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Friday, September 07, 2012

Klapisch: No longer invincible, Yankees are ripe for taking

“You can’t live with Mark Reynolds and his strikeouts in the lineup!” (Michael the K…pre-scouting Mandrake Root for key spot on CenterStage)

The Yankees were beaten, 10-6, Thursday and there are few words to properly describe the carnage. The Bombers mounted a five-run rally in the eighth, tying the game at 6, only to watch helplessly as Adam Jones, Mark Reynolds and Chris Davis all hit home runs in the bottom half of the inning.

The Birds embarrassed Yankees’ pitchers to the tune of six homers as they climbed into a tie for first place, standing up to the Bombers in a way no one could’ve ever imagined a month ago. But that was before the Orioles and Rays finally discovered how vulnerable the Yankees are, how they’re being consumed by something deeper and more insidious than a late-summer slump. This has the makings of a historic collapse, and no one – not Joe Girardi or Brian Cashman — seems to have the power to reverse it.

...One AL executive who’s studied the Bombers’ downward spiral says the damage goes beyond the standings. Instead, the Yankees are being stripped of the aura of invincibility that accompanied their 10-game lead in July. “Whenever they don’t run out a ball now, or whenever one of their pitchers doesn’t back up, we say, ‘Look at that, the Yankees are human, too,’” he said. “You respect them, but the last thing you want is to be intimidated. It’s a big step when you realize the Yankees are just players who make mistakes, too.”

Repoz Posted: September 07, 2012 at 06:08 AM | 87 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: orioles, yankees

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   1. Dan Posted: September 07, 2012 at 07:02 AM (#4229030)
The Yankees look a lot like last year's Red Sox. But still, most teams in that position go on to make the playoffs.
   2. Belfry Bob Posted: September 07, 2012 at 07:09 AM (#4229032)
Yes, the Yankees' season is over. They are finished!

Well, unless they win tonight...then they are gritty veterans who 'know how to win' and can 'shrug off a terrible loss.'
   3. charityslave is thinking about baseball Posted: September 07, 2012 at 09:00 AM (#4229074)
This could really be one of those instances where the intangible "veteran leadership" has an effect on the team going forward, because this was a crushing loss. Wait, didn't the Red Sox and Braces have grizzled veterans on their teams? The Yanks are screwed
   4. Bitter Mouse Posted: September 07, 2012 at 09:04 AM (#4229075)
When it becomes a "lock" let me know.
   5. SG Posted: September 07, 2012 at 09:28 AM (#4229099)
I'm not sure how this version of the Yankees should ever have been considered invincible. They're playing way too many replacement level players every night, guys like Ibanez, Jones and Nix. Their bullpen is down to about two good relievers, and they're pinning a lot of hope on the return of a 1B who has been a disappointment for two and a half seasons now and a 40 year old pitcher who didn't pitch at all last year.

I think they'll still qualify for the postseason in some way, but I wouldn't bet on them to win a single full round of the playoffs.

Imagine if the Orioles were actually a good team?
   6. Yeaarrgghhhh Posted: September 07, 2012 at 09:32 AM (#4229103)
It should have been 10-1. I have no idea why Showalter brought Wolf out for a third inning or left Strop in the game for so long.
   7. Darren Posted: September 07, 2012 at 09:33 AM (#4229106)
It's the pinstripes!

Seriously, though, the Yankees have in recent years done a good job finding role players who, although you'd think they're replacement level, contribute to the team. It does sort of make them seem invincible.

I can't figure out the O's thing. Is this one more feather in Showalter's HOF cap?
   8. John DiFool2 Posted: September 07, 2012 at 09:37 AM (#4229109)
Cowboy Popup seems conspicuously absent from these threads, which is strange because he usually loves to pooh-pooh such talk (cue AA Milne joke).
   9. SG Posted: September 07, 2012 at 09:45 AM (#4229125)
It should have been 10-1. I have no idea why Showalter brought Wolf out for a third inning or left Strop in the game for so long.


It would have been 6-1 then since Girardi would have used Lowe to start the 8th instead of Robertson and Lowe dominated.
   10. SG Posted: September 07, 2012 at 09:45 AM (#4229129)
Cowboy Popup seems conspicuously absent from these threads, which is strange because he usually loves to pooh-pooh such talk (cue AA Milne joke).


If you're really looking for him and not just trolling you can find him in the AL playoff race thread.
   11. Best Regards, President of Comfort, Esq. Posted: September 07, 2012 at 10:32 AM (#4229186)
I'm not sure how this version of the Yankees should ever have been considered invincible.
I know, I was suprised that they had a big lead. Before the season I expected them to finish third. Looks like they might still do that.

Imagine if the Orioles were actually a good team?
With the same luck? They'd probably be on a pace to win 110 games.
   12. Ray (RDP) Posted: September 07, 2012 at 10:36 AM (#4229190)
When it becomes a "lock" let me know.


I of course stand by everything I wrote last year re the Red Sox at the time I wrote it. It was so unlikely that they were going to fail to qualify for the exhibitionseason that claiming that they were sure to lose -- and that's what some people were doing despite me taking all the heat for doing the opposite -- was incredibly silly.
   13. SoSH U at work Posted: September 07, 2012 at 10:38 AM (#4229192)
I'm not sure how this version of the Yankees should ever have been considered invincible.


Though I wasn't high on the Red Sox entering the season, my one source of optimism was I wasn't high on the Yankees either. Considering the age and injuries, it surprised me they played as well as they did for as long as they did.
   14. Shooty Survived the Shutdown of '14! Posted: September 07, 2012 at 10:40 AM (#4229195)
Though I wasn't high on the Red Sox entering the season, my one source of optimism was I wasn't high on the Yankees either. Considering the age and injuries, it surprised me they played as well as they did for as long as they did.

They aren't dead yet. You guys are making the classic horror movie mistake of assuming the monster is dead. There's still a whole third act left!
   15. Yeaarrgghhhh Posted: September 07, 2012 at 10:47 AM (#4229206)
It would have been 6-1 then since Girardi would have used Lowe to start the 8th instead of Robertson and Lowe dominated.

True, but it's Derek Lowe.
   16. Best Regards, President of Comfort, Esq. Posted: September 07, 2012 at 10:49 AM (#4229210)
They aren't dead yet.
Yep. They've been hurt and the guys who aren't hurt have been in a slump, and they've had some bad luck. I don't see them "quitting", so while I think it's probably a little less than 50% that they win the division now (I think the Rays are going to surge past them and the Orioles), I could also see them catching fire and win the division going away.
   17. charityslave is thinking about baseball Posted: September 07, 2012 at 10:51 AM (#4229213)
They aren't dead yet.


Ok, but Van Helsing has opened the coffin and he's got the stake and mallet in his hands. Also, the early morning sun Is pouring in through the windows.
   18. ColonelTom Posted: September 07, 2012 at 10:59 AM (#4229223)
Imagine if the Orioles were actually a good team?


Since August 3, the O's have gone 22-9. Their run differential has been +45 (156-111).

I'm cherry-picking an endpoint here, obviously, but they're playing excellent baseball right now. They've been riding an outstanding bullpen (5 guys under 3.00 ERA plus a revitalized Brian Matusz), they've patched the gaping holes in their rotation, and they've made two big defensive upgrades in the second half (Machado for Betemit at 3B, McLouth for Davis in LF). They're not this good, but they're a much better team than they were on Opening Day. They may pull this off.
   19. Jolly Old St. Nick Still Gags in October Posted: September 07, 2012 at 11:22 AM (#4229256)
Though I wasn't high on the Red Sox entering the season, my one source of optimism was I wasn't high on the Yankees either. Considering the age and injuries, it surprised me they played as well as they did for as long as they did.

My main source of optimism about the Yankees entering the season was the weak links in all of the other ALE teams. Their starting rotation has always had that pretty good upside / pretty bad downside to it, and true to form, it's blown hot and cold on and off many times throughout the season. When they're all in top form, they're capable of excellence, but nobody who took their ages and track records into consideration should have been expecting Cinderella not to eventually return into a pumpkin.

I supported the Cashman strategy of trying to downsize the payroll below the luxury tax level, and still do, but the obvious downside to that is that you've got to keep winning the lottery with players like Jones and Ibanez, and that doesn't always work out. Add the injuries and truth be told, you're looking at a team that's running on air. At this point I'd be shocked if they can stagger through and get to the postseason.
   20. TomH Posted: September 07, 2012 at 11:25 AM (#4229264)
The word "invincible" in the article (read it, 'cause it surprised me) refers primarily not to Yankee mystique nor their supposed prospects for 2012, but their now-long-gone 10-game lead; which, at the time, I must admit DID look invincible.
   21. Belfry Bob Posted: September 07, 2012 at 11:35 AM (#4229286)
They aren't dead yet. You guys are making the classic horror movie mistake of assuming the monster is dead. There's still a whole third act left!


"Was that...the boogeyman?"

"No, dear, it was just...Joba."
   22. SG Posted: September 07, 2012 at 11:36 AM (#4229288)
They're not this good, but they're a much better team than they were on Opening Day.


Agreed. I was being facetious. I think they're a much better team than their season-long run differential says they are.
   23. ColonelTom Posted: September 07, 2012 at 11:51 AM (#4229312)
Wow - Mark Reynolds has been on a hell of a run. In the O's current 22-9 run, he has a 1.187 OPS (.316/.440/.747).
   24. Ray (RDP) Posted: September 07, 2012 at 12:06 PM (#4229331)
Joe Sheehan had a good comment before yesterday's game:

The Yankees start David Phelps, who in seven starts has made it through five innings just three times and who has been homerprone (six in 35 2/3 innings) no matter how deep he's worked. Yeah, yeah, Pineda, Pettitte, etc., but the Yankees are the ones that decided to buy into the narrative and pay A.J. Burnett to pitch for the Pittsburgh Pirates. That move has hurt them for most of the season and is the one that sticks out as we wait for the eighth start of Phelps' career tonight.

   25. nick swisher hygiene Posted: September 07, 2012 at 12:58 PM (#4229410)
24--well, look at those two consecutive low-80s-ERA+ years for AJ, with age 34 and 35 next to them; those years also have HR/9 numbers of 1.2 and 1.5, and Phelps is on 1.5 right now.

the real way to think about the math, seems to me, is to sub in AJ for 25 Freddy Garcia starts. this year's AJ looks like an improvement over Freddy; this year's Freddo looks like a dead ringer for 2010-2011 AJ.

what surprises me is that even after years and years of almost-total FAIL the Yanks still seemed to have been thinking "yeah, our promising young arms will finally develop into solid starters this year." guys--you're the Yankees! your starting pitching prospects WILL ALWAYS FAIL.
   26. McCoy Posted: September 07, 2012 at 01:02 PM (#4229418)
Ok, but Van Helsing has opened the coffin and he's got the stake and mallet in his hands. Also, the early morning sun Is pouring in through the windows.

Clearly a man who has never watched a sequel. That don't mean nuthin.
   27. Dale Sams Posted: September 07, 2012 at 01:06 PM (#4229428)
Ok, but Van Helsing has opened the coffin and he's got the stake and mallet in his hands. Also, the early morning sun Is pouring in through the windows.

Clearly a man who has never watched a sequel. That don't mean nuthin.


Not to mention, how does Peter Cushing know the sun is pouring in? He looked away to see. Fool!! Pull the drapes man!!
   28. Gamingboy Posted: September 07, 2012 at 01:49 PM (#4229481)
As nice as it is that the Yankees left the exhaust port open, the fact is that the trench run is still going to be pretty hard...
   29. AROM Posted: September 07, 2012 at 02:02 PM (#4229503)
Does anybody really think if the Yankees kept Burnett he would have pitched as well as he has for the Pirates?

you're the Yankees! your starting pitching prospects WILL ALWAYS FAIL.


Hughes is about 50/50 between Fail and being pretty useful. Wang had a few good years in him before he got hurt and stopped being able to get people out. From 2005-08 he gave them over 600 innings of above average starting pitching for less than what Soriano costs per year (including the money paid to him in 2009).

   30. Srul Itza Posted: September 07, 2012 at 02:08 PM (#4229512)
The Red Sox faltered down the stretch last year in large part because of the back end of their starting pitching. All of the Bosox fans on this site kept pointing that out.

This is exactly the Yankees' problem right now. After CC and Kuroda, they have been very inconsistent. So when the bats also go south, as they have at times, things get very ugly.

   31. Cowboy Popup Posted: September 07, 2012 at 02:15 PM (#4229519)
Cowboy Popup seems conspicuously absent from these threads, which is strange because he usually loves to pooh-pooh such talk (cue AA Milne joke).

I love being noticed!

I've been concerned for a while, and I think I've said as much here. As SG notes, their too much garbage playing nearly everyday. Chavez's brief resurrection kept them going longer than they should have. There are a couple things in particular that I haven't seen anyone mention.

Robertson has stopped throwing his curveball (completely stole this observation from Riveraveblues). Since then, he has gone from being invincible to good. Last night wasn't the first time in recent history he got uncharacteristically shelled while throwing all fastballs and cutters (IIRC, he threw 1 curve and 1 change). Typically he throws 20% curves. Something is up with him.

I really wish they hadn't traded Mitchell for sucktastic Ichiro! Mitchell was not a great prospect by any means, but he's a MLB ready arm who could have either soaked up innings when Phelps or Garcia #### the bed, or come in and been a better middle reliever/long man than Derek ####### Lowe. And Ichiro!, for his part, has played worse than Dewayne Wise, the guy they cut to add him. A small thing, but considering how many close games they have lost recently, it was a lousy move. But hey, gotta sell those Ichiro! jerseys right?

However, the Yanks still have a decent rotation, and their offense will be back to full speed before too much longer. They could very easily lose here, considering that the O's have their number and the Rays look pretty good right now. But hey, I've been bored with the last few years of September baseball, here's hoping the Yanks either pull away or they win a tight, exciting pennant race.
   32. Yeaarrgghhhh Posted: September 07, 2012 at 02:17 PM (#4229524)
This is exactly the Yankees' problem right now. After CC and Kuroda, they have been very inconsistent. So when the bats also go south, as they have at times, things get very ugly.

On the flip side, the orioles don't have an ace, but they've had 5-6 decent starters (Chen, Tillman, Britton, Gonzalez, Johnson, and Saunders) for the last few weeks. And now they have Hammel back.
   33. Cowboy Popup Posted: September 07, 2012 at 02:18 PM (#4229526)
Does anybody really think if the Yankees kept Burnett he would have pitched as well as he has for the Pirates?

Well, Joe Sheehan apparently. Probably a couple of guys around here. But most people note the serious difference in offensive talent between the AL East and NL Central, as well as the effect of not pitching in NHRYS.
   34. The Yankee Clapper Posted: September 07, 2012 at 02:30 PM (#4229546)
In times like these, as always, it's helpful to remember Yogi's words of wisdom - It ain't over 'til it's over. Doesn't do any good to act like a pants pissing Red Sox fan, the Yanks still control their own destiny. They are only tied, and should be healthier down the stretch than they have been for the last month. I still like their chances.
   35. Ray (RDP) Posted: September 07, 2012 at 02:45 PM (#4229560)
what surprises me is that even after years and years of almost-total FAIL the Yanks still seemed to have been thinking "yeah, our promising young arms will finally develop into solid starters this year." guys--you're the Yankees! your starting pitching prospects WILL ALWAYS FAIL.


Part of this is that they don't give their young starters a chance to break in often enough. Ian Kennedy is a prime example. They got really burned on that deal, but people don't notice because Granderson has been pretty good and is hitting a lot of homers; but Austin Jackson was a part of that deal also, and he's been better than Granderson all by himself, even leaving Kennedy out of it, and saying nothing about the huge salary demands the Yankees were forced to take on.
   36. Ray (RDP) Posted: September 07, 2012 at 02:48 PM (#4229562)
Does anybody really think if the Yankees kept Burnett he would have pitched as well as he has for the Pirates?


Yes.

Well, Joe Sheehan apparently. Probably a couple of guys around here. But most people note the serious difference in offensive talent between the AL East and NL Central, as well as the effect of not pitching in NHRYS.


Yeah, it's not like Burnett did just fine pitching for the Yankees in 2009, or anything. And I hear that Toronto - where Burnett succeeded for years - plays in the AL East.

Are people serious with this stuff? It would be one thing if they got something worthwhile back for Burnett. But they dumped him with very little in return, and are paying salary to the Pirates to boot. I swear that for all the Yankees good moves, they allow Mike Francesa to make one deal a year for them as part of his contract with YES.

Dumping Burnett was a talk-radio-caller move, and it ought not be defended here by people who really should know better. One would think that being schooled by Kenny Rogers in Tigers uniform in a deciding game in the playoffs would have clued people in to the fact that "can't pitch in New York" or "can't pitch under pressure" is just so much BS as applied to major leaguers.
   37. ecwcat Posted: September 07, 2012 at 03:06 PM (#4229584)
You're a snob, Ray. AJ was screwed up in the head. He would pull an ERA of near 5 with the Yanks in 2012. Get your head out of the sand and open your frackin mind.
   38. Cowboy Popup Posted: September 07, 2012 at 03:14 PM (#4229596)
Yeah, it's not like Burnett did just fine pitching for the Yankees in 2009, or anything.

And it's not like AJ Burnett stopped aging in 2009. His average velocity on his fastball is down 2 mph since then. His HR rate skyrocketed after 2009. His FIP in 2010-2011 was half a run higher than 2009. Are you really trying to argue he was the same pitcher in those years, or that he is now?

Are people serious with this stuff?

Are you serious? I know you make up your mind and never change it on everything, no matter the facts or circumstances, but you really should at least let this one go, or at least stop posting about it.

One would think that being schooled by Kenny Rogers in Tigers uniform in a deciding game in the playoffs would have clued people in to the fact that "can't pitch in New York" or "can't pitch under pressure" is just so much BS as applied to major leaguers.

Of course no one is making that argument here. Have you considered calling into these shows that poison your radio and arguing with them?
   39. AROM Posted: September 07, 2012 at 03:21 PM (#4229605)
Yeah, it's not like Burnett did just fine pitching for the Yankees in 2009, or anything. And I hear that Toronto - where Burnett succeeded for years - plays in the AL East.


Yes, he pitched better 3-6 years ago. But your comment makes it sound like the Yankees were overreacting to a bad month. That's not what happened. Burnett pitched poorly for 65 starts, and the Yankees were looking at a 35 year old whose fastball was 2-3 MPH slower than it had been from 2006-2009.
   40. SG Posted: September 07, 2012 at 03:32 PM (#4229621)
AROM, you are introducing complexity into a system that is not equipped to handle it.
   41. Ray (RDP) Posted: September 07, 2012 at 03:36 PM (#4229627)
AROM: They got virtually nothing back for him. And this was not Oliver Perez. His HR rate was high, but his peripherals, while worse, had not collapsed. And his K rate was still quite good. There was plenty left to work with there.


   42. AROM Posted: September 07, 2012 at 03:46 PM (#4229636)
They got the Pirates to pay 13 million for taking him. Doesn't look like a good deal, especially now, but that's not nothing.
   43. Cowboy Popup Posted: September 07, 2012 at 03:48 PM (#4229637)
They got the Pirates to pay 13 million for taking him.

Or to put it another way, Hiroki Kuroda's salary.
   44. nick swisher hygiene Posted: September 07, 2012 at 04:02 PM (#4229647)
geez, fellas, Ray, #25? #dangerfield

also, #43 is, uh, maybe kinda relevant?

[edited for comprehensibility]


   45. Best Regards, President of Comfort, Esq. Posted: September 07, 2012 at 04:39 PM (#4229693)
Or to put it another way, Hiroki Kuroda's salary.
Or, to put it another way, it allowed them to sign Raul Ibanez and Eric Chavez. Complain all you want about Ibanez, but without Chavez they wouldn't even be tied for first place right now.
   46. Ray (RDP) Posted: September 07, 2012 at 05:12 PM (#4229730)
Or, to put it another way, it allowed them to sign Raul Ibanez and Eric Chavez. Complain all you want about Ibanez, but without Chavez they wouldn't even be tied for first place right now.


How many ways are posts #42-45 laughably nonsensical? Let's count them:

1. There is no actual cap; the Yankees can go as high as they want in salary; granted there is the luxury tax, but that hasn't seemed to stop them in the past. But let's put that aside.

2. The Yankees dumped Burnett three weeks after getting Kuroda, but the moves could still well have been linked (the Yankees figuring that they would eventually pay someone to take Burnett), so let's put that aside as well.

3. The idea that freeing up salary allowed them to sign Ibanez and Chavez is comical. Chavez's salary is $900K. Ibanez, who has been worthless, has a salary of $1.2M. The idea that the Yankees had to trade Burnett and free up salary to pay these guys a total of $2.1M is absurd. No team would allow $2 million to be the difference between making the playoffs and not. And I don't know why Larry says "complain all you want about Ibanez," as if acknowledging that Ibanez has been horrible negates the problem with Larry's argument, namely, that Ibanez has been horrible.

4. Why are we focusing on the Chavez's? Freeing up salary also "allowed" them to sign Freddy Garcia and trade for Ichiro, both who have been horrible (0.2 WAR and -0.2 WAR for a total of 0).

5. Trades are not really properly analyzed by using this "freeing up money" concept and ignoring the actual deal, as if simply weighing both sides of the actual deal is flawed. The Yankees got screwed here. They owed Burnett $33 million for 2012/2013, and they paid the Pirates $19 million (!) to take him. AROM points out the $13 million that the Yankees "saved," but this brushes aside the fact that they utterly screwed themselves, paying $19 million to have Burnett -- again I reiterate, still with peripherals that had not collapsed -- pitch for the Pirates.

   47. Cowboy Popup Posted: September 07, 2012 at 05:45 PM (#4229746)
There is no actual cap

Teams don't have budgets?

They owed Burnett $33 million for 2012/2013, and they paid the Pirates $19 million (!) to take him.

They would have had to pay him anyway, and if they didn't trade him, they would be paying him to continue to suck, which he was doing at an almost unmatched rate his last two years with the Yanks.

again I reiterate, still with peripherals that had not collapsed

His peripherals were lousy, whether or not they "collapsed." 1.98 K/BB ratio, 1.3 HR/9. An approximately ~4.80 FIP (3rd(!) worst among qualifying starters during 2010-2011). Those are terrible peripherals. And his peripherals understate how awful he was since his ERA was much worse than his FIP both years.
   48. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: September 07, 2012 at 05:58 PM (#4229751)
AROM points out the $13 million that the Yankees "saved," but this brushes aside the fact that they utterly screwed themselves, paying $19 million to have Burnett -- again I reiterate, still with peripherals that had not collapsed -- pitch for the Pirates.
Burnett's FIP in 2010-2011 was 4.80. ZiPS projected Burnett to an ERA of 5.31. He projected to be worth maybe 1 WAR. The Pirates paid a premium for a below average starting pitcher, based on the projections. It looked like a solid trade at the time, if they could get reasonably above replacement pitchers to replace Burnett.
   49. Best Regards, President of Comfort, Esq. Posted: September 07, 2012 at 05:59 PM (#4229752)
Listen, if there's anyone who knows about projecting future performance, it's Ray.
   50. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: September 07, 2012 at 06:14 PM (#4229757)
The thing that's interesting to me is the decision of Yankees ownership to get themselves under the cap in 2013. (It's interesting also cause the Sox ownership made the exact same call.) It appears that both ownership groups didn't see the "revenue sharing rebate" provision coming, and the loss of millions of dollars in rebates for going even $1 over the cap was a price neither the Steinbrenners nor Henry and Werner were willing to pay.

Both clubs, though, were locked into a ton of heavy contracts through 2013, and so they tried to fill in their 2012 rosters on the cheap. The Red Sox did a much worse job, committing to starting Daniel Bard and ruining at least one of his arm or brain in the process, while trading away useful pre-arb players to backfill the bullpen. However, the Sox were much closer to the cap, and before the unpleasantness, they were going to have useful money to spend to fix the 2013 roster. (Then everyone crapped the bed at once, and we're looking at a rebuilding year.)

The Yankees, on the other hand, did a reasonably good job of filling a roster on a shoestring. They got about 8 WAR for a little over $20M from their stopgap vets - basically. Hiroki Kuroda's been so good that all the deals in the aggregate grade out as a positive. But they have zero wiggle room for 2013 if they intend to get under the cap. They're playing like a 91-92 win team now, and their players will more likely project to decline than rebound. It'll be interesting to see if the Steinbrenners stick with the plan. (My guess is they definitely will if they win the division, but if they don't, who knows.)
   51. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: September 07, 2012 at 06:48 PM (#4229770)
Oh, I have other Yankee thoughts.

Have we had a Jesus Montero discussion yet? It looks like the Yankees were right he was never going to be a catcher. He's allowed 47 SB in 45 games at a success rate over 80%. He has 6 PB and 18 WP. DRS rates him about -20 for a full season. Basically, he gives back the entire defensive difference between a catcher and a first baseman. He's hit ok (100 OPS+), and there's still hope he can be a good hitter once he's shifted to his natural position at DH. The Yankees could have done better for a return than a kid with an arm injury, but it appears they were right to plan to trade Montero.
   52. Ray (RDP) Posted: September 07, 2012 at 07:55 PM (#4229798)
Let's pretend it was Cano who was traded for nothing, with the Yankees paying 19 mil and saving 13 mil. Would anyone claim that the trade was totally cool because the saved money allowed them to sign Ibamez and Chavez?
   53. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: September 07, 2012 at 08:25 PM (#4229805)
No, because Robinson Cano projected as an MVP candidate, whose contract was a bargain. AJ Burnett projected as a 4th/5th starter who was overpaid by $10M per season.
   54. Ray (RDP) Posted: September 07, 2012 at 09:30 PM (#4229826)
I don't know how much faith we should have in projections for pitchers, but he had upside.
   55. Mayor Blomberg Posted: September 07, 2012 at 09:48 PM (#4229835)
Upside? You want upside? John Lackey. he's all upside. Beckett. Carl Crawford.
   56. cercopithecus aethiops Posted: September 07, 2012 at 10:50 PM (#4229872)
We're talking about A. J. Burnett, right? The guy with the 5.52 ERA in his last five starts, right? Yeah, that kind of pitching sure would have kept the Yankees from blowing a ten game lead.
   57. TVerik, the gum-snappin' hairdresser Posted: September 07, 2012 at 11:00 PM (#4229880)
You know what they called an AJ 5.52 over five starts in 2011? His best damn month of pitching all year.
   58. cercopithecus aethiops Posted: September 07, 2012 at 11:13 PM (#4229891)
Actually, Burnett was 4-1 with a 3.93 ERA last April. He went into the All-Star break carrying a 4.15 and only had one month over 5. But that was some month.
   59. Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Griffin (Vlad) Posted: September 08, 2012 at 04:32 AM (#4230036)
As far as Burnett is concerned, xFIP is a better predictor of future ERA than FIP is, and Burnett's 2011 xFIP was 3.86. The Yankees were wrong to dump him for basically nothing, and they were dumb to pay so much of his deal in order to get him out of town. But hey, such is life.

The part of the AL East race that has surprised me the most this year is that Nate McLouth has looked like a legitimate MLB player in Baltimore. He seemed totally washed up with the Pirates this spring.
   60. Dr. Vaux Posted: September 08, 2012 at 04:49 AM (#4230038)
As far as Burnett is concerned, xFIP is a better predictor of future ERA than FIP is


Hasn't the idea that HR aren't at least partially the pitcher's fault been debunked except at Fangraphs?
   61. SG Posted: September 08, 2012 at 07:27 AM (#4230047)
As far as Burnett is concerned, xFIP is a better predictor of future ERA than FIP is, and Burnett's 2011 xFIP was 3.86.


Unless you're using a new version of xFIP that would account for the fact that Burnett would be pitching half his innings in a park that boosts HRs significantly if he had remained with the Yankees, this is pure nonsense.
   62. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: September 08, 2012 at 09:42 AM (#4230076)
As far as Burnett is concerned, xFIP is a better predictor of future ERA than FIP is, and Burnett's 2011 xFIP was 3.86.
xFIP is not a useful stat. The apparent improved predictiveness is a statistical artifact of xFIP's lower variance. HR/Con is a better predictor of future HR rate than FB/Con, and xFIP effectively replaces HR/Con with FB/Con. See Colin Wyers on SIERA, xFIP, and FIP:
When you create an expected home run rate based on batted ball data, what you get is something that's well correlated with HR/CON but has a smaller standard deviation, so in tests where the standard deviation affects the results, like root mean square error, it produces a better-looking result, without adding any predictive value.

Aside from questions of batted ball bias, however, there is a reason that this sort of analysis can be unsatisfactory: it assumes that a fly ball that wasn’t a home run is equally predictive of future home runs as a fly ball that is a home run. This is absolutely incorrect. You can break a pitcher’s fly ball rate down into two components: home runs on contact, and fly balls on balls in play. (This ignores the very small number of home runs that are scored as line drives, which is typically rare enough to not impact this sort of analysis.) Fly balls on balls in play are a much poorer predictor of future home runs than home runs on contact, with an r-squared of only .014.

While regressing the spread of HR/CON is a good idea, using fly ball rates to come up with expected HR/CON does this essentially by accident. And in doing so, they throw out a lot of valuable information that is preserved in HR/CON but is washed out when non-HR fly balls are considered in equal proportion. By being in a rush to discard the bath water, someone’s throwing away the baby.
   63. Darren Posted: September 08, 2012 at 10:03 AM (#4230086)
Somehow this discussion morphed from a debate over whether Burnett would be pitching this well for the Yankees into whether the Yankees made a reasonable decision to part ways with him. Those are two different things. The first question is what interests me. It's taken as an article of faith, even here, that Burnett would not have done this well (adjusted for league). I don't see how that's a reasonable assumption. We can never know, but the default should be to assume that he would. You should have to make a detailed case why he wouldn't. (And that case should not be that he had a history of sucking, because that history followed him to Pittsburgh.)
   64. RB in NYC (Now Semi-Retired from BBTF) Posted: September 08, 2012 at 10:36 AM (#4230100)
We can never know, but the default should be to assume that he would. You should have to make a detailed case why he wouldn't. (And that case should not be that he had a history of sucking, because that history followed him to Pittsburgh.)
I think the case may be that Burnett needed a new organization. I don't mean that in the "Can't Handle NY" sense, but sometimes shifting organizations--for whatever reason--allows a player to notably improve.

Look at Granderson, clearly Detroit did everything they could to get him to hit lefties. Now, I don't know if Kevin Long is just a better hitting coach than anyone in the Tiger organization (or anyone who worked with Granderson, anyway) or if Long just connected with Curtis for some reason or whatever, but having spent the first eight years of his career in the Tiger org, Granderson didn't hit lefties at all. And he spends 18 months or so and (even now) he's hitting lefties better than previously.

So what about the Pirates turned Burnett around? I don't claim to know. Maybe he connected with Ray Searage (the Bucs' PC), maybe being traded made him say \"#### it, I'm doing what works for me and not listening to the coaches" and that helps. Maybe it's some combination of that plus luck, but I don't think it is a fair assumption that changing organizations has no effect on a player, even if it's not the same effect a lot of reporters imagine.
   65. Cowboy Popup Posted: September 08, 2012 at 11:08 AM (#4230120)
We can never know, but the default should be to assume that he would. You should have to make a detailed case why he wouldn't. (And that case should not be that he had a history of sucking, because that history followed him to Pittsburgh.)

Why should a detailed case need to be made? It's not complicated. Burnett was struggling with giving up HRs. Then he moved from a park where HRs are easier to come by and had less of a problem with giving them up. Burnett had trouble walking guys, and striking them out enough to compensate for it in the AL. Then he moves to the NL and has a 20/2 K/BB ratio against pitchers.

AJ still has reduced velocity and is basically throwing the same pitches the same amount of time. His GB% is up (second best of his career in a full season), he's walking less guys (best of his career in a full season) and his LOB% is up (second best of his career in a full season). That suggests that he's facing hitters that are less capable of punishing him when they make contact.

AJ hasn't pitched that well, after getting smacked around by the Cubs last night, he has a 103 ERA+ in 163 IP. It doesn't take some leap of faith to see how the differences I noted count account for that shift in ERA. Also, it's worth keeping in mind that Burnett still has some starts left and has been terrible lately. His numbers could be worse in three weeks. You may not agree with all that reasoning, but the notion that AJ would be doing worse in for the Yankees is hardly being taken as an article of faith.
   66. Repoz Posted: September 08, 2012 at 11:25 AM (#4230137)
So what about the Pirates turned Burnett around? I don't claim to know. Maybe he connected with Ray Searage (the Bucs' PC), maybe being traded made him say "#### it, I'm doing what works for me and not listening to the coaches" and that helps.

Didn't Burnett recently blame the Yankee coaching staff on making him throw certain pitches more often?
   67. Cowboy Popup Posted: September 08, 2012 at 11:32 AM (#4230149)
Didn't Burnett recently blame the Yankee coaching staff on making him throw certain pitches more often?

Wouldn't surprise me. They basically stuffed change up down his throat last year (career high 9.6% last year, previous high was 3.7%, but he is throwing it 6.8% of the time this year). It was not an effective pitch. But his fastball was so bad that I can understand why the Yanks would try and play up his offspeed repertoire.
   68. RB in NYC (Now Semi-Retired from BBTF) Posted: September 08, 2012 at 11:40 AM (#4230156)
More on #63, it seems to me one would never say that had David Ortiz stayed with Minnesota--and played every day--he would have the same number he has having been in Boston. The organization, the ballpark, all that stuff matters. The more I think about it, the more convinced I am that Darren is coming at this the wrong way.

None of which is to say the Yankees handled dealing Burnett well, incidentally. They basically put him out on a card table on 161st Street with a sign: FREE, OR BEST OFFER. He didn't have much value, but he had some, albeit mostly in upside, and the Yankees treated him like a complete zero.
   69. JJ1986 Posted: September 08, 2012 at 11:48 AM (#4230160)
Whether they should have dumped Burnett or not, the Yankees had very slim SP depth without him. I don't get why Phelps wasn't being stretched out at the beginning of the season. Pineda went down in the spring, making Garcia #5 and I guess Warren #6. They couldn't have known Pettitte was coming back then.
   70. RB in NYC (Now Semi-Retired from BBTF) Posted: September 08, 2012 at 11:51 AM (#4230162)
Pineda went down in the spring, making Garcia #5 and I guess Warren #6. They couldn't have known Pettitte was coming back then.
You're remembering the sequence wrong, which is understandable since I had to Google it to make sure I had it right. Pettitte signed with the Yankees on March 16th, and Pineda was shut down with the shoulder pain on March 30th.
   71. Guapo Posted: September 08, 2012 at 11:59 AM (#4230169)
The Yankees should never have traded Eddie Whitson. Look how well he pitched for San diego!
   72. Cowboy Popup Posted: September 08, 2012 at 11:59 AM (#4230171)
Whether they should have dumped Burnett or not, the Yankees had very slim SP depth without him.

I don't think it was that thin. They had CC, Kuroda, Pineda, Hughes, Nova, Garcia, Pettitte, Warren, Mitchell and Phelps. That's ten guys who could conceivably step in and there was hope that one of Betances or Banuelos might be ready later in the season. I mean, sure, Warren and Mitchell aren't great options but they are as good as some of the guys the rest of the division (except maybe Tampa) has run out there.

And I'm not sure they could have kept AJ. When they traded him, there were six healthy guys who were better than him or pitched better than him last year and Pettitte on the way. And I don't think Burnett would have been fine sitting in the bullpen all spring and then getting bumped back when Pettitte came back.

I don't get why Phelps wasn't being stretched out at the beginning of the season.

The Yanks are really terrible when dealing with non-golden boy pitching prospects (not that they are good at dealing with golden boy pitching prospects either). They jerk them around and they are always convinced they aren't actually good enough to start. However, I think Phelps was starting in the minors at the beginning of the season. They then proceeded to make him a one inning reliever and then changed their mind later.
   73. Ray (RDP) Posted: September 08, 2012 at 12:46 PM (#4230199)
Look at Granderson, clearly Detroit did everything they could to get him to hit lefties. Now, I don't know if Kevin Long is just a better hitting coach than anyone in the Tiger organization (or anyone who worked with Granderson, anyway) or if Long just connected with Curtis for some reason or whatever, but having spent the first eight years of his career in the Tiger org, Granderson didn't hit lefties at all. And he spends 18 months or so and (even now) he's hitting lefties better than previously.


Well, he's at .219/.303/.470 (.773) against lefties this year, after hitting .272/.347/.597 (.944) against them in 2011. He's doing fine against them, but people had predicted that he was now a .950 OPS hitter against lefties, which was flawed. I expected a dropoff against lefties in 2012 though not to the same .650 floor that he had been at previously, and that is close to what's happened.

So what about the Pirates turned Burnett around? I don't claim to know.


I do. Player performance fluctuates from year to year, particularly for pitchers. He still had a good strikeout rate, and you should never rush to write that pitcher off or proclaim that he is finished.
   74. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: September 08, 2012 at 12:52 PM (#4230203)
you should never rush to write that pitcher off or proclaim that he is finished.
Obviously no one should "rush" or make premature proclamations, but you gotta make judgments. That's what running a baseball team is. A pitcher who projects to an ERA over 5, whose stuff has declined and whose salary is exorbitant for his production, is the sort of pitcher you want to trade away.
   75. RB in NYC (Now Semi-Retired from BBTF) Posted: September 08, 2012 at 12:56 PM (#4230207)
I expected a dropoff against lefties in 2012 though not to the same .650 floor that he had been at previously, and that is close to what's happened.
Which is fine. But it doesn't alter my main point that switching organizations aided Granderson's performance against lefties tremendously. (Granderson's best OPS+ split facing lefites was 73 in Detroit, in NY his worst was 66, 103 and 94.) You can disagree that moving to Pittsburgh helped Burnett--beyond park effects--but the larger point I take issue with is the default assumption should be changing organizations doesn't affect a player and his approach, performance, etc. If you acknowledge that clearly it can--as it did for Granderson, and Ortiz, and probably others I'm not thinking of at the moment--you can just dismiss out of hand that Burnett is better in part because he left the Yankees.
   76. Ray (RDP) Posted: September 08, 2012 at 01:10 PM (#4230214)
AJ hasn't pitched that well, after getting smacked around by the Cubs last night, he has a 103 ERA+ in 163 IP. It doesn't take some leap of faith to see how the differences I noted count account for that shift in ERA.


Well, it's worth noting that one of his starts was a disaster start where he gave up 12 runs in 2.2 innings. Obviously it counts as a loss, but a team can only lose once per game. Without that start his ERA would be 3.09 instead of 3.68. With a more normal bad game his ERA would be 3.30 or so.

Also, it's worth keeping in mind that Burnett still has some starts left and has been terrible lately. His numbers could be worse in three weeks.


Well, let's just assume he'll have a bad three weeks, since it fits our premise.
   77. Cowboy Popup Posted: September 08, 2012 at 01:16 PM (#4230218)
Well, it's worth noting that one of his starts was a disaster start where he gave up 12 runs in 2.2 innings. Obviously it counts as a loss, but a team can only lose once per game. Without that start his ERA would be 3.09 instead of 3.68. With a more normal bad game his ERA would be 3.30 or so.

If someone else made this point about a player you felt differently about, you would ridicule them.

Well, let's just assume he'll have a bad three weeks, since it fits our premise.

Not assuming anything, I'm just noting the season isn't over and Burnett's slumping. That's plainly written there. This accusation is especially hilarious coming from someone trying to hand waive away a game that actually happened.
   78. Ray (RDP) Posted: September 08, 2012 at 01:31 PM (#4230223)
More on #63, it seems to me one would never say that had David Ortiz stayed with Minnesota--and played every day--he would have the same number he has having been in Boston.


I of course _would_ say that. It was quite clear when Ortiz was with the Twins that he was a good player who Tom Kelly was ####### with.
   79. Ray (RDP) Posted: September 08, 2012 at 01:40 PM (#4230229)
If someone else made this point about a player you felt differently about, you would ridicule them.


?

This accusation is especially hilarious coming from someone trying to hand waive away a game that actually happened.


I did no such thing. Do you see the part of post 76 where I wrote "With a more normal bad game his ERA would be 3.30 or so."?

Are you confused about the concept that a team can only lose one time no matter how badly its starter performs in that one game? This is widely accepted as valid. It's one of the main pillars of Michael Wolverton's support-neutral pitcher evaluation system.
   80. RB in NYC (Now Semi-Retired from BBTF) Posted: September 08, 2012 at 01:45 PM (#4230232)
I of course _would_ say that. It was quite clear when Ortiz was with the Twins that he was a good player who Tom Kelly was ####### with.
Kelly wasn't the manager Ortiz' last year in Minnesota, but addressing your larger point, what does \"####### with" mean? I'm not being snide, I mean that genuinely. The general consensus is that the Twins wanted to have Ortiz hit the ball the other way, and once in Boston where he was allowed to be "his own hitter" (so to speak) Ortiz developed into an offensive force. Now, you might argue, and you might be right, that if he was left alone in Minnesota, that would have happen anyway. But he was never going to be left alone that way in Minnesota.

Maybe I'm reading this wrong, but you seem to be making a frankly bizarre argument that an organization amounts of nothing more than its stadium and uniforms, and that coaches, organizational philosophy, and so on have basically no effect on players. I think that's patently insane, and guys like Ortiz and Granderson are proof of it. So I'd argue that while Burnett might have been better in NY this year then he was in 2010 and '11, the idea that he would be just as good as he's been in Pittsburgh is nuts.
   81. Ray (RDP) Posted: September 08, 2012 at 01:51 PM (#4230241)
Kelly wasn't the manager Ortiz' last year in Minnesota, but addressing your larger point, what does \"####### with" mean? I'm not being snide, I mean that genuinely.


Ortiz ended up in Kelly's doghouse. He was not put in the lineup and left the hell alone. Thus, he was ###### with.

Maybe I'm reading this wrong, but you seem to be making a frankly bizarre argument that an organization amounts of nothing more than its stadium and uniforms, and that coaches, organizational philosophy, and so on have basically no effect on players.


That is essentially my argument, yes. There are exceptions to that (e.g., if they hold him out of the lineup, or place extreme controls on his batting stance or pitch delivery or type), but the gist of it is correct. The vast, vast majority of players would perform just as well (adjusted for park and league) on one team as they would another.

   82. RB in NYC (Now Semi-Retired from BBTF) Posted: September 08, 2012 at 01:59 PM (#4230247)
That is essentially my argument, yes.
Fair enough. I guess we'll agree to disagree on that.
   83. 6 - 4 - 3 Posted: September 08, 2012 at 02:01 PM (#4230248)
At what point does an epic Yankees collapse present a threat to Giardi coming back in 2013?
   84. Avoid running at all times.-S. Paige Posted: September 08, 2012 at 02:10 PM (#4230252)
If George were alive there is a non-zero percent chance that Bobby V would be managing the yanks in 2013. The ####### sons are boring.
   85. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: September 08, 2012 at 02:21 PM (#4230263)
At what point does an epic Yankees collapse present a threat to Giardi coming back in 2013?

It just doesn't seem that epic. We had two worse collapses just last year.

Plus, it can pretty easily be traced to injury. I highly doubt he'd be fired for it.
   86. Danny Posted: September 08, 2012 at 03:24 PM (#4230312)
They owed Burnett $33 million for 2012/2013, and they paid the Pirates $19 million (!) to take him. AROM points out the $13 million that the Yankees "saved," but this brushes aside the fact that they utterly screwed themselves, paying $19 million to have Burnett -- again I reiterate, still with peripherals that had not collapsed -- pitch for the Pirates.

Why do you think the $19 million matters as far as the trade goes? Would you think differently about the trade if Burnett was only owed $13 million for 2012/2013 and the Bucs took on his whole salary? Or if he was owed $133 million for 2012/2013 and the Bucs still took on only $13 million?

Sunk costs are sunk.
   87. AROM Posted: September 08, 2012 at 06:10 PM (#4230426)
It would be interesting to look at how many groundballs towards short, hit off Burnett, that Clint Barmes gets to but Jeter can't. Then there's ballparks, see how many balls stay in the yard that would leave Yankee stadium. And pitching to pitchers instead of the DH.

I don't want to dismiss the psychological aspect of getting out of NY, needing a change of scenery, etc. But you can probably account for most of the difference between 3.50 and 5.00 with those tangible factors.

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