Wilson-Cervelli: Quick Takes + a Worry about Lost Depth

Wow, is my timing awesome: on Tuesday, I write a hosanna to Francisco Cervelli’s bright 2015 future of increased Yankee playing time, but apparently Brian Cashman disagrees or (gasp) doesn’t read me, because he traded Cervelli the next day for LHP Justin Wilson. I feel like Karl Rove on election night 2012 screaming about how Romney is still winning right as his fellow Fox Newsers gave up the ghost. So, a few quick takes on the trade:

(1) Don’t Cry for Me, Venezuela. I praised Cervelli as an above-par catcher who could free up Brian McCann both to rest and to spell Teixeria — but I can’t fault Cashman for trading him. In retrospect, I may have lowballed Cervelli’s injury history, especially his 2014 migraines, which don’t seem major, except that migraines are a known problem for folks who have had concussions. I still think the Yankees were a better team with than without him, but he’s not exactly indispensable or reliable.…

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Get Ready for the 2015 Postseason: A-Rod in the “Best Shape of His Life”! But Let’s Look at Past “Best Shape” Claims…

The Hypothesis: The news that “multiple reports say [A-Rod] is in the best shape of his life” (10/13/14) is useless for predicting his performance. Or am I just a snarky, condescending jerk for mocking the concept that diet and exercise can help a near-fortysomething who, to play well for a team I like, reportedly is working harder than the many who let their bodies go by their early/mid-30s – like those Girardi “ripped … for being overweight, not being ‘hungry'” in an impressive bit of managerial wordplay?

The Slipshod Methodology: I Googled “best shape of his life” yankees and “best shape of my life” yankees to find others with off-season “best shape” reports; the first five pages of results from each search yielded 10 “best shape” claims. (I included a few that didn’t quite say “best” but did claim dramatically better physical condition.) I then looked at their performance the seasons before and after the offseason “best shape” claim.…

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A Final Word On The Solarte Era

Solarte vs PIT

Courtesy of Getty Images

When the Yankees announced that they had signed Yangervis Solarte to a MiL deal and extended him an invitation to spring camp, I’m sure a lot of us had the same reaction.  “Who??”  We quickly found out who when Solarte impressed in ST and earned himself a spot on the Opening Day roster, then watched in various levels of amazement as he proceeded to be the team’s best hitter through the first 2 months.  At one point in mid-May he was leading the AL in batting average and he finished the month with a .299/.369/.466 slash line.

Whether it was opposing pitchers figuring him out and adjusting to him, him changing his approach in a way that negatively impacted his effectiveness, a natural regression back to his true talent level, or a combination of all 3, Solarte’s production fell off big time in June.  He was slowly being phased out of the everyday lineup before being included as part of the trade package for Chase Headley yesterday.  …

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An interview with Rudy May

A little while back I signed on Twitter and there in my notifications was a note that Rudy May followed me. That Rudy May!? Sure enough, it was the former pitcher. He was one of my favorites during his years with the Yankees and so I wrote an article here about him. Mr. May was kind enough to tweet me that he enjoyed the article and so I became bold and asked him for an interview. He kindly accepted and we recently had an hour conversation that I thoroughly enjoyed. Rudy May is a delightful guy.

I searched the Web to see if anyone else had interviewed Rudy May recently and I found Jeff Pearlman’s great interview back in January for Mr. Pearlman’s site. The last thing I wanted to do was to cover the same ground. But I did start the conversation bouncing off one of the answers to Mr. Pearlman’s questions. The rest flowed from there.

IIATMS: Mr. May, I read with interest your comments about how you loved Earl Weaver.

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Paul O’Neill, and the 1994 Batting Title

oneill1994

Courtesy of www.tradingcarddb.com

Twenty years ago today, Paul O’Neill went 0-for-2 with 2 walks against the Baltimore Orioles. At night’s end, fifty three games and 224 PA into the season, O’Neill was batting .417/.513/.695 with twelve home runs and more walks (37) than strikeouts (27). It was his second season in pinstripes, and O’Neill was one of the best hitters in the American League.

The deal that brought Paul O’Neill to the Bronx is one of the more understated one-sided deals in recent memory. On November 3, 1992, the Yankees sent Roberto Kelly to the Reds, in exchange for O’Neill and minor leaguer Joe De Berry (who would never play in the Majors). At the time, it seemed like a fair deal. Some would even say that the Reds had robbed the Yankees, as Kelly had just hit .272/.322/.384 with 10 HR and 28 SB, and he had a great reputation as a defender in center field. He was a power-speed type who was still in the midst of the traditional peak years, having turned 28 at the end of that season.…

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Early Season Returns on Some Former Yankees

CBSsports.com

CBSsports.com

We have reached the point in the season where there is much ado about the current crop of Yankees free agent additions. Is Jacoby Ellsbury a bust? Is Masahiro Tanaka this amazing? Will Brian McCann remember how to hit? Can Carlos Beltran stay healthy? I may be a bit too generous in suggesting that those questions did not begin after the first few games of the season, considering how quickly New York fans and media get antsy – but I think it is more than fair to use the turn of the calendar to June as an opportunity to gauge how players are performing. Of course, most of the players I’ve mentioned already have been discussed quite a bit, and I see no reason to dive back into that fray. Instead, I’m curious to see how the other half is living nowadays, by checking in with the players that left the Yankees for greener pastures this past off-season.

Robinson Cano – .327/.371/.420, 24 R, 2 HR, 31 RBI, 4 SB, 115 wRC+, 1.1 bWAR, 1.1 fWAR

To say that Cano’s power has been nonexistent this season would be a mild understatement – his .093 ISO is a career-worst by a significant margin, and places him 153rd among 175 qualified batters (tied with Elvis Andrus, and just behind Dee Gordon).…

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Big Al Reintroduces Himself To Yankeeland

Aceves vs TB

Courtesy of the AP

The easy headlines from yesterday afternoon’s stinker were CC’s horrific performance and the offense’s continued non-existence.  About the only positive one, which Kenny wisely covered in the IIATMS/TYA recap of the game, was the successful re-debut of Alfredo Aceves in the Yankee bullpen.  Called up after the bulk of the ‘pen got worked hard in Friday night’s 14-inning loss, Aceves got the call when CC failed to get out of the 4th.  Although initially brought in to be more of a sacrificial lamb to save the rest of the bullpen for the road trip, Aceves made Joe look doubly smart by tossing 5.1 shutout innings and keeping the Yankees in the game.

It was a pretty unexpected outcome if you’ve followed Aceves’ career since he left the Yankees after 2010.  He joined the Red Sox in 2011 after being non-tendered and put up a season reminiscent of his career best 2009 season in pinstripes, pitching 114.0 innings of mostly relief work with a few spot starts and posting a 2.61 ERA.  …

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The great batting race of 1984

Thirty years ago, the New York Yankees were a month away from starting a season that would be another in a long line of forgettable teams in the 1980s. They had finished in third place the year before, seven games behind the Orioles and Billy Martin was again replaced, this time by Yogi Berra. It was the famous year when the Detroit Tigers started the season 9-0 and then 19-2 and would run away and hide from the rest of the American League East. The Yankees best starter was a 45-year-old Phil Neikro. Graig Nettles, Don Baylor and Goose Gossage were gone. Ron Guidry and Shane Rawley had rough seasons after Marin fried them a bit in 1983. But despite the Yankees being toast by May of that season, it was also the year of one of the most exciting in-team batting races of all time.

Batting average was still a big deal back then. Though much less important today in the grand scheme of statistics, back in 1984, it was one of the most cherished titles in batting.…

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Ralph Kiner and the 1955 pennant race

Most New York baseball fans think of Ralph Kiner in association with his 53 amazing years of broadcasting for the New York Mets. But eight years before he first sat behind the microphone for the Mets, he almost had an impact on another New York team. Ralph Kiner was a member of the 1955 Cleveland Indians that fought down to the wire with the Yankees in that year’s pennant race.

1955 was Kiner’s tenth and last season in Major League Baseball and it was his first legitimate opportunity to play with a team that could go all the way. Just the season before, the Indians had won 111 of its 154 games to win the pennant by eight games over a Yankees team that won 103 games. The Indians were swept in the 1954 World Series by the New York Giants in one of the biggest upsets of the century.

Despite Kiner’s prodigious career to that point, the Indians picked him up as the player to be named later in a deal that sent Toothpick Sam Jones to the Cubs from Cleveland the previous September.…

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