Yankees travel back to 2005 in 12-9 slugfest

Feels like it’s been a while since we’ve seen a good old-fashioned 2004-2007 Yankees-style 12-9 slugfest, eh?

This may have been one of the craziest games of the year. Not only did the Yankees jump out to 6-1 and 10-5 leads and in both instances neither lead ended up feeling all that safe, but both teams’ aces gave up five (CC Sabathia) and eight (John Danks) earned runs, respectively. The White Sox even brought the tying run to the plate in the form of Mark Teahen before Mariano Rivera mercifully closed the door.

Still, the Yankee bullpen did its damnedest to let Chicago right back in the game, with both Joba Chamberlain and David Robertson getting cuffed for two earned runs apiece, and yielding a home run, triple and double among the five combined hits they surrendered. That certainly ain’t good for the ol’ FIP. Robertson gave up three straight hits without recording an out in the bottom of the ninth, forcing Girardi to go to Mo.

All told, this game featured 30(!) combined hits, seven of which were home runs. For the Yankees, Marcus Thames went deep twice; Nick Swisher popped a two-run jack to get the scoring going early; and Eduardo Nunez hit his first career bomb, a two-run blast of his own. Nunez had four RBI in this one, and has basically given Joe Girardi no reason to ever play Ramiro Pena ever again.

I figured Sabathia with a two-run lead before throwing a single pitch would’ve been money in the bank, and he ended up giving one of his worst performances in months. Not faulting the big guy at all, as these things happen, and I’m just glad it came in a game in which the offense was able to toss up double-digit runs. And even on an off night, Sabathia still gave the Yankees seven innings. According to Yankees.com, Sabathia had turned in 16 consecutive quality starts prior to this outing. That’s ridiculous.

On the White Sox’s side, Andruw Jones, Paul Konerko and Alexei Ramirez each hit home runs and had three-hit games. On almost another night, bombs from those three along with John Danks on the mound is almost certainly enough for a Chicago win; thankfully tonight it wasn’t to be.

Mark Teixeira left the game after the second inning with a bruised right thumb, and all of Yankeeland will be holding their breath hoping that it’s not serious enough to sideline him for any significant amount of time. Tampa Bay beat Boston in extras, and so the Yankees remain tied for first while Boston is back to being 5.5 games out.

What’s going on with Austin Romine?

Austin Romine, recently ranked the #2 prospect in the Yankee system by yours truly, is having a nightmarish 2nd half of the season.  After starting strong in April and May (OPS’ing .917 and .858), Romine has struggled mightily over the summer, with his August OPS a paltry .509.  Romine’s stats for the season are mediocre but not horrendous (.261/.320/.390 with 9 home runs, 36 walks, and 91 strikeouts).  I’m going to take a closer look at Romine’s stats for the season, to see if his hot start was a fluke, and his recent performance is closer to what can be expected in the future, or vice versa.  I’m also curious if there has been a real decline in Romine’s performance, or if he has suffered from bad luck.  Here are some of his more important stats in chart form, by month.

Month K:BB ratio BABIP LD% OPS
April 1.5 0.434 20.8 0.917
May 3.33 0.362 25 0.858
June 1.25 0.284 15.9 0.667
July 4.25 0.279 14.1 0.663
August 11 0.254 7.7 0.509

(stats courtesy of Minor League Splits)

By looking at these numbers, it is possible to observe some trends in Romine’s performance.

Plate Discipline: Strikeout to walk ratio is often a good measure of plate discipline and selectivity.  Romine’s plate discipline has worsened over the course of the season, but it is worthy of note that his best k:bb ratio occurred in June, when his OPS was .667 (below his season average).  The 4.25:1 ratio in July and the 11:1 ratio in August are truly troubling (especially the August figure), which indicates that Romine’s discipline has gone backward in these months, and it is not surprising that he has been horrendous in August with that ratio.

Line Drive Percentage and BABIP: These 2 figures often go hand-in-hand, as a high BABIP is often correlated with a high LD% (because a line drive is the most likely of any batted ball type to end up a hit).  A high BABIP with a low LD% could indicate that a player is getting exceptionally lucky on balls in play.  On the other hand, a decline in LD% could indicate a real change in performance.  I should mention that minor league batted ball numbers are notoriously unreliable, so take them with a grain of salt.  Based on BABIP and LD% numbers, Romine’s April looks like a fluke, as a .434 BABIP is unsustainable for a player of Romine’s speed, especially with a LD % of 20.8.  Romine’s .858 OPS May looks more legitimate, however.  While his .362 BABIP in May was high (his highest BABIP over a full season was .327 in 2008), it was also accompanied by a robust LD% of 25, which indicates that he was a lot of good contact, and may not have been getting lucky.  Romine’s declining OPS’s in June, July and August are accompanied by decreases in LD%, so it is hard to attribute his recent struggles to bad luck.

From these two factors, it appears that Romine is experiencing a real regression over the last few months.  His declining walk and line drive rates are likely responsible for his decreased OPS over the summer, and unless those trends reverse, Romine could be in for a rough September as well.

These trends look pretty discouraging, but is there reason to be optimistic for Romine?  In a word, definitely.  A look at Romine’s extreme home-road splits indicate that the tough hitting environment of Trenton may have had some impact on his overall numbers (.588 OPS at home, .828 on the road), though the splits probably don’t explain the negative trends of the summer (unless he was playing significantly more home games in June, July, and August).  In a better hitting environment, it could be reasonable to expect Romine to be posting better stats than he is currently.  Another potential explanation for his struggles could lie in the physical toll a long season of catching has taken on him.  Since he usually split time with Jesus Montero at catcher in recent seasons, Romine may be experiencing some fatigue in the summer months.  If this is the case, the organization’s  decision to send him to the Arizona Fall League could be questioned.

Romine’s prospect stock may have dropped a bit with his recent struggles (and I’m wondering whether I should drop a little lower in my top 10, or if that would be too reactionary).  However, on the bright side, even with his struggles, his walk total in 2010 represents a career high, and the fact that he has held his own in a tough hitting environment at 21 as a full-time catcher is also impressive.  Obviously, you would like to see him do better, but I still think is a good bet to be a solid major league catcher.  The negative trend in k:bb ratio likely reflects a deteriorating approach (or possibly, pitchers are pitching him differently), and Romine will need to work on this to avoid struggling in 2011, when he will likely be in AAA.

Anyone have additional thoughts on Romine?  Other stats I need to look at?  Let me know in the comment section.

Same old AJ, just a little worse this year

Aug 27 @CHW L 9-4 3.1 8 9 8 0 3 3 10 4 81 21 10 L(9-12) 5.17
Aug 20 SEA L 6-0 7.0 12 6 6 2 3 4 12 15 122 34 30 L(9-11) 4.80
Aug 15 @KC L 1-0 8.0 4 1 1 0 3 6 8 11 103 29 73 L(9-10) 4.66
Aug 10 @TEX L 4-3 7.0 6 3 3 1 2 4 9 14 112 29 55 4.87
Aug 2 TOR L 8-6 4.2 8 8 8 2 2 4 9 8 95 24 18 L(9-9) 4.93
Monthly Totals 30.0 38 27 26 5 13 21 48 52 513 137 0-4 0 sv 7.80
Jul 28 @CLE W 8-0 6.1 7 0 0 0 3 7 9 7 114 26 63 W(9-8) 4.52
Jul 23 KC W 7-1 5.0 4 0 0 0 1 3 6 8 58 18 61 W(8-8) 4.77
Jul 17 TB L 10-5 2.0 4 4 4 1 0 1 2 8 43 13 33 L(7-8) 4.99
Jul 7 @OAK W 6-2 7.0 5 2 2 0 2 3 11 11 110 27 60 W(7-7) 4.75
Jul 2 TOR L 6-1 6.2 4 0 0 0 3 6 6 11 106 27 69 4.90
Monthly Totals 27.0 24 6 6 1 9 20 34 45 431 111 3-1 0 sv 2.00
Jun 26 @LAD L 9-4 3.0 6 6 6 0 6 5 4 5 79 20 22 L(6-7) 5.25
Jun 21 @ARI L 10-4 4.0 9 7 7 3 2 4 6 11 91 23 18 L(6-6) 4.83
Jun 16 PHI L 6-3 3.1 6 6 6 2 4 3 4 9 87 21 23 L(6-5) 4.33
Jun 10 @BAL L 4-3 6.2 8 4 4 1 1 5 9 14 95 31 46 L(6-4) 3.86
Jun 4 @TOR L 6-1 6.0 6 6 6 3 4 2 9 12 103 27 34 L(6-3) 3.72
Monthly Totals 23.0 35 29 29 9 17 19 32 51 455 122 0-5 0 sv 11.35
May 30 CLE W 7-3 8.0 5 3 1 0 0 8 10 11 115 31 72 W(6-2) 3.28
May 25 @MIN W 1-0 5.0 3 0 0 0 2 5 9 4 75 20 64 W(5-2) 3.55
May 19 TB L 10-6 6.2 9 6 6 1 4 4 11 13 116 33 32 L(4-2) 3.86
May 14 MIN W 8-4 6.2 7 3 2 1 4 4 14 7 100 29 50 3.31
May 9 @BOS L 9-3 4.1 9 9 8 1 3 4 9 10 97 26 12 L(4-1) 3.40
May 4 BAL W 4-1 7.1 5 1 0 0 2 8 10 9 107 29 72 W(4-0) 1.99
Monthly Totals 38.0 38 22 17 3 15 33 63 54 610 168 3-2 0 sv 4.03
Apr 29 @BAL W 4-0 8.0 3 0 0 0 1 4 12 11 116 28 79 W(3-0) 2.43
Apr 23 @LAA L 6-4 6.1 9 4 4 0 2 3 14 8 103 29 40 3.20
Apr 17 TEX W 7-3 7.0 6 0 0 0 2 7 11 8 111 28 70 W(2-0) 2.37
Apr 11 @TB W 7-3 7.0 6 2 2 0 3 1 9 14 92 27 55 W(1-0) 3.75
Apr 6 @BOS W 6-4 5.0 7 4 3 1 1 5 5 11 94 23 43 5.40
Monthly Totals 33.1 31 10 9 1 9 20 51 52 516 135 3-0 0 sv 2.43
Totals 151.1 166 94 87 19 63 113 228 254 2525 673 46 9-12 0-0-0 5.17


Peruse Allen James Burnett’s 2010 game log if you dare. May 9th seems like an eternity ago, when he entered his start in Baltimore with a 1.99 ERA and looked every bit the pitcher who graduated from the ‘school of Halladay’ that the Yanks thought he was when they signed him back in 2008. Since that early dominance, the ERA has climbed steadily. He hasn’t had a win since the end of July, but W/L doesn’t tell you anything about how he’s pitched. It seems like he hasn’t had a good game in forever, but he actually had 2 quality starts in August and was outstanding in July (2.00 ERA) and April (2.43 ERA) this year. But his horrendous June (11.35 ERA) and bad August (7.80) have left fans expecting the worst from him, and all too often he’s delivered. Though it’s not all that dissimilar to his 09 campaign, where he had a good June (2.10 ERA) and July (2.43 ERA) and a bad August (6.03 ERA).

When looking at a pitcher like AJs game log, I prefer to just pull out the real clunkers, the games where he really didn’t give his team a chance to win. Starts where a pitcher gives up 4 runs or less on a team like the Yanks that has scored 679 runs (5.35 per game) has done his job and kept his team in the game. In 2010, Burnett has given up 5 or more runs a whopping 9 times in 26 starts, or just under 1/3 of the time. On this date in 2009 and 2008, AJ had 6 outings each year where he gave his team little chance to win the game. It’s part of his profile to have these outings where nothing seems to be working for him. He’s a 2 pitch pitcher, so when one of them isn’t working, hitters sit on it and crush him.

He’s signed for another 3 years, so get used to it. Every spring they try to get him to work on his change up, and every year he doesn’t throw it (3.1%/3.3% past two seasons). Why not? Beats me, it’s the only plus pitch he has this year (+1.3) his “electric” fastball has been a negative for the past 3 seasons (-6.2/-14.4/-5.9). Even his out pitch, the devastating hard curve that he throws has been down this year (-4.5).

After yesterday’s game, Girardi left open the possibility of skipping AJ’s next start in favor of Javier Vazquez. When Joe leaves open a possibility, it usually happens. It’s almost September, the Yanks have played .500 baseball for a month (14-14 in August). They’re tied with the Rays atop the AL East and the Red Sox just 4.5 back of both teams. There’s no more time for working out your problems, even for a veteran like AJ. It’s time to produce, or give someone else the ball.

Burnett awful yet again, gives up eight earned runs in 9-4 Yankee loss

The Yankees managed to punt the one game they absolutely had to find a way to win this weekend, falling to the White Sox 9-4. For their troubles, they get to face John Danks and Gavin Floyd the next two days. Goody.

What else is there to say about A.J. Burnett, who turned in yet another disaster, lasting 3 1/3 innings and giving up nine runs (eight earned)? Sadly enough this wasn’t even the first time he gave up eight earned runs in an outing this year, it was the third. After a very strong start to the year he’s been utterly horrendous this season. I can’t even get jazzed about his solid July because he’s just been so wretchedly inconsistent since then. I have absolutely no idea what to expect out of Burnett with any given start and have zero confidence he will succeed.

Even if they’re fortunate enough to get a healthy and effective Andy Pettitte back, the Yankees are going to have to get Burnett straightened out if they have any intention of making a deep run in the playoffs. A couple of extra days in between outings didn’t seem to work, so perhaps he needs to take a start or two off a la Home Run Javy to clear his head. I know the Yankees aren’t exactly in a position to comfortably do that, but maybe you bite the bullet and give Sergio Mitre a start or two (I can’t believe I’m recommending this). He really can’t be much worse than Burnett has been. Well, he can, but after tossing 4 2/3 scoreless against the White Sox I’d be willing to give him a shot.

Not that it would have mattered, given that they were sunk in a 9-2 hole after four innings, but the Yankee offense was punchless for what felt like the 8,000th time in August. Against Freddy Garcia of all pitchers! Nick Swisher hit a two-run homer with one out in the ninth off Scott Linebrink, but it was too little, too late.

The loss dropped the Yankees to 10-10 on Fridays this season — a random stat, I know, but given that it felt like they hadn’t won on Friday in forever I decided to look it up. And I was right; the last time they won on a Friday night was over a month ago, on July 23 against the Royals. I wonder how many other teams have had five-game losing streaks (or more) on a certain day of the week.

Rob Dibble on Strasburg, Insulting Your Intelligence

“He’s an absolute animal when he’s on the field,” Dibble said. “And to take my comments from Monday, my comments were made about a healthy, 100 percent, strong, strapping kid. And it was more so directed as a pep talk, it was never directed towards Stephen in general, it was more my own opinion. So on a baseball only, year-round show, on MLB Network Radio, it was more baseball-generated jargon by myself, my partner and the listeners.

“Now, to have someone transcribe that, twist it and say Dibble’s telling Strasburg to suck it up, that wasn’t the gist of the conversation. And to have sick individuals twist it to try to make me look bad, that’s fine. You can hate on me all you want.

So let’s get this straight; after Strasburg left the game in obvious pain Saturday night, Dibble said Strasburg had to “suck it up,” couldn’t “have the cavalry come get him,” he said that because he threw the next day he “probably could have stayed in the game,” that he wanted to “see the kid pitched through it,” that Strasburg couldn’t “constantly be complaining over every little thing,” and that he thought Strasburg was going to be fine. But you’re supposed to believe that this was actually praise for Strasburg and Dibble just trying to give him a “pep talk.” Anyone buying that? The sad thing is, Dibble probably put a lot of thought into that spin.

On the one hand, this whole Strasburg situation is a good example of why teams need to ignore the sort of primitive machismo exhibited by Dibble and a lot of former players and take care of their young arms. To be blunt, Rob Dibble debuted in the majors when he was 24, and only threw 59 innings. He pitched in 6 season, never threw 100 innings in a season, and only threw 477 in his whole career. He never started a single big league game. It’s funny how the older players he are always so sure today’s players are wimps forget about their minor league years and so on when they were being taken care of too and their various short-comings.

On the other hand, it’s another piece of evidence that Rob Dibble is an idiotic, loud-mouthed, buffoon.

Young Pitchers Are Fragile Things

The bigger question though is, what does it mean? Some people have been asking whether the Nationals rushed him to try to cash in. Others have wondered if this is proof that pitchers are too babied today (though I fail to see the logic that says that having him pitch more makes him less likely to tear up his elbow, but whatever). I don’t really have an opinion on that, beyond thinking that his workload didn’t have much to do with anything, rather, I want to use this to talk about something I think gets far too little attention; the damage going to college can do to a pitcher.

One thing I always found weird about the praise directed at Strasburg was the claim that he had “perfect mechanics,” because it wasn’t even close to true. Strasburg, like Mark Prior, uses the “inverted W” pitching motion, a great description of which can be found here. The basic gist of it though is that the elbow gets above the shoulder and the forearm is not vertical when the shoulder begins its forward rotation. The benefit of this, and why (the last I knew) a lot of college pitching coaches teach this to their pitchers, is that it keeps the ball harder to spot longer into the delivery. You can imagine how, with a pitcher throwing near 100 MPH, an extra second or two before the batter can see the ball may be a huge deal, especially when the hitter has an aluminum bat. The trade-0ff, however, is that this motion is terrible for your elbow and shoulder, as the extra motion of bringing the forearm up after the shoulder begins its movement to the plate puts more stress on the shoulder and torque on the elbow. As Prior and Strasburg has shown, it’s not a trade-off that pays dividends in the long run, particularly for major league teams.

It’s times like these that make me wonder why pitchers with that sort of ability even bother with college baseball. Yes, a lot of teams, especially the teams who tend to pick at the top of the draft, have an infatuation with college pitchers because they’re closer to the majors than high school pitchers. But they’ve also got much more wear and tear and, in some cases, downright abuse on their arms. Frankly, some of the things college coaches do to their pitchers, especially seniors, is just scandalous. Guys have thrown 150+ pitches, come in on the other side of a long rain delay, started both games in a double-header, you name it.

The problem here is pretty obvious; incentives. The minors aren’t perfect, and can be plenty rough on a 19 year old kid, but at least your coaches have a vested interest in your future. Their boss doesn’t care how many games they win, they care about how they do in terms of helping prospects move along to the next level and, ultimately, become useful to the big league club. If you succeed in the long-term, so do they. College is just the opposite. Athletic directors might like to point out the great players who came from that school, but ultimately they don’t care how you do as a pro, they care about what you do for them. Managers aren’t judged on how many pros they crank out, they’re judged on wins and losses, and that doesn’t create the most conducive environment for top young pitchers who hope to be top major league pitchers some day. I’m not saying that college managers are bad people (though some of them certainly are) just that young pitchers should really think about whether or not the guy they’re putting their arm in the hands of has their interests at heart, or his own. Because as we say, it’s about the money, and no one wants to lose their job.

Week in Review Part Three

Before we start, I’d just like to let everyone know that today is likely the last day for a while in which I’ll have two posts up. On Monday, my internship and graduate classes start back up again, so it’ll likely be one post a day from here on out. Thanks so much for reading these last few months; it’s really been a great summer. With that said…

Let’s start the insanity. How about we go backwards this time?

Scroll down for a post about the 2011 rotation.


I contemplated Javy the Reliever. Obviously, we’ve had just one go ’round with this and it may be a few games before we do again. Still, though, I have faith in Javy to adapt to his new role.

I was also frustrated by Phil Hughes and his bad outing. Maybe I overreacted to this. I’ve got to give him some leeway as a young guy in his first truly full season as an MLB starter.


Some other thing have happened since this post. The Yankees are apparently uninterested in Hiroki Kuroda, so that point is moot. Chad Gaudin is still hanging around, and I guess he’ll serve as mop-up-duty man until the end of the season, then be left off the post-season roster.

This one got a lot of hits and I’m glad it did; that was the point, after all. I’m sticking to my side here: focus on Lee and roll with the under contract outfielders (unless, of course, there’s an offer you just can’t refuse for someone).


Another one with a lot of reader reaction, I expressed some displeasure with the YES Network. I’m likely not going to change my mind here, though Ben’s comment about the MiL stuff makes a great deal of sense.

The reign of Ivan the Nova started Monday night so I took a quick look at him. He did well, but got a little lucky in that first inning. He settled nicely after that, though, and out pitched what I thought he’d do. Let’s see what he can do in his next start.


Another Derek Jeter post (kind of) and some free agent talk. I’ll stand by the free agent stuff, as well as the retirement issues.

Have a good weekend, everyone. For those readers going back to school, good luck this semester. If you need help with an English paper, feel free to drop a line.

KLaw and Callis On The Yankee System

Keith Law and Jim Callis both chimed in on the Yankee farm system in chats this week, and the prognosis is encouraging. Let’s take a look at the chat answers from Callis first:

Nick (Connecticut): Is the Yankees farm system in the top 15?

Jim Callis: Yes. It takes a lot of time to break down all the systems and rank them against each other, but I’m confident enough to say the Yankees should rank in the top 10.

o (ct): Let’s get this straight, you are saying the Yanks system is in better shape than the sox?

Jim Callis: I did say that, yes.

A few weeks ago we parsed some comments from Callis to mean that the Yankees would be near the top 10, so it is good to see him confirm that assessment. The second comments is icing on the cake. Although the Red Sox strong 2010 draft may change that evaluation shortly, it seems fairly clear that the Yankees have more major league talent close to the big leagues. Keith Law was asked a similar question, and had the following to say:

Q: KLaw, I know the Red Sox just added some serious talent with this years draft but as of right now who has the better Farm System Yankees or Red Sox. Thanks in advance.
Klaw (1:21 PM): Yanks have more near-in talent. Red Sox have more depth and had a stronger 2010 draft.

It is amazing how a few months ago, the Yankees had little near in talent, with Romine and Montero their only real prospects above A ball. With Betances, Banuelos, and Brackman now at AA and Adam Warren, Hector Noesi, Brandon Laird, and David Phelps taking a step forward, the Yankees have a number of strong prospects at AA or higher. Speaking of “The Killer B’s,” Law was asked about them:

The Killer B’s. Brackman, Banuelos, Bentances. Who cracks the top 100?
Klaw (1:15 PM): All three.

Elsewhere, Law stated that 5 Yankees would make his top 100. With Montero a lock and the Killer B’s involved as well, the last slot will likely go to one of Gary Sanchez, Slade Heathcott, and Austin Romine. Law has cooled on Romine and Heathcott has struck out plenty at A this season, so I would guess that Sanchez makes his list. For the first time in a few years, the Yankees have 6 or 7 prospects that are legitimate candidates for top 100 prospect rankings. For a system that was ranked 22nd by Baseball America just last season, this has been quite a remarkable turnaround.

Some Friday links

With the unfortunate demise of (well, at least with regards to posting regularly, anyway) Fack Youk, there’s been a bit of a void in Yankeeland with regards to linkstravaganzas, but thankfully this past week a number of interesting things have turned up that are definitely worth sharing:

– Over at the recently revamped and even-more-awesome-than-it-had-previously-been Pinstriped Bible, Stephani Bee shares her list of Top 10 Yankee prospects. A highly recommended read.

– You’ve almost certainly already seen this, but NoMaas’ Gary Wallace sat down with Yankee Senior Vice President Mark Newman for a second time and conducted another spectacular interview. Must-read stuff here.

– TYU continues to churn out fantastic content, with a post about a hypothetical OF/DH rotation next season, musings on some of Phil Hughes’ struggles, lusting after Hiroki Kuroda and why Joe Girardi is not going anywhere.

– Friend of the blog Matt on Earth has a couple of solid reads up this week, one on the underappreciated Marcus Thames, another speculating on the Yankees’ plans for Brett Gardner and/or Carl Crawford.

– The Captain’s Blog has a great post up about the Yankees’ decision to honor George Steinbrenner in Monument Park.

– Leonora goes prospect-stalking.

– Rebecca gives Kerry Wood his due.

– It’s About the Money has a thought-provoking piece on Race, Baseball and Third Base Coaches.

– Andy at NYaT took a look at whether CC will opt out of his deal after the 2011 season.

– SG at RLYW looks at the Cy Young candidates in his inimitable way.

– Mike Axisa examines the current state of the Yankee rotation.

– Dave Cameron has two unsurprisingly excellent posts up at Fangraphs this week; the first on the best team in baseball, the second on how best to use Fangraphs stats in determining who wins the Cy Young Award.

– And in case you missed it, make sure to check out our Yankees-White Sox series preview.