About Will@IIATMS

Will is a lifelong New Yorker and Yankees fan who splits his time between finance, music, and baseball. He was one of the early contributors to IIATMS, though life took him away for some time. He is very excited to be back.

World Series head-to-head: Starters

Brace yourselves, folks–we’re in for a marquee pitching matchup beginning on Wednesday.

With the midseason acquisition of staff ace Cliff Lee, the Phillies added to an already significant pitching rotation that included reigning World Series MVP Cole Hamels, 2009 ROY candidate J.A. Happ, solid-but-unspectacular Joe Blanton, and old Yankees’ nemesis Pedro Martinez. Mirroring that, the Yankees plucked the top two pitching free agents this past offseason in C.C. Sabathia and A.J. Burnett (and possibly the third in Andy Pettitte). Anyone remember when the Yankees were counting on 15+ wins from Chien-Ming Wang this offseason?

It seems almost inevitable at this point that the Yankees’ will run out a three-man rotation this postseason, going to C.C. for three games, and Burnett and Pettitte two games each. That comes along with its own pitfalls–Pettitte hasn’t pitched on three days rest since September of 2006 (when he threw an absolute gem against the Braves), and many moons have passed since then. Burnett has done the deed 4 times in his career, and as Philly.com points out, went 4-0 with a 2.33 ERA, allowing 19 hits and two home runs while striking out 24 and walking 10 in 27 innings. Sabathia has a well-detailed history of pitching on short rest (notably last season, as he put the Brewers on his not-insignificant shoulders enroute to the playoffs), and including his last playoff start in which he dominated the Angels. Of course, that the Yankee starters have managed such crazy numbers in short rest starts in the past is overshadowed by the miniscule sample size of such data points. Burnett and Sabathia are frightfully good pitchers when on, and you could find any number of 4-5 game sets in which they put up 2002 Pedro numbers. It doesn’t mean they will continue to outperform their career numbers in such starts.

Without much further ado, let’s look at how the starters in question have performed this season:

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World Series head-to-head: Bullpen

MoBullpens are very tough to compare to one another. Besides the higher level of volatility associated with relievers (relative to starters), outcomes are also very reliant on proper choices by the manager-an issue we’ve seen a fair bit of this postseason.

Purely looking at performance from the 2009 season, the Yankees relief corps have been dominating, with two of the MLBs most valuable seven relievers in 2009–Phil Hughes and Mariano Rivera (yes, in that order). The Phillies, on the other hand, have been hounded by poor performance from the bullpen, especially from Brad Lidge, MLB’s lone perfect closer just one year ago. During the regular season, Ryan Madson was the clear relief ace, and Chan Ho Park was very good as well before injuring his hamstring in mid-September.

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Don't play this as a win for the Mets

Big news today–ESPN reports (with help from Reuters) that the New York Mets actually made money from their investments with Bernie Madoff.

The owners of the New York Mets baseball team made about $48 million in dealings with swindler Bernard Madoff, court documents showed.

The Mets Limited Partnership, which is connected to the Wilpon family, led by Mets owner Fred Wilpon, deposited $522.8 million in two accounts with Madoff and withdrew $570.6 million, according to a Monday filing by court-appointed trustee Irving Picard.

“As has been stated previously, this has no effect on the operations of the New York Mets,” the team said, according to The Wall Street Journal.

Think back to January of 2009, when your 401k was down 40%-50% from its height. Did you look at those investments and think to yourself, “at least most of these equities are up from where they were when I originally bought them ten years ago”? If so, congrats on your self control–my inner monologue contained an ever-growing list of four letter words that I’m not allowed to post here. Because just like everyone else, as your savings grew, you probably spent more on that new car, clothing, redoing the kitchen, etc. The Mets did that too–they reeled in free agents like Carlos Beltran and Billy Wagner, and signed expensive players such as Johan Santana. When Fred Wilpon was signing down his name to those contracts, I imagine the amount of money he had sitting on the side in the Mets Limited Partnership noted above was probably part of how he expected to pay for such contracts.

Now a good portion of that money has vanished. Was it a net loss? No, not yet (see below), but it’s still a bigtime hit to the bottom line of the budget they’d drawn up prior to Madoff madness. To suggest that Sterling Equities was a net positive in the Madoff trade seems a bit like suggesting that when Charles I was beheaded in 1645, he was still net positive from when he was ten years old, and less than five feet tall.

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Interesting Pitching Choices

After reading Jason’s piece a few days ago on Joe Saunders, and the lunacy of starting him in game 2 of the LCS against the Yankees, I took a bit deeper look into the matchups today, and it sure looks like Jason’s got a point. After starting the Angels’ incumbent ace in game 1, Scioscia could have called on one of three starters today–Jered Weaver, Scott Kazmir or Joe Saunders, and the numbers point very clearly to Saunders being by far the worst of these three pitchers.

Name Pos wFB/C wSL/C wCT/C wCB/C wCH/C wOBA
Mark Teixeira 1B 2.19 1.42 4.37 -0.29 0.63 0.402
Derek Jeter SS 1.61 -1.37 0.79 3.67 2.38 0.390
Nick Swisher OF 1.82 -2.2 0.47 0.01 0.29 0.375
Alex Rodriguez 3B 1.86 0.44 -3.12 0.58 0.45 0.405
Robinson Cano 2B 1.59 1.11 -4.91 3.4 -1.03 0.370
Hideki Matsui DH 1.21 0.49 2.21 3.52 0.04 0.378
Jorge Posada C 1.14 -1.42 -3.08 -1.08 3.3 0.378
Johnny Damon OF 0.53 0.4 4.09 2.4 0.45 0.376
Melky Cabrera OF -0.02 1.32 -3.54 -0.01 0.45 0.331
Jerry Hairston 3B/OF -1.14 3.5 0.18 -3.42 -0.31 0.325
Brett Gardner OF -0.5 1.25 -1.9 2.15 -0.84 0.337
Jose Molina C -1.89 -3.32 -2.68 0.58 -4.84 0.260
Name Column1 wFB/C wSL/C wCT/C wCB/C wCH/C FIP
Jered Weaver SP -0.33 0.97 0.58 1.87 4.04
Scott Kazmir SP 1.73 0.92 1.05 4.26
Joe Saunders SP 0.21 1.08 -1.64 -1.25 5.17

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Scouting the ALCS: Pitch Value Edition

Well, that was quick. The Yankees and Angels both came away with 1-2-3 series against their divisional playoff opponents, and now we have 4 days to wait for more playoff baseball. Here at IIATMS, we’re kicking it off with a look into the pitching/hitting matchups between the teams, as seen through the lens of fangraphs.com’s pitch values.

Yankees AL Rank 1st 6th 4th 1st 3rd 1st 1st
Batting 0.95 -0.25 -0.19 0.83 0.61 0.366 0.65
Angels AL Rank 5th 2nd 1st 2nd 4th 3rd 7th
Batting 0.48 0.13 0.19 0.76 0.19 0.346 0.52
Yankees AL Rank 10th 10th 2nd 3rd 1st 4th 4th
Pitching -0.40 0.26 1.98 0.84 1.20 4.32 2.20
Angels AL Rank 8th 8th 5th 8th 10th 10th 8th
Pitching -0.29 0.59 1.15 0.24 -0.11 4.45 2.13

Looking at it from the top level, you can expect Yankees batters to tee off against the Angels on fastballs, curves and changeups, while the Angels look to make hay against the Yankees’ sliders and fastballs. It’s also important to note that a rejuvenated Scott Kazmir joined the Angels staff late in 2009, and his contributions this season are understated in the above tables. For the folks who don’t care about the granular analysis, the Yankees have better bats and better arms, as evidenced by the wOBA/ BB/K, FIP and K/BB columns. For the ones who do, away we go.

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Presented Without (Much) Comment

Look I get that umpires aren’t perfect, and that it’s important to continue to include fixable errors the human element in the game. But against Orlando Cabrera, with a man on, two outs, and Joe Mauer lurking on deck, Andy just generated the following pitchfx chart.

Down the middle? Not good enough today, Andy. And yes, this is largely a reaction to Mauer’s single and RBI that followed this at bat.

Continue reading Presented Without (Much) Comment

Twins Pitching versus Yankees Hitting

Brian DuensingStart your engines, ladies and gentlemen, it’s time for postseason baseball, and the Yankees first opponent will be the sleep deprived Minnesota Twins, fresh off their vanquishing of the Detroit Tigers last night. If you believe the mainstream press, or pay attention to the betting lines, we shouldn’t be losing any sleep over this series–as most betting sites have the Yankees landslide favorites at -370 on the five game series, and an incredible -380 on tonight’s individual game. While I think the Yankees are very, very big favorites, these odds are a bit excessive (especially this evening’s game, which may be the Twins best chance to get a solid pitching performance out of their starting rotation, for reasons noted below).

Most analysis being done is on the matchup of the two pitchers tonight. I have several issues with that–one is that comparing Brian Duensing to CC Sabathia is simply unfair, and the other is that it’s about how the pitchers match up with the opposing batters, right? So after a quick jaunt across the interwebs and a little shuffling with excel, I present to you:

Yankees MLB Rank 1st 7th 11th 1st 3rd
Batting 0.95 -0.25 -0.19 0.83 0.61
Twins MLB Rank 6th 7th 12th 26th 26th
Pitching -0.01 1.13 0.61 -0.36 -0.35

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Quick notes on the Twins offense

Well… So much for a preview of the Tiger offense. Minnesota ends the year with a five game winning streak and is promptly rewarded with a trip to the most hostile environment in the league. The Yankees got all they could hope for out of the game: over the course of the twelve inning marathon, the Twins burned through eight pitchers, and finished the game less than twenty-four hours prior to game time in New York. Minnesota’s pitching might be tired, but their offense looked pretty solid yesterday. Let’s run down a couple of things to look for when the Twins are at the plate:

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Molina should not be taking at bats from Jorge Posada

So Molina is now AJ Burnett’s personal catcher for the playoffs, and no one I’ve found is particularly happy about it (including Jorge Posada, who was his typical blunt self about it–audio in the above link). The best comment I’ve found on it thus far (and I must admit that I can’t remember who said it): This is a clear example of a lifelong backup catcher overvaluing backup catchers.

Burnett has thrown to 4 different backstops this season Jorge Posada, Jose Molina, Francisco Cervelli and Kevin Cash. The numbers he’s compiled with each are below:

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