Game 29: Meet the new boss…

Going back to 2008, the American League East crown has belonged to two teams in alternation, and this year, I guess, is technically Tampa Bay’s turn (and yes, this was mostly meant as a roundabout insult of the Red Sox). The Rays swept the Yankees at Tropicana Field in the season’s opening series, and tonight the two teams will meet at Yankee Stadium for the first time in 2012. Lineups as follows:

Rays (19-10):

Ben Zobrist RF
Carlos Pena 1B
B.J. Upton CF
Matt Joyce LF
Luke Scott DH
Jeff Keppinger 3B
will Rhymes 2B
Sean Rodriguez SS
Jose Molina C

James Shields RHP

Yankees (15-13):

Derek Jeter SS
Curtis Granderson CF
Alex Rodriguez 3B
Robinson Cano 2B
Mark Teixeira 1B
Nick Swisher RF
Raul Ibanez DH
Russell Martin C
Eduardo Nunez LF

Ivan RHP

First pitch is at 7:05, and the game can be seen on YES or MLB Network. Enjoy! Continue reading Game 29: Meet the new boss…

Game 29: Taking the Good with the Bad

The Good Nick Swisher will be manning right field this evening for the first time in what seems like a lifetime (likely due to the lifetime’s worth of errors and miscues by made by Raul Ibanez and Eduardo Nunez in the outfield) – weather permitting, of course. Andy Pettitte will toe the rubber against the Mariners this Sunday. The southpaw was slated for an additional start at Triple-A, but the combination of a Sunday afternoon debut at Yankee Stadium and the hapless Mariners offense was far too appealing (and sensible) to pass up. Joba Chamberlain is playing catch and working Continue reading Game 29: Taking the Good with the Bad

Hughes improves by cutting out the cutter

Phil Hughes has been a mystifying and at times infuriating pitcher to watch throughout his Yankee career.  As a prospect, he was viewed as very unlikely to bust because he had good command to go along with a fastball that could touch the mid-90’s and a legitimate plus curveball.  In the majors, Phil’s raw stuff, command, and approach have been consistently inconsistent, leading to periods where he flashes dominance, and other times where he is hittable and inefficient. Unfortunately, the latter scenario has been the case for much of 2012, despite improved fastball velocity compared to 2011.  So far this Continue reading Hughes improves by cutting out the cutter

Pettitte to make return this Sunday

It’s official, Andy Pettitte will make his next start this Sunday in the Bronx. I’m somewhat intrigued by the fact that he’s starting Sunday and not Saturday, as that require the rotation to take one more full turn which, I guess, means that the Yankees want at least one more chance to see David Phelps and/or Phil Hughes before deciding who is going to be removed from the rotation to make room for Pettitte, but that will sort itself out in the end. I don’t really know what to expect from Andy when he returns to the big leagues but, at least for now, I’m just going to enjoy the fact that he’s going to pitch again. Andy’s retirement always felt a little abrupt, and the lack of a chance to “say goodbye,” as it were, continues to feel a bit awkward. Even now, covering his minor league starts has felt like covering someone on a rehab stint more so than someone trying to come out of retirement. So it should be a fun event, if nothing else. Continue reading Pettitte to make return this Sunday

Previewing Yankees Vs. Rays: Vengeance Is A Dish Best Served, Well, At Home, Apparently

If the Yankees are ever going to snap their almost half-year-long (seven game, but it makes it seem worse if I say “half-year” without adding that there was no baseball at all for a good chunk of that time) losing streak to the Tampa Bay Rays, this weekday series in the Bronx might be the best time to do it. And I did open this with “if” and “ever” because, well, our friends at various media outlets have been trumpeting the Rays “domination” of the Yankees (which, apparently has been going on for a long time, over six months of nonstop losing!!), and I didn’t want to be left out of the loop.

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Mickey Mantle’s 500th homer

Forty-five years ago on Mothers Day, May 14, 1967, my Mom took “her kids” to the Emerson Restaurant in Emerson, New Jersey. The Emerson was always “our” place and our only place to go out to eat. They had the best slice steak sandwiches and my Mom always made sure she gave me half of hers. Moms do those kinds of things and my Mom wasn’t any different. It was an especially tough time since my father had died the previous year. We had to leave our beloved house for a crummy apartment. My mom had to work and was struggling along to make ends meet and we had my poor older sister taking care of us two younger boys.

A source of comfort and survival was baseball. We played it, we watched it, we lived it. The Yankees had fallen on hard times in 1967 and would finish the season in ninth place. Between Mel Stottlemyre, Al Downing and a hobbled, broken down Mickey Mantle, there wasn’t much else to root for. For many reasons that have already been covered by Billy Crystal, back then, Mantle was every kid’s ideal. Of course we all know now that Mantle wasn’t perfect but that doesn’t matter, he was our hero. In 1967, he was moved to first base to take some pressure off his legs. But he was still our favorite. He still had that boyish grin and on occasion, could still hit the ball a mile.

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On Mo’s Injury/Comeback

(The following is being syndicated from An A-Blog for A-Rod) The roughly 24-hour period of time from last Thursday night to last Friday night was right up there with the most emotional moments I’ve had as a Yankee fan.  The initial breaking story of Mariano Rivera being carted off the field prior to Thursday’s game and follow-up video of Mo crumbling to the ground in pain were so shocking that I actually had trouble falling asleep on Thursday night, and by the time I woke up on Friday morning, they still didn’t quite seem real. I spent the majority of Continue reading On Mo’s Injury/Comeback

WAR is Better, Healthier, More Supportive of Ryan Braun, Ben Zobrist

This past Friday, Baseball-Reference updated the formula for their version of Wins Above Replacement (bWAR). Sean Foreman posted a fantastic explanation of the changes on the B-R blog. It’s a bookmark-worthy link, not only for it’s insight into the statistic’s evolution, but also for the table outlining the differences between the bWAR and fWAR (FanGraphs) formulas.

The Baseball-Reference update also inspired an outstanding Tangotiger post which analyzed changes that were made, changes which weren’t made, and differences behind the various popular (and personal) versions of WAR. Both are rather dense reading, but, if one wants to understand Wins Above Replacement’s increasing popularity and, moreover, if one wants to make informed arguments using it as evidence, there is probably no better place to start than these two posts.

As regular IIATMS readers know, I have serious qualms with the way WAR is habitually used, especially as evidence in single-season (or even smaller) samples. Unfortunately, because of the metric’s seeming elegance, it is too often regarded as the final word in assessment, rather than as a starting point, and its margin of error is wholly disregarded, sometimes even by savvy analysts.

I applaud Sean Foreman and Baseball-Reference for continuing to improve the wildly popular metric and for making it transparent. WAR is better for their diligence, and sabermetrics are better with bWAR. However, the changes also reveal exactly why conclusions drawn solely from marginal WAR differences are inherently flawed.

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Mo runs into “complications” in surgery prep

Um…uh-oh?

Mariano Rivera’s visit with surgeons yesterday was expected to result in a date for surgery to repair a torn right ACL.

However, things didn’t go as smoothly as expected for the Yankees closer.

“We ran into complications,’’ agent Fernando Cuza told The Post. “I am referring to Dr. Ahmad and [Yankees general manager] Brian Cashman for further information.’’

Neither Cuza nor the Yankees would elaborate on what was discovered when Rivera met with Yankees team physician Dr. Chris Ahmad, Dr. Russell Warren, the Giants’ physician, and David Altchek, the Mets’ doctor, who performed surgery on Rivera’s shoulder after the 2008 season.

This could be nothing, but “complications” is a word you never want to hear when discussing surgery. Continue reading Mo runs into “complications” in surgery prep