The Myth About “Bad” Big Contracts

Courtesy: NY Newsday

The prevailing wisdom around the Yankees is that big contracts like the ones Alex Rodriguez and Mark Teixeira have are what is killing the team. In reality, those contracts have been fine and fans in general worry way too much about them.

I never get fans who would rather see the money go into the pockets of the owner than into the players’. The difference in the Yankees over the last two plus seasons is that they’ve been spending less and the performance on the field has suffered. Sure, Hal Steinbrenner fooled most people with his shopping spree in the 2013-14 offseason. People didn’t realize how much money came off the books and that the payroll was only about $120 million to begin that offseason, so the Yankees didn’t really go above and beyond at all.

The business model the Yankees used from 2001 through 2012 absolutely worked. The lack of championships are lamented, but the reality is that the Yankees put themselves in the best position to bring home rings every season winning 95 plus games.…

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Tuesday Afternoon News And Notes: 5/26/15

How’s everybody feeling after the long weekend?  Here’s a roundup of some of the smaller goings on that you might have missed.

Masahiro Tanaka threw a 31-pitch bullpen session on Sunday and once again it was all good.  Weather permitting, he’ll make his next Triple-A rehab start tomorrow.  I imagine his pitch count will be bumped up to 60.

– Still a lot of nothing on the Jacoby Ellsbury knee front.  Joe acknowledged that Ellsbury will miss more than the minimum 15-day DL stint, but there has been no timetable given and nothing official on the diagnosis.  Right now, we know it was a knee sprain that won’t require surgery and Ellsbury is wearing a knee brace.  That’s it.

– Keith Law released his updated top 25 prospects list earlier today.  The whole thing is Insider-only but the relevant information for Yankee fans is not.  After a strong start in Double-A, Aaron Judge came in at number 16 on the list.  …

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Quick Hit: Pulling Still a Problem for Some Yankees

It’s been over a year now since Brian McCann has recognized his growing problem with the infield shift. It even looked like he was making progress last season, distributing his line dives fairly evenly.

McCann’s pulling problem has only gotten worse this year. While his average sits at .245, his Offensive rating is already at -2.7 – a season after he posted a -7.2. That’s due in large part to his habit of hitting the ball to the right side of the field.

2013 (ATL) 2014 (NYY) 2015 (NYY)
GB% 35.4% 32.7% 38.1%
Pull% 48.6% 44.1% 49.6%
Hard Hit% 35.3% 31.0% 27.8%

McCann actually did reduce the number of balls he pulled to right field last season – 44% was the third-lowest rate of his career & the lowest since 2007. This season, though, his problem is back. As evidenced by his increased ground ball rate, and reduced hard-hit ball rate, those balls are headed right into the shift. You can expect to see three fielders to the right side of the infield for the foreseeable future when the Yankees’ catcher steps to the dish.…

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About Last Night Yesterday Afternoon: Murder in the first inning

You can admit it, you had no expectations going into yesterday’s game other than expecting the Royals to win the game because it seems like months since the Yankees were able to put one in the win column. Don’t worry. We all felt that way. But when the 22:39 bottom of the first finally ended, and the Yankees had an 8-0 lead, those expectations quickly changed.

Here’s how that first inning unfolded, in heat map/grid/spray chart form:

1st inning SLG heat map

Courtesy of ESPN Stats and Info

Courtesy of ESPN Stats and Info

Jeremy Guthrie was throwing balls low in the zone and the Yankees were reaching them.

1st inning SLG grid

Courtesy of ESPN Stats and Info

Courtesy of ESPN Stats and Info

Guthrie’s 1st inning pitch frequency (See? A lot of low pitches.)

Courtesy of ESPN Stats and Info

Courtesy of ESPN Stats and Info

Here are the pitches Headley, McCann and Gardner hit for home runs. Headley and McCann’s home runs were off fastballs while Gardner’s was off a curve.

Courtesy of ESPN Stats and Info

Courtesy of ESPN Stats and Info

Look at how low Gardner’s pitch was.…

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This Year’s Yankees Already Mastering The Art of Being Consistently Inconsistent

It’s only the last week of May and already this has been quite the season for the New York Yankees.  Barely a step or 2 past the quarter pole and it already feels like we’ve experienced multiple seasons in one.  The Yankees started off 3-6 in their first few weeks, then rattled off a white hot 18-6 stretch into early May to ascend to the top of the American League, and followed that up with an ongoing 2-10 run that has dropped them back to .500 and started many fans and writers scrambling for the towers to wave the white flags.

More important than the streakiness itself has been the way the Yankees have looked like completely different teams during the respective streaks.  They looked sluggish and old to start the year 3-6, showing little on offense and getting inconsistent starting pitching at best.  When they were 18-6 they were a lethal combination of speed at the top of the order and power in the middle with a lockdown bullpen preserving a lot of close wins.  …

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Game 45 Recap: Yankees 14 Royals 1

Headley HR vs KC

Courtesy of the AP

I said I wasn’t going to watch this afternoon’s game against the Royals and I meant it.  I’m happy to say that the Yankees made me look foolish for making that decision, as they crushed Kansas City in the series opener on the strength of way too many homers and a solid outing by Nathan Eovaldi.

Jeremy Guthrie got the ball for KC today and he had absolutely nothing.  The bottom of the 1st went like this for New York: leadoff double, 2-run home run, single, walk, 3-run home run, flyout, groundout, HBP, single, 3-run home run, single, walk, K.  The homers came from Chase Headley, Brian McCann, and Brett Gardner, and just like that the Yankees staked Eovaldi to an 8-0 lead.  Another 3-run dinger by Stephen Drew in the 2nd made it 11-0 and ended Guthrie’s day, making him just the second pitcher in the last 100 years (!!!!) to give up 11 or more runs in fewer than 2 IP.…

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Game 45: Whatever

I have the rare chance to watch the Yankees on ESPN today, but I’m not going to bother because it’s just not worth it.  There a million better things to be doing today, and even if they win I won’t feel bad for a single second for not watching.  I sincerely hope everybody else out there has something better lined up for their Memorial Days than watching this team, but if you don’t then here’s your game thread.

Yankees Starting Lineup:

1) Ellsbury Gardner- CF
2) Headley- 3B
3) A-Rod- DH
4) Teix- 1B
5) McCann- C
6) Jones- RF
7) Drew- 2B
8) Didi- SS
9) Heathcott- CF

SP) Eovaldi

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Pessimistic Praise for the Jacob Lindgren Promotion

I don’t disagree with Brad’s view that it’s time for Jacob Lindgren to enjoy the culture clash of life in NYC. (Side note: I wish on-the-ground reporters would report more about what it’s like for a Mississippi native, who then attended Mississippi boarding school and Mississippi State, to move to NYC at age 22. My NY-CA move was jarring at 18, and my NY-WI move was jarring at 30, but I can only imagine what it’ll be like for Lindgren….) But while I’m in favor of the callup, I’m pessimistic that he’ll succeed from the get-go.

Here’s the big red-flag question: How will his unimproved control will play (a) in the bigs and (a) in repeat viewings? In just 46.2 minor-league innings, 4.4 BB/9, with no real improvement in AAA this year (4.1 BB/9). Big-league hitters will be all the more able to lay off the out-of-zone stuff, not only because they’re better, but also because they’ll see him repeatedly — unlike his minor-league opponents.…

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About Last Night Week: Freefalling

Since their last win, way back on May 16, the Yankees are batting .214/.272/.343/.615 with a .129 ISO and their pitching staff is 0-6 with a 6.92 ERA.

Here’s what that slash line looks like in spray chart form:

Courtesy of ESPN Stats and Info

Courtesy of ESPN Stats and Info

This is what that 6.92 ERA looks like in spray chart form:

Courtesy of ESPN Stats and Info

Courtesy of ESPN Stats and Info

Chase Headley was the Yankees’ “best” hitter over the past week batting .333/.391/.381/.772 while Stephen Drew and Brett Gardner stunk up the joint. Drew batted .136/.136/.136/.273. (My God) and Gardner batted .136/.208/.136/.345. (Almost as ugly as Drew’s numbers)

CC Sabathia was the worst pitcher by far and that even includes poor Esmil Rogers. Six earned runs in 2 1/3 innings is atrocious, but four strike outs to one walk in 2 1/3 innings isn’t bad. In four of the past six games the starting pitcher hasn’t made it through five innings.

Another bad thing? The defense that was supposed to be one of the best in the league committed five errors in the last six games.…

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