Rethinking Trades

July 31st is an exciting time in the baseball season. It’s like Christmas, and the players traded are the presents under the tree. Sometimes you get a Playstation3 (Cliff Lee), and sometimes you get socks (Joe Saunders). It happens, but it’s exciting nonetheless. After we open the presents, we are prone to judge them. I’m advocating that we switch up how we grade them.

The idea for this sprung from an interesting article by Steven Goldman at Baseball Prospectus wherein he criticizes selling teams. He argues that it generally doesn’t work out for selling teams because the prospects never work out. It’s an interesting argument, but it is one I would like to tweak.

First thing’s first. It’s not the theory that’s wrong. It’s the practice. Or maybe, I should say that the theory isn’t complete, but completing it further can only help, right? As of now, the theory is simple. If your team is losing, not going to make the playoffs, and probably not going to make it next year, you’re supposed to sell off your expensive veterans for cheap, controllable players or prospects to teams that are willing to take on the contracts. In theory, that turns one player into several while giving a team payroll flexibility. In practice as Goldman notes, the selling team gets screwed. So what needs to change?

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Delayed Reaction to the Trades

I was away this weekend and found out about the Lance Berkman trade via the radio Friday night while on the way to my girlfriend’s from a softball game (20-3 W, I was 0-3 with a sac fly–two balls, including the sac fly were ripped right at the right-center fielder…bad BABIP luck). Anyway, my thoughts on the three trades the Yankees pulled off… I know Berkman’s been having an iffy season and is likely in his decline phase, but I love this trade. I’m not a fan of the rotating DH because it means that a replacement level player–Ramiro Pena Continue reading Delayed Reaction to the Trades

Joel Sherman compares the Yanks to… Michael Jackson?

Well, not exactly Michael Jackson, but something “like” Michael Jackson:

You ever see the pictures of people who get plastic surgery and then can’t stop, and keep feeling they have to touch up a chin here or nose there and they end up grotesque? In a lot of ways that happened to the Yankees of the 1980s; they had the money and every time they perceived a weakness they would touch up here, add there and they often ended up with a disjointed, monstrosity of a roster.

What the Yankees did at this deadline was not the exact equivalent, since you could see the reasoning behind each move. But it did feel a bit like the rampant plastic surgery: The Yankees reconstructed the face of their roster because they had the money and the compulsion to do so; in a lot of ways they cannot help themselves from constantly trying to fix what, in this case, was the team with the majors’ best record.

What then, Joel, did you want the Yanks to do? Do nothing? I don’t understand this complaint. The Yanks added Berkman, who Sherman quickly denigrates, and two others in Wood and Kearns who provide bench depth, something Cashman told us he was looking to do. They missed on Haren and Lee. Dunn wasn’t traded; neither was Soria. After those guys, who else could the Yanks have gotten that would have appeased Sherman? Anyone?

To me, this is griping just for the sake of griping. Damned if you do, damned if you don’t.

h/t to Craig at HBT, who adds his take on Sherman/Berkman here Continue reading Joel Sherman compares the Yanks to… Michael Jackson?

Yankeeist's July 2010 Wrap-Up

The 2010 Yankees had a spectacular month of July, tying the Tampa Bay Rays for the best record in the Majors with 19 wins and only 7 losses. They actually gained a game on Tampa during the course of the month (before having the lead shrunk back to one yesterday afternoon). The fact that the team played .731 ball in July and still only managed to gain one extra game in the standings on Tampa Bay tells you a lot about both the Yankees and the Rays. The more I think about it, the more I see these two on Continue reading Yankeeist's July 2010 Wrap-Up

A scout’s take on ARod

What the smart folks are seeing:

To put it as simply as possible, A-Rod’s bat speed is not the same, and neither is his ability to consistently generate powerful swings. Rather than debate about what caused this, let’s dig into what the problem exactly is. Mechanically speaking, the questions are where has that bat speed gone and why is he not generating the same levels of power. Essentially, it all comes down to his lower half. When he’s right, no hitter has the balance and strength in the lower half that he does.


Without creating that coiled spring effect before he releases his hands and with less drive of the hips toward the baseball, bat speed is going to suffer. And while there is no official measurement of actual bat speed available, we’ve seen Rodriguez get beat more often by the fastball without that powerful base from which to hit. It’s just not possible to produce the same bat speed.


If you’re an optimistic person, and expect the Rodriguez of old to return, what you’ll see is a smaller, abbreviated leg kick where he has very little movement in his lower half before he drives his hips at the ball. You’ll also see his head stay much more centered over the middle of his body and far less upper body involvement. If he can accomplish all that, we’ll see his bat speed return and the more prolific home run numbers will follow.

Frankie Piliere’s a smart guy and I’ll try to watch for these clues. Let’s hope that ARod and Kevin Long are working on all of this, too! Continue reading A scout’s take on ARod

Resting players the right move

When yesterday’s lineup came out, fans started complaining immediately. Wally Matthews echoed these complaints in a piece he penned for ESPN-NY and it provides a good jumping off point for this discussion. No Alex Rodriguez? No Brett Gardner? Berkman at first in place of Mark Teixeira? Kearns starting in left? If it wasn’t for the name “Jeter” appearing where it is just about every day, at the top of the list, it would have been difficult to determine at first glance that this was a Yankees lineup card at all. That was just the beginning of a strange day for Continue reading Resting players the right move

Tampa Bay Series Recap

The trade deadline may have picked up most of the baseball headlines this weekend, but the Yankees also found themselves in a crucial series against the Tampa Bay Rays.  As it was an important (and exciting!) series, it only seems right to look back on the entire series and not just the last game.

The Yankees landed in Tampa with a two game lead over the Rays for first place in the AL East, meaning a successful series could by them some breathing room as we head into August.  Conversely, a series sweep by the Rays would have propelled them back into first.  Instead, the Rays took two out of three from the Bombers, who head back to the Bronx with a one game lead and six weeks until they meet Tampa again.  Meanwhile, the Red Sox are still within striking distance, particularly if they can get healthy, leading to what could be a very exciting September in the AL East.

Game 102:
The Yankees started the first game of the series with a bang.  Derek Jeter hit a lead off single and was followed by a two-run homer by Nick Swisher, giving the Yankees a quick 2-0 lead.  Phil Hughes kept the Rays guessing through most of the game, limiting them to just two hits over the first five innings, however, the Rays struck back in the sixth.  John Jaso lead off the inning with a single and moved to second on a wild pitch.  Hughes walked Evan Longoria who was called out at second when Carlos Pena hit a grounder to Robinson Cano.  With two outs and two on Hughes threw a 93 mph cutter up in the zone that Matt Joyce crushed to right field, putting the Rays up 3-2.

Joba Chamberlain relieved Hughes in the seventh and pitched two solid innings of scoreless and hitless baseball.  Unfortunately, the Yankees’ offense did not have any comeback magic with them Friday night as they went down in order in the seventh, eighth and ninth innings.  The lack of offense made Hughes one mistake overshadow his otherwise very strong outing, giving the Rays a 3-2 victory.

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Where’d Kerry Wood go?

If you were watching today’s game and saw Kerry Wood’s debut, you might have been asking yourself the same question: What happened to Kerry Wood? (and leave the performance out of it for the moment!)

Since when is he built like Jeff Weaver? Two pictures below, one from today and the other from a 2003 SI cover. I can’t believe what I saw. The goatee doesn’t add 25 lbs, does it?

Continue reading Where’d Kerry Wood go?

Yanks come up empty against Big Game James as Tampa Bay takes series 2-1

James Shields was outstanding, pitching 7 1/3 innings of four-hit, shutout ball as the Rays beat the Yankees 3-0. The series win moved the Rays back to within one game of first place. There’s not much to say about this one. CC Sabathia was decent again but not quite ace-like, giving up three runs over 6 1/3 innings. The Yankee bats went cold for the fourth time in the past week, and Tampa’s pitching gets a ton of credit in holding the Yankee offense to seven runs over three games. Hard to win ballgames when you only bang out five Continue reading Yanks come up empty against Big Game James as Tampa Bay takes series 2-1