TYA Open Thread, Monday October 17, 2011

Now that the Brewers are out of contention I find myself grasping at straws for who to root for in the World Series, or even if I should watch it. Once again, at gun point, I’d go for the Cardinals. I’m still holding a bit of a grudge against the Rangers for last season, even if there’s no rationale behind it. In the interim, I’ll be watching the Jets tonight. Enjoy.… Click here to read the rest

Don't Believe What You Read On Darvish

In a very interesting column on the Yankees’ offseason plans, Joel Sherman shared the following nugget about how the organization views Japanese pitching sensation Yu Darvish:

“For those on the Matt Cain bandwagon, I heard the Giants have made it so clear they are not trading him that the Yankees have not asked about the righty in “’years.’ The A’s want a No. 1 starter return for Gio Gonzalez, and the Yankees don’t view him as an ace. John Danks took a step back this past year. Many key Yankee voices like Yu Darvish, but the internal sense is Steinbrenner and general manager Brian Cashman are not going to authorize a big outlay after the Kei Igawa disaster and Daisuke Matsuzaka’s plummet for Boston.”

Sherman is an excellent reporter, and if he is reporting that the organization has a low level of interest in Darvish, that is likely what people in the Yankee hierarchy are saying at this point.… Click here to read the rest

2011 season profile: Rafael Soriano

And Soriano wasn’t doing much to elevate himself above the drama on the field either, struggling mightily in the beginning of the season before being shut down for a while with an elbow injury. When Soriano was placed on the DL he had a 5.40 ERA (which was trending downward, believe it or not), dodgy peripherals, and had thrown just one clean inning all season, the 8th inning of Opening Day. After coming back from a two and a half month hiatus, however, Soriano appeared to be a different pitcher throwing 24.1 innings to a 3.38 ERA with a 9.75 K/9 and 2.63 BB/9. That’s the sort of production the Yankees thought they were paying for, and had hoped to get all season long.

On the whole, I still don’t really hate the Soriano signing. The contract is still obscenely player friendly, with player options for each of the next two seasons, and Soriano certainly didn’t warrant the commitment based on both his performance this year and the depth of the rest of the bullpen, but by the same token he didn’t cripple the team either, whether in terms of the amount of money the Yankees committed nor the draft pick they forfeited in favor of Soriano.… Click here to read the rest

End of an ERA? Dominant Starters Not Setting the Tone This October

(The following is being syndicated from The Captain’s Blog).

The San Francisco Giants’ championship in 2010 was supposed to usher in a new era of pitching dominance. With offense levels reaching long-time lows, the conventional wisdom suggested that only with a strong starting rotation could a team hope to make the World Series. Then, 2011 happened.

The Texas Rangers and St. Louis Cardinals have each advanced to this year’s Fall Classic despite lackluster starting pitching. In fact, the teams’ respective rotation ERAs of 5.62 and 5.43 rank near the bottom among the field of eight that began the postseason. Even more incredibly, the two teams combined had only one starter go at least six innings (C.J. Wilson in game 5 of the ALCS) in their recent LCS triumphs, and the Cardinals actually logged more innings from the bullpen than the starting rotation (28 2/3 vs. 24 1/3) during its victory over the Milwaukee Brewers.

Postseason ERAs by Starting Rotation

 Team G Avg GSc IP ER ERA
PHI 5 57.8 34 14 3.71
DET 11 51.3 59 2/3 30 4.53
ARI 5 49.2 28 15 4.82
NYY 5 47.6 20 1/3 11 4.87
TBR 4 49.5 22 2/3 13 5.16
STL 11 45.5 54 2/3 33 5.43
TEX 10 45.0 49 2/3 31 5.62
MIL 11 40.3 55 1/3 43 6.99
 Total 62 47.2 324 1/3 190 5.27

Source: Baseball-reference.com

So, how exactly have the Rangers and Cardinals managed to survive with such poor starting pitching?… Click here to read the rest

2011 season profile: Robinson Cano

Cano didn’t quite match his breakout 2010 season, but he wasn’t too far off. Despite seeming to regress to be a first-rate hacker at times (and indeed, Cano did swing at more pitches than ever this year), his walk rate of 5.6% was actually slightly above his career average, and his .302/.349/.533 was good for a wRC+ of 133 and 53 runs above replacement, according to Fangraphs, both second only to Curtis Granderson. His OBP was the lowest mark of any year in his career other than 2008, but so was his BABIP which, at .316, was 10 points lower than it was in 2010, and 5 points lower than his career average, an average that includes those 2008 numbers. Additionally, Cano hit for more power than ever before this year, making up for the drop in OBP somewhat, and leaving plenty of reason to assume Cano will remain a legitimate offensive force over the next few years.

That’s not to say Cano is without his flaws.… Click here to read the rest

Working hard for the money: What each Yankee pitcher was paid, versus his worth

Strike outs are valuable.

Friday I ran the first post in this series, examining what Fangraphs estimated each Yankee hitter was worth to the team on the season, and then comparing that value to what a player was actually paid in 2011. Today, I’ll be performing the same exercise, only examining the Yankee pitchers.

As before, the rules of this are simple. All the data come from Fangraphs. The value and salary numbers are in millions. The difference between a pitcher’s salary and his value is either the profit he generated for the team, if his value exceeded his salary, or the loss he was responsible for, if the salary was larger than the value.

The above table has shaken out precisely as anyone who read Friday’s post would have predicted. I hypothesized then that David Robertson would have produced the most profit for the Yankees this season, and he’s sitting right on top of the list, sharing a spot with Bartolo Colon.… Click here to read the rest

Bill Madden has the hit on Theo

Madden’s column is cloaked in a sort of complement to Brian Cashman, noting that he didn’t put his tail between his legs and quit after 2008, when he was supposedly in the same boat as Theo. But that misses a few important points. First, the 2008 Yankees weren’t nearly as much of a fiasco as the 2011 Red Sox. The latter were expected to be great and entered the season as the overwhelming favorites to win the American League, then blew one of the biggest leads in the entire history of the wild card era to miss the playoffs entirely. The 2008 Yankees, on the other hand, were a flawed team in transition from the beginning, and even then might well have made the playoffs if not for the unforeseen emergence of Tampa Bay as a contender. What’s more, the 2009 offseason was always a major part of Cashman’s long-term plan, as he had all but openly coveted C.C. Sabathia, and the rest of the moves made that offseason were icing on the cake to a large extent.… Click here to read the rest

Follow-up study on the 2011 Yankees' run-scoring by inning

One of the more popular refrains surrounding the Yankee offense in 2011 was that it seemed to have a good deal of trouble scoring in the later innings of ballgames. More often than not it seemed we’d watch the offense get to work immediately in the first inning — highlighted by a league-leading 115 runs scored in the 1st — only to let an opposing starter settle in over the next few frames and seem to make it through relatively unscathed before turning it over to the bullpen. If the Yankees weren’t ahead by this point in the game, it seemed as though they’d pretty much be done for. Or were they?

When I first did this study on June 3, the season was only one-third over, and I drew the following conclusions:

“The 2011 Yankees are on pace to score their highest total number of runs in the first inning in the six seasons displayed here, as well as the fifth inning.

Click here to read the rest

2011 season profile: A.J. Burnett

Thankfully, it was also wrong, because Burnett was terrible again. Though he started out promising enough, with a 4.05 ERA as late in the season as the end of June, following a 7 inning, 2 earned runs performance against Milwaukee, the wheels began to fall of in July, and Burnett would begin a free fall that would last through much of the season. When all was said and done, Burnett had again posted an ERA over 5.00, and his ERA+ of 84 was just slightly better than 2010 (82). Which isn’t to say everything was bad; Burnett increased his strikeout rate from last year while keeping his walk rate more or less even, but he also threw 25 wild pitches, and his home run rate continues to rise, a trend that’s continued unabated since 2008.

On the other hand, Burnett was able to end his season on a high not in September and October. In the season’s final month, Burnett pitched 29 innings over 5 starts, posting a 4.34 ERA and striking out 11.17 batters per nine innings.… Click here to read the rest