Story of a Season: Curtis Granderson

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Curtis Granderson may have slumped in September (.304 wOBA/85 wRC+), but every other month aside from that was nothing short of fantastic. Taking out the final month of the season, Granderson’s worst month in terms of wOBA/wRC+ was June when he hit “only” .363/125. If he did that for the entire year, it would’ve been a productive season for Granderson. Instead, he turned in career highs in homers (41), walk rate (12.3), Iso (.290), and wRC+ (146). His wOBA (.395) and fWAR (7.0) were both the second highest marks of his career (both fell just short of his .395 and 7.8 marks in 2007).

The biggest change in Granderson was his #cured status against left handed pitching. He continued his turn around from the latter part of 2011 and ended up punishing left handed pitching this year, racking up a .325 (!) Iso against same handed pitchers, leading to a .400 wOBA and a 151 wRC+. Hopefully, this continues into 2012.… Click here to read the rest

Guest Post: An Informed Take On Yu Darvish

This is a guest post from David P. over at Yankees Source, who can be reached at @yankeesource on Twitter. He is a scout for an international scouting agency that works with a few MLB clubs, including the Yankees. He spends a few months out of the year in Japan and has been following Yu Darvish since he was 16. I asked him for some thoughts on Darvish and how he compares to previous Japanese prospects who have made the leap to MLB, and he kindly obliged with a very informative post.

At this point we are all familiar with the failures of major Japanese pitchers who make the transition to the MLB. That’s one of the biggest fears for baseball fans this year, the thought of signing Japanese phenom Yu Darvish to a multi-million-dollar deal only to have it end up as a failure. There were big signings from Japan that turned into multi-million-dollar busts that remain etched in our minds.… Click here to read the rest

2011 season profile: Bartolo Colon and Freddy Garcia

The Yankees clearly didn’t, as both Colon and Garcia were given limited roles with the staff early in the season. Colon didn’t even make the rotation out of camp, being relegated to long relief instead. Though as luck would have it this worked out pretty well, as Colon came to serve as a sort of caddy for Phil Hughes during his April struggles, and thus was able to step into the rotation seamlessly when Hughes was sidelined by injuries. Garcia was tabbed as the 5th starter, but the Yankees used every opportunity to push him back over the season’s first weeks, and Garcia didn’t make his first start until April 16th, the 15th game of the season.

At that point, the idea that either Colon or Garcia would still be in the Yankees rotation at seasons end seemed a bit far-fetched, to say nothing of the idea that both of them would. And yet, there they were, with Colon starting in the final series of the year and Garcia getting a start in the ALDS.… Click here to read the rest

Consider Mark Buehrle

Regardless of how the C.C. Sabathia negotiations go, the Yankees will probably need to add another starting pitcher via free agency. Ivan Nova and A.J. Burnett are solid, but the Yankees have a lot of question marks beyond them. I wouldn’t be too comfortable with more than one farm system audition spot going into the season. The Yankees need some insurance to eat innings.

Bringing back Freddy Garcia is one option. I think the Yankees would be smart to offer him arbitration, and would be OK with one year of Freddy at $6 million or so next season. If he accepts, they could use him as insurance, and at the same time I think he would be easily trade-able. Bartolo Colon is similar, although I think we might be more comfortable with Freddy. Worst case scenario, they get a draft pick out of it (if Freddy remains a Type B, we’re not sure yet).

That’s great, but I think the Yankees should aim a little higher and put a bid in for Mark Buehrle.… Click here to read the rest

More awsome research on catcher defense

A little while back, Moshe wrote about some interesting research on catcher pitch framing, which highlighted the value of having Russell Martin behind the plate as compared to Jorge Posada.  Today, Bojan Koprivica of The Hardball Times has an article on his research in another important aspect of catcher defense: pitch-blocking.

Prior to this research, most analysis of a catcher’s ability to block pitches was rather simplistic, namely, by counting the number of passed balls and wild pitches they surrendered.  While this is not necessarily an incorrect metric for catcher effectiveness, it certainly would not account for the differences in the pitchers they are catching.  One would expect a catcher who catches knuckleballers or a wild pitcher such as AJ Burnett to give up more than their share of wild pitches and passed balls, while a guy who catches a pitcher with excellent command like Cliff Lee would presumably have fewer.

Koprivica tries to account for this by modeling the locations where pitches land or cross the plate, and looking at the frequency at which pitches in these locations got away from the catcher.  … Click here to read the rest

2011 season profile: Nick Swisher

Thankfully Swisher would regress to the mean, and with a vengeance. The turnaround really started in the last week of May, on the Yankees’ first trip to the West Coast of the season, but in June Swisher would hit a whopping .326/.445/.651, which translated to a wRC+ of 192. Swisher would continue to hit well in July and August (wRC+ of 144 and 152, respectively), before fading again in September, when he hit .205/.295/.359, his worst month of the entire season by wRC+. In other words, it was a very strange roller coaster ride for Swisher, but somehow it wound up being a pretty good year on the whole. Swisher hit .260/.374/.449 for the season, and actually led the Yankees in OBP.

Of course, all of that is overshadowed now in the minds of many fans by yet another poor postseason performance by Swisher, and some of them are actually suggesting the Yankees shouldn’t pick up Swisher’s team option for 2011.… Click here to read the rest

For you crazies who think the Yankees should decline Nick Swisher's absurdly reasonably priced option based on the results of an inherently random small sample size

(AP Photo/Kathy Kmonicek)

Now you’ve done it. You’ve really done it. Just when I thought Yankee fans couldn’t get any battier, they want to run Nick Swisher — one of the most productive right-fielders in the league, not to mention one of the Yankees’ top on-base threats — out of town, because of some unfortunately poor showings in three random samplings.

Never mind that were one to construct the ideal Yankee hitter from the ground up, Swisher ostensibly represents the perfect blueprint, leading the team in OBP in 2011, with a .374 mark despite starting the season in a horrid slump; notching the best BB%, at 15% — a massive jump from 2010’s 9.1%; and finishing 11th in the AL in pitches per plate appearance (20th in 2010 and 2nd in the league in 2009).

Though his power numbers took a slight dip this season he also has 30-home-run power, and has been a solid .370 wOBA player during his three seasons on the team.… Click here to read the rest

Michael Young is not Derek Jeter

But that’s how the Michael Young narrative has evolved, has it not?   Like Jeter, he puts people in the strange situation of having to say a great player is overrated because it’s not enough for most people to assess him for what he actually is. Instead he is cast as Lord of the Intangibles and, like Jeter, that story of his intangibles won’t accept the unpleasant truth that, at times, he has behaved in ways we don’t normally associate with leadership.  Not that he’s a bad seed or a bad player or anything close to that. He isn’t. It’s just that he’s not as perfect as his local press makes him out to be because, hell, no one is that perfect.

To me, the first paragraph is really the nub of what’s irritating about the hagiographies that are written about Young, and there’s really nothing about Jeter that’s comparable. Sure, you might think he should have been moved down in the batting order sometime in the last two seasons, or maybe you still think he should have changed positions when the Yankees traded for Alex Rodrgiuez back in 2004 (though, in fairness, that non-move is working out pretty well these days), but here’s the thing: no one ever asked Jeter to do that.Click here to read the rest

What about Roy Oswalt?

When we’re discussing Yankee free agent starting pitcher targets, we’re prone to talking about three names: CC Sabathia, Yu Darvish, and C.J. Wilson. One that hasn’t come up much is Roy Oswalt.

There are two reasons for this: Roy Oswalt is old and Roy Oswalt isn’t exactly healthy. Back issues limited him to just 139 innings this year, after pitching at least 200 innings in every season since 2004, save for a mark of “only” 181 in 2009. It’s also worth noting that the Phillies hold a club option on Oswalt. However, it’s a $16M option with a $2M buyout. As of last week, the organization was still discussing whether or not to pick up the option. If I were to bet on it, I’d bet on them not picking the option up and buying Oswalt out. If they do, should the Yankees give him a look?

Performance wise, there really isn’t much to complain about. His strikeout rate dropped a bit this year, but he still displayed good control and kept the ball inside the park.… Click here to read the rest