About Brien Jackson

Born in Southwestern Ohio and currently residing on the Chesapeake Bay, Brien is a former editor-in-chief of IIATMS who now spends most of his time sitting on his deck watching his tomatoes ripen and consuming far more MLB Network programming than is safe for one's health or sanity.

Headley acquisition (probably) not a game changer for Yanks


Well, that escalated quickly. Before my return post examining the Yankees’ trade deadline choices could be published, Brian Cashman finalized a deal to send Yangervis Solarte and Rafael DePaula to San Diego for third baseman Chase Headley and cash considerations (seriously). In case you feel like skipping over that post now, here’s the conclusion I came to: Continue reading Headley acquisition (probably) not a game changer for Yanks

Yankees in tough spot at deadline

[caption id="attachment_68273" align="alignnone" width="660"]Save us Cliff Lee...if you can Save us Cliff Lee…if you can[/caption]

I have to imagine that this is about the toughest spot a general manager can find himself in. With nine days left until the non-waiver trade deadline passes, his team is kind of a mess. Four of the starting pitchers he opened the season with are on the disabled list, two are already confirmed to be out for the season, and there’s still a pretty good chance Masahiro Tanaka is going to need Tommy John surgery. His offense is 12th in the American League (and last in the A.L. East) in wRC+, and the big free agents he brought in to turn things around after Plan 189 crashed and burned have been disappointments to this point.

And yet, they’re just four games out of first place. Continue reading Yankees in tough spot at deadline

Go where, exactly?


I’ll have more to say on the latest episode of As A-Rod Turns tomorrow, and I don’t really intend to waste time sifting through all of the nonsense every columnist with a publisher puts out there, but this article from CBS Sports’ Gregg Doyel is just too much to let go. Obviously there’s the head-desk worthy premise of “everyone should ignore this topic I’m about to write a whole column about, ya’ll,” but the media in general lacking in self-awareness is hardly a new thing. That said, I did find this to be a particularly amusing entry into the genre:

And [A-Rod’s] not worth the attention we keep giving him. The New York tabloids have sent reporters to his minor-league games. Here I am somewhere above Albuquerque, and ESPN is probably about to talk about him some more. And look at me, writing about Agate-Rod from my seat in row 29.


If only we could start A-Rod’s five-year clock right now. If only this colossal failure would do something right for the first time in years and just go away. Preferably before my plane flies over Flagstaff.

Yeah, because if there’s a story that wouldn’t generate an obscene amount of media attention, it’d be the sudden retirement of Alex Rodriguez with nearly half of his contract still on the books. Continue reading Go where, exactly?

A-Rod’s “plea bargain” makes no sense from either side

Yesterday, Bill Madden and Teri Thompson the Daily News published a report that Alex Rodriguez and Major League Baseball were considering a plea bargain of sorts that would see A-Rod accept a 150 game suspension over his involvement in the Biogenesis scandal, in exchange for which MLB would not pursue a lifetime ban of the Yankees’ fragile third baseman. That’s quite the bombshell the be dropping on a Saturday night. Still, though the story is supposedly based on an account of information Anthony Boesch himself gave to MLB investigators, (A-Rod’s camp naturally denied it) there are more holes in this account than in the Yankees’ current lineup. In no particular order.

Continue reading A-Rod’s “plea bargain” makes no sense from either side

Today in serious journamalism

I’ve long since given up caring about most of the nonsense that gets tossed around in the big time baseball press because, really, what’s the point of worrying about something stupid being said on ESPN when it keeps getting confirmed that ESPN wants their, erm, talent saying stupid things to get a rise out of the lowest common denominator, but this blurb from, surprise, another over-written hit piece on Alex Rodriguez deserves at least a quick mention:

Just about every bit of the imagined “adversity” Alex Rodriguez thinks he is confronting is of his own making.

That’s Wally Matthews, I’m sure 99% of you guessed, and it certainly isn’t any surprise to see that he again devoted hundreds of words to a meandering, overwrought (he compares Alex to a parent-murdering child and other forms of criminality), attack on A-Rod. But here’s the thing: his source material here is Bob Nightengale’s story on Alex’s attempt at getting back on the field, a story which doesn’t contain a single instance of the word adversity. Yes, that’s right, the word that professional journalist Wallace Matthews chose to put in quotation marks, so as to claim that it came straight from the mouth of Alex Rodriguez himself in order to rhetorically savage him once again, was never used at all by either A-Rod or Nightengale.

I guess his editor must still be on holiday. Continue reading Today in serious journamalism

Brian Cashman needs to cool off. Now.


It’s fair to say that Brian Cashman marches to the beat of his own drummer. Most general managers wouldn’t repel down buildings or sleep on sewer grates for charity, and that’s pretty cool. Most general managers wouldn’t tell the most iconic player on their roster to take his crazy contractual demands to other teams in his first stint as a free agent, and that’s kind of cool too (though your mileage may vary). And we won’t even get into that mistress/stalker business, because that’s just stacking the deck. Then again, no other general manager in the league would add fuel to a combustible situation involving a 23 year old who happens to be your most notable offseason acquisition in Spring Training, and that’s decidedly not cool. And I think it’s safe to say that no other general manager would tell one of his players to, um, STFU, and that is simply unacceptable behavior from someone in Cashman’s position.

(click “view full post” to continue reading) Continue reading Brian Cashman needs to cool off. Now.

Who deserves blame for lackluster roster?

Oh, hey, I’m alive. And I remember how to work a computer and dashboard! So what, pray tell, could come along to rouse me from hibernation. Well a fantastically inept 18 inning loss, a relatively epic meltdown, and accusations of real-life Rachel Phelpsing will do the trick just about every time.

Now, given the amount of criticism I devoted to Plan 189 over the winter, it should come as no surprise that I agree that the Steinbrothers horrible, no good, very bad, half baked profit maximizing scheme is the biggest culprit when it comes to looking for an explanation for both an anemic offense and a depressed fan base. At best, Hal Steinbrenner really did believe that “you can be just as good on a $189 million payroll, never mind how much of it is already under the bridge” line he’s been pushing for the better part of a year now, at worst the team’s front office thought that their fanbase was a group of captive marks who would pony up their cash and leisure time no matter who was filling out those pinstriped uniforms. Either way, it appears that they were wrong on both fronts. Yes, the Yankees are mostly holding their own at 37-29, on pace to win 91 games and sitting tight in the second wild card spot. But they aren’t exactly sitting comfortably in that spot. They’re currently three games better than their run differential predicts they “should” be, they have the third worst offense in the American League by wRC+, and their pitching staff can’t reasonably be expected to be much better than they’ve already been this year. Oh yeah, and there’s still just under 60% of the season left to play, so only looking at the win-loss record over what is still, in some sense, an arbitrary stretch of time doesn’t necessarily tell you much of anything.

(click “view full post” to continue reading) Continue reading Who deserves blame for lackluster roster?

Are the Yankees winning with “smoke and mirrors?”

I don’t really know why, but this bit of an aside in George King’s Post story on Hiroki Kuroda’s performance yesterday has really been stuck with me since I read it this morning:

Almost halfway through May, the biggest question is how long the Yankees can win with smoke and mirrors.

Wells, a member of the Angels last year when their horrific start put them in a ditch they couldn’t escape, believes the “It’s Early’’ phrase doesn’t apply.

“I learned last year you never say it’s early, good or bad,’’ he said. “You like to be in this situation, but at the same time the game has a funny way of slapping you across the face at any time. We go out and have the same mentality, continue to get great starting pitching and score enough runs to support these guys.’’

Now, the Yankees haven’t seemed particularly smoke-and-mirrors-ish to me, but then a) I tend to think of last year’s Orioles when I think of a team doing that, so maybe I’m grading too tightly, and b) I admittedly haven’t been able to keep quite as close tabs on the Yankees this year as I’ve been doing for the past three or four seasons, so maybe I’m just not seeing it.

But, indeed, the team’s overall statistics more or less match my perception pretty closely. The offense, while certainly not great top to bottom or as prolific as we’re used to seeing it be, ranks smack in the middle of the American League with a 99 wRC+ and, for what it’s worth, Fangraphs’ defensive metric ranks them as the fifth best team in the league at saving runs. The pitching, meanwhile, has been very good, with an overall staff FIP that ranks third in the A.L. at 3.68, a starting rotation with the fourth best FIP in the circuit, and a bullpen that comes in at fourth in FIP and tops the list with a 3.24 xFIP.

What about run differential, you might be saying to yourself right about now? Well the Yankees are three full wins better than their expected win-loss margin of 20-16, but even that number extrapolates to an even 90 wins over 162 games. And just for giggles, if we re-arrange the A.L. East by what their records “should” be, the Bombers would come in right in the middle of the pack, just a game behind Boston and Baltimore.

So to answer the titular question: not really. I mean, there’s plenty of reasons to be skeptical of a team that’s winning in large part because of Vernon Wells, Travis Hafner, and two starting pitchers over the age of 38 years old, but that’s not the same thing as essentially saying that they’re getting lucky. If the Yankees could maintain the production they’ve gotten out of this roster over the course of a full season, they’d stay right in the hunt for October contention. The best thing they have going for them right now is that these wins are already in the books, and that they haven’t dug themselves into a deep hole while waiting for help to arrive from the disabled list. Continue reading Are the Yankees winning with “smoke and mirrors?”

Random thoughts after week one

So, this has been a fun week. After 2+ seasons of covering the Yankees on an hour-by-hour basis, I’m trying to consumer games like a normal person, and I must admit, it gives you an entirely different perspective on things. Instead of watching every pitch of every game and jotting down notes, statistical tidbits, internet column ideas, etc., I’ve done a lot more flipping through channels to different games when things have gotten a bit dull, and done a lot more juggling of chores during the games. Did I mention that this gives you a very different take on things? Because at times it’s felt like an entirely different game than the one I’ve been following since 2009 or so.

With that said, here are a few semi-connected thoughts after the first week of the new season:

(click “view full post” to continue reading)
Continue reading Random thoughts after week one