the Yankees are the class of the division by a small margin, but the margin of error on these projections is generally high enough to make that gap close to meaningless. The Yankees may in fact have the best team, but it should be a thrilling race, and I would not be shocked by any order of finish amongst the three AL East powers.… Click here to read the rest

Joba’s so-called “development program”

On Friday, when asked about Joba Chamberlain, who recently lost the fifth starter competition to fellow teammate, Phil Hughes, Yankee GM, Brian Cashman, offered the following. “What we did was, we finished off [Joba’s] development program,” Cashman said. “We have choices with him. He can start if we need him to start, he can relieve if we want him to relieve. So I don’t feel it’s a waste at all. We completed the mission on him, and what will be, will be.” Now, if Joba is expected to join the Yankee rotation in 2011 – many Yankee fans believe that, though I am a bit more skeptical – with no rules attached as the program is, according to Cashman, over, will 200-plus innings be an actual goal?

Joba pitched just under 170 innings in 2009 – regular and postseason included – and will likely toss just under 90 innings in 2010. Is he simply going to slot back into the rotation a season from now after logging such a small amount of innings the year prior?… Click here to read the rest

Early and Irresponsible Awards Picks

It’s March 29th. The season doesn’t even start for another six days. However, in this lull before the start of the season, there isn’t all that much to talk about. I’m sure you’re all incredibly tired of talking about Joba/Hughes (though I doubt we’ve heard the last of that situation, including from me), so I thought I’d go a little more whimsy with my post for this Monday and give some very early picks for the awards. The guys over at Mystique and Aura recently did the same, so go check their predictions out, too.

Let’s start at the top with the MVP Awards. Three of the last five years, the NL installment has gone to Albert Pujols, but this year, I think it’ll go to someone who probably would’ve had one by now, if not for Mr. Pujols: Chase Utley. This isn’t to say that Pujols won’t have an MVP caliber season, but I think Utley will finally get his recognition.… Click here to read the rest

RAB's Axisa: Develop Joba In Bullpen, Not AAA

When the Yankees announced that Joba Chamberlain was headed to the bullpen, most of the Yankee blogging community went into a tizzy. While most conceded that picking Hughes over Joba was a defensible decision, we were confused as to why Joba was going to the bullpen rather than AAA, where he could further develop as a starter. One notable exception was Mike Axisa of River Ave Blues, who graciously agreed to speak to me on the subject.

Me: A few days ago, I stated that I could survive if Joba went to the bullpen, provided that he uses all his pitches and that he went back to the rotation in 2011. Many bloggers have disagreed and believe that he should be in AAA no matter what the circumstances. When this same discussion was brought up a few weeks ago regarding Phil Hughes, you advocated that he go to the bullpen rather than AAA. Do you feel the same way about Joba, and why?Click here to read the rest

Cashman discusses Eppler’s Joba admission

Yesterday, Steve pointed to an interesting WFAN interview from Saturday, in which the Yankees’ director of professional scouting, Billy Eppler, discussed Joba Chamberlain’s future as a pitcher. To the dismay of many – myself included – in the interview, Eppler basically stated that Joba would remain a reliever in 2011, rather than transition back to the starting rotation. Luckily, MLB.com’s Bryan Hoch caught up with Yankees GM, Brian Cashman, to discuss Eppler’s comments, and he seemed to indicate that Eppler was offering a personal opinion – his perspective on what Joba’s future should look like – not a plan of action that had already been agreed upon by those within the organization.

“We haven’t had any team meeting and said, ‘He’s a reliever for the rest of his life,’” said Cashman, claiming that the Eppler interview was an example of the “healthy dialogue going on behind the scenes” regarding Joba’s role. “Billy’s good,” Cashman added, “He’s been an asset and he’s going to continue to be an asset… Although, at times, I might disagree with his opinion, he makes us better.… Click here to read the rest