So about those last two games…

First, they almost get no-hit by Phil Humber. Then, Brent Lillibridge literally robs the game from the Yankees twice. And, both times, Rafael Soriano gave up runs, with last night’s runs costing the team the game. To say the least, but also to say the most obvious, the first two games against the Chicago White Sox have not been fun. The starters have pitched will, giving up a grand total of two runs in their outings. The offense and Soriano have not held up their ends of the bargain and the Yankees have lost two games that they should have Continue reading So about those last two games…

One game playoff a win-win

So it seems that, pending union approval, baseball will expand the playoffs to 10 teams as early as next season. I know I’m in the minority of the interwebs crowd on this one, but I’m okay with that. With one important caveat however; the new wild card round of the playoffs must be a one-game playoff, not a best-of-three series.

The most obvious reason a three game series probably wouldn’t work is logistics. Assuming the series would probably entail three games in four days, with an off-day after the last game, you’re looking at a scenario that leaves the division winners sitting around rusting for about five days while they wait for their playoffs to start. And then whichever team plays the winner of the wild card round would have to play a team who’s been playing in that span of time. Such a situation could easily devolve into pure farce.

As for the virtues of a one-game playoff, there’s two big points in favor in my opinion. The first is that elimination playoff games are just fun. Particularly, they’re fun for casual fans, who can get behind the event-like nature of straight-forward win-or-go-home playoff contests (this is why the NCAA tournament is so popular even amongst people who don’t really care that much for college basketball. Well, and the brackets too, but you get the idea). I’m not guaranteeing it would happen, but I could definitely see how starting the playoffs with a couple of one-game playoffs could draw in additional casual viewers, at least a few of whom you would expect to have their interest piqued and continue watching the playoffs when they otherwise might not have. Again, that certainly might not happen, but on the other hand I don’t really see how a one-game wild card playoff could hurt viewership.

The other, more important, thing that would be accomplished by this plan would be the cheapening of the wild card. If you care about the integrity of the regular season, this is something you should fully support, at least in theory. The less valuable the wild card is, the more valuable winning your division becomes, encouraging teams to continue fighting for the division crown, if they can. Going back just to last year, this means the Yankees and Rays would have been actually been trying to secure the division down the stretch, rather than coasting for the better part of the month knowing that it didn’t make a difference who won the division and who had to “settle” for the wild card. Adding in the N.L. West race, you could have potentially had four meaningful series on the very last weekend of the series, when in fact you only got two.

Maybe there are better ways to devalue the wild card, but I’m not sure any of it could be done with just four playoff teams per league without drastically altering the competitive landscape of the playoffs. But if you have any suggestions, I’d love to hear about them in the comments. Continue reading One game playoff a win-win

A quick look at Nova's curveball last night

Ivan Nova threw arguably the best game of his young career last night, notching a career-high .262 WPA (besting his previous outing against Chicago last season on August 29 — his top game in 2010 — by .034 WPA). There seems to be something about the White Sox that matches up very favorably with Nova — probably some sort of combination of the team’s propensity to swing at everything (47.3% Swing%, second-highest in the AL) and relative impatience (7.1% BB%, third-worst in the AL) — but I also wanted to see how Nova’s pitch breaks compared with his season averages Continue reading A quick look at Nova's curveball last night

Should Montero replace Posada?

Yesterday, E.J. Fagan of TYA caused something of a stir with this post:

Jorge Posada is hitting .145/.243/.435 this season. According to Joe P. over at Fangraphs, he’s swinging at more bad pitches, making contact less, and continuing downward trends from past years. Almost all of his offensive contribution has come from his 6 home runs. He has just 3 singles other than those, plus 7 walks against a sky-high 19 strikeouts. He is not simply suffering from bad luck – the inputs are bad.

Sure, he has played less than a month of baseball, and has earned just 70 plate appearances. For many players (Say, Nick Swisher), it would be logical to wait out their down streak before even thinking about replacing them. Players can be relied on in the long term to for the most part play to the back of their baseball cards. However, under no circumstances should Jorge Posada be given the benefit of the doubt. This is exactly the type of performance that we should expect to see from a 39 year-old catcher in the twilight of his career. Jorge Posada could right himself, but the weight of probability says that he probably will not. The Yankees should force him to prove that he can still play. If not, they should replace him.

[…]

If Jesus Montero is called up, he will receive very little playing time at catcher. Russell Martin has resurrected his status as one of the game’s best two-way catchers. Normally, I think that it might be wise long-term planning to keep Montero at Triple-A to work on his defense if he were not going to get playing time in the major leagues. The (good) problem of Martin’s return to form is that there is absolutely no foreseeable time horizon where Montero would be able to get regular playing time in New YorK. Martin is not a free agent until after the 2012 season. Montero is not going to stay in Triple-A that long. He would serve as the Yankees back-up catcher and designated hitter. Martin, Girardi, and the rest of the Yankee coaching staff would work on his catching skills on the side, while he (hopefully) mashes opposition pitchers as a designated hitter.

Jorge Posada, for the time being, would become a bench player. Jesus Montero would take Gustavo Molina’s roster spot. Perhaps over time, Posada could play his way back into some DH at bats. However, I do believe that this would be a waste of a roster spot. If a better option emerges (Say, Jorge Vazquez, Brandon Laird, or someone else), the Yankees should consider ending his career.

And people say I lack sentimentality. Sheesh.

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Pitiful offense, Rafael Soriano and Brent Lillibridge team up to beat Yankees

There was not a lot to like about this one. For the second night  in a row the Yankees managed only a handful of hits against a White Sox starter, this time Gavin Floyd, who led Chicago to a 3-2 victory. Floyd wasn’t over-powering. Most of his pitches were in the high 80’s, so it’s safe to say that the Yankee bats have cooled. This was to be expected because most of the damage was coming from about half the lineup. Adding insult to injury, the Yankees squandered their second consecutive strong start. Ivan Nova made it into the seventh Continue reading Pitiful offense, Rafael Soriano and Brent Lillibridge team up to beat Yankees

Game 20: White Sox 3, Yankees 2

Entering Tuesday night’s game, the Yankees were the only team in the Major Leagues without two straight losses this season.  Unfortunately, this was no longer true by the end of the evening.  Another low scoring game for the Yankees culminated in a Chicago 3-2 victory, thanks in no small part to two phenomenal catches by Brent Lillibridge in the ninth inning.

Ivan Nova, who had struggled in his last couple starts and in a relief appearance, seemed to turn the corner Tuesday.  The White Sox scattered a few hits, but Nova kept Chicago’s chances to a minimum.  Meanwhile, the Yankees continued to look for their offense, as Gavin Floyd kept the Bombers bats fairly quiet for the second night in a row. Robinson Cano drove a long fly ball over the wall in right for a solo homer in the second, giving the Yankees the first run of the game.

Each pitcher continued to dominate the opposing lineups as the game progressed.  In the fifth inning Nova allowed a lead off single from Alex Rios.  Rios stole second, as Cano was unable to get a good handle on the throw, and Gordon Beckham grounded a single to right. Nick Swisher tried to gun down Rios, but the run scored and Beckham was safe at second.  Nova, who has had trouble getting through the fifth inning this season, calmed down and got Brent Morel to fly out and Juan Pierre to pop out to end the inning.  Still, the White Sox had gotten on the board and the score was tied 1-1.

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Appreciating the Bullpen

A lot of discussion has been had lately over the Yankees bullpen. Most of the conversation focuses around the Yankees having to use it so often because of the inability of the starting pitching to go deep into games. Often the bullpen is discussed in a negative light. They give up too many runs. They’re over hyped. They’re under performing. I think that’s not really accurate though and taking a look at the numbers, it’s been a pretty good unit so far.   First off, there’s no denying the Yankees have used their bullpen a lot. It’s hard to tell by looking Continue reading Appreciating the Bullpen

Jesus Montero Should Replace Jorge Posada as The Yankees' Regular DH

Jorge Posada is hitting .145/.243/.435 this season. According to Joe P. over at Fangraphs, he’s swinging at more bad pitches, making contact less, and continuing downward trends from past years. Almost all of his offensive contribution has come from his 6 home runs. He has just 3 singles other than those, plus 7 walks against a sky-high 19 strikeouts. He is not simply suffering from bad luck – the inputs are bad. Sure, he has played less than a month of baseball, and has earned just 70 plate appearances. For many players (Say, Nick Swisher), it would be logical to Continue reading Jesus Montero Should Replace Jorge Posada as The Yankees' Regular DH

Change in approach and results for Soriano

Rafael Soriano had a bit of a rough night last night. It started with an embarrassing play in which neither her nor the infielders could catch a simple pop up behind the mound off the bat of Alexi Ramirez. It ended after he gave up another hit, a walk, and allowed a run to cross the plate, upping his season ERA to an ugly 6.75. He’s now allowed seven earned runs on the year after surrendering just 12 in 2010. What’s going on here? One thing I’ve noticed is a pitch selection issue. Courtesy of Texas Leaguers, we can see Continue reading Change in approach and results for Soriano