Is history on New York’s side?

With Friday the 13th not that far in the rear view, superstitious thoughts are on the mind.  When aren’t superstitious thoughts on the mind when it comes to baseball?

Only two times during New York’s eleven pennant years since 1969 have the pinstripes possessed the best record in baseball on July 15th.  In five of the eleven pennants seasons since 1969, the Yankees had the third best record in the Major Leagues.  Maybe the Rangers and Dodgers recent fades are not exactly welcome by the Yankees (would the third best record be better than the top record?).  Despite the frequently talked about issues regarding hitting with runners in scoring position, the Yankees have the fifth rated offense in all of baseball.  They also have hit nine more homers than any other team (on a franchise record pace).  Besides, the Yankees supposedly crippled pitching staff still possesses the fifth best ERA in the game.   As everyone knows, pitching wins championships in the end. … Click here to read the rest

Showalter makes antagonistic remarks; Yanks/Sox indifferent

Recently in a very entertaining interview with Men’s Journal, Buck Showalter made some bold remarks.

“The first time we went to Yankee Stadium, I screamed at Derek Jeter from the dugout. Our guys are thinking, ‘Wow, he’s screaming at Derek Jeter.’ Well, he’s always jumping back from balls just off the plate. I know how many calls that team gets – and yes, he [ticks] me off.”

From there, the Baltimore skipper shifted gears in candid fashion to the Boston Red Sox.

“I’d like to see how smart Theo Epstein is with the Tampa Bay [Rays] payroll…You got Carl Crawford ’cause you paid more than anyone else, and that’s what makes you smarter? That’s why I like whipping their butt. It’s great, knowing those guys with the $205 million payroll are saying, ‘How the hell are they beating us?’”

For what it’s worth, during the latter half of the 2010 season, Showalter certainly managed to overhaul the culture within the Orioles camp.  … Click here to read the rest

A glimpse at the prospective AL East rotations through CAIRO

The age-old pitching adage states that a quality starting rotation goes a long way in producing wins. Given the plethora of historical data to back this philosophy, it’s quite clear why just about everyone in Yankeeland is sitting a little less comfortably in their figurative seats of late. After all, Ivan Nova and Sergio Mitre aren’t the most stellar of options. Now, I’m not going to tell you to step away from the ledge because I’m not in love with the idea of those two guys either, but I will encourage you to hold off from taking the plunge at least for the time being. In other words, do as Cashman does, and idle patiently. Frankly, you have no choice in the matter anyway.

For the sake of discussion, let’s take a brief look at the 2011 CAIRO projections for the presumed starting rotations (you know what they say about baseball, right Suzyn?) of each AL East club.

Highlighted in yellow are players who could realistically work their way into each team’s respective rotation.… Click here to read the rest

The AL East crown is within grasp

Thanks to the efforts of the preeminent lefthander of our time, one Bruce Chen, the Yankees are now in the driver seat for the American League East title.  This is a drastic shift from even a week ago, when it seemed a fait accompli that the Rays’ easy schedule over the final week of the year would enable them to cruise to the division title.  But baseball isn’t always so simple. As it is, the Yankees’ magic number to clinch the division is now 3, meaning that if they win the final three games of the year they’ll clinch the division no matter what Tampa does against Kansas City.

Today, the team will have an odd doubleheader.  Thanks to FOX, the first game won’t start until 4:05, and the second game will start five hours later at 9:05.  The first game is started by Andy Pettitte, who will be looking to right himself after a disastrous outing against Boston earlier in the week.  … Click here to read the rest

Dual overarching 2010 storylines of A.J. Burnett being terrible and Blue Jays (and Vernon Wells) positively owning Yankees collide in 7-5 laugher

The Blue Jays beat the Yankees 7-5 Monday night, continuing what has been a season-long stretch of dominance over New York. The win improved the Jays’ season record against the Yankees to 9-7 (only the Rays have beaten the Yankees more times, with 10 victories), a mark that includes a 5-2 record at Rogers Centre. Unless the Yankees can win the next two games they will set a new record for futility on the road at Toronto in the Unbalanced Schedule Era, as they’d never previously won less than four games at Skydome since 2001.

Here’s some startling news: The only other time the Yankees won only two games in a season at an AL East rival’s home field since the implementation of the Unbalanced Schedule 10 years ago was last season against the Red Sox at Fenway. Let’s hope they don’t tie that particular ignominious record, although given the way the Yankees have served as Toronto’s punching bag this season (the Jays have scored 80 runs in 16 games against the Yankees this year, or 5.0 runs per game), combined with continued uninspiring play from the Bombers (who are now 11-14 in September, their highest loss total of any month of the season) I’m not sure how hopeful I am.… Click here to read the rest

Yankees vs. Blue Jays VI: Oh, it's you again

The Yankees and Blue Jays meet in Toronto for what feels like the 300,000th time this season though in actuality will be the sixth and final match-up between the two. I was already sick of Toronto in the last Series Preview, and I can’t say I’m exactly thrilled to see Mr. Newest-Member-of-the-50-Home-Run-Club yet again. The Blue Jays have been a thorn in the Yankees’ side all season, and at 8-7 (4- 2 at Rogers Centre) are one of only three teams with a winning record against the Yankees this season — the others being the Rays and Phillies. As I’ve written numerous times, it seems like the Jays should be a way better team than their record would indicate, but as we’ve also discussed several times before the team’s biggest issue has been its OBP — while they slug a prodigious amount of home runs, apparently no one’s ever on base.

Assuming the majority of this team will be back next season, Toronto GM Alex Anthopoulos has to go out and sign players that can get on-base at above a league-average rate, which is around .328 this season.… Click here to read the rest

The starting pitching depth in the AL East

Given the success of the young starting pitchers on our divisional rivals who have made the Yankees look silly for the last three games, I wanted to take a quick look at how the starting pitchers on all five teams in the AL East have fared this season to see if there were any interesting conclusions to be drawn. I included almost every pitcher who has started a game for the Orioles, Red Sox, Yankees, Rays and Blue Jays, with the exception of starters I assumed aren’t going to figure into their teams’ respective starting mixes after this season (i.e. Dustin Moseley, etc.)

Feel free to click here for a more comprehensive data table.

AL East Starter Team IP ERA FIP xFIP fWAR
Jon Lester BOS 182.0 3.26 3.09 3.26 5.0
CC Sabathia NYY 209.0 3.14 3.63 3.86 4.0
Ricky Romero TOR 187.0 3.51 3.59 3.75 3.7
David Price TBR 178.2 2.87 3.50 4.02 3.7
Brandon Morrow TOR 146.1 4.49 3.19 3.65 3.6
Clay Buchholz BOS 151.2 2.25 3.62 4.19 3.2
John Lackey BOS 183.0 4.48 4.02 4.48 3.0
Shaun Marcum TOR 170.0 3.55 3.86 3.87 2.8
Brett Cecil TOR 153.0 3.76 3.93 4.21 2.4
Matt Garza TBR 176.2 3.48 4.17 4.42 2.2
Daisuke Matsuzaka BOS 128.1 4.70 4.05 4.64 2.1
Brian Matusz BAL 156.2 4.71 4.24 4.64 2.0
James Shields TBR 175.2 4.95 4.25 3.69 2.0
Phil Hughes NYY 155.2 4.29 5.55 4.36 1.9
Andy Pettitte NYY 115.2 2.88 3.96 4.05 1.8
Jeremy Guthrie BAL 183.0 3.89 4.48 4.93 1.8
Josh Beckett BOS 102.0 5.91 4.17 3.87 1.5
A.J.
Click here to read the rest

Yankees vs. Orioles V: This Time it's Personal

The Yankees last saw the Orioles nearly three months ago, having played Baltimore 12 times in a span of about six weeks and going 10-2 in those contests. The last time the two teams played Baltimore snapped the Yankees’ 10-game winning streak against them by countering with the Yankee baseball equivalent of a wooden stake or silver bullets: a rookie starting pitcher making his Major League debut in Jake Arrieta. That, or an off-speed pitcher with a ruthless changeup. And if you’re able to combine the whole rookie-making-his-MLB-debut thing with a starter who can’t break 90 and has a 77-mph changeup, you can create the ultimate Yankee-killing machine, also known as Josh Tomlin.

In any event, a funny thing happened on the way to ignominy for the 2010 Baltimore Orioles: They hired former Yankee (and Diamondback and Ranger) skipper Buck Showalter to try to turn around what has become a bit of a mess of a franchise and end the year on a respectable note while ideally becoming considerably more competitive next year.… Click here to read the rest