Perspectives on Baseball

It’s Competition

Sports pit people against other people, and one person wins while the other loses. They compete against each other, and the competition of the game makes it fun. It creates excitement, suspense, disappointment, and euphoria all while doing something ultimately pointless. Some people, however, make the game about beating the other person, and they do everything to beat them. But at its foundation, sport is about one person going against another in an attempt to show dominance. It’s a base emotion inherited from our evolution to survive. We need to be better than the others to have better mates, better stature, and to survive, which is oddly the goal of most players (though the survive part isn’t quite as dire). When people go too far, it’s called machismo, egotism, and hot-headedness, but the line between “competitive” and those other adjectives is subjective, arbitrary, and fickle. Regardless, competition is what makes baseball so much fun, and without it, it ceases to be much of a game.… Click here to read the rest

Dave and Joe, on an Eiland?

Forgive the horrific pun in the title, sometimes a guy can’t help himself.  There are a lot of whispers swirling around as to why exactly Dave Eiland ended up losing his job as Yankee pitching coach.  Some argue that the performance of the Yankee pitching staff this season, particularly Javy Vazquez and AJ Burnett, is reason enough for Eiland to not be rehired.  Andrew Marchand of ESPN New York describes a breakdown in the relationship between Girardi and Eiland that occurred after Eiland’s leave of absence in June.  From Marchand’s post:

…a person with knowledge of the relationship between Eiland and Girardi said it went south after Eiland returned from his near-month long personal leave of absence in June.The person said that, upon his return, Eiland felt his opinions were deemphasized. It is unclear if by the end of the season if Eiland and Girardi were working better together.

While the reason for Eiland’s personal leave is still unknown, and will likely remain that way, it appears that Eiland’s absence didn’t sit well with Girardi or the rest of Yankee management.  If there were personal issues between Girardi and Eiland, then perhaps the performance of Vazquez and Burnett was the straw the broke the camel’s back, or else just a pretense for not bringing Eiland back.  I do think Marchand and the media are probably overstating the significance of the Girardi-Eiland fallout, but it is worth discussing anyway.… Click here to read the rest

Have you ever wondered what it’s like to be a Yankees’ season ticket holder?

Recently I promised myself that I would do all I could to become a Yankees’ season ticket holder as soon as I could sustain the commitment financially. I made the plunge for the first time this past offseason. The experience was fantastic. I look forward to renewing my ticket this year. This is a brief summary of my experience, for any Yankeeist reader considering making a similar plunge.

The Yankees actually called me during the 2009 playoffs to ask if I was interested in purchasing a ticket license, the official name of a season ticket. Earlier that year I’d purchased a single game ticket via Ticketmaster, which is how the team got my number. My answer was an emphatic yes, which got my name put on a email distribution list to keep me informed of when season tickets were going on sale. Anyone can sign up for the email list on Yankees.com.

After that it was a waiting game. Existing ticket license holders renew and upgrade their seats from November through February.
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Looking for a Lefty-FA edition

Brian Cashman said yesterday that the team has two main priorities this off season, a starter and a lefty for the bullpen. Neither comes as any surprise, the Yanks have pined for Cliff Lee for years and on the heels of the news of Damaso Marte’s scheduled shoulder surgery there was going to be an opening in the bullpen. Chad Jennings of LoHud has the details:

“If I can find a left-handed reliever who can join Boone Logan, I think that will make our choices out of the pen better for our manager,” the GM said. “It’s easy to talk about it. It’s harder to find it. Those are the obvious things that stand out for me: Continue to improve your starting rotation, find a left-handed reliever and then get after it.”

There’s three paths he can take with this. Free agency, trade, or internal options. Given that Cashman said he’s looking to “find” a lefty, let’s put aside internal options for the moment.… Click here to read the rest

Letting Go Of Wood

Cliff Corcoran of the excellent Pinstriped Bible checks in on Kerry Wood:

Kerry Wood posted a 1.344 WXRL and 0.69 ERA with the Yankees, but he also walked 18 men in 26 innings. He was lucky. Opponents hit .236 on balls in play against Wood after he came over from Cleveland, and just 3.1 percent of his fly balls left the ballpark, down from a career rate of 8.6 percent. Meanwhile, he gave up fly balls and line drives more often than he had previously in his career.

Wood’s high strikeout rates allow him to get away with more walks more than a less powerful pitcher could, but walking 5.7 men per nine innings, as Wood did in 2010, is playing with fire, and his home run rate is sure to shoot back up next year, particularly if he spends half of his home games pitching in the new Yankee Stadium. Wood will be 34 in June and has a extensive injury history, which begs an unwelcome comparison to Marte, who turned 34 soon after signing his current contract.

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How Bad Was the 2009-10 Offseason?

Let’s start with the big one ; the Yankees trading Austin Jackson, Ian Kennedy and Phil Coke for Curtis Granderson. How does this one rate on the value scale? Well for a long time, with Granderson struggling mightily and Austin Jackson looking like a shoo-in for Rookie of the Year as he played an excellent centerfield and somehow managed to sustain an outrageous BABiP, this looked like a clear failure. Ultimately though, the players were nearly identical in worth; Jackson posting a 3.7 fWAR and Granderson 3.6. Looking a little deeper though, Jackson was the same player he’d been in the minors. His average and OBP were heavily reliant on a whopping .393 BABiP, and he struck out 170 times while only slugging .400. In other words, while the two were close in value, Granderson is probably the safer bet to remain a good offensive player, and he has much more power than Jackson, which makes him a better fit for the bottom of the Yankees lineup.… Click here to read the rest

No Need For An Upgrade Like Cliff Lee

[image title=”Indians starting pitcher Lee looks up before pitching in sixth inning of their MLB American League baseball game against the Yankees in New York” size=”full” id=”22679″ align=”center” linkto=”full” ]So far, I’ve given my argument against signing Cliff Lee, and laid out some alternatives (most of which don’t look pretty good), and stated my belief that the Yankees should stand pat and fill the position internally. Assuming Andy Pettitte re-signs, the team will go into 2011 with the same top-four as they did last year. How much of a problem is this?

The 2o10 Yankees won 95 games, giving them the second-best record in the American League by just 1 game. They scored 859 runs (leading the league by a good margin) and allowed 693 (6th-best in the league) for a Pythagorean record of 97-65, the best in either league. In the playoffs, they swept the ALDS against the Minnesota Twins, and lost in 6 games against the Texas Rangers in the ALCS.… Click here to read the rest

Cliff Lee is always a good idea

EJ Fagan of TYU wrote a post yesterday encouraging the Yankees to not sign Cliff Lee. The main premise of the article is that the Yankees are already walking dangerous grounds in terms of aging core players. EJ writes:

“The team needs to aim younger than Cliff Lee. They need a guy in the Hughes/Cano/Gardner age group, not someone in advanced age. Or they need to sign someone to a shorter, cheaper contract. Who is that guy? I’m not too sure. He may not exist. But he should be in his mid to late 20s, or be a very short term commitment. Zach Greinke comes to mind. There are also internal solutions in the minor leagues, which I will be talking a lot about this winter.”

Cliff Lee will turn 32 years old next season. He’ll probably dictate a contract in the vicinity of $20M / 5-6 years. Now, TYU is an excellent Yankees resource, but in this particular case, I couldn’t further disagree with the assessment.… Click here to read the rest