A Look to the Past for CC’s Future: Do Starters with “CC-Like” Declines Recover?

It’s about time to stop defending guys with, “it’s too early to conclude….” Bad performance for almost a month is worrisome – especially if the badness just continues from prior years. I already wrote that about Carlos Beltran, so now it’s CC Sabathia’s turn. The problem it isn’t his four 2015 starts; it’s his almost 300 IP of an 80 ERA+ (4.97 ERA) spanning 2013-15.

This is one of those times you can predict baseball: falling as far and as fast as CC is uncommon, but not unprecedented; he isn’t the first once-talented 30something to suffer a substantial, sudden decline – which I confirmed by searching the Baseball Reference “Play Index” tool for pitchers with a decline like CC’s. I generated a list of all 30something starters, in the past 50 years, with a career ERA+ of over 95 (i.e., average-ish or better) who, after at least six full seasons (i.e., a track record of success), suddenly had an ERA+ under 85 (in at least 150 IP).…

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Bad outcomes do not always result from bad decisions

tanakaThis may seem like a basic statement, but sometimes the right decision made with every piece of data and insight available at the time can result in a bad outcome. The converse is also true. Some call this luck, either good luck or bad luck.

When Ned Yost calls for another bunt that works out in his team’s favor, it doesn’t automatically mean it was the right decision. It just happened to work out. Happens all the time all over sport and clearly beyond it, as well.

On Monday, our favorite Masahiro Tanaka went on the DL for at least a month. Could be longer, but we hope not. It’s a blow to the team, no question.

Let’s remember back to last year, when Tanaka initially got hurt. MRIs, doctors, lots of doctors. The best elbow/arm specialists on the planet. And their unanimous conclusion was rest, treatment, and rehab. These are medical wizards, not a bunch of mopes gathered outside around a food truck (no slight on food trucks; I love them).…

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What’s the Half-Life of a Decaying Beltran? Or: Who’s Next for Right?

This is one of those pessimistic posts I’d be happy to laugh at myself for writing, ideally after Carlos Beltran heats up. Last season, he clearly played through pain, and not for a payday — he was just starting the three-year, $45 million deal that’s very likely his last major contract — but to help the team’s faint playoff hopes. And from interviews, he seems like a good guy who cares about his quality of play. But that quality of play sure has gotten poor.

Granted, 2015 Beltran has only 30 bad plate appearances of a .143/.167/.214 line that leaves him an OPS (.381) barely higher than Alex Rodriguez‘s OBP – but Beltran has been aging ungracefully for longer than April 2015. The 2015 bad start follows a bad 2015 spring, which follows a sub-replacement 2014 (-0.2 WAR), which follows a generally injury-prone 30s. So it’s not early-season gun-jumping to be pessimistic about a guy with that record of decline and brittleness who’s just days away from turning 38.…

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Tanaka looks to rebound against the Red Sox

Tanaka vs TOR 2015

Courtesy of the AP

This early in the season, you want to find positives about the Yankees.

Yet this team has made it difficult with its blunders on defense, mistakes on the base paths and the poor hitting thus far. However, even after all that, one of the biggest topics that New York is going to face this year is the effectiveness of Masahiro Tanaka.

The Yankees signed Tanaka for $155 million for seven years. Last season, he suffered a partial tear of the UCL of his right elbow, and after his terrible first start of 2015 many have wondered why Tanaka didn’t just get Tommy John surgery since all the cool kids are doing it.

The Yankees have said that Tanaka is still working back and haven’t sounded the alarms just yet.

“This is not totally shocking,” Yankees pitching coach Larry Rothschild told reporters. “I think he’s still in the process of building arm strength and everything. His arm strength is not far off.…

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Disaster Scenario Fun!

Every team starts the season thinking, “we’re world-beaters if only youngsters A & B develop like we hope, injured-last-year folks C & D stay healthy, and aging vets E & F return to form!” But life doesn’t work that way. If possibilities A-F all are coin tosses, you never flip six straight “heads” — or, at least, the odds are only 1 in 64 of doing so, in which case, congrats, you’re the 2014 Royals. So it’s unrealistic to muse, “how great will we be if everyone stays healthy and plays to max potential?”

The more realistic and interesting question is, “what if the most likely problems happen?” What if youngster A (Didi Gregorious?) doesn’t develop, injured guy B (Carlos Beltran) doesn’t recover, or aging vets C-F (Mark Teixeira, Brian McCann, Stephen Drew, Alex Rodriguez) don’t bounce back? With pitching, the answer is obvious: losing a #1-2 starter means you’re screwed to the tune of 3-5 wins each; you’re replacing a good-to-great pitcher with someone too scrubby to be one of your top five starters – Esmil Rogers replacing Masahiro Tanaka or Michael Pineda.…

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Imagining The Worst Case Scenario With The Rotation

Whitley vs TOR 2014

If Whitley is back in the rotation, you know it’s all gone wrong. Courtesy of the AP

Yesterday I laid out the rosiest, happiest, best possible best case scenario for the 2015 starting rotation, a starting rotation that we all know is pretty high risk and potentially high reward.  As some commenters were sharp enough to point out, the worst case scenario is the one that has a higher probability of happening and that fact was not lost on me when I wrote up the first post.  I always intended to do the worst case scenario too, even though it’s not something I particularly enjoy writing about.  So if everybody promises to stay calm and help each other through this, we can make our way through this hypothetical worst case scenario together.  Fair enough?  Alright, here we go.

If the best case scenario for Masahiro Tanaka and Michael Pineda involves them staying healthy above all else, then of course the worst case scenario involves them both getting hurt.  …

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Who’s on first? Not Sabathia

Sabathia vs TB 2014

Courtesy of Getty Images

I fully understand that CC Sabathia gets paid to pitch. And him having a bounce-back season or even a somewhat decent full season is what is important for the Yankees in their quest for a playoff spot. I get all that. I also fully appreciate what Brad wrote yesterday about the big man’s weight. He was a great pitcher as a big guy and can be a good pitcher as a big guy. The one irritant for me during Sabathia’s tenure with the Yankees is that he pitches with only eight fielders because he is not one of them.

During Sabthia’s abbreviated season in 2014, the Yankees’ pitcher recorded only one putout. That would be an unfair statement if 2014 wasn’t the fifth time in his career that he recorded only one putout for a season. He has a string of three of those seasons in a row. Sabathia does not cover first base very well.

The only putout Sabathia recorded in 2014 was on a Robinson Cano dribbler to first.…

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Monday Morning Rapid-Fire Reactions To What I Missed Over The Last Week

hank-steinbrenner-smoking

There was a Hank sighting and I missed it?? Damn

Good morning, dear IIATMS readers.  How’s everybody feeling this morning?  It feels good to be back after a week off, and it feels even better to have had nothing go majorly wrong in Yankeeland while I was away.  It was a bummer to miss pitchers and catchers report day last Friday, but that disappointment is overwhelmed by the excitement that comes with the start of Spring Training and the return of baseball to our lives.

Last week was not an inactive one, and naturally I have my own opinions on the comings and goings of that last week.  Before proceeding with what’s going on in the present and getting back to business as usual around here, I wanted to circle back and give my quick takes on the major stories I missed last week.  I promise this won’t take long.

A-Rod’s Apology Letter

Loved it.  Loved everything about it.  He was obviously in a “damned if you do, damned if you don’t” situation when it came to the public apology, and I think he made the right decision to handle it the way he did.  …

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Issues With The Incumbents: Elbows, And Shoulders, And Knees, Oh My!

Beltran Over Wall Tampa

Look out, Carlos!!

I know I said nobody wanted or needed to read about all the injury risks with this year’s team again, but it wouldn’t be right to do a series of posts on the biggest issues with the returning players and not mention it.  As it stands right now, almost every returning key player comes with some kind of significant injury risk and that’s a storyline that is never going to go away this year, even if nobody suffers a major injury.

So let’s review the list quickly, shall we?  The rotation is rife with injury risks, specifically the unholy trinity of Masahiro Tanaka‘s elbow, Michael Pineda‘s shoulder, and CC Sabathia‘s knee.  Tanaka has been on a modified throwing program this offseason, not throwing as hard and as much as he used to before the season, and all reports on his conditioning and elbow have been positive.  Sabathia’s offseason program has been even more modified and watered down as he attempts to come back from knee surgery.  …

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