Game 15: Moore vs. Sabathia

Tampa Bay Rays New York Yankees
Logan Forsythe, 2B Brett Gardner, LF
Brandon Guyer, CF Starlin Castro, 2B
Evan Longoria, 3B Carlos Beltran, RF
Corey Dickerson, DH Mark Teixeira, 1B
Desmond Jennings, LF Alex Rodriguez, DH
Steve Pearce, 1B Brian McCann, C
Steven Souza Jr., RF Chase Headley, 3B
Tim Beckham, SS Aaron Hicks, CF
Curt Casali, C Didi Gregorius, SS
Matt Moore, SP CC Sabathia, SP

Continue reading Game 15: Moore vs. Sabathia

Kneejerk Foment

[caption id="attachment_81089" align="aligncenter" width="525"]A-Rod K vs OAK When you strike out with the bases loaded during a brutal RISP slump. Courtesy of the AP[/caption]

I fully realize that I am falling in Wallchand territory here but I can feel the angst and brine rising within me. You have been watching these games along with me, right? This version of the New York Yankees has been such a drag to watch. I know Stacey wasn’t as impressed as I was, but Michael Kay’s “Groundhog Day” line the other night just felt so right. Each game has bled into the next with the same ineptitude and similar losses. It is like going off Broadway and watching the same bad production for fourteen straight days.

My rational mind is shouting to my emotional Italian side chiding the latter with reminders of sample size and season length. In the immortal words of Frank Sinatra, my heart ain’t gonna buy it. My inner Yankee is foaming at the mouth.

This is what my mind has watched thus far this season. I qualify this statement knowing full well that observations are faulty and I will look at some stats a little later:

  • It seems that every fat mistake pitch thrown by a Yankee pitcher gets hammered while the Yankees take such pitches for strikes when they are batting.
  • You can squeeze more appeal from our front-running presidential candidates easier than the Yankees can squeeze runs out of a potential rally.
  • I wish Aaron Hicks could hit so he could play the field every day.
  • How long do we wait out Alex Rodriguez before doing the Soriano-Jones?
  • The Yankees’ offense is the easiest team to defense in the history of baseball.
  • Why does Mark Teixeira have to stink every April?
  • How many of you are like me and start to get afraid every time a Yankee starting pitcher starts a game with two or three scoreless innings?
  • I would take four errors a week from Rob Refsnyder over watching Chase Headley every night
  • Austin Romine is no John Ryan Murphy. But he is like a J.R. Murphy. Maybe he should insist on being called, “Austin Allen Romine.”

Okay, somehow, I need to pull this rant out of the gutter of my mind and put some data in here to at least make it sound respectable. I know full well that this is a lost cause because any stats I cull will be cherry picking and a rant is what this is and there seems to be no turning back. But here goes a few cherry picks to at least make it look like I’m trying. Continue reading Kneejerk Foment

The IIATMS Mailbag, Volume 1

On Tuesday afternoon, I made a call to arms as a means to both encourage discussion, and to ensure that I am writing about something that the readers are interested in. And the fact that our first crack at this exercise resulted in ten-ish (mostly) quality questions is simply gravy. Let’s jump right in, shall we?

Courtesy of Jay Robertson:

Do you really believe the Yankees can get to the playoffs with their current starting rotation; if not, do you think the team will suck it up and stand pat; if they do get a starter – who would they get, and at what cost?

Heading into last night’s action (thirteen starts), the Yankees rotation had the following line:

73.2 IP, 5.01 ERA, 3.70 FIP, 8.7 K/9, 2.2 BB/9, 51.6 GB%, .338 BABIP

That’s the second best GB% in baseball, the third best BB/9, the tenth best K/9, and …the fifth worst ERA. There is some bad luck at play, as evidenced by the very high BABIP (the third worst in the Majors) and the large gap between the team’s ERA and FIP (the fourth highest differential). They’re middle-of-the-pack in metrics like HR/9, hard-hit percentage, and HR/FB, which somewhat belies these discrepancies, but it’s also so early that most if not all of these numbers should be taken with a grain of salt.

Why bring them up, then? Because they illustrate just how weird baseball is.

All that being said, I don’t think that this is the rotation of a playoff team, unless said playoff team is an offensive juggernaut. The Yankees don’t appear to have the same sort of ‘oomph’ that they had last season (again, though, small sample size), and I’m skeptical that the bullpen can make up for the rotation’s issues. There has been a great deal of discussion about Sabathia being toast, Pineda throwing too many strikes, Eovaldi being style over substance, Tanaka’s elbow, and Severino’s inexperience … and, even if most of that is unnecessary handwringing, we watch much of this story unfold last season.

The Yankees need Tanaka to continue to pitch like a top of the rotation starter, and at least two of the other guys to step-up and perform as competent mid-rotation starters. If that can be done, they could certainly make a push. I don’t know if a trade is really out there at this point (the pending free agent class stinks), but I do think that James Kaprielian could be the ace in the hole, a la Severino just last season.

Courtesy of James Dogg:

Cashman comes back from lunch and he has two messages-

1. Colorado Rockies called and they offer Nolan Arenado and Carlos Gonzalez for Nova, Gary Sanchez, and Aaron Judge.

2. Florida Marlins called they offer Jose Fernandez, Jarred Cosart, and Justin Bour for the same 3 plus Arod.

Which, if either, should Cashman do, and which will be a better deal come say October of 2017.

Gonzalez is only under contract through the end of next season, and I don’t really see a spot for him on the roster right now – and I’m not sure that I’d want to make room, either. He’s a career .257/.312/.444 (102 wRC+) hitter on the road, and he has a lengthy history of injury problems. If Ellsbury wasn’t around, I may be spinning a different tale. But as it stands, I don’t want Gonzalez.

I’m a huge fan of Arenado, and he had no real home/away split last season, with a 120 wRC+ in Coors and a 119 mark on the road. He just turned 25, and he’s a potential franchise player – the greatest issue I see is that he doesn’t have great plate discipline, and his high-contact approach can be a blessing and a curse. And I think Headley would be much easier to move than Ellsbury (and such a move would be much more likely).

With the Marlins deal, I similarly don’t care all that much about Cosart or Bour (though, I suppose Bour would replace Rodriguez as the DH). Fernandez is obviously incredible (both as a talent and a personality), and he won’t be 24 until this Summer. Having a Tommy John Surgery on his resume is a bit disconcerting, though, and there has been a great deal of talk regarding his mechanics leading to further injury.

All that being said … I think the Marlins deal makes more sense right now. Having to make additional moves can cause several issues, and I don’t think that it would look great for the Yankees to have to bench or move at least one of Headley, Ellsbury, and Gardner (unless CarGo went to the bench). That’s my concern with the Rockies deal. That, and the fact that I’m always at least a bit skeptical of Coors guys. Under the gun, though, I’d probably do both deals – Arenado and Fernandez are young, legitimate studs.

As for the end of 2017, I’m not sure which would look better. Probably the Marlins deal, at least artificially, as Judge and Sanchez will look a hell of a lot better hitting in Coors…

Courtesy of yankeerudy:

What’s the over-under on Big Papi HR this season?

ZiPS had him at 30 this season – a mark that he has reached in each of the last three seasons. I’d probably set the over/under right around there; say, 30.5? And I’d take the over. As much as I hate to say it, Ortiz is still an incredible hitter.

Courtesy of anonymous:

Are you a closet Red Sox fan?

I’m not sure that I’ve ever been accused of being a closeted fan of any team, let alone the Red Sox. I try to be as unbiased as possible when writing about or discussing baseball … so much so that I don’t know if this is a joke that I’m humoring, or an actual accusation. The answer is no, though. I like several of their young players and prospects, but I could never root for that organization.

I admittedly have soft spots for the Rays and Mets, though. The former because of how much I admire the organization’s strategies, and the latter because much of my family and friends are Mets fans. I never root for either over the Yankees, though.

Courtesy of Longtimefan:

Realistically can we look forward to getting to the playoffs and if so going deeper than last season with primarily the same offense that disappeared last September?

If they make it to the Wild Card game again, anything can happen – particularly if Tanaka is on. Winning that game is technically getting deeper in the playoffs, right?

I don’t think that that’s the spirit of your question, though. I’ve worried about the team as a whole since the off-season, as I always kind of felt that the offense peaked last season, even with some of the injuries and underperformance. I’m trying to avoid confirmation bias with the early season struggles, but their offense hasn’t changed my mind thus far.

Again, though, it’s so early in the season that we’re still a couple of weeks from worrying too much (barring a significant injury, of course).

Another from James Dogg:

Will Ellsbury be worth $21 mil in 2020?

or

Will Ellsbury’s production in 2020 be more worth $21 mil than Arod ‘s will be worth $21 mil this year? 2017?

The answer to both may end up being yes as salaries escalate, and the value of a win increases. And that’s the only way I see the answer to the first question being yes.

Last night’s 3-for-5 performance notwithstanding, Ellsbury hasn’t looked like a legitimate hitter since last May. I know that he was hurt at that time, but his injury history is so extensive that I have to wonder if the cumulative effects are simply too much for him to completely recover from. The fact that his defense and base-running appear to be slipping don’t help matters, either.

That being said, I don’t know what to make of Rodriguez’s value. FanGraphs pegged last season’s performance at $21.4 MM, so he just made it. I’m not sure if that happens again, considering his late Summer swoon, early season issues, and age. I’d rather have Rodriguez’s next two years than Ellsbury’s next five, though.

Courtesy of Nate the Great:

Is there anything to Luis Severino’s early struggles?

Most of the discussion about Severino’s flaws hinges on mechanics and size. His delivery is not the most efficient, and he’s on the smaller side for a power-pitcher. That being said, the greatest issue with his mechanics is not the injury risk – it’s the fact that his command has been consistently inconsistent as a result. His release and landing points often shift dramatically over the course of the game, and that oftentimes results in him leaving the pitch up and over the plate (which happened last night, resulting in a home run by Mark Canha).

To be fair, though, I don’t think that there’s anything new to worry about. The defense torpedoed his efforts in his prior start, and last night he was fine but for one pitch. I’m not too concernced.

Courtesy of Allen:

Can we get a podcast soon?

I shall do my best to get one in the works. We have plenty to talk about, after all.
Continue reading The IIATMS Mailbag, Volume 1

Game 14 Quick Recap: OAK 7 NYY 3

Let’s see, how does this go again… ?

Garbage Fire

There we go.  Nailed it.  A+ recap.

Game Notes:

– Severino was good enough to win.  6 IP, 7 H, 2 ER, 0 BB, 4 K.  Best start of the year for him.

– Not a banner day for the bullpen B-team.  3 IP, 3 H, 3 BB, 5 ER.  On the plus side, one day closer to Chapman returning.

– Really rough go for Chasen Shreve, who gave up 2 home runs on the first 2 pitches he threw.  Gotta shake that one off.

– Jacoby Ellsbury went 3-5 and made a tremendous diving catch in the right-center field gap in the 1st inning to save a run.

– Solid game for Aaron Hicks too.  He drove in the first Yankee run with a bloop single and took a walk in 3 plate appearances, and he also made a great leaping catch into the left field foul line wall and threw another runner out on the basepaths.  Not hard to see the skills that drew Cashman to him.  Just need him to start hitting. Continue reading Game 14 Quick Recap: OAK 7 NYY 3

Game 14: Hill vs. Severino

Oakland A’s New York Yankees
Billy Burns, CF Jacoby Ellsbury, CF
Mark Canha, 1B Starlin Castro, 2B
Josh Reddick, RF Carlos Beltran, RF
Jed Lowrie, 2B Mark Teixeira, 1B
Stephen Vogt, C Alex Rodriguez, DH
Chris Coghlan, 3B Chase Headley, 3B
Khris Davis, DH Aaron Hicks, LF
Coco Crisp, LF Austin Romine, C
Marcus Semien, SS Ronald Torreyes, SS
Rich Hill, SP Luis Severino, SP

Continue reading Game 14: Hill vs. Severino

Game 13 Quick Recap: OAK 5 NYY 2

Early runs, no big hits with RISP, pitcher stung by one bad inning.  Lather, rinse, repeat.

Nathan Eovaldi was the victim of the one bad inning and the lack of offensive support last night.  His body of work wasn’t bad (6 IP, 3 ER, 7 K), but he gave up 3 runs on 2 doubles, 2 singles, and a sac fly by the first 5 batters of the 4th inning and that was all it took to set him up for the loss.

The offense didn’t get completely shut out.  Didi Gregorius staked the Yankees to an early lead with a solo home run in the bottom of the 2nd.  But they didn’t score again until the bottom of the 8th and that was on another solo shot by Carlos Beltran.  In between it was a whole lot of nothing.

That home run would have meant a realistic chance at a tie or walk-off win in the 9th had it not been for Branden Pinder in the top half of the inning.  He loaded the bases on 11 pitches (2 singles, walk) and Khris Davis cashed in with a 2-run single up the middle.  4-run lead heading into the final 2 innings might as well be a 4,000 run lead against this pathetic Yankee offense.

I haven’t been watching a lot of the recent games because I’ve been participating in Milwaukee Beer Week, but it sounds like that’s been for the best.  Not a lot of fun to be had watching this team right now. Continue reading Game 13 Quick Recap: OAK 5 NYY 2

Game 13: Graveman vs. Eovaldi

Welcome to tonight’s game thread. Here are the lineups: Oakland A’s New York Yankees Billy Burns, CF Jacoby Ellsbury, CF Chris Coghlan, 2B Starlin Castro, 2B Josh Reddick, RF Carlos Beltran, RF Danny Valencia, 3B Mark Teixeira, 1B Stephen Vogt, C Brian McCann, C Jed Lowrie, DH Alex Rodriguez, DH Khris Davis, LF Chase Headley, 3B Yonder Alonso, 1B Didi Gregorius, SS Marcus Semien, SS Aaron Hicks, LF Kendall Graveman, SP Nathan Eovaldi, SP Enjoy the game.

Game 12 Quick Recap: OAK 3 NYY 2 (11 Innings)

[caption id="attachment_81059" align="aligncenter" width="525"]Gardner vs OAK 16 Brett Gardner notices a black widow spider near home plate and removes his batting helmet to crush it. Courtesy of the AP[/caption]

I’m giving this game the quick treatment because it doesn’t really need or deserve any in-depth commentary.  We’ve seen this game time and time again over the last few years.  Blown leads, blown chances, and an offense that completely disappears from the face of the earth and leaves the bullpen hanging in the late innings.  The Yankees stink right now.  That is a fact.

They jumped out to an early lead in the 1st on a 2-out rally started by a Carlos Beltran double and completed by an Alex Rodriguez RBI base hit.  Of course Michael Pineda gave that right back in the top of the 2nd on a trio of singles.  Two of them were ground balls against the shift, which is not Big Mike’s fault, but you can’t be getting behind 3-0 to a guy and forced to throw a meatball strike in that situation.

The Yanks regained the lead in the 5th when Brett Gardner walked, moved to third base on Starlin Castro‘s double, and scored on a Beltran sac fly. Aaaaand then Pineda gave that lead right back by giving up a leadoff triple to Danny Valencia in the 6th and watching him score on a GB single.  Gardner gave a heck of an effort but that ball was falling in for a triple regardless.  That’s on Mike.

After that the offense went in the toilet.  They wasted 2 baserunners in the bottom of the 6th and went down in order in the 7th, 8th, 10th, and 11th.  Chase Headley singled to start a rally in the bottom of the 9th, but pinch hitter Jacoby Ellsbury was thrown out trying to steal to snuff it out.  The bullpen hosses did all they could to extend the game, but Johnny Barbato got touched up for a couple hits in his second inning of work in the top of the 11th and the deal was sealed. Continue reading Game 12 Quick Recap: OAK 3 NYY 2 (11 Innings)

Game 12: Surkamp vs. Pineda

Oakland A’s New York Yankees
Billy Burns, CF Brett Gardner, LF
Chris Coghlan, LF Starlin Castro, 2B
Josh Reddick, RF Carlos Beltran, RF
Danny Valencia, 3B Mark Teixeira, 1B
Stephen Vogt, C Alex Rodriguez, DH
Jed Lowrie, 2B Brian McCann, C
Khris Davis, DH Aaron Hicks, CF
Yonder Alonso, 1B Chase Headley, 3B
Marcus Semien, SS Didi Gregorius, SS
Eric Surkamp, SP Michael Pineda, SP

Continue reading Game 12: Surkamp vs. Pineda