Game 158: Yankees 6, Blue Jays 1

In the top of the fifth, Brett Gardner tripled to center.  This time it was Jeter’s turn to drive in a run, as he hit the ball to third and Gardner made it home to give the Yankees a 3-1 edge.  The score stayed the same through the seventh inning, but the Yankees added some insurance in the eighth.

A single by Jeter got things going and Swisher followed with a single of his own.  Greg Golson replaced Swisher and Teixeira worked a walk to juice the bases.  Rodriguez walked, bringing Jeter home.  Robinson Cano then drove sac fly to left, scoring Golson and putting the Yankees ahead 5-1.

New York picked up another run in the ninth and Sabathia, who was still under 100 pitches, started the ninth.  Snider singled and Yunel Escobar walked before Sabathia got Jose Bautista out on a long fly ball.  Girardi decided it was time to bring Sabathia out and Mariano Rivera entered the game for the last two outs.… Click here to read the rest

Blame Thrown in Wrong Direction in Tampa

But someone has to be blamed! Who? Who?!?! I’ll say the owners and front office deserve most of the blame. Clearly, the players aren’t going to criticize the bosses, but I think that’s who deserves it. Now, as I go into this, I realize the Rays gave away 20,000 tickets to last night’s game, but it needed to happen earlier. Not doing so on such a scale was being unrealistic. Essentially, they said they preferred having an empty stadium to giving away most of the tickets and losing revenue they weren’t getting anyway. If they weren’t going to be sold anyway, then what did you have to lose? I commend the front office/ownership for finally realizing it because I don’t think anyone else has, but teams need to learn to be more proactive. Imagine if this was more common. 10-20,000 more fans coming in the gate a night. You weren’t going to get their ticket money anyway, so you’re not missing out on that.… Click here to read the rest

Overstating the Importance of a 4th Starter

Since AJ Burnett’s awful performance in last night’s game against the Blue Jays, the pundits have ramped up the “Yankees have no pitching” storyline. Of course, these articles tend to ignore the similar lack of depth in all of the AL contenders’ rotations, and make it seem like the Yankees have major pitching issues. As I showed yesterday, this is simply not the case. More on point, it seems that many writers and fans are overstating the importance of the 4th starter in the postseason.

[image title=”Screen shot 2010-09-28 at 4.13.18 PM” size=”full” id=”21719″ align=”center” linkto=”full” ]
[image title=”Screen shot 2010-09-28 at 4.13.48 PM” size=”full” id=”21720″ align=”center” linkto=”full” ]
[image title=”Screen shot 2010-09-28 at 4.13.57 PM” size=”full” id=”21721″ align=”center” linkto=”full” ]

As you can see, the Yankees could use their 4th starter just twice over the entire postseason (Game 4 or 5 in ALCS and World Series), while only using a pitcher on 3 days rest one time (CC Sabathia in Game 4 of the ALDS).… Click here to read the rest

Starting CC Tonight A Mistake

With 5 games left in the season and a 5.5 game lead over the Red Sox in the Wild Card race (Sox have 6 remaining), the Yankees have a playoff spot all but locked up. The Red Sox have a less than 1% chance of making the postseason, as they would need to win all of their remaining games while the Rays or Yankees would have to lose all of theirs for the Sox to earn a spot in a 1 game playoff. While the 3 game set with the Yankees this weekend might make it seem like Boston has a real chance to make up their deficit, the odds are stacked heavily against them. Despite all this, after spending the better part of a month being smart about the health of their players and prioritizing the postseason, the Yankees will turn to CC Sabathia tonight and put aside setting up their playoff rotation in order to clinch now. This is a mistake born of anxiety to clinch, and presents an example of a team succumbing to pressure, both internal and external.… Click here to read the rest

Rays' Attendance Issue More Complicated Than It Seems

After last night’s 4-0 loss to the Orioles in which the Rays blew a chance to clinch a playoff spot, Evan Longoria and David Price lashed out at the Rays fanbase. Talking about a sparse crowd of 12,446 for a potential clincher, Price called the situation embarrassing while Longoria referred to it as disheartening. This set off a Twitter war in which many criticized the pair for ripping into a fanbase mired in the throes of an awful recession while others applauded them for noting an obvious problem. Yankees fans, at least the ones that I interacted, tended to be in the first group, lamenting poor attendance for a team that has been competitive for three years now. While I understand that last night’s attendance figure looks atrocious on the surface, I think there are a number of factors that many people critical of the Rays fanbase are missing.

The most important point that I can make is to note that the Rays do very well on television and on the radio.… Click here to read the rest

American League Postseason Preview: Baserunning and Situational Hitting

Last week we took a look at how the AL playoff field’s offenses, starting pitchers and bullpens stacked up, and today we’ll take a quick look at how these teams do when they have runners on base.

I’d been wanting to do an analysis like this for a while, but wasn’t quite sure which numbers to use as I’ve been primarily leaning on Fangraphs for a lot of my analytical reasoning this season, and as wonderful as the site is, they haven’t delved into situational hitting and baserunning all that deeply yet, although I’m sure they will soon enough. However, I didn’t realize that Baseball-Reference has even more of a treasure trove of comprehensive baseball statistics than I was aware of, and this discovery was made possible due to Steve S.’s spectacular post from last week looking at the Rays’ proficiency at scoring despite not possessing significantly high triple-slash numbers.

Given the Yankees’ ability to put men on base, but recent troubles in bringing those runners around to score, I realized that a traditional look at the playoff field featuring simply offensive and pitching comparisons wouldn’t quite tell the entire story.… Click here to read the rest

Tampa Bay Plans A Step Backwards (More On Why Revenue Sharing Is Dead)

Sternberg has no choice, really.  All of the numbers are moving against him.  His players making the league minimum are becoming eligible for arbitration; his players formerly eligible only for arbitration are now also eligible to file for free agency.  Like any good young team, his team is getting older, and more expensive.  But the Rays’ revenues are not keeping up with their expenses.  Attendance at Rays’ home games is static at best.  The Rays’ TV ratings are up, but there’s no evidence that these ratings will improve the Rays’ bottom line. In short, Sternberg cannot afford a $72 million payroll, let alone the greater payroll that would be required to keep the current team together.

But it’s a shame, a damn shame.  It shouldn’t be this way.

How will the Rays trim $22 million from their payroll?  Consider that a number of Rays’ players are scheduled for pay increases in 2011.  Ben Zobrist is due a $4 million increase. … Click here to read the rest