Saving the 2016 Season in Three (Possibly) Easy Steps

The Yankees have not played a game in twenty-four days, and it feels even longer than that – which is unfortunate, because we’re still 156 days away from Opening Day (against those dastardly Astros, to boot). The off-season has begun for the Yankees, at least in earnest, and yet we’re still a couple of weeks away from the “real” off-season kicking off. As such, we’re stuck twiddling our thumbs as we await the beginning of hot stove season. And that gives us plenty of time to tackle rumors and rosterbate with a bit more than a simple glance at the available free agents.

In the interim, we decided to discuss moves that could be made to prepare the Yankees for 2016, and hopefully set them up to stay healthy and competitive for the entire season. Or, failing that, preparing them for the future. A few of us chipped in with three ideas apiece, which range from simple and (ostensibly) cheap, to somewhat laughable and/or expensive.…

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The 2015 IIATMS Awards

Major League Baseball’s regular season awards are slated to be rather intriguing, to say the least. The narrative will likely play a huge role in several of the awards (particularly the American League MVP and National League Cy Young), and, even without extenuating circumstances largely beyond a player’s control, some are simply too damn close to call. And that’s one of the most wonderful things about baseball; the more we know, the more difficult these heretofore easy decisions become.

Without further ado:

AL MVP: Mike Trout – .299/.402/.590, 41 HR, 11 SB, 172 wRC+, 9.4 bWAR, 9.0 fWAR

For the fourth season in a row, Trout led the AL in bWAR and fWAR (and were it not for his NL counterpart, he would have led the Majors, as well), while also pacing the league in OPS+ and wRC+. He also set a career-high in home runs, SLG, and ISO, continuing his evolution into an elite (or, more accurately, even more elite) power hitter.…

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Shadow Yankees

Over the last twenty seasons, John Sickels of SB Nation’s Minor League Ball has conducted his own draft for the Minnesota Twins. It began as a pet project of sorts, with Sickels making picks for the first ten rounds or so, and rolling with the international free agents signed by the real world Twins. Over the last several years, however, he has changed course, determining his own international signings and making all fifty (and now forty) Rule IV picks for his Shadow Twins. And each year he rates his own prospects and critiques his own farm system. It’s an incredible undertaking, and a worthwhile read to say the least.

I began my own version of this back in 2008, when I first became enamored with the draft itself. Lacking the connections, resources, and insight of Mr. Sickels, I focused entirely on rounds one through five, as my subscriptions to Baseball America, Baseball Prospectus, and Scout could only take me so far.…

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The IIATMS ‘At the Break’ Awards

The All-Star break represents many things. For teams and fans alike, it is both the artificial halfway point of the season and a sorely needed four day respite from the daily grind. For folk like us, it is the most acceptable of arbitrary endpoints in the Major League Baseball season, giving us carte blanche to draw bold conclusions about the year to-date. Or, at the very least, as good a reason as any to muse on the season thus far.

With that in mind, we decided to hand out some imaginary awards for the first half of 2015; though, to be fair, these are imaginary versions of the already imaginary versions that we give out at the end of every season. Such is life outside of the BBWAA. In addition to the standard award fare (being MVP, Cy Young, and Rookie of the Year for both leagues), each writer voted for three Yankee-centric awards – Offensive Player of the Year, Pitcher of the Year, and the ignominious Least Valuable Player.…

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Short Analysis: How Many Players of Tony Renda’s Height (5’8″) Make It?

[Note: I’m just under Renda’s height, so I have in-group privilege to make all the short jokes in this post.] Tony Renda seems mildly promising, from what I’m reading: a second-round pick who’s a solid contact hitter with a great eye; defense that’s not only solid, but improving, at a position of need; and someone who could earn promotion in short order, as a 24 year-old playing pretty well at AA. Conceivably he’ll grow into a AAA job when Refsnyder is promoted, and then who knows, he could be a utilityman after Ryan and Drew leave, or even a potential full-time 2B if Refsnyder stagnates. But Renda is 5’8″, so you fear his utter lack of power (4 HR in 1640 PA in A-AA) is a real sign, not something he’ll grow out of with better contact.

Yesterday I happened to be reading opinions about whether women will ever play in MLB, and I take this side: (1) yes; (2) the biggest barrier is how softball diverts girls away, but some girls do play little league through high school baseball; (3) fewer women are 6′ or musclebound, but some are, and you see plenty below 6′ in positions where agility and talent can thrive without raw strength and size – 2B, SS, LF, CF, and to an extent P.…

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This could be an interesting week for the Yankees

I feel like we have been here before. The last couple of the seasons the Yankees had a solid start with different players coming through in the clutch.

And, then, things fell apart – or more that it just stays even.

New York has lost 7 of its last 8, and won just two games on its recent nine-game road trip. These two days off this week may very well be needed as it starts a six-game home stand followed by a seven-game West Coast road trip tomorrow. Their next day off is not until June 4.

This coming week could be an important one in the Yankees season. Two months in, and things start to potentially show how the Yankees are going to play for the rest of the season.

In 2013, the Yankees were 30-18 on May 31. Starting on June 1, they finished the season 54-53, a mediocre team.

Last season, New York was just average the entire time with a few moments where it looked better than just OK.…

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The Only Ever Split-Level Outfield: Texas’s Clark Field

I am now a PhD student at the University of Texas at Austin. An older colleague, upon learning of my love of baseball, told me about the craziest thing I have ever learned about the sport. Until 1974, the University of Texas played in this ballpark:


Take a look at center field. First, you’ll see a 12 foot cliff that looks a lot like a (rather close) outfield fence. But, a closer look reveals that there is a green space above that 9 foot cliff. That space? In Play! The left fielder would have to run up the small path, called the “Billy Goat Trail” in order to catch the ball:


Unfortunately, I can’t find a lot of information on old Clark Field: I’ve found a few grainy black and white photos, one amazing article from Texas Monthly, and zero video. When I’m a little less busy, I may go on an archival search for more information. For now, we have these great anecdotes from that article:

“The cliff has contributed to some unusual baseball moments.

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Fun with Numbers, Or: He’s on-pace for what?!

The season is just about 5.5555% finished. While it may be too early to intelligently speculate about what everything that has happened thus far means in the grand scheme of things, it is never too early to imagine what is yet to be. And you can go about that in one of two ways – either by making minor tweaks to the incredibly accurate preseason projections that are out there, or by pretending that nothing is more relevant to how this season will play out than what the first eleven days of meaningful baseball have wrought. The former is the sensible approach … but you can find that anywhere (I recommend FanGraphs). So I’ll go with the latter.

What follows are some of my favorite “on-pace fors” of the season to-date. The statistics upon which these are based are current as of the morning of April 16, prior to any games being played. Keep in mind, these are entirely for fun, serving as a reminder of what can happen in extremely small sample sizes – the good, the bad, and the ugly.…

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