Welcome back, Curtis

Didn’t see any of this one due to a beautiful early evening spent on the Great Lawn playing catch and drinking wine, followed by a trip to Shake Shack in honor of National Hamburger Day. Thankfully the Yankees did what they were supposed to do and ripped the last-place Indians 8-2 on Friday night.

In Curtis Granderson‘s much-anticipated return to the lineup, Phil Hughes regained his early season dominant form, throwing seven innings of two-run ball while striking out eight in the process, including the first five batters he faced(!) It was actually only a two-run game going into the bottom of the seventh, primarily due to a second inning Nick Swisher two-run home run (has anyone come through with more timely bombs than Swish thus far this season? I think not) that gave the Yankees an early and much-needed lead.

The gamebreaking blast was a Robinson Cano grand slam in the 7th, which helped give the Yankees their biggest margin of victory in nearly two weeks, since Andy Pettitte beat the Twins 7-1 on Saturday, May 15.… Click here to read the rest

Bullpen By Committee Working For Minnesota, Media Silent

Tom Tango makes an interesting point in a post over at The Book Blog:

Twins’ bullpen is first in MLB in Situational Wins (WPA/LI), and 4th in MLB in WPA. They are 5th in ERA and 10th in FIP.

This is just like your buddy coming back from Vegas, and only telling you about the days he won big and ignores the days he lost big. “Look at me! I’m nostradamus! I’m going to make 100 predictions, 50 of which will be wrong, but boy will I tell you about the 50 that are right!”

Media: do me a favor, and next time an ace reliever goes down, just say this: “It’s going to be a tough road for the team, but there’s a decent chance that the team won’t miss him at all. That’s because baseball is subject to such random variation that to pin the outcome of the season to any one player is foolish.”

Yes, I know this means that the 1000 articles that were written about Joe Nathan gets lowered down to 1.

Click here to read the rest

Robinson Cano Still Doesn’t Like to Walk

Last night, Robinson Cano got two more hits and two more runs batted in. That’s what Robbie does. He’s now got 63 hits on the season and 30 runs batted in. As the five hitter behind Alex Rodriguez and Mark Teixeira, that’s awesome. There is, however, something Robinson Cano still doesn’t do: take walks.

Now, I’ll obviously grant Cano that his approach has worked and he’s a dynamite hitter. But, that doesn’t change the fact that he hasn’t walked since May 13. That’s not good. Of course, it’s worth noting that Cano’s hit .353 since then, but with no walks his OBP is .353, too (he hasn’t been HBP either), and slugged .490. Essentially, Cano’s either getting a hit or making an out, and that’s not desirable. His O-Swing% this year is 35.3% so far this year, which would be a career high by almost a full percent (career average 31.1%, league average around 25-27%), so perhaps if he cuts down on chasing, the walks will come.… Click here to read the rest

You Can’t Predict Baseball

“Well Suzyn, you know, you just can’t predict baseball”

As Yankee fans, how many times have we heard John Sterling utter those words?

They’ve become something of a mantra, something to repeat any time something odd happens, like when Daisuke Matsuzaka takes a no-hitter into the eighth or when Mariano Rivera gives up a grand slam.

Yet these very words, which we so enjoy deriding Sterling for uttering, actually mean something.

They represent, for many, why we, even the most sabermetrically-minded of all of us, will watch every inning of every game we can–because, in the end, you just never know.

There are tons of blogs out there dedicated to forecasts and predictions, to analysis and statistics, blogs that say, okay, this is what happened, this is what the numbers say is happening, and what our model says should probably happen next. It’s turned into something of an art, and those that can best predict accurate models often find themselves with real, actual careers doing just that.… Click here to read the rest

Watch Your Head!

Experience and Aptitude

Let’s start with a basic scenario. When teaching a kid how to ride a bike, do you tell him/her to wear a helmet? Of course. Kids are generally bad with balance, and considering that balance is essential to riding a two-wheeler, it might be a good idea to dress them up in catcher’s equipment and a couple of those shields that Barry Bonds used to wear as well. Kids are beginners, and everyone takes all the safety precautions necessary because crashes, etc. are par for the course. But after a period of time, do you continue to monitor their helmet-wearing habits so closely? After they’ve proven their ability to ride a bike, do you even care so much that they wear a helmet? Probably not.

It’s a similar situation in baseball. Little Leaguers get to wear the enormous and bulky-looking helmets with the cage on the front. There are obvious reasons for this. Kids have little command as pitchers, and their reaction times as batters aren’t exactly Martin Brodeur-esque.… Click here to read the rest

Jeter Heating Up?

I’ve been hard on Derek Jeter so far this season so I think I should make up for it a bit and give him some credit.

Since leaving Detroit (not including lats night’s game), he’s got a .304/.339/.429/.768 line. Granted that’s not great and not what we’re used to from Derek, but it’s acceptable considering how cold he’s seemed at times. In the really small sample size–Tampa games through first two games @ Minny–he’s hitting .333/.353/.515/.868. So, perhaps Derek is finally starting to heat up.

This post is, however, going to come with a bit of a backhanded compliment. Jeter’s still not taking his walks. In the month of May, he has just seven free passes in 116 PA, which means a walk rate of just over 6%. This is not acceptable for a leadoff hitter. This needs to come up. Maybe the walks will start coming when the hits start coming. Luckily, the hits seem to be coming now. Hopefully, Jeter remembers he’s Derek Jeter and starts hitting like we all know he can.… Click here to read the rest

Yankees vs. Indians series preview and historical results in the unbalanced schedule era

So the Yankees take on the cellar-dwelling Indians at home for a four-game Memorial Weekend extravaganza, playing a significantly inferior team for the first time in nearly a month, when they swept the Orioles from May 3rd through 5th. Sure, one could make the argument that the Mets fell into that category, but even when the Mets are struggling they seldom roll over and die for the Yankees, and so I am choosing not to count last weekend’s series.

The Yankees were sitting pretty at 19-8 after that Baltimore series, but as we all know have stumbled since then, going 9-11 over their last 20 games.

The Indians are having a rough season, and currently hold the second-worst record in the American League, bettering only those lovable O’s. You really can’t ever call a four-game sweep, but if the Yanks were ever going to pull one off, this would be the series to do it in. I will calibrate my expectations at three out of four and be pleasantly surprised with a sweep.… Click here to read the rest

Game 47: Yankees 2, Minnesota 8

The Yankees finally scored in the fourth, when Brett Gardner led off the inning with a single.  Gardner moved to second when Mauer made a throwing error on a pickoff attempt.  Robinson Cano then singled to center, scoring Gardner.  The Twins, however, would get the run back in the fifth when Hudson led off the inning with a triple.  Vazquez intentionally walked Justin Morneau and Jim Thome hit a sac fly to bring the score to 4-1.

The Yankees kept the game close in the top of the sixth.  Mark Teixiera doubled to center and Cano doubled him in, putting the Yankees within two.  Unfortunately, for the Pinstripes, Minnesota would quickly close the book on them and send the Yankees back to New York with a loss.  Jason Kubel hit a solo homer in the bottom of the sixth.  Chan Ho Park walked Joe Mauer and gave up a single to Justin Morneau to start the bottom of the seventh.  Damaso Marte came in and got Jim Thome to pop out before Chad Gaudin made his first appearance back with the Yankees.  … Click here to read the rest