Author Archives: Chip Buck

Contract Year Fallacies

The bigger problem is though the conventional wisdom certainly exists, there seems to be a double standard for how it’s applied.  There’s no rhyme, nor reason; and it’s applied inconsistently and often in hindsight.  For example, Alex Rodriguez has unfairly been given the reputation of being both “unclutch” and unable to handle the pressure of playing in New York.  Based on his so-called playoff “failures,” many could’ve easily assumed that, prior to opting out of his landmark 10 year $252M contract in 2007; he would’ve performed below his performance baseline due to the added pressure of playing for a new megadeal.  He didn’t.  In fact, he put together one of the most successful (and most “clutch”) seasons of his career.  Instead of recognizing his outstanding achievement, many attempted to alter that “unclutch” perception to fit this idea that his performance was solely the result of a contract push.  After all, the only thing A-Rod loves more than A-Rod is money.  (That was sarcasm, by the way.)  That perception was further intensified when he put together an All-Star, but not MVP quality season the next year. …

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Hughes Excels in Rehab Start

After the game, Hughes sat down with reporters to discuss his performance.

“I’ve kind of just let it go. All I know is I feel good now so it’s easier to kind of deal with that. If I had come back and still wasn’t feeling like myself and was struggling and stuff then it’d be a lot harder to sleep at night. But I feel good.”

While it’s certainly perplexing the Yankees never pinpointed the origin of his shoulder injury, that’s pretty irrelevant at this point.  What’s important is that he’s healthy and on track to be activated from the disabled list in mid-to-late July.  At it currently stands, the plan is to allow Hughes to make three to four additional rehab starts before returning to New York.  His next start will be on Thursday with double-A Trenton.

As I mentioned in my piece on Thursday, the return of a healthy and effective Hughes would provide a major boost to the thin Yankees rotation. …

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Could Kazmir Become a Yankee?

That said, Kazmir, despite being only 27 years old, seems to have completely lost it.  His plus-fastball with mid-90s velocity is long gone, and has been replaced with a straight, lifeless pitch that averages out in the mid-80s.  Once you factor in his spotty command, penchant for walking batters en masse, and a complete lack of an effective second or third offering, and you get a pitcher with little upside.

Not surprisingly, all of these factors have manifested itself in his performance.  During his sole start of the season with the Angels, Kazmir did his best Rick Ankiel impression, lasting only 1-2/3 inning while giving up five runs on five hits, two walks, two hit batsman, one balk, and no strikeouts.  After a stint on the disabled list, the Angels smartly allowed him to make five rehab starts for their AAA club in Salt Lake City.  His performance there was just as bad as it was in the big leagues.  In five starts, Kazmir went 0-5 with a 17.02 ERA (6.46 FIP) and a 14/20 K/BB ratio in 15-1/3 innings.  …

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Time for a Phil Hughes Update

Luckily, the time off and slow rehabilitation seems to have helped. On Tuesday, he pitched 3-2/3 innings (49 pitches, in all) during an intrasquad game at the Yankees minor league complex in Florida; and by all accounts, pitched effectively. He displayed good command, hit his spots, and lit up radar guns at 93-94 MPH. Considering where he was back in mid-April when he was struggling to break 90 MPH, this is huge.

If a healthy, effective Phil Hughes can return to the rotation somewhere between the All-Star break and July 31st trading deadline, it could pay big dividends for the Yankees down the stretch. The starting pitching market is incredibly thin right now, and it doesn’t look to improve markedly over the next few months. If you’re hoping for a Felix Hernandez, Chris Carpenter, or Mark Buehrle type, you’re probably going to be disappointed. Adding a healthy Phil Hughes to the mix could be just as effective, and certainly cheaper.

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Analyzing Jim Bowden’s Plan for Realignment

Where Bowden’s proposal becomes truly radical is in his realignment process.  Rather than simply moving one NL team to the AL, he completely reshuffles baseball’s deck.  Under his proposal, here’s how baseball would look:

AMERICAN CONFERENCE NATIONAL CONFERENCE
Eastern Division Southeast Division
Boston Red Sox Atlanta Braves
New York Mets Baltimore Orioles
New York Yankees Florida Marlins
Philadelphia Phillies Tampa Bay Rays
Toronto Blue Jays Washington Nationals
Central Division Western Division
Cincinnati Reds Arizona Diamondbacks
Cleveland Indians Colorado Rockies
Detroit Tigers Houston Astros
Minnesota Twins Seattle Mariners
Pittsburgh Pirates Texas Rangers
Midwest Division California Division
Chicago Cubs Los Angeles Angels
Chicago White Sox Los Angeles Dodgers
Kansas City Royals Oakland Athletics
Milwaukee Brewers San Diego Padres
St. Louis Cardinals San Francisco Giants

 

Before I critique his proposal, I must admit there are a few potential benefits to his plan.  For example, his plan would cut down on the travel and player wear-and-tear.  Additionally, new geographic/regional rivalries (NYY-NYM, CHC-CHW, LAA-LAD, SFG-OAK) would be established; thus, theoretically increasing TV ratings, gate receipts, and overall revenues. …

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All Hail, the WAR Graph!

When I selected my sample set, I was 99% sure Berra would far out-pace his competition, and I was right.  (Not that I deserve a medal, a cash prize, or even a piece of chocolate cake with vanilla butter cream frosting and raspberry filling for guessing correctly.  Mmmm…cake.)  Berra was a tremendous hitter and an accomplished backstop whose string of All-Star and MVP quality seasons served as a backbone for the post World War 2 Yankee dynasty.  His most productive seasons occurred between 1950 and 1956 when he accumulated 43.4 WAR (71.4 career).  To put that in perspective, his production over that seven year period essentially matches the career output of Munson, Posada, and Howard.  Think about that for a second.  Berra’s talent and value was so impressive during his peak that he eclipsed the careers of three All-Star caliber players.  It’s impressive.

The one thing I didn’t count on when selecting my sample set was how Thurman Munson’s career would compare to everyone else.  …

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