A closer look at the Yankees getting owned by pitchers making their Major League debuts

After spending a lot of time discussing Josh Tomlin‘s annihilation of the Yankees last night while continuing to bemoan the team’s performance against pitchers making their Major League debuts, I was encouraged to take a look back at previous instances to see whether the stigma that the Yankees always get owned by rookies in their first career starts held true.

I used Baseball-Reference’s Play Index tool and came up with eight such instances during the past 10 seasons in which the Yankees have faced a starter making his Major League debut. Admittedly I’m not quite an expert with the PI, and so it’s possible I’m leaving someone out here, but hopefully this is close to a complete list (the highlighted starters are pitchers who got the win):

The Yankees are 2-6 in games started by pitchers making their Major League debuts since 2001. While that’s obviously a small sample, it still lends credence to the idea that the Yankees have an inordinate amount of difficulty beating rookie pitchers.… Click here to read the rest

Game 99: Yankees 1, Indians 4

While Tomlin continued to dominate the Pinstripes offense, the Indians continued to build a lead.  In the bottom of the sixth, Kearns lead off with a triple to center.  Peralta worked a walk and LaPorta doubled, scoring Kearns and giving the Tribe a 3-0 lead.  Sabathia intentionally walked Jason Donald, loading the bases, before giving up a walk to Chris Gimenez, scoring Peralta and putting Cleveland up 4-0.

Cano tried to get things started in the top of the eighth, lining a double to right field.  Cano moved to third on a wild pitch by Rafael Perez.  Colin Curtis then grounded out, scoring Cano and finally getting the Yankees on the board.  The Yankees threatened again in the ninth, starting with Gardner’s single to left.  Jeter followed with a single to right and Gardner moved to third.  Nick Swisher struck out and Mark Teixeira popped out to short, leaving the Yankees with two on and two out as Alex Rodriguez came up to bat.  … Click here to read the rest

AJ Burnett-You’ll pry that pie from my cold, dead hand!

Boy, do I ever love this picture.

Mark Fiensand of the NY Daily News caught up with AJ Burnett before last night’s game and asked him if he plans on curbing his pie-throwing antics in light of a recent mishap with the Florida Marlins. Here’s the story:

CLEVELAND – Celebrating has become dangerous in baseball, but don’t expect A.J. Burnett to curb his pie throwing.

Florida‘s Chris Coghlan tore the meniscus in his left knee on Sunday as he jumped to deliver a celebratory pie in the face of Wes Helms following his walk-off single. Coghlan, the 2009 NL Rookie of the Year, might require surgery that would sideline him for the next 6-8 weeks.

“I feel sorry for him,” Burnett said. “You cant take the fun out of the game, but you have to do it right, I guess. It’s an unfortunate incident, but I’m still going to throw pies.”

Burnett has delivered about 20 pies since joining the Yankees.… Click here to read the rest

AJ Burnett-You'll pry that pie from my cold, dead hand!

Boy, do I ever love this picture.

Mark Fiensand of the NY Daily News caught up with AJ Burnett before last night’s game and asked him if he plans on curbing his pie-throwing antics in light of a recent mishap with the Florida Marlins. Here’s the story:

CLEVELAND – Celebrating has become dangerous in baseball, but don’t expect A.J. Burnett to curb his pie throwing.

Florida‘s Chris Coghlan tore the meniscus in his left knee on Sunday as he jumped to deliver a celebratory pie in the face of Wes Helms following his walk-off single. Coghlan, the 2009 NL Rookie of the Year, might require surgery that would sideline him for the next 6-8 weeks.

“I feel sorry for him,” Burnett said. “You cant take the fun out of the game, but you have to do it right, I guess. It’s an unfortunate incident, but I’m still going to throw pies.”

Burnett has delivered about 20 pies since joining the Yankees.… Click here to read the rest

Derek Jeter Is The Biggest Bargain In Baseball (A Rebuttal)

Derek Jeter is a bargain at his current salary of $22.6 million a year.  You could pay him A-Rod money — $30+ million a year, and he’d STILL be the biggest bargain in baseball.

I don’t have to look at FanGraphs or Baseball-Reference to know that what I’m saying is true.

(OK.  I DID look at FanGraphs.  FanGraphs says that Jeter’s Wins Above Replacement(WAR) number is currently third best for American League shortstops, half a win behind leader Alexei Ramirez, and tied with Marco Scutaro.  This half-a-win difference does not seem to me to be worthy of hand-wringing. For what it’s worth, Jeter’s co-All Star Elvis Andrus has a WAR rating 0.4 behind Jeter’s. Why in heaven’s name are we so worried about Derek Jeter’s 2010 performance?)

Remember, IT’S ALL ABOUT THE MONEY.  It’s all about the paying customers and eyes tuned to the YES network, the engines that generate the cash flow.  This isn’t rocket science, people.  The cash isn’t going to flow unless there’s a product on the field that drives fans to reach DEEP into their wallets.… Click here to read the rest

Yankees do their thing against starting pitcher making his Major League debut, which is to say, absolutely nothing

Can someone please explain why the Yankees — currently in possession of the best wOBA in Major League Baseball (though maybe not for much longer after tonight’s fiasco), not to mention one of the top two offensive teams in the American League every year except 2008 (when they were 5th) since the 2002 season — get completely shutdown seemingly every single time they face a rookie starting pitcher making his Major League debut?

Pretty much every Yankee fan I know jokes about this all the time, but it long ago ceased being funny. While I have to imagine there have been times the Yankees have teed off on guys getting their first taste of The Show, this has been a real issue for the team for as long as I can remember. Not to take anything away from Josh Tomlin, who was absolutely and utterly spectacular in his Major League debut, but how can a team like the Yankees, with all of their advance scouts, absurdly prodigious hitters and presumably limitless technology that should in theory enable them to properly prepare for every starter they face, look so very poor against guys who have never before pitched in the Major Leagues?… Click here to read the rest

Mythbusters: Joba and A-Rod Edition

Every so often, a characterization of a player made by a handful of fans or media members takes on a life of its own, spreading with reckless abandon until most fans believe that unsupported conclusions are incontrovertibly true. That is how you end up with people claiming that Jesus Montero has a bad attitude, or believing that nobody but the ballboy wants to throw to Jorge Posada. Two of my least favorite chestnuts involve Joba Chamberlain’s work ethic and A-Rod’s general impact in the clubhouse. Joba has constantly been assailed from all corners for being lazy and entitled, as people often throw the “too much success too soon” line in his direction. Regarding Alex, the old line about him was that having him in the clubhouse created a 24+1 attitude, and that he only looked out for himself.

Today, a handful of stories dispelled these myths. On Joba, we have Joel Sherman:

What is not possible, at least for now, is sending Chamberlain to the minors for two major reasons: 1) The Yanks feel it would be a terrible message to bust somebody from main set-up man all the way to Scranton in one move, so they will try to fix him outside the eighth inning and 2) They do not believe Chamberlain is failing because of an attitude problem.

Click here to read the rest

Thoughts Inspired by Last Night’s Game

Though it wasn’t high scoring, last night’s game was quite exciting. Here’s what I was thinking during and after the game.

–I really liked the way Javy Vazquez pitched last night. I thought he mixed his pitches well and his breaking stuff had good movement. The 7th inning at bat versus Travis Hafner. Despite missing badly on the first pitch and then throwing ball two going down 2-0, Vazquez battled back and struck Hafner out swinging on a well placed fastball. He may not have gotten fantastic run support last night, but Javy pitched well nonetheless.

–I know it’s just four at bats, but Derek Jeter did not look good last night. Three groundouts and a strikeout…but, to be fair no one was really putting good swings on Westbrook last night.

–Curtis Granderson’s homer was nice to watch. He absolutely crushed that ball for his third homer in two games and hopefully, he’s turned a corner and will stay hot.… Click here to read the rest

Has Jon Lester become the best pitcher in the American League?

At the present moment, only two pitchers in the American League have a higher WAR than Jon Lester and his jaw-dropping 4.2: Francisco Liriano (5.1!) and Cliff Lee (4.3).

Before I go too much further, I have to admit that I’ve been a huge Lester fan for a while now. I know that sounds like anathema to a lot of Yankee fans, but how can you not root for a guy who beat cancer? Plus, he’s flat-out awesome at pitching. If I were a Boston fan I would be giddy every fifth day getting to watch this guy pitch.

Anyway, here’s a glance at what Lester has done during his career, courtesy of Fangraphs:

It’s really a thing of beauty, isn’t it? He’s done exactly what every General Manager in the game dreams that their young arms will do: Gotten significantly better every year he’s pitched. Not only that, but he’s compiled these jaw-dropping numbers in the AL East.

His 2008 breakout season was insane: 210 IP of 3.21 ERA ball, worth 5.1 WAR and $22.8 million.… Click here to read the rest