Tuesday, May 24, 2016

ARod stinks. This is not news.

Consensus is to give Beltran the DH spot and stick with Hicks in RF.

The thing is, Aaron Hicks also stinks. So does Chase Headley. Worst of them all is the pitiful Mark Teixeira ... so bad that I don't think Yankee fans even want to boo him ... they want to laugh at him ... mock him with "MVP" chants.

So it's perplexing to see the criticism constantly leveled at Jacoby Ellsbury and Alex Rodriguez. This skewed criticism simply doesn't reflect reality.

Nobody is really going to fight the notion of taking 200 at-bats away from ARod. But who are you going to give them to? Hicks has a good arm, but it's going to get tiring to watch him stand at home plate and pointlessly attempt to hit major league pitching.

If the goal is to keep ARod fresh, that's probably Girardi's plan, anyway.

But until you find an OFer better than Hicks or Ackley, you may as well continue to put ARod up there and tell him to swing really hard in case the pitcher throws one into his bat.

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Since you asked ...

"I love the idea that the Yankees are in great shape — at least according to the coverage — because some rich, old long-term contracts are coming off the books.

So, like, Yankee fans think the next round of contracts is going to be great?

Why?"


It's not the "next round of contracts" that Yankee fans are looking forward to with optimism. It's the promise of the players in the minor leagues. Which could turn out to be a lot of unrealized hype, of course, but since you asked, I can try to briefly explain.

It's a course correction... and a coherent plan ... maybe the only feasible plan ... and it's a plan of patience and clear-headedness that the Yankees are finally sticking to.

1) Fill the roster ASAP with talented young players who are inexpensive.

2) Clear salary in two years when the Contracts of Diminishing Returns are up.

3) Use the extra cash to fill in the roster with free agents. Cashman has seemingly learned his lesson about long-term contracts in the PED-diminished era.

Was that really so hard?

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Mark Teixeira at the quarter pole of the 2016 season.

Batting average of .196.

On-base percentage of .297.

Slugging percentage of .290.

3 HRs.

11 RBIs.

5-for-28 (.179) with RISP.

0-for-13 (.000) with 2 outs and RISP.

Friday, May 20, 2016

Matt Harvey, you sell yourself short.

"That is where Harvey now finds himself. He has a 5.77 E.R.A. and has not pitched more than six innings in a start all season. Collins would not even commit to starting him next week, when his turn comes up again at Nationals Park. He said Harvey’s confidence was sapped.

'I’m not happy about it,' Harvey said of his performance. 'I know nobody else is.'"

Wrong.

Felz is happy about it.

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Satchel Paige didn't have an ERA of 0.00.

"'Satchel Paige' Joe DiMaggio said.

Not Bob Feller, not Dizzy Dean, not Lefty Grove, not Carl Hubbell, but 'Satchel Paige.'

Joe's unflinching response in 1939 to the inquiry of  'the best pitcher he ever faced' stunned a group of stadium reporters.

While Joe DiMaggio was no social crusader, he knew great pitching.

 Like many other major leaguers, he faced Paige during interracial barnstorming exhibitions that were not uncommon in the off-season.

About Paige, sports writer Joe Posnanski writes:

'(He was) unhittable for the better part of 15 years. One pitch. It's a lot like Mariano Rivera, except he wasn't doing it for one inning at a time. He was pitching complete games.'

Let that sink in for a minute."

I can see where this is heading.

I have no reason to slag on Satchel Freaking Paige. The problem with this analysis is that it ignores the fact that Paidge didn't have to face the best white players. His brilliance is undeniable; his domination of the Major Leagues is probable, bust also largely boosted by the imagination.


"If the prospect of facing Mariano for nine innings seems frightening, try adding Hilton Smith's nasty curveball the next day. In 1941, the Kansas City Royals did not exist, but Kansas City Monarchs of the Negro American League did — and Hall of Famers Paige and Smith formed the greatest 1-2 punch in ALL of baseball — and arguably, baseball history.

Joe DiMaggio never had to face the Kansas City Monarchs in 1941. Or any Negro League team."

This is an under-reported phenomenon, I agree.

The best thing about modern-day American Major League Baseball is that it attracts the best talent from all over the world. I totally love watching players from all over the country and all over the world, assembled on the same team, competing with and against one another. It's just cool.


"As usual, the impact of DiMaggio's actual whites-only playing field was not discussed.

 
This comes five years after a slew of celebrations for The Streak's 70th anniversary. In 2011, The Sporting News staff voted '56' as sport's greatest record. Kostya Kennedy's '56: The Last Magic Number in Sports' became a New York Times best seller, and its publisher, Sports Illustrated, gave Joe it's cover. It was called 'Baseball's Holy Grail,' and at ESPN, it was called 'the most romantic record' for its 'aura,' 'magic,' and penetration into 'the cornfields of American culture.'"

Very few players have gotten to 40 games in a row, much less 56.

Of course DiMaggio played with some advantages -- inferior fielding equipment, tired pitchers who threw 300 innings, easier travel schedules, cultural aversion to intentional walks and fielding shifts and stacked bullpens.

He also played with some disadvantages -- inferior batting technology, inferior training techniques, soft baseballs, bad scouting.

If you compare DiMaggio's accomplishment to all the players who've tried to hit baseballs in the professional ranks, you can't help but be amazed.


"Finding critical dissent on baseball's 'Jim Crow Era' is hard to come by amongst an almost exclusively white mainstream baseball media. When sports announcer Bob Costas held a baseball panel to discuss the 'legitimacy' of Barry Bonds' passing of Hank Aaron's career home run record in 2007, he invited a comedian — and not a sports journalist — to address the relevance of race."

I definitely agree that there's a certain Old White Man element in baseball lore, up to the present day. The references to "Field of Dreams" juxtaposed with the anger at Bautista's bat flip ... like Shoeless Joe is a hero and Joey Bats is a criminal.

I can also see how all the Baseball Poets and their weird Pastoral Nostalgia does not reflect reality -- especially to a black man who was denied equal access.

But here's the thing: Joe D. could flat-out rake.


"The 'white ball' benefits of Joe's streak is not the same as Babe Ruth — whose home run totals would still remain historic had they landed closer to Willie Mays territory (660 HRs). The career totals of Ruth, Ty Cobb, or Walter Johnson were inflated from great to greater.

But Joe DiMaggio’s streak wasn't merely inflated by the times, it was created by them.

Without the influence of Performance-Enhancing Whiteness, it would simply not have happened."

That is hard to imagine. DiMaggio could never get a well-timed hit off of a black pitcher?


"During his streak, DiMaggio faced a Hall of Famer pitcher in his prime only two times in 56 games (Bob Feller twice). He would likely see Paige and Smith in four to eight games during his streak. If Negro League aces Leon Day (Newark Eagles) and Raymond Brown (Homestead Grays) also pitched in white baseball's American League, DiMaggio would likely face 8-to-16 games against prime Hall of Fame-level pitching."

So Leon Day never gave up a hit?

"Utley — who is white — was shut down by a Cuban, an American, and a Puerto Rican. But in 1941, Major League Baseball did not split such hairs — all three would have been banned. Period. (Only a very small number of white and light-skinned Latinos were permitted in 1941.)

Did any media notice?

If 2006 were 1941, Chase Utley's streak would live to see another day."

Uhhh ... this makes no sense and I am stopping now.

The exploration of Jim Crow baseball is important, under-reported, and interesting.

The attempt to say what "woulda happened" in a specific example, on a specific day, is total nonsense. Maybe the Streak was just a Black Swan event.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Gary Cohen is overrated.

Cohen was very underwhelmed by a 2-out, 2-strike RBI single by Prodigal Murphy. The "net negative" who's batting .400.

Cohen's lack of enthusiasm is not simply because he's unwilling to be proven wrong. It's because he never gives the Mets' opponent any credit. To a degree that's detrimental to his ability to broadcast the happenings in a baseball game.

 Also ... despite the hype ... lots of empty seats in Citi Field for the big series with the Nationals.

"Remarkable endurance following his PED suspension," he says.

That's why Bartolo Colon won't lose his cult hero status. Because, for a player who is so fat and so old, he has shown remarkable endurance and production.

What would it take to put 2 and 2 together?

What would it take to see the obvious reason for his remarkable endurance and production?



Sunday, May 15, 2016

A story about Dick Tidrow, Grant Jackson, Oscar Gamble, and Mickey Rivers.

"After that neither teams' offense could push any runs across. Thankfully for the Yankees, Tidrow was doing a good job in long relief. In this case, it was very long relief. On August 25, 1976, Dick Tidrow pitched 10.2 innings out of the bullpen. He allowed just four hits and didn't allow a run. After allowing a lead-off single to Steve Byre to start the 18th, he was finally replaced.

Grant Jackson was brought in to relieve Tidrow. He got out of the 18th and then threw a 1-2-3 inning in the 19th. Oscar Gamble led off the bottom of the 19th with a single. After a bunt moved him into scoring position, he eventually scored when Mickey Rivers singled.


Dick Tidrow's relief outing is not the longest in Yankees' history. It is the longest scoreless relief outing in Yankees' history, however. And given the way that bullpens are used today, I don't think it's a record that is in any danger of being broken."

Felz Stat of the Day

David Wright has struck out 44 times in 108 at-bats.

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

The impossible has happened.

It's one of the great moments in the history of baseball.

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Two qualities NY fans like the most: clutchness and toughness.

Swing Harder

Mark Teixeira is a victim of all different kinds of cognitive dissonance:

"'My whole career has been about back-spinning the ball, hitting the ball in the air and home runs,' Teixeira said. 'I’m just not doing that right now.'

...
'It’s pretty simple, I’ve got to put the ball in the air more,' Teixeira said. 'Now, it’s a matter of doing it.'"

Monday, May 09, 2016

Just a reminder to settle down or you might end up embarrassing yourself.

Especially you, writing this shameful hack garbage after spending half of your career ripping ARod.

Between Torre and Girardi ...

... I don't think the Yankee managers understand the frustration of the fans:

"Here's something to mull over between now and July 15, the next time the Yankees face the Red Sox: Should Joe Girardi pull a Joe Maddon when it comes to Big Papi?

David Ortiz has crushed the Yanks this year, smashing five homers in six games and batting .333 with a 1.343 OPS.

Maddon, of course, is the Cubs' manager who essentially took the bat out of the hands of perhaps baseball's most dangerous hitter over the weekend — Washington's Bryce Harper.

Harper walked 13 times in a four-game series against the Cubs and the Cubs won every game. Harper did not even have an official at-bat in his last 12 plate appearances, walking 10 times, getting hit by a pitch and hitting a sac fly, which the Elias Sports Bureau says is a record.

Big Papi was just 3-for-13 in the just-completed series at the Stadium won by the Yanks. But all three hits were homers, including two solo shots off Luis Severino Sunday night."

I don't know if it's actually possible to just "pitch better" ... or if you can really "pitch around" a batter ... or if the Yankee pitchers need to pick their spots (these were mostly solo HRs) ... or if McCann doesn't know how to call a game ... or why the Yankees are unwilling to plunk him in the butt once or twice over the past 15 years.

So I don't know if I have a solution to the problem.

Steroid-addled 40-year-olds are difficult to get out in major league baseball games.

The gripe amongst a lot of Yankee fans is that there is a certain conciliatory attitude towards an opponent ... an opponent who consistently crushes the Yankees ... an opponent with a history of cheating and boorish behavior.

What's to love?

Maybe all of us suffer from confirmation bias.

"Technically, the Yankees didn't trade Robinson Cano for Jacoby Ellsbury after the 2013 season. But due to the circumstances of how Cano — a future Hall of Fame second baseman — was allowed to walk away in free agency and was effectively replaced by Ellsbury, their careers will forever be linked in the Bronx."

Funny, this linkage never really dawned on me.


"That's turning into more and more of an uncomfortable comparison for the Yankees.

While Cano's contract (10 years, $240 million) could become an albatross in a few years, a case can be made that Ellsbury's deal (seven years, $153 million) is already trending in that direction. This season represents just the third year of the respective deals, but the early returns — including team success in 2016 — are overwhelming in the favor of Cano."

I don't think it's overwhelming.

Yankees have won one more game over the time period and Cano's cumulative WAR is 11.9 instead of 5.7.


"Cano: 344 games, .301/.357/.467, .824 OPS, 135 OPS+, 11.9 WAR
Ellsbury: 287 games, .264/.323/.386, .709 OPS, 99 OPS+, 5.7 WAR

It's not even a contest. Even with Cano's down year due to an abdominal injury in 2015, he's been the far more productive player since the start of 2014."


So there you go.

I look at the same data and say it's less than three wins per year. Not overwhelming, even if WAR isn't the best indicator, and neither is team wins (Yankees have one more than Seattle during the same time period).


I simply don't understand the fixation on Ellsbury.

Tanaka has a cumulative WAR of 8.0 over that time period. I say the Yankees signed Tanaka instead of Cano ... and only lost 1.5 games per year.

Have Ellsbury earned their money relative to Cano? No. But I don't think it's overwhelming, especially when the total contract is taken into account.

But obviously, more importantly for the Yankees was avoiding that $100 million post-35 albatrosses that are hanging around so many of the players on their current roster. So maybe it's too early to tell who gets the last laugh.

As for the 2016 Yankees, once again, it's obvious to me that Ellsbury isn't their biggest payroll thief.





 

It's the little things that make this team pleasurable to watch.

"[Wright] did not give up his second hit until the seventh inning, when Starlin Castro led off with a double. McCann followed with a deep flyout to right field, moving Castro to third base, and it appeared that the Yankees were finally catching up to Wright’s fluttering pitches.

Trailing by 1-0 in the count to Mark Teixeira, Wright threw a knuckleball that bobbled out of catcher Ryan Hanigan’s mitt. Seeing the ball on the ground, Castro broke prematurely for home. Hanigan quickly recovered and threw Castro out as he retreated to third. 

'That completely confused me,' said Castro."

Sunday, May 08, 2016

The future of the Yankees.

"The Yankees have won a couple in a row now against the Red Sox, as they try to dig themselves and fight themselves out of an early-season hole. And they need to keep winning, because if they don’t you wonder what the ballpark might look like a few months from now."

The Yankees' economics are fine. Better than they ought to be considering the product they're putting on the field.


"Or maybe they think they can start to fill those empty blue seats near the field that sometimes look like the most expensive unclaimed real estate in New York City, with Alex Rodriguez’s creaky, inauthentic run at Babe Ruth, and dazzling late-inning relief pitchers."

Nobody cares about ARod or the bullpen.

Most of the 2016 tickets are already sold ... the daily attendance numbers are inflated for sure ... and the Stadium is kinda dead.

But fans still show up out of habit or because Yankee Stadium is a tourist attraction. Baseball is fun. You root for your bad team and hope they win today.


"But at a time when the Mets are so much fun to watch, because of star young pitchers even when they’re not pitching like stars, and home run hitters, the Yankees aren’t. They haven’t been really fun to watch for a while."

I agree, the Yankees are boring.

The Mets are better and more exciting. CitiField will be packed for the upcoming Nationals series. 

But, truth be told, CitiField is half empty most of the time. Or half full, if you work for the Mets PR Dept.


"By all measure, the Steinbrenner in charge of the team is a very good guy, just one who seems to have no reichcal passion for baseball and no love for New York City."

I don't think "reichcal" is a word.

I think somebody mis-typed "real."


"So it’s not just Rodriguez’s insane contract that is the problem here, all that contract does is provide cover. Chase Headley is working on a four-year, $52 million deal, just because sometimes you think everybody is with the Yankees. Brett Gardner is working on the same basic contract. And Brian McCann was going to be the new Thurman Munson."

ARod's contract doesn't provide cover for anyone paying attention. It's columnists like Lupica who have fixated on ARod while ignoring all the other players on the Yankees ... and, even now, Lupica inexplicably excludes Beltran, Teixeira, and Sabathia from his List of Busts.

Ellsbury is his fixation and, though a bust for sure, Ellsbury is probably the best overall player in the starting eight. I know it's a low bar, but I'm serious. So if you think he's the biggest Yankee bust of all time ... or even the biggest bust on the current roster ... just look at the guys sitting on the bench to his left and right.


"The Yankees, when healthy, even though with the Jurassic Park All-Stars that is a very fluid situation, start two players under the age of 30, Gregorius and Castro. But every time somebody goes down, the way Rodriguez and Sabathia did this week, people act shocked."

Who are the people who acted shocked?

If anyone acted shocked, they were surely being sarcastic.

I also don't think anybody really cares because they're not very good baseball players anymore.


"Maybe one of these days, maybe the Yankees need to think about throwing Aaron Judge into the pool the way the Mets threw Michael Conforto into the pool a year ago, and see if he can swim. Or if he is one more guy out of the farm system who doesn’t turn out to be the next Ruth or Mantle."

This isn't genius stuff. The future isn't just Judge, Gregorius, and Castro.

The future is  Judge, Gregorius, Castro, Severino, Tanaka, Eovaldi, Pineda, Refsnyder, and Bird.

Myself and most fans are ready to make the transition rather than watching stubborn old players swing for the fences and hit into the shift.

Severino's horrible start is way more troubling than the combined 2016 disasters of every player over the age of 35. If Severino can make adjustments and turn it around, he may be a future ace. If he can't, then good luck with Plan B.



Tuesday, May 03, 2016

Passive-aggressive sabotage?

Is it a ridiculous idea that Teixeira dislikes the fans/manager/teammates so much that he sabotages his own performance?

BA with 2 outs and RISP over the years:

2009: .355
2010: .279
2011: .241
2012: .125
2013: .222
2014: .156
2015: .174
2016: .000

Is everything OK?

Did something happen to you in 2011?

Do you need hypno-therapy or something?


ESPN does not claim to be progressive.

They fired an untalented employee who was also a jerk:

"ESPN is a private company; it had every right to fire Schilling because it didn’t like a few of his social-media posts. (And never mind what it let Keith Olbermann get away with all those years.)

The network can censor its own content as it chooses, too — however petty and childish that choice reveals it to be."


Right.

Which is why they're not Stalinist at all.


"But it’s a darned strange way to show 'progressive' values."

ESPN.

Formerly "Entertainment and Sports Programming Network."

Not a word about a devotion to progressive values, or even politeness and civility, for that matter.


Schilling was fired because his bosses told him to cut it out and he refused to cut it out. The transgender bathroom issue was not the first time. Though, yeah, if tolerance of transgender people qualifies as "progressive" values, then maybe ESPN just fired Schilling for this one-off.

Sure, Schilling has made enough money and he doesn't care. But Schilling's argument seems to be that his employer's insistence that he behave in a certain way is stifling and inappropriate ...  even un-American.

What Schilling doesn't realize is that's what a job is. Everybody's job, all day, every day. Everybody who works for somebody else, anyway.

Monday, May 02, 2016

Impossibly unproductive.

Gregorius has 4 runs and 4 RBIs (68 at-bats).

Headley has 2 runs and 2 RBIs (64 at-bats).

Headley should be benched or waived ... if for no other reason than to throw a bone to the fans who still pay attention to this team.


Gregorius is a bigger problem. A year ago at this time, we all chalked up his deficiencies to the strain of replacing Jeter. A surge in the second half set up a promising 2016.

Then this horrible regression, suggesting a player who is not really devoted to his craft.