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.… Click here to read the rest

Replays slowing the pace of baseball games; is it worth it?

Replay was used in Thursday’s Yankees game to check if a count was accurate.

New York’s Yangervis Solarte was at-bat in the ninth inning when there was discrepancy if the count was 3-1 or 2-1. The umpires initiated a review, got on the headphones and went over the count with the replay center.

Yankees.com’s, Bryan Hoch wrote: “The challenge was initiated after Astros catcher Carlos Corporan asked home-plate umpire Brian Knight about the count.

“I asked the umpire, ‘What’s the count?'” Corporan said. “And he said, ‘I don’t know, I’ve got 2-1.’ I said, ‘I’ve got 2-1 as well.’ I kind of forgot about the pitchout that we made. [Solarte] was like, ‘No, it’s 3-1,’ and [the umpire] said, ‘Of course you’re going to think it’s 3-1.’ They wanted to make sure, so they took a little time.”

Replay was expanded this season to incorporate many aspects of the game, and has been used a handful of times during in this season’s infancy.… Click here to read the rest

ALDS Preview: Oakland v. Detroit

Lineup

There’s a perception out there that the Tigers have an overwhelming offensive advantage in this series. While Detroit will pump out some serious power in the form of Miguel Cabrera, Prince Fielder and Alex Avila it’s hardly an offensive mismatch. Consider the following chart from Beaneball.org:

Position A 2013 TAv Tiger 2013 TAv Winner
Catcher Vogt .250 Avila .246 A’s
First Barton .297 Fielder .290 A’s
Second Sogard .264 Infante .277 Tigers
Short Lowrie .289 Iglesias .260 A’s
Third Donaldson .321 Cabrera .365 Tigers
Left Cespedes .275 Peralta .286 Tigers
Center Crisp .291 Jackson .271 A’s
Right Reddick .259 Hunter .285 Tigers
DH Moss .325 Martinez .274 A’s

I mean, I’m not making the case that the A’s are offensively superior to the Tigers. From a talent perspective a few things can counter what the 2013 season numbers tell us. A healthy Miggy counts for a lot. Victor Martinez rounding back into form counts for a lot. Prince’s performance can swing the series.… Click here to read the rest

Pirates v. Cardinals NLDS series preview

Pirates Depth Chart – (RH/LH/Switch)

Cardinals Depth Chart – (RH/LH/Switch)

In the Wild Card game we saw the Pirates exploit an extreme strength of theirs which just happened to turn the Reds best assets into liabilities. Liriano is death on lefties in 2013 and the Reds’ best hitters work from the left side. Votto, Bruce and Choo went cold and the Pirates cruised to their first playoff victory since 1992.… Click here to read the rest

Game 163’s pitching performances

Game 163 is in the books. We experienced two different types of pitching performance in the play-in-game to get to the play-in-game. Martin Perez and David Price both feature similar repertoires; they both work fastball-changeup and occasionally mix in a breaking ball to keep hitters honest.

Awhile back I did a miniseries of sorts on visualizing pitch sequencing in a manner that seemed more intuitive to me.

I’ve extended that project out a bit to give a clearer visual of what a pitcher tried to establish in each individual start. The result is this:

gm163final

Please click to expand.

 

Hopefully that simplifies what David Price and Martin Perez tried to do last night. Perez did a fairly good job of establishing the fastball early in the game and trying to work backwards a bit in the later innings. Price was pretty much all about working off the fastball in a more traditional sense. There’s probably a good reason for that.

Perez had the better stuff yet Price was the one who went the distance giving up only 2 ER on 7 hits.… Click here to read the rest

Bud Selig speaks at annual chat; preaches status quo (mostly)

Who's number one? I'm number one.

Over the past few years during the Allstar Break, Commissioner Bud Selig has hosted an annual internet chat with baseball fans from around the globe. During this year’s Q&A, Selig addressed a number of hot topics. Let’s recap some of the more frustrating intriguing points raised.

On a salary cap:
Selig was pretty adamant about his feelings on this one. He essentially guaranteed that the salary cap topic would not be involved with the next Basic Agreement. In conclusion: it’s still a good day to be a Yankee fan (or a fan of any big market for that matter).

On a related note, Bud Selig firmly believes that the current system works.  He assured the audience that competitive play amongst all the divisions exists now more than ever, and cited the recent success of both the Indians and Pirates organizations as proof.

On evaluating umpires and instant replay:
Selig talked about the processes in place that are designed to assess umpires. … Click here to read the rest

My expanded thoughts on expanded playoffs

Last week, it became clear that baseball was moving towards expanding the playoffs to ten teams, adding one from each league. The details have yet to be hammered out, but we know that the two wildcard teams would play each other in some format, whether it’s a best of three or a one game, winner take all playoff. I don’t love either idea, or the big idea for that matter.

A one game playoff for teams that aren’t competing for the same spot just seems silly. Aren’t you basically negating the entire season at that point? As for a three game playoff, it makes more sense but is still time consuming, and makes the division winner wait longer, and possibly get rusty (it could help them rest up, too, though).

As for the big idea, adding teams to the playoffs, I just don’t like it. I think there needs to be tinkering with the playoff system, but not in this way.… Click here to read the rest

MLB’s Advanced Media Strategy: What Strategy?

Although I think about this all the time, I got set off on this ironically by something on Twitter. Bill Simmons offered to have the head of MLB’s advanced media on his podcast to explain their “media strategy”. This was after MLBAM apparently removed a video of a NESN reporter choking on a sandwich for some reason or another.

I’ve gripped about this quite often. MLB has had the worst internet presence and social media strategy in sports for years now. Most egregiously, they’re the only sport that has forbidden any highlights from appearing on Youtube whatsoever. So while I can watch highlights of the 2000 Masters, see an entire replay of the last drive of the 2008 super bowl or watch the 4th quarter of game 4 of the 1984 NBA Finals, I can’t watch Derek Jeter pass Lou Gehrig as the all time Yankee hits leader or Barry Bonds break the homerun record. The NBA has allowed Youtube content for years now and it leads to excellent ideas like Sebastian Pruiti’s, who breaks down and diagrams NBA plays every night and then shares them on his blog the next day.… Click here to read the rest

Does Major League Baseball need a salary floor?

At the end of a recent episode of HBO’s Real Time, Bill Maher suggested that financial parity is the reason the NFL has become more popular than Major League Baseball. He didn’t use those words precisely but he suggested that the reason football is more popular than baseball is because in football any team can win while in baseball only the rich teams can win.

Maher’s obvious political metaphor aside, he was referring to the NFL’s salary cap, its revenue sharing agreement and the perceived parity they contribute to the game. Was Maher’s assertion correct? Does baseball need additional revenue sharing and a salary cap to reap the benefits of parity?

There are two components to this analysis. The first is the distribution of payrolls from the NFL. We can’t project the impact of the successful NFL payroll policies onto baseball if those policies have been ineffective. The second component is the distribution of payrolls from MLB, to see if baseball lacks parity when compared to the NFL.… Click here to read the rest