Saturday, June 17, 2006

Freakin' Excellent

I was fortunate enough tonight to have dined at a restaurant that was kind enough to play the Yankees game on their extra large tele. We sat down with the score 1-1 and left with the Nats leading 5-4, and it took most of my willpower to avoid yelling at A-Rod's demonstrated futility.

My fondest memory of the game: Maz removing Wright after putting a runner on first in the sixth. I'm much too drunk and stoned at the moment to link to the specific posts, but this is consistent with what I've been saying for weeks: J-Wright can't go more than five innings. He's our Corey Lidle; ask any Phillies fan.

Does Mario Kart ever get old? Ever?

Friday, June 16, 2006

Indians 8, Yanks 4


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Tim McCarver: What happened out there?
Joe Cooper: Uh, well, you know, it was a team effort and I guess it took every player working together to lose this one.

I did a good job of avoiding all Yankees-related talk all afternoon; I told most of the people in the office that I didn’t want the know the score, and that I’d be watching the game when I got home. I even grumbled at the thought of listening to music (music?!?) during my commute. Goddammit, absurd traffic time is Mike and the Mad Dog time!

So there I am, making pointless phone calls, and one of my coworkers blurts out, “man, Yankees are getting SLASHED!” I tried my hardest to blurt out, “don’t say anything!” but it came out something like, “doo doo daa daa, FUCK!” Complicating matters, while there is Flash on the computer I was at, it doesn’t work particularly well. Gameday was a mess, forcing me to click re-load a thousand times at CBS Sports Line.

[MORE]Not much you can really say about this one. Mussina was shaky and it caught up to him; A-Rod hit one when it didn’t much matter, and then flailed haplessly when he could have made the difference. I’ll restate my position: I am fully behind A-Rod. However, he deserves to be booed now. Self-admittedly, even:

"Right now, I stink," he said, "If you're going to write the worst article you want to write, today's a good day. Rip away. Rip away."

Of course, this is him putting up another wall of defense, which likely won’t help the situation. Not knowing Alex Rodriguez personally, and not having any formal psychiatric training, I fully believe that A-Rod’s slump will continue for at least another week. I’ll use my expertise to reassess the situation then.

Yes, there were others at fault, but I think those were the most noteworthy.

For a little more meat to today’s post, I’m going to post the Yankees Equivalency Averages (EqA). This is a rather advanced metric, so I’ll supply Clay Davenport’s explanation. However, this doesn’t cover the entirety of the EqA calculation; it just gets at the main idea. Mr. Davenport was kind enough to forward me a copy of the full calculations (complete with explanation). If any of you are interested enough, e-mail me and I’ll forward it along.

EqA takes all of a player’s raw statistics (hits, total bases, stolen bases, caught stealing, etc.), runs them through a series of calculations to put them in proportion, park adjusts, and then compares to the league average. Davenport explains it best:

What we will do next is to define an average team, given Wagner’s playing conditions. We’ll then replace one of those average players with Wagner, and calculate a winning percentage between the all-average team and the average plus Wagner team. The standardized output will preserve that winning percentage.

So here we go: Fun With EqA.

The Yankees are third in the Majors (.285) in EqA, trailing Cleveland by .003 and Toronto by .005. No. 4 is Boston, trailing the Yankees by .005.

Yankees EqA by Player

Name Team-Lg Pos Out PA EQA
JASON GIAMBI NY_-A 1B 134 242 .346
DEREK JETER NY_-A SS 158 271 .316
JORGE POSADA NY_-A C 122 210 .312
ALEX RODRIGUEZ NY_-A 3B 171 274 .298
JOHNNY DAMON NY_-A CF 183 283 .289
ROBINSON CANO NY_-A 2B 164 249 .273
HIDEKI MATSUI NY_-A LF 88 136 .278
MELKY CABRERA NY_-A LF 84 130 .259
ANDY PHILLIPS NY_-A 1B 77 106 .252
BUBBA CROSBY NY_-A RF 32 45 .249
AARON SMALL NY_-A P 2 2 .157
MIGUEL CAIRO NY_-A SS 70 95 .214

Giambi’s .346 is good for second in the AL to Pronk (Travis Hafner’s retarded nickname). Jeter’s next at 12th, then Posada at 18th. A-Rod’s .298 is a mere .001 below David Ortiz’s mark (though I have no idea why we insist on perpetually comparing the two). Cano’s lack of walks and power compromises his EqA, and the same goes for his buddy Melky. Small Sample Size Warning: more Kevin Thompson, please? Oh, and in case you needed any further proof, Terrence Long is beyond terrible.

MLB Ranks by position:
Jorge – 3rd
Giambi – 2nd (to Pujols)
Cano – 9th
A-Rod – 6th
Jeter – 2nd
Melky –35th (lots of small sample size here; he’s actually behind Matsui, 27th)
Damon – 6th (the other NY center fielder is well ahead of him)
We don’t have a right fielder as far as I’m concerned, but for shits and giggles, Sheffield is 16th.

Take all this for what you will. I just happen to find it highly interesting data.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Yanks 6, Injuns 1


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Randy continued to confuse last night, tossing 6.1 innings of eminence en route to his eighth victory of the season. Wasn’t it just last Friday that he was talking to the ball against the A’s?

The difference was obvious: efficiency of pitches (78 at the time of his ejection) and a minimum of walks. This marks the first time Randy has failed to walk a batter since that infamous April 13th outing against the Royals. His season turned around following that game; he surrendered seven in his next start, and then after a redeeming appearance against Baltimore, he went into his Six Straight Shitty Games Streak.

[MORE]He has somewhat recovered of late, with that A’s game being his only real bad one of his last four. Can we expect more of this in the future? Well, if we’re to believe Gene Michael, Randy should be posting more numbers like this as the summer rolls on. However, I’m not nearly convinced. Even if he posts a lights out June, I would still be wary of Randy on a start by start basis.

As for his ejection, well, I have mixed feelings. Seeing Randy continue his efficient pitching into the eighth or even further would have been nice. However, he was protecting his boy Jorge (and sneaking in a little personal revenge), which is a positive sign I suppose. You never wish for anyone to get hurt, but it’s also nice to see someone on the Yankees staff unafraid to stir the pot a bit.

On the offensive side it was all smiles, but I guess that’s not a Caesarian accomplishment when Jason Johnson is the victim (his OPS against is .963). Even A-Rod got in on the action, driving in the game’s first run on what could have been scored a base hit. After his base hit later in the game, the Yankees Stadium crowd put their hands together rather than cupping them over their mouths. Hopefully this has planted the message in Alex’s head: if you play like shit, you’re going to get booed. Avoid playing like shit, avoid the jeers.

You know what would be great? To finish off this sweet ass sweep tomorrow. Mussina is just the man to do it, and with Cliff Lee’s current woes (guy depends on his defense, and his defense stinks), we have a very probable situation on our hands.

I have two options for tomorrow. I can suck it up and deal with the fact that I have to work with nary a computer to access, or I can shield myself from all news of the game, avoid listening to Mike and the Mad Dog on the way home, and plop myself in front of the computer to watch the game archive. I’m seriously leaning towards the latter.

Yanks 1, Indians Nothing -- Oh So Sweet


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Right after Mariano hit the outside corner to clinch victory, my first inclination was to peek at the clock. 9:40. And while it’s highly uncommon for a Yankees game to end at that early hour, I was actually thinking it would be earlier.

To me, there is nothing greater than a 1-0 game. Pitching duels are mesmerizing, with each hurler crafting the game ever so precisely. One mistake, however, becomes the difference. Wang nearly made the first mistake in the top of the sixth, surrendering a leadoff double to Grady Sizemore. Casey Blake looked to have followed suit, but Kevin Thompson showed exactly why he should be trotted out there daily, snagging the shot and firing a strike to Cano. If that’s Bernie, we’re down 1-0.

[MORE]So you’ve got a runner on third with one out, and Travis Hafner is staring at you from home plate. What do you do? Exactly what the Yankees did. Hafner is a model of patience at the plate, so Wang would have had to make a egregious mistake to remove the bat from his shoulders. Two pitches in, the Yanks made the right call and gave Hafner first base for free, setting up Victor Martinez in quite a tight spot: don’t put the ball on the ground. One might be able to accomplish this against a normal pitcher, but it becomes quite the task against a guy who induces three ground balls for every fly ball. And, as the script called for, Martinez hit it to Cano, who flipped to Jeter, who fired to Phillips, inning over.

The bottom of the frame nearly caused me to plow into the adjacent Hummer on I-78 (my poor Jeep didn’t stand a chance). Sterling began the call subtly, quietly murmuring, “a swing…” and pausing for about a second before launching into his signature, “and a drive to deep right field! It is high! It is far! It is….GONE!” Robinson Cano, after pissing us all off by failing with the bases loaded in the first, redeems himself with a solo shot. Three more frames until completion…

Wang’s removal in the eighth wasn’t a move I particularly enjoyed, but I’ll take it. If it’s Sizemore up with the bases empty and two down, there’s no excuse. But with the tying run on second and only one down, bringing in Myers was an acceptable substitution. I’d have left Wang in – and I might have been bashed in the papers the next day.

As expected, Myers retired Sizemore with relative ease. For the final out, Kyle Farnsworth was commissioned to put away Casey Blake. We shouldn’t be sweating over these situations, but I definitely felt some moisture build up in my palms as I watched Farny head in from left-center. Apparently, he was much calmer than I, not even visibly straining to send Blake to the dugout and the Indians back out into the filed empty handed.

The top of the ninth went quickly, and I really wasn’t disappointed. The faster the Yanks go down, the faster Mo goes to work. And work he did. In fact, he did such a stellar job that he got a .100 Win Expectancy gift from Andy Phillips to start off the inning.

It was smooth sailing after the error, and the Yankees had won their first 1-0 game of the year. Mo hit 96 on the gun, and while I know that’s not a completely accurate number, it gains some merit when you compare it to the other guys tossing. Kyle Farnsworth, he of the supposed 98-101 m.p.h. fastball, routinely hits 98 on the YES radar gun, making Mo’s 96 rather impressive. Man, I can’t wait until he unleashes that changeup that he’s been working on with Gator.

Great win, yes. Great game for A-Rod, no. He’s slumping again, and boy is he hearing it from the Yankee Stadium crowd. If I was at the game, I’d be booing, too. Sure, he’s played fairly well this season, and his expectations are higher than anyone else in the game, which should grant him some reprieve. However, I don’t think he gets paid $25 million a year to go through two prolonged slumps before the first half of the season is over, and I’m damn sure he doesn’t get paid to look like he’s lost at the plate.

Maybe it’s just me, but I think it would be awful nice if our supposed best player, the supposed best player in the American League, would step up when our Nos. 3 and 6 hitters hit the DL for a prolonged period of time. Yes, he stepped up in May, earning AL Player of the Month honors. However, that does not give him a pass to suck again in June.

I don’t expect a .320/.420/.600 season from Alex every year. I just expect that he doesn’t turn into Miguel Cairo for weeks at a time.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Lack of a Substantial Post

Most of baseball took a day off yesterday, and I figured I should, too. I've had a few ideas on the back burner that would have been useful today, but I just didn't get around to putting the ideas into cohesive sentences.

If anything is more disappointing than a lack of a substantial post today, it's that I have absolutely nothing to say about the Cleveland Indians. One of the better stories of last year, I've found myself routinely bored with them. In fact, more Royals games have been viewed on my package than Indians (I guess I like to watch misery and suffering).

All I can say is that they're playing pretty terrible defense. Ronnie Belliard has come down to earth and provides a larger hole on the right side than the Indians had expected when you figure in their lack of a solid defensive first baseman. And from what I'm gathering, Aaron Boone hasn't been very graceful over at third, leaving Jhonny Peralta (best first name ever) as the lone infield glove.

And Jason Michaels is no Coco Crisp out there.

This should bode well for the Yankees against Paul Byrd, one of those guys who makes you put the ball in play. I have no doubt the Yanks can post circa four runs tonight, so it's all going to rest on Mr. Wang, who hasn't pitched in a week.

In personal news, someone stole my lunch yesterday from the refrigerator at work. My office employs nine people. This makes little to no sense. A full write-up is in the works.

Monday, June 12, 2006

That's Not Good For Business (That's Not Good For Anyone)


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Oh joy, a day off today. I’m thinking this is much needed. Hopefully the next time we see the Yankees they’ll be sans Cairo starting at short.

Quick point: I realize there would be all sorts of media ramifications had Torre chosen to make the wise move and slide A-Rod to short in Jeter’s absence. But Torre gets paid to do two things: deal with the media and fill out a lineup card that gives his team the best chance to win. I won’t be too brutal here, just because it’s way too idealistic to expect rational moves from Major League managers.

[MORE]--- it works now!Everyone wave goodbye to Kevin Thompson. It was a nice stay here in the Bronx, and even though he deserves to stay, the team will certainly play favorites and keep Crosby. While he’s a step up from Terrance Long, I think K.T. can provide far more value. Maybe the team will realize this after they realize that starting Bubba in right is an exercise in futility.

At least they DFA’d Scott Erickson upon Chacon’s arrival rather than optioning Matt Smith. Now it’s just a matter of keeping Smith on the roster once Dotel returns. It’s pretty obvious, however, that Aaron Small will remain on the roster, which again is a foolish move. That would leave Smith optionless should he return to the Bronx at any point in the future.

And don’t get me started on the Darrell Rasner situation. Another pitcher deserving of a shot that will undoubtedly be pitching for the Clippers when he’s reactivated. Here’s a short list of players not currently on the Yankees active roster I would rather have than Aaron Small: Darrell Rasner, Ramiro Mendoza, Jose Veras, Colter Bean.

Remember kids: Miguel Cairo playing off the bench is acceptable. Miguel Cairo playing every day is an atrocity. Keep this in mind when the trade deadline nears and you hear Cano’s name flying in every direction.

Weekend WE Wrap Up


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