Baseball Toaster Bronx Banter
Lost Weekend
2008-08-10 23:54
by Cliff Corcoran
Note: The Bronx Banter blog has moved to

Alex had it right with his Ray Milland pic on Saturday. The Yankees went on one heck of a bender in La La Land this past weekend, getting swept by the Angels and losing in just about every way possible. On Friday night, Ian Kennedy couldn't get an out in the third inning. Darrell Rasner and the Yankee bats tried valiantly to climb out of the hole Kennedy had dug, but just as they neared the top, they fell back in. On Saturday, Dan Giese was great for six innings, but Jose Veras, Edwar Ramirez, and David Robertson coughed up ten runs in the final two innings to put the game far out of reach.

Yesterday, Andy Pettitte and Joe Saunders matched each other pitch-for-pitch for seven innings, handing their bullpens a 3-3 tie. Jose Arredondo and Damaso Marte matched zeros in the eighth, sending the tie into the ninth. Home team manager Mike Scioscia went straight to his closer, Francisco Rodriguez, who struck out the side in the ninth. Visiting manager Joe Girardi, having used Rasner for 4 1/3 innings on Friday and having watched each all four of his remaining set-up men stink up the joint over the previous two games (Brian Bruney put Friday's game out of reach for good after relieving Rasner in the eighth), tried to get another inning out of Marte.

After retiring all three men he faced in the eighth, Marte gave up a single to the leadoff man in the ninth; that hitter being second baseman Howie Kendrick, who entered the game hitting .480 in his young career against the Yankees, but had gone hitless in his three at-bats against Pettitte. Marte rallied to strike out Gary Matthews Jr., but fell behind ninth-place hitter Mike Napoli 2-0 before walking him on a full count to push Kendrick in to scoring position. Having watched Marte blow a game by alternating walks and outs during the previous series in Texas, Girardi broke down and called on his closer, Mariano Rivera. Rivera threw one pitch to Chone Figgins. It caught a bit too much of the plate, and Figgins pulled a perfectly place bounder through the first-base hole to score Kendrick and complete the Angels sweep.

Long-time readers will know that I've often argued that a manager should use his closer in a tie game on the road once the game enters sudden death for the home team. Unlike his predecessor, Joe Girardi has done a decent job of employing Rivera that way, but even before Figgins' game-winning single, opposing hitters were hitting .361/.410/.583 against Rivera this year when the game is tied. In all other situations, they are hitting less than .190 against him. Sometimes you just can't win.

Alex had one other thing right on Saturday. His headline read, "All Ain't Lost . . . Yet." A classic mix of optimism and pessimism, our fearless leader hit it dead on the head. With this weekend's sweep, the Yankees fell 8.5 games behind the indefatigable Rays in the East, but they're still just four games behind the Red Sox in the Wild Card race, and could reduce their two-game deficit against the second-place Twins with an improved showing at the Metrodome starting tonight. Reason for optimism: the Yankees are 5-2 against Minnesota this year. Reason for pessimism: both Twins wins came in Minnesota.

Things don't look good. The bullpen, which was dominant heading into the All-Star break, has been awful, and the rotation is in shambles following Kennedy's third failure (he's already been shipped back to triple-A; I expect Darrell Rasner will take his next turn on Wednesday). Then again, Giese's performance yesterday was encouraging, and Phil Hughes could return after one more rehab start at triple-A this week, but unless Hughes pitches like he did last September (3-0, 2.73 ERA in five starts, all Yankee wins) and the bullpen shapes up, Alex's "yet" may prove prophetic.

Comments (72)
Show/Hide Comments 1-50
2008-08-11 00:57:43
1.   Mr OK Jazz TOKYO
Stuck at home ill in bed, this was a terribly depressing game to watch...had to console myself by pulling out the 1977 W.Series DVD set for some old-time magic...

btw, heard Michael Kay say the following on ESPN: "The China Olympics are a disgrace..The Great Wall of China is one of the world's biggest symbols of oppression!" Umm...what?? Didn't he used to be a journalist???? Whatever the criticisms of China right now, some legitimate some not, the Great Wall surely has nothing to do with it..

2008-08-11 06:16:06
2.   Biscuit Pants
I didn't get to see much of this weekend. I think I'm finally giving it up this season. I just don't see this team morphing into more than what it is right now: A good team, but not a playoff team.

If only they had more . . . I don't know . . . grit?

2008-08-11 06:19:12
3.   JL25and3
2 Love the screen name.
2008-08-11 06:24:45
4.   JohnnyC
OK Jazz,

Kay's politics are well-known and, predictably, as uninformed as the vast majority of media types. And since when did reporting on sporting events qualify as "journalism." It was Howard Cosell who said sports is the toy department of the news media. As bad as Kay's appearances on that show are, the others, including that pandering hack Mitch Albom aren't any better.

2008-08-11 06:30:35
5.   JohnnyC
2 Not grit...ability to actually play smart, efficient baseball. That's what they lack and have lacked since 2000. The misplay by Betemit and Cano to lose the game says it all. A badly constructed team that wouldn't know the fundamentals if it ran over them in an eighteen wheeler. This is the sad result of having non-baseball people like George, Cashman and Torre run your team for a dozen years. I would vote for returning Gene Michael to the GM chair but the man is in his '70s. It's time to see if Damon Oppenheimer can do the job.
2008-08-11 06:30:47
6.   Andre
this is a tough season to watch because you can't quite give it up. Every time the Yanks stink, the Red Sox do too. The Sox have not been able to pull away, which leads me to believe the Yanks still have a shot to make the playoffs. If they do, they'll probably lose to the Angels, but at least they'd keep their string of playoff appearances alive.

The question is, what do you do next season? It's hard to argue that any of the current lineup MUST go (outside of Melky) because they're all so individually talented, but they just haven't been able to put anything together as a team. Hard to see how a bunch of less talented hitters could replace Abreu, Damon, Matsui, Giambi and make a difference, but maybe this is one case where chemistry might be the intangible?

Pitching is an obvious need, but seems like our hitters are as big (bigger) reason for our inconsistent suckitude this year.

2008-08-11 06:38:34
7.   JohnnyC
6 We are a team of superior individual offensive talents who don't have the faintest idea of how to execute a team offense. It's not the batting coach, it's not the's the team's general unfamiliarity with situational hitting. You don't coach that at the major league level. You develop it in your system or acquire it from other organizations through smart scouting (Gabe Paul and Gene Michael traded for useful pieces, supplemented by 1 or 2 unique free agents).
2008-08-11 06:39:26
8.   Biscuit Pants
4 Bet if you asked Kay, he'd call himself a journalist.
2008-08-11 06:41:48
9.   monkeypants
1 4 At the risk of a political discussion...

It is possible for something to become a symbol of something elsewhatevr its original intent. The Great Wall is almost certainly China's most recognizable cultural monument. Its image is ubiquitous in any program about China. The wall itself, while built for defensive purposes, was constructed largely by forced labor at enormous human cost. In addition, wall Was also a showpiece for imperial strength--it glorified the power and resources of the emperor (the same is true of many Roman imperial monuments: even civic structures such as aqueducts also glorified the emperor). The current highly repressive regime that governs China employs the Great Wall in similar fashion: it is not by accident that the Olympic relay ran along a stretch of the Great Wall.

Put simply, the Great wall symbolizes China, and it is not unreasonable that the Great Wall has come to stand for the repressive government that is now hosting the Olympics.

2008-08-11 06:42:03
10.   JL25and3
5 If you think Torre's not a good manager, that's one thing. To describe him as a "non-baseball" person is just plain silly.
2008-08-11 06:47:31
11.   OldYanksFan
Guys... A little HELP Please.
Somewhere on the Net is a page that gives the odds of scoring a run on a given situation. Can you please tell me the odds when:
Runner on 2nd, 1 out ------------ AND
Runner on 3rd, 1 out


2008-08-11 06:50:50
12.   Shaun P
5 Cashman may not have played a day of minor league baseball, but the only employer he's ever had is the Yankees (he worked as an intern when he was in college IIRC). To refer to him as "not a baseball person" is also pretty silly.

And when you say, "since 2000", do you include the 2000 season? Because that team was, on offense, just plain bad, however well they situationally hit. Which reduces your analysis to "the Yanks haven't had a smart, efficient offense since 1998-99, which might have been two of the best teams in the franchise's history." Sorry, I'm not buying it.

Thanks for the great weekend recap, Cliff. I missed all of the games, but knew the results; its nice to know why things went bad.

2008-08-11 06:54:26
13.   Shaun P
11 Without looking it up, I'd bet anything that runner on 3rd, 1 out has a higher expectancy of scoring a run than runner on 2nd, 1 out. More events are able to get the runner from 3rd home than the runner on 2nd.

The numbers, according to BP, for 2008:

Runner on 2nd, 1 out: 0.68283
Runner on 3rd, 1 out: 0.95351
No runners, 2 outs: 0.11111

I'm guessing you're asking because of A-Rod's steal attempt, so I included the last number too.

2008-08-11 06:57:30
14.   JL25and3

According to Tangotiger's data from 1992-2002, here are the odds of scoring exactly one run:

Runner on 2nd, 1 out - 0.23
Runner on 3rd, 1 out - 0.478

The odds of scoring any number of runs (that is, 1.00 - odds of scoring 0):

Runner on 2nd, 1 out - 0.406
Runner on 3rd, 1 out - 0.662

2008-08-11 07:08:43
15.   monkeypants
6 7 Hmmmm...a team with largely the same players scored 968 runs in 2007 but is scuffling along in 2008. Did they all forget "situational hitting" in the off-season?

Perhaps there is a more obvious culprit to the relative lack of offense, other than lack of grit or the like: age and injuries (coupled with plain old underperformance).

Jeter: I have been a huge Jeter defender this year, and I still believe that he helps the team more than he hurts. But no one can deny that he is having his poorest season, whatever the reason (he was hurt, but perhaps this is decline). The team has come to rely on super-production from the SS position, and they are not getting it this season. Age 34.

Posada--has been hurt, with his ABs going largely to Molina. Age 36.

Damon/Matsui--have both been hurt, meaning that their ABs have been largely taken over by Gardner, Christian, Betemit, and Sexson. Age 34 and 34.

Abreu--his numbers had declined again this season, until a recent hot streek. Still, 2007-2008 are a clear step down from previous seasons. At age 34-35, this is not a surprise.

Cano/Melky--have obviosuly underperformed relative to their carer numbers.

So really, the bulk of the offensive underperformance is bound up with players on the wrong side of 30 nearly all of whom have been hurt this season, nearly all have missed time and were replaced by relatively awful players. Cano and Melky are just the icing on the cake. Situational hitting, grit, and/or lack of moral fortitude need not be invoked to explain what has gone on this season: a lot of players have hit worse, gotten older, and gotten hurt.

2008-08-11 07:10:48
16.   Biscuit Pants
15 Agreed . . . but don't diminish the impact of grit.
2008-08-11 07:17:03
17.   monkeypants
5 So, Oppenheimer is a "baseball man," but Torre is not?
2008-08-11 07:20:14
18.   weeping for brunnhilde
5 Just curious, by what possible metric can Joe Torre be considered a non-baseball person? What do you mean to say?
2008-08-11 07:32:04
19.   JohnnyC
15 Did Cashman not know the ages of these players? If he's the baseball man you say he is, is he not aware that declining skills and increased injury risk come with players in their mid-thirties? It's unfortunate that Posada got injured but was it absolutely necessary to give him a 4 year deal? Would he have remained healthy and productive for the Mets instead? And the "relatively awful replacements" -- did they just appear under Cashman's tree on Xmas morning or did this "baseball man" make a series of bad judgments? Just as he did when he listened to HIS "baseball people" when they urged him to bid on Igawa. The same baseball people who have now been pushed aside by, of all people, Hideo Nomo...who's been living and pitching in the states, not Japan, for a dozen years now.
2008-08-11 07:41:36
20.   Biscuit Pants
19 Maybe we need a baseball man like Steve Phillips? Maybe baseball man Bill Bavazi could have show us the way? Perhaps we can lure away baseball man Brian Sabean from SF?
2008-08-11 07:41:49
21.   Biscuit Pants
2008-08-11 07:50:01
22.   Raf
10 It makes sense within the context of a rant :)

19 What does giving Posada a 4 year deal have to do with him getting hurt in year 1? And if Posada were to walk last year, or this year or next year (assuming you would've wanted him signed to a 1-2 year deal), who would've caught for him?

2008-08-11 07:51:23
23.   monkeypants
19 I suspect that he did know the age of the players. I am not sure he or anyone could have predicted major injuries and severely poor performance by ALL of these players. Moreover, the bench WAS a strength at the beginning of the season by nearly everyone's consensus. However, even the bench surprisingly underperformed or suffered injuries. That Molina, for example, has been exposed as a bad hitter is not a condemnation of the bench construction, but rather the reality of what happens when bench players become starters.

And really, the four year deal for Posada is irrelevant to the discussion. That may be a very bad deal in the long run, but we are talking about THIS season. You tell me who on the market promised more production than Posada. What free agent did Cashman miss when he signed Posada, who had never been on the DL before? And would that FA have produced anywhere near Posada's career levels?

Anyway, I am not going to engage today in a lengthy debate about Cashman's skills (or lack thereof) as a GM. It is largely irrelevant to the initial point vis-a-vis THIS year's poor offense. No person however well-informed could have predicted that the same team that scored 968 runs last season would underperform so badly this year. No one. Not one prediction that I read, not one expert on the boob tube, no one saw this kind of drop off. If you did, then you should be the GM.

2008-08-11 07:54:04
24.   JohnnyC
20 So you're equating Phillips, Bavazi, and Sabean with Cashman? The argument that Cashman is not worse than other terrible GMs is hardly flattering to him.
2008-08-11 07:56:42
25.   Raf
24 It appears that post, 20 , is heavy with sarcasm.
2008-08-11 07:59:21
26.   monkeypants
I just want to know who Hideo Nomo is pushing around. He always seemed like such a nice guy. I really don't like it when people come to this country and push people around.
2008-08-11 08:00:12
27.   tommyl
15 Don't forget belly full of guts. Grit is useless without them.

19 You have to be kidding. Cashman is certainly aware of the ages and trends of players at those ages. There just weren't any other options out there. What could he have done? The only FA outfielder of note was Hunter and that contract would have been greatly overpaying for an aging outfielder who is about to start his decline phase. The FA class was thin, the few nuggets were demanding huge (and long) contracts. He took a flier on Ensberg (still a good move I think), he's brought in Nady. Its fine and dandy to say "Cashman sucks and should have anticipated this or that" but then you have to offer a reasonable alternative. There aren't that many options out there. This year was always going to be a transition year because of the pitching, Cash was willing to take the hit this year rather than sell the farm for a big name. I'm fine with that, maybe you're not, but to imply that he's not a "baseball man" or isn't aware of things is just not fair.

2008-08-11 08:01:44
28.   monkeypants
27 Cripes...I can't believe I forgot guts. That's what made Stick so great--he smell guts a mile away.
2008-08-11 08:03:58
29.   Biscuit Pants
25 Do I look heavy in that post?
2008-08-11 08:06:25
30.   OldYanksFan
13 -14 Thanks - but why the discrepancy between the 2 posts? Shawn - Runner on 3rd, 1 out: 0.95351: is 95% or 19 out of 20 times? Does NOT seem correct. JL - Runner on 3rd, 1 out - 0.662: gutcheck tells me this seems reasonable, but I might have guessed a little less then 2 of 3 attempts.

Yes, I asked primarily to qualify ARod's (attempted) steal, and considering the bottom of the order was coming up, I like the play.

However, how many times THIS SEASON did we had a runner on 3rd, less then 2 out, and NOT score? Is our average less then 2 out of 3? I would guess WAY less. I guess if we scored 2 out of 3 times is this ONE SINGLE situation, we might be tied with the Sox.

With an equal schedule, I would say that catching the Sox is do-able. But the Sox September schedule is Home: 16, Away: 9. The Yankee schedule is basically exactly reversed: So even if we are tied on Aug 31, we would have a LONG ROAD ahead of us.

TB's schedule is almost identical to ours. I have stated here before that TB was the team we would need to catch. That looks very unlikely now.

The Sox are currently looking at 92 Wins. We need to play .750 ball to beat that. Considering their schedule and their Home record, they might win more then 92.

Team Numbers: .272 .345 .425 .770
Scoring Posi:::: .259 .348 .381 .729
CloseandLate:: .264 .341 .394 .734

With all the injuries, decline and everything else, I think those numbers ALONE are worth 4 or 5 games... maybe more. With men on, we can Walk. But we cant Hit os Slug. A (RISP) .381 SLG..... just (shitty) wow!

So we are basically in our death throws. Unless mystique and aura show up, and kick our guys in the RISP asses, it is going to be a very depressing October.

P.S. Our RISP OPS is 11th (of 14) in the AL. Interestingly enough, TB is 12th, and Boston 8th.

2008-08-11 08:10:04
31.   Raf
29 Post, not poster :)
2008-08-11 08:16:13
32.   pistolpete
Serious question to the optimists in the bunch (myself included, most of the time) — after suffering through this godawful season, does anyone actually WANT the Yankees in the playoffs when all the smoke clears?

Wouldn't we face these same Los Angeles Anaheim Angels of Gaaaleeefoohhhya in the first round? The season ends with a road trip to Toronto and then to Fenway, where the games are almost always brutal and/or exhausting. You mean to tell me the Yanks would actually stand a chance when they'd have to immediately hop a flight to the West Coast? After the way we were just manhandled for the last 3 games, missing the postseason would actually be less embarrassing.

Me, I'd almost rather see them eliminated the first week of September and have them bring up some more kids. Get Kennedy & Hughes a LOT more work in some lower-pressure situations, ya know?

I know, I know, last year of the old Stadium and all — but realistically, c'mon now. Let's just win the last regular season game handily, everyone takes a bow and we wipe the slate clean for 2009.

Of course, I reserve the right to change my mind should we actually make the playoffs. :)

2008-08-11 08:16:47
33.   Biscuit Pants
31 Whew . . .
2008-08-11 08:17:49
34.   Shaun P
30 The discrepancy is easy to explain. My post was BP's data covering just what has happened so far in 2008; JL's was data from 1992-2002. Obviously those are two very different run-scoring environments. I am not sure which dataset is more accurate; I can see arguments for both.

I also don't know if BP's numbers are the expectancy that just 1 run scores, or that at least 1 run scores (be it the guy on 3rd base or someone else).

"However, how many times THIS SEASON did we had a runner on 3rd, less then 2 out, and NOT score? Is our average less then 2 out of 3? I would guess WAY less. I guess if we scored 2 out of 3 times is this ONE SINGLE situation, we might be tied with the Sox."

I don't know. That might be something that mehmattski or some other retrosheet/ wizard could figure out from the play-by-play data. I would guess that "runs scored from 3rd base with 1 out by team X" fluctuates quite a bit from year to year, but again, without the data I'm just blabbing out of my rear.

In any case, you could say "If the Yanks had only done X better they'd be tied with the Sox" about quite a few things. Every team could.

2008-08-11 08:21:41
35.   Shaun P
32 Who says the Angels' luck doesn't change for a week, and they get bounced by the Yanks in a sweep?

Heck yes I want this team in the playoffs! Look at the 2000 team. Those guys f'ed up September eight ways from Sunday - and still won it all.

Its not like making the playoffs, or winning it all, is going to prevent changes from happening.

2008-08-11 08:24:28
36.   tommyl
32 Well we dominated the Indians last year in the regular season and look how well that turned out. Me, I think a chance is a chance. If they take that chance and lose so be it. In a 5 game series, anything can happen. Wang, Moose and Joba could dominate, A-Rod could go on a tear, Jeter could revive his post season clutchiness, Scott Brosius could make a surprise comeback, who knows. I never expected them to make the postseason this year (I figured the Sox would win the division and the Tigers/Indians would take the WC) so I'm fine with it.
2008-08-11 08:24:29
37.   OldYanksFan
19 Hmmmm. 4 of our oldest guys are Moose, Mo, Pettitte and Giambi. All 4 have been healthy and have had from productive to outanding years. Meanwhile, young guys like Wang, Hughes and IPK have been injured.

Are older guys more prone to injury? Sure! Of course! So should the Sox have dumped Manny, Wake and Lowell last winter?

There are MANY mid 30's players who are having very good years. All things being equal, youth is better then middle age. But I still think:

Giambi(37): .252 .393 .517 .910, who has the 4th best OPS in MLB, has had a more productiver 2008 then many young players.

People should also consider that for 12 years in a row, we have basically had the worst picks in the draft. It's a little harder to 'get young' in that situation. There is a reason TB has a bunch of young, talented players.

2008-08-11 08:29:07
38.   OldYanksFan
37 4th best OPS for a FIRST BASEMAN.
2008-08-11 09:00:01
39.   monkeypants
30 34 Are those odds of scoring (at least) a run, or "run expectancy." The latter refers, if I am not mistaken, of the average number of runs scored in that given situation. So, if 30 is correct, .95 is not the odds of scoring (95%), but the average number of runs scored in that situation (.95) including scoring 0 runs, scoring 1 run, or scoring more runs during the inning.

I think what OYF is looking for is the number of discrete instances of a team scoring at least a single run in certain run scoring opportunities, divided by the total number of those opportunities. (which I can see by re-reading 34 has already been noted).

It would be an interesting exercise to compare this team's failure to hit sacrifice flies (which Sterling has been harping on for a week: 'if only this team had driven in a few more runners from their, they would have won 10 more games') to more successful teams, like the Sox this season, or last season, or the '98/'99 Yankees. I have a feeling that the 1998 team failed to hit sac flies or move runners over at a surprisingly high rate, at least higher than we expect. Yet they scored a mountain of runs because they got on base a lot and lots and lots of opportunities. Great teams generally win with high OBP and SLG, not sac flies and grounders to the right side.

2008-08-11 09:08:37
40.   Biscuit Pants
24 All are "baseball men". I was merely dissing your argument dude.
2008-08-11 09:12:05
41.   JL25and3
39 What I gave in 14 was run frequency, not run expectancy. You're right, that most likely accounts for the difference in the numbers.
2008-08-11 09:28:37
42.   Shaun P
39 Without knowing the opportunities, I can tell you that the '98 Yanks hit 59 sac flies; the '99 Yanks hit 53; and the '08 Yanks have 25 so far ("on pace" for 32).

The question is, how many more wins would another 20-something runs scored via sac flies add? Off the cuff, we could say an extra 20 runs = an extra 2 wins, but I don't think its that simple. A missed sac fly opportunity doesn't mean no runs score; the next guy up could always get a hit. Certainly 20 more sac flies add no more than 20 more runs, so let's guess an extra 20 sac flies would be worth an extra 10 runs, or 1 win.

A win is a win, but if one of Melky or Cano had hit anything near their PECOTA weighted mean projection, that would probably be worth at least a win, so I'm not sure how much emphasis we should place on missed sac fly opportunities.

FWIW, and I'm not sure if you can compare team OPS+ across years, but in '98, it was 117; in '99, 110; and this year, 105. Oh, and just because, here are the team number of GIDP for those years:

1998 - 145
1999 - 137
2008 - on pace for 139

2008-08-11 09:33:28
43.   JL25and3
32 , 35 For some time, I've been questioning whether I want this team to make the playoffs.

One of the things I dislike about the current playoff format is that a mediocre team can get to the WS - or win it - just by getting hot at the right time. Yes, that's always been the case to some extent, but it happens pretty regularly now. I don't much like it, and it's hard for me to have much respect for those teams.

Even more, though, is what happens with those teams afterward. Far too often, they make the mistake of thinking that they're really that good, and they more or less stand pat: the Rockies last year, the Cardinals the year before, the Astros before that.

I'd like to think that the Yankee FO is smart enough to avoid that, but I really don't want them thinking that this team is better than it is. That would be worse than a year without playoffs.

2008-08-11 09:55:03
44.   monkeypants
42 Good stuff.

And of course, GIDP is to some degree dependent on men on base. It would not surprise me if many of the great teams who scored tons of runs also had a lot of GIDP. This year's team may be GIDP at a higher rate, but I'm not going screw around with the numbers trying to figure it out.

2008-08-11 09:59:26
45.   monkeypants
43 Interesting perspective. I too have an philosophical problem with the current playoff format. I don't much like the WC, and the 5 game series does not thrill me. From that perspective, I would not "like" it for the Yanks to make it this season.

As a fan, however, I always wish more success than less, and I would rather watch another play off crash-and-burn than watch the season end in a whimper, especially given it's the last year of the stadium.

That also said, however, I can deal with a season without play-offs; I am not enraged or feel a sense of entitlement. I am not a "win the world series or last place" sort of guy. We all knew this would be a difficult year, and just about every thing bad could happen--from Hughes to Kennedy to injuries to Cano's slump, etc. If they can't overcome these obstacles, so be it. i just hope that the organization does not do crazy things in the off season, as you caution.

2008-08-11 10:06:01
46.   Shaun P
44 It really does all boil down to getting on base, and slugging 'em in. The Yanks haven't done either well this year, and so here they are.

What gets lost in all the woe about the WOE (as SG and the others at RLYW call it) is how well the pitching staff has done (the recent implosion by the bullpen aside). Especially when you take into account all of the injuries, on the pitching side, the future certainly looks bright.

It is possible to win with a team that is more dependent on its pitching and defense than its offense (see Tampa Bay) - and perhaps that is how Cashman expects to compete while he re-tools the offense. Makes sense to me.

2008-08-11 10:29:36
47.   Shaun P
32 Hey, speaking of bad luck befalling the Angels, they are out-performing their Pythagenport record by 9 wins! (Its 11 if you use BP's 3rd order record, based on adjusted equivalent runs scored and allowed.)

They are going to see a course correction at some point.

2008-08-11 10:29:38
48.   ms october
46 agreed shaun. and this might go to the argument that a hit here , a walk there, driving the run in and really "adds up" and makes a bigger difference in the end.

the teams' obp this year is 345 (currently 3rd in the al); while the slg is really down at 425 (6th)
in 2007: 366 obp; 463 slg (both 1st)

the way i calculate the difference in 345 obp versus 366 over the course of the season it is on base about 120 times less as a team. meaning if everyone in the lineup was on base 13 more times over the course of the season we would be looking at an obp on the line of last year's team.
the slg is a bit tougher - that is where posada and matsui are really missed since their backups bring little power.
oh well, i am obviously thinking about this too much.
but the choice is to either 1) wonder about the playoffs - while i have consistently been in favor of being okay with missing the playoffs this year if it means the team can really start getting better over the next few years - it is hitting me that it will be a bit of a disapointment not to make the playoffs; or 2) i can get excited about the round rebound on the mound tonight

2008-08-11 10:58:54
49.   tommyl
I hate the division format more than I hate the WC. I think its embarrassing that the Dodgers are 58-59 and 1.5 games out of first place in their division. You shouldn't get extra points just because the competition around you sucks. That also plays into the unbalanced schedule. The AL East teams get murdered there. BP had a piece awhile back (I forget when and where and too lazy to find it) saying how much better even teams like the Jays and Orioles are than people think. The problem is that in the east you play so many games against juggernauts your overall record suffers. I wish they would do away with the divisions, play a balanced schedule and the top four teams make the playoffs in the AL and NL. That would be a lot more fair and no less entertaining to me. Having an 83 win team in the postseason is bad enough. Having that team in there at the expense of several 90+ win teams just because they play in California or something is a crime.
2008-08-11 11:12:15
50.   JL25and3
47 Yes, they may have a course correction.

But it might not be this year.

Show/Hide Comments 51-100
2008-08-11 11:21:10
51.   rbj
Jeebus, I go away for a week and what happens:
Yanks get trashed by the Angels, Joba's on the DL and lord knows what else is going on, maybe Sidney Ponson emerging as the Yankees best pitcher? Bernie Mac & Isaac Hayes dying -- have they taken Samuel L. Jackson to the hospital just as a precaution yet?

I'm basically writing off this season, so I'm just going to enjoy baseball and not worry about the team making the post season. Much easier that way.

2008-08-11 11:21:28
52.   Raf
50 True. The 2004 Yanks had a course correction at the worst possible time.
2008-08-11 11:22:55
53.   Raf
51 If anything, the 3rd person should be Morgan Freeman
2008-08-11 11:32:27
54.   pistolpete
51 It's hard to enjoy a team that underperforms this badly, though. Would be nice if at least we could see Hughes & Kennedy pitch and improve with each start instead of imploding and/or getting injured every few months.
2008-08-11 11:34:58
55.   Schteeve
32 I can't remember what October is like without the hope of a playoff success, no matter how unlikely.

That and yeah, I want the last game at YS to be a post season game. So, yes, I want the Yankees to make the PS.

2008-08-11 11:36:15
56.   Schteeve
46 I would argue that when it comes to the Yankee starters, the past looks bright, the future uncertain.
2008-08-11 11:39:38
57.   Chyll Will
53 I'm hoping not to incite karma to fulfill that expectation, but yeah, agreed :(
2008-08-11 11:43:35
58.   ChrisS
15 Indeed. I don't think that there's anything wrong with having vets on the team. The problem with the Yankees as built is that they don't have a good mix and they don't have that core of solid up the middle guys.

Jeter is still productive and an asset. The problem, as it stands, is that on a team of underperforming and/or injured players, they can't let what used to be a strength slip. They just can't absorb the slight decline from SS, when 3 of the other 4 skill positions are so dreadful with the bat.

Part of this is Cashman's problem, but a lot is part of the hangover from the front office wars of the early-to-middle part of the decade. For example, the Posada contract might not have been necessary if they had kept Navarro. Some positional problems just need time to work themselves out.


2008 - So far, 2111 plate appearances with runners on and 109 double plays, which project to be 2,898 and 149.6. So, roughly, every 19.3 PA with runners on the Yankees get caught in a double play. Limited to only with a runner on first, it's once every 11 PAs

1998 - 3,080 PA with runners on and 145 DP, which is every 21 PAs they were doubled up. With only a runner on first, it was once every 13 PAs.

For comparison, the clutchy 2008 Red Sox average 1/19.7 with runners on and 1/12.6 with a runner at first and the dread Angels of Anaheim are 1/18.5 and 1/11, respectively.

I don't know what that says about the Yankees of '08, but there it is.

2008-08-11 11:44:56
59.   rbj
53 It's just that Jackson is the third guy in the upcoming movie "Soul Man". Kinda like a reverse "Predator" situation.

54 That's why I can't get too upset at the team, the starters have been going down too damn often. I hate to use injuries as an excuse, but with only two consistent starters it's real hard to play consistently.

And I want to keep my nice, relaxed feeling from the week at the beach and not stress out about the team.

2008-08-11 12:00:44
60.   Shaun P
58 Thanks Chris, that's interesting data. I figured it wouldn't be too much of a difference.

The D'backs just got Adam Dunn in exchange for 3 prospects. Potential problem for the Yanks - if AZ goes far in the playoffs and Dunn (re)signs there. The Yanks would also have to sign Tex then.

2008-08-11 12:19:22
61.   JL25and3
49 The divisional setup wouldn't be so bad if you got back to a balanced schedule and shit-canned interleague play. It wouldn't solve the problem of a weak division, but at least it wouldn't be combined with a weak schedule.

There are a couple of problems with your two-league-no-division system. First, there's one of the big reasons that they went to a divisional setup in the first place - they discovered that you just can't market a tenth-place team. Second, from my own aesthetic point of view, it would mean the end of the pennant race altogether, to be replaced by a free-for-all for third and fourth place. Oh boy, what excitement!

I say add two more teams - yes, I know - and go to four 8-team divisions. The true old-time purist in me says four 8-team leagues, with the schedule as it was in pre-expansion days, but that's a non-starter.

2008-08-11 12:23:40
62.   tommyl
61 You're right about the reasons and it'll never happen. What I think should and could happen is to move towards a balanced schedule. Do we really need 19+ games against the Sox every year? It sort of lessens the thrill for me a bit. Its also just plain not fair with the WC in place. If we're competing with teams from other divisions for a playoff spot we should have something like equitable schedules. Hey, I'd like to play the Mariners 15 more times, wouldn't you?
2008-08-11 12:32:10
63.   JL25and3
62 Balanced schedule, and can we please say goodbye to interleague play?

MLB doesn't understand that you don't promote rivalries by stuffing them down people's throats. Rivalries occur naturally when good teams play each other repeatedly in games that count. The Yankees and Royals had a rivalry with some serious juice to it - and that would never happen with the schedule as it is now.

2008-08-11 12:44:40
64.   tommyl
63 Agreed about interleague play too. The 2000 Serious would have been so much less exciting had the Yankees and Mets already played about 1000 times that year already.
2008-08-11 12:45:07
65.   ChrisS
60 I'm not sure I'd say it's not much of a difference. Based on TangoTiger's runs expected with a runner on first and no outs is 0.95 and drops to 0.12 after a GIDP. That hurts when it's happening even slightly more frequently. I'd have to do a probably slightly more rigorous statistical analysis, but my gut is that it's probably costing them a run every other game.

More to the point, the three leaders in GIDP on the Yankees by far and away, are Jeter, Abreu, and Cano. Two of which have batted back-to-back in nearly every game this season. Regardless of Damon getting on base at decent clip, if Jeter doesn't wipe him out, Abreu does.

DPs hurt and, as evidence, Jeter's Runs Created/Game has dropped 50% from his career average, Abreu's has dropped 34%, Cano's has dropped 41%. Most of the other hitters are at or above their average RC/G. Not a perfect stat, but just more context.

2008-08-11 13:13:30
66.   OldYanksFan
49 It's true and I agree. But unfortunately, MLB is far more about money then about being fair, or about being the national pastime. One thing that bothers me is how much effect televising games effects scheduling. It it possible games are so long not because of pitchers and batters but because of more commercial time? But Fox/ESPN have paid big bucks for their rights, so MLB conceeds to them.

The concept of 'parity' in the game is a fair one. Divisional play and the unbalanced schedules purposely allow 'worse' teams to end up in the playoffs, to make it look like parity is working. But I can unstand the desire/need to have mid-country teams actually win something once in a while.

I hate interleague play but again, it appears it makes money, so it's here to stay.

As someone stated by above, with divisional play, the unbalanced schedule is NOT for 'parity'. However, it does save a LOT of travel and possibly some off days to accomodate that travel. I've mentioned before that a better way to impliment the schedule would be to have 5 game series (instead of 3 & 4), which would both eliminate a ton of travel (AND SAVE GASOLINE) and allow more offdays, all within a shorter season. MOST importantly, this would allow for 1 SEVEN game 1st playoff round, which is the most agregious problem with the current system.

Even as a Yankee fan, I believe our financial advantage is somewhat 'unsportsmanlike', and speaks against fair competition. If there were both a salary cap minimum and maximum, MLB might look at divisional play and the unbalanced schedule differently.

2008-08-11 13:31:02
67.   Shaun P
65 That's a very fair point. However, in addition to grounding into so many double plays, those 3 guys (Jeter, Abreu, and Cano) are having very "off" years. Is that because they are GIDP so often, or are they GIDP so often because they are not having good years? The old chicken and egg problem if I've said it clearly.

Everyone talks about how poorly the Yanks are doing with RISP, and how A-Rod and Giambi are the biggest culprits. (OK, it was a PeteAbe post that got me on this.) We know batting average is pretty useless as a stat. So we do we look at batting average with runners in scoring position? As long as the hitter hasn't made an out, isn't that a good thing?

I say this because:

A-Rod, 2008, RISP: .239/.399/.404
Giambi, 2008, RISP: .204/.358/.301

The slugging numbers for both are bad (really, really bad in Giambi's case). But A-Rod and Giambi both avoiding making outs at a reasonable (in A-Rod's case, good) rate in those situations. A walk isn't a hit, but its not an out either. And those high OBPs can't be due to IBB (Giambi has only 4 on the year, A-Rod only 9).

If you want to say their OPS with RISP is poor, that I'll buy. But to say their average with RISP is poor and hence the Yanks aren't scoring enough runs . . . that's a bit of a stretch.

2008-08-11 13:53:50
68.   monkeypants
61 etc.

I think you guys have it completely backwards regarding division set-up and balanced schedule, etc. It makes basically no sense to play a balanced schedule AND retain a division format. What would the divisions stand for, what would a division title mean, if all the teams played each other the same number of times? In that case, the division is a completely arbitrary arrangement--they might as well draw teams out of a hat every year. If you have divisions, therefore, you need to have imbalanced schedules for the format to make any sense internally.

the problem with imbalanced schedules aries with the wild card. But the wild card itself is an anomaly, a recent innovation. It is fundamentally flawed because it pits the all of the teams against each other without any regard for the schedule they play. Thus, it is fundamentally at odds with a division format. It makes just as little sense in the NFL, but no one seems to mind how nonsensical the NFL scheduling and playoff rules are. baseball on the other hand was much more logical and elegant, until the decided NFLize the system in 1990s.

With all this being said, it seems to me that one has to choose which of two arrangements one prefers. if you like the idea of coherent and meaningful divisions, then have imbalanced schedules and eliminate the WC. If you dislike imbalanced schedules, eliminate the divisions and simply pick the top four (or six or eight or whatever) teams from the two leagues.

Two other notes:

49 Playing a balanced schedule within a division format increases the likelihood that a sub-.500 team will make the play-offs as a division winner.

62 Do we need 19 games against the Sox? i don't know, but before the expansion in 1960 (or 1961?), each team played each other 22 times per season. When the leagues expanded to 10 teams, they played each other 16 or 17 times. It was only with further expansion that teams played each so few times. Moreover, after the initial move to division play, the NL continued to play an imbalanced schedule...only the AL played a balanced schedule, mainly because opponents wanted to schedule Yankees and Red Sox games.

I really like playing division rivals many times in a season. I don't think that it's a forced rivalry at all. Rather, it makes more sense within a divisional set-up (see above).

Now, if you don't

2008-08-11 13:56:35
69.   monkeypants
63 "The Yankees and Royals had a rivalry with some serious juice to it - and that would never happen with the schedule as it is now."

That is simply untrue. The Dodgers and Yankees had a great rivalry, and they played each other zero times in the regular season. The Yankees and Red Sox had a great rivalry and they played each other zero times in the post season (except 1978) until the play offs were organized, allowing them to meet in the play offs.

There are different kinds of rivalries. Not all of them need develop around regular season play.

2008-08-11 16:43:38
70.   JL25and3
69 Sorry, but those examples don't contradict what I said in the least. I talked about playing repeatedly, in games that count.

The Yankees and the Red Sox didn't play in the postseason (1978 wasn't postseason), but they played each other for the pennant plenty of times, as they have for the last dozen years. When both teams were good, the rivalry mattered. When they weren't, it didn't.

The Yankees and Dodgers played each other in the WS 4 times in 5 years, 6 times in 10 years. So what if they didn't play in the regular season? They played repeatedly in games that mattered, and they don't matter much more than that.

Your argument about divisions and balanced schedules makes a certain amount of logical sense. It doesn't make entertainment sense.

2008-08-11 17:13:26
71.   monkeypants
70 Ah, but playing games that matter is more important than the number of games. The Yankees-Royals rivalry would be just as good if they meet repeatedly in the playoffs (as they did from 1976 through 1980) or if they meet in during the season. Playing a balanced schedule doesn't really affect that. It does, I suppose, mitigate the number of "bad games" against weak teams, but then it also eliminates a number of good games against good teams (19 games against a pennant rival is really, really good--it allows the tension of the race to build, for each to team to play each other under most conditions, etc).

It's all trade-offs. But it seems to me that if a few World Series games can make a rivalry, one does not need a balanced schedule.

2008-08-12 08:39:21
72.   JL25and3
71 Yes, that's true. But combining the two works best. A postseason rivalry is intensified by good midseason matchups, and attenuated by the lack of them. The Yankees-A's never had the juice it should have had, nor does Yankees-Angels now. (It's better this year because they play 10 games, 6 of them near the end of the year. That supports my thesis: increased in-season games, especially when they count, make a rivalry better. If the Yankees and Angels only played one home-and-home series in April-May - as they do with several other teams - they wouldn't mean squat.)

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