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Category Archives: MLB

The 2014 Yankees opening day lineup

Opening Day is almost here and now, we’ve got a good idea of what we’re going to see on a day to day basis from the Yankees. The only real question is whether or not Jacoby Ellsbury starts the season on a DL.

If Ellsbury does start the season on the DL, think we’ll get this:

LF Brett Gardner
SS Derek Jeter
DH Carlos Beltran/Alfonso Soriano
1B Mark Teixeira
C Brian McCann
RF Alfonso Soriano/Carlos Beltran
3B Kelly Johnson
2B Brian Roberts
CF Ichiro Suzuki

If Ellsbury is healthy, then we’ll get this:

CF Jacoby Ellsbury
SS Derek Jeter
DH Carlos Beltran/Alfonso Soriano
1B Mark Teixeira
C Brian McCann
RF Alfonso Soriano/Carlos Beltran
3B Kelly Johnson
2B Brian Roberts
LF Brett Gardner

I have Beltran and Soriano in the same spot because either could be DH or RF; I think Beltran will bat third and Soriano will bat sixth assuming they’re both in the lineup. Meanwhile, Jeter and Teixeira are both nicely insulated/protected in the lineup, so hopefully, this will get them both some fastballs to hit… who knows what to expect out of either of those guys this year.

On paper, this lineup looks like it can do damage, but in reality… who knows. The good news is, the waiting is almost over!

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Yankees 2014 everyday lineup projection

As the off season draws to a close, the 2014 Yankees position players lineup is shaping up. I’m thinking that the Yankees are going to run something like this out there every day.

Jacoby Ellsbury (CF)
Derek Jeter (SS)
Carlos Beltran (RF/DH)
Brian McCann (c)
Alfonso Soriano (RF/DH)
Mark Teixeira (1B)
Brett Gardner (LF)
Kelly Johnson (3B)
Brian Roberts (2B)

I assume Derek Jeter is the starting short stop and hitting in the two hole until it becomes certain that he is not up to the task. I am not one to ever doubt Jeter, but it’s a fair question: he’s not young and that ankle injury is a serious thing. Who knows what the Yankees will get out of Teixeira following his surgery, and the animated corpse of Brian Roberts… well, that’s a frightening prospect.

There’s a lot of question marks here, but on paper, this could be a great team.

Yankees need to sign a legitimate 5th starter

After the blockbuster signing of Masahiro Tanaka, the Yankees 2014 starting pitching rotation goes a lil’ something like this:

  1. CC Sabathia
  2. Masahiro Tanaka
  3. Hiroki Kuroda
  4. Ivan Nova
  5. ?

As you can see, there’s a hole down there at the bottom, but let’s put that aside for a second and look at the Yankees top four pitchers.

CC Sabathia was kinda stinky last year. True, an off season elbow clean out messed up his off season workouts, but he’s not getting any younger. Now I don’t think Sabathia forgot how to pitch and will be that bad in 2014, but it’s worth mentioning that 2013 was (without looking at the data) probably his worst season ever.

Again, the Yankees have signed international superstar Masahiro Tanaka, but this guy has been the United States like three times in his whole life, never mind the fact that he’s never pitched for an MLB team. Don’t get me wrong, I think he’ll be fine, but we can’t ignore the fact that growing pains should be expected.

I love me some Hiroki Kuroda, but let’s be fair – the guy completely ran out of gas last year. He’s a great pitcher, but he’s not exactly a spring chicken. They’ll need to control his workload carefully to keep him viable for an entire season and, hopefully, the playoffs.

I think Ivan Nova has enormous potential, but the guy has never put together a full season of quality pitching. I think he can and will be an above league average pitcher for a full season and beyond, but until he does it, he remains an unknown quantity.

So there’s a lot of "buts" in there – a lot of question marks, right?

Given all of the aforementioned details, who should the Yankees pick for their 5th starter? Here are the in house candidates and their 2013 innings pitched.

  • Vidal Nuno: 45 IP between the majors and minors
  • David Phelps: 86.2 IP
  • Adam Warren: 77 IP
  • Michael Pineda: 40.2 IP, minors only

Yeah… this seems like a problem to me. I think a lot of these guys have some potential: Pineda obviously has the best overall stuff and I like what I’ve seen out of Nuno (and he’s left handed), where as Phelps probably has pitched the best as a Yankee… I’d probably like to see both Warren and Phelps in the Yankees pen…

The bottom line is the Yankees need something like 150 innings out of one of these guys, and I don’t see that happening. It’d be a huge increase for any of them based off last year’s work load. Maybe they could do some rotation of these guys migrating from long reliever and/or minor league starter to MLB starter… I dunno, but I don’t see one of these guys getting the job out of spring training and keeping it all year.

I don’t know what the answer is, but the Yankees need another reliable starter. The free agent market is thin and the Yankees trade chips are not great… I don’t have any suggestions, but the internal options seem like a pipe dream.

Two Reasons why A-Rod's suspension is important to Yankee fans

Alex Rodriguez has been suspended for what is effectively a year; 162 games and the 2014 playoffs. Both myself and anyone even remotely interested has written about this ad nauseum, so I’ll just assume you’re up to date on the drama and info (or rather, the lack of info) and are sick of the topic from that standpoint. But, no matter how tired we are of this situation, it still matters. Here are two reasons why A-Rod’s suspension is important to Yankee fans:

Read the rest of this entry

Yankees 2013 Christmas Wish List

Once you actually look at what the Yankees need in a list format – well, it’s daunting to say the least! Getting everything they need while meeting their payroll goal just doesn’t seem likely.

Jay Z is pitching Robinson Cano to the Mets because… I dunno

According to numerous reports, Jay Z met with New York Mets chief operating officer Jeff Wilpon, general manager Sandy Alderson and assistant GM John Ricco to discuss current unrestricted free-agent Robinson Cano, because… uhm… actually, I have no idea why this meeting occurred.

I get that the Mets are not exactly tight at second base, but their financial issues have been well documented – as well documented at the $300 million/10 year deal Jay Z is seeking for Cano. When you couple these two things together, it’s hard to understand why Jay Z would initiate a dinner meeting with the Mets and then pitch Cano to them. Here is an example of the Mets current frugal-ness:

The Mets have been on austerity for years. The largest contract Alderson has handed out to a free agent in four offseasons as the Mets’ general manager was to Frank Francisco, who received a two-year, $12 million contract during the 2011-12 offseason.

Now, you may counter that since this meeting was promptly leaked to the press – and not leaked by the Mets, mind you – it’s easy to start putting two and two together and calculate that Jay Z is trying to create urgency in the marketplace for his client. This seems like a fine strategy… if Jay Z was meeting with the deep pocketed Dodgers, not the bargain basement retreads, we’re seeking a partner to sell part of the team to, thank god our rookie pitching is working out Mets. This gives off the appearance that Jay Z is not aware of the realities around the league. Oh, and speaking of realities around the league, the Dodgers have publicly stated that they have no interest in signing Cano.

It’s not unusual for the free agent market to take this long to take shape – things don’t usually start happening until during or after MLB’s winter meetings, but so far, I’m not sure I understand Jay Z’s strategy… or his new single, for that matter.

Yankees worth makes 2014 austerity plan baffling

A recent Forbes article states that the Yankees are worth over $2 billion dollars, making them the most valuable team in baseball. $2 billion plus? That’s a spicy baseball.

Any conversation about the Yankees and money is always gonna lead us back to $189 (that is, the Yankees planned 2014 payroll austerity measure, which will keep them below the luxury tax threshold) – it’s inevitable. I do get the idea that the Yankees don’t want to spend extra money that doesn’t necessarily benefit them on the field, but those are the luxury tax rules. I can remember watching games on channel 11 in the late 80s and the stadium looking empty because the team wasn’t winning… that seemed like a red flag and somewhat similar to the 2013 season attendance issues. (Although it seems that attendance is down all over baseball.) I guess it all comes down to what the bigger source of revenue is – and if their TV deals are all sewn up for years to come, then it would seem they’re getting most of their earnings from ticket sales, other in stadium sales and so forth, so, the best way to increase the team’s earning power would be to put a winning product on the field, because paying fans go to watch winning teams. Without knowing all of the figures, it’s hard to get an understanding of the team’s actual net income, but I am confused why a multi billion dollar franchise is plotting to save a few million in luxury task fees that seems to cost them even more in future revenue.

After all, who wants to pay to see the animated corpses of Vernon Wells and Ichiro? I don’t see how that helps generate revenue… but the World Series has just begun and there are many miles to go before the 2014 season begins.

The Yankees 2013 are screwed – and maybe 2014, too.

The Red Sox won the season series against the Yankees 13 games to 6. Boston outscored the Yankees 120-84 in the 19 games. Now that is a whooping.

Speaking of whooping, the best highlight that Yankees.com have from last nights loss to the Blue Jays is a butt sliding catch by Curtis Granderson. Because.. you know… they got shut out and lost their fourth game in a row.

Even if the Yankees win their last 11 games, they still could miss the playoffs and even if they make it in, this time doesn’t look like it has the offense or defense to win a championship, making the point moot. That’s all there is to say about the Yankees 2013 season, so, what can we look forward to for the 2014 season? At this point, who knows, but we can at least peak at the current 40 man roster and the DL and see who we’d even want on this team next year.

Pitchers
Dellin Betances – might be a garbage time reliever next year on the MLB club – who knows.
Cesar Cabral – the only reason he’s around now and maybe around next year is he’s left handed
Preston Claiborne – could be a useful reliever next year
Shawn Kelley – could be a useful reliever next year
Hiroki Kuroda – who knows, he could retire…
Boone Logan – need surgery to remove a bone spur, so who knows
Ivan Nova – he’ll be back
Vidal Nuno – if he ever gets healthy, he could get a shot
Andy Pettitte – who knows, he could retire…
David Phelps – I’m sure he’ll be around in some role
David Robertson – all hail the new closer!
CC Sabathia – let’s hope he figures out how to pitch like a league average starter next year!
Adam Warren – could be around in some relief role

Catchers
Austin Romine – assume Romine gets the gig next year and Stewart gets shown the door. The Yankees will presumably find a scrap heap backup…

Infielders
David Adams – no idea if this guy is useful or not – I tend to think not.
Robinson Cano – I assume the Yankees will sign him, but who knows.
Eduardo Nunez – somebody get this guy out of here!
Alex Rodriguez – assume he’s suspended for all of 2013

Derek Jeter- assuming he’s healthy, but who knows…

Mark Teixeira – pray he heals in time for his annual April slump

Corban Joseph – doesn’t look like a player to me, but who knows

Outfielders
Zoilo Almonte – could be around…
Brett Gardner
Curtis Granderson – I assume the Yankees will let him walk
Alfonso Soriano
Ichiro Suzuki – stuck with this guy
Vernon Wells – stuck with this guy

There are a lot of washed up has beens and never will bes and question marks in that list. By my count, the Yankees need to sign at least 3 starters (including Pettitte and Kuroda), a short stop, a third baseman and a right fielder, and that’s the minimum.

2014 might be a long year – I wouldn’t buy tickets in advance.

The A-Rod Scandal and the Blame Game

At some point, all of the noise surrounding the latest Alex Rodriguez scandal became more interesting to me than the actual scandal. This may be due to the fact that I haven’t seen any of MLB’s evidence yet and they don’t have a failed drug test, but whatever. The point is, the colors of the debate are more interesting than the debate itself – and just as ridiculous as A-Rod himself.

To be clear, we know A-Rod did steroids – he finally admitted as much in 2009. Not that he had any choice but to come clean, but we did hear it from his mouth. He did it. We know it. And I’m sure he has been using Human Growth Hormone, testosterone and who the hell knows what else all this time around. You get that? I think it’s all true. I’m not a gambling man, but I’d bet money on it. And yeah, we know A-Rod was not been honest about it. He lied in interviews that were specifically about this topic. So we know who A-Rod is. That much is clear.

But the debate surrounding this circus is populated by false white knights who sit on their proverbial high horses and cast A-Rod as not just the leper, but as the embodiment of evil. They’ve made him the face of all that is wrong with baseball, and even though A-Rod has done it to himself time and time again, he doesn’t deserve what is being dumped on him. That being:

The narrative: A-Rod is ruining baseball because he’s a cheater and is the worst person ever.

This sure did move the Ryan Braun story to the back burner, huh?

Here’s a sample.

Nobody has been more disingenuous than this mutt. Maybe it’s his mammoth insecurity complex. Maybe it’s his enormous capacity for self-delusion. Maybe it’s daddy issues for a man who was raised by a single mother.

Extreme, no? Since 2009, there must have been at least 100 articles like this. At least. You might think this is an extreme example, but it’s not. I think it’s clear, A-Rod is a pathological liar and a cheater (in a game that’s ripe with cheaters – that is, if you consider using PEDs cheating, and I think it’s a far cry from the 1951 New York Giants stealing signs with a telescope). And, I feel I would be remiss to not bring up an old saying: "If you’re not cheating, you’re not trying." A-Rod did not make that up.

The case that PEDs ruins the records
I’ve always disagreed with this idea because every era of baseball is so different. For example:

  • The ballparks used to be much larger – Babe Ruth hit homers of 450 to 500 feet with regularity – new parks max out right around 400 feet. It’s a big difference.
  • The pitcher’s mound used to be six inches higher – surely that has fundamentally changed the delivery angle of the baseball? Yet I never hear ANYONE talk about this. Also, several pitchs, like the spitter and the shiner, have been outlawed.
  • There haven’t always been night games and intercontinental travel. Every time the Blue Jays go to and get home from a road trip, they have to go through customs.
  • Babe Ruth didn’t have a person trainer, he had hot dogs. Let’s not forget modern medical science, dieticians, money and other advantages the modern player has over the past player.
  • What about amphetamines, aka "greenies?" MLB didn’t outlaw these until just a few years ago. I recall Johnny Damon lamenting something to the effect of, "You’re going to see a lot of boring games come August." Players were using greenies at least as far back as the fifties. David Wells mentioned in his book that there were always two pots of coffee in the club house: a regular pot of coffee and another one that had greenies in it.

My point is that Babe Ruth is the best player of all time. He could hit and pitch. End of discussion.

No, my point is that comparing guys who played in different eras is an inherently flawed comparison because the variables change over time. So records be damned – and where were all of you folks in nineties?

Let’s talk about the cast in this circus for second.

People who are complaining about A-Rod:
Players
MLB/Commissioner’s Office
The Press

Players are tweeting they want longer penalties for PED use. Hey guys, call the head of your union – don’t just throw things up on twitter – you can actually effect change here!
The Commissioner’s Office has finally started doing something about PEDs over the last few years, but Bed Selig doesn’t exactly have moral authority on this issue. Again, the nineties.
As mentioned above, the press is having a field day with this story, ignoring their own culpability in the issue. THE NINETIES! Mark McGuire has Andro in his locker – there was like one article!

People who could have done something about PEDs twenty years ago
Players
Players Association
MLB/Commisioner’s Office
The Press

Obviously, the players and the MLB Players Association knew what was going on. These guys were blowing up like balloons. And Bud Selig has eyes, like the rest of us, and the press – but no, everyone just went along with it and had a good time reporting on the home run race as everyone lined their pockets with cash and baseball made a post strike comeback in a big, big way.

People who got rich off baseball.
See above. If you ever wonder why nobody said anything about PEDs in baseball until Congress embarrassed them publicly (Because then President Bush is a big baseball fan – did he trade Sammy Sosa because of steroid use? We’ll never know – Bush isn’t talking and Sosa forgot how to speak English. [That's the best defense ever, by the way.])

NOTE: none of the players who were suspended on Monday failed a drug test. MLB’s drug testing program apparently has some holes in it – better testing would cost more money, and as previously discussed, these guys favor money above all else.

The fallacy of competitive balance
This brings us to the falicy of competitive balance. If none of these guys failed drug tests, then we don’t really know who is and is not clean. Therefore, how can we assume there is true competitive balance if the drug testing program doesn’t work? It makes this whole thing a big waste of time. And I’m still trying to figure out why David Ortiz, who failed a drug test and had a crazy bout of Roid Rage just a few weeks ago, never got suspended – the point being that I’m sure there are lots of guys who didn’t get caught and are currently playing in MLB.

Sure, A-Rod is a cheater and I’m sure he’s just as guilty as he was last time, but let’s not pretend he’s the only one to blame in this situation. There’s plenty of blame to go around.

An Uneducated Look at Baseball Prospectus 2013

I know the title is stating the obvious, but just to hammer the point home:  I do take a look at stats, but I don’t necessarily always understand their relevance to the game, and advanced stats… well, I just don’t always understand them.  For example, Mark Teixeira had a UZR of 0.7 in 2009 and -1.6 in 2010, and I thought his defense was sparkling in both of those seasons, so it’s fair to say that I am not going to speak about the following with much expertise.  Nevertheless, I took a look at Baseball Prospects 2013, and there are several fascinating tidbits in there and I think I understood them.

In case you’re not familiar with Baseball Prospects is an annual publication of stats predicting the coming year’s outcomes for each individual player.  (As far as I know, Baseball Prospects doesn’t use UZR, so I’m safe!)  They tally all of their projections together in a stat they WARP, or wins above replacement player.  Essentially, this number tells you how many wins a player is expected to be worth in the coming season.  Since I’m just getting to this now and it’s already May, we have a somewhat tenuous handle on what the year is going to look like, but it’s still fun to look at the book.

BP was predicting a 281/338/374 triple slash for Derek Jeter in 2013, which is a sink from 2012’s lofty heights, but that was what we were all expecting.  However, at this point, I’m just hoping he shows up at all.

BP thinks A-Rod will show up and hit 21 HR after the All Star break.  I’ll take it!

NP has Ichiro hitting a robust 291 this year – his motor has been running of late, and it doesn’t seem impossible right now, but a mere few weeks ago, it looked like the Yankees had made a big mistake on a 2 year deal with the sultan of contact.

Before Mark Teixeira got hurt, BP thought he would hit 25 home runs – sheesh!  His power really took a back seat in 2012 and he’s hurt again this year, but maybe we’ll get three or so healthy months from him and he’ll slug like the Teixeira of old.

Baseball Prospectus predicts less IP and fewer appearances for David Phelps, but as the team’s six starter and now part of the 5 man rotation, I think he’s going to stick around and pitch over 100 innings this year.  They have him slated for 77, but sitting here in May, I have the advantage!

If I go through every Yankee on the 40 man roster, I’ll be here forever, so let me just say that if this kind of thing interests you, Baseball Prospectus is worth your time.

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