Baseball Toaster Bronx Banter
2007-07-22 21:31
by Emma Span
Note: The Bronx Banter blog has moved to

Well, that was a real nail-biter for about ten minutes there. Do you remember when, in previous recaps, I joked about how Andy Pettitte never seems to get any run support? Never mind. Playing Super Mario to the Devil Rays’ goombas, the Yankees won the last game of the series 21-4. Look at that box score… I mean, really look at it.

This wasn’t Andy Pettitte’s best outing. He was uneven, alternately dominating (8 Ks) and all too hittable, with 11 baserunners allowed in six innings of work. But he managed to ease out of most of his jams without too much damage, just three runs total -- not that it mattered.

The Devil Rays took a one-run lead in the second on a Carlos Pena homer, and I hope that, for their sake, they really savored the moment. The Yankees tied it in the bottom of the inning off D-Rays starter James Shields, on another bomb from Hideki Matsui, who set a career high with five hits. I’d say he’s continuing his hot streak, but to be fair, a well-watered potted plant might have teed off on Tampa Bay's pitching on Sunday. The Bombers took a 3-1 lead in the bottom of the third, but Pettitte immediately gave it back with a series of singles that tied the game; as he wriggled out of the inning, I thought we were in for a slugfest, but a tense slugfest.

Then the bottom of the fourth happened. Rather than try to summarize the entire thing, I’ll just give you the straight play-by-play:

Robinson Cano triples.
Andy Phillips singles to left, Cano scores, 4-3 Yankees.
Shelley Duncan walks.
Melky Cabrera grounds into force out, Duncan out at second, Phillips to third. One out.
Derek Jeter singles to right, Phillips scores, Melky to third. 5-3 Yankees.
Bobby Abreu singles to right, Melky scores. 6-3 Yankees.
Double steal, throwing error, Jeter scores, Abreu to third. 7-3 Yankees.
Alex Rodriguez walks.
Hideki Matsui singles to center, Abreu scores. 8-3 Yankees.
Pitcher Casey Fossum replaces James Shields.
Jorge Posada singles to left, Rodriguez scores. 9-3 Yankees.
Robinson Cano singles. Matsui scores. 10-3 Yankees.
Wild pitch, runners advance.
Andy Phillips strikes out. Two out.
Duncan Shelly hits a three-run home run to left. 13-3 Yankees.
Melky Cabrera walks.
Derek Jeter grounds out.

Now that’s what I call Farnsworth-proofing. It was not unlike batting practice, except, according to Torre in the Times, even better:

“I’ve never seen anything like these last two days,” Manager Joe Torre said. “Even in batting practice you don’t get hits every time you swing the bats. This was incredible.”

Ouch. This all took more than half an hour, and Pettitte was understandably a bit rusty on his return to the mound, despite having retreated to the clubhouse to throw into a net... but by that point, nobody cared.

The Yankees scored seven more runs before the end, including homers from Abreu, Cano, Rodriguez, and Duncan, again. The rookie’s now gotten three curtain calls in two days, and while there’s really nowhere to go from there but down, his goofy, intense enthusiasm has been charming; I plan to enjoy it while it lasts.

The Devil Rays, meanwhile, dragged out a series of interchangeable, young, overmatched relievers, of whom only Gary Glover was at all effective. And thank god for him, because otherwise the Yankees would probably still be batting in the sixth. The bullpen wasn't helped by its fielders, who were charged with two errors but made a considerable number of other sloppy mistakes besides. “Some of the play today, and in this series - it’s just not acceptable at the major-league level,” said Al Leiter, sounding pained.

By the end of the game, Miguel Cairo was at short, Johnny Damon was inserted in right field, Andy Phillips played third and Duncan was at 1st. Sean Henn planted himself at the far outside edge of the batter's box and struck out, in his first Major League at-bat, as the Yankees had lost their DH. Posada was still behind the plate, however; new Yankee Jose Molina had only just arrived, and could be seen looking on with bemusement at the Yanks’ increasingly giddy dugout antics. He only narrowly avoided getting caught in the bouncing Cabrera-Cano sandwich that engulfed A-Rod after his home run.


--Fun Facts: Every Yankee starter was on base at least twice, scored at least one run, and had at least one RBI; the team has scored 38 runs in its last two games, on 45 hits. For perspective, the Yankees haven’t had two 20-hit games in a row since they were just proto-Yankees at the dawn of the 20th century, and haven’t scored this many runs in back-to-back games since the Great Depression.

--Among the many balls careening out of the Stadium yesterday was Alex Rodriguez’s 498th career home run, which means his 500th is likely to come on the road. That’s too bad, but really, it seems ungrateful to complain about any aspect of A-Rod’s current season. While I realize that RBIs are an unreliable, largely team-dependant statistic and rarely pay them much mind… if you have 99 of them on July 22nd, you’re doing something right.

Those of you more intrigued by the sultry siren-song of sabermetrics might be happy to learn that Magglio Ordonez’s reign of VORPish terror has finally come to an end, and A-Rod has resumed his rightful place at the top of the charts, 59.3 to 54.


--Several commenters have made less than totally flattering remarks about Shelley Duncan's appearance over the last few days (it's those deep-set eyes and the high forehead, I suppose), but I'm still trying to figure out who he reminds me of. In any case, he's got that old-school ballplayer look, doesn't he?




Comments (156)
Show/Hide Comments 1-50
2007-07-23 05:25:26
1.   Jim Dean
You are hilarious, Emma.

And I'm shocked at that VORP list. Not who's number 1, but working my way down:

Hanley Ramirez - at #3? Everyone - remind all your Sox friends. And Metts fans too - Reyes is at 16.

Sheffield at 9? - Ugh.

And Jorge at 11? - Victor M is at 7 because of the better power numbers.

2007-07-23 05:35:20
2.   Count Zero
Not to nitpick after such a whitewashing...but was I the only one who was cursing Torre out when he had Melky sacrificing with a 1-run lead in the bottom of the 4th? They posted a 10 spot in spite of JT's best efforts to minimize the damage.
2007-07-23 05:43:52
3.   Sliced Bread
Shell does have an old-school ballplayer look, but he also has an 80's thing going on.

A litle Biff Tannen:

and some George Thorogood:

b-b-b-bad to the bone, no?

2007-07-23 06:44:41
4.   rsmith51
I thought he looked like a bigger version of Matthew Lillard.
2007-07-23 06:50:47
5.   Dimelo
2 Wow. It's amazing to read some of the criticism of Torre lately, whether it be blaming him for Edwar's inability to throw a strike and now this. Let me ask you this, was Torre suppose to know that Shields was going to allow 10 ER, 7 in that inning alone? Shields is the Rays best pitcher. He's a pretty good pitcher. Now Torre is suppose to know the Yanks were gonna put up 21 runs.

Yes it is nitpicking. Can't we be happy (ever) as Yankee fans?

2007-07-23 06:51:53
6.   JL25and3
High forehead? Then his nickname should be obvious: The Human Eyeball.
2007-07-23 06:55:57
7.   JL25and3
2 With two on, and without knowing about the drubbing to come, it didn't infuriate me that much.

The only thing I can fault Joe for was leaving Posada in for the whole game. That wasn't that big a thing, either.

2007-07-23 07:22:54
8.   RIYank
There must have been a very recent VORP update. A-Rod has broken 60.

I'll be sure to point out both Hanley and Renteria's VORPs to my RSN buddies. Of course, they might mention Sheff...

2007-07-23 07:29:24
9.   williamnyy23
5 I don't think the point was he shouldn't bunt in a blowout, but more that you shouldn't be bunting in the early innings in a game in which any reasonable person would expect many more runs to be scored.

Also, to keep with the theme of nitpicking, Shields isn't the Rays best pitcher (Kazmir is). In addition, his last 60 IP have been awful. So, strictly speaking, yes, I think you could argue that Torre should have expected that the Yankees would score a lot of runs.

Having said that, I do agree with your point that in a 21-4 victory, one's foremost thoughts shouldn't be criticisms of Torre. I'm sure that stems from most people's frustrations with how Torre manages (or mismanages) a game, and the fear that such a move will show its ugly head in a closer game.

2007-07-23 07:34:42
10.   williamnyy23
8 They might, but at least the Yankees didn't sign Julio Lugo to a long-term deal to fill a position vacated by both players (and, at least the Yankees aren't still paying Sheffield, nor have they squandered the prospects they received in the deal).
2007-07-23 07:34:57
11.   monkeypants
2 5 7 There are always some nits to pick, but that does not mean one is not happy with the win. I would have done a couple of things differently. For example, I would not have bunted Melky (see 2), but not because I would have foreseen the drubbing to come. Rather, I think that a bunt with two one and no one out in the fourth inning is just about always a bad play, unless your pitcher or Wil Nieves is batting. This nitpick has less to do with Torre per se, however, than with a particular piece of conventional wisdom shared by many a manager.

Second, I would have left Henn in for all three innings. At some point, Torre just has to stop using five and six pitchers in a game. Henn was brought up as a long man--well, let him be the long man, especially with a 15 run lead, and especially if you bother to let him bat!

Third, Posada would have been yanked by the fifth inning or so--I don't care how confused Molina would have been. You have a 10 or 15 run lead, just put down one finger for fastball and two for curveball.

Still, it's much more enjoyable complaining about little things that crop up during a blowout victory, than agonizing over excruciating losses.

2007-07-23 07:37:31
12.   RIYank
1st and 2nd, nobody out is one of those situations where bunting is not bad. Expected runs are almost the same if the bunt is successful (1st and 2nd no out exp = 1.47; with 2nd and 3rd and 1 out it's 1.41), and of course you increase the chance of scoring one or two runs at the expense of scoring three or more, which makes sense with a 1-run lead in the middle of the game.

The main problem is that the bunt doesn't always work right. Then again it sometimes results in reaching base without costing an out. So I figure it's a close call and I can't fault Torre for trying it here.

2007-07-23 07:41:46
13.   Schteeve
Bashing Torre these days is just the thing to do. As is a complete inability by some to celebrate anything this team does well.

If the Yankees are within 5 games by the end of July which is altogether possible, they have 2 months and 6 head to heads with the Sox to make a legit run at the post-season.

The playoffs are increasingly more likely, and considering where things were a few weeks before the Break, I think that's pretty impressive.

At the very least, unless the Yanks hit the skids in the next couple of series, it's almost guaranteed that that six remaining games against Boston will "mean something." And as recently as mid June, I didn't think that was going to be the case.

I would think, that if nothing else, the Torre/Cashman haters would be giddy about the recent success of Phillips, and Duncan. I for one am not too proud to admit that I had totally written Phillips off as unable to hit ML pitching, but I'm very happy to see him thriving right now.

As for Duncan, I had no idea what to expect from him, but these happy rookie stories are great, and even if this season ends without a playoff run, Duncan's last two days will be a great highlight. I'm thrilled for the dude and I hope he keeps his hot hitting going against the Royals.

2007-07-23 07:44:44
14.   williamnyy23
12 I don't follow your logic...if the expected runs are the same for each situation, how is it a good play? Basically, you are giving away an out for the same chance to score. Also, ignored in that equation is the relative opprtunity cost of giving the out away. While the risk of a DP is real, as is an out that doesn't advance the runners, you are forgoing the added benefits of positive outcomes.

If you are facing a top flight starter or a team with a great bullpen, I can see an argument for the bunt in that situation. Yesterday's situation did not come close to resembling either.

2007-07-23 07:48:57
15.   williamnyy23
13 Your analysis does dismiss the feeling by many that the Yankees wouldn't be in as deep a hole had Torre managed more astutely during the season. Quite frankly, I don't see anyway Torre could/should be complemented for having this team only games over .500 on July 23.
2007-07-23 07:50:22
16.   williamnyy23
As fun as it was to watch the Yankees lap the D-Rays over the past three games, it is somewhat sobering to know the Red Sox get to play 15 more games against them. That variable has to factor strongly into whether the Yankees can catch the Sox.
2007-07-23 07:52:16
17.   Jim Dean
8 Just don't mention Sheff.

But Hanley as the best SS in the game? at 23 yo?


2007-07-23 08:02:16
18.   RIYank
14 The expected runs evaluation does include all of the things you mentioned: giving away the out, getting out of the DP situation, and I'm not 'forgetting' the added benefit of positive outcomes (those are all included in the expectation of runs).
I didn't say it was a 'good play'. I said it was about even. If you could be certain that the bunt would work as intended, then it would be the right move, I believe, because in the long run you score the same number of runs bunting or hitting away, and you'll have more innings when you score one or two but fewer scoring three or more if you adopt the bunting policy. I think the first two runs are considerably more valuable (in terms of incrreasing your chances of winning). So when the bunt 'works', you're improving your winning chances. But it doesn't always work. So I say, it's about a toss-up.
2007-07-23 08:04:59
19.   Jim Dean
15 Exactly.

13 I didn't think Phillips had it in him. But I knew he deserved a shot before two weeks of Cairo (see April 2006).

And Shelley made more sense than a few weeks of Damon at DH.

The Yankees win in spite of Torre, not because of him.

Cashman gets trickier to evaluate. But the fact is: They went into the season with Mgjfd, Phelps, Cairo, and Nieves on the roster. If they were smart, the season would end with none on the roster.

And that says nothing about Pavano and Igawa in the rotation.

You want credit for Torre/Cashman?:

Torre gets credit, so far, for making Melky the regular CF.

Torre gets credit for playing Duncan, when the other choice is trading Proctor for Wiggy. Cashman gets credit for giving him that choice.

Torre gets credit for putting Damon in LF and making Matsui a DH. Cashmna gets credit for signing Damon for four years and 52 million.

Torre gets credit for turning A-Rod around. Oh wait.

Cashman gets credit for Wil Nieves. He also gets credit for Jose Molina (a small improvement) - on July 22nd.

At least we can look forward to Mgfkj coming back!

2007-07-23 08:14:55
20.   JL25and3
15 And I'd make the case that, if the Yankees do claw their way back into it, Torre's managing will be one of the big reasons. His style can be called rigidity when it doesn't workk, but stability when it does. Being able to ride out adversity is precisely what his style is supposed to achieve - it's the predicted result of that model. So if that happens - for the second year in a row - it's tough to argue that he's irrelevant or destructive.

A more reactive manager might have won a game or two more to this point, but might also have created a more chaotic, less stable atmosphere. That shouldn't be discounted. The comparison I always make is with Billy Martin - a fiery tactical genius who would have self-destructed a month ago.

2007-07-23 08:19:37
21.   williamnyy23
18 I realize that the formula accounts for all variables. What I meant by opportunity cost is that by bunting with 1-2, you do nothing to increase your chances of scoring, while if you don't bunt and benefit from a positive outcome, the expected runs increases significantly.

In other words (and I assume you are using the 2005 data table that seems to match your totals), instead of bunting and ensuring that same level of run expectancy, the offense could gamble on a positive outcome. The least positive outcome would be bases loaded and no outs, which would have a run expectancy of 2.31. Now, while the original 1-2, no out situation did factor in this possibility, the fact that it did occur requires that you re-evaluate the possible outcomes. So, by bunting, a team solidifies its chance at 1.4, but limits its chances at scoring much more.

Again, this is a topic open to extensive debate. I just happen to be of the opinion that you don't limit your chances in the 4th of a game that one might reasonably expect to be high scoring. In addition, the value of a blowout needs to be considered (least of which would be saving the bullpen). Clearly, wins are paramount, but if a manager thinks he can engineer a blowout, the current situation of the team might warrant certain decisions.

2007-07-23 08:22:55
22.   JL25and3
10 And don't forget Orlando Cabrera, with a VORP of 24.2. They didn't want him, either.
2007-07-23 08:24:00
23.   bobtaco
Anyone ever seen the indy film Chuck and Buck? I think Shelly is a deadringer for the actor Mike White. Check it out:

2007-07-23 08:26:57
24.   RIYank
21 Sure, if you don't bunt, you're gambling, that's exactly right. You are lowering your chances of scoring one or two in order to increase your chances of scoring more than two.

Obviously, if you let Melky (say) bat and he reaches base, then of course your run expectancy goes up. But if you let him bat and he makes out, then you lower it. If you mention the positive pay-off but not the potential cost, that's kind of misleading!

Let me try to put my point in a nutshell. By bunting you do not change the expectation of runs. (Anyway within the margin of error you don't.) You are therefore trading, just about even up, chances of scoring the third and fourth run for additional chances of scoring the first and second run. Since the first and second runs are are more valuable (in terms of winning chances), it seems like a good trade-off to me.

That said, it's very close and I don't fault a manager who makes either decision.

2007-07-23 08:29:54
25.   JL25and3
Huh? "The least positive outcome would be bases loaded and no outs, which would have a run expectancy of 2.31. Now, while the original 1-2, no out situation did factor in this possibility, the fact that it did occur requires that you re-evaluate the possible outcomes." But it didn't occur; it's a hypothetical, not a fact. If you're going to stipulate a positive outcome to the at-bat, sure it's better. For that matter, if you stipulate a home run, then it's better still.

You're simply dismissing the probability that the batter will make out without advancing the runners at all, or that he will hit into a double play. The bunt greatly reduces both those probabilities.

The run expectancy is the same, but the way of getting to that average expectancy is different. The bunt, in this case, improves the probability of scoring exactly two runs, while reducing the (smaller) probability of scoring more. Of all the situations to argue against the bunt, this is a much closer call than most.

2007-07-23 08:30:03
26.   williamnyy23
20 If those with intimate knowledge of the clubhouse believe that Torre's handling of the egos more than offsets his poor game management skills, then I can't argue with them. Without being privy to his exact influence and contribution, I can only rely on second hand accounts and the opinions of those in the know.

Having said that, I still don't see how one could commend Torre for steering the ship if they believe he was responsible for the choppy waters.

In other words, maybe a Bill Martin's superior game management would have had the Yankees in a position where panick wasn't even a concern? Is that possible? Who knows, but what I think is clear is that the Yankees shouldn't have to settle for a manager who is only capable of handling half of his responsibilities. Why can't the Yankees have a manager who is good at handling both the clubhouse and the game?

2007-07-23 08:32:22
27.   JL25and3
23 Wow. Yeah, I've seen it, and I didn't think I remembered a thing about it - until you mentioned that. You're absolutely right.

Still, you can't go wrong by nicknaming him "Frankenstein." (That's the monster, not the man, and it's not pronounced "Frahn-ken-shteen.")

Or "The Human Eyeball."

2007-07-23 08:33:30
28.   weeping for brunnhilde
23 God, what a disturbing movie that was.
2007-07-23 08:36:50
29.   JL25and3
26 Maybe you're right. The question is, how many managers are there who do everything right? Billy Martin certainly wasn't the guy; neither was Buck Showalter. Maybe Dick Howser, but he'd be about the only Yankee manager of the last 35 years who could. So who did you have in mind?

I don't know what goes on in the clubhouse, either. Essentially, I'm taking the things that Torre is supposed to be good at, and looking at the predictions implied by that model. If events match the predictions, then it's at least some evidence for the validity of the original model.

And if the Yankees fall back out of it, then it's just rigidity.

2007-07-23 08:37:49
30.   williamnyy23
24 In my original reply, I explicitly mentioned the possible negative outcomes.

25 Again, read 14, and let me know if you still think I am dismissing the possibility of the negative outcomes you mentioned.

The theory of run expectancy is based on risk/reward. Giving a way an out in the situation in question does lower the possibility of big inning, even though the average outcome remains about the same. Because my point is that I think the Yankees should have been playing for a big inning, I don't see how increasing the likelihood of 1 or 2 runs at the expense of 3 or 4 refutes my point. Of course, you could argue that the marginal value of more runs wouldn't have matched the benefit of 1 or 2 in yesterday's game. That's a valid point, albeit it one with which I wouldn't agree.

2007-07-23 08:39:28
31.   Mattpat11
A comment of mine made the main article on the blog. This is, in fact, the pinnacle of my life.
2007-07-23 08:41:09
32.   Schteeve
15 Please show me where I complimented Torre. It is a fact that I have been advocating Torre's dismissal since May.
2007-07-23 08:41:30
33.   JL25and3
26 And, by the way, I didn't say I thought he was responsible for the choppy waters. Most of it was due to injury and slumps.

With the slumps in particular, a manager can be more or less reactive; Joe, obviously, is among the least reactive. He does is specifically with the long season in mind; that's what the model is built for. So another manager might be a game or two closer now, but might also be five games further back by season's end. We can't make any final judgment until October.

2007-07-23 08:42:58
34.   JL25and3
30 Then we agree. I think it's a decision that can be argued either way, not a clear-sut managerial error.
2007-07-23 08:45:46
35.   williamnyy23
32 By calling the Yankees mini-rebound "impressive" in 13, it appeared as if you were complementing him in a manner similar to expressed in 20. If that wasn't the case, I gladly apologize for the implication.
2007-07-23 08:47:57
36.   ChrisS
26 indeed.

I can't give Torre credit for being a nice guy to his favorites when he's a bad manager.

Riding out adversity isn't a positive when the bad player isn't likely to get better (e.g., Damon, Cairo, Mientkiewicz, etc.). I expect that any other manager with an ounce of brains would give Abreu or Matsui (age and injuries factored in) the opportunity to improve to their mean ability.

Torre screws the team up, puts them in a hole, and then when those very very good players come together and overcome said deficit he gets credit for it? Nope.

That the Yankees have always had very good players under Joe Torre hid many of his faults as a manager. Now when those guys have bad streaks combined with poor personnel decisions, it's a lot harder to win.

and I agree almost completely with 19. Sigh.

2007-07-23 08:58:29
37.   weeping for brunnhilde
So about my new buddy "Frankenstein" Shelley Duncan.

I was thinking that it would only be a matter of innings (not days, but innings) before it became apparent that the guy's about as easy an out as you'll find, and then he goes all Arod on us, driving it over the 385 in right-center.

Until that point, he looked to be a dead pull hitter, but apparently not.

This bodes extraordinarily well, because if he can hit that outside pitch over that 385, then he really has a chance to be more than a cartoon player.

I'm interested to see if that swing was just a fluke or a legitimate part of his repertoire.

2007-07-23 08:58:40
38.   williamnyy23
34 Pretty much...theoretically, the decision doesn't scream mismanagement, although I do think the context of the situation makes it a poor decision.
2007-07-23 09:01:20
39.   Jim Dean
36 Let us not forget his expert handling of the most important ego in that clubhouse. I hope that guy gives his manager the 2007 MVP trophy - just as a show of thanks.

Joe Torre. Player's Manager.

2007-07-23 09:04:32
40.   JL25and3
36 Hm. Any manager with an ounce of brrains would know that Abreu and Matsui would com eout of it, but that Damon wouldn't. You'll have to explain that one to me. And Vizcaino?

Hindsight is a wonderful thing.

By the way, I'm hardly a Torre apologist. I'm saying he has strengths and weaknesses, and those should be recognized. He's hardly an idiot, and he does things for a reason - and if they work in exactly the way they're supposed to, he should get some credit for that.

His weaknesses are obvious on a day-to-day basis, while his strengths are meant for the long haul. It doesn't mean they're not strengths.

2007-07-23 09:07:51
41.   JL25and3
37 I'm afraid the breaking ball in the dirt might still be a big problem. I'll feel better if he can lay off that one.
2007-07-23 09:17:47
42.   weeping for brunnhilde
41 On the principle of being magnanimous towards a guy who's sure to exasperate me, I'll say I can live with him flailing at the breaking ball in the dirt if that's his one principle weakness.

I'm expecting a lot of strikeouts, I just hope he can figure out a way to hit .250 with power.

I think he can do that if he has good lateral plate coverage, so I'll take it.

But yes, watching him flail at a ball that bounces three feet in front of the plate will send me into conniptions. I'm trying to prepare for it mentally by ac-cen-tu-ating the positive.

2007-07-23 09:35:31
43.   Dimelo
39Why are people so willing to go off on Torre for "mismanaging" ARod? Torre has had a lot of superstars in his clubhouse, but the only time he apparently "failed" was with his mismanagement of ARod.

I love ARod, I want him to remain a Yankee, but I refuse to stick my thumb up at the sun, wink and pretend the sun doesn't exist. Here are the facts, ARod wasn't the greatest player at the most crucial times last year. He'll be the first to admit that last year was his worse as a professional.

Torre tried to move him around in the lineup to diminish the pressure on him (put to bat 6th), then he put him in the #4 spot hoping that would spark something, when that didn't work he put him 8th because at that point he wasn't doing anything with whatever spot Torre was putting him in. Keep in mind that ARod had great #'s against Mr. Kenny Rogers.

Then Torre put him to bat 8th and everyone, including the Muslim fundamentalists, screamed Jihad against Torre.

Yeah he was hurt Torre put him 8th, but if he's suppose to be the player he's suppose to be then he plays a big part in that situation, too. You can put blame on Torre, when it was a situation ARod created because of his lack of living up to his talents in the most crucial of times. Let's not make excuses for the man.

If he delivers, then Torre doesn't need to move him around. But since he wasn't delivering, Torre was trying to make something happen. He was balancing winning the games/series and putting one of his best players in a position to succeed. Why is that something people can't comprehend?

I don't call that mismanaging, I call that trying to make something happen and it didn't work. If it does, then Torre is considered a genius just like when pinch-hit for Paul O'Neil or Wade Boggs - those veterans Torre is "always" so loyal to. I just think it's crazy to point the finger at one person. I wanted ARod to succeed and give us as many memorable moments as a Yankee as possible, but he wasn't doing that until this year. I love that he's finally coming around and hope his post-season struggles are in the past, but I just don't get how this all plays into being Torre's fault.

If I failed at math, I can tell my mom till I'm blue in the face that the teacher sucks but the minute she asks me if all the kids failed or if there were other kids (plural) that did really well, and if I tell her there were some kids that did well and not everyone failed - just me and these two other kids named Randy and Moose. Then she would render my excuse as just me making 'noise' and she wouldn't let me get away with that.

2007-07-23 09:39:36
44.   Bama Yankee
24 Good point, RIYank. I like the bunt in that situation. One thing I like about it is that you can score a run by making two outs (sac bunt and sac fly). We have a lineup full of guys who are able to give us two consecutive outs. ;-)

Trying to score that same run via the base hit might actually require two hits (since Bowa might elect to stop the runner at third with no outs not wanting to risk him being thrown out at home).

IMO, since even the best hitters make an out over 2/3 of the time, there is nothing wrong with using those outs (which you can control easier than attempting for a base hit) to score a run.

I understand those who say that bunting might prevent the big inning, but as you mentioned, scoring that one run can be very valuable (especially against a tough pitcher in a big game). To me, working on the bunt when you don't necessarily need it could help you be more likely to produce it when you do (i.e. in the postseason).

2007-07-23 09:40:29
45.   weeping for brunnhilde
43 Well said.
2007-07-23 09:46:37
46.   tommyl
43 Really? And Torre allowing the SI article to go forward, even supplying quotes for it was supporting his player in the best way possible? Alex was actually on a bit of a roll right up until that article came out and then he nosedived again.

I care less about the lineup crap then I do that it appears Torre just got frustrated and took an apparent potshot at him. There are two possibilities:

1. Torre thought that the article was the best way to motivate Alex. If so, that's just wrong and stupid.

2. Joe didn't care anymore, was fed up and just let the article go, damn the consequences. If so, that shows a lack of professionalism. He can hate Alex all he wants on his own time, but his job is to get the maximum outcome from each and every player.

Batting 8th in the postseason was merely icing on the cake.

2007-07-23 09:47:54
47.   williamnyy23
43 Well, for starters, using your logic, why did Sheffield bat 4th? His numbers were just as bad as Arod's. Similarly, why bat Cano ahead of Arod? Going into that game, all three players had 1 hit a piece. If you wanted to move Arod down to 6, I could see it, but moving a guy of Arod's stature down to the 8th spot was sure to create a buzz and appear as if the team was in panic mode (not mention add even more pressure on Arod's shoulders).

Being that Torre is supposed to be so good at steadying the ship, I can't understand why he would make such a tumultous move when the stats of other players hitting ahead of Arod were nothing to make you think they'd perform any better.

2007-07-23 09:50:11
48.   weeping for brunnhilde
44 All things being equal, what I value is consistency. I like a team that operates like a well-oiled machine, manufacturing runs at will.

As people have mentioned, playing for the big inning is a gamble and by nature, I'm not a gambler.

I like the bird in the hand.

If you have first and second, no one out, I like a bunt and then maybe an opposite-field/up-the-middle single and a groundout. Just get 'em in.

I realize that the team I'm describing may be a mythic team, but as an ideal, I feel much better about the consistent team than the feast-or-famine team.

Bunting is predictable and fairly easy to execute (with practice, of course). With a team of skilled contact hitters, I'll take 2nd and 3rd one out every time.

Big innings are great, but to me they're not so great as failing to score the one run is exasperating.

The last tear the Yanks went on, before they went to Colorado, I noticed they were playing a very high level of ball, executing with tremendous consistency over a period of some days.

They didn't have a lot of big innings, but they had a lot of innings where they'd score the one or two handed to them.

Lots of productive outs when, sure, a double or homer would have been nice, but at the time I was pleased with how consistently they'd pick up the one.

They also seemed to win a bunch of those games without benefit of the long ball, which is (to me) a tremendous mark of reliability.

2007-07-23 09:51:51
49.   ChrisS
40 The difference is that they are hitters with different issues. Damon's problem, besides being a very streaky hitter year to year, is his age and injuries, which has thus far affected his ability to hit and until he is healthy, I doubt that we'll see much more production than we have. Abreu and Matsui were healthy (AFAIK) and hitting well below pretty well established career norms (more so in Abreu's case). I don't think that the trend is for very good hitters to suddenly drop off a cliff when they hit their dotage (GOB being the first exception to spring to mind). Cano, who I didn't mention in my other post, has less of a track record, but he's starting to show a serious pre- and post-all star break split. Cliff mentioned it early on in the season.

I didn't say anything about Vizcaino, but he's a journeyman relief pitcher with a proclivity to strike guys out and walk half as many as he Ks. Few bullpen guys are consistently good year to year (or even month to month). They are a roller coaster ride.

A lot of baseball is about peaks and valley and identifying which is which. I don't think Joe really cares and that he just goes with his gut regardless of what statistics say. And that is a problem when he keeps running the same guys out there expecting them to eventually perform better when their track record doesn't show that they can or will.

2007-07-23 09:51:53
50.   Jim Dean
43 People can't on the one hand point and show his consistency with players and his respect for them. Then on the other, how he jerks around other players.

The fact is: He plays favorites.

How is he a "player's manager" when he mismanages half the players?

When Jeter had that horrific slump in 2004, did he get dropped in the lineup?

Bernie - how many years before he started batting 8th or 9th? And only as a DH?

Tanyon Sturtze - high leverage situations

Miguel Cairo - Starting 1B - two years running

Johnny Damon - Starting DH, and batting leadoff

O'Neill and Boggs is long ago - indeed from a man ten years younger.

Joe Torre is a player's manager to some of the players.

Torre threw A-Rod under the bus. Time and time again.

Not offering the same level of consistency.

The Verducci article (forget that one!?)

The playoffs and showing he have zero confidence in him.

Well done.

Joe Torre = Player's Manager (Sometimes).

Show/Hide Comments 51-100
2007-07-23 09:54:06
51.   rsmith51
It seems to me that moving ARod to 2nd in the order may have been a better move. Let Jeter take the high-profile 3 spot. 8th was just ridiculous.
2007-07-23 09:57:46
52.   Jim Dean
44 Your other Bama brother had another fantastic outing yesterday - 2 IP 5 K 0 BB 0 ER

Hopefully he'll be in Trenton soon.

2007-07-23 10:00:36
53.   Jim Dean
51 Worse. Joe Torre was a player - indeed MVP one year. He knew exactly what it means to drop someone to 8th and for a playoff game. And he did it any ways.
2007-07-23 10:01:19
54.   JL25and3
49 Again, I think you're using the benfit of hindsight. Damon, Abreu and Matsui were all born within a 7-month span, so age really isn't an issue. Consistency isn't an issue, either, because Damon has been as consistent a player as either Matsui or Abreu. Apparently his injury was something that everyone believed he could play through, so at that point the issue is...waiting until he returns to his previously established, consistent level of performance. How is it different from the other two?

What you're doing is providing explanations for what's already happened, and saying that Joe should have known that in advance. Unfortunately, life doesn't work that way.

2007-07-23 10:03:34
55.   Jim Dean
52 BTW: His line on the year (A and A+) -

0.86 ERA 32 G 63.0 IP 31 H 6 ER 21 BB 85 K 2.15 GO/AO .144 BAA

2007-07-23 10:05:12
56.   RIYank
48 I know, by now, that you are talking about aesthetics. I think the rest of us were talking about which moves give the team the best chances to win.

I just ran scenarios through the Win Expectancy Finder at walkoffbalk. As most of you know, it's based on actual data from 1977 to 2006. One consequence is that it will probably undervalue big innings in 2007, since a lot of the years in the database were much lower-scoring years. Another is that it's hard to know what the margin-of-error is. And, obviously, this is a big average, and could be adjusted by, for instance, the fact that when Melky was up, the next few batters were all pretty scary, or the fact that Melk is not a great bunter, or the fact that it was Pettitte vs. Shields, and so on.

Anyway, I checked (first and second, no outs, winning by a run, home team) and then (second and third, one out, winning by a run, home team) for various innings. All were very close, except in the eighth inning when it's clear that the successful bunt scenario is superior. Until the eighth, the differences were 1% or 2% (mostly favoring the strategy of not bunting).

Oh, two more things. First,I believe that successfully bunting in that situation is a lot harder than it looks. For instance, remember that on the first attempt (second pitch, I think, since the first one he took) Melky did lay a nice one up the third baseline, but it looked like it struck a pebble and swerved foul. Damn grounds crew!
Second, note that in the end he did swing away, and he did make an out, but the lead runner moved up to third anyway. So half of the aim of the bunt was achieved, even in a bad outcome of the 'let him swing' strategy. So, uh, I'm kind of changing my mind and thinking bunting was not a good move. But I still think it's very close.

2007-07-23 10:05:20
57.   Jim Dean
49 Well said. Damon should have been on the DL two months ago. Neither Abreu or Matsui were hurt.
2007-07-23 10:05:57
58.   williamnyy23
54 Actually, Damon really isn't a consistent player. His slumps seem to last entire seasons, as his OPS+ throughout the years can atest to: since 1998, it has been 98, 116, 117, 85, 113, 94, 117, 113, 120, 84.

Now, I don't see a pattern in there to suggest that Torre should've/could've predicted Damon would be this bad for this long, but I don't think it is accurate to claim he is as consistent as Abreu and Matsui.

2007-07-23 10:07:59
59.   JL25and3
49 And, by the way, I'm not sure why you say the Damon has been a streaky hitter from year to year. Actually, he's been very consistent: BA in the .270s or .280s, with 60-70 walks and 15 HR. He's hit better than that 4 times, worse only once.
2007-07-23 10:08:48
60.   Emma Span
4 Yes! That's it. Thank you.

6 Excellent, glad you brought that up. I wasn't sure if a Bris Lord tangent was too inside-jokey for the main recap... but you know I was thinking it.

31 Glad I could help.


You know, if the Yankees actually DO come back and make the playoffs, you'll all need to brace yourselves for some Joe Torre as Manager of the Year talk.

I plan to be far, far away from the Banter if that day ever comes.

2007-07-23 10:11:39
61.   Jim Dean
60 It's the day he gets a three year extension that I jump out a window. On fire.
2007-07-23 10:11:55
62.   JL25and3
58 What's inconsistent? Before this year, he's had one bad year, two average years, and 6 good years. (I judge average in ranges, like IQs - I think it's silly to say that 99 is below average and 101 is above. 90-110 is average.)
2007-07-23 10:13:38
63.   williamnyy23
56 Clearly, there is room for debate on this particular instance, but what disturbs me more is that he would bunt with Cabrera in the 4th inning of a game against Tampa, but didn't squeeze with him in a tie game against the Angels. Contradictions like that one are what lead me to believe that Torre uses an ad hoc approach to managing. That might work for some people, but I find it incredibly infuriating.
2007-07-23 10:15:05
64.   Jim Dean
58 What!? Inconsistent!? From well-below average one year to well-above the next and then average somewhere in-between?

Obviously Damon is consistently inconsistent.


2007-07-23 10:17:21
65.   ChrisS
54 I think you should check Johnny Damon's career stats. One year's he's slamming homneruns, the next he can't get his SLG over .400He's put together three consecutive seasons with 100+ OPS+ once.

Abreu has never been below 100 and Matsui, despite his limited AL stats, is pretty consistent.

As for providing explanations about what's already happened, that's what statistics are for - using measured past performance to predict future performance. What the heck are you doing? Guessing that if Billy Martin were running this team they would 25 out at this point? What is that is measured in? Mertin Equivalent Wins (MEW)? Jeter's TIOPS (Torre Influenced OPS) ratio is 92 this year as opposed to last year's 72 and Cairo has seen marked improvement ...

I'm less impressed with magical powers than I am with solid statistics.

2007-07-23 10:17:43
66.   Dimelo
47 First off, I wouldn't put Cano and ARod in the same sentence, with regard to why you'd want one to get going and hitting and not be as concerned with the other. Batting Sheffield 4th was probably a mistake, but you needed to have a right handed bat sandwiched in there. So Torre's logic, albeit a risky one, was to kill two birds with one stone: Get Sheffield going and reducing the pressure on ARod by putting him in less of a pressure situation. How is that logic so difficult to comprehend? It makes perfect sense to me.

50 Jeter was struggling in April and May, you don't make a move to drop Jeter down when you know he'll turn it around. As bad as Jeter was, he earned that right. Sorry if you think ARod should be given the same sort of latitude, especially in a crucial playoff series - see my comment up above.

I'd like to know when Bernie was batting out of position after 2004, if Sheff, Giambi, and ARod were all in the lineup then Bernie rarely ever batted above 6 - 7. People's beef with Bernie was that he was always in the lineup versus where he was batting, if the beef was in where Bernie was batting then that's a bit of revisionist history.

Tanyon Sturtze, please...find someone else that you'd like to defend. Torre kept running him out there because he didn't have anyone else and he was never that good anyway, hardly someone I find a reason to crucify Torre for.

Miguel Cairo - Starting 1B - two years running I had to laugh at that because how many times was that done out of necessity? Oh I get it, it was done because he wanted to put an inferior lineup out there. You know, just to lose the games on purpose and piss off everyone at the Banter.

For as bad as Damon has been, he still has just about the same OBP as Melky. Where was he suppose to put him? Bench him maybe, but then who gets the playing time. Shelly might be 'The Natural' to you, but if you ask me who is more important for the Yanks success then it is Damon w/o a question, as far as I'm concerned. I'd rather they force Damon into hitting than to see him rotting away on the bench. I guess I'm in the minority in that I want to watch him rot while in the lineup. If a player has body of work behind him, then I agree with Torre's approach to keep running him out there - as long as he's trying and trying to do the right thing. If he's doing boneheaded crap then you sit him, but if he's out there diving for balls and trying to help the team win then I have a hard time blaming Torre....BUT you can and you have no problem doing it.

I just hate having to rehash everything because we all lose some context over time and we just don't know why exactly the decisions were made.

Someone made the comment up above, who else would you like managing? I think that's the perfect rebuttal and I love that when the team wins it's all in spite of Torre. Why do we even have a manager if-and-when the team wins he gets no credit and when they lose he gets all the credit for the loss? I just think your argument loses all its merits if that's where your logic lies.

2007-07-23 10:17:48
67.   JL25and3
58 I reread your post. Look at the range of OPS+ for Abreu and Matsui. All three of them have numbers falling in about a 30-point span; it's just that Abreu and Matsui have them in a higher range. So I'd say that Damon's been every bit as consistent, it's just that the other two are better.
2007-07-23 10:22:44
68.   williamnyy23
62 I think the numbers speak for themselves. I also don't see how you could define average as extending from 10% below average to 10% above average. For example, if the avg. BA was .300, would you define that range as .270 to .330? In baseball, 10% is a high margin.
2007-07-23 10:25:01
69.   JL25and3
65 I checked his stats. I'm sorry, but he just doesn't look streaky to me. You've got a guy who hits between 10 and 20 HR a year - once as low as 9, once as high as 24. The fact is, performances vary. I don't have any numbers to suggest what an average range of variability, but that doesn't look all that inconsistent to me.

And what you're doing is not using stats to predict future performance. What you're doing is taking what's already happened, and using certain stats to say that Torre should have known it then. Essentially, you're using stats to predict past performance, which anyone can do.

2007-07-23 10:25:01
70.   weeping for brunnhilde
56 True enough.
2007-07-23 10:28:58
71.   williamnyy23
66 You're right about one thing...Cano and Arod shouldn't have been in the same sentence when Torre was figuring out the lineup. Batting a 2nd year player over a proven superstar definitely smacks of a panic move to me.

It is beyond me how you could think Arod would have less pressure with the #8 bullseye Torre painted on his back. Also, if, by your logic, Torre was batting Sheffield in the #4 slot to get him going, why didn't he do the same thing Arod? The truth of the matter is there was no logic put into Torre's lineups in the ALDS. Instead, it seems as if Torre was motivated by a combination of panic and frustration. Again, using your words, "How is that logic so difficult to comprehend? It makes perfect sense to me."

2007-07-23 10:29:49
72.   JL25and3
68 You're right in one sense - IQ is normally distributed, MLB talent isn't. So you're right, perhaps average shouldn't drop as low as 90.

And yet, there is considerable variability. Take a batter with a BA of exactly .300 over a number of years. How much would it surprise you to see that he hit .330 one year and .270 another? Not a bit.

2007-07-23 10:31:13
73.   RIYank
63 I dunno, how effective is a squeeze, really, especially with a so-so bunter at the plate? I can't recall whether the infield was playing in (or in at the corners?) at the time. I haven't been able to find percentages with three minutes of searching, but my bet is that with a mediocre bunter, like Melky, the chance of success is at most 50%.
2007-07-23 10:32:34
74.   Jim Dean
66 Step away from the bong...

Jeter - You talk about Torre trying to find ways to help players. Well, he never tried to "help" Jeter in 2004. 1st or 2nd all the way.

Bernie -

2006: 300+ PA at 7th or greater
2005: 300+ PA at 7th or greater (including 100+ at 2nd with <.700 OPS)
2004: 400+ PA at 1st or 2nd

Sturtze - Ha!

Cairo - Each and every time they had Andy Phillips on the roster.

Damon - Bench him or hit him 9th. Indeed, Torre's shown more loyalty to Damon than to A-Rod (who he's had on the team longer and watched him win an MVP already) or even Abreu.

Who else managing? - Torre's is neither a player's manager nor a tactician. I'd say 75% of the mangers could do the "job" he's done this year. Pick one: Girardi. Showalter. Valentine. Problem is: The press loves Torre.

65 Don't you see!? Abreu and Matsui are always above average. How is THAT consistent?

2007-07-23 10:34:58
75.   JL25and3
65 And I'm not talking about magical powers, not at all. Just because you can't measure it doesn't mean it doesn't exist. Often there may be a way to measure its effects, though - and a manager's performance is measured in wins, at the end of the year.

I've said that if the team doesn't get back into the race, Joe should take the heat for it. If they do get back in - mirroring what they did last year - there should be some thought given to the idea that, well, maybe he's got something there. It has nothing to do with magic, though that's kind of a cute condescending formulation.

2007-07-23 10:37:35
76.   Dimelo
74 I was waiting for you to say that....I'm at work, it's not near me. At least not yet.
2007-07-23 10:38:19
77.   JL25and3
74 Listen (or read) carefully, Jim. Matsui and Abreu are both better than Damon. But the OPS+ for all of them falls within about a 30-point range. I'm suggesting that that might be a typical range that could be considered "consistent" - and that's even if there's one outlier over the course of a career.
2007-07-23 10:38:22
78.   Jim Dean
(Uh oh, it's magic)
When I'm with you
(Uh oh, it's magic)
Just a little magic
You know it's true
I got a hold on you
2007-07-23 10:39:08
79.   Dimelo
71 He did put ARod to bat 4th in game 3 of the ALDS. So he did try and get him going, when it didn't work in game 1 or 2.

I think it's easy to look like you are panicing in a span of 4 games and it's do or die.

2007-07-23 10:39:34
80.   Jim Dean
76 God bless you.

Vaporizer = less tar, more THC

2007-07-23 10:41:57
81.   Dimelo
80 I still haven't got that, but it's on my wish list and I will tell you all about it. Unless you got some connection where I can get it at a good price.

I guess this your way of getting me to stop 'defending Torre' and getting me to talk about something we can both agree on.

2007-07-23 10:43:07
82.   williamnyy23
67 First off, after Matsui's rookie year, his OPS+ has been 139, 125, 133 and 134. That is consistent.

As for Abreu, you are using one outlier to create a 30 point span. Also, his career shows a normal progression.

Damon, on the other hand, exhibits totals that fluctuate more wildly.

Maybe I'm wrong, but if you run a variance analysis, I strongly suspect at first glance that Damon's numbers will vary more greatly from the mean.

Finally, I think competence is partly implied by consistency. Claiming that Abreu is more inconsistent because he can either be very good or just good is somewhat dubious.

2007-07-23 10:44:17
83.   Schteeve
48 Why is the ability to win a tremendous mark of reliability?

I suppose your hypothesis is that HRs are a more dynamic variable than productive outs, or sac flies, or sac bunts, or batting average or something, but do you have any numbers to prove that?

2007-07-23 10:44:26
84.   williamnyy23
72 Which is why BA is an awful statistic for measuring a hitter's production.
2007-07-23 10:44:46
85.   Schteeve
Sorry, Why is the ability to win without hitting home runs a tremendous mark of reliability?
2007-07-23 10:46:54
86.   williamnyy23
73 First off, is Melky really only a so-so bunter. He has laid down many good bunts of late.

As for your 50/50 proposition (the infield was back...McCarver noted that point), I'd take those odds over a young batter with 4Ks in the bank making contact against *K*Rod.

2007-07-23 10:47:34
87.   tommyl
66 I'm sorry, A-Rod hasn't earned the right to play out a slump in the same way Jeter has? Are you effing kidding me? Is it because Jeter has more rings? or that Jeter is more clutch in the postseason?

Well, A-Rod is one of the greatest players of all time. He's also a better fielder than Jeter at the same position. Up until the last 4 games of the 2004 postseason he was dominant in the postseason. Its fair to say that the reason the Yankees were even in the 04 ALCS was because of A-Rod against Minnesota. So he has a bad streak going for all of about 14 postseason ABs and he hasn't earned the right? 14 ABs?! Know what, in the 2001 WS aside from the "Mr. November" home run, Jeter was flat out awful, I think he batted under .200. That is just absurd, I'm sorry.

2007-07-23 10:49:38
88.   williamnyy23
79 So, in game 3, Torre deems Arod good enough to bat 4th, but after Rogers shuts down the entire team (except Jorgie I think), he drops him all the way to 8th. Again, where is the logic in that?
2007-07-23 10:50:20
89.   Schteeve
85 I just don't get it. A HR is the most efficient way to score a run. A team that hits a lot of home runs is much more efficient than a team that has to rely on three bunts and a productive out or whatever to score a run.

HR = Really good.
Other things that score runs = less good.

2007-07-23 10:50:23
90.   Jim Dean
81 Yup! I wish I had said connection. You use the delivery services?

I just bought mine online. Vapor Brothers. It will set you back $150 but you use less particulate matter with better results. It pays for itself in one year. Don't get one with a metal plate - they're much less effective. Vapor Brothers is a convection design - you pull hot air through a glass "whip". The main unit looks like a little wooden space heater.

82 Well said (and with the patience I lack today).

2007-07-23 10:55:38
91.   Dimelo
87 I was referring to mostly the difference, Jeter's struggles were in the regular season. ARod's struggles have been in high pressure situations, so it made sense that given the playoffs can be called a 'high pressure' situation then that's why he didn't earn that right with the Yankees.

I don't think fans really care what a player had done before they got to NY, there was a problem with ARod and how he was performing in those high pressure situations. If Torre was trying to minimize that as much possible, but failed miserably (as he did), I still have a hard time blaming Torre when he was simply trying to accommodate his best player and put him in the best position to succeed.

I don't think Torre was trying to dis ARod. Dissing ARod would be if he's tearing it up and Torre puts him to bat 8th just to show him and the team who is boss. There's a difference.

ARod was slumping last June, I don't remember Torre dropping him in the batting order, he struggled in 2004 and Torre moved him around, but only because he tried to get him going.

You guys are making sound as if ARod was Gehrig with the bat, but Torre just wanted to f- with ARod.

2007-07-23 10:59:16
92.   Jim Dean
90 Oh and the absolute best is called the Volcano. It's what almost all the Medicinal Clubs use in Cali. It fills a balloon that can be held onto or passed around. But that costs around $500 if I'm not mistaken. Never used one but the balloon supposedly makes life very easy - one fill and you're well-beyond done.

BTW: Problem with the water pipe is it filters tar and THC. It's the quantity not the quality of the smoke that gets you.

After the vaporizer - the most effective?

A good ole fashioned spliff. You get more tar but also more of the active ingredients.

And yes, I know way too much about this, but it's all been researched and I found it in one afternoon of looking.

2007-07-23 11:01:27
93.   Dimelo
90 Oh..I have connections for stuff. I was referring to if you have a vaporizer connection. I'm looking at that stuff online right now. I see two there, one with the word "NEW!" in big red letters, did you get that one? I think I might go ahead and get it now that you are giving me some good info on it.
2007-07-23 11:01:49
94.   Schteeve
Regardless of how poorly A-Rod had been hitting in the PS over an incredibly small sample, you don't bat the guy with the most potential to do damage 8th. It didn't make one lick of sense. A-Rod wasn't the only one who was "slumping" if I recall correctly. Yet A-Rod has more talent than anyone else in that lineup.

It's like in golf. You don't say, well I always hit my irons short so I'm going to use a 3 iron for a 140 yard shot. That sets you up to fail and never get better, never stand to benefit from doing things the right way.

You play the right club and figure out how to hit it.

He should have hit A-Rod leadoff to give him more opportunities to break out of his funk, rather than fewer opportunities.

2007-07-23 11:03:22
95.   Jim Dean
91 "I still have a hard time blaming Torre when he was simply trying to accommodate his best player and put him in the best position to succeed."

I think you'll find very few people that believe this statement. But we know that's what Torre believes.

After that: What was the intent?

Probably along the line of what you say. But it was significantly less thought out than if it was any other player. It's was the managerial equivalent of flailing.

Just like the Verducci article.

2007-07-23 11:05:57
96.   JL25and3
82, 84 In this case, I most decidedly was not using consistency as a measure of competence but as a measure of predictability. That was the original argument I was responding to.

Second, SA and OBA might show slightly less variance over the sourse of a career, but not orders of magnitude less. A guy with a .450 SA who has a year at .405 and a year at .495 is equally unsurprising.

Third, I may have set out too wide a range before, but I'd still consider an OPS+ of 94 as average. Average is a range, it's not a single-point divider. It's meaningless to talk about 101 as an above-average season, 100 as average, and 99 as below average. Here's where IQ is relevant again - a person with a 101 IQ isn't "smarter" than a person with a 99 IQ.

2007-07-23 11:06:55
97.   RIYank
86 Is Melky a good bunter: I don't know. If I go by what I remember, I have to say he isn't very good. But I'm aware that's a very unreliable method, so I won't.

Let's see, K-Rod's OBP against is .269. His GB/FB/ ratio is a bit over 1, and he strikes guys out like crazy. Looks to me (quick calculation) like the chance of hitting a fly off him is about a quarter. Of course, there's the GIDP possibility, which is nasty in that situation.

I dunno, I just don't have enough info. I think you're right that the chance of Melky scoring the runner by swinging probably wasn't higher than 50% (anyway not much higher, and probably lower). But it doesn't seem foolish to have him swing there.

2007-07-23 11:08:01
98.   tommyl
94 Well, with the way the team was going I'd say it was more like having a 220 yd shot, and having a 3 Wood you usually can't hit and a bunch of wedges to choose from. Sure, you know you can control the wedge shot, but isn't it worth trying the 3 wood?
2007-07-23 11:10:05
99.   Schteeve
98 Yeah, same idea.
2007-07-23 11:11:19
100.   JL25and3
90 I used to be partial to a paper towel tube with a little hole in it. Great for shotguns.
Show/Hide Comments 101-150
2007-07-23 11:15:38
101.   Jim Dean
93 It looks like they've upgraded some of the components since I bought mine.

But if you're looking at this one:

Then yup.

You won't regret it.
Two words of advice (that I had to learn the hard way):

1) Grind the stuff real nice and don't pack too tight. It increases surface area and thus airflow. When you're halfway done dump the contents and grind again. Keep grinding and you'll keep getting pulls. When it's finished it will look brown but not burnt. That's all the fibrous plant matter that is mostly tar. You can try rolling it, but it won't do much.

2) Buy a metal dental pick from a pharmacy to help keep it clean. The wooden one they give you is crap. That avoids the need to replace the screen which is a pain in the ass. I broke the whip trying to do so.


2007-07-23 11:20:47
102.   williamnyy23
96 Points taken, although I still maintain that if you remove outliers and variables such as rookie years, that Damon will statistically rate as a more inconsistent player (esepcially compared to Matsui). Also, by any standards, the numbers do suggest that Damon will rank as inconsistent.

Also, if you consider an OPS+ of 94 to be average, what about 93? What about 92? I think you see where I am going. It realyl doesn't make sense to use such broad terms as average and below average when we have exact numbers to compare. Maybe someone has the time to run the numbers?

2007-07-23 11:28:48
103.   JL25and3
102 I think "exact" is an illusion. As to where the dividing line is, I don't know. With IQ, the Average range is from 90-110; in addition, it's understood that the IQ score itself contains some inherent variability. These things are all known and quantified.

In baseball stats they're not, which has been one of my consistent complaints in how they're interpreted. But that doesn't mean that it's appropriate to treat 1-point differences as representing a genuine difference in ability. I can only guess at the range, unfortunately, but that doesn't mean that I should take 100 as a hard and fast dividing line, with 99 bad and 101 good.

2007-07-23 11:37:13
104.   Dimelo
101 A lot of good info. Thanks. I swear, maybe cause my mentals are sparked but I find it really hard to go nuts when I watch the Yankee games.

I come read some of the in-game comments, when I'm in my medically induced stated, and I have to laugh because I feel some peeps need to take advantage of the "trees" that Mama Earth wanted us to enjoy.

I think my "inhalation VORP" (a stat started by Grant Roberts and Tony Tarasco) is at like 200 during Yankee games, you don't even want to know my "clutch factor" - off the f-ing charts.

2007-07-23 11:40:06
105.   JL25and3
102 And I'll add one other thing, which is about where the discussion started. It was this assertion: "Riding out adversity isn't a positive when the bad player isn't likely to get better (e.g., Damon, Cairo, Mientkiewicz, etc.). I expect that any other manager with an ounce of brains would give Abreu or Matsui (age and injuries factored in) the opportunity to improve to their mean ability." In that context, I don't think that Damon's career has been so startlingly inconsistent that he should have been written off.
2007-07-23 11:40:39
106.   Jim Dean
103 How many times do you run an IQ test on a individual in their lifetime?

Baseball players are "tested" between 300 (platooners) and 700 (full-timers) times a year.

Multiply that by tens of seasons across thoudsands of players, and the "test-retest" reliability is much higher than anything you've ever studied professionally.

Meanwhile, IQ "tests" test how many components?

The baseball hitting "test" is one thing. Hit the ball or not.

So you work with a broader test, administered fewer times per person, and you're complaining about consistency and ranges for measuring baseball statistics?

Short story: The analogy to IQ tests is completely irrelevant.

Why Damon is inconsistent is not a statistical argument. But he is inconsistent, and the "test" 103 offers is exactly the right one.

2007-07-23 11:43:11
107.   Jim Dean
104 Great stuff. Indeed, this world would be a better place if alcohol was banned and the herbs were legal.

The only problem is: The herbs can't be regulated and taxed. They grow like weeds!

2007-07-23 11:48:06
108.   Schteeve
Instead of Starbucks ther'd be WEED BUCKS! No more Krispy Kreme, it'd be KRACKY KREMES!
2007-07-23 11:48:42
109.   Schteeve
107 Sure they can, Tobacco is regulated and taxed.
2007-07-23 11:54:00
110.   Jim Dean
109 You can't grow enough tobacco for a year in your basement (or your garden out back).
2007-07-23 11:55:16
111.   Jim Dean
109 Indeed, three plants in a well-light and ventilated closet. Four tobacco leafs would fit in the same space.
2007-07-23 11:58:21
112.   Dimelo
107 I agree 100, drunk people suck.
2007-07-23 11:59:00
113.   JL25and3
106 No, OPS test is one number for an entire season. Each plate appearance isn't the equivalent of a separate test, but of a single item on a test. The IQ tests have a base of, I'd guess, tens of thousands over 60 years or so. They've been refined - just as hitting and pitching techniques have been refined - but they've got a huge base of scores to base the reliability numbers on.

And those numbers exist, where in baseball they don't. Obviously, an average over the course of a ten-year career is more reliable than a single IQ score, but we don't know what the average amount of variability is likely to be. I think that Matsui has been exzceptionally consistent, far more than most players; I doubt that Damon has been exceptionally inconsistent. But the fact is, none of us knows.

If you know differently, show me some numbers.

2007-07-23 12:01:09
114.   Bama Yankee
Strange day at the Banter:
We usually discuss things like Leche and Wang...
Today it seems to be more like Cheech and Chong...
2007-07-23 12:01:47
115.   JL25and3
106 Also, OPS+ is not one component. To say it's simply "Hit the ball or not" is akin to saying that the IQ test is simply "Get the item right or not." Each plate appearance is a separate test item, and each one is different.
2007-07-23 12:06:58
116.   Jim Dean
113 Test-retest reliability is per person

Those "bases" for baseball do exist. It's called "The History of the Game" and one can find it on any popular website. Moreover, that's exactly what a 100 OPS+ means.

And you missed the most crucial point: You work with a test that tests much broader skills AND which is administered many, many, many fewer times per person. You consistently reduce three or four hours of testing to one number. And how many times to you test the person in their lifetime?

The analogy, and statistics, of one are completely irrelevant for the other.

2007-07-23 12:19:49
117.   JL25and3
116 Actually, they're not at all irrelevant. some of the parameters might be different, but the ways of measuring their reliability and variability are the same. The primary difference is that in one case that work has been done, and in the other it hasn't. So it's entirely meaningless to say that "Damon is inconsistent," because we don't know what "inconsistent" means.

How much is the average variability over a career that length? If a player's lifetime OPS+ is 103, as Damon's is, what is the probability that - over his peak seasons - he'll have one season as low as 85? How unusual is it to start with 3-1/2 seasons averaging well below 100, then come back with 6 of the next 8 over 110? What does "well below 100" even mean?

Without the answers to those questions, it's really pretty hard to know what "consistent" means. (And again, I'm using it here as a measure of validity, not of competence.) It's fine in exceptional cases (I think Matsui is one). But to say Damon is especially inconsistent is an unsupported assertion, no more.

2007-07-23 12:21:24
118.   weeping for brunnhilde
83 Of course I have no numbers to prove that.

I'm not even sure it's the sort of thing that can be "proven" with numbers.

Either way, I'm not the person to do it.

If you'd like to take a whack at it, though, I'd be interested to see what you could come up with.

2007-07-23 12:26:48
119.   weeping for brunnhilde
83 Perhaps another way of looking at it (an oblique way, but nonetheless potentially instructive) would be to look at the difference between men's and women's tennis.

Women's tennis is more oriented towards not fucking up whereas men's tennis is more oriented towards "beating" your opponent.

What I'm saying is that I think often you can beat your opponent by not fucking up (i.e., putting the ball in play) as much as by overwhelming them (i.e., by hitting it over the fence). They're two approaches to the same task.

2007-07-23 12:30:33
120.   weeping for brunnhilde
85 Because it's harder to hit homeruns against good pitching.

What you can do against good pitching is slap the good pitchers pitches the other way, because that allows you to even out the odds.

If your approach is to wait around for a mistake (the typical approach to hitting homeruns), you'll be waiting a long time against a pitcher who's on his game.

If instead you're adept at scratching out a single run with consistency, then I think you take away an advantage of a dominating pitcher.

You give yourself a little more of a fighting chance.

Or so it seems to me.

2007-07-23 12:31:31
121.   ny2ca2dc
Here's Damon and some others, OPS+ since 2000, with average and standard deviation, plus the spread for each. giambi's outlier jacks his numbers, but compared to jeter and matsui, who are pretty much models of consistency, JD ain't....

the table gets jacked up, so here's just the ave & stdev (rest of data below):

______ ave stdev
Damon 105.4 15.13
Abreu 134.5 15.75
Matsui 128.4 10.95
Arod 157.1 17.16
Jeter 124.5 8.28
Giambi 154.6 35.71
Pujols 169.6 12.33

all of it:

2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 ave stdev spread
Damon 117 85 113 94 117 113 120 84 105.4 15.13 36
Abreu 140 141 155 134 149 123 129 105 134.5 15.75 50
Matsui 111 139 125 133 134 128.4 10.95 28
Arod 167 164 152 148 133 167 140 186 157.1 17.16 53
Jeter 123 125 113 127 116 121 138 133 124.5 8.28 25
Giambi 188 202 174 151 91 156 154 121 154.6 35.71 111
Pujols 158 155 189 175 167 180 163 169.6 12.33 34

anyone got ideas for better comparable for JD? Of course, a proper study would have to look at a much bigger set of data, but for shits & giggles...

2007-07-23 12:33:08
122.   Jim Dean
117 By "work has been done" you must mean "work you know of".

When you co-vary "career" by age and position, none of those trends are surprising for Damon.

Again, you miss the most crucial point: You're trying to take a test (or observation or evidence) that's administered maybe ten (or twenty times) for an individual and compare it to thousands of observations for an individual. Further, you have a test where the raw data is derived from a four hour session and compariing it to data from a three minute session.

So you're comparing a broader test with fewer observations and comparing it to more specific test with many more observations. And you're complaining about consistency and reliability for the latter? Because you haven't done your homework for the latter?

I'm glad you're not testing my kid's IQ.

The way the data is collected is more important than how it's analyzed. And a sample of 10 or 20 is much less powerful (statistically) than a sample of thousands - per person.

As to Damon: He has a career OPS+ of 103 with variability (or range) around that mode. An F-test would easily show his "results" are much more variable than Matsui or Abreu (the basic argument).

2007-07-23 12:37:08
123.   weeping for brunnhilde
89 Sure, they're more efficient, provided they're hit.

A pitcher has more power to prevent a homerun, though, than he does to prevent a slap single, bunt, etc.

If you're expert at doing those things that take the initiative away from the pitcher (e.g., going with the pitch such as to use his own velocity against him), it seems like you'd get more consistent performances because there's less the opposing pitcher could do to shut you down and you take more of your fate into your own hands.

Sure, you still might lose, but you take more control over the outcome by developing a "gameplan" that can be executed with good and bad pitchers alike.

2007-07-23 12:39:39
124.   Jim Dean
121 Nice. The one point lost in the discussion above is that variability around 100 versus variability above 100 is quite different because of how baseball players are treated. The former lose their jobs - the latter do not.

Otherwise, you've have to bin the data in some way other than year to get that bigger set of data. A first, easy, pass would probably be monthly splits across their careers. Even better would be weekly splits, I think.

Then just run a simple F-test on the scores to get that variability estimate.

2007-07-23 12:50:33
125.   ny2ca2dc
124 re: binning, right, yearly OPS+ numbers is kind of lame, but weekly or monthly is just as arbitrary - we're running into the "How long is the coastline of the England" problem - you've got to aggregate the data somehow, but should you look at the coastline at an atomic level, or smooth off by 100 yard increments, etc...

For this discussion though, since we're talking about yearly variability, i.e. 'can we expect Damon to continue to suck at this level for the year', I think looking at the yearly datapoints is probably fine, and i think you can fairly conclude Damon very well might not turn it around.

2007-07-23 12:52:38
126.   Jim Dean
125 Oh, no doubt. But you'd have more data. :)
2007-07-23 12:54:39
127.   ny2ca2dc
120 I agree with you in principle, and really wish the stat guys would pay more attention to this sort of thing. This is the kind of thing (scratching out vs. a top pitcher) that gets lost when you're necessarily looking at aggregate performance across a big ol sample.

I think there's a lot of room for more research in this area.... or maybe I'm just overcompensating for last year's ALDS... But I think this point is the nugget of truth that gets washed out in the whole 'good pitching beats good hitting' panacea mumbo jumbo. Wish i had more time to try to articulate this...

2007-07-23 13:03:29
128.   weeping for brunnhilde
127 This is something I think about when I look back on how California wiped the floor with us in 2002.

We had very good pitching, but the explanation became that they all just had bad starts, that it was essentially a fluke.

That's one interpretation, but another is simply that California either figured out how to hit them or had the right kind of game to hit them, and that's not the same thing at all.

So, what really happened in 2002? How can you analyze that series in such a way as to have something like an objective answer to the question: did California beat our pitchers, or did our pitchers simply all decide to suck at the same time?

2007-07-23 13:06:01
129.   Jim Dean
127 BR has splits for power and finesse pitchers for teams and players. Flyball and groundball too.
2007-07-23 13:25:09
130.   JL25and3
124 You're probably right. But saying how the tests might be done isn't the same as doing them.

Your comparison of the data for IQ tests and OPS+ aren't quite right. Each IQ test is the equivalent of a season's worth of OPS+. You're right, the IQ test is given less frequently, so each individual score would carry more variance than a player's career average. In other words, Damon's career OPS+_ is a more stable estimate of his "true ability" than a single IQ score of 103 would be. But it says nothing about year-to-year variability.

Believe me, I'm the one you want testing your kid's IQ. Please don't deign to lecture me on that subject, because I daresay I know heaps more about it than you do.

AS for my not doing my homework: I said, if you know differently, show me some numbers. I'm saying that I don't know ho wto judge consistency; you're saying Damon is inconsistent, and the numbers prove it. Fine. Show me.

2007-07-23 13:27:31
131.   JL25and3
125 FWIW, the original question wasn't whether one could say now that Damon won't pull it together. It's whether Torre should have known that a month or two ago, and been able to distinguish it accurately from Abreu.
2007-07-23 13:33:07
132.   williamnyy23
131 Well, Abreu has never come close to performing as poorly as he has this season, while Damon has had a few seasons as poor as his current one. So, yes, one could more reasonably conclude that Damon was less likely to rebound. Having said that, I don't blame Torre for not giving up on Damon because he hasn't had many better options. With Giambi returning and Duncan in the fold, he now has some hard thinking to do.
2007-07-23 13:36:03
133.   Jim Dean
130 You still don't get it.

A week of OPS+ is better than 1 IQ test. A month better still. A year even better.

Again: How many times do you administer the test to one kid? If it's less than five, then no, I don't want you giving it to my kid.

And actually, I don't want my kid taking any IQ test. The whole notion that intelligence can be reduced to one number (or four) is an out-dated relic from a long ago age. But then some are slow to catch up.

2007-07-23 13:36:43
134.   JL25and3
132 Again, look at the original assertion in 36. I think it's unwarranted.
2007-07-23 13:39:11
135.   JL25and3
133 Actually, Jim, you don't get it. You keep saying the same thing over and over, and it's still misleading.

And if you knew how much information can be gleaned by careful, intelligent analysis of IQ tests, you might feel differently. The one score, or four, are the least useful, least informative, least interesting pieces of data in the whole test. But then, what do I know about it?

2007-07-23 13:39:38
136.   Jim Dean
130 BTW: I'm not here to education you ("Show you"), just to correct your more egregious assumptions. You want education there's plenty to learn on the internet tubes.
2007-07-23 13:41:13
137.   JL25and3
136 You don't correct, you merely gainsay.
2007-07-23 13:42:52
138.   Jim Dean
135 If I pay enough attention to my kid, we'll do fine figuring out what they're good at.

(BTW: My Ph.D. is in Psychology. I know a little about IQ tests, thanks.)

2007-07-23 13:43:47
139.   Shaun P
131 I haven't been following the numbers at all (killer headache + lack of sleep due to 5 week old son = lump of goo where my brain usually is), but Damon has clearly been hurt since at least May, whereas Abreu has not. All statistical variations aside, Damon's butt should have been sent to the DL to heal his calves/feet/whatever it was. Playing through leg injuries, which clearly affect hitting, is no way to heal.

Just my (potentially addled) two cents.

2007-07-23 13:44:29
140.   JL25and3
133 Jim, what I'm saying is that the principles are the same even if the numbers are different. Yes, I agree, OPS+ is more stable than an IQ test. But how much more? How much difference is a meaningful difference? That's the important question.

The analogy was only for the purpose of illustrating the principle that there is variability, and it needs to be interpreted in light of that. Pointing out differences in the specific characteristics of each test isn't relevant to the basic principle.

I really do understand what you're saying, Jim. it would mean more ifyou provided information.

2007-07-23 13:45:00
141.   Jim Dean

And again: How many times do you administer the test to one kid?

But I bet you're real informative when you give the results to the parent.

2007-07-23 13:46:35
142.   Shaun P
139 Said another way:

Damon - injured - not able to hit well consistently until healed; not going to heal unless gets significant rest (ie DL)

Abreu - not injured - able to hit well consistently at any time (one hopes/hoped)

2007-07-23 13:46:56
143.   Jim Dean
139 Don't ever give your son an IQ test! They lie! And badly! And guidance counselors are evil!
2007-07-23 13:48:38
144.   JL25and3
138 IQ tests are, in fact, extremely meaningful and useful. It's just that "give me one number to show how smart he is" isn't a useful or meaningful question. I've given lots and lots and lots and lots of IQ tests, and I can give you an astonishing amount of information.

The problem isn't with the test, it's that all anyone wants to know is The Number.

2007-07-23 13:49:11
145.   Jim Dean
140 We all understood there's variability.
2007-07-23 13:52:03
146.   JL25and3
141 Believe me, I am. Do you think that I'd shortchange the parents of an understanding of their child? Do you think that I work - and work damn hard - to get this information just to keep it as my own little professional secret? I'm proud of the work I do, I take it very seriously and, frankly, I'm extremely good at it. (Not at everything I do, but at that.) It would be irresponsible, unprofessional and a waste of my time if I didn't convey what I knew. That's the whole point.
2007-07-23 13:52:46
147.   ny2ca2dc
130 "AS for my not doing my homework: I said, if you know differently, show me some numbers. I'm saying that I don't know ho wto judge consistency; you're saying Damon is inconsistent, and the numbers prove it. Fine. Show me."

That's kind of what i'm trying to do with 121... You don't think those numbers are even a little compelling?

(BTW, I have no interest in, nor am i attempting to comment on, the whole IQ/OPS+ analogy discussion) Just want to make my intent clear

2007-07-23 13:54:01
148.   Jim Dean
144 And again: How many times do you administer the test to one kid?

Isn't that always the case? We can dig deeper into Damon's numbers, but the number 103 still represents his true value.

The HUGE difference of course is that one number is accurate with respect to his profession (indeed, it nicely describes his career after the fact).

IQ on the other hand merely correlates with different and changing factors, and yet people try to use them as immutable predictors. Meanwhile, parent's education matters. Nutrition matters. Siblings and friends matter. Time of day the test is taken - matters.

2007-07-23 13:55:38
149.   Jim Dean
146 Why won't you answer this simple question then: How many times do you administer the test to one kid?

I know why.

2007-07-23 13:57:31
150.   JL25and3
147 I appreciated the work, but I have to say no, I didn't find it compelling. It didn't help that the limitations of the website's formatting make the numbers almost unintelligible. But also, a few comparisons with elite offensive players may be interesting, but they don't really lead towards an answer.
Show/Hide Comments 151-200
2007-07-23 14:03:33
151.   JL25and3
149 I generally don't administer it more than once, maybe twice, to a given kid. I'll often have old scores for comparison - two, possibly three others.

But Jim, I honestly don't see the relevance. I've said half a dozen times that of course IQ test scores contain more inherent variability. So what? As I've saida bout 8 times, that's only about the reasons that the two measures will have different characteristics; but it says nothing at all about the actual characteristics of OPS+.

So what's the point? That IQ and OPS+ aren't the same? I think that was settled some time ago. I don't see how it matters.

2007-07-23 14:04:59
152.   Jim Dean
What's typical about these IQ people is they've seen that the test has been given "tens of thousand of times" (actually much more - just the results haven't been tracked) and the bell curve looks so damn pretty.

Yes, humanity can be described intellectually by one number.

Problem is, they try to shoehorn individuals into that bell curve.


They give them the test once or twice early in childhood and that's it.

Parents don't know that you can be better or worse prepared for it. Most everyone else knows the same phenomenon with regard to the SAT.

Does it correlate with college grades?


Is it a great predictors.

Not at all.

I'm done now. Back to your regularly scheduled baseball blog.

2007-07-23 14:05:31
153.   JL25and3
And actually, I'll skip ahead. Your response (again) will be - how can you compare 3-5 measurements with hundreds or thousands? And my answer is: I'm not comparing them. I just want to know what the characteristics of the baseball stats are.

I've asked those questions, and you haven't answered them at all. I think I know why.

2007-07-23 14:06:42
154.   JL25and3
152 I never use it as a predictor, only as a descriptor.
2007-07-23 14:09:13
155.   JL25and3
152 For that matter, I've said that I don't attempt to describe human intelligence with one number, nor do I try to shoehorn anyone into a bell curve. That much information can't be neatly squeezed into anything.
2007-07-23 14:32:57
156.   Bama Yankee
Didn't Reggie Jackson claim to have an IQ of 160?
His career OPS+ was also 160... Coincidence?
I think not!!!

(Actually, his career OPS+ was 139. But hey, his IQ probably wasn't 160 either. Like Mickey Rivers said, "160? out of what? a thousand")

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