Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Should Yankee fans be bullish or bearish?

Fans tend to be fannish: emotional and unrealistic. This can be optimistic, pessimistic or often an irrational combination.

About the Back End of the Yankees’ Rotation
by Eno Sarris - March 28, 2017

The American League East is going to be tough this year. The Yankees are projected to win 81 games and yet still finish last, is how tough. That same win total, for example, would place a team in a tie for second in the AL Central’s projected standings.

There are reasons to be more bullish on the Yankees than the projections suggest. Plenty of smart people around the team are. The young core, consisting of Gary Sanchez, Greg Bird, Didi Gregorius, Aaron Judge, and Clint Frazier, provides a fair amount of upside. If the bullpen proves to offer as much depth as it is does excellence at the top, you’d have two-thirds of a really good team.

Time out. On what planet is this guy? Didi is injured. Judge is still battling the other Aaron (Hill) to start in right field. Frazier will again try to hit AAA pitching.

Ellsbury (Yanks ranked 22 in CF), Headley, Castro are mediocre at best.

CC is the number two or three starter.

Bird better be the word.

Am I seeing the glass as half empty?

Yes, because it is half empty, as in half of 8 starters are below average. Gardner in LF is OK, along with Gregorius. Sanchez and Bird may be young stars but they are only two and yet to really establish themselves for more than two months in a Yankee season. That's 4 of 8.

My view of Green and Cessa has been that they could be like Mantle and Maris: the only teammates with 50 homers in the same season. Unfortunately, Green and Cessa are unproven starting pitchers, not OF sluggers extraordinaire.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Expansion teams since 1961 are dead weight. Super League!

Swap Seattle for Colorado? A prelude to full geographic realignment.  Monday, March 27, 2017

Both Seattle and Colorado are in the West division in their respective conferences. Swapping them would be a step in the right direction of geographic realignment.

Part of the geographic problem is that the new teams created in 1961 through 1997 are in smaller markets spread out across the 48 contiguous states. This spread started in 1953 when the Braves moved from Boston to Milwaukee, then Atlanta in 1966. The As moved from Philadelphia to Kansas City in 1955, then later to Oakland in 1968. The Dodgers and Giants moved to California in 1958.

But it was expansion that really diluted things. The table below supports that. This post is not intended to be a detailed analysis of market sizes or wealth. New York is number one in both, with Chicago and Los Angeles probably the next two. Since the Colt 45s (Astros) joined the old National League with the Mets in 1962, the Houston metropolitan area has grown a lot. So has Phoenix. Expansion teams start with little talent yet some have been successful pretty quickly.

The Mets won the World Series in 1969. The Angels were 86-76 in third place in 1962, their third year. The Marlins started in 1993 and won the WS in 1997 and 2003. Blah, blah, blah. So simply comparing winning percentages may have some bias against the expansion teams its probably not as great as one suppose.

Not surprisingly, the Yankees won the highest percentage of their games, the most WS and pennants and have by far the best rate of WS and pennants won since 1961: WS about every 6 years, pennants about every 3.7 years.

Of the 30 teams, 13 won more regular season games than they lost. The table below is sorted on percent of games won. Of the 13 winning teams, only number 13, the Angels, is an expansion team.

Cruise through the table and you'll see a clear pattern. While the teams in existence in 1960 are saddled with the Chicago teams, which have each won only one WS since 1961, most have been uniformly successful. Those teams are in bold.

The solution obviously is a Super League of about 8, maybe 10, teams, first proposed eight years ago.

Super League  Sunday, March 29, 2009

I really don't care whether Kansas City has a MLB team.  Nor Toronto.  Nor Pittsburgh.  I'm tired of junk like small market teams and revenue sharing.  There's a reason it's called MAJOR league.  It does not mean that Kansas City cannot have a baseball team.  It means that Kansas City is not entitled to a MAJOR league team, subsidized by fans of the Yankees, Mets, Red Sox, Dodgers, etc.

Why don't those teams drop out of MLB and form a super league of their own?  They could form their own television network and/or cut deals with existing networks.  Ten teams would do  it.

New York Yankees19614,9793,94655.79%9156.113.67
Los Angeles Dodgers19614,8074,13053.79%4813.756.88
St. Louis Cardinals19614,7314,19453.01%51011.005.50
Boston Red Sox19614,7364,19953.01%3618.339.17
Cincinnati Reds19614,6524,27952.09%3618.339.17
Baltimore Orioles19614,6374,28251.99%3618.339.17
San Francisco Giants19614,6424,29751.93%3618.339.17
Atlanta Braves19614,6014,31951.58%1555.0011.00
Oakland Athletics19614,5024,43550.37%4613.759.17
Chicago White Sox19614,4904,43950.29%1155.0055.00
Detroit Tigers19614,4774,46150.09%2427.5013.75
Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim19614,4774,46550.07%1155.0055.00
Toronto Blue Jays19773,1673,18849.83%2219.5019.50
Philadelphia Phillies19614,4374,49549.68%2527.5011.00
Pittsburgh Pirates19614,4224,49849.57%2227.5027.50
Minnesota Twins19614,4164,51749.43%2327.5018.33
Cleveland Indians19614,3624,55848.90%318.33
Houston Astros19624,2904,49148.86%154.00
Arizona Diamondbacks19981,5031,57548.83%1118.0018.00
Kansas City Royals19693,7043,93348.50%2423.5011.75
Washington Nationals19693,7053,93548.49%
New York Mets19624,2154,55548.06%2527.0010.80
Chicago Cubs19614,2874,63348.06%1155.0055.00
Texas Rangers19614,2774,64947.92%227.50
Milwaukee Brewers19693,6424,00147.65%147.00
Seattle Mariners19772,9843,37146.96%
Florida Marlins19931,7932,02646.95%2211.5011.50
Colorado Rockies19931,7842,04246.63%123.00
San Diego Padres19693,5404,11046.27%223.50
Tampa Bay Rays19981,4201,65646.16%118.00

Monday, March 27, 2017

Swap Seattle for Colorado? A prelude to full geographic realignment.

I heard a San Diego announcer suggest this during an exhibition game today against Seattle on MLB Network. It made a lot of sense.

Both Seattle and Colorado are in the West division in their respective conferences. Swapping them would be a step in the right direction of geographic realignment. But even as an interim step, it is compelling.

There is precedent. Houston and Milwaukee swapped conferences but in different years. First Milwaukee switched from the American to the National conference Central, joining Houston. Then years later Houston switched to the American conference West, joining the Texas Rangers who play in Dallas.

Swapping Seattle for Colorado would produce these West divisions:
American: Colorado, Houston, Texas, Angels, Oakland
National: Seattle, San Francisco, Los Angeles, San Diego, Arizona.

Obviously it makes much more sense to put all six California teams into one division along with Seattle and Arizona. The entire 30 team league could be realigned with two seven team divisions, and two eight team divisions. You can make up the others for yourself but the easiest to imagine is the aforementioned eight team California plus two division.

But for now, we can only hope that commissioner Manfred the A-Rod Slayer can muster enough imagination to swap Seattle for Colorado.

Catchers should wear their protective gear when they bat.

Of course. How stupid is it to remove protective equipment when you come into warm's way in the batter's box? Even if the catcher's mask would be a problem when batting, the shin guards and chest protector would obviously protect the batter.

I have long advocated that all fielders not in the outfield should wear the functional equivalent of the catcher's gear. Given that, I think the catcher should use the equipment that he's already wearing. It's dumb to remove it. Then put it back on. Then remove it. Then put it back on... for four plate appearances. Come on. Get smart.

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Matt Holliday: some batter's boxes are marked differently.

Holliday demonstrates hitting 03/25/17

On 30 Clubs in 30 Days, Dan Plesac joins Matt Holliday at Yankees' camp and learns how the new Yank approaches standing in the batter's box


Plesac was a relief pitcher from 1986 to 2003, appearing in 1,064 games, although as a lefty specialist he threw only 1,072 innings. But he plenty of experience watching games.

Holliday is a 37 year old righty batter with 7,489 plate appearances. At the start of the two minute, 34 second interview Holliday said, very matter of factly, something that astonished me but did not impact Plesac at all and the interview continued.

Plesac: Walk me through where you like to stand in the box ...

Holliday: ... some of the boxes are marked differently ... some boxes where you feel like the box is a little closer ...

Say what? You've got to be kidding me? Am I the only one who did not know this? And it's unclear if this varies consistently from park to park or whether it might even vary within a single park. Maybe it's just a simple mistake by the ground crew or maybe it's an attempt by a team to gain a competitive advantage. You know, cheat.

Are you surprised about this and do you think it's significant?

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Brian Cashman management style: musical chairs, triangle offense, ...?

Yankee General Manager Brian Cashman has the team ranked 22 in center field. That's 22 out of 30 teams. The Yankees had a string of Hall of Fame center fielders: Earle Combs, Joe DiMaggio, Mickey Mantle. During the Jeter era, they had Bernie Williams. And Melky Cabrera on the last championship team in 2009.

2017 Positional Power Rankings: Center Field
by Dave Cameron - March 24, 2017

17. Mets

Though he’s currently projected to get the most playing time there, Curtis Granderson isn’t an optimal center fielder. He’s probably going to be more than serviceable on offense, as someone who gets on base and dumps baseballs into people’s beers in the right field seats. At 36, though, Granderson’s best days in the field are behind him. He’s much better suited to playing a corner, but with Yoenis Cespedes and Jay Bruce being there, and Michael Conforto theoretically getting some time as well, he’s sequestered away in center. He shouldn’t kill the Mets there, and given the offensive production that they’re probably going out of this outfield, that’ll do just fine.

22. Yankees

When the Yankees were mostly mocked for giving Jacoby Ellsbury $153 million a few years back, I mostly defended the deal as a modest overpay of a better player than people were giving them credit for acquiring. That looked like a decent opinion for exactly one year, since Ellsbury was pretty good in 2014, but things have fallen apart the last two years, and now the Yankees are paying a lot of money to rank behind a team that plucked Leonys Martin off the scrap heap.

With Ellsbury and Hicks, the team’s defense in center field is okay, but there’s not a lot of bat here, and this contract has four years to go. At this point, it’s probably unlikely that Ellsbury makes it through all four years in New York; unless he figures out how to hit for some power again, it seems likely he’ll be playing his way out of the Bronx before they are done paying him.

Cashman deserves credit for getting Granderson but not for essentially replacing him in the outfield with Ellsbury for the 2014 season:

December 8, 2009: Traded as part of a 3-team trade by the Detroit Tigers to the New York Yankees. The Detroit Tigers sent Edwin Jackson to the Arizona Diamondbacks. The New York Yankees sent Phil Coke and Austin Jackson to the Detroit Tigers. The New York Yankees sent Ian Kennedy to the Arizona Diamondbacks. The Arizona Diamondbacks sent Max Scherzer and Daniel Schlereth to the Detroit Tigers.
October 31, 2013: Granted Free Agency.
December 9, 2013: Signed as a Free Agent with the New York Mets.

M & M Boys, revolving door rosters, copy cat management and rooting for the laundry. Sunday, December 1, 2013

Curtis Granderson played four seasons for the Yankees: 2010-2013. Granderson joined Giambi as the only Yankee since Mickey Mantle to hit at least 40 homers in consecutive seasons. Granderson is now a free agent.

As a replacement for Granderson the Yankees are considering Carlos Beltran, a free agent who played most recently for the St. Louis Cardinals. I love Beltran and wanted the Yankees to sign him when he was a free agent the first time following the 2004 season. Beltran would have been the perfect replacement for Bernie Williams. The Yankees showed no interest then. Beltran instead joined the Mets and set the team record for home runs in his second season: 41. In his seventh season with the Mets they sent Beltran to San Francisco. Then on to St. Louis in 2012. Beltran will be 37 in 2014 and the Yanks want him because he might be willing to accept a short term deal.

How did we come to this? Copy cat management...

As a fan I'd like at least some core players to play most if not all of their careers with the team I root for. Having supplemental players is part of the deal but I'd like at least some of them to remain for at least 4-5 years. Despite their flaws I had gotten comfortable with Swisher and Granderson. I understand that the team needs fresh blood but I'm very concerned that all teams are entering a period when fan interest in individuals will receive very little consideration.

I wish that Carlos Beltran had been a Yankee the last decade but I don't really want him now that he is old and injury prone, not as a rent-a-player. I want to like the players on my team...

Despite what the Steinbrenner Kids may think we're not rooting for the laundry. And not for a cameo appearance. I don't want to see just anybody in a Yankee uniform, which is one reason I oppose the pending acquisition of Brian McCann.


Musical chairs Yankee style. Sunday, December 8, 2013

Hal, the Steinbrenner Kid who is running the Yankees these days, supposedly indicated that getting under the not very soft salary cap is a goal not a requirement, that he would be OK with exceeding the cap if needed.

Say what?

After all the junk that has occurred Yankee fans should be very upset if the Yanks panic and exceed the cap for 2014.  What a wimp.  Geez, set a policy and stick to it...

... when the free agent season began the only reliable every day players the Yankees had were:
CF - Brett Gardner
1B - Mark Teixeira
LF - Alfonso Soriano

Catching was a bit up in the air with no starter but with several serviceable veterans and prospects:
Francisco Cervelli
Chris Stewart
Austin Romine
J.R. Murphy
Gary Sanchez ...

Tuesday, November 26, 2013  Brian McCann: is he worth $17 million for each of the next five years? ...

The one position the Yankees did not need to fill was center field.  However, incumbent Brett Gardner is being replaced with Jacoby Ellsbury.  Both are good fielders, good base stealers and neither hits home runs, except for the 32 (15 home, 17 road) Ellsbury inexplicably hit in 2011, his only season in double figures.

Ellsbury: Born: September 11, 1983    OPS+ 108; 241 SB, 46 CS;  OPS+ 2013 114
Gardner: Born: August 24, 1983    OPS+ 97; 161 SB, 38 CS;  OPS+ 2013 108

Ellsbury is an upgrade but hardly one worth $153 million over seven years...

With so many holes to fill, why fill a non-hole? ...

In right field the Yankees obviously could have brought back Curtis Granderson who signed with the Mets for $15 million for each of four years.  Instead they signed Carlos Beltran for the same annual pay for three years.

Granderson born: March 16, 1981    OPS+ 117
Beltran born: April 24, 1977    OPS+ 122

Beltran will be 39 in his final Yankee season.  Granderson will be 37 in his final Met season.

Friday, December 6, 2013  Curtis Granderson: home run rate Detroit v. New York.

Granderson, Beltran and continuity v. winning. Monday, December 9, 2013

Carlos Beltran will be replacing Curtis Granderson in the Yankee outfield.  Beltran will join another new Yankee Jacoby Ellsbury who is coming from rival Boston.

What differentiates them?  Age, money and continuity...

Granderson played the last four seasons with the Yankees.  Had the Yankees given him the same deal that he signed with the Mets, Granderson would play eight seasons with the Yankees.  That's significant for a player who is not a star but a significant contributor and all around good guy...

The Yankees really did not need Ellsbury to play center field because they already had Brett Gardner ...

Did Yankee ownership and management consider continuity?  To me it makes about as much baseball sense for the team to have Granderson and Beltran for a total of seven seasons, than to have Ellsbury for seven seasons at significantly higher pay plus Beltran for another three seasons.

Ellsbury will achieve substantial status if he makes significant contributions and the team wins.  Beltran cannot because he is joining the team when he is too old to be much more than a rent-a-player.  It's an unfortunate way to describe such a good player but Beltran has put himself into that category by playing for too many teams...

Ellsbury is not really a home run hitter.  He has double figures only once: 32 in 2011.  But both Granderson and Beltran have hit 40 homers playing center field in New York.  Duke Snider did that five consecutive seasons playing for the Brooklyn Dodgers.  Willie Mays did it twice: 41, 51.

Among Yankee center fielders:
Joe DiMaggio: 46
Mickey Mantle: 52, 42, 40, 54
Curtis Granderson: 41, 43.

Yankee players have hit 40 homers 30 times.  The only other Yankees to hit 40 homers multiple times:
Babe Ruth: 11
Lou Gehrig: 5
Mickey Mantle: 4
Jason Giambi: 2
Alex Rodriguez: 2
Curtis Granderson: 2

The only Yankees to hit 40 homers in consecutive seasons:

Granderson is in some pretty elite company but he's leaving after only four seasons.  Don't his achievements count for something other than a projection of his wins above replacement (WAR)? ...

Carlos Beltran is tied for the Met record.  Maybe Granderson will challenge that.  Has anyone even considered that?  The Yankees now have the Met home run king and the Mets have a Yankee who both equaled and exceeded the Met record.

Winning is the thing.  But when the mix of players is so arbitrary when do we value flesh and blood over laundry?  Is the current model of success used by Boston in 2013 with short term additions the immediate future?  If so, after a couple of years of that, how much will we care about the players and our team?

Triangle offense: Yankees copying Knicks? Monday, December 1, 2014

What's the plan, Cashman?  Maybe Yankees general manager Brian Cashman is taking a page from the New York Knicks of the National Basketball Association (NBA): the triangle offense...

... the Knicks seem to have inspired the Yankees, if for no other reason the Knicks seem to have a plan.  A year ago the Yankees had a plan: get under the soft salary cap and free up about $100 million for use in acquiring future free agents.  However, the Yankees lacked discipline and focus and instead wasted lots of  money on Jacoby Ellsbury (CF, 31), Brian McCann (C, 31) and Carlos Beltran (RF, 37).  After spending on them the Yankees were on the salary cap bubble but smashed through the cap by signing pitcher Masahiro Tanaka...

The Yankees now seem content with emulating the Knicks and trying to ensure that the team qualifies for the Major Baseball League (MBL) tournament, which is now also pretty easy with the addition of a second wild card in each conference...

So with that background why not suspect that the Yankees intend to implement a comparably bizarre baseball version of the triangle offense?  Maybe that's why the Yankees have gaping holes at second, third and short: to fill with the triangle offense.  Or maybe the Bermuda triangle.  Those same holes existed a year ago when the Yankees signed the aforementioned players for center, catcher and right.  Maybe they expected to fill the vacant infield spots by osmosis...

Then the question could change from what's the plan to who's on first?