About EJ Fagan

E.J. Fagan been blogging about Yankee baseball since 2006. He is a Ph.D. student at University of Texas at Austin.

Celebrating A Great 2012 Season – Yankees Lose ALCS

The New York Yankees will not advance to the 2012 World Series. While this sucks, I think we should celebrate what the Yankees did this season.

The 2012 New York Yankees overcame a ton of adversity just to get as far as they did. According to Jeff Zimmerman over at Fangraphs, the New York Yankees lost the most player-days to the disabled list in the American League in 2012. Michael Pineda, Brett Gardner, Mariano Rivera and Pedro Feliciano all missed essentially the entire season. Austin Romine’s spring training back injury sidelined him for most of the year, forcing the Yankees to trade a valuable arm for Chris Stewart. Alex Rodriguez, Joba Chamberlain and Andy Pettitte spend considerable amounts of time on the disabled list. Even CC Sabathia, Mark Teixeira and David Robertson missed time.

But unlike the 2nd and 3rd most injured American League teams – the Boston Red Sox and Toronto Blue Jays – the Yankees didn’t let up.… Click here to read the rest

Does Winning All the Time Get Old?

An article in the Wall Street Journal last week caught my attention. Brian Costa writes about the contrast between crowds in Baltimore and New York,

For Orioles fans—and for the people here who had long since stopped identifying themselves as such—this was a reawakening. They hadn’t seen playoff baseball in 15 years, hadn’t even seen a winning season. But now Baltimore has something that New York has lost, at least where Yankees fans are concerned.

It’s sheer giddiness at simply making the playoffs. It’s the delight that comes with every postseason moment—the good ones, sure, but also the rest. Cities starved for entertaining baseball know this: Feeling a little pain in October beats feeling nothing at all.

That is a hard-earned perspective, and not one you’d prefer to learn the way Baltimore fans have had to. But when you lose it, as the Yankees and their fans undoubtedly have, playoff baseball can become pretty joyless.

The Yankees regard a championship as the destination and anything short of it an intolerable embarrassment.

Click here to read the rest

Press Release: Yankee Front Office Takes the Blame for Loss to the Tigers

Just got this in our email box:

NEW YORK – The New York Yankees announced today the firing of office manager John DiMaggio, citing a key logistical failure that resulted in their 3-0 loss to the Detroit Tigers on Sunday.

Team officials stated that Mr. DiMaggio had been tasked with distributing a key memorandum, titled, “Win One for the Captain!” to active members of the team’s roster.

Yankee General Manager Brian Cashman commented on the unfortunate situation, “Mr. DiMaggio sent the memo off to be translated into Japanese, but unfortunately forgot to distribute it to the rest of the team. As a result, only Hiroki Kuroda received the message.”

Hitting coach Kevin Long added, “We felt that a memorandum was the most effective way to address the lineup-wide slump of Yankee hitters. On our day off tomorrow, we may try some more traditional coaching methods, like practicing not swinging at off-speed pitches two feet off the plate.”

Mr. DiMaggio declined to comment when asked this night except to say that he was at home watching, “The Walking Dead.” At time of embargo, it is unclear whether he was watching the season premier of the hit AMC show or tape of the Yankee hitting lineup.

Click here to read the rest

A New Phase in Alex Rodriguez's Career

When Joe Torre moved Alex Rodriguez down to the 8th spot in the order in Game 4 of the 2006 ALDS, it was a terribly stupid move. Arod was struggling, like the rest of the team at the time, but was one of the best hitters in the American League that year. A combination of ant-Arod zeitgeist and Joe  Torre’s ongoing problems with him caused the move.

But last night was different. Alex Rodriguez is no longer one of the best hitters in the league. At 37 years old, Rodriguez is doing exactly what we should expect him to be doing: declining from his peak. He’s still a valuable player in a lot of ways, but is no longer among the elites. As you all know, Joe Girardi pinch hit for him to get a better matchup in the 9th inning, and the move won the game for the Yankees.

Unlike six years ago, this is a good sign. Its time for Alex Rodriguez’s role to start to diminish on the Yankees.… Click here to read the rest

Sabermetrics Doesn't Have A Monopoly on Not-Stupid: Mike Trout is the AL MVP

Mike Trout is the most valuable player in the American League. Miguel Cabrera is not. This is as clear as it could possibly be, and is not a matter of opinion, but rather a objective, verifiable, mathematical fact. Another who argues otherwise either is a) defining ‘most valuable player’ in an illogical, arbitrary way b) has not seen the math or c) is stupid.

Let’s start with the pure arithmetic: Without even considering position, Mike Trout was the best hitter in the American League. His .324/.397/.561 was good for 170 OPS+, .421 wOBP and 174 wRC+, all tops in the league. His 57.2 batting runs contributed edges out Miguel Cabrera’s 56.1 batting runs contributed, despite playing 22 fewer games. Add in the production of a replacement player filling in for those 22 games and purely on hitting Trout is the clear MVP by a significant margin.

Of course, that’s not everything. Miguel Cabrera plays third base, poorly. Mike Trout plays center and left field, incredibly well.… Click here to read the rest

In Defense of the 1-Game Wild Card Playoff

From conversations with my fellow TYA bloggers, I get the sense that a lot of people do not like the looming 1-game Wild Card playoff system. For the first time, the Wild Card teams will not immediately advance to the division series, and will instead play each other in a winner-take-all single game.

I like the new rules quite a bit. My friends and I are already getting ready for October 5th – playoff Friday. A couple of us have already taken the day off of work. We’re excited for two intense games between four really good teams. Its a baseball event.

That’s really what the new wild card system boils down to: the creation of an event. MLB is going to kickoff its playoff season with the most exciting baseball game they can manufacture. And we’re going to get it every year. Too often, we watch playoffs that are full of easy sweeps, boring 5-game victories, or anti-climatic endings. Now, we’re guarantee two Game 7s at the beginning of every season.… Click here to read the rest

TYA Fall 2012 Top-30 Prospect List

Its been a bad year in the Yankee farm system. The organization saw more massive car wrecks than breakouts, traded away top talent without getting much in return, and were hamstrung at the draft by new rules. The Yankee system had mostly been on an upward trajectory since 2005, but 2012 ended that streak.

Still, there is good news. The Yankee system still contains 3-4 top-100 prospects, several near-MLB pieces, and plenty of ceiling at the low levels. It’s probably about average as far as systems go, which says something about the talent of the Yankee scouting staff.

I ranked the top-30 prospects using my prospect rating system. Click here for a full explanation of what everything means. Immediately below that is my top-30 prospect rating system, and below the fold are some short thoughts on selected players.

Click here to read the rest

The Yankee Analysts Prospect Rating System

This post is mostly borrowed from one I did two and a half years ago, about a new prospect rating system. It explains my top-30 prospects, which will be posted later today. The graphics are updated from two years ago.

This is my second shot at a prospect rating system derived from Hockey’s Future’s rating system. I like the system because instead of just giving a prospect an overall rating (Sickels’ grading or Kevin Goldstein’s stars), it attempts to answer the two big questions about minor league players: how good can they be,  and what are their chances of getting there? It does so by assigning two grades to the prospect. You can see an explanation of the system at the link above.

I’ve designed a system similar, but in my opinion better defined, to the HF systems. I assign two grades to each player – a “Talent Rating” from 1 to 10 and a “Risk Rating” from A to F.… Click here to read the rest

Top-30 Prospects Preview: How Far Has Manuel Banuelos Fallen?

Manuel Banuelos was the no-doubt top Yankee prospect entering this season, and held down the #2 spot, behind Jesus Montero, for a year before that. A lot of people, myself included, expect him to spend time on the Yankee roster down the stretch in 2012, and move on to a bright major league career. Instead, Banuelos had pretty much the worst possible 2012 season: after months of trying to rehab an elbow injury, Banuelos was shut down on August 6th after pitching just 24 innings.

Banuelos was 21 years old entering this season, and impressive age for someone starting at Triple-A. After having his 2010 season cut short by an appendectomy and his 2011 season slowed by innings and pitch counts, it was supposed to be his time to stretch out and put some serious workload on his body. Instead, he’ll have to deal with another season of careful handling and strict limits. He’ll be only 22 years old, but the development time lost makes him start to feel older.… Click here to read the rest