On Losing

Losing is something we are not used to as Yankee fans. The Yankees haven’t been a below .500 team since 1992 and have missed the playoffs just once since 1995. Still, though, there are many times when many Yankee fans act as if the team is constantly losing. Those fans are, seemingly, never satisfied. Now, perhaps this is unfair to me. Rooting for a team is an emotional thing to do and when the team is losing, a lot of people overreact.

Despite my knowledge of that, there is still one thing that annoys me to no end: when people accuse the team of not trying simply because the team is losing. I noticed this sentiment because of a particular comment in the River Ave. Blues game thread last night, so I posed this question on Twitter:

How come every time the Yankees play poorly, a large number of people say they’re not trying?

I think throwing that accusation around is absolutely ridiculous.…

Does late-season play translate into October success?

It is a common refrain that everything resets in the postseason. This is true strategically. Suddenly, in a sport with a 162-game regular season a single game becomes far more important than it was previously. Is it true with respect to player performance? While managers can make different choices in a tight playoff situation, players may not be as capable of adjusting simply because the consequences of the games have changed. Does the quality of a player’s play from late in the regular season carry over into a player’s postseason?

This is the first of two posts that examine this question. This post will look at it from the hitters’ perspective. The second will then shift the focus to pitchers. To investigate whether or not late season play carries over into October I’ve taken wOBAs from the months of September and October from the regular season for the 2009 Yankees, 2008 Phillies and 2007 Red Sox. I then compare this to the wOBAs for those same teams’ play in their respective postseasons.

2011 chatter gaining volume

Rosenthal on Girardi:

Girardi has not distinguished himself these past few weeks, but the Yankees’ split personality also reflects the input of GM Brian Cashman. The Yankees are more concerned with keeping their players healthy than winning the division title, and Cashman does not apologize for it.

As for Girardi’s future, some in the industry believe that he has irritated the Yankees’ front office and ownership by refusing to rule out the possibility of going to the Cubs. But such is not the case.

Girardi and his little black binder have been a major cause for consternation around the Yankosphere lately. Girardi has every right to refuse to rule out any potential future employer, particularly when his current employer will not discuss his 2011 role until after the season is complete. I’d like to have him back but if he goes to Chicago, I’ll put my Ivan Drago face on.

Alex Speier of WEEI touched on some Yanks stuff as well:

The emergence of those two outfielders in 2010 – Gardner all year, Granderson in the second half – has reshaped the Yankees, both this year and perhaps into the offseason.

Another Look at the Playoff Rotation

The other issue, amazingly enough, pertains to Sabathia. Don’t get me wrong, the big guy is going to start game 1 of the ALDS no matter what. But that means Sabathia will make just one more start in the regular season, and as of the publishing of this post, he’s scheduled to make that start tonight in Toronto. That means he’ll have 7 days off before he makes his playoff start, whereas pushing his last start back to Friday in Boston would have him opening the playoffs on normal rest. I am in no way a fan of this, and don’t understand at all what the organization is thinking having Sabathia make this start and then be off of his routine going in to a crucial playoff start that most likely will be on the road against the Twins.

Which isn’t to say there’s no logic to it at all. Had the Yankees lost Sunday night’s game, the magic number would still be 3, and having Sabathia pitch tonight would give you the option of having him start the final game of the season if it came to the point that the Yankees had to win that game to make the playoffs.…

Game 157: Yankees 5, Blue Jays 7

While Burnett clearly didn’t have it early on, he completely lost it in the third inning.  He walked Snider and hit Escobar with a pitch before giving up a three run homer to Vernon Wells.  Lyle Overbay followed with a double to center and Buck singled him home.  Adam Lind singled to right, moving Buck to third and a sac fly by Edwin Encarnacion put the Blue Jays in front 7-0.

New York finally got on the board in the top of the fifth.  A walk to Austin Kearns was followed by Curtis Granderson’s 24th homer of the season, making the score 7-2.  The Yankees struck again in the seventh.  With one out, Derek Jeter singled to first and Nick Swisher singled to left.  Mark Teixeira continued to bust out of his slump with a big homer to center, getting the Yankees back in the game as the score sat at 7-5.  Unfortunately, the Pinstripes went down in order in the top of the eighth and ninth, ending any threat and giving Toronto the victory.…

Looking inside Posada vs Cervelli CS%

A recent piece in Joel Sherman’s Hardball blog gives me a good jumping off point to discuss the Yankee catching situation in light of the recent 4 steal 9th inning. Joel is frustrating as a writer because his reporting can be so good, and his analysis ranges from thoughtful and insightful to just horrendous. This one unfortunately falls into the latter category. He writes:

Among potential AL playoff foes, the Rays already know how to exploit the speed issue, having stolen 22 bases in 23 tries against the Yankees this season. Tampa leads the majors in steals at 167. Texas is seventh at 117. You think of Minnesota as a running team, but the Twins have just 66 steals – 25th in the majors.

However, the Red Sox are 26th in the majors in steals with 59, and yet stole four bases in the ninth inning alone against the combo of Jorge Posada and Mariano Rivera. Posada actually looks as if he has a bit of the yips right now.

Dual overarching 2010 storylines of A.J. Burnett being terrible and Blue Jays (and Vernon Wells) positively owning Yankees collide in 7-5 laugher

The Blue Jays beat the Yankees 7-5 Monday night, continuing what has been a season-long stretch of dominance over New York. The win improved the Jays’ season record against the Yankees to 9-7 (only the Rays have beaten the Yankees more times, with 10 victories), a mark that includes a 5-2 record at Rogers Centre. Unless the Yankees can win the next two games they will set a new record for futility on the road at Toronto in the Unbalanced Schedule Era, as they’d never previously won less than four games at Skydome since 2001.

Here’s some startling news: The only other time the Yankees won only two games in a season at an AL East rival’s home field since the implementation of the Unbalanced Schedule 10 years ago was last season against the Red Sox at Fenway. Let’s hope they don’t tie that particular ignominious record, although given the way the Yankees have served as Toronto’s punching bag this season (the Jays have scored 80 runs in 16 games against the Yankees this year, or 5.0 runs per game), combined with continued uninspiring play from the Bombers (who are now 11-14 in September, their highest loss total of any month of the season) I’m not sure how hopeful I am.…

Going to WAR with the league’s catchers

After the approximately 8 million stolen bases thieved by Boston during last night’s ninth inning, it’s rather appropriate that in today’s post we’re landing on the catcher position.

Determining a catcher’s value can be a tricky business. Therefore, for the purpose of getting a better overall perspective, I’ve increased the number of players in the analysis from the top 10 to top 15. More than anything, I think the added players will better exemplify just how challenging it is to find a consistently well-rounded catcher and just how lucky the Yankees have been all these years.

Earlier this month, I wrote a piece pertaining to Posada’s increasingly exposed defense. Basically, the key point of the post was that Posada’s value was in his bat. Every other facet of his game was essentially serviceable (generously speaking). As it turns out, the WAR matrix reflects a similar story.

Click to Enlarge

There’s no doubt that Posada still has pop in his bat. However, he’s nearly reached that pivotal point in his career where his defensive blunders outweigh his offensive contributions.…

In Which I Defend the Steinbrenner Memorial

I think some of this comes down to not quite knowing just what it is. Rob calls it a “plaque,” and that’s true enough in a literal sense, but in terms of the symbolic meaning of Monument Park, it’s not really accurate. That is to say, it’s not meant to be a plaque in the way that Reggie Jackson and Phil Rizzuto and Whitey Ford and Bob Sheppard have plaques. It’s much closer to the stone monuments reserved for the greatest Yankees, and dedicated only after that person’s passing. Of course, it’s bigger than those too. It’s also different than those, and while it wasn’t what I was expecting, I think I’m ok with that. The bottom line is that Steinbrenner was different than those guys, in that he wasn’t a player or a manager. So giving him his own monument, in a distinct style, is a sort of fitting tribute. And at the end of the day, that’s probably what this is; not really a monument, certainly not a plaque, but a tribute.…