Measuring the impact of Derek Jeter’s absence

The consistent story line surrounding the Yankees so far this season has been that the team needs to tread water until the injured superstars, Mark Teixeira, Curtis Granderson and Derek Jeter, can return. Last week we found out that Jeter has suffered a set back and won’t be able to play until July. Without question, this harms the team. Much has been made of Jeter’s recent decline, specifically his sub-par 2010 and 2011 seasons, but even that weakened Jeter gave the Yankees above average offense at shortstop. Furthermore, Derek bounced back in 2012. The .347 wOBA Jeter posted in 2012 was far from his .365 career average, or the production he’s put up in his signature seasons, such as 2009, but it was a welcomed return to form, and evidence that maybe Derek had one more .340 plus wOBA season in him.

As frustrating as it is to watch the Yankees play Mariano Rivera‘s final season without Jeter in the lineup every day, Derek will come back. He’s still under contract and too competitive an athlete to go out this way. The real question is therefore how much damage his extended absence will wreak on the team. Given that Derek will miss half the season, we can measure the production this will cost the Yankees as a whole.

According to Fangraphs, Derek has averaged just under 2.6 fWAR over the past three seasons (Baseball Reference puts the figure at 2.3 bWAR). Taking that as a baseline, its safe to suggest that over the course of half a season, even an aging Derek Jeter will be responsible for between one and two victories for the Yankees. It may not sound like much, but that’s a hefty contribution.

Unfortunately, Jeter’s contribution isn’t zero sum. The Yankees have to put nine players on the field. Less Derek Jeter usually means more of Eduardo Nunez or Jayson Nix. Nunez is off to a terrible start. Fangraphs suggests he’s been a net negative on the team, with an fWAR of -0.2. Last season he managed only 0.5 fWAR in limited playing time, which means at best Nunez is a slightly above replacement level player. Jayson Nix isn’t any better. He clocks in at -0.2 fWAR on the season already, and managed 0.3 over all of 2012.

Taking it all together, assuming Nix and Nunez actually cost the Yankees games, Jeter’s absence over the first half of the season will probably take two games off the Yankees win total during that time. That may not sound like much, but the AL East will be tight all season long and there is no guarantee that both Wild Card teams will come from the AL East when Texas, Oakland and Anaheim all have post season plans in the AL West. Jeter’s absence will most certainly be felt. Continue reading Measuring the impact of Derek Jeter’s absence

Lunchtime links: Vernon Wells, the upcoming week and a spinning guy?

Good afternoon, Yankee fans.

Overall, it was a successful weekend for the Yankees who took two out of three from the Blue Jays up in Toronto. Yes, yesterday’s game was disappointing but it’s always nice to win a series in a division rival’s home ballpark.

Speaking of that home ballpark, a blog post began circulating yesterday ahead of yesterday’s game, that accused the Yankees of hiring security to kick home fans out of their own stadium if they heckle the players in the Yankees’ bullpen. It spread like wildfire and now has even been mentioned on Hardball Talk.

The author Justin Jackson filed a complaint with the Rogers Centre. I can’t wait to see the outcome.

Can I mention how much I like Vernon Wells? It’s not just because he had a great series against the Blue Jays, it’s because he’s hilarious. Following Saturday’s victory, beat reporters asked him about the reception he was receiving from Jays fans. Naturally, it wasn’t a warm greeting but Wells took in stride by saying, “They’re just calling me by my nickname, ‘Boo,’.”

Oh and then there was his fantastic play in yesterday’s loss followed by a tip of his cap to Blue Jays fans who had been riding him all weekend.

I mean, how can you not like that?

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Adjusting To Life Without Jeter

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The Yankees, their fans, and even Derek Jeter himself have known that his days as the team’s starting shortstop were numbered.  That discussion was surely had with Jeter behind closed doors during his last contract negotiation and is more than likely the reason the final year of his deal became an optional one.  That timeline got sped up some when Jeter suffered his season-ending ankle injury last October and now appears to be speeding up again after last week’s announcement that Jeter had re-injured his ankle, suffering a crack in the area of the original break that will put him on the shelf until at least the All-Star break.  That revelation fell into the “disappointing but not surprising” category for many of us who questioned Jeter’s progress after the initial setback and cortisone shot, and now we, like the Yankees, have to figure out the best way to move forward without The Captain’s familiar #2 anywhere on the lineup card.

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This week in Yankees baseball – Heading into Week 4

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The New York Yankees have won four straight series and that is what Joe Girardi likes. C.C. Sabathia picked up another win. Andy Pettitte won another start. Heck, even Ivan Nova won one of his two starts. Hiroki Kuroda pitched well enough to win his start but that game became a bullpen win after the bullpen blew Kuroda’s. And perhaps we are a greedy and spoiled bunch, but it certainly seems like the last two series should have been sweeps. The team went ahead, 4-2 on Sunday just to see the bullpen cough up four runs to give the Blue Jays the last game of the series. Back on Thursday, the Yankees were down a run heading into the ninth and Francisco Cervelli smacked a homer to tie the game. But David Phelps–who figured prominently in both losses this week–got roughed up in the twelfth inning. The week could have been better…should have been better. But it could have been worse too.

Mariano Rivera added three more saves to his career total this past week and added to his total saves record (613) and his games finished record (898). After six games, Rivera’s statistics are again in line with the rest of his stupendous career.

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The Farm Report: 4/21/13 De Paula fans ten

It was a good day for Scranton and trenton who both came away with solid victories Sunday afternoon. Things were not so good for Tampa and Charleston, however. Tampa came up short against Brevard County while Charleston lost both games of a doubleheader, despite a fantastic outing by Rafael De Paula.

Scranton/Wilkes-Barre beat Syracuse 5-1:
After four innings there was still no score, but Addison Maruszak connected with a single to start the bottom of the fifth and Corban Joseph doubled him in. A sac fly from Zoilo Almonte plated Joseph and the RailRiders had a 2-0 edge. Jerad Head drew a walk to start the sixth and an error by David Adams put two on with one out. Jeff Kobernus singled to left, plating Syracuse’s lone run of the day. Leading 2-1 in the eighth, Scranton added some insurance runs. Austin Romine grounded a single to left and David Adams doubled him in. A single by Thomas Neal plated Romine. Neal later scored on a grounder to short by Maruszak, giving the RailRiders a 5-1 victory.

Joseph went 2-5 with a run scored, a double and a RBI. Romine went 2-4 with a run scored. Neal went 2-3 with a run scored and a RBI. Vidal Nuno went 5.2 and gave up just one run on three hits, a walk and six Ks. Sam Demel pitched 2.1 scoreless innings, striking out two and allowing one hit. Cody Epply had a scoreless inning of work, allowing two hits and striking out one.

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Blue Jays hand Yankees a victory that Yankee bullpen hands right back

Josh Johnson and the Blue Jays handed this game to the Yankees in the fifth inning. With the Blue Jays leading 2-1, the Yankees loaded the bases on three hits by Chris Stewart, Robinson Cano and Vernon Wells. Johnson managed to get Travis Haffner out, but after that he completely lost the strike zone. Johnson issued bases loaded walks to Lyle Overbay and Eduardo Nunez, handing the Yankees a 3-2 lead. The Yankees expanded that lead the next inning when Brett Gardner scored Jayson Nix on a sacrifice fly. Suddenly the Yankees were up by two heading into the final innings with a possible sweep on their hands.

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The Farm Report: 4/20/13 Wang returns!

wangRRChien-Ming Wang made his first out of the season, leading the RailRiders to victory as they went on to split their doubleheader against Syracuse. Trenton and Tampa both had good days, while Charleston gave up an early, big lead to Hickory.

Scranton beat Syracuse 5-3 in Game 1:
Chien-Ming Wang made his first start, since returning to the Yankees’ system. He gave up a single in the first, but Bobby Wilson gunned down Jeff Kobernus trying to steal and Wang retired the next batter to end the inning. Corban Joseph started the RailRiders’ offense with a lead off homer. With two outs, Dan Johnson drew a walk and Luke Murton, Thomas Neal and Wilson each followed with a single, plating two more runs. Wilson tried to get to second base on a throw to home, but was tagged out to end the inning. In the third, Johnson once again drew a free pass with two outs, moving to second on a single by Murton. Neal lined a single to left, plating Johnson, but Murton was tagged out at third. Wilson connected with a solo homer in the sixth, giving the RailRiders a 5-0 advantage. Syracuse put together a rally in the top of the seventh, after Zach Walters reached on a error by Joseph. Carlos Rivero and Jerad Head singled to load the bases. With one out, Will Rhymes singled in Walters and Kobernus grounded a single to left, scoring two more. Mike Costanzo hit a line drive to center, which Melky Mesa caught throwing in to second and doubling up Rhymes to end the game with a 5-3 Scranton victory.

Joseph went 2-3 with a homer, his first stolen base of the season and his first error of the year. Murton, Neal and Wilson all went 2-3 as well, with Neal and Wilson picking up two RBIs each. Wang threw 5.1 scoreless innings, scattering six hits, allowing no walks and striking out three. Preston Claiborne threw 1.2, giving up three runs (two earned) on five hits with one strikeout.

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Game Thread: Yankees at Blue Jays, Sunday April 21

The Yankees and the Blue Jays have gone in opposite directions so far this year. Coming into the season the Yankees were projected to struggle due to injuries and austerity, while the new look Jays were supposed to thrive. So far the Yankees are off to a strong start, while the Blue Jays are currently in dead last. But the baseball season can change from one game to the next. Today the Yankees put Ivan Nova on the mound while the Jays counter with one of their new players, Josh Johnson. Once upon a time Johnson was a rising Ace with Florida. He was also made of glass. This season he’s off to a poor start (so you know he’ll give the Jays eight strong innings). Nova, meanwhile, has also struggled. My gut says this will turn out to be a pitcher’s duel, but if I’m wrong it could be a 10-8 ball game. Use this as your game thread. Enjoy! Continue reading Game Thread: Yankees at Blue Jays, Sunday April 21

Joba Chamberlain as Lenny Pike

Joba Chamberlain has been a personal favorite ever since his sizzling debut in 2007. There is just something about the guy that makes me root for him. But in the entire time he has been with the Yankees, it has always been at the back of my mind that he reminds me of somebody. For years, I could not put my finger on who it was. The round face, the straight-billed cap, his sometimes blank looking expression all hearkened back to someone from my past. I gave up a long time ago of figuring out who it was.

And then Jonathan Winters died recently. Winters had been a guy that has made me laugh for decades on end. To celebrate Winters’ life, I took a stroll on YouTube to see if I could watch some video of Winters in action. And then it struck me. When Winters played Lenny Pike in It’s a Mad Mad Mad Mad World, his performance was the highlight of a movie I enjoyed as a boy seeing in a drive-in movie theater. So I clicked on the video and watched. And there before me was the answer to what Joba Chamberlain’s looks brought back for me.

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