On the Roster: A Look at Two Current Controversies and One from the Past

(The following was originally published at The Captain’s Blog; follow me on Twitter at@williamnyy23).

Lately, the baseball intelligentsia has been preoccupied by rosters. When the calendar turned to September, the usual, but growing round of articles decrying the practice of roster expansion became prevalent. Then, once that furor passed, attention turned to the roster rules governing the one-game play-in that will be contested by the two wild cards in each league. Considering the excitement taking place on the field, it seems a little mundane to focus on front office procedures, but it wouldn’t be a baseball season without some discontent.

September call ups are a baseball tradition that dates back over a century. The practice was devised as a way to navigate the delicate business arrangement that existed between the major leagues and what were then independent minor league teams. In order to avoid competing directly for talent, the two confederations agreed upon a limited major league roster that could be expanded once the minor league season came to an end.… Click here to read the rest

Phil Hughes has a problem against right-handed batters

Logic without statistics (don’t worry, I’ll back this up) would dictate that the type of pitcher Hughes is would be advantageous to a RHB. He is a high ball pitcher. Most of his pitches are either mid-level or high in the strike zone. Most LHBs like the ball down. So a high ball pitcher gives them more trouble. Most RHBs like the ball up and that is what they get from Hughes. Not only do they get the ball middle/up, they get it out over the plate. With too many pitches in the upper left-outer quadrant of the plate, RHBs have the choice of hitting the ball hard the other way or jacking it out by hooking it to the left. Either will work with a pitch that is up in their eyesight and where they can extend their arms to swing at the pitch.

Okay, now to back up that statement. Here is a heat map of all of Hughes’ pitches against RHBs this season (courtesy of Fangraphs.com):

To get a perspective on the heat map, you are looking at the strike zone from the catcher’s perspective.… Click here to read the rest

Yankees sweep Jays behind another big night for Ichiro

Toronto got a little life when Moises Sierra hit a two-run homer off Hughes in the top of the fifth, but a double by Nix and a RBI single by Jeter gave the Bombers those runs back, making the score 10-4. The Blue Jays rallied in the top of the eighth, as the Yankees sent Cory Wade to the mound for the first time since September 9th. Johnson promptly hit a solo homer to right and J.P. Arencibia lined a single to right. Wade struck out Hechavarria, but Gose hit a double deep to center, putting runners on second and third and prompting the Yankees to call on Joba Chamberlain. Lawrie singled in Arencibia and Gose scored on a ground out, cutting the Yankee lead to three runs. David Robertson came out in the top of the ninth and struck out the side to preserve the Yankees’ win.

Bronx Cheers:
Robinson Cano: Robbie went 0-4 with a walk and a strikeout.… Click here to read the rest

Swisher Slams Jays, Yanks Complete The Sweep

It wasn’t the prettiest win of the season and it got a little scary late in the game but the Yankees were able to hold off the Blue Jays and complete a three-game sweep.

Phil Hughes had an odd outing. He only lasted five innings – throwing 102 pitches, gave up four runs on four hits, walked three and struck out nine – including four in one inning.

Offensively for the Yankees, Ichiro Suzuki had one heck of series. He was 9-12 overall – 2-4 tonight with a double and a home run. He hit three doubles in the three-game set, collected four RBI and stole four bases.

The big story for the Yankees was their fourth inning offensive outburst in which they scored seven runs before recording an out:

It was 8-2 at the start of the fifth inning.… Click here to read the rest

Game 149: A Baker’s Dozen to Go

Toronto Blue Jays New York Yankees
Brett Lawrie, 3B Derek Jeter, SS
Colby Rasmus, CF Nick Swisher, RF
Edwin Encarnacion, DH Robinson Cano, 2B
Adam Lind, 1B Alex Rodriguez, DH
Moises Sierra, RF Russell Martin, C
Kelly Johnson, 2B Curtis Granderson, CF
J.P. Arencibia, C Casey McGehee, 1B
Adeiny Hechavarria, SS Ichiro Suzuki, LF
Anthony Gose, LF Jayson Nix, 3B
Aaron Laffey, SP Phil Hughes, SP

The first pitch is scheduled for 7:05 p.m., on YES and the MLB Network. Let’s go Yankees!… Click here to read the rest

Ain’t No Party Like a Link Drop Party – September the Twenty

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From “the” Bronx

From the you certainly can predict baseball files comes news that Pedro Feliciano is all but guaranteed to never throw a pitch for the New York Yankees … this, for the umpteenth time or so, and after collecting a cool eight-mill from the Steinbrenners and company. David Aardsma, however, may well make his pinstriped debut prior to the end of this season.

SG of the Replacement Level Yankees Weblog ran CAIRO projections for the team’s offense for the remainder of the season. Surprisingly, it appears as those Andruw Jones and Raul Ibanez are still alive and may well be capable of doing something with the bat.

Mark Teixeira would apparently like to play baseball again sometime this year. This is news.

Grant Brisbee red herringed™ the holy heck out of those who fear for the very life force of David Robertson, whilst analyzing his ‘struggles.’ Though, it probably should be noted that he’s throwing his four-seamer and curve less, and his cutter significantly more.… Click here to read the rest

What is a top prospect?

I’ve been putting together my top-30 prospect list for this fall since the minor league season ended. Its not an easy task to take 40-50 prospects inside the Yankee organization, pick thirty, and say which one is better than the others. How do you do it?

We know basically what makes a good baseball player. Those players will, when you add up their pitching, fielding, and hitting contributions, help their team win more baseball games than a readily-available alternative. A good prospect is a player that is most likely to become a player who will contribute.

However, a layer of probabilistic variation makes it more difficult. Some players are more likely to contribute a little, some players are more likely contribute a lot. There are different axis which we have to consider how to value players. Would you rather have a player with a 100% probability to become Boone Logan or a player with a 20% probability to become Clayton Kershaw?… Click here to read the rest