Predicting The Playoff Roster, Take 2

Now that the Yankees have clinched a spot in the postseason, it is once again safe to discuss the postseason roster. I last did so at the end of August, and provided the following list of players I believe to be locks:

Position Players (12)
Jorge Posada
Francisco Cervelli
Mark Teixeira
Lance Berkman
Robinson Cano
Derek Jeter
Alex Rodriguez
Brett Gardner
Curtis Granderson
Nick Swisher
Marcus Thames
Austin Kearns

Pitchers (8)
CC Sabathia
Andy Pettitte
Phil Hughes
Mariano Rivera
Joba Chamberlain
David Robertson
Boone Logan
Kerry Wood

I think Austin Kearns has lost his lock status due to some poor play and better performance from Lance Berkman, but I would still be surprised if he was not on the roster, as he would provide some pop off the bench that could be useful in a long game.

My final 5 looked like this:

Ramiro Pena
Chad Moeller
AJ Burnett
Ivan Nova
Damaso Marte

I think Burnett is a lock at this point due to a decent September and Joe Girardi’s faith in him, so that leaves 4 spots, with Eduardo Nunez, Javier Vazquez, Chad Gaudin, Sergio Mitre, Dustin Moseley, Greg Golson, and Royce Ring joining the players listed above as options.… Click here to read the rest

Speculating on the postseason rotation

Now that the Yankees have finally secured their postseason berth, it’s time for rampant speculation regarding the Yankees’ rotation plans for the playoffs. Matt took a quick look last week and concluded that the Yankees would be best served going with a three-man rotation in the first round, which is almost certainly what they’ll do, as they’d only have to start Game 1 starter CC Sabathia on short rest once, in Game 4, on Sunday, October 10. Sabathia would then be on full rest to start ALCS Game 1 on Friday, October 15, if the Yankees get there.

Speaking of Sabathia, there seemed to be a fair amount of consternation among the Yankee Twitterati regarding CC’s starting last night’s game, as that put him off schedule and resulted in eight days of rest before next Wednesday’s ALDS Game 1 start. While going with CC yesterday might have been somewhat less ideal than starting him on Friday, I didn’t have a particularly large problem with the move, for a few reasons: (1) As unlikely as the doomsday scenario of the Yankees losing all of their remaining games and the Sox winning all of their remaining games was, the prospect of heading into this weekend’s series at Fenway with the playoffs potentially still on the line would’ve been pretty brutal.… Click here to read the rest

Cured: The Curtis Granderson Story

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And if you don’t know, now you know! Photo courtesy of AP and daylife.com

As the buzz from the 2009 World Series wore off and Yankee fans began to look to the next season of baseball, Ninja-in-Chief and General Manager Brian Cashman struck with precision and speed and dealt longtime Yankee prospects CF Austin Jackson and RHP Ian Kennedy, along with LHP reliever Phil Coke to the Arizona Diamondbacks and Detroit Tigers as a part of a three-way deal that brought CF Curtis Granderson to the Yankees.  After watching Melky Cabrera hack his way through a full season and without knowing what to expect from Brett Gardner, most fans rejoiced.  The Yankees were getting a real life centerfielder!  And not an old one!  And he wasn’t just a good arm in the outfield, he could actually get hits!

In four full seasons with the Tigers, Granderson averaged 23.5 home runs per year and was the owner of a .273/.346/.484 batting line over that time.  … Click here to read the rest

The shrinking offensive contributions of Brett Gardner

After another A.J. Burnett implosion on Monday, I couldn’t help but notice something awry in the outfield. Specifically, why was Austin Kearns manning left field? I wondered if perhaps Gardner was given a day off in preparation of the postseason (although it does seem as though he’s been used pretty sparingly of late).

Granted, he’s likely still recovering from injury and Girardi was simply exhibiting caution. And maybe he just hasn’t had great success against the renowned Marc Rzepczynski (although he has accumulated a career triple slash of .318/.456/.614 against the Blue Jays and .333/.500/.533 line at the Rogers Center). In any event, I felt compelled to investigate possible explanations. What I discovered was something we’ve known for a while now: Brett Gardner’s offensive production has taken a hit in a pretty significant way.
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As I perused his stats via B-Ref, I couldn’t help but grimace at his monthly splits. His batting average has declined precipitously since the All-Star break.… Click here to read the rest

Reviewing The Top of the 10th

Substantively, the documentary was interesting, irritating, and comical, all at the same time. The brief mention of steroids in the first half was surprisingly sober and even-handed. The decision to book-end the show with the Odyssey of Barry Bonds was intriguing and, in some ways, poignant, the segment on the Braves was unintentionally hilarious for its lack of sophistication (did you know Greg Maddux was a nerdy looking guy who was great because he threw the ball where the batter couldn’t hit it?). Burns probably devoted too much time to Joe Torre and the 1996 Yankees team, and certainly spent too much time dwelling on the 1996 World Series, but I found it enjoyable enough, though I’m sure fans of other teams probably wouldn’t share that sentiment. But the two things that without question dominated the program were the strike and the 1998 home run race.

Concerning the strike, I really didn’t think Burns did a very good job of presenting it.… Click here to read the rest

Upon Making the Playoffs

Finally.

At the end of what has seemed like the longest September in Yankee history, the Bombers finally clinched the playoffs last night when they defeated the Toronto Blue Jays. A few things strolled across my mind as the final out was recorded:

1. Congratulations to the Yankees. They’ve worked hard to get to where they are and it’s great to see them get into the playoffs. We knew from the beginning of the year that they would most likely end up here, but that doesn’t make the act of clinching the playoffs any less special. The ultimate goal is to win the World Series, but you’ve got to make the playoffs before you do. The Yankees have accomplished that step and we should celebrate it, just like they did last night.

2. OH PEACE, BOSTON! With the win, the Yankees eliminated the Boston Red Sox from playoff contention and that’s always something sweet. Seriously, though, considering all the injuries that team went through, along with under performances from Josh Beckett and John Lackey, it’s pretty crazy that they were able to hang around this long.… Click here to read the rest

A follow-up look at whether late-season play translates into October success

Yesterday I examined whether or not playing well late in the season translated into October success for batters. The answer was no, probably not. I compared regular season wOBAs in the months of September and October for batters to their wOBAs in the postseason to see if trends that began at the end of the regular season continued into the playoffs. The numbers indicated that for the last three World Series winners at most four batters continued their late-season trends into October. The rest saw their performances reset, sometimes wildly.

Today I’m examining the key pitchers from the 2009 Yankees, 2008 Phillies and 2007 Red Sox, once again to see if performance from the end of the regular season is in any way a predictor of playoff performance.

Here’s the data:

Once again, the numbers suggest that the old rubric that everything resets in the postseason is true. On the 2009 Yankees, only CC Sabathia continued the trend he established in September into October.… Click here to read the rest

And exhale

Needing one more victory to clinch a playoff spot, the Yankees turned to ace CC Sabathia to finally restore some order to the proceedings (since Friday, August 6, the Yankees have gone 26-24 over their last 50 games with a 4.25 team ERA. In the 107 games prior they posted a 3.82 team ERA) and Sabathia responded in kind, hurling one of his best outings of the year. Sabathia tossed 8 1/3 innings of three-hit, one-run ball, giving him his 21st victory of the season and helping the Yankees beat the Blue Jays 6-1 to clinch at the very least the American League Wild Card postseason berth.

A few hours after I noted that the other teams in the AL postseason field were significantly better than the Yankees at manufacturing runs (not that I feel the Yankees need to be highly proficient at this per se, mind you), the team went out and basically small-balled its way to all six runs last night.… Click here to read the rest