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Friday, October 12, 2018

Yankees Will Shop Sonny Gray This Offseason

Sonny Gray’s tenure with the Yankees hasn’t panned out nearly as well as the organization had hoped, and general manager Brian Cashman candidly told reporters Friday that he plans to explore trade scenarios this offseason (Twitter link via Newsday’s David Lennon). “We’re entering the winter open-minded to relocation,” Cashman said of Gray. “…It’s probably best to try somewhere else.”

It’s highly atypical to see a baseball executive display that level of candor when discussing a potential trade of a player, but the writing has been on the wall for quite some time now. Gray was dropped from the team’s rotation amid considerable struggles this summer, and the Yankees didn’t carry him on their postseason roster.

Acquired in a high-profile trade that sent Dustin Fowler, Jorge Mateo and James Kaprielian to the Athletics in July 2017, Gray gave the Yankees 65 1/3 innings of 3.72 ERA ball down the stretch that season. He was far more homer-prone than he’d been in Oakland — perhaps to be expected given the radical shift in his home park — but the 2018 season was an ugly one for Gray. In 130 1/3 innings this season, he posted a 4.90 ERA with a career-worst 3.94 BB/9 mark and a career-high eight hit batters.

The Yankee off-season is already a busy one.

Los Angeles El Hombre of Anaheim Posted: October 12, 2018 at 02:14 PM | 62 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: sonny gray, that was fast, trade rumors, yankees

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   1. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: October 12, 2018 at 03:14 PM (#5765244)
If the Yankees can't fix Gray, and have to sell at his lowest value, I think it's a real indictment of the major league coaching staff.
   2. catomi01 Posted: October 12, 2018 at 03:42 PM (#5765261)
I remember a story during some point in the season (I think it was the Chatwood for Gray challenge trade someone suggested) that claimed it was the Yankees strategy of using breaking balls at a much greater frequency than Gray generally did, and that he was not as successful throwing his FB less often. If that's the case, it's as much on Cashman and crew for incorrectly identifying a player who would do well in their organization as it is on the coaching staff not getting him to adapt. Basically trying to fit a square peg in a round hole.

That wouldn't explain the home/road discrepancy though.
   3. Zonk qualifies as an invasive species Posted: October 12, 2018 at 03:48 PM (#5765267)
Well, I was going to suggest the Yankees should try peddling their wares at the newly opened Chatwood Mega Outlet :-)

Though, the Cubs aren't really looking for an SP.
   4. PreservedFish Posted: October 12, 2018 at 03:53 PM (#5765271)
hat claimed it was the Yankees strategy of using breaking balls at a much greater frequency than Gray generally did, and that he was not as successful throwing his FB less often. If that's the case, it's as much on Cashman and crew for incorrectly identifying a player who would do well in their organization as it is on the coaching staff not getting him to adapt.


I continue to not understand claims like this. Why the #### would the Yankees ask a guy - who, when acquired, was pitching to a 122 ERA+ and not far removed from a 3rd place CYA finish - to significantly change what he was doing? Why the #### would Gray agree? And why the ####, after his results meaningfully deteriorated, would he keep doing it? Pitchers get to shake off the catcher.


Gray's a young pitcher. Sometimes young pitchers lose their stuff, sometimes they just start to suck. He had a random 5.66 ERA season in Oakland. This year - an apparently unlucky 4.90 ERA - is well within his expected range of performance.
   5. rconn23 Posted: October 12, 2018 at 03:53 PM (#5765272)
I think it was just a bad fit. I also don't think Gray will ever be as good as he was in Oakland his first two years there. Seems like a guy who will get shipped to somewhere like San Diego, put up good numbers because of the ballpark, and get traded to another contender where he will flounder again in smaller confines.

Also, as much as I like and believe in Cashman, his trades for pitchers have been pretty bad. His trades for position players have been largely great.
   6. Walt Davis Posted: October 12, 2018 at 04:27 PM (#5765292)
Chatwood for Gray

Oh, OK, we'll throw in Heyward too.
   7. ERROR---Jolly Old St. Nick Posted: October 12, 2018 at 04:32 PM (#5765297)
I think it was just a bad fit. I also don't think Gray will ever be as good as he was in Oakland his first two years there. Seems like a guy who will get shipped to somewhere like San Diego, put up good numbers because of the ballpark, and get traded to another contender where he will flounder again in smaller confines.

That's my take as well. As much as everyone likes to ridicule the thought, the fact is that some pitchers simply can't adjust to New York. Gray's not the first, and he probably won't be the last, but his average Game Score this year was 48, his best 5 games were all on the road, and he had exactly one (1) first rate start against a contending team (Cleveland), and that was back in May when the Indians were a .500 team.

Also, as much as I like and believe in Cashman, his trades for pitchers have been pretty bad. His trades for position players have been largely great.

Happ pitched very well before his DS meltdown, but before that you have to go back to Hideki Kuroda to find a solid starting pitcher Cashman's picked up from either the trade or the MLB free agent market. Meanwhile Sale, Porcello, Cole, Morton and Verlander are all battling it out in the LCS.
   8. PreservedFish Posted: October 12, 2018 at 04:39 PM (#5765307)
As much as everyone likes to ridicule the thought, the fact is that some pitchers simply can't adjust to New York.

Name me the city where all pitchers succeed.
   9. Jose is an Absurd Force of Nature Posted: October 12, 2018 at 04:44 PM (#5765312)
Gray had a decent FIP and xFIP this year. I don't think the Ace that pitched in Oakland is ever coming back but if he's healthy I won't be shocked if he pitches well going forward. My one fear is that his walk rate is on the rise which anecdotally seems to suggest an injury of some kind.
   10. rconn23 Posted: October 12, 2018 at 05:02 PM (#5765323)
"Meanwhile Sale, Porcello, Cole, Morton and Verlander are all battling it out in the LCS."

And Cliff Lee will always be his great white whale.
   11. rconn23 Posted: October 12, 2018 at 05:04 PM (#5765326)
"Oh, OK, we'll throw in Heyward too."

Only if you take Ellsbury. I'm SURE he'll show up to Spring Training in the "greatest shape of his life."
   12. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: October 12, 2018 at 05:07 PM (#5765330)
Name me the city where all pitchers succeed.
Lake Wobegon.
   13. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: October 12, 2018 at 05:08 PM (#5765331)
Only if you take Ellsbury. I'm SURE he'll show up to Spring Training in the "greatest shape of his life."

Deal. No take backs.
   14. Zonk qualifies as an invasive species Posted: October 12, 2018 at 05:43 PM (#5765351)
Deal. No take backs.


Chatward/Heywood for GrayElls?

Yeah.

I think I might do that.
   15. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: October 12, 2018 at 05:48 PM (#5765353)
Chatward/Heywood for GrayElls?

Yeah.

I think I might do that.
It frustrates me that people keep talking about all these ridiculous, outlandish ideas when the Rocket Into the Sun proposal has been sitting out there for months.
   16. ERROR---Jolly Old St. Nick Posted: October 12, 2018 at 10:45 PM (#5765493)
As much as everyone likes to ridicule the thought, the fact is that some pitchers simply can't adjust to New York.

Name me the city where all pitchers succeed.


Obviously that isn't the point. Gray's career ERA in Yankee Stadium is 6.35. His opponents' OPS against him is .862. Spin that however much you like.
   17. Walt Davis Posted: October 13, 2018 at 12:29 AM (#5765531)
It frustrates me that people keep talking about all these ridiculous, outlandish ideas when the Rocket Into the Sun proposal has been sitting out there for months.

We can't afford to wait for Kanye to finish his work on the iPlane. Also, if we're shooting people into the sun, Chatwood is pretty low on my list of candidates. I mean out of the 8 billion or so people on earth, he's probably top 200 but let's test this out on folks in the top 100 first.

For those not doing the math, Heyward has 5/$106 left and Chatwood 2/$25.5 while Gray can be non-tendered (probably $7 M if you don't) and Ellsbury has 2/$47 left. So yeah, the Cubs do that deal in a heartbeat. You might even be able to throw in Stanton to that deal.
   18. HGM Posted: October 13, 2018 at 01:08 AM (#5765538)
Obviously that isn't the point. Gray's career ERA in Yankee Stadium is 6.35. His opponents' OPS against him is .862. Spin that however much you like.

It's 90 innings?

Yu Darvish has an ERA around 5.80 in Oakland and Seattle. Guess those stadiums are just too much for his psyche.
   19. Walt Davis Posted: October 13, 2018 at 01:50 AM (#5765541)
Yu Darvish has an ERA around 5.80 in Oakland and Seattle.

It's his career 5.12 in Wrigley that has us concerned. Sure, you'll say it's only 19 innings, sure you'll point out the 29 Ks in those 19 innings and I'll keep pointing at that 5.12 until it's a more civilized number. And why? Obviously he can't handle being the #1 pitcher on the staff ... or even the #3 or arguably #4. What a total choker! He's probably allergic to ivy too. And god forbid he should be in the game long enough to sing Take Me Out to the Ballgame. He obviously can't take the pressure of following in the footsteps of Mike Harkey, end of story!
   20. JustMe Posted: October 13, 2018 at 02:28 AM (#5765544)
MLBTR estimates Gray's salary next year at 9MM. Is there any way he would sign as a FA for 1/9? Maaaaybe? Who would trade anything for the right to sign him to that, though?

Gray will be non-tendered after not finding a trade partner.
   21. drdr Posted: October 13, 2018 at 03:28 AM (#5765549)
Name me the city where all pitchers succeed.


San Diego?
With that ballpark, I can't remember pitcher who was bad there and then became good somewhere else. It mostly works for other pitcher's parks too.

Gray gives up more HRs in New York than ever before. That is the new YS. And trying to mix more off-speed stuff to keep hitters off-balance and to miss barrels is a good idea. However, somewhere between trying to use less fastballs and trying not to give batters something to hit Gray lost the zone. He either throws balls batters have little problem taking or middle-middle strikes. He reminds me of Contreras in NY. Instead of trusting his stuff, he seems to be pitching scared. It is repairable, but probably not in New York.
   22. ERROR---Jolly Old St. Nick Posted: October 13, 2018 at 08:35 AM (#5765551)
Obviously that isn't the point. Gray's career ERA in Yankee Stadium is 6.35. His opponents' OPS against him is .862. Spin that however much you like.

It's 90 innings?


Nice try, poor results. Gray's had 17 Yankee Stadium starts and 4 relief appearances. How many more do you need before you start putting 2 & 2 together? It'd be one thing if the Yankees were the Orioles and winning 50-odd games, but when you're fighting for division championships the risk is a whole lot greater.

But apologies if you were writing that tongue-in-cheek.

Yu Darvish has an ERA around 5.80 in Oakland and Seattle. Guess those stadiums are just too much for his psyche.

Darvish has pitched 6 games in Oakland and 4 in Seattle, which is a tad shy of 21 games with 17 starts. But then I haven't noticed any particular eagerness on the part of the A's or the Mariners to pursue him.
   23. ERROR---Jolly Old St. Nick Posted: October 13, 2018 at 08:41 AM (#5765553)
Gray gives up more HRs in New York than ever before. That is the new YS. And trying to mix more off-speed stuff to keep hitters off-balance and to miss barrels is a good idea. However, somewhere between trying to use less fastballs and trying not to give batters something to hit Gray lost the zone. He either throws balls batters have little problem taking or middle-middle strikes. He reminds me of Contreras in NY. Instead of trusting his stuff, he seems to be pitching scared. It is repairable, but probably not in New York.

I was trying to be polite by not stating explicitly that Gray's been pitching scared, but let's just say he's an enthusiastic but hapless nibbler. He reminds me even more of Javier Vasquez, who gave up 18 home runs in only 66 innings in YS 3 and looked like he was praying for a helicopter to land on the infield grass and carry him away from his misery.
   24. Tom Nawrocki Posted: October 13, 2018 at 09:45 AM (#5765562)
Obviously, the reason a lot of pitchers struggle in Coors Field is because of the pressure of the fan base and the media. I tell ya, those Denver Post guys are murder!
   25. McCoy Posted: October 13, 2018 at 11:57 AM (#5765589)
San Diego?

Edinson Volquez has the worst ERA+ as a starting pitcher for San Diego with a minimum of 25 starts and 200 IP. He put up a 71 ERA+ in 325 innings. He would then move on to Pittsburgh and KC where he had 118 and 96 ERA+ respectively.

Wade LeBlanc put up an ERA+ of 81 in SD and then had a 100 ERA+ everywhere else.

Dan Spillner put up a 82 ERA+ in SD and a99 ERA+ everywhere else.

Matt Clement 88 to 100

Ian Kennedy 89 to 97

   26. HGM Posted: October 13, 2018 at 12:52 PM (#5765611)
Nice try, poor results. Gray's had 17 Yankee Stadium starts and 4 relief appearances. How many more do you need before you start putting 2 & 2 together? It'd be one thing if the Yankees were the Orioles and winning 50-odd games, but when you're fighting for division championships the risk is a whole lot greater.

But apologies if you were writing that tongue-in-cheek.

I'm not saying the Yankees shouldn't try and move Gray. I'm saying blaming his failure on lack of New York City mojo is silly.

Darvish has pitched 6 games in Oakland and 4 in Seattle, which is a tad shy of 21 games with 17 starts. But then I haven't noticed any particular eagerness on the part of the A's or the Mariners to pursue him.

Oakland and Seattle are both far more pitcher friendly than Yankee Stadium, but, sure.... so, the point at which a sample size becomes meaningful enough to analyze a player's psychology is somewhere between 10 and 17 starts? I just quickly looked through Gray's comps, but I'm sure if I cared enough I could find many, many pitchers that have 90 inning samples of poor performance in a given stadium or in a given city. It's really only Yankee fans and media that place the blame on those players for being unable to handle their city.
   27. bobm Posted: October 13, 2018 at 02:02 PM (#5765656)
No pay for Mr. Gray
   28. ERROR---Jolly Old St. Nick Posted: October 13, 2018 at 02:22 PM (#5765665)
I'm not saying the Yankees shouldn't try and move Gray. I'm saying blaming his failure on lack of New York City mojo is silly.

I probably watched all 21 of those games where Gray pitched in pinstripes. Those numbers were no accident. He nibbled and dibbled and had absolutely no command of his pitches. He'd fall behind in the count and either groove one in a sweet spot or just issue another walk. His few successful outings were nearly all against weak teams, and almost always on the road.

It's really only Yankee fans and media that place the blame on those players for being unable to handle their city.

And it's really only non-Yankees fans who want the Yankees to throw good money after bad. I realize that you're not among that group.

And the point about Darvish is that while he pitched horribly in Oakland and Seattle, the most games he could ever appear in those stadiums would be 3 games apiece. Whereas starting pitcher in his home park in a regular five man rotation might well pitch 15 or more games there. Big difference in terms of risk evaluation.
   29. HGM Posted: October 13, 2018 at 02:30 PM (#5765669)
I probably watched all 21 of those games where Gray pitched in pinstripes. Those numbers were no accident. He nibbled and dibbled and had absolutely no command of his pitches. He'd fall behind in the count and either groove one in a sweet spot or just issue another walk. His few successful outings were nearly all against weak teams, and almost always on the road

This happens to pitchers all throughout history, all over the league, in every city.

And it's really only non-Yankees fans who want the Yankees to throw good money after bad. I realize that you're not among that group.

All I'm saying is that diagnosing Sonny Gray's struggles as a result of him being incapable of handling New York City is silly.

And the point about Darvish is that while he pitched horribly in Oakland and Seattle, the most games he could ever appear in those stadiums would be 3 games apiece. Whereas starting pitcher in his home park in a regular five man rotation might well pitch 15 or more games there. Big difference in terms of risk evaluation.

Okay, you're seriously missing the point of that example because you're still operating under the assumption that I'm trying to argue that the Yankees should hold on to Gray.
   30. Count Vorror Rairol Mencoon (CoB) Posted: October 13, 2018 at 02:37 PM (#5765672)

All I'm saying is that diagnosing Sonny Gray's struggles as a result of him being incapable of handling New York City is silly.


It's more like he seems incapable of handling New Yankee Stadium ...
   31. ERROR---Jolly Old St. Nick Posted: October 13, 2018 at 02:40 PM (#5765674)
Okay, you're seriously missing the point of that example because you're still operating under the assumption that I'm trying to argue that the Yankees should hold on to Gray.

Which I not only acknowledged you're not, but you even quoted those very words where I acknowledge it!

You can argue that Gray's capable of dealing with New York, but the numbers contradict that assertion, and that's not the world's smallest sample size. Perhaps it's not the city, perhaps it's only the configuration of Yankee Stadium 3, but since the Yankees haven't yet talked the city into building a Yankee Stadium 4, that's kind of a distinction without a difference.
   32. HGM Posted: October 13, 2018 at 02:50 PM (#5765680)
You can argue that Gray's capable of dealing with New York, but the numbers contradict that assertion, and that's not the world's smallest sample size. Perhaps it's not the city, perhaps it's only the configuration of Yankee Stadium 3, but since the Yankees haven't yet talked the city into building a Yankee Stadium 4, that's kind of a distinction without a difference.

If you're going to argue that it's because he can't handle New York, then you would also have to argue that every instance of sustained struggle from a pitcher that isn't obviously due to something like injury is actually due to him being incapable of handling the city he plays in. I mean, if you want to be consistent, of course... but as I said, this "the city is too much for him" phenomenon is nearly exclusive to Yankee fandom.

It's overwhelmingly likely that Gray's struggles are due to a variety of combined factors, including the fact that Yankee Stadium is a hitter's park, facing tougher opponents, simple variance, loss of stuff, etc. There's a whole ton of factors that should be pointed to before "too wimpy for New York."
   33. Eric J can SABER all he wants to Posted: October 13, 2018 at 03:30 PM (#5765698)
I was going to posit that Gray's troubles in NY come from being a right-handed starter in a park with a short right-field porch, but... Gray has a sharp reverse platoon split, both in 2018 and for his career as a whole, and most of it comes in SLG.

So naturally, the solution is to move him to the bullpen so his manager can make sure to pull him when the other team's lefties come to the plate.
   34. An Athletic in Powderhorn™ Posted: October 13, 2018 at 06:32 PM (#5765767)
I see two massive problems with issuing the "he can't handle New York" diagnosis. #32 gets at the first one. If a player comes to New York and performs below his usual standard, how would you know it was the city that was the problem? How would you know that the problem wasn't with his mechanics, or his teammates, or his manager, or personal issues, or injury, or normal decline, or any one of a thousand other reasons that players sometimes play poorly? How could you tell the difference?

That leads to the second massive problem. The "he can't handle New York" theory is unfalsifiable. I'm sure there are some athletes who can't perform their best in New York. But I can't tell who they are and neither can you. It's a hypothesis that can't be proved or disproved. Things that are impervious to proof tend to be magnets for bullshit.
   35. JJ1986 Posted: October 13, 2018 at 06:59 PM (#5765791)
You can argue that Gray's capable of dealing with New York, but the numbers contradict that assertion
This is something.
   36. villageidiom Posted: October 13, 2018 at 07:05 PM (#5765799)
You can argue that Gray's capable of dealing with New York
He's not.
but the numbers contradict that assertion
They don't.

His assertion is that Yankees fans are petulant and arrogant. And with each non-responsive response and each time you double-down on what little data you have without acknowledging there's absolutely nothing special about that sample, you are adding more evidence to support it.

Oh, wait, never mind, I was wrong. You're an Orioles fan.
   37. ERROR---Jolly Old St. Nick Posted: October 14, 2018 at 01:08 AM (#5766171)
I'm sure Sonny Gray can handle being in a New Year's Eve crowd in Times Square. He may even be able to handle the subway in rush hour, or getting stuck in the Holland Tunnel. In that sense he's fully capable of handling New York. Unfortunately, being that the only relevant part of New York for Sonny Gray to have to handle is the pitchers' mound in Yankee Stadium, the only "evidence" you folks have produced in his defense concerning that critical test is a whole lot of "numbers don't mean anything" nonsense.

I do notice that not one of you recommends that the Yankees take your implicit advice and resign Gray for 2019.** You all may be charitable in your assessment of Sonny Gray's ability to pitch in Yankee Stadium, but you're not crazy. Or maybe you're just undercover Yankees fans.

** If those numbers mean as little as you say they do, why shouldn't the Yankees simply wait for the law of averages (or whatever) to take its course and give him another chance? By your logic, there's no logical reason why they shouldn't, because fear or anxiety are evidently imaginary emotions.
   38. TVerik, who wonders what the hell is "Ansky" Posted: October 14, 2018 at 02:48 AM (#5766178)
I do have serious trouble believing the Yankees are going to have 5 (or 6!) starting pitchers better than even a 2018 Gray next year.

The man has upside. The team certainly knows better than me, but selling low on this kind of pedigree seems to me to be a potentially terrible move. I'd probably resign him, and if he starts off 3-1 or something and someone wants to trade for him, I evaluate it then.
   39. McCoy Posted: October 14, 2018 at 08:45 AM (#5766187)
So the last time the Cubs sent a SS to the Yankees it worked out pretty well so how about Russell for Gray and Florial?
   40. JustMe Posted: October 14, 2018 at 09:22 AM (#5766189)
As a Yankees fan I wouldn't want to see that trade. It's already hard enough rooting for the Yankees.

In terms of wins, I suppose it's fair. The trade is basically 4 years of Russell for 7 years of Florial. No thanks.
   41. Tom Nawrocki Posted: October 14, 2018 at 11:30 AM (#5766204)
Oh, wait, never mind, I was wrong. You're an Orioles fan.


The point here I think is not so much that he's an Orioles fan but that he's from New York City. Only people who are from New York brag about how tough it is to succeed there.

The major leagues are littered with people who had success in one city, then moved somewhere else and flopped. Bryan Shaw had five very good years in Cleveland, then came to the Rockies and was hot garbage. That doesn't mean it's tough to succeed in Denver. James Shields had a long career as a decent starting pitcher, moved to the White Sox and was horrible. That doesn't mean it's tough to succeed in Chicago.
   42. PreservedFish Posted: October 14, 2018 at 11:42 AM (#5766206)
The point here I think is not so much that he's an Orioles fan but that he's from New York City. Only people who are from New York brag about how tough it is to succeed there.


I think it has more to do with being a Yankees fan. They have a pathetic need to distinguish themselves from the fans of other teams. It's the winningest team, sure, but the Yankees fan cannot accept that he has no agency in this tradition. The Yankees fan believes that by having higher standards - by materially adding to the pressure under which lesser men like Sonny Gray wilt - he is himself instrumental in the team's success, by helping to filter out the lily-livered and unworthy.
   43. Tom Nawrocki Posted: October 14, 2018 at 11:43 AM (#5766207)
It's interesting to note too that Gray's numbers are even worse in Fenway Park than they are at New Yankee Stadium. I guess he just can't handle the pressure of pitching in Boston.
   44. Don Malcolm Posted: October 14, 2018 at 12:35 PM (#5766215)
Bryan Shaw had five very good years in Cleveland, then came to the Rockies and was hot garbage. That doesn't mean it's tough to succeed in Denver. James Shields had a long career as a decent starting pitcher, moved to the White Sox and was horrible. That doesn't mean it's tough to succeed in Chicago.

Except that both of these fellows--and quite likely most of the other examples of this phenomenon that could be dredged up--were plain lousy everywhere in those years, and did not show anything like the pronounced meltdown in the home park that Gray demonstrated at Yankee Stadium. Shaw was maybe halfway that way, but he was merely lousy on the road as opposed to execrable in Coors. Sonny pitched like his 2013-15 self away from Yankee Stadium, which clearly leaves open the possibility of a psychological problem.

Also, for some reason Sonny is having problems giving up extra base hits to RHB--something that started in 2016 and has affected his L/R splits. Despite the sweeping generalization made in #33, this phenomenon has NOT been part of his profile from the beginning, so simply characterizing it as a career pattern is misleading at best, downright lazy at worst. The question is whether there is something mechanical involved, since the problem first manifested itself in a year in which Sonny was injured. It doesn't track, however, with the fact that on the road he seems to be pretty much the same pitcher that we saw in Oakland from 2013-15.
   45. ERROR---Jolly Old St. Nick Posted: October 14, 2018 at 12:46 PM (#5766218)
Oh, wait, never mind, I was wrong. You're an Orioles fan.

The point here I think is not so much that he's an Orioles fan but that he's from New York City. Only people who are from New York brag about how tough it is to succeed there.

FTR while I was born in New York, my family moved to Washington 67 years, 7 months, and 26 days ago. I've never lived in New York at any point since then, and AFAIC the city today is largely an unaffordable theme park that's owned and operated by landlords. Like the neocons and the wars they support, I like New York better on TV.

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

I think it has more to do with being a Yankees fan. They have a pathetic need to distinguish themselves from the fans of other teams. It's the winningest team, sure, but the Yankees fan cannot accept that he has no agency in this tradition.

Ah, yes, "agency". The academic left's favorite buzzword comes to BTF to slay the Yankee serpent. But next time be sure to include a reference or two to Rudy Giuliani's Yankee fandom if you want to get your thesis published.

The Yankees fan believes that by having higher standards - by materially adding to the pressure under which lesser men like Sonny Gray wilt - he is himself instrumental in the team's success, by helping to filter out the lily-livered and unworthy.

Yes, we Yankees fans were sending messages through those dental implants in Sonny Gray's mouth to make sure he ruined the Yankees' chances to overtake Boston. It's nice to contrast our haughty behavior to the way that Red Sox fans have responded to David Price's meltdowns. In fact I've heard it's been conclusively proven that only Yankees fans ever get down on their overpriced pitchers who put up 6.53 ERAs in their own ballpark.

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

It's interesting to note too that Gray's numbers are even worse in Fenway Park than they are at New Yankee Stadium. I guess he just can't handle the pressure of pitching in Boston.

Well, given that Gray's career ERA against the Red Sox is 6.64, there might be something to that as well, even though we know that all ballplayers are robots who never succumb to pressure.

   46. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: October 14, 2018 at 12:53 PM (#5766219)
I think it has more to do with being a Yankees fan. They have a pathetic need to distinguish themselves from the fans of other teams. It's the winningest team, sure, but the Yankees fan cannot accept that he has no agency in this tradition. The Yankees fan believes that by having higher standards - by materially adding to the pressure under which lesser men like Sonny Gray wilt - he is himself instrumental in the team's success, by helping to filter out the lily-livered and unworthy.

Let this Yankee fan, and life-long New Yorker, state for the record that I believe all this "can't play in NY because it's too much pressure" stuff is utter and complete horseshit.

We heard the same BS about Kenny Rogers, and then he #####-slapped the Yankees in a huge high pressure spot, in the 2006 ALDS.

I would absolutely bring Gray back, pencil him into the rotation, and tell him "pitch however you want to."
   47. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: October 14, 2018 at 12:55 PM (#5766220)
Well, given that Gray's career ERA against the Red Sox is 6.64, there might be something to that as well, even though we know that all ballplayers are robots who never succumb to pressure.


Oh c'mon Andy. That's not the argument. The argument is that the guys who can't handle pressure all wash out long before they get to MLB.

Pitching to get yourself promoted from A-ball is a lot more pressure than pitching once you have $25M in the bank.
   48. JustMe Posted: October 14, 2018 at 01:06 PM (#5766221)
I think it has more to do with being a Yankees fan. They have a pathetic need to distinguish themselves from the fans of other teams.

Glad to see this compelling analysis. Not at all offensive or a sweeping generalization.
   49. Eric J can SABER all he wants to Posted: October 14, 2018 at 01:09 PM (#5766222)
Also, for some reason Sonny is having problems giving up extra base hits to RHB--something that started in 2016 and has affected his L/R splits. Despite the sweeping generalization made in #33, this phenomenon has NOT been part of his profile from the beginning, so simply characterizing it as a career pattern is misleading at best, downright lazy at worst.

I guess I'll confess to laziness? I looked at his 2018 splits and his career splits. FWIW, he also had a (slight) reverse platoon split in 2015, so it's "only" been the case for 2/3 of his MLB career.

I humbly beg your pardon for my grievous offense, and concede to your vastly superior understanding of Sonny Gray's pitching history.
   50. ERROR---Jolly Old St. Nick Posted: October 14, 2018 at 02:05 PM (#5766225)
Let this Yankee fan, and life-long New Yorker, state for the record that I believe all this "can't play in NY because it's too much pressure" stuff is utter and complete horseshit.

We heard the same BS about Kenny Rogers, and then he #####-slapped the Yankees in a huge high pressure spot, in the 2006 ALDS
.

Jesus, snapper, that was one game, not while pitching for the Yankees, nine years after he left the Yankees, and not in Yankee Stadium. Quite a contrast to what Rogers did while he was on the Yankees payroll.

Talk about small sample sizes, you can't get much smaller than that.

I would absolutely bring Gray back, pencil him into the rotation, and tell him "pitch however you want to."

IIRC you're the one who used to dump on Derek Jeter, and now you're a big fan of Sonny Gray. What team did you say you're a fan of?

Well, given that Gray's career ERA against the Red Sox is 6.64, there might be something to that as well, even though we know that all ballplayers are robots who never succumb to pressure.

Oh c'mon Andy. That's not the argument. The argument is that the guys who can't handle pressure all wash out long before they get to MLB.

Pitching to get yourself promoted from A-ball is a lot more pressure than pitching once you have $25M in the bank.


Pressure isn't binary, and just because the pressure of making the Majors is the greatest pressure of all, it doesn't mean that there aren't players who handle high leverage situations better than others, or that for whatever reason, some players thrive in New York better or worse than others. You seem to think that players are some sort of robots, immune to the same sort of psychological pressures and emotions felt by nearly every human being at various points in their lives. I don't think too many ballplayers would agree with that take on humanity.
   51. HGM Posted: October 14, 2018 at 02:06 PM (#5766226)
FWIW, I am obviously open to the idea that Sonny Gray has a tough time pitching in Yankee Stadium. It's entirely possible that his pitching repertoire and style are not conducive to success in that ballpark. I'm solely pushing back against the notion that it's some lack of mental fortitude that makes him bad when in New York City.

As for Fenway.... another good hitter's park... that's been home to a very good hitting team..... Yeah, can't figure out that mystery.
   52. HGM Posted: October 14, 2018 at 02:08 PM (#5766227)
Pressure isn't binary, and just because the pressure of making the Majors is the greatest pressure of all, it doesn't mean that there aren't players who handle high leverage situations better than others, or that for whatever reason, some players thrive in New York better or worse than others. You seem to think that players are some sort of robots, immune to the same sort of psychological pressures and emotions felt by nearly every human being at various points in their lives. I don't think too many ballplayers would agree with that take on humanity.

See 34.

These players may exist. Identifying them to any degree of certainty is not possible.
   53. ERROR---Jolly Old St. Nick Posted: October 14, 2018 at 02:25 PM (#5766231)
FWIW, I am obviously open to the idea that Sonny Gray has a tough time pitching in Yankee Stadium. It's entirely possible that his pitching repertoire and style are not conducive to success in that ballpark. I'm solely pushing back against the notion that it's some lack of mental fortitude that makes him bad when in New York City.

I'm not saying that Gray has any general lack of mental fortitude. His problem seems rather specific. But meanwhile, the numbers tell the tale, and unless the reason is that the Yankees opponents are all reading his catcher's signals from a hidden camera in the Yankee Stadium bleachers, the reasons are irrelevant.

As for Fenway.... another good hitter's park... that's been home to a very good hitting team..... Yeah, can't figure out that mystery.

That's sort of like Price's Yankee Stadium problems, minus Price's generally good performance in his own home park. If Gray's only problem was that he sucked against the Red Sox but otherwise was pitching up to his potential, that'd still be a major problem but a decidedly lesser one than not being able to perform in Yankee Stadium.

Pressure isn't binary, and just because the pressure of making the Majors is the greatest pressure of all, it doesn't mean that there aren't players who handle high leverage situations better than others, or that for whatever reason, some players thrive in New York better or worse than others. You seem to think that players are some sort of robots, immune to the same sort of psychological pressures and emotions felt by nearly every human being at various points in their lives. I don't think too many ballplayers would agree with that take on humanity.

See 34.

These players may exist. Identifying them to any degree of certainty is not possible.


But identifying them even without that complete certainty is part of a general manager's job. And again, those numbers didn't come out of thin air, and 21 games with 17 starts is not the world's smallest sample size. Unless you're Pollyanna Snapper, what would you do in Cashman's place, assuming you're not trying to sabotage the Yankees from within? (smile)
   54. HGM Posted: October 14, 2018 at 02:38 PM (#5766233)
I'm not saying that Gray has any general lack of mental fortitude. His problem seems rather specific. But meanwhile, the numbers tell the tale, and unless the reason is that the Yankees opponents are all reading his catcher's signals from a hidden camera in the Yankee Stadium bleachers, the reasons are irrelevant.

If your argument isn't that Gray can't handle New York for non-baseball reasons, then I don't know why you've been debating me at all.

But identifying them even without that complete certainty is part of a general manager's job. And again, those numbers didn't come out of thin air, and 21 games with 17 starts is not the world's smallest sample size. Unless you're Pollyanna Snapper, what would you do in Cashman's place, assuming you're not trying to sabotage the Yankees from within? (smile)

I already said it's possible, even likely, that he's not well-suited to the ballpark.
   55. JustMe Posted: October 14, 2018 at 02:54 PM (#5766234)
You guys sure are mad at each other.
   56. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: October 14, 2018 at 04:02 PM (#5766247)
Jesus, snapper, that was one game, not while pitching for the Yankees, nine years after he left the Yankees, and not in Yankee Stadium. Quite a contrast to what Rogers did while he was on the Yankees payroll.

Talk about small sample sizes, you can't get much smaller than that.


Oh yeah, there's magic pressure in the Yankee uniform in Yankee Stadium that's not present when pitching in the playoffs, against the team who's fans and media had been slandering you for 9 years. What's next "mystique and aura"?

IIRC you're the one who used to dump on Derek Jeter, and now you're a big fan of Sonny Gray. What team did you say you're a fan of?

I've said Jeter is way over-rated, and I'm annoyed he cost the teams hundreds of runs while being run out at a position he couldn't handle at all, all because of his stupid reputation. I've never said he wasn't a very good ballplayer.

But, I'm a fan of the truth way before I'm a fan of any laundry. And, as noted above, your credentials to question someone's Yankee fandom are not great, considering you root for another team in their division.
   57. ERROR---Jolly Old St. Nick Posted: October 14, 2018 at 04:48 PM (#5766269)
If your argument isn't that Gray can't handle New York for non-baseball reasons, then I don't know why you've been debating me at all.

My argument is that I don't know why Gray tanks in his own home park, but it doesn't matter why, and the numbers aren't lying.

---------------------------------------------------------------

You guys sure are mad at each other.

I'm just mad at Sonny Gray for being the second coming of Javier Vazquez. I don't get mad at Primates for simply disagreeing with me.

---------------------------------------------------------------

But, I'm a fan of the truth way before I'm a fan of any laundry. And, as noted above, your credentials to question someone's Yankee fandom are not great, considering you root for another team in their division.

Gee, snaps, you must really be mad at 29 teams. I guess the idea of liking more than one team is too complex a thought for you to comprehend.

I also like the Tigers, the Rays, the Astros, the A's, the Ravens, the football Giants, the Celtics and the Cavaliers. Sports to me are fun, and to the extent that they're a blood feud they're just a pretend one, even if sometimes it's fun to pretend when you're on a site like this and engaging with some uptight Red Sox fans.

I've also been rooting for the Yankees since before you were born, and at least I'm not rooting for them to commit suicide as you were in #46.
   58. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: October 14, 2018 at 05:58 PM (#5766285)
I've also been rooting for the Yankees since before you were born, and at least I'm not rooting for them to commit suicide as you were in #46.

Gee, exaggerate much.
   59. BDC Posted: October 14, 2018 at 07:49 PM (#5766336)
Looking at the game logs … Gray obviously pitched much better on the road this year. His best starts at home included beating the Royals and Orioles, which just about anybody could do this year. But he also beat Cleveland in a decent start in May, and the Mets in July – I can't think of any opponent where pressure would tell more, in Yankee Stadium, than the Mets, no matter how good the Mets are, and he did OK.

Gray also had a strong home start for the Yankees against the Mets last August, and a very good start against Seattle (no pushover) last August, too. These individual games mean nothing, but that's just the point. If there were some effect of Yankee Stadium pressure, you'd expect it to be intense and constant, not intermittent.

Now, those two strong starts in August '17 were his first two as a Yankee in New York. In his third, he lost to the Red Sox (though he only gave up 4 runs in 7 innings, striking out 9 while walking 1; the Yankees just didn't hit behind him that night). I guess the narrative could go "Got to New York, was unconscious good till reality hit him against the Sox, crumbled thereafter": but that seems a lot of emplotment to me.

EDIT: Apologies if I owe beverages to anyone above; I didn't think so but may have repeated a point already made.
   60. villageidiom Posted: October 14, 2018 at 08:43 PM (#5766400)
and 21 games with 17 starts is not the world's smallest sample size.
You've said this twice, as though it was meaningful the first time to point out that some sample sizes are smaller. And that's all you've done. You know this sample size is ####, but you can't bring yourself to say it's #### because you NEED it to make your case. So you get all squishy about it - it's not the world's smallest - as though you're saying anything other than "it's #### but it could be worse". The only material part of that statement for the sake of this argument is that it's ####. You can keep telling us it's Shinola, but you're not fooling anyone.

Again, you're welcome to believe he's incapable of pitching in specific laundry in a specific stadium. You could be right. But the sample is not compelling, because we've seen similar things with non-NY pitchers. Brushing off those cases as just dumb luck, while fixating on the NYY cases as the product of Not Being Able To Handle The Awesome Pressure That Must Come From All These Special Fans Who Just Want To Win So Much, just makes you sound petulant and arrogant. Which was the point being made.

And for those not following along: he's a Yankees fan, who roots for the Orioles when the Orioles are ahead in the standings. Or an Orioles fan who roots for the Yankees when the Yankees are ahead in the standings. It's all very confusing. In any case, I'm just tweaking him again for being a fan of convenience. I'm assuming he's an Astros fan now, or something, but for the sake of this thread assume he's a Yankees fan.
   61. ERROR---Jolly Old St. Nick Posted: October 14, 2018 at 09:41 PM (#5766444)
and 21 games with 17 starts is not the world's smallest sample size.

You've said this twice, as though it was meaningful the first time to point out that some sample sizes are smaller. And that's all you've done. You know this sample size is ####, but you can't bring yourself to say it's #### because you NEED it to make your case. So you get all squishy about it - it's not the world's smallest - as though you're saying anything other than "it's #### but it could be worse". The only material part of that statement for the sake of this argument is that it's ####. You can keep telling us it's Shinola, but you're not fooling anyone.


Alas, Sonny Gray is fooling opposing batters even less than you're fooling anyone by insisting that those numbers are just random crapitude.

Again, you're welcome to believe he's incapable of pitching in specific laundry in a specific stadium. You could be right. But the sample is not compelling, because we've seen similar things with non-NY pitchers. Brushing off those cases as just dumb luck, while fixating on the NYY cases as the product of Not Being Able To Handle The Awesome Pressure That Must Come From All These Special Fans Who Just Want To Win So Much, just makes you sound petulant and arrogant. Which was the point being made.

By people who choose to believe what they want to believe about what I wrote, and refuse even to consider that Gray's Yankee Stadium performances might have anything to do with anxiety about pitching in that ballpark.

And for those not following along: he's a Yankees fan, who roots for the Orioles when the Orioles are ahead in the standings. Or an Orioles fan who roots for the Yankees when the Yankees are ahead in the standings. It's all very confusing. In any case, I'm just tweaking him again for being a fan of convenience. I'm assuming he's an Astros fan now, or something, but for the sake of this thread assume he's a Yankees fan.

Yes, I root for both the Yankees and the Orioles. Always for both when they're not playing each other, and for the one with the better chance of winning the division when they're going head-to-head, or winning the World Series when they meet in the postseason. You make it seem as if this is some sort of unique sort of fandom, as if rooting for two baseball teams in the same division is like rooting for Trump and the Democrats. But baseball isn't politics, much less anything involving any greater principle, no matter how much some people buy into that sort of silly narrative.

Plenty of people have a favorite AL team and a favorite NL team, and when they meet in the World Series they feel a certain conflict. Plenty of Washingtonians I know root for both the Nats and the Orioles, though not many Baltimoreans seem to share that division of fandom.

And yes, right now I'm rooting for the Astros, as are many millions of fans whose teams didn't make the final four. And if the Red Sox win the LCS, I'll root for them in the Series. Better put on some sanitary gloves if we ever should meet and I stick out my hand.
   62. BDC Posted: October 14, 2018 at 09:46 PM (#5766446)
Well, now I'm intrigued, which means the thread is soon to be stone cold dead :)

Here are the worst home performances relative to road performances in seasons of 10 or more starts, since 1908:

Player            Year  G tOPSW L GS    IP
Dave Davenport    1914 19   179 5 5 13 121.2
Duane Pillette    1953 16   154 1 9 11  67.0
Ike Delock        1960 13   149 3 7 13  51.0
Kyle Davies       2009 11   149 4 6 11  55.1
David Williams    2005 12   146 3 7 12  60.2
Charlie Hough     1994 10   146 1 5 10  45.1
Ted Bowsfield     1961 21   144 5 3 10  69.0
Carlos Carrasco   2015 15   143 5 8 15  82.1
Sonny Gray        2018 15   142 4 4 11  59.1
Ben McDonald      1994 10   142 5 4 10  60.0 


Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 10/14/2018.

These guys pitched, respectively, for the 1914 Reds/1914 St. Louis Terriers; the 1953 Browns, the 1960 Red Sox, the 2009 Royals, the 2005 Pirates, the 1994 Marlins, the 1961 Angels, the 2015 Indians, the 2018 Yankees, and the 1994 Orioles. No, I don't know what that means, either. Maybe those Terrier fans were really a tough audience in 1914.

More interesting is the leaderboard for worst home splits by Yankee starters:

Player            Year  G tOPS+  W L GS    IP
Sonny Gray        2018 15   142  4 4 11  59.1
Hippo Vaughn      1911 13   141  3 5 10  59.2
Rudy May          1981 14   129  2 6 11  66.2
Russ Ford         1911 19   125  7 8 17 134.2
Scott Sanderson   1991 15   124  7 6 15  92.2
Roger Clemens     2003 18   122  7 7 18 108.2
Don Larsen        1956 22   121  4 3 13  93.1
Whitey Ford       1958 16   120  7 4 15 113.0
Joe Niekro        1986 13   119  4 5 13  60.1
Waite Hoyt        1928 18   117 11 3 14 120.0
Masahiro Tanaka   2018 12   117  5 5 12  70.1 


Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 10/14/2018.

Gray was pretty terrible this year. But I don't recall Clemens, or Whitey Ford, or Waite Hoyt as being accused of inability to handle New York pressure. I seem to remember Don Larsen throwing a clutch game in 1956 in Yankee Stadium, too :)

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