Sunday, October 14, 2018

I take back what I said about Gerrit Cole and Chris Sale ...

... and what I said about Yu Darvish, Chris Archer, Matt Harvey, David Price, and James Shields ... it was Verlander.

The Yankees should have acquired Verlander the whole time.

I knew it.

This is not to say that Lupica Himself endorsed the above-named pitchers ... I wasn't paying attention ... though I could surely find a Sonny Gray endorsement if I looked for it.

To answer the stupid question, of course Verlander-to-the-Astros isn't the greatest trade ever.

Don't be lazy.

Whatever "total payroll" is, the Red Sox's in 2018 is $50M more than the Yankees'.

It is time to flip the boring narrative.

Saturday, October 13, 2018

Yankees might get Machado.

Heck, I saw Machado bloop an RBI single to left field with two strikes and I was amazed. After watching the Yankees play a full season in 2018, I thought it was illegal to get a hit with two strikes.

Acquiring Machado will require, say, a 10-year contract worth $300 million.

With that in mind, there are two things that have zero effect on this important decision:

1) Machado's performance in the playoffs.

2) Gregorius's injury.

Gregorius will miss a couple of months in 2019. So will a lot of other players, maybe even Machado. The Machado contract is a lot bigger than that.

Friday, October 12, 2018

Yes. I would trade Gary Sanchez for two front line starters.

Trade to the team which has two front line starters to trade.

Maybe the 1973 A's?

Your guess is as good as mine:

"So do they have trade value? Do you, dare I say, go out there and shop (Greg) Bird? Or shop (Miguel) Andujar? Or even shop (Gary) Sanchez? See what you could get for those guys. I'm not advocating for any one of those guys to move, but if I'm Brian Cashman and I know my defense needs to get better and I need to balance out a heavy right-handed lineup that hits a lot of home runs ... Cash always has a trick up his sleeve. He's one of the best GMs in baseball. He might look moving some of those guys and moving two birds with one stone."

Greg Bird (.199/11/38, -0.6 WAR) and Gary Sanchez (.186/18/53, 1.2 WAR) for what?

It's been a while since I studied for the SATs, but let me get out my calculator ... yep, I was right ... nothin' plus nothin' equals nothin'.

Let me put it this way, just to offer some perspective: In 2018, Sonny Gray's WAR was equal to the combined WARs of Bird and Sanchez.

So just say "Andujar," because the other two are worthless at this time.

"See if you can trade Andujar for two front line starters."

Good luck with that.

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

I don't think Boone made a mistake.

I thought CC had a better chance of getting the ninth out than any other pitcher on the Yankees.

Just to go back and explain what happened:

In the first inning, the Red Sox loaded the bases.If you thought Sabathia should come out after 2 2/3, then why not 2/3? Since David Robertson is the invincible savior, why not go to Robertson in the first inning? So Gardner makes the catch in the first inning and ... Boone must be a genius?

The general take is that as soon as Sabathia hit the leadoff batter in the top of the third ... Heaven Forfend! ... it's the biggest mistake by a pitcher in baseball history! ... Boone should have instantly given him the hook.

Of course, this makes perfect sense in retrospect.

He gave up two more runs, duh! The Yankees lost by one run! So there you go!

What's the overall strategy then?

Go to the Infinite Bullpen of Excellence every time a pitcher allows a baserunner?

CC has guts and he's plenty battle-tested. He didn't get the ninth out, but I sure thought he would. (Actually, he did get the ninth out ... but it took him three tries to do it.)

You know what else? The Yankee bullpen is like the Yankee lineup: Lots of strikeouts and overrated.

As if to disprove his own thesis, these are actual back-to-back sentences by Feinsand:

"Sabathia allowed three runs on five hits and two walks, striking out one batter and hitting another. With their season on the line, the Yankees went to their bullpen to open the fourth, but some will surely wonder whether Boone should have had a quicker hook in an elimination game.

Zach Britton, who began warming up when the top of the third ended, took over for the Yankees in the top of the fourth, promptly allowing a solo home run by Vazquez that proved to be the decisive run."

Maybe Sabathia would have "settled down" and breezed through the fourth and the fifth.

Maybe Boone took him out too soon.

Chris Sale is great.

But in the playoffs against the Yankees, he wasn't as good as Porcello ... or Eovaldi ... or Lance McCullers Jr.

So the Yankees didn't even need to acquire a shutdown ace like Jacob deGrom.

The Yankees should have acquired Rick Porcello, Nathan Eovaldi (oh, didn't they have him? Never mind.), and Lance McCullers Jr. (didn't they have him, too? That was his father?).

What was Cashman thinking going with Severino, Tanaka, Happ, Sabathia?

He should have gone with deGrom, Blake Snell, Madison Bumgarner, and then deGrom on three days' rest. Just like my World Series Winning Strat-O-Matic team.

The Mets were totally about to trade deGrom to the Yankees.

"All it might have taken was a package of Torres, at the time a legitimate AL Rookie of the Year candidate, Justus Sheffield, the highest-rated pitcher in the Yankees farm system, and perhaps Clint Frazier, who couldn’t crack the Yankees outfield but on many big-league teams would be an everyday player."

All it "might have taken" to trade the Cy Young Award winner to the Yankees.

By the way, "at that time," Severino was the Cy Young Award front runner in the American League.

The Yankees went all in with Severino ... of course they did ... and he came up short.

It's just too funny.

The Yankees avoided free agent busts Yu Darvish, David Price, Matt Harvey, Chris Archer, James Shields, and dozens of others.

By resisting, they quickly built a 100-win team with a ton of young players and more young players in the pipeline. The homegrown foundation for a future dynasty ... knock on wood.

But what they really should have done in hindsight is pick up Gerrit Cole. Or Justin Verlander. Or traded 100 players for Jacob deGrom.

 The Yankees "should have" picked up all the pitchers who won and traded all the pitchers who lost.

Very impressive post-series analysis.

"As for the Mets, trading deGrom, who is 30 years old and will be a free agent they will neither want or be able to afford in 2021, for a package of young players would have sent a signal to their long-suffering fan base that they were serious about rebuilding their wreckage of a franchise."

If the Yankees had actually acquired deGrom from the Mets, the Yankees and Mets would basically switch teams, with deGrom pitching for a AAA lineup.

"Aside from the 16-1 Game 3 blowout, their two other losses were one-run games. A lights-out starter at the top of their rotation might have reversed those two.
Someone like Jacob deGrom. Had the Yankees been able to pry him loose, they’d probably be playing Thursday night."


Aside from the 16-1 Game 3 blowout, the Yankees did not allow a lot of runs to the Red Sox ... maybe the Yankees should have traded all their starters, beefed up the bullpen even more, and added a couple of bats who could hit in the clutch.

Then they'd be playing Thursday.

Tuesday, October 09, 2018

Babe Ruth isn't walking through that door.

"After the New York Yankees tied the series with a win in Game 2, being back home with their ace on the mound should have been their recipe for a lead in the American League Division Series."

"Should have been."

"That wasn't all Severino's fault. Some of it was Lance Lynn's and Chad Green's.

But above all, it was Aaron Boone's."

Above all, it was Aaron Boone's fault.

I can instantly think of 52 people I'd blame/credit for this loss before I'd get to Aaron Boone:
  • All 25 players on the Yankees roster
  • All 25 players on the Red Sox roster
  • The GM who got rid of Eovaldi
  • The GM who acquired Eovaldi

OK, to be fair, he's talking about the 4th inning only ... but he's not talking about the 4th inning only.

"It didn't take a strong pair of glasses to see that Severino wasn't fooling Red Sox hitters in the first three innings. He'd given up three runs, and the amount of hard contact indicated that the 24-year-old was lucky it wasn't worse.

Even with the bottom of Boston's order due up in the top of the fourth, Boone was thus taking a chance simply in allowing Severino to return to the mound. After he allowed a leadoff single to Brock Holt—his first step toward the first cycle in postseason history—the hook should have come out immediately."

Sure, I guess.

In retrospect, Severino should have been pulled a little earlier, I suppose.

It would have been nice if the "ace" could show some guts. If he can't beat the Red Sox, trade him to an NL team.

"By the time Boone called on Green, Lynn had allowed another hit to put two runners on with only one out. Despite Green's best efforts, three more runs scored, and whatever hope the Yankees had of mounting a comeback was all but gone."


So Green was ineffective (despite his best efforts) ... just like all five Yankee pitchers and one Yankee backup catcher/pitcher ... but Green would have been Pedro Martinez if he had just been brought in earlier.

Was Chad Green going to pitch six shutout innings and also pinch hit for Andujar and belt a couple of home runs?

As for "high leverage" situations, Green has a pretty noticeable track record of playing poorly in the highest leverage situations.

"The long leash he put on Severino might have made sense if this was the same Severino who dominated throughout all of 2017 and most of 2018. But everyone is aware Severino struggled (5.57 ERA in 12 starts) in the second half. And while he refused to break, he definitely bent in his four innings in the Wild Card Game.

Boone's decision to make Lynn the first man out of the bullpen is equally baffling. If he was going to bring in Lynn, it should have been with clean bases at the start of the inning. Once that ship sailed, Boone's first move should have been for a pitcher accustomed to dominating in high leverage."

You know what?

The only thing Boone could have done wrong was waste his top pitchers instead of saving them for Games Four and Five.

The Red Sox schooled the Yankees by playing smart professional baseball. The Yankee All-Or-Nothing Heroes can learn a lesson by watching how the Red Sox approach their at-bats against a hard-throwing strikeout pitcher.

Is it just me, or is there a pattern where people stretch all credibility to blame the Yankee manager whenever the Yankees lose in the playoffs?

The Yankees aren't a great team. They're a good team, but not a great team. They may even turn it around and win the World Series, but that would be a very surprising outcome.

The Red Sox are better than the Yankees and have been all season.

Maybe this is difficult for people to acknowledge because they fall for the marketing campaign?

I really don't know.

It just seems to happen a lot that everybody is ready with the excuses (abbreviated warmup session?) instead of just acknowledging the relative lack of talent.

A team loses 16-1 and you think a fourth-inning pitching change was the difference in the game?

This is utter nonsense and I think it lets the players off the hook.

Totally the manager's fault.

They should have hit-and-run or bunted. Small ball always works when you need to push across a run or two ... or fifteen.

If Boone had removed Severino an inning earlier, the Yankees would have lost by thirteen runs instead of fifteen runs.

Saturday, October 06, 2018

He strikes out way too much.

A lot of hit at-bats are feeble giveaway at-bats.

I can't say it was a mistake to sign him, but he did not have a great year.

"For all their emphasis on cutting-edge analytics and their professed desire to get younger, more athletic, and yes, more economical, the Yankees still are susceptible to the seduction of the bright, shiny object.

Case in point: Giancarlo Stanton."

Come on.

He's a good player, he hit right around 40/100, he's young and probably about to hit his prime.

He stayed healthy, he played good in he outfield, and he was good with the press.

He just strikes out way too much.

"The 2017 Yankees came within one victory of going to the World Series, and if there was one area of their game that didn’t need shoring up, it was offense.

Last year’s team led the major leagues in home runs with 241. They were second in runs scored with 858, second in on-base percentage (.339) and third in OPS. (.858).

Still, confronted by a need to improve their starting pitching, the Yankees found they could not resist adding Stanton to their already high-powered offense when it became obvious that the Marlins, and their frugal CEO, Derek Jeter, were looking to dump the remaining 10 years of Stanton’s 13-year, $325 million contract despite his winning the N.L. MVP last season with a whopping 59 home runs."

Starting pitching?

For improved starting pitching, you need starting pitchers.

Who was available?

"In fairness, the 2018 free agent crop for starters was not a strong one. The biggest-ticket item, Yu Darvish, had a disastrous, injury-ridden season for the Chicago Cubs, making just eight starts and going 1-3. Most of the others — Tyler Chatwood, Alex Cobb, Andrew Cashner — had seasons of similar futility without being injured. Only Jake Arrieta had a decent season for the Phillies. The Yankees were probably wise to avoid investing in that market."

Right ...

"But about a month after the Yankees parted with Starlin Castro and two minor leaguers for Stanton, the Houston Astros were prying Gerrit Cole away from the Pirates for a minor league outfielder (Jason Martin), two mediocre relievers in Michael Feliz and Joe Musgrove, and a decent third baseman, Colin Moran.

Cole, for the record, pitched seven brilliant innings of three-hit ball, allowing just one run in Game 2 of the ALDS between the Astros and Indians Saturday afternoon.

Certainly, the Yankees, with their re-stocked farm system, could have put together a comparable package."

Oh, what a bunch of baloney.

After the games are played, it's real easy to proclaim that Gerritt Cole is better than J.A. Happ. Gerritt Cole was the answer to a World Series title the whole time. If only the Yankees had stayed focused on Gerritt Cole and not been distracted by the shiny HR-hitting object. 

Why don't you let this play out?

Over this season and actually the next ten seasons?

Stanton could light Price up tonight and lead the Yankees to a World Series title.

Maybe he'll hit four in one WS game and six overall, shattering every WS HR record.

But it doesn't even matter. Stanton's performance of lack thereof has nothing to do with Gerritt Cole.

The Yankees could have traded for both Stanton and Cole. It wasn't an either/or decision. They demonstrated that with the acquisitions of McCutchen and Happ.

They just decided Cole wasn't worth the price.

We'll never know if that was the right call.

Maybe Cole would have shut down the Red Sox in Game One of the ALDS. Maybe Cole would have gotten shelled at Fenway.

Thursday, October 04, 2018

Ha, I was at this game.

11. Yankees rally after kid runs on the field
Sept. 18, 1993

Neither team qualified for the postseason in '93, but they did provide a memorable September moment nonetheless. The Red Sox held a 3-1 lead with two outs in the bottom of the ninth when Boston pitcher Greg Harris hit Mike Gallego with a pitch to put a man on first. Mike Stanley followed with what appeared to be the game-ending flyout to left, but timeout was called after a kid ran onto the Yankee Stadium field.

Stanley, given another crack, singled to left. Wade Boggs followed with a two-strike RBI single that cut the lead to one, and Dion James followed with a walk. And then it was the Yankees' hero, Don Mattingly, who walked off the Red Sox with a two-run single through the right side. New York, much to the Red Sox's dismay, scored a most improbable win -- with a little help from the home faithful.

Tuesday, October 02, 2018

Boone gave a good press conference. What else do you want?

"In his rookie season as a manager, Aaron Boone's Yankees won 100 games.

And we still don't know if he can really manage."

That's an attention-grabber.

"But we do know this: He’s got guts. Either that, or the people making his decisions for him do."

That's what I was thinking.

The rather absurd notion that Boone made this decision.

This sentence kind of puts the brakes on the rest of the article.

The only interesting insight that could be provided by a sports journalist is whether or not Boone made this decision himself.

"Because by choosing Luis Severino to start Wednesday’s one-and-done Wild Card game against the Oakland Athletics, Boone has put himself directly in the crosshairs in what will essentially be the first important game he has ever managed."

1. But we don't know if he chose Severino in the first place.

2. You just dismissed the entire regular season as unimportant.

"But of all the rookies and second-year players on the Yankee roster, none will be under a more unforgiving microscope than the first-year manager. And if the Yankees fail to get past Oakland, Boone will be easy to convict in the court of public opinion.

That is ridiculous, of course."


Yet, the central theme of my column.

I approve of this decision.

Sunday, September 30, 2018

Felz Stat of the Day

Number of HRs in 2018:

Greg Bird: 11

Luke Voit: 14

David Wright can't play baseball at a professional level anymore. Last night's appearance was symbolic.

"Understand this right off the bat: The fact that the Mets are so bad is what made David Wright Night possible in the first place.

Had the Mets not been mired in fourth-place in the NL East, headed for a second straight sub-.500 season and the 12th in their last 14 without October baseball, and playing the even more pathetic Miami Marlins, there’s no way they would have penciled David Wright into the three-hole in their lineup or entrusted him with playing third base, even for a couple of innings."

Seems reasonable to me.

"The sad fact is that after the cruel tease of an 11-1 start, a cameo appearance by a once-great player in an inconsequential game is what will be remembered as the highlight of the Mets’ 2018 season. And, what passes for meaningful September baseball in Flushing these days.

The Mets could pile on all the sentiment they like, but the truth is that over the past six years, they failed David Wright even more egregiously than they have failed their masochistic fan base."

The Mets failed David Wright?

"After the 2012 season, when Wright batted .306 and finished sixth in the NL MVP voting, the Wilpons and GM Sandy Alderson convinced Wright to sign a seven-year, $138 million contract extension based on the contention that the future was bright for the Mets."

You could probably stop reading the article right now as 7-year/$138M is irrefutable proof that the Mets did not fail Wright.

"All Wright had to do, of course, was wait one more season and he might have scored $200 million as a free agent, perhaps with a team that truly had a future."

Or Wright could have gotten hurt and been unable to play baseball, leaving $138M on the table.

Also, the Mets made the World Series in 2015.

So it sounds like the Mets upheld their part of the bargain.

"In return, he became saddled on a team that has gone 475-495 since then, seen at least one of those promising arms, that of Matt Harvey, flame out due to injury and overindulgence, and most poignantly, unexpectedly reached a World Series only after Wright had already developed the spinal stenosis that would prematurely end his career."

By "on a team," you must mean "on the disabled list of a team."

"They were cheering what David Wright promised them when he committed himself to the Mets back in 2012.

The fact that the promise was broken was not David Wright’s fault. Turns out the Mets’ commitment to winning was never as strong as David Wright’s commitment to the Mets."

This narrative is untrue.

The Mets spent a lot of money on a lot of good players, they made the World Series three years ago, and they have stuck with most of their talented young arms to this day. Some of these investments haven't worked out, but that's how it always works.

I think insurance has covered most of Wright's salary due to injury ... but have you seen Wright's stats since his big free agent signing?

It's not Wright's fault that he got hurt, but he gave the Mets about one year's worth of cumulative production over the last six years.

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Overrated, in my opinion.

"The answer begins with Gary. Ron calls Gary 'the greatest docent of Mets history,' but encyclopedic knowledge isn’t necessarily a virtue. What really matters is that he gets the difference between a perceptive detail and a useless piece of trivia.

Before most weeknight games, Gary arrives at the park between 2 p.m. and 3 p.m. and sequesters himself in the booth, poring over piles of stats and scouting reports, none of which he really needs because he remembers everything. His voice is a classic broadcaster baritone, with far more range and texture and glee than your standard Fox Sports 1 drone. His home-run call — a simple unfussy 'It’s outta here!' — has this tingling rise to it; in big moments it soars up a note or two higher than you expect. In one tidy little aria before a Nats game in July, he marveled to me over the sweeping impact of 'the shift,' the game’s current bĂȘte noire, a tiny tweak in baseball’s pH — one middle infielder moving just 50 feet to the right or left, overloading one side with three gloves — that has disrupted a century of balance."

OK, I'm not going to pick apart the whole article ... but Gary Cohen is a constant stream of useless information ... and I'm not sure what the gripe is with Yankee announcers, who could not possible be more boring and mechanical than Gary Cohen.

Monday, September 24, 2018

Felz Stat of the Day

Gardner playoff stats:

Overall playoff: 121 AB, .215 BA.

WS: 10 AB, .000 BA.

Monday, September 17, 2018

It's going to happen and I don't care.

The Yankees are not going to sweep the Red Sox anytime soon. Even if they do, they're not catching the Red Sox.

The Yankees are going to play the A's in the Wild Card game and I don't even care if it's a home game.

Like it or not, the reamining games are exhibition games where the goal is to get players sharp for the playoffs.

Expect to see a lot of Sonny Gray and Stephen Tarpley.

Saturday, September 15, 2018

My opinion is their opinion.

"'That pennant race led to the manifestation of the wild-card system, which has been so great for baseball,' said Bud Selig, Commissioner Emeritus of Baseball. 'When you win 103 games, you should be rewarded.'

Now, 25 years later, playing in their second new ballpark since that year, the Braves are poised to return to the postseason after a four-year absence with a 7 1/2 game lead over the Philadelphia Phillies in the NL East. The Giants will miss the playoffs for the second consecutive year. Maybe one day, they’ll meet again in the postseason, as they did  in 2010, but never again will they have the feeling of the summer of ’93. 

'Unfortunately, we won’t have that because of the fail-safe of the wild card scenario,’ Smoltz said. 'Every (team) in the league played the same schedule back then. Now, I personally don’t understand it? How can how you have a sport play 162 games and the schedules are not the same? It’s just mind-boggling to me.'

Says McGriff: 'Life ain’t fair now. The Rays have to play the Red Sox and Yankees 19 times, while Oakland plays them six times. So Oakland goes to the playoffs instead of Tampa because of the schedule? It’s not right.'"

I disagree with the, ahem, "Commissioner Emeritus of Baseball."

I agree with Smoltz and Mc Griff. Not that baseball has to be "fair," but the Wild Card has ruined pennant races.

Sluggish team wins 11-0.

"Sluggish" may be overstating it.

They had a full Stadium against Toronto in mid-September.

They also got their 91st win.

They are "sluggish" in the sense that their offense is almost entirely station-to-station, HR-or-K, all-or-nothing. It's fun when it works and "sluggish" when it doesn't.

The buzz will be strong in October if they advance. It's not hard to imagine with the return of Chapman and Judge, contributions from Didi and Sanchez, and peak performances by Happ and Tanaka.