It’s About the 2016 Predictions

Opening Day is a scant five days away for the New York Yankees, and now seems as good a time as any to offer our predictions for the forthcoming season. This time around, we’re going to break it up into two parts. Today, we submit to you our predictions for the divisional winners, World Series match-up and champion, and some regular season awards. On Friday, we’ll have some bold predictions for you – both for the Yankees, and for the league as a whole. It’s all in good fun, and it’s the last logical step in wrapping up an off-season that has seemingly gone on forever.

Without further ado:

William (@FlagrantFan)
AL East – Yankees
AL Central – Indians
AL West – Angels
Wildcard – Twins over the Blue Jays

NL East – Nationals
NL Central – Cubs
NL West – Giants
Wildcards – Mets over the Diamondbacks

The Mets defeat the Yankees in the World Series.

MVP – Mike Trout, Bryce Harper
Cy YoungMichael Pineda, Clayton Kershaw
Rookie of the Year – Byron Buxton, Steven Matz
Manager of the Year – Joe Girardi, Dusty Baker

Stacey (@StaceGots)
AL East – Blue Jays
AL Central – Royals
AL West – Astros
Wildcards – Yankees over the White Sox

NL East – Mets
NL Central – Cubs
NL West – Giants
Wildcards – Nationals over the Diamondbacks

The Giants defeat the Bue Jays in the World Series (because it’s an even year. Duh.)

MVP – Mike Trout, Paul Goldschmidt
Cy Young – Chris Sale, Clayton Kershaw
Rookie of the Year – Byron Buxton, Trea Turner
Manager of the Year – Robin Ventura (for overcoming the loss of Drake Laroche), Dusty Baker

Matt (@RAYROBERT9)
AL East – Yankees
AL Central – Indians
AL West – Astros
Wildcard – Blue Jays over the White Sox

NL East – Nationals
NL Central – Cubs
NL West – Dodgers
Wildcard – Mets over the Giants

The Mets defeat the Astros in the World Series.

MVP – Mike Trout, Bryce Harper
CY Young – Chris Sale, Noah Syndergaad
Rookie of the Year – Byron Buxton, Corey Seager
Manager of the Year – Terry Francona, Dusty Baker

E.J. (@ejfagan)
AL East – Red Sox
AL Central – Indians
AL West – Astros
Wildcard – Rays over the Blue Jays

Rays win the Wild Card game, Astros win the AL championship

NL East – Nationals
NL Central – Cubs
NL West – Giants
Wildcard – Dodgers over the Mets

The Astros defeat the Cubs in the World Series.

MVP – Mike Trout, Bryce Harper
Cy Young – Chris Sale, Clayton Kershaw
Rookie of the Year – AJ Reed, Trea Turner
Manager of the Year – Terry Francona, Dusty Baker

Brad (@BradVietro)
AL East – Yankees
AL Central – Royals
AL West – Astros
Wildcard – Rangers over the Indians

NL East – Mets
NL Central – Cubs
NL West – Giants
Wildcard – Nationals over the Diamondbacks

The Cubs defeat the Astros in the World Series.

MVP – Mike Trout, Paul Goldschmidt
Cy Young – Chris Sale, Jose Fernandez
Rookie of the Year – Byron Buxton, Corey Seager
Manager of the Year – AJ Hinch, Bruce Bochy

Domenic (@DomenicLanza)
AL East – Rays
AL Central – Indians
AL West – Angels
Wildcard – Astros over the Royals

NL East – Mets
NL Central – Pirates
NL West – Giants
Wildcard – Cubs over the Nationals

The Pirates defeat the Angels in the World Series.

MVP – Mike Trout, Andrew McCutchen
Cy Young – Chris Archer, Gerrit Cole
Rookie of the Year – Jose Berrios, Trevor Story
Manager of the Year – Kevin Cash, Bruce Bochy

Questions? Comments? Thoughts? Concerns? Feel free to address those, as well as your own predictions, in the comments. Continue reading It’s About the 2016 Predictions

Quick Hit: More Bullpen Roster Cuts

I haven’t done a great job keeping up with all the recent roster cuts, but now that we’re coming down to the end of the spring, every one means more in terms of setting the final 25-man roster.  This one announced earlier by the team has a significant impact on the bullpen competition.

Pinder and Goody were both prime candidates for one of the last bullpen spots based on their SWB shuttle service time last year.  I thought Goody was in good shape for a spot heading into the end of last week based on how he had been pitching, but he served up 3 home runs in a 24-hour period and that surely got him cut.  Pinder just didn’t pitch all that well this spring, not well enough to stand out against the rest of the competition at least, and Olson was too far below others on the lefty depth chart.

So with these 3 gone, I think we’re down to 34 or 35 guys still in big league camp.  The remaining candidates for the ‘pen are Kirby Yates, Johnny Barbato, Anthony Swarzak, and Luis Cessa.  Yates has to be close to a lock at this point, so it’s the other 3 for 1 spot.  Based on ST performance and what’s best for the organization, I think we’ll see Barbato get the final spot.  There’s no reason to convert Cessa from a starter now to be the 7th guy in the big league ‘pen when there are already a ton of other righty options available for that job.

Continue reading Quick Hit: More Bullpen Roster Cuts

Wednesday Morning Links: 3/30/16

Remember when the Yankees did the tandem starter thing with Phil Hughes and David Huff at the end of 2013?  Neither of them could be trusted to navigate a lineup more than 1.5 or 2 times, so Joe just started with one, got a few innings out of him, then brought in the next one to at least try to make it through 5 or 6.  Maybe he should think about trying that again with CC and Ivan Nova this year.  They’re both so inconsistent that it might be worth it to try if the rest of the pitching could be counted on for extra length when needed.  Eventually when rules and rosters expand in the future and everybody operates with a 6 or 7-man rotation, we’ll probably see every team do that as a way to minimize the potential damage caused by their weakest starters.  That’ll be fun.  Now onto the links.

– Last Wednesday, Mike Axisa previewed year 3 of Brian McCann’s Yankee tenure and wondered if it was time to start limiting his workload behind the plate.

– On Saturday, el duque of It Is High… commented on the frustrating unpredictability of Ivan Nova after his latest ST outing.

– On Sunday, Jason Cohen of Pinstripe Alley rattled off the long list of prospects who could contribute at the Major League level this season.

– On Tuesday, Stacey jumped into the time machine to look back at the 2006 Yankees for BP Bronx.

– Wally Matthews had Joe and Larry Rothschild’s thoughts on Tanaka after his uneven performance yesterday.  I’m sure no Yankee fans will overreact to this.

– Chad Jennings mused on how yesterday’s poor starts could influence the rotation decisions to open the season.

– Baseball Prospectus released its organizational farm system rankings today.  The Yankees come in at 16, up 5 spots from last year.  The post has links to every team’s top 10 and it’s all free.

From the IIATMS team:

– Last Thursday, I locked in my final Opening Day roster prediction.  Naturally Nick Goody went out there immediately after this and started giving up moonshots, so I’m already in midseason prediction form.

– I also commented on the night and day difference between Dellin Betances’ ST this year and last year and what that might mean for him when the games start to matter.

– On Monday, Stacey dissected CC Sabathia’s major home run problem from a couple different angles to see if it’s something that can be fixed this late in his career.

Have a good day, y’all.

Continue reading Wednesday Morning Links: 3/30/16

Tanaka Needs To Show Us Something

Stacey mentioned in her open thread yesterday that Joe Girardi stated that Masahiro Tanaka had to show Girardi something in Tanaka’s last Spring Training game to get the nod for the Opening Day Starter. And while Girardi dismissed the importance of such an “honor” during an in-game interview over the weekend, I cannot help echoing Girardi’s thought and expanding it for all of 2016. Masahiro Tanaka needs to show us something.

There is expectation that Tanaka is an ace…a top gun…an elite starter in the American League. The reality is that Tanaka has not been that guy since June 28, 2014. There have been stretches on the disabled list, concerns about his elbow–and most importantly–middle of the road pitching ever since that complete game loss to the Red Sox.

At this point, you can forget about the elbow. Yes, it might explode any time. But that can be said of every pitcher in baseball. He says he has been fine and so has everyone else. But his pitching has not been that fine..It has been adequate. For starters with at least 150 innings in 2015, Tanaka finished 57th in fWAR and 54th in FIP. That compares closest to Mike Pelfrey. Mike Pelfrey.

My observation is that it all starts with the fastball. So that is where I started when looking up data. I have no problem acknowledging that Tanaka has a devastating split finger pitch. But that pitch is most effective when set up by other pitches, especially the fastball. According to Fangraphs.com, Masahiro Tanaka’s fastball rated 86th in baseball last year. To get a full gauge on that placement, 87 pitchers were rated as having thrown 150+ innings. The only fastball that was rated lower in baseball last year was Jered Weaver who throws his fastball these days at about pony league speed.

To make sure I wasn’t being overly jaded here, I went further with those numbers. Fangraphs tends to lump all fastballs together including two-seam, four-seam, sinkers and cut fastballs. Using PitchF/X, they rate Tanaka’s four-seam fastball as 82nd out of 87. That’s not much better. According to PitchF/X, Tanaka also throws a sinker and that pitch was rated 15th. BUT, only twenty pitchers throw a sinker.

The bottom line is that Tanaka’s fastball has become somewhat akin to Phil Hughes‘ when Hughes was starting for the Yankees. And it shows because either Tanaka has become more loathe to use the pitch or McCann is more loathe to call it. Again, according to Fangraphs, Tanaka’s total fastballs as a percentage of his pitches went down in 2015 to 32.5%, eight percentage points lower than the year before. According to PitchF/X, only twelve pitchers with 150 or more innings threw less fastballs as a percentage than Tanaka.

I need other, more talented writers on this staff to look at spin rates, zone charts and the like to see if location is a problem or a lack of spin and movement. The only thing I see is that his fastball often gets crushed on the batter’s sweet spot. That would lead to more homers and indeed, Tanaka’s rate rose last year from 0.99 per nine innings in 2014 to 1.46 per nine.

It should also be noted that Tanaka’s strikeout rate went down from 26% in 2014 to 22% in 2015. Without an effective fastball, it is harder to set up the split ahead in the count. It also might account for a slight rise in walk rate if Tanaka does not have confidence in the pitch.

Projection systems don’t see a big improvement in 2016. Of the four I checked, only one was optimistic that Tanaka’s 2016 will be better than his 2015. Time will tell. But I am inclined to agree.

Many fans and analysts point to CC Sabathia as being the weak link and the worry in the Yankees’ rotation and rightly so. In my mind, Masahiro Tanaka is in the same category and is a part of the rotation that is causing me some serious doubt. Continue reading Tanaka Needs To Show Us Something

Spring Training Game Quick Recap: NYY 3 DET 2

It was basically the starting lineup paired with a contingent of roster-contending pitchers last night as the Yankees ticked another game off the rapidly shrinking ST schedule.  Of course the game wasn’t televised, and it’s a shame too because it ended up being a pretty good one.  The offenses were quiet early, but some late fireworks from the Yankee bats made for a satisfying comeback victory.

– Joe started Luis Cessa in this game, not wanting to show any of his regular starters to a Tigers team that the Yankees will face early in the regular season next week.  Cessa continued his strong spring with 3 shutout innings and 4 strikeouts.  He’s definitely a candidate for a bullpen spot right now, but I think it would make more sense for the Yanks to keep him working as a starter in Triple-A.

– It was mostly zeros for all the Yankee pitchers last night.  Johnny Barbato, Chasen Shreve, and Aroldis Chapman all threw shutout innings and Diego Moreno, who was reassigned to MiL camp after the game, pitched 2 clean frames to pick up the win.

– The only black mark on the pitching ledger came in the top of the 6th, when Nick Goody served up back-to-back home runs to Ian Kinsler and Justin Upton.  No shame in giving up dingers to those guys, but when it happens late in a ST roster battle it’s going to stand out.  Really bad timing for Goody.

– The Yankee bats finally stirred in the bottom of the 7th on a Mark Teixeira leadoff home run.  The comeback was completed in the 8th with a 2-out rally that culminated in a Dustin Ackley 2-run double.  The homer gave Teix a hit in 2 consecutive games, so maybe he’s starting to come out of that early spring funk. Continue reading Spring Training Game Quick Recap: NYY 3 DET 2

Open thread: 3/28/16

We’re doing an open thread since tonight’s game isn’t being televised and it isn’t on the radio. It’s 2016! What is this nonsense? Anyway, you’re missing out on the Yankees and the Tigers playing each other in Steinbrenner Field. Exciting! In the news today, manager Joe Girardi said that Masahiro Tanaka needs to show him something during tomorrow’s start against the Phillies if he’s going to name him the Opening Day starter. That game will be televised on MLB Network at 7 pm tomorrow night. In other news, old friend Nick Swisher was released by the Atlanta Braves. Between the Continue reading Open thread: 3/28/16

CC Sabathia has a home run problem

CC Sabathia has given up a lot of home runs the past few years. In this post, we’re going to look at how many he’s given up, what the projections say about 2016 and we will try to figure out what will actually happen this season. (Maybe.) Yankee fans hoping for a renascent CC Sabathia in 2016 could be in for a rude awakening When Sabathia signed with the New York Yankees in December 2008, he had already logged nearly 1,660 career innings with his career high of 253 occurring during earlier that year when he split his time between Continue reading CC Sabathia has a home run problem

Monday Morning Musings A Week Away From Opening Day

It’s close now, real close.  In less than a week the 2016 MLB regular season will officially be underway, and in a few hours more than a week the same will be true for the New York Yankees.  The roster trimming continues, the speculation about who will and won’t nab the last few Opening Day 25-man slots has intensified, and the anticipation of first pitch next Monday is rising.  Here are some assorted thoughts on where the Yankees stand a week away from that first first pitch.

– At the start of camp, I didn’t think there was any way that Gary Sanchez wasn’t coming out of ST as the backup catcher.  I also didn’t think there was any way that Rob Refsnyder would come out of camp with a big league roster spot.  Two weeks ago, I completely flip-flopped on both of those thoughts and then Refs took a few ground balls off the dome and everything changed again.  The Yankees have made a clear commitment to get younger and build from within over the last few seasons, but it’s good to know that they still recognize when guys aren’t quite ready and are willing to give them the time they need to be fully prepared to come up to the show and contribute.  Sanchez has swung a cold bat all spring and Refsnyder needs more work at third base if he’s truly going to be an option there for Joe.  There’s nothing wrong with letting them work on those things in the lower-pressure environment of Triple-A, especially when there are other options for their positions available.

– We already know who that other option is going to be at backup catcher.  Now with Refs getting sent down yesterday, the question becomes who fills in for him as the final utility infielder.  It’s a 2-man race between Pete Kozma and Ronald Torreyes and I’m hoping with every fiber of my being that it ends up being Torreyes.  If ST stats mean anything, he’s been the much better hitter this spring (.313/.333/.375 in 32 ABs compared to .167/.231/.250 in 24 ABs for Kozma) and that should give him a leg up.  He’s also younger, he’s been healthier in camp, and he can play the same mix of positions that Kozma can.  I’ve said all along that I don’t want Kozma on this team.  He’s basically a Brendan Ryan clone and I think using a roster spot on a player like that is a waste.  Torreyes comes with a little bit of projectability thanks to his young age and his high-contact approach is a great fit for a part-time bench gig.  If it comes down to these 2 for the last bench spot, Torreyes is the clear choice in my mind. Continue reading Monday Morning Musings A Week Away From Opening Day