A Quick Peek At The Bullpen Landscape After Yesterday’s Roster Moves

This is what I predicted would happen before yesterday’s 40-man roster set deadline:

“My prediction for today is only Austin and Williams getting added, maybe one of the Triple-A arms if the Yankees make a move somewhere else today to open another spot.”

Almost nailed it.  Almost.  The one thing I didn’t anticipate was the Yankees protecting 2 of the eligible bullpen arms.  Not with 40-man spots being needed for future FA signings, not with D-Rob being one of those FA priorities, not with a solid middle relief corps already in place, and not with other non-40-man guys like Nick Rumbelow, Jacob Lindgren, Tyler Webb, and Nick Goody waiting in the wings as well.

But the Yankees know their players better than I do, and they clearly like both Dan Burawa and Branden Pinder enough to want them around for depth.  They didn’t protect a similar pitcher in Tommy Kahnle last year and he ended up going to Colorado and having a nice 2014 season with the Rockies.  …

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Early Offseason Big Picture: Optimism vs Pessimism re 2015 – a Group Chat

Scott:The Worst is Yet to Come,” happy sunshine guy Dan Szymborski reports in predicting late-stage-empire decay of the post-90s/2000s Yankees. Let’s discuss: Agree or disagree?

         Quick initial take: Agree with Dan that (a) declining oldsters are preventing improvement at many positions, (b) imminent help from the farm is modest, and (c) the free agent pool has gotten shallower now that teams extend young talent before free agency. On the other hand, (a) they’re already an above-average team, (b) some free-agent and rookie talent infusions are likely for 2015-16, and (c) they won’t lose literally a whole rotation (5 starters) to injury every year (like in 2014), right? Can the impending improvements exceed the impending declines enough to net the several extra wins they need to make the playoffs?

William: My take on it is this: Predicting gloom and doom sells papers and creates pageviews and makes off season people read ZiPS. Teams like the Orioles in 2014 and yes, the Royals and Giants show that a lot has to go right for a team to get the golden apple and a lot can go wrong too.…

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The 2-Year Hangover: Comparing The 2013 And 2014 Offenses (Part III)

Cano HR vs KC

Hard to replace this guy. Courtesy of Getty Images

This one’s pretty simple.  Just a straight up position-by-position comparison of 2013 and 2014 batting lines.  I call it “The Cano Effect.”

Catcher:

2013- .213/.289/.298, 57 R, 8 HR, 43 RBI
2014- .250/.305/.415, 65 R, 22 HR, 81 RBI

First Base:

2013- .229/.292/.397, 58 R, 22 HR, 83 RBI
2014- .215/.305/.382, 66 R, 25 HR, 78 RBI

Second Base:

2013- .318/.385/.521, 79 R, 27 HR, 114 RBI
2014- .246/.303/.390, 69 R, 13 HR, 53 RBI

Shortstop:

2013- .228/.286/.312, 63 R, 5 HR, 46 RBI
2014- .233/.287/.292, 48 R, 5 HR, 55 RBI

Third Base:

2013- .231/.293/.340, 70 R, 12 HR, 52 RBI
2014- .260/.335/.392, 69 R, 15 HR, 61 RBI

Left Field:

2013- .236/.293/.399, 79 R, 27 HR, 85 RBI
2014- .249/.313/.393, 90 R, 16 HR, 62 RBI

Center Field:

2013- .280/.349/.442, 98 R, 13 HR, 65 RBI
2014- .278/.335/.452, 86 R, 23 HR, 84 RBI

Right Field:

2013- .251/.296/.358, 67 R, 13 HR, 52 RBI
2014- .253/.294/.347, 62 R, 8 HR, 43 RBI

Designated Hitter:

2013- .189/.276/.307, 64 R, 16 HR, 61 RBI
2014- .230/.290/.372, 65 R, 18 HR, 63 RBI

Takeaways:

– Good gracious!  …

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The Best And Worst Of The 2014 New York Yankees (The Bench)

Ichiro vs BOS

The best (and only) full-time bench contributor. Courtesy of Getty Images

At last we come to the bench, the final piece of the 2014 roster puzzle.  The island of misfit toys that was assembled to support the shaky starting lineup.  The Yankees were somewhat flawed in the construction of their starting lineup this season, but they were really flawed in how they put together their bench.  They didn’t have young legs that could run and play good defense, they didn’t have much power for pinch-hitting situations, and they didn’t have adequate backup depth at their weakest spots.  It was not a good group, and the lack of production from the bench exacerbated the problem caused by the under-performing starters.

Best- The Catching Depth Shines Through

As underwhelming as Brian McCann‘s first year in pinstripes was, the Yankees got good production overall from the catcher position thanks to their backups.  Francisco Cervelli was quietly stellar in 49 games, his season once again shortened by injury problems.  …

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The Best And Worst Of The 2014 New York Yankees (The Bullpen)

Betances vs CIN

The Beast. Courtesy of Getty Images

It was a different kind of year for the traditionally strong Yankee bullpen.  They came into the season with higher turnover and more role uncertainty than they had seen in years.  It was going to be an unfamiliar feeling not having the security blanket of Mo out there for the 9th inning.  His replacement was known and more than capable of handling the closing task.  It was the rest of his supporting cast that was up in the air.  A few roles changed and ironed themselves out early, with 2 more homegrown arms elevating themselves to “plus” status, but overall the bullpen as a group might have taken a step back this year.

Best- The 2-Man Wrecking Crew

The best thing about D-Rob becoming the outstanding pitcher he’s become is the elite level 1-2 punch it gave Joe in his bullpen.  Between D-Rob and Mo, the Yankees had the 8th and 9th innings (and sometimes more than that) on lockdown 99 times out of 100.  …

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The Best And Worst Of The 2014 New York Yankees (The Rotation)

Tanaka Smile

I’d be smiling too if I had $155 mil in my pocket and kicked that much ass. Courtesy of the AP

From the position players to the pitchers.  Today’s season review post tackles the starting rotation, the foundation of any and almost all success the Yankees had this season.  There was high turnover, from the projected starting 5 to the rookie replacements to the deadline pickups.  That turnover did not come with much deviation in performance, however, and the Yankee rotation ended up being the biggest positive storyline in a season of disappointment.

Best- The Upside

For the first time since the championship teams of the late 90s, the Yankees entered this season with a projected starting 5 that was not only a strength, but potentially one of the best top-to-bottom rotations in baseball.  They had ace potential in Tanaka regardless of the tempered public expectations they set for him, a legit #2 in Hirok and #2 starter potential in Pineda, #2-3 starter potential in Nova, and, if he could show that he had learned to work with diminished velocity and his body held up, the reasonable hope was that CC could settle into a reliable #3-type of guy.…

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The Best And Worst Of The 2014 New York Yankees (The Outfield)

OF vs TOR

Not pictured: The starting right fielder. Courtesy of Getty Images

The 2014 season review series began yesterday with a look back at the infield.  They were a sad, slow, frustrating group for most of the season.  They didn’t hit well or field well.  The best contributions came from players who weren’t expected to do anything or weren’t on the roster at the start of the season (Solarte, Headley, Prado), and the biggest letdowns came from the players who had the highest hopes/expectations attached to them (Teix, McCann).

While the general expectations for the infield were low from the beginning, they were much higher for the starting outfield.  That group was rebuilt in the offseason, with 2 big outside free agent signings joining an extended homegrown talent to form one of the potentially most balanced and talented outfields in baseball.  It didn’t quite work out that way, as team-wide injury problems prevented this group from ever performing in the roles they were expected to.…

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2014 Season Review: The Best And Worst Of The 2014 New York Yankees (The Infield)

Jeter Walk-Off vs BAL

The highlight of the year for the starting infield, one of precious few. (Courtesy of Getty Images)

It was a strange and disappointing season.  Disappointing in that the Yankees once again failed to make the postseason, this time after spending big to revamp the roster from the previously miserable 2013 season.  Strange in that it felt like the team never changed from game 1 to game 162.  There were plenty of player changes, sure, but all year long it felt like the big talking points were the same.  Rotation injury concerns, questions about the batting order, failure to hit in the clutch, and problems with bullpen workload.  It was like watching a baseball team play out McConaughey’s “time is a flat circle” speech from “True Detective” over 1 season.

Rather than go back and recap all those boring talking points in depth again, I thought I’d break the season that was down in the good old “Best & Worst” format.  It’ll give the posts a more balanced tone, touch on the high and low points of the year while still considering those general talking points, and hopefully make the exercise a little less painful to write and read.  …

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The 2-Year Hangover: Comparing The 2013 And 2014 Offenses (Part II)

Teix-Ellsbury vs BOS

Courtesy of Getty Images

On Friday I compared the basic counting statistics for the 2013 and 2014 offenses and the results weren’t pretty.  The Yankees, the team built on the “power and patience” offensive concept, had turned into a middle-of-the-pack team at best in both categories and found themselves in the bottom half of MLB in scoring in each of the last 2 seasons.  Strangely enough, despite hitting for a higher average, more power, and striking out less this year, the 2013 team scored 17 more runs than this year’s edition.  Even in an offense-starved baseball environment, there’s no reason to expect that the team that gave 2,175 combined plate appearances to Ichiro, Lyle Overbay, Chris Stewart, Vernon Wells, and Eduardo Nunez scored more runs than the team that didn’t.

Time to dig a little deeper into this mess and look at the situational hitting.  That has to be the explanation.

Situational Hitting Statistics:

2013:

Batting Line at Home-.252/.323/.387
Batting Line on the Road- .234/.292/.366
Batting Line Bases Empty- .239/.299/.381
Batting Line w/ Men On- .248/.317/.368
Batting Line w/ RISP- .255/.338/.380 (in 1,509 PA)
Home Runs w/ RISP- 32
Runs Batted in w/ RISP- 468
Batting Line “High Leverage”- .251/.336/.402

2014:

Batting Line at Home- .247/.309/.396
Batting Line on the Road- .244/.305/.365
Batting Line Bases Empty- .238/./292/.381
Batting Line W/ Men On- .256/.328/.379
Batting Line w/ RISP- .252/.324/.364 (in 1,480 PA)
Home Runs w/ RISP- 23
Runs Batted in w/ RISP- 421
Batting Line “High Leverage”- .247/.314/.369

That’s some pretty damning evidence as to why the 2014 team was so bad.  …

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