Thursday Evening Linkstravaganza

Though there’s already been plenty to speculate about already, the Hot Stove Season won’t truly kick off until the culmination of the 2011 World Series, so while we wait for the rumormongering to start spiraling wildly out of control, here are some of our favorite links from the past few days.

As an aside, if you have any burning offseason questions you’d like answered, you can always e-mail us (TheYankeeAnalysts at gmail dot com) or drop a question in the comments below, and we’d be happy to answer it.

In any event, the below links contain some excellent reading from many of the usual suspects:

The Pinstriped Bible’s Jay Jaffe takes a look at C.J. Wilson

Jay’s fellow Bibly Study mate Cliff Corcoran has a great piece up on “Making the Last Out”

Mike Axisa writes about the Yankees’ biggest hit of the season

SG looks at whether the Yankees should swap Brett Gardner and Curtis Granderson in the outfield

Eric wrote about it the other day, but it’s so awesome it bears linking again: Bojan Koprivica’s catcher defense article from The Hardball Times

Our own William with more of his regularly scheduled awesomeness over at the Banter

Value Over Replacement Grit has a unique World Series preview

Fangraphs’ excellent Q&A series continued the other day with an interesting interview with Kelly Johnson

I enjoyed this graphic look at World Series droughts at Beyond the Boxscore.… Click here to read the rest

Baseball America on the 2011 Yankee Draft

Baseball America posted their 2011 Draft Report Cards today, and the Yankee report (subscriber-only) has some nice info on some of the Yankee draftees.  While initially bearish on the Yankee haul at the time of the draft, John Manuel and Jim Callis do see some reason to be excited about the Yankees’ newest acquisitions.  It was certainly a draft class that focused on high schoolers, which means that it is a potentially high-risk, high-reward group.

Dante Bichette has gotten much well-deserved praise for his offensive performance in the Gulf Coast League and raw power, but BA also highlighted some strong reports on his defense as well.  Around draft time most people assumed that Bichette would not be able to stick at 3rd base and would have to move to an outfield corner, but the more recent reports seem to indicate that he has a good chance to stick at the position, and even be an asset there.  If true, this definitely improves his value.… Click here to read the rest

Looking back at the 2011 Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Yankees

Curtain Calls:
Jordan Parraz (RF):Parraz put together a strong 2011, hitting .289/.362/.440/.802.  He had nine homers, six triples and 28 doubles, scoring 66 runs and knocking in 52 RBIs.

Jesus Montero (C): Yankees fans focused on Montero a lot, and he showed why in the Bronx this September.  Still, he spent most of 2011 in Scranton and put together strong numbers once again.  He hit .288/.348/.468/.814.  Montero crushed eighteen homers, one triple and nineteen doubles.  His defense continues to bring questions, and the fact that he saw little time behind the plate in the Bronx has resurfaced a lot of these concerns.

Jorge Vazquez (1B/DH): While it became abundantly clear that Vazquez is unlikely to get a taste of the pros in New York, he turned a lot of heads in Scranton this season.  He hit .262/.314/.516/.830.  Vazquez hit a league-leading 32 homers and was second with 93 RBIs.

D.J. Mitchell (SP): Mitchell went 13-9 in 24 starts and 28 appearances. … Click here to read the rest

Trading Brett Gardner Will Make Yankee Starting Pitching More Of A Problem

I’ve been hearing a lot of people lately, both in the blogosphere and in the real world, talking about the Yankees trading for a top starting pitcher with a package centered around Brett Gardner. I think this is generally (barring something crazy, like a top-flight locked up Felix-like pitcher becoming available) a very bad idea.

Brett Gardner was worth 5.1 fWAR last season. The majority of that contribution was defense – but you knew that already. Brett Gardner is one the best defensive players in all of professional baseball. While he’s only an average-at-best hitter, Gardner was one of the most valuable Yankees last year according to fWAR, behind only Sabathia, Granderson and Cano. Simply replacing that fWAR would be very difficult next season – neither James Shields or Cole Hamels even reached that mark. And Gardner is under team control for longer than any of those guys. He’s currently paid very little in relative baseball terms, and is unlikely to get huge arbitration raises.… Click here to read the rest

Positive Storylines from the 2011 Season: Ivan Nova’s unexpected rise to the top half of the rotation

Are Nova's improvements sustainable? (Photo by Patrick McDermott/Getty Images)

Yankeeist readers will recall that we did just two comprehensive “Positive Storylines” and “Negative Storylines” posts last offseason. In the interest of fleshing the 2011 positives and negatives out a bit further — not to mention we have more days to fill with content this offseason — the Positive and Negative Storyline trends are going to be broken up across multiple posts this year.

In a season full of surprises, Ivan Nova‘s ascent from fourth man in the rotation to the Yankees’ Game 2 starter in the playoffs was perhaps the most unexpected. At best, I think many Yankee fans’ expectations of Nova were tempered, especially with the knowledge that Nova, though relatively effective, had struggled mightily to turn lineups over a third time during his debut stint with the team at the end of the 2010 season.

The following is from a post I wrote last offseason on Nova and Hector Noesi:

As far as projections go, Bill James sees a 4.61 ERA/4.22 FIP over 80.0 innings for Nova.

Click here to read the rest

2011 season profile: Jorge Posada

Of course, some might say I’m being a bit liberal with the use of the word “hitter.” Far from being one of the crucial elements to extending the Yankees’ potency to the bottom of the lineup, as we’ve come to expect, Posada struggled mightily in 2011, hitting just .235/.315/.398 for the season. The low point for Posada came on May 14th when, facing the Boston Red Sox at home, Joe Girardi penciled Posada into the 9th spot in the lineup. Posada did not take well to this, and asked for a day off instead, setting off a firestorm of controversy that lasted into the next day. There was speculation Posada was considering retirement, and reports that the Yankees considered releasing him altogether.

Cooler heads ultimately prevailed, and Posada settled into a role as a platoon player at the DH position, playing against right-handed starters but sitting against southpaws. This was actually a pretty good arrangement for everyone, as the story of Posada’s struggle was really one of his ability to handle lefties, against whom he hit just .092/.169/.108.… Click here to read the rest

Story of a Season: Nick Swisher

Others

2011 featured some book ends for Nick Swisher. He started off the year poorly, putting up a .293 wOBA/78 wRC+ in the first two months of the season. In September, he hit just .284/72, then had a poor showing in the playoffs. Between then, though, Swisher was on fire. From June-August, Swisher hit .305/.418/.556/.973. For comparison’s sake, in that same time frame, Robinson Cano put up a .909 OPS and Curtis Granderson put up a .940 OPS. So for a good chunk of the season, Nick Swisher was the team’s best hitter.

June was easily Swisher’s best month as he put up a .460 wOBA (!!) and a 192 wRC+ (!!) in my birth month. In July, he dipped to “just” .389/144, but rebounded in August to hit to .404/152 marks.

In terms of platoon splits, Swisher had a “meh” year against righties as he put up a wOBA/wRC+ split of .335/107 against them. He more than made up for it against lefties, though, working them over to the tune of a .412/159 split.… Click here to read the rest

Giving Up On Phil Hughes

Mike Axisa over at RAB did a great job yesterday summing up Phil Hughes’ disastrous 2011 season:

The plan was to put Hughes on a throwing program after a few days of rest, and things went well at first. He was ready to start a minor league rehab assignment about two weeks after his start against the Orioles, but the team cut short a bullpen session after just a dozen pitches and called it a “setback.” Hughes was sent for an MRI the next day, and after some concerns about low-level thoracic outlet syndrome, it was announced that he’d miss another six-to-eight weeks with shoulder inflammation that was bad enough to require a cortisone shot. While all that was going on, a report came out that Hughes showed up to camp out of shape, leading to speculation about how it may have contributed to his arm troubles.

[…]

All told, Hughes pitched to 5.79 ERA with a 4.58 FIP in 74.2 IP in 2011.

Click here to read the rest