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Decisions
2005-11-04 05:53
by Alex Belth
Note: The Bronx Banter blog has moved to bronxbanterblog.com.

Tony Pena is the new first base coach of the Yankees. The thought is with Pena aboard the Yankees will not trade Robinson Cano. While I like the idea of the Yankees having young players on the team, and was impressed at times with both Cano's glove and his ability to hit line drives, his insouciant demeanor left me cold. Further, his lack of patience is a concern moving forward. Which is not to say that he won't improve, but maybe now is the best time to move him. Over at the Pinstriped Blog, Steve Goldman agrees:

The Yankees seem to have come out of their organizational meetings firm in their resolve not to trade Cano. Gentlemen, start constructing our alternate Torii Hunter trade fantasies now. I actually see this as bad news, because the Yankees need their pitching prospects, and if Cano isn't going, they are the most likely trade targets. Seeing Matt Desalvo and J. Brent Cox pitching for the Twins in August while the Yankees struggle to find Aaron Small 2006 would be extremely frustrating. Cano could develop into something good, but he's not the kind of player who is indispensable.

I've read that the Blue Jays are eager to deal Orlando Hudson, who is not only likable but certainly an upgrade defensively. Meanwhile, the $64,000 question is who will play center field in the Bronx next year: Torii Hunter, Johnny Damon (please no), Juan Pierre (Lord no), Preston Wilson (yikes), Milton Bradley, Vernon Wells (slap me, I'm dreamin'), or someone out of the blue, like say, Jose Cruz Jr, Gary Matthews Jr, or even Bubba Crosby?

Comments
2005-11-04 06:34:40
1.   Alex Belth
Slightly off-topic, here is an article from Newsday about the Yankees' interest in Japanese pitcher Daisuke Matsuzaka. It's the first I've ever heard of him. If our pal in Japan Mike Plugh catches this thread and can fill us in it would certainly be appreciated.

http://www.newsday.com/sports/baseball/yankees/ny-spyanks044497798nov04,0,2438794.story?coll=ny-yankees-bigpix

2005-11-04 06:44:38
2.   Dimelo
I would like if the Yanks gave that kid Reese a shot or keep Crosby at CF. I'd rather see them move Sheffield to be the permanent DH and get a player like Encarnacion or Giles to play right field.

What do you think? They need a stop-gap at CF for this year, someone they can put in the 9 hole and hopefully get an average of .250 with a OBP slightly north of .315 (hopefully). I agree with the write-up, none of the CF listed above interest me. Especially Damon, PLEASE SAY NO!!!!

2005-11-04 06:51:49
3.   Dimelo
Sorry, Gary Matthews Jr. isn't a bad choice.

Alex, I understand your frustration with Cano and his "insouciant demeanor", but don't you think he deserves a fair chance? It's funny people scream when we trade away all of our prospects and then when the Yanks do not trade away prospects it's perceived to be a bad thing. I don't get it, are we just never happy? I honestly think Cano is going to get better, I thought he was fluke after that bad month of August but then in September he found his stroke and that convinced me that he will be one of the better 2nd baseman in the league. I do agree that if the Yanks can get Orlando Hudson then that would make Cano a good pawn we can hang out there for teams, but till then, which FA 2nd baseman would you use if we trade Cano? Furcal maybe, but that would cost too much and take money away from getting the bullpen in order.

2005-11-04 06:54:57
4.   NetShrine
Alex - see:
http://www.waswatching.com/archives/2005/10/the_hot_stove_b.html

Looks like Daisuke Matsuzaka is not an option.

2005-11-04 07:01:49
5.   Ben
Jose Cruz jr? I used to really dislike the guy. I hated his discipline always swinging for the fences. But I was really surprised to see how many walks he draws. So he's the .250 BA guy with good defense??? (is this true?) but he also wears down pitchers by being selective and working the walk. Sounds like he could be a good fit.

Anyone know more about him. Haven't really seen him since he left the BlueJays.

2005-11-04 07:40:22
6.   Andrew Fletcher
As long as we're allowed to dream (i.e. Alex's comment on Vernon Wells), anyone know the status of Ichiro's contract? Just like Matsui, he hasn't been here long enough to be a free agent, but my inlaws (who marginally follow baseball in Seattle) said mid-season that everyone there was afraid the Yankees would snap him up in the off-season. Since he's never mentioned on the list of free agents or available players, I have to assume they were mistaken. Anyone know where to check on his (or anyone else's) contract status? And back in dream-land, wouldn't it be fun to have him patrolling CF for the next year? He could move back to right when Sheffield's done assuming the Yanks had someone else ready by then.
2005-11-04 07:44:46
7.   Shaun P
My own reluctance at trading Cano for Torii Hunter has nothing to do with Cano and everything to do with Hunter.

Hunter is coming off a bad ankle injury; how does that affect his defense? I haven't heard a good answer to this question yet. He was also hurt in 2004, FWIW.

And, is Hunter really that good of a flycatcher?

Year - Rate/Rate2*/FRAA/FRAR**/Games in CF
2001 - 111/112/15/33/147
2002 - 87/87/-18/1/146
2003 - 96/97/-5/14/151
2004 - 99/100/-1/14/126
2005 - 101/102/1/14/93

*a Rate/Rate2 of 100 is league-average
**the greater the defensive value of the position, the higher the FRAR; while Hunter's FRAR numbers look high, they're really not; for context, Andruw Jones averaged 38+ FRAR/year from 1998-2003

Year - RangeFactor/ZoneRating/Games in CF
2001 - 3.29/.904/147
2002 - 2.70/.897/146
2003 - 2.98/.924/151
2004 - 2.59/.890/126
2005 - 2.51/.891/93

All caveats with defensive stats apply, but those numbers look average at best, and certainly on the way down since a huge peak in 2001. To me, it seems like everyone is still giving Hunter credit for his fantastic 2001 season with the glove, and forgetting the average-at-best 4 years since then.

Why give up Cano for a guy who's likely going to be so-so, maybe slightly better at best as a defensive CF? Don't the Yanks already have a guy who fit this description?

2005-11-04 07:45:59
8.   bp1
Alex,

Re: Cano. You and I are on the same page, there. That he has talent I have no doubt, but there's something there that bugs me. Torre says that things come easily for him and it appears as if he's not trying. Well - I dunno about that. Just make the plays and don't worry about how it looks. Every out is important. If it's an easy out - don't loaf. Finish the play and get the ball back to the pitcher!

Damn!

If only Miggy Cairo had his bat and throwing arm. (sigh)

BP

2005-11-04 07:46:25
9.   Alex Belth
D, you might be right about Cano. I usually would embrace a young player from the Yankee system but like I said, though his talent did impress me in spots, he still has to win me over. Maybe he will improve. I sure hope his attitude matures. We know Soriano still makes the same cavalier plays he did five years ago. I also don't want to blindly love a young Yankee simply because he's a young Yankee. I'm not saying I hate the kid, but I'm not sold on him yet.

Make Sheff the DH, get Giles and keep Bubba in cf? I could live with that. Nab Mathews Jr or Cruz Jr on the cheap (one is a free agent the other would have to come via trade) to platoon with Bubba and now yer talkin.

2005-11-04 07:57:04
10.   Cliff Corcoran
I have to say I completely disagree with Alex and Steve on Cano. Considering the season he just had at age 22, the Yankees owe it to themselves to see how quickly he can improve the weaker parts of his game (which is primarily his plate discipline as I think his defense, save for the occassional lapse, is very good, despite Mr. Goldman's repeated grumblings to the contrary). If he makes any sort of improvement he will automatically be one of the best second basemen in the league. What's more, I am not bothered by his "insouciance." Rather I think he carries himself a lot like his keystone partner, Captain Jeter, who I expect to have a very positive influence on him over the next few seasons.

As for the centerfield situation, there aren't any players available that are worth a big contract or a top prospect or two, something I address over at Baseball Analysts as part of their "What Went Wrong Series":

http://baseballanalysts.com/archives/2005/11/what_went_wrong_4.php

The more I think about it, the more I side with those who favor a stop gap along the lines of Matthews (Cruz is an outstanding corner outfielder, but has struggled in center) or a stronger committment Bubba Crosby.

2005-11-04 07:57:52
11.   yankee23
Is Jacque Jones absolutely not an option? He's played 159 career games in CF and though his throws can be off-target sometimes, he's about equal to Hunter lifetime at the plate. Here are his Fielding Pct./Range Factor/Zone Rating lifetime in CF: .987/3.07/.874

I'm not certain about his Rates/FRAA/FRAR, but he seems to at the very least be an upgrade over Bernie's .991/2.42/.862 this season.

2005-11-04 08:02:47
12.   Zack
To me, Hunter isn't worth selling the farm. IF we could get him for Cano and someone else that wasn't a top prospect, I'd be fine with it, but for anything more, its not worth it. We're talkign about a guy with a .267 career average and .321 OBP. I just don't see him as our franchise CF. But then again, if he can recover from his injury, he would look good in death valley. I would just much rather see a stop gap good df guy and see what we have in cabrera or anyone else down there. If the Yankees do have a tradition of using the farm, its in CF, no?
2005-11-04 08:03:58
13.   Cliff Corcoran
Jones has more holes in his game than Cano. He doesn't walk, he can't hit lefties, and the holes in his defensive game would likely be exposed over a full season in center field.
2005-11-04 08:04:16
14.   atc
Regarding Mazzilli's ability to persuade B.J. Ryan to come to the Bronx, weren't the O's relievers unhappy with the way Mazzilli managed the bullpen last year? I don't remember who said it (although it might have been Steve Kline who seems like a lunatic), but I swear someone in that bullpen, commenting on how infrequently he was used, said something like: "It's impossible to pitch when he (Mazzilli) only goes to the same 2 guys every time. And where do you think he learned that from (referring to Torre)?" Now obviously, Ryan would be one of the guys who Torre turns to every single day as opposed to one of the guys who never pitches, but shouldn't it follow that if the Oriole bullpen had a problem with the way Mazzilli handled it, and knew that he learned his style from Torre, then Mazzilli's presence would be a detriment to recruiting Ryan rather than a benefit?
2005-11-04 08:12:13
15.   Cliff Corcoran
Oh, and according to Baseball Prospectus's Rate state, Torii Hunter hasn't been an above average CF since 2001, never mind what effects his season-ending ankle injury might have had on his range. I am intrigued by Milton Bradley, however, despite his temper and his knee surgery. With DePodesta gone the Dodgers might be willing to give him up cheaply, and he has all around game, speed, power, patience, defense. Besides, with Bradley and Larry Bowa in the same clubhouse, what could possibly go wrong?
2005-11-04 08:13:35
16.   Cliff Corcoran
ATC, actually, I don't think so. Maz made Ryan the closer and called his number all the time. The other O's relievers may resent Mazzilli, but I'm sure Ryan loves him.
2005-11-04 08:14:42
17.   Cliff Corcoran
Oh, I forgot to add that Bradley is essentially the only available CF under 30.
2005-11-04 08:20:38
18.   Shaun P
Seems the Yanks are maybe thinking of just sticking with Bubba too (thanks Steve!):

http://www.waswatching.com/archives/2005/11/bubba_or_bluffi.html

I have no problems with using Bubba in CF. I would be thrilled to see Bradley in pinstripes, off the field issues be damned. Yankee lore is full of guys who had issues but played well and helped bring championships to the Bronx.

2005-11-04 08:27:30
19.   Alex Belth
I would have to think that Jeter would be a good influence on Cano. Remember last summer when Cano was obnoxious with reporters one day, answering questions but not looking up from his newspaper? Both Jeter and Rodriguez had a chat with him after that.

Hey, I won't be upset if they keep him and give him a chance. And I hope if he does stay he wins me over. You never know how much of his cockiness is good and how much could lead to bad things. He's most assured, but he doesn't remind me of a young Jeter. Jeter was cocky but always busted his ass and didn't have the kind of spacey lapses that Cano displayed.

2005-11-04 08:28:42
20.   Dimelo
Good stuff here today. Seems like it's unanimous at least nobody wants Damon as the stopgap.

I would love if the Yanks got Bradley, but I'd like if they just got his numbers and not the person. He has so much talent and I've heard him speak, he's not stupid or anything (like Carl Everett), he's just pissed at the world almost like it owes him something. He would solve our CF problems, but I don't know if it's worth the headache.

2005-11-04 08:31:46
21.   sabernar
Shaun, I read the same thing somewhere else online. There is talk about sticking Bubba in CF to see how he can play. He his .276 last year, but something like .321 in September. I say give him a chance and save the money/prospects you'd spend on trading/signing a CF. Use the money for some relief pitchers (the real weakness on this team, besides injuries to the SPs). This team really doesn't need too much. We can't sign any SP, and our offense was one of the best in baseball. What's left? Relief pitchers and defense (which can only really be improved at CF this season, since everyone else is entrenched in their positions).
2005-11-04 08:35:39
22.   Ben
With the exception of Sheffield, has any recent yankees signee had a lights out first year? Matsui, maybe.

I don't think this should be underrated. it just takes time and effort to adjust, it seems, to playing in NYC. And to be playing the marquee position of CF, replacing Bernie, I would put my money on someone with a strong work ethic, plate discipline. No headcases please, though their numbers may be very attractive.

On another topic, does anyone look as good going into next year as the Indians? I keep thinking about that squad, they're so damned likable.

2005-11-04 08:36:50
23.   Alvaro Espinoza
I see both sides here but ultimately come down in the "Keep Cano" camp. 2B's never win you championships. The stereo-typical 2B plays above average defense and generally bats at the bottom of the lineup or the occassional 2-hole so how consequential can they be? And I'm sympathetic to the "he's young w/ tremendous upside so let's deal him for sorely needed outfield and pitching help".

But, 22 won me over for 2 reasons I value highly:

1) his ability to consistently hit peas at the major league level, and

2) his unwavering postseason performance

His personality is somewhat of a double-edged sword: a potentially combustible combo of nonchalance and calm/cool. But did he appear to be over his head against LAA? Nope, he just played the same game he played all year. I'm willing to chalk up his attitude as a product of his youth. If it needs tweaking, I fully expect the Torre's, Mazzilli's, Jeter's, Pena's, et al of this team to do just that.

I'm also pretty much an anti-numbers guy. What's a stat going to tell me that I can perceive watching the games? Having said that, his regular and post-season numbers were quite good (save OBP), particularly for a 2B.

I really like the upside on this kid especially the way he took the ball to LF late in the season. Rod Carew's comparisons were thrown around early in reference to his swing. I think that was a mistake. The name that comes to my mind is Robin Ventura. 22 has a sweet level swing a la Ventura all the way through the strike zone. If the coaching staff can continue to hone his selectivity at the plate (please stop swinging at low-inside breaking balls that bounce in the dirt) and his glove in the field, well, the prospects get me very excited.

2005-11-04 08:47:08
24.   Shawn Clap
I'm all for keeping Cano, but I'm expecting a bad 'sophmore slump' for him this year.

Happens to a lot of cocky brats with a mildly productive rookie season.

Really, commissioning an oil painting of himself alongside Jackie Robinson and Rod Carew! Only a matter of time before he catches one upside the helmet.

2005-11-04 08:49:35
25.   Cliff Corcoran
Ben, Matsui's first year wasn't even league average for a LF, as you'll see when I post my OF postmortem later today. Rather it was perhaps one of the most overrated Yankee seasons ever.
2005-11-04 08:51:53
26.   mainmanmaitland
Here is a question/suggestion - instead of using Cano as tradebait (as all indications are that he can handle the pressure of being in NYC), why don't we dangle Pavano and see if he can bring us something useful?

He struggled here but he could be of use to a lot of other teams. There isn't much in the way of free agent starters available and that might work to our advantage in making a deal.

2005-11-04 09:22:14
27.   jedi
I use to be a supporter of the Hunter for Cano talk. But, lately because of all the good points everyone has made on this site. I basically have reevaluated my decision making.

I look at the "trade Cano" talk simply as common "I dont believe, but I have to" dilemma. Similar to the types of dilemmas you experice at work, such as when a coworker has the einstein idea of pooling everyones money to enter the big powerball lottery jackpot because it has a number bigger than 100. You know in your head that this is probably not best investments you can make in your lifetime, but the contribution is only a $1. And if you dont give in your cheap buck there is the ludacris chance that your coworkers win. Could you live with the fact you were so cheap not give that dollar that you could be missing on the fun of rolling in your own green hay as well? See, I look at it the same way with the Cano situation. After all the positives this year that attract me (like winning that jackpot and swimming naked in green!) I just can't jump on the bandwagon and fall head over heals with the upside of this guy. There is something in me that says that he will turn out to be a kevin maas or a drew henson sometime in his career before he even resembles a rod carew. But, does that make me eager to trade him? No. As much as I do not believe in him, I can't live with the fact that if we trade him and he does become this above average 2nd baseman for another team, I will and could never live with myself over that lax of judgment. So in essence, I am hedging my bet. I don't support trading Cano, but I wont expect anything great from him, either. And in the same way, I am slipping that $1 on my coworker's desk as we speak, because hey...you never know, but I won't expect anything either.

2005-11-04 09:24:24
28.   Murray
If it were not for stats, then you would have no idea which players were good. If not for stats, most baseball fans would have come away with the impression that Bo Jackson was the greatest baseball player of all time.

Our lyin' eyes deceive us all the time (see, e.g., studies on the reliability of eyewitness testimony). Stats are not the only way to evaluate player performance, they may not be the best way, but using stats in conjunction with watching games is certainly a better way to evaluate players than just by watching them in action.

2005-11-04 09:35:00
29.   Cliff Corcoran
Speaking of eyewitness testimony, it hadn't occured to me until now, but in eighth grade my history teacher set up a stunt in which one of our classmates interrupted the class and created a scene and then ran out of the room. He then quized us all on exactly what happened and there were as many versions of the story as there were kids in the class. This was no more than a minute after the incident. He was making a point about the reliability of eyewitness testimony, and did so in a way that really drove the point home. I hadn't realized until now that that incident might have played a small part in my willingness to trust stats over my own observations.

Meanwhile, mainmanmaitland, Pavano's contract will prevent the Yankees from trading him, though I'm sure they'd like to.

2005-11-04 09:56:05
30.   Alex Belth
Cliff and I were talking about the possibility of Bradley coming over a few days ago and while I think it's not the kind of move I see the Yankees making, we both thought that a guy like Sheffield could be a good influence on him.

And Cliff is right about Pavano's contract. I would think they will be able to move him eventually, but I'd be surprised if it came this off-season. I figure he's going to have to get back out there and prove that he's still got it.

2005-11-04 09:58:54
31.   Dimelo
What if you don't like stats, don't like television but listen to Sterling and Waldman on the radio only? What would you think of players and their value? We'd probably say Giambino was the greatest, Alexandar the Great and Cano "Don't You Know" are all the best things since sliced bread. We might want to include stats, seeing and hearing to help judge our analysis. And if we get close to the players then we can include taste and smell, too - depends what people are into, some strange cats out there. Determining a players worth, attributes and contributions will and always be relative. Except when it comes to Johnny Damon....where we all agree.
2005-11-04 10:14:35
32.   susan mullen
Cano needs to stay with the Yankees. His mental
game needs to improve, but they have sports
psychologists for that. Perhaps all the
other intangibles that effect the team effected
him. Forget trading for an injured veteran. The
Twins always expect more back than they're giv-
ing anyway. Re: Pavano, maybe false, but there
was a rumor he didn't like NYC anyway, so he
might agree to a trade.
2005-11-04 10:22:28
33.   Dan M
Actually, Dimelo, the stats bear out that A-Rod is the best thing since sliced bread.
2005-11-04 10:34:57
34.   Shawn Clap
Stats can be deceptive and twisted to prove just about anything.

Sure, basic stats (Avg. HR RBI) can give a general idea about a visiting ballplayer coming to town, but somehow we've allowed them to become the end-all.

We've allowed stat-worship to determine our MVPs and HOFers. Websites like Baseball Prospectus even invent new stats! I just think it's gotten silly.

There's only one stat that really matters: Team Winning Pct.

So for all the AROD stat-heads out there, here's something to chew on:

Team Win% with & without Arod:

Yankees 2 years with Arod: .604
Yankees 2 years before Arod: .632

Rangers 3 years with Arod: .444
Rangers 2 years after Arod: .519

Mariners 5 years with Arod: .521
Mariners 3 years after Arod: .621

There you have it! 10 years of Statistical Data proving teams are better off when Arod is NOT on the roster.

2005-11-04 10:54:00
35.   Alex Belth
Shawn,
This argument has been rehashed so many times it's pointless to really get into it again, but you are right, stats can show anything they want. Championships with Shane Spencer/Chad Curtis in LF: three. Championships with Matsui in LF: none. Spencer and Chad sure must be better than Godzilla. The Yankees had a better winning percentage from 2002-2004 than they did in 1999-2001 but, oh well, nevermind...
2005-11-04 11:39:39
36.   Knuckles
Yankees championships while I lived in NJ: 6
Yankees championships since I moved to DC/VA: 0

It's on me fellas; I'll put the house on the market, post haste.

2005-11-04 11:42:53
37.   Ben
A good statistician can tease out lots of facts from a given set of numbers. The romance of baseball stats seem to come from being able to reconstruct the game by the box score. pretty cool. Stats have taken on another application in that they are used predictively. I guess this is driven by the cost of contracts and the desire of clubs to compare players. This is a procedure borrowed from epidimiological modeling. But until baseball folks starts using p-values commonly, I think stats are best used as Cliff does, to illuminate what has happened and not to predict what might.

There's a classic science experiment that involved looking at a beam of light as either a wave (energy) or particle (matter). The results showed that depending on which the observer was looking for, the light seemed to be made up of that and only that. Sometimes baseball anaylsis is like this too. It's not bias, it's just that when you're dealing with something as enigmatic as baseball, choosing your criteria can dictate your findings. To me, this is why they play the games, so that baseball can define itself without our interference.

2005-11-04 11:45:49
38.   Ben
I think that experiment was done by John Wheeler.
2005-11-04 11:50:53
39.   Dan M
No, Knuckles, it's me:

3 years of law school: 3 championships
5 years since: 0 championships.

Plus, I have a history of this:

4 years at UVA: 4 national championships in men's soccer
10 years since graduation: 0 national championships in men's soccer

Point: I need a new degree for the Giants to pull off a Super Bowl dynasty!

2005-11-04 12:13:41
40.   Dimelo
What about Bush? Is he not responsible for the Yankees not winning? In the last year of Clinton's first term and for the tenure of his 2nd term the Yankees dominated MLB - except for 1997. Mabye we need another President that will focus on putting the right amount of DNA on some poor intern's face, then take us into war. We need a "love time" President, not a "war time" President. I blame Bush, Cheney and Rove. Plus if I remember correctly Ari Fleisher was a huge Yankee fan, having such a huge Yankee fan in Bush's 8 year vacation home might have put a hex on the Yankees.
2005-11-04 12:18:17
41.   Shaun P
Great point Ben, and using that light experiment to highlight it drives the point home.

However, I do think there's value in using stats to predict the future, as long as the limits of that approach are recognized. There's plenty of proof that certain stats do a reasonably good job of predicting the future. The problem becomes when someone draws a conclusion about the future based entirely on a selected grouping of stats and the conclusion/argument lacks a solid logical footing 34.

Stats aren't bad because they can be used to show whatever you want. In fact, I don't think stats are bad at all. Now, illogical conclusory arguments that misuse stats - or any other facts - those are bad.

2005-11-04 12:19:04
42.   Alex Belth
Here was a good post regarding any Rodriguez jinx by David Pinto over at Baseball Musings:

October 22, 2004
A-Rod is Not the Problem

I've seen this in two places now, the idea that A-Rod brings defeat with him. First it was at Soxaholix (warning, obsenity laced (but funny) rant). The 2nd is at Let's Fly Under the Bridge. I'll fisk the 2nd, since this tries to be a kid friendly blog:

"Alex Rodriguez, surrounded by potential Hall of Famers; Randy Johnson, Edgar Martinez, and Ken Griffey Jr., the Mariners fail to reach a World Series."

How about this: Long time superstars Johnson, Martinez and Griffey are given the best hitting shortstop of this generation to compliment their talents and still can't win a World Series. And since reaching the World Series is the goal here, I don't remember the 2001 Mariners doing any better in that regard.

Look, the Mariners were a very good team in the late 1990's. In 2001 they replaced 1 superstar with 2 superstars. Surprise! They got better! They got really good! The problem was the Yankees figured out Ichiro's weakness for the ALCS, and the Mariners sunk. It's just a thought, but A-Rod, who has fewer weaknesses than Ichiro, might have done better.

"Free agent Alex Rodriguez, after assuring the Seattle Mariner fans that money wouldn't determine his destination, signs with the Texas Rangers for $250 million. Texas immediately goes to the bottom of the standings."

And they went there with a good offense, which was the whole point of getting A-Rod. In his three years in Texas, the Rangers finished 3rd, 5th and 5th in runs per game, but 14th, 12th and 14th in ERA. This year, they finished 4th in runs per game and 5th in ERA. Surprise! They didn't finish last. I'm sure A-Rod was the only reason their pitching improved so much.

2004: After aborting a trade to the Boston Red Sox, Rodriguez finds a home at third base in Yankee Stadium. The Red Sox accomplish the unheard of; regrouping from a 3-0 deficit, they win the final four games, and take the American League pennant. Now await a National League opponent in the 2004 World Series.

I believe it was the Union that aborted the trade, but that's neither here nor there. How about this: With A-Rod in New York instead of Boston, the Yankees play 12 games better than their Pythagorean projection and finish three games ahead of the Red Sox instead of 8 games back. Had the Red Sox gotten A-Rod, leaving the Yankees with no third baseman of any quality, the Yankees probably don't make the wild card, and this grand comeback doesn't happen.

So sure, go ahead and hang all these losses on Alex Rodriguez and ignore reality. There are plenty of teams who wish they were cursed with A-Rod.

2005-11-04 12:19:20
43.   Cliff Corcoran
Ben, thanks for the compliment. About what you say about predictions, a large part of what sabermetrics is on about is figuring out which stats are predictive and which aren't. For example, batting averages fluctuate wildly, but the portions of OBP and SLG not made up of batting average (known as isolated power and isolated discipline) don't. ERA's fluctuate a lot and are very dependent on team defense, but walk and strikeout rates are not and a pitcher's K/BB ratio has proven to be a good indicator of future success.

The big-time stat eggheads, particularly those at Baseball Prospectus, have indeed done a lot of work with predictability (p values) and correlation coefficients. My math skills don't extend that far, nor would I venture to scare off my readers by going beyond basic math if they did (though I'm sure many of them could handle it, and some might even appreciate it). As Steven Goldman has said, we're sabermetric endusers. I've seen those correlation and prediction reports and understand which stats are most reliable, but I'm not capable of reproducing how and why, but I do make a point to focus on the statistics that actually tell us something meaningful.

I very much agree that if one ignores such things as predictability and correlation, statistics can be dangerously misleading, but if used correctly and with a proper understanding of what they actually mean, they are tremendously enlightening and, as per my history class anecdote in comment # 29, far more reliable than selective memory over the course of a 162 game season, or a 1000-game career.

2005-11-04 12:40:25
44.   Murray
Yawn. I can also make English say anything I want. Statistics say specific things. Sometimes they require additional interpretation. But they are not, in and of themselves, misleading. The biggest problem is that there is a ton of data, but not much meaningful information. That's not a failure of statistics. It's a failure of interpretation.
2005-11-04 12:42:16
45.   brockdc
Considering Pavano's physical status and exorbitant contract, I can't imagine how any GM in his right mind would trade for him at this point - not that I wouldn't love to see him gone.
2005-11-04 13:07:44
46.   sabernar
Personally, I think that we should stick with Pavano. Players seem to improve after their first season with the Yankees (though maybe that's just an illusion). He's a pretty good pitcher who had a lot of injury problems last year. Give the guy a chance.
2005-11-04 14:11:08
47.   Cliff Corcoran
The Yankees don't have a choice but to give him a chance. And I think you're right about players improving in their second year in pinstripes (recent proof: Matsui, Rodriguez). But Pavano's injury problems are not limited to last year.
2005-11-04 14:56:02
48.   randym77
I hope we keep Cano. We need some young blood, and we need a 2nd baseman, and we're not likely to get anything better and cheaper than Cano.

His attitude does need some adjusting. He does not remind me of Jeter. Jeter was a lot more mature at 20 than Cano is at 22. He may have been selfsure, but he wasn't obnoxious to reporters, he always hustled, and he always played a tough mental game.

But I think it's Jeter that's the anomaly, not Cano. Cano's only 22, and like many 22 year olds, he acts like a kid sometimes. He'll outgrow it. I've been pretty impressed with the way he adjusted to the Major Leagues. He had that terrible slump, probably because other teams started to get to know him. Many a rookie would have been crushed by that, but he adjusted. I think it bodes well for the future.

I'd rather give Bubba a chance in CF than trade Cano. He had one stretch where he was awful (trying for too much, I think), but for the most part, he did okay. Hey, he's probably the best bunter on the team. :)

2005-11-04 21:20:07
49.   wsporter
If Pavano does get back out there and prove that he still has it why would we move him? I don't see him moving this winter because he won't bring much. If he approaches a performance level commensurate with his contract number next summer we won't be able to move him because he'll be to valuable (I don't see things getting much better with Johnson and Moose at the top of the rotation mostly due to age). If he's a mediocre innings eater he'd probably still be too valuable relative to what we could get back. If he's down right awful I think they'll move him to the pen and avoid the potential of another Contreras disaster. Personally I'd like to see him do well and stick. I think Jaret Wright is basically in the same boat.

If you look at either Small or Chacon, I don't think Chacon goes. I hope that's the case anyway. I have a good feeling about both those guys. I think they'll both be solid for us for a couple of years at least. I think Chacon may be able to fill the role of a No 2 or 3. The kid has great stuff and lots of guts. His acquisition has to be the best in-season move since the Justice deal. Small may be at the peak of his value certainly relative to his career prior to last year. Yet he showed signs that if you give him further opportunities he'll continue to perform at a high level. I think he's earned a chance to prove it. If he does we'll have two incredibly valuable assets on our hands in Small and Chacon - low dollar contracts and high performance ceilings.

The only guy I see moving is Mussina to either Baltimore or Philly (the only destinations I think he'd accept). Don't know what we'd be looking for or who we'd get or why we'd do it but it's the only one of the starters I see going anywhere - sort of on a Branch Rickey theory.

Johnson and Wang aren't going anywhere.

I think I just talked myself into not trading anyone. How did that happen?

2005-11-04 22:24:51
50.   brockdc
If Carl Pavano can become a mediocre 4-ish ERA innings eater, he'll be gold.

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