Ivan’s First Start

Ivan Nova made his first Major League start last night and it went pretty well. He was pulled after 73 pitches, but allowed just two runs while walking only one and striking out three in 5.1 innings pitched. That’s more than we could ask for from Nova.

He averaged 94.37 and went as high as 97.5 MPH with his fastball, which I found incredible. Either he pulled this velocity out of his ass, or the gun was juiced. I think it’s the latter, but even allowing for a few MPH up or down, that’s still pretty good gas from Nova.

Ivan also got two swinging strikes on his fastball, as well as three on his changeup which averaged 86.1 MPH. Juiced up gun or not, hat’s a decent differential between the heater and the change, so that’s encouraging.

My favorite Nova at bat of the night was the fourth inning strikeout against Lyle Overbay. Even though he fell behind with his changeup and ended up in a 3-1 count, he got back to back swinging strikes to end the at bat.… Click here to read the rest

“The Pirates aren’t trying to win”

Comparing the Pirates to the Yankees is just stupid. The Yankees are an attraction in their own right in the biggest media market in the world, in a city with a robust tourism industry. Thousands of people from all over the country vacation in New York during the baseball season and decide to take in a game at Yankee Stadium as part if the experience. As beautiful as PNC Park is, I don’t think nearly as many people would do the same in Pittsburgh, even if the Pirates became a perennial playoff team. The Yankees also have their own television network, and face a much more competitive environment for attracting consumer entertainment spending. It’s just apples and oranges, and faulting the Pirates for not operating like the Yankees is like saying I don’t have more net worth because I don’t manage my finances like Warren Buffett.

Club executives vehemently disagreed with that assessment. Yet the numbers show Pittsburgh hasn’t spent as much as its opponents — and hasn’t won.Click here to read the rest

.266/.328/.358 (.686 OPS)

That’s Derek Jeter’s line since May 1st. You many recall his April was much better, where he posted a much more Jeterian .330/.354/.521 (.875 OPS) for the month. But there’s an old axiom in Baseball about how you should never believe anything that happens in April or September. The reason is that in April, pitchers are still building up arm strength and their fastballs aren’t quite up to speed yet. Aging hitters who’ve lost bat speed will often put up big numbers in April, only to get exposed as the season progresses. Cecil Fielder comes to mind. There are also many minor leaguers who make a team out of Spring Training that get weeded out over the first few months of the season that veteran hitters can take advantage of early in the year. As I detailed yesterday, Derek’s had a lot of trouble on the fastball this season. A classic sign of a hitter who’s bat has slowed.

When rosters get expanded in September, it’s a similar situation.… Click here to read the rest

Jose Bautista hits two more Jose Bautistas, spoils Nova's debut start as Blue Jays beat Yanks 3-2

Do we really have to play this team eight more times?

Jose Bautista hit two more home runs — or Jose Bautistas, as they have now been rechristened by me — and drove in all three Jays runs as the Toronto Extra Base Hits once again beat the Yankees 3-2. Bautista now has a Major League-leading 40 home runs on the year, and six of those have come against the Yankees in 10 games. It might be time to just start intentionally walking this guy every at-bat for the remainder of the season.

Ivan Nova pitched admirably in his first career MLB start, throwing 5 1/3 innings of two-run ball, those two runs of course coming courtesy of a two-run Jose Bautista in the third inning. The Yankees actually led this game after a Robinson Cano RBI double in the first, and managed to tie it back up on a Jorge Posada double in the sixth, but that was about all the offense the Yankees could muster.… Click here to read the rest

Game 125: Yankees 2, Blue Jays 3

Toronto got on the board in the bottom of the third, with some help from the guys in blue.  Yunel Escobar hit a grounder to short, with Eduardo Nunez trying to get him at first.  Mark Teixeira stretched to make the catch, but Escobar was credited with a single when the umpire said Teixeira pulled his foot off the bag.  Replays showed Teixeira didn’t, and unfortunately it played a big role in the game, as Bautista drove a fly ball over the wall in left center, giving the Blue Jays a 2-1 lead.

Cano worked a walk with two outs in the top of the sixth and scored on a double by Jorge Posada, tying the game up at 2-2.  Ivan Nova went out for the bottom of the sixth and threw a pitch that went high and back to the screen.  It was nowhere near Bautista, but the veteran appeared to decide it was time to intimidate the kid making his first major league start and began to walk out to the mound. … Click here to read the rest

CC may be staying put

Mark Hale of the New York Post interviewed CC Sabathia after his win against the Mariners on Sunday, and the big man discussed his future.  Interestingly, CC said that he would not even consider exercising the opt-out clause in his contract that permits him to become an unrestricted free agent after the 2011 season:

“I’m here,” Sabathia said. “Hundred percent.”

“I think you know I’ve built a house here, right?” he said. “My kids go to school here. We live here year round. So I’m not going anywhere.”

It’s easy to think about CC Sabathia as our ace who gives the team 35 solid starts every year.  It’s also easy to think that Sabathia will opt out of his contract if he thinks he can get more money and more years.  Yet, there is often more to it than that.  There are plenty of players that live year to year in different cities.  These types of guys aren’t good enough to secure long-term multiyear deals that would allow them the luxury of getting settled in a city.  … Click here to read the rest

The Process of Letting Go

You: Don’t tell me this is another post about Derek Jeter.
Me: It’s not another post about Derek Jeter.
You: Really?
Me: Nah, it’s another post about Derek Jeter.
You: Sonofa…

Steve’s post yesterday delved into the numbers, so I won’t re-hash them. However, it’s very likely that we’re finally seeing the beginning of the end of the career of Derek Jeter. In fact, we probably started seeing that in 2008 when he had a down year. Granted, he had a bad hand that he didn’t admit to and hit very well in 2009, but going forward, I think Derek Jeter’s seasons will look a lot more like the 2008/2010 versions than they will the 2009 version.

And while I’m not okay with that in one way–it makes the Yankees worse off–there’s nothing I, or anyone save for Jeter himself, can do about it. Decline is a natural part of the career of any player and we can’t do anything but sit back and accept it.… Click here to read the rest

Elias and the Yankees

MLBTR came out with some updated Elias Free Agent Rankings yesterday, so I thought I’d scan the list for Yankee free agents and see whether or not I’d offer that guy arbitration.

The first to come up is under the 1B/DH/OF category: Lance Berkman. Right now, he profiles as a Type B free agent, meaning the Yankees would receive a supplemental round draft pick if they offered Fat Elvis arbitration and he rejected.

Berkman’s salary this season will come in at $14.5M and he has a $15M option for 2011, which the Yankees will obviously not pick up; instead, I think they’ll opt for the $2M buyout. This one is pretty obvious: there’s no way in hell the Yankees offer arbitration to Lance Berkman. His salary is way too high and he’s strictly a rental for this season. The market for a player like Berkman will likely be incredibly small. This one’s a no brainer.

In the same category is Austin Kearns, who does not have a type attached to him.… Click here to read the rest

Jeter’s Contract … Again … But This One’s “Fair”

Offensively, Jeter’s been basically league-average this season. His .276/.339/.387 line is good for a 99 OPS+, but league-average is pretty good for a shortstop. But that’s still a far cry from his .334/.406/.465 2009 season. What happened? The easiest thing to do is point toward his BABiP, but that’s a bit simplistic. For his career, Jeter’s BABiP is .357, but it’s only .311 this season, meaning his slash line is lower than it should be. But is there an underlying problem? Maybe. His O-Swing% is 28.9%, which is 6% above last season and 8.6% above normal, and that means that his plate discipline has regressed for some reason. He’s also making contact with those pitches more than usual, which may account for his ridiculously high GB/FB rate of 4.21 (for reference, that leads all of baseball by over 1 to second place Elvis Andrus, who has one of 2.92). Therefore, Jeter is swinging at more pitches out of the zone (losing valuable walks) and hitting more balls on the ground than normal, and to top it all off, he’s hitting fewer line drives.… Click here to read the rest