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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McCann And Teix Talk About Dealing With The Shift (And I Rant About What Teix Said)

With more and more players getting into camp, there have been some more stories trickling out among the A-Rod nonsense; meaningful, baseball-related stories.  Like Brian McCann and Mark Teixeira being asked about their thoughts on facing the shift this season and the approaches they want to take to beat it.  Quotes via Chad Jennings.

McCann:

“I want to hit the ball where it’s pitched. It’s not necessarily that I’m going to try to go up there and hit the ball to left field. If it’s away from me, it needs to go to left field. If they come in on me, I need to be able to pull it, but pull correctly. If you pull correctly, you create back spin which is going to help you hit home runs. … If I hit two or three singles in a row to left field, they’re going to continue to play the shift because that’s where my power is. That’s just the way it is and whether that takes a couple of points off my batting average, if I take the approach I have day in and day out for 500 at-bats, at the end of the year things will be there.”

Pretty reasonable if you ask me.  …

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On CC Sabathia’s Weight

This was a story over the weekend, but I wanted to touch on it briefly before it got completely washed away under the tidal wave of A-Rod coverage and early ST reports on other players.  CC Sabathia drew some attention when he showed up at camp heavier than he was the last few springs.  Some estimates had him at 305, and while it wasn’t nearly as blatant as the negative spin that everybody puts on their A-Rod tweets, I got the feeling that some people were trying to paint that as a negative and a reason for added concern with CC.

Here’s the thing.  His weight doesn’t matter anymore.  It doesn’t matter if he’s 305, 295, 275, or any other 5.  At this point, the difference in pounds isn’t going to make a difference as far as his knee health is concerned.  The damage is already done there, and if it does turn out that his knee is going to be problematic again then you can bet it’s going to be problematic no matter what he weighs.  …

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Issues With The Incumbents: Big Mac

New York Yankees play the Boston Red Sox

Courtesy of Ray Stubblebine/NY Post

Brian McCann‘s debut season in Yankeeland wasn’t very good.  That’s not a story that needs to be told and beaten into the ground anymore.  We know the hows, we know the whys, and we know it was disappointing.  What makes it an important story heading into this season is what it does or doesn’t mean about McCann’s future.  He’s not as old or as broken down as A-Rod, Teix, or Beltran, but as a soon-to-be-31-year-old catcher who’s been an everyday catcher for 9 seasons running he’s also not the same physically as your average 31-year-old MLB player.  Last season could have been the beginning of the end for McCann as a well above-average hitting catcher and it could have been first-year adjustment issues.  That’s the worry that Cash and Joe will have as Mac gets ready for Year 2.

If you’re a subscriber to the theory that McCann’s decrease in production was more approach/bad BIP luck/adjustment jitters-related, and that the player we saw in the final 2 months was more representative of the normal McCann, OK.  …

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Following Up On Eovaldi’s Changeup

Shame on me for not recalling this yesterday when I wrote the initial post, but commenters JJToucan and chrisN pointed out to me that Nathan Eovaldi did state that he had started working on a changeup/split-finger fastball hybrid during his final few starts of the 2014 season.  That quote actually came from the Bryan Hoch story that I linked to on January 23rd, so double shame on me for missing it multiple times.  That’s really nothing more than my own forgetfulness.  Yes, Nathan Eovaldi has started working on throwing a changeup a new way, and yes, that new way explains the increase in changeup velocity.

Via Brooks Baseball, Eovaldi threw 19 of these split-changeups last September and the SSS results were much more encouraging than his earlier changeup numbers.  The 90 MPH average is impressive.  We don’t usually think “changeup” when we think 90+ velocity, but when you’re talking about a guy sitting 96 and touching 97, 98, 99 with his 4-seamer and you add some downward movement to the pitch, you can understand how that could be a handful for left-handed hitters.…

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Reviewing Nathan Eovaldi’s Changeup

Eovaldi vs LAA

Pitch shown- Probably not a changeup. Courtesy of Getty Images

The word that’s been attached to Nathan Eovaldi the most since he was acquired by the Yankees, at least as far as I’ve seen, is “potential”.  It’s not hard to understand why when you look at the basic package: solid frame (6’2″/215), very good fastball velocity, 25 years old with multiple years of MLB experience already.  With that makeup, there’s no reason Eovaldi can’t be a top-of-the-rotation starter in either league.  He has all the potential in the world, potential that he’s slowly started to show in the form of his improving FIP and K/BB numbers over each of his 4 MLB seasons.  He also has the potential to make the leap to upper-echelon starter this year if he can work out some of the kinks in his game and smooth over some of the rough edges.

The roughest of his edges might be Eovaldi’s glaring lack of a reliable third pitch.  …

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Issues With The Incumbents: The Aged, Regressed, Switch-Hitting Middle-Of-The-Order Bats

Teix-Beltran 2014

Courtesy of the AP

As we continue to refocus our attention on the returning part of this remade Yankee roster, let’s shift said attention from the position players who are still in their physical primes to a couple who are not.  In a perfect world, a team getting 2 legitimate switch-hitting power threats who usually produce well from both sides of the plate back in its lineup would be a major boost.  In the Yankees’ world, the return of Carlos Beltran and Mark Teixeira to the lineup may not end up helping at all.

And make no mistake, these guys are switch-hitting studs when it comes to the back of the baseball cards.  Teix has a .914 career OPS hitting righty against southpaws and .865 from the left side of the plate.  Beltran is .862 hitting from the right side and .860 from the left.  In their primes, these were 2 of the best offensive players at their respective positions and 2 of the best all-around hitters in the game.…

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So What’s The Deal With Garrett Jones?

Jones vs COL 2014

Courtesy of Getty Images

I mean honestly, what’s the deal with this guy?  He’s a right fielder who can’t play right field, he’s a first baseman who can’t play first base.  What’s up with that?  He’s got no first names and 2 last names.  He doesn’t know who he is or what he’s doing.  I don’t get it.

That’s funnier if you read it in Jerry Seinfeld’s voice in your head, but in all seriousness, I am somewhat intrigued by Garrett Jones‘ presence on the roster and what his eventual role on this team might become.  A commenter in the ZiPS post pointed out that ZiPS was actually pretty high on him, something I completely glossed over when I first read through the projection numbers, and there’s some truth to that.  ZiPS doesn’t see much in the way of average or OBP for Jones, but it does project a healthy .449 SLG and 21 home runs.

That kind of production would be very welcome from the DH spot, the most likely lineup destination for Jones and one of the areas of biggest offensive weakness for the Yankees over the last 2 seasons.  …

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Issues With The Incumbents: Health At The Top Of The Order

Ellsbury-Gardner 2014

Courtesy of USA TODAY Sports

Because of the high amount of roster turnover this offseason, the bulk of the player analysis has focused on the new guys.  Will Didi be able to hit enough to be an everyday shortstop?  How will Headley do in a full repeat season?  Can Eovaldi improve his performance to match his stuff?  How will all the new bullpen arms get worked in?  Does Stephen Drew really suck as bad as he did last year?

While all of those are valid questions and some are very important to the Yankees’ future, it’s the returning group of holdover players that is more important to the team’s immediate success.  There hasn’t been a lot said about that group of incumbent everyday Yankees this offseason, and over the next week or so I’d like to shine the spotlight back on them and take a look at what they key issues are with them that will determine how 2015 plays out.  …

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