Leave Joba Alone!

Using Fangraphs’ Pitch F/X data, it seems he’s throwing his slider more this year, and has virtually eliminated his change-up.  But the change hasn’t been a valuable pitch for him, and was only really part of his repertoire last year when he was starting.  And the fastball-slider combo is much more in line with what you’d expect from a short reliever.  His fastball velocity is basically what it’s always been when he’s been used as a reliever, and his slider is even a little faster.  The movement on his pitches is also not significantly different from where it’s been in years past.  His walk rate is down from last year, and his strikeout rate, predictably is up to 9.99/9 innings.  His HR/9 is also down in the neighborhood of where he’s been before.

No, the reason that Joba Chamberlain is struggling in 2010 can be traced back to one number: 399.  As in, batters are hitting .399 on balls in play off of Joba.  … Click here to read the rest

Hey Yanks, Need a Pitcher? Carl Pavano’s Back, Baby!

Yes, Carl Pavano. That Carl Pavano. The Carl Pavano who almost inspired the city of New York to bring back the catapult.

Who, in four seasons (for which he was paid $40 million), started 26 games and was actually below replacement level. Pavano won five games in four years and who you Yankee fans saddled with the awesomely snarky nickname “American Idle.”

But so far, Pavano has been awesome for the Twins. After being acquired from the Indians last August for a song, Pavano ate innings at a league-average rate for a team that desperately needed some stability. This year, Pavano has exceeded even the most optimistic projections. Through 19 starts, he has a 3.48 ERA and a 4.28 K/BB ratio (easily the best of his career). His BB/9 are down to the lowest level of his career (1.2 per 9 innings), which more than compensates for his low strikeout rate (5.1 per 9 innings).

Plus, he’s second in the league in awesomest mustache (behind only John Axford).… Click here to read the rest

What the Hell is Wrong With AJ Burnett?

Coming into 2010, Burnett’s underlying stats were solid. He struck out 8.37 batters per nine innings and had a .97 GB/FB percentage. His walk rate (3.78 per 9 innings) was high, but was more than balanced out by his ability to strike batters out. He also sported one of the best pitches in the game, a curveball that was 16 runs above average in 2009, according to Fangraphs. And since having major injury concerns, Burnett has thrown more than 200 innings in each of the last two years.

Through June, Burnett had been incredibly effective. While his strikeouts had dropped off by 20%, so had his walks, and he actually had a 10% swing in his ground ball rate. AJ was cruising. Then the magic ended. Burnett’s K/9 popped back up to 7.4 per nine, but his walk rate shot up as well, to 6.65/9. At the same time, both his GB/FB rate (0.63) and linedrive rate (22%) shot up. And with the rise in his flyball rate, Burnett has seen his homers allowed rise too.… Click here to read the rest

Does It Matter Who’s In First?

The initial news is pretty good. Of the 90 teams who led (or shared the lead) for their division on June 21, exactly two-thirds (60) held on to their lead. Another five clubs won the Wild Card, allowing them to advance into the playoffs. In even better news for Yankee fans, the club itself has been in this position six times since 1996, and has maintained its lead in all six of those seasons. The Yankees have also come from behind to take the AL East six times in that same time frame, usually surging past the rival Red Sox.

The bad news, of course, is that the Yankees lead is incredibly thin at this point, just a single game over the Red Sox and Rays. Understandably, teams with a slim lead are especially vulnerable. Of the 30 teams with lead smaller than 2 games, 17 of them lost their lead by the end of the year. Three of the seven clubs that were leading by one game also failed to win the division (though two of them did win the Wild Card).… Click here to read the rest

A Fan’s Guide to Attending a Ballgame With a Disinterested Partner (reposted from The Common Man.com)

Do: make sure your partner has their own hat. This is particularly important on a drizzly day like this past Saturday, or if you’re sitting out in the sun. When your partner’s hair gets too messy or they are getting too much sun, they will usurp your own cap. This will invariably occur in the late innings, when you’re trying to coax a rally out of your hometown nine with a rally cap. Two problems here: 1) this leaves you exposed with hat hair. 2) the rally will fizzle (probably because your manager calls for a sacrifice bunt, and you couldn’t stop him with the amplified brain waves created by your now stolen and refurbished rally cap.

Don’t: let your partner get ahold of your scorecard. Even if they know how to keep score, if your partner is bored, you might come back to this (Click to embiggen). TCM makes no apologies for his non-standard manner of scoring; it’s how he was taught by his grandfather and it makes sense to him.… Click here to read the rest

Choosing Sides in the Replay Debate

In Favor:

President Barack Obama: “President Barack Obama says the blown umpire’s call that cost a young Detroit Tigers‘ pitcher a perfect game dramatizes the need for Major League Baseball to “take a look” at more instant replay.”

Rob Parker, ESPNNewYork: “It’s not about being right, it’s about getting it right.”

Rick Reilly, ESPN:  “Can you imagine if your office worked like baseball’s?  Sure, we could’ve sent you an e-mail, but we prefer telegrams. We’ve always used telegrams.  We find it charming.”

Mike Cameron, Boston Red Sox outfielder: “We were talking about having that little red flag you throw out. You get one timeout, one instant-replay call. I mean the game has already been so far advanced already, you might as well use it. I’m sure there’d be a lot of guys who would like to throw it right at the umpire.”

Richard Durrett, ESPNDallas: “We can’t replay every close play on the bases or balls and strikes.… Click here to read the rest

Does Umpire Joe West Have a Conflict of Interest?

And today, we learn that West is standing by his comments on the two teams, via ESPNBoston:

“I don’t second-guess what I said.  And I don’t believe I’m wrong. A lot of people don’t believe I’m wrong.  I kind of expected the firestorm I created. But the interview was taken out of context. The first thing I said was that these were two of our best teams, but the pace that they play the game was pathetic and embarrassing. But everybody, especially the New York media, blew it out of proportion and said I was calling the teams pathetic. Some people said I had no right to single them out. I didn’t single them out. I said they were both bad.”

Now, you might be asking a legitimate question:  Why is this news?  Well, because Joe West is going to be umpiring the Red Sox/Royals series this weekend in Boston.  And how do we know that, when MLB doesn’t announce umpiring crews before regular season games? … Click here to read the rest

Nickname Review: The New York Yankees

Basic Stats:
Name: New York
Nickname: Yankees
NicknameTypology: Human
Definition: American
Characteristics: unclear, that’s pretty vague. It’s a big country.

Best thing about being a Yankee: U-S-A! U-S-A! Seriously, the team is basically called the New York Americans (in fact, that’s how it was popularly referred to while they shared the city with the Giants (who were the New York Nationals). As “Yank” was a popular shortening of “American” at the turn of the century, New York papers adopted it. As an American, The Common Man assures you that it’s pretty cool.

Worst thing about being a Yankee: Arrogance. Look, the United States is basically the most remarkable country in the history of the world, and TCM is mighty glad he lives there. That said, there are many legitimate (and many illegitimate) reasons that some people don’t like it and us. One of those reasons is the extreme arrogance of America and Americans abroad. TCM isn’t saying that America doesn’t have a reason to be arrogant, but he’s also traveled in non-English speaking countries with Americans who get upset when citizens of the country they are visiting have the gall to not speak English well or at all.… Click here to read the rest