Friday, August 04, 2006

Projected Rotation

I'm getting excited. Real excited. Excited to the point where I have to take a step back and realize that although the Yankees are playing some of the best ball in the Majors right now, anything can happen in two months. Cliché, yes, but all too true.

I think I'm harping on this more emphatically than just about any other sports writer I know or have read: the Yankees are in for one helluva 22-game stretch this month. Absent a rain out, the team is going to be all sorts of tired at some point during this three-week stretch. To think that none of the five starters will have a meltdown start is quite naïve.

Because there's not much interesting to write about today – and because I don't have enough time to do adequate research for a substantial column – let's peek at the projected rotation throughout this horrid stretch of 22 games in 21 days (well, 25 in 24, since I'm going to start with this weekend). The city name denotes an away game, team name a home one.

DateOppPitcher
8/4BaltimoreRandy
8/5BaltimoreMussina
8/6BaltimoreWright
8/7OFF!
8/8ChicagoWang
8/9ChicagoLidle
8/10ChicagoJohnson
8/11AngelsMussina
8/12AngelsWright
8/13AngelsWang
8/14AngelsLidle
8/15OriolesJohnson
8/16OriolesMussina
8/17OriolesWright
8/18BostonWang
8/18BostonPonson*
8/19BostonLidle
8/20BostonJohnson
8/21BostonMussina
8/22SeattleWright
8/23SeattleWang
8/24SeattleLidle
8/25AnaheimJohnson
8/26AnaheimMussina
8/27AnaheimWright

* He's the only guy available who wouldn't be on short rest, and you don't want to be pitching on short rest during a stretch like this in August.

Of course, this whole table could be moot should Joe decide to juggle the rotation during the off-day. I wouldn't advise it, since you want to (intangibles warning) keep everyone in a groove entering a stretch like this.

This is, of course, a best-case scenario. And when you look at it, the matchups aren't terrible. Wright misses Boston, though Ponson will be forced into action. The biggest disappointment, I'd say, is that Mussina won't pitch against Chicago, which gives me the feeling that Joe will, in fact, juggle the rotation to set that up.

You'd also like to get Wright-Lidle-Randy against the Orioles. I'm wondering aloud of any of these can be accomplished with the utilization of the off-day.

UPDATE!!

DateOppPitcher
8/4BaltimoreRandy
8/5BaltimoreMussina
8/6BaltimoreWright
8/7OFF!
8/8ChicagoWang
8/9ChicagoJohnson
8/10ChicagoMussina
8/11AngelsLidle
8/12AngelsWright
8/13AngelsWang
8/14AngelsJohnson
8/15OriolesMoose
8/16OriolesLidle
8/17OriolesWright
8/18BostonWang
8/18BostonPonson
8/19BostonJohnson
8/20BostonMussina
8/21BostonLidle
8/22SeattleWright
8/23SeattleWang
8/24SeattleJohnson*
8/25AnaheimMussina
8/26AnaheimLidle
8/27AnaheimWright

*This start, in my mind, is dependent on circumstance. If the team is doing well through this stretch and have won the first two games against Seattle, I am in favor of pitching Ponson in this spot, sliding Johnson back to pitch the opener against Anaheim. That will set up the series as Randy-Moose-Lidle, which I like a ton better than Moose-Lidle-Wright. Of course, there's the possibility that Seattle is playing better than Anaheim at this point, making the substitution moot.

It will be of the utmost importance to get Ponson into some games – preferably in relief of 5-Innings Wright – prior to the Boston series. If he's going to pitch, you don't want him pitching with rust in such an important series.

Then again, the rotation can be juggled so that Wright pitches in the Boston series instead. Pitching Ponson against the Orioles would be the alternative here, which works for me on two levels. First, it's against a much shittier team. Second, it's against Ponson against his old team, one who he believes wronged him. It may not be true, but that's what he believes. Might as well give him a shot against them.

DateOppPitcher
8/4BaltimoreRandy
8/5BaltimoreMussina
8/6BaltimoreWright
8/7OFF!
8/8ChicagoWang
8/9ChicagoJohnson
8/10ChicagoMussina
8/11AngelsLidle
8/12AngelsWright
8/13AngelsWang
8/14AngelsJohnson
8/15OriolesMussina
8/16OriolesLidle
8/17OriolesPonson
8/18BostonWang
8/18BostonWright
8/19BostonJohnson
8/20BostonMussina
8/21BostonLidle
8/22SeattleWright
8/23SeattleWang
8/24SeattleJohnson*
8/25AnaheimMussina
8/26AnaheimLidle
8/27AnaheimWright

Asshole Bosses

I had my whole day at work planned out. It was carefully crafted, leaving me just enough work to get me through until the boss leaves. And then it's off to the shore for the weekend.

I sat down at my desk 10 minutes ago, and I immediately had a wrench thrown in. Apparently my boss is steamed that I didn't start something he told me to start Monday. This is not an isolated occurrence.

I was hired as the Assistant Editor, I am given writing and editing assignments, yet I am hounded incessantly about selling ads. Yes, that's how the publication makes money. No, that's not really what I was hired to do.

Anyway, it might be an hour before I post something, so in the meantime you can visit Off the Facade for the Yankees Family Tree.

And keep those sports columnist suggestions rolling in. I've gotten a few great ones so far, and the more I get the more I'll post.
Mail 'em here

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Yanks 7, Jays 2 -- Did You See That Slide?!?

I was elated in the eighth inning of the Red Sox-Indians game last night, when David Ortiz – two nights removed from yet another walk-off homer – struck out, covering his head with the shameful Golden Sombrero. After Manny Ramirez and Mike Lowell were retired behind him, I came to a glorious realization: Papi wouldn’t be up in the ninth. The 6-7-8-9 hitters were due up, so it would take the Indians loading the bases, allowing the tying run to score, and recording two outs for the feared marauder to appear again.

Thankfully, he never got that chance. Mark Loretta took care of business one batter before him, slamming a bases-loaded double off the Monster, giving the Red Sox another come from behind victory against Cleveland, 6-5. That’s twice in the three games that the Red Sox mounted a ninth inning rally, a fact that just makes me sick. The first one hurt because it was Papi again. The sting in this one came because Eric Wedge seemingly doesn’t care anymore. Why Fausto Carmona (A+ for the name, F for the performance) was left in after beaning two straight batters is beyond all comprehension.

I know, I should be focusing on the Yankees and their second straight thumping of the Blue Jays, further widening the gap between first (second? whatever) and third place. As on Tuesday night, the Yankees struck hard enough in one frame to live comfortably for the rest of the game. And it all started in the sixth.

Alex, in the midst of another hot streak, hit a screaming low liner to left field. From the replay, he looked to be going hard from the get go, ostensibly thinking double all the way. The only problem is that he no longer poses the speed threat of his youth. Many moons ago in a place, now extinct, known as Seattle, Alex hit 42 home runs and stole 46 bases in a season. He was young, athletic, and powerful. Well, now he’s a lot more powerful, and still just as athletic. Problem is, with all the bulk he added during his years in Texas and New York, he’s lost significant speed. It’s evident when he grounds out to deep short; he runs hard out of the box, but when the out is recorded, he’s still two or three steps away. But speed be damned, Alex wanted a double on this one.

The throw came in from left, and before the camera panned to second base, I just figured Alex would be safe. But when the bag was in the center of the screen, only his fingers were visible. It was a scene reminiscent of Willie Hayes’s failed steal attempt for the Indians (I believe they only showed him getting caught once in the whole movie, aside from the Clue Haywood pickoff on Opening Day). But instead of sliding in short and allowing Aaron Hill to lay on an easy tag, Alex played trickery, lifting his left hand, shifting his weight, and planting his right hand on the bag, untouched by Hill. There is no doubt it was an excellent reaction by Alex, but I wonder how much of that was planned. Heading towards second, he had a clear view of the ball being fielded and thrown, so he must have known he was toast. I postulate that he began his slide early on purpose, figuring his best way of reaching safely was to head in slow, giving him more time to react.

Posada wasted no time in putting two more runs on the board, taking Ted Lilly’s second offering to the back of the netting over Monument Park. After Craig Wilson’s inaugural hit as a Yankee and a Melky ground-rule double, Lilly was finished, meaning John Gibbons’s overmanagement seminar was about to begin. He tried Dustin McGowan (no relation to Rose, I think), but to no avail; walking Miguel freakin’ Cairo to load the bases is a sure sign that you don’t belong in the game. Johnny Damon whacked one into center field, plating Wilson. Derek Jeter drew a walk for another RBI, and McGowan was done, though he was really done before he started. Scott Downs fared a bit better initially, striking out Bobby Abreu on a five-foul, 10-pitch at bat. But then came Alex, still riding that adrenaline high like it was black tar heroin. His rip shot to left-center plated two more, giving the Yankees a 7-0 lead.

It was Jorge’s turn next, and even though he had started the scoring, I was disappointed when he came up. Downs is a lefty, meaning Jorge was batting from the right side, the side from which he homered earlier in the inning. It would have been sweet as hell had he batted and gone deep from the left side, which would have made him the third player in Major League history to accomplish that feat. It was first done in 1993 in Yankee Stadium, of all places, by Carlos Baerga, of all the random people. I actually remember watching that game; it was a total blowout, so much so that I’m not even going to look up the gory details on Retrosheet. Eventually joining Baerga was Mark Bellhorn in 2002, while playing for the Cubs. After reading that, I’m not so disappointed that Jorge didn’t get his chance; I mean, would you want to be categorized with Baerga and Bellhorn?

Do I even need to make mention of Wang's outing? I mean, we can all read a box score, and that pretty much tells the story. Though, I should make note of the nastiest pitch of the game, his sixth inning strikeout of Lyle Overbay. Wang delivered an inside fastball that looked to be just a hair off the black of the plate. But wait for it...wait for it...BAM! The ball took one of the nastiest right-hand turns I've seen, freezing Overbay and ending the inning. If Wang can hone his slider and develop an off-speed pitch over the winter, he could be one of the dominant pitchers in the game. He trows hard, has a nasty, ground-ball inducing sinker, and a two-seamer that has some nice movement to the right. A honed slider would give him a pitch that breaks to the left, and an off-speed delivery allows him to keep hitter off time.

I was kind of surprised to see Villone in the ninth, considering he had pitched an inning and two thirds on Tuesday. I guess Torre is being cautious in using his mop-up guy, since Lidle is starting today. Of course, making sure a mop-up guy is there to pitch you three or four innings isn’t merely predicting the worst. It’s just that no one knows what to expect from Lidle, so having a break glass in case of emergency plan is strategically sound.

Oh, and on that Glaus shot in the ninth: I was a little surprised and confused when I saw 30-something man (he was at least 30, though could have been older; I didn't get the best look) sprinting into the black seats to recover the ball. I thought about the games I've seen at Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City, where swarms of kids would race to any home run hit onto the grassy knoll in center. And here we are in New York, with a middle aged man racing the kids to get the ball. I have to say that I was at least a bit relieved to hear a roar from the crowd, followed by the camera panning to the ball, now lying in center field. Kudos to that guy; you ALWAYS throw it back. I just wish he didn't have a pansy arm.

Day game today. I hope all you bored suckers at work can get the streaming audio from wcbs.com. I wouldn't want any of you to miss the triumphant debut of Cory Lidle. Okay, maybe I'm getting just a little too excited.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Mike Vaccaro in the New York Post

Admittedly, I'm riffing on the style of the guys at Fire Joe Morgan. But I'm goddamn sick and tired of shitty sportswriting in our major newspapers. I figure I'll do a feature like this once a week, maybe more if I can find more shitty sportswriting (which I'm sure won't be a difficult task). Dan Graziano will surely be next.

Bombers Are Not Cuddly Anymore
by Mike Vaccaro

THE Yankees never did wear the vestments of upstarts and overachievers very well. It's hard. The uniform is comprised of pinstripes, after all, not polyester.

No, I'm pretty sure the uniform is made of polyester.

They Yankees are catered buffet tables, not lunch buckets. They are about blue blood, not blue collars. Always have been. Always will be.

You know, I'm not quite sure what anything in this paragraph means. This is an article about baseball, right?

For more than a month, the Yankees featured a lineup that was almost downright cuddly.

This may be the first time I heard a group of baseball players described as “cuddly.” Once again, the meaning of this sentence is lost on me. Does Vacarro spoon with the bench players after a good assfucking?

[MORE]Aaron Guiel and Bubba Crosby were in there a lot. Nick Green was in there a lot, and Andy Phillips. Melky Cabrera was in there, getting his hands dirty. Miguel Cairo. Even a guy like Bernie Williams, as beloved as he is, as accomplished a career as he's had, belonged in that group.

Thank you for letting me know who has played over the last few months. My eyes couldn't see those players out there on the diamond, nor could they read the text in the box scores. Thank you, Mike Vaccaro, for bringing this point to light.
For a good month, the Yankees were almost impossible to hate, even among that segment of baseball society that likes nothing better than emanating a searing loathing for them.

No, I'm pretty sure everyone who hated the Yankees before the season continue to hate the Yankees now. I guess columns aren't fact-checked, because the word “impossible” here, by definition, is false.

Who can hate Aaron Guiel?

Allard Baird and Dayton Moore.

Here's the thing, too: Using all those mix-and-match lineups, the Yankees not only treaded water, they actually gained on the Red Sox, and gained on the White Sox, and put themselves into perfect position to make a 12th straight run at the postseason.

I'll nitpick here, since most of the assertions herein are true. There's no need for the second “and gained,” and there are too many “and”s in this sequence. Plus, I don't like the use of “too” here. Unnecessary. If I copy edited this, it would read:
Here's the thing: Using all those mix-and-match lineups, the Yankees went beyond treading water. They actually gained on the Red Sox and the White Sox and put themselves in perfect position to make a run at a 12th straight postseason.

"Watching what the guys have been doing," Gary Sheffield said yesterday, "it's really been kind of inspiring."
Well, the inspirational part of the Bronx baseball program is officially over. Sheffield's wrist is getting better and better. So is Hideki Matsui's. Robinson Cano could be back inside a week. And yesterday, the Yankees handed out fresh uniforms to their cavalry of deadline acquisitions. The purge is just starting. The Yankees' days as cute, feisty battlers are dead. The heavy guns are in place.
Let the fear and loathing begin anew.


How about just saying that some impact players are due to return from injury, and that the fill-in players will be relegated to normal roles. And I don't think Melky, Bernie and Co. would appreciated being referred to as cute and fiesty.

Philly is a place with a baseball tradition so thin that the general manager can actually inform his ticket-buying public that not only have the Phillies given up on 2006, but they shouldn't be counted on to compete in 2007, either. New York is a place where a GM espousing such a philosophy wouldn't only be fired, but committed.

Ron Villone came from the same situation in Florida, as did Carlos Delgado and Paul LoDuca for the Mets. Why no mention of that situation, which is much more egregious than the Phillies mini-firesale?

So the Yankees, as always, grab with both fists. Within a few weeks, the every-day lineup could well feature nine All-Stars, which will give Yankee haters the bends, which might make at-bats hard to come by, which could cause some problems.

Yes, because handing out at-bats to the best players on the team can cause problems. I wonder if Vaccaro realizes that by September, everyone who was supposed to be a starter will be a starter, and that everyone who was supposed to play a bench role will play a bench role. Unless you think Bernie will cause a ruckus in the clubhouse because of his reduced playing time.

The mystique of the Yankees is a little easier to define. They are back to what they're supposed to be. They are cuddly no longer. They are cute no more. Starting last night, they started flexing big-boy, old-school Yankee muscle again. Somehow, the world seems to be spinning back on its axis again.

“Starting last night,” is the line that gets me. The only change last night was DHing Bernie Williams and putting Bobby Abreu in right field. Apparently, Abreu declined Vaccaro's offer of a blowjob during their interview, thus precluding him from being “cute and cuddly.”

So, in essence, the crux of Vaccaro's column is that the Yankees added a big bat, and that one more big bat transformed a cute and cuddly team into a lean, mean, run scoring machine.

Ladies and gentlemen, this man gets paid for these “insights.”

Yanks 5, Jays 1 -- Live From Yankee Stadium

I was in attendance last night, so it's time for the Game Experience Recap. I hope the GERs are more fun to read, because they're a ton more fun to write. If I ran a newspaper, this is what I would have my beat reporter doing.

Not to go all Peter King on everyone, but there's a preface to this GER. I left work early so I could catch a train my buddy had boarded at a previous stop, and noticed that the parking lot was rather packed. From the street, I definitely saw one spot, so I figured I was set. What I didn't count on was an un-uniformed man roaming the parking lot, telling me that I need to pay him $7 to park here. There was nothing about him that signaled that he was in any way official, so I wasn't about to hand him over the dough without a little interrogation.

“I'm sorry, but there are no signs anywhere that indicate I need to pay for parking.”
“Look at the lot, man, it's full (yet there was a spot, about 50 feet away). They (who are “they?”) charge for the lot and the meter is down (I looked everywhere for a meter, did not see one). And when it gets full we have to move cars around, so I need your keys.”

It was then that I knew I wasn't catching the train. Why in the world would I hand this unofficial looking fellow my money and my keys? I may be a suburban white kid, but I'm not stupid like the stereotype would have you believe.

“Do you have a supervisor with whom I could speak?”
“No, man, it's just me. Look at the lot, I ain't lyin' to you. Use common sense.”

That, my friends, put me over the top. Had I any formal fight training, I would have stepped out of the car and socked him. Instead, I let out a huge FUCK YOU.
NOTE: I removed a reference here that I'm not particularly proud of. I wrote without thinking, and I was fortunate enough to have reader Tonya L. point out the error of my ways. Thank you, Tonya. God, I feel like Ozzie Guillen now.

To the bus station I went, which was late, and took forever to get to the city. All of that, and I only missed the top of the first.

On a sweltering, humid night in the Bronx, Jaret Wright is not the guy you want on the mound. He has trouble throwing strikes, and works at a pace similar to a Giambi sprint. Throwing 45 pitches in the first two innings isn't ideal in any game, but last night's was especially damning. And after seeing the Yanks flail their first time through the order, I didn't have a whole lot of confidence.

But then came the fourth. The crowd went a little nuts when Jeter walked to lead off the inning. And they got a little more nuts when he stole second. So the place was obviously booming when Giambi hit it over the shift, putting runners on first and third with none out. And then it happened...

During Giambi's at bat, I turned to my buddy Jon and said, “I'm giving Alex a standing O when he comes up.” This was in reaction to the morons surrounding us who deemed it suitable to boo him after striking out in the second. I mumbled something about Plato and the Alex booers being lovers of opinion rather than seekers of knowledge, but I'm rusty on my Plato and it may have come out sounding like gibberish.

Much to my surprise, about 30 people in my section alone did the same. You could hear a few boos in the background, but the cheers certainly drowned them out. This wasn't a big big spot, but the Yanks were down one and could certainly have used a run.

And then he delivered.

He didn't try to put it over the fence. He didn't rear back and swing with all his might. But holy shit did Alex tear the cover off that ball. Jeter could have stopped for a beer on the way home, but unfortunately Giambi was the man on first base.


Run you fucking fatass, run!


Up came Abreu, and you could just feel that he was going to plate those two runs. He went down 0-2, and like Giambi I don't mind that count on Abreu. He worked six more pitches – three balls and three fouls, in that order – before finally taking his free pass. It's not a home run, but we do pay him to walk. Jorge couldn't get in on the action, striking out for the first of the inning.

Bernie was next, leaving me very insure of our chances of bringing in even one run. As you may have picked up from reading this site, my friends and I routinely refer to Bernie as the Double Play Machine. This was the perfect situation for a DP, with the game tied and a potential rally on the base paths. “Uppercut, Bernie!” I yelled from about 12 rows behind home plate. He obviously didn't hear me, because he took a level cut and planted the ball in the left-center field gap. Abreu scored from first, and the game was opening up, 4-1 Yanks.

The subway races came on between innings, an event on which I'm sure guys in the bleachers are gambling. Te race has degenerted over the years, as it's now just a John Sterling recording over some generic CG sequences. In the end, it's basically a random number generator. Why can't we do it like they do in Milwaukee, with a Polish Sausage, Italian Sausage, Bratwurst, and a chorizo racing until the bitter end? We can afford Bobby Abreu, but we can't afford to suit up four guys per game for our entertainment value.

Jaret Wright managed to finish the fifth after 103 pitches, and while he didn't get a standing O, he deserved at least a pat on the back. He did what was expected, which is five innings and less than three runs. This allowed Villone to get some action, and boy did he deliver. Not only did he pitch an effective inning and two-thirds, but he made an excellent knee-jerk play, snagging a ball that very well could have hit him in the face.

Proctor and Farnsworth finished the job, with Farnsworth even impressing his biggest detractors. That, my friends, is what you can do when you throw 100 mph gas instead of a weak slider. There is, however, one play I would like to harp on for a second.

In the sixth, Alex tried to score on a Posada single. This was reasonable, since he was on second. However, the ball was hit right to Eric Hinske, who threw it on target to Gregg Zaun. The plate was completely blocked, and Alex was a dead duck. He knew it, Zaun knew it, the ump knew it, the whole stadium knew it. It's part of baseball, it happens. He tried to maneuver around Zaun, but with no success. Of course, the boo birds could be heard in the background, but it was more like crickets chirping at a barbeque. Everyone in the surrounding seats questioned why he didn't slide, and since I was a bit tipsy (hey, they delivered the beer right to my seat! What was I supposed to do, not drink?), I felt the need to interject my first-hand experience as a catcher:

“If Alex slid, it would have been right into Zaun's shin guard, which is one of the last things you want to do. No sense in risking a broken ankle in a 4-1 game. Zaun's actually the lucky one, though, because if the game was any closer, Alex would have probably tried to plow him, and Zaun would have ended up with a knee to the skull. Not fun, especially when a guy as small as Zaun gets plowed by a guy as jacked as Alex.”

My only regret is that I didn't meet up with Ben of Off the Facade, but that's a product of my own stupidity.

First place, baby! Thank you loss column.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

The Truth About Trading

Today, I was going to explain the process by which teams can continue to make trades through waivers. It is an overlooked aspect of the game, since ESPN and other major sports news outlets will have you believe that July 31st is the be-all, end-all of trades. So I Googled a few terms just to make sure I was passing along facts, and I struck gold:

A full explanation by Scout.com

Usually, players with larger, multi-year contracts are the ones who clear waivers. You can be damn sure that both Mike Sweeney and Pat Burrell pass Go. Even if a team – for some reason beyond all logic – wanted either Burrell or Sweeney, they'd likely let him clear rather than put in a claim, since their respective team would let them go, leaving the claiming team with the bloated contract.

Remember those Andruw Jones rumblings? They could re-surface in August, as Jones is owed roughly $17 million between this year and next. If they're slipping a little bit, the White Sox would likely put in a claim on him, as could the Blue Jays or Angels. The risk is that John Schuerholz will tell them to keep Andruw and the $17 mil owed to him. But the more likely scenario is that Mr. S tries to work out a deal with the lowest ranking bidder before revoking the waivers all together.

Think the Red Sox need outfield help still? Geoff Jenkins and his $10 million could pass through waivers. Shawn Green and Luis Gonzalez will clear; you'd better believe Richie Sexson, Jarrod Washburn, Joel Pineiro and Adrian Beltre will clear; Livan Hernandez should clear, and I'd put good money on his departure; Javy Lopez should clear and could be dealt. This is just a partial list, as many teams make it practice to place everyone on waivers and wait for the fallout.

It looks, however, like the Yankees are done shopping. Unless an opportunity arises for a more reliable starter, there are no real needs at this point, assuming Dotel will one day be back. And it all may be moot anyway. The Yankees can currently block any player from making his way to the Red Sox, but if there's a flip flop in the standings, there's a flip flop in the waiver order. So for the time being, I'm content with the Yankees in second place, since the Red Sox have more needs that could be filled via waivers.

But enough about maneuvering. It's time to concentrate on the games. I'll be there tonight, yo.

Don't Believe Everything You Read and Hear

Just in case you heard someone say that Cory Lidle is a great second-half pitcher: his starts from July 15 through October 5 of the years 2001-2005.

YearIPK/9BB/9K/BBWLERA
200197.35.002.102.351122.96
200298.14.901.72.84622.29
200367.14.803.601.33275.35
2004905.002.901.72655.00
200568.26.202.102.94556.03


So yeah, that whole thing about him being a great second-half pitcher is a crock of shit.

Splits obtained from Baseball Musing's Day by Day Database

Monday, July 31, 2006

The Construction of a Lineup

I ran the Yankees lineup with current stats through Baseball Musing's Lineup Analysis tool. This optimizes lineups based on historical research of SLG and OBP.

The following lineup is expected to score 6.387 runs per game, which, for anyone lacking a calculator, extrapolates to 1,035 runs for the season.
1. Jeter
2. Alex
3. Sheffield
4. Giambi
5. Posada
6. Matsui
7. Damon
8. Cano
9. Abreu

The problems herein: 1) Matsui and Sheffield's stats represent a small sample size; 2) Abreu would never bat ninth, and could show a power surge in the Bronx; 3) going righty-righty-righty-lefty-switch-lefty-lefty-lefty-lefty isn't exactly sound lineup strategy.

There are other variations of the lineup, each of which negligibly reduces the run total. It is interesting to note, however, that each and every variation has Jeter leading off and Abreu batting ninth (probably because they have the high OBP/mediocre SLG pedigree of a leadoff hitter). The majority of the variations pen the order as Jeter-Alex-Sheffield-Giambi, and then a mixing of the order down to Abreu at ninth.

I also ran it sans Sheffield/Matsui and with Cabrera/Wilson, which came in at 6.312 runs per game.
1. Jeter
2. Alex
3. Posada
4. Giambi
5. Damon
6. Wilson
7. Cano
8. Cabrera
9. Abreu

Of course, we know these situations will never come to fruition. Damon will bat first and Jeter will bat second for as long as they both play for the Yankees.

Yanks Land Wilson; Dodgers Get Maddux

On the Maddux front, from FoxSports.
No solid details yet, other than the over $1 million changing hands. I'm sure that link will update as we hear more. CBS Sports Line is reporting that the compensation is Ceasar Izturis.

Word from MLB Trade Rumors is that the Yanks sent Shawn Chacon packing for Craig Wilson. Not bad, as I guess this spells the end for Andy Phillips.

Definitely will have more on the Wilson deal when I get it.

Mets Get Their Booty

Magnificents Add Hernandez, Perez from Pirates

The Yankees had been long connected with Hernandez, who didn't re-sign with the Mets after last season because of confusion over his role. But with Duaner Sanchez now done for the season, his role will be clearly defined as the prime setup man for Billy Wagner.

The Mets take a gamble here, taking on Oliver Perez. The thinking, presumably, is that Rick Peterson believes he can make a reclamation project out of Perez, who is 2-10 with a 6.63 ERA this season. He's shown promise, going 12-10 with a 2.98 ERA in 2004, though hasn't been able to find the same groove since.

This isn't so bad, considering Perez's potential. It must be noted that the problem with Pittsburgh could be in the developmental and/or pitching departments. After a sensational rookie season, Zach Duke has regressed, sitting on a 7-9 record with a 5.26 ERA and walking way too many batters. The Pirates always seem to come up with pitching phenoms who don't pan out. Maybe the change of tutelage will help Perez rediscover himself.

The cost was only Xavier Nady, which works just fine for the Mets. The fans in the right field seats better be poised for some high-fivin', because baby, Lastings will be back in town.

Padres get Walker

CBS Sports Line reports the deal.

Now, I don't want to go sounding like the overzealous Yankees fan who wants to snatch up everyone on the market. However, adding Walker wouldn't have been a terrible move on the Yankees part. Consider:

1) He'd be a much better fill-in at second while Cano tends to his hamstring
2) He'd be a much better fit at the first-base slot than Andy Phillips.

Phillips has more power, but no discipline. Walker may not rake, but he'll hit a dozen homers (probably six more this year), is adequate with the glove, and much to my delight has walked 11 more times than he's struck out this season.

It's not the deal that got away, but it was a potential improvement.

90 Minutes to Go

Andruw Jones talks ceased.

It was a long shot, but Theo Epstein decided to explore the path. Of course, standing in his was was genius GM John Schuerholz, who wanted Jon Lester in the deal. Theo balked, and it appears that there will be no further discussion. In any case, this deal wouldn't make sense from the Braves standpoint, as they've spent the past week dealing for relief help.

The A's are reportedly making a run at Soriano, though in all likelihood it's with the sole intention of driving up the price for Anaheim, who still remain in the game.

An interesting tidbit from MLB Trade Rumors:

'Stros GM Purpura ordered to deal Lidge.

As noted on the Trade Rumors site, the source of this information, Richard Justice, hasn't been a reliable source of accurate information. I wouldn't make much of this at all, especially the Blalock-for-Lidge whispers.

Jon Lieber got pulled after 4 2/3 today, giving up nine runs. All the sudden, Cory Lidle doesn't sound half bad.

Anyone want to start FireChrisRusso.com? During my lunch hour, I tuned into WFAN to see what was going on. Russo was going on a tirade about how Sheffield is "FINISHED!" with the Yankees. I called in to voice my opinion on how the Yankees would be wise to pick up his option, but wasn't even let past the screener. I can only imagine what would ensue had I been let through, laid out the theory to Mad Dog, and had him berate me only to drop Buster Olney's name at the end.

Bottom line, the guy is a moron. Russo, that is.

Smart Move: Picking Up Sheff's Option

From the mouth of Buster Olney, via MLB Trade Rumors: would the Yankees be wise to exercise Sheffield's $13 million 2007 option?

The basic logic would say no. With the addition of Abreu and the increasing need for Jason Giambi to DH, there doesn't seem to be much of a spot for Sheffield. However, there have been notions flying that Sheff could learn first base, which would exponentially increase his value to the 2007 Yankees.

Remember, too, that the option is one year for $13 million. On a team that has no problem taking on salary, why not exercise this? At very worst, you're forced to have Sheffield on the roster next year (no! Anything but that!). The free agent market for corner outfielders isn't thick beyond Alfonso Soriano (Carlos Lee is expected to sign an extension with the Rangers), so the Yankees would be wise to keep Sheff of the market. And who knows, maybe they'll find a trade partner. It will be, after all, a seller's market.

The exercising of Sheff's option will also keep him happy during this playoff run. Of course, there would no longer be the competitive motivator of playing in a contract year, but I don't think that will make too large a difference. I'd much rather have a happy Sheff than a complaining Sheff. When Matsui comes back, I think Cashman would be wise to sit down with Sheffield and tell him that if he works as hard as Matsui and comes back on schedule, his 2007 option will be exercised.

In essence, this is a low-risk, high-reward move, so long as the Yankees can in fact afford the additional $13 million. In all likelihood, Mike Mussina will sign a three-year extension this winter, probably in the $12 mil per year range. This will significantly reduce his $19 million number from this year.

This also allows the Yankees to focus on pitching during the off-season.

And, most importantly, it will keep Sheffield away from the Red Sox, who would surely sign him should he leave New York.

Musing on Jason Schmidt

Even though he was rumored to be unavailable, it appears Brian Sabean is still listening to offers for Jason Schmidt. The Mets made an offer, as I noted in the previous post, that centered around Lastings Milledge. This got me to wondering.

But before I got to wondering too much, I read the following tidbit in the linked story:

Schmidt, who is 7-7 with a 3.18 ERA and will be a free agent after the season, became a 10-and-5 player as of midnight ET last night, meaning he can reject any trade. So even though the actual trade deadline is today at 4 p.m. ET, the deadline for Schmidt was basically 16 hours earlier.


This does not mean Schmidt won't be dealt. Rather, it means that a deal will present a new degree of difficulty. But if the Giants are in fact packing it in and thinking about the future, Schmidt will be dealt to a contender today.

That the Mets package centered around Milledge got me thinking: couldn't the Yanks cook something up? With the addition of Abreu and the return of Matsui, Melky suddenly becomes more expendable. Not completely expendable, as I don't want anyone taking that statement the wrong way. I'm not generally advocating the relocation of Cabrera; I'm just saying that I'd give him up in a deal for Schmidt.

The problem is that I don't think Sabean will be willing to wheel and deal with the Yanks if the doors to Hughes and Tabata are closed (which they certainly are). But, for the sake of speculation, consider this proposal:

Melky, Tyler Clippard, Eric Duncan, and Jaret Wright (contract/buyout paid, just as a filler for their rotation).

I wouldn't hesitate to send those players to San Fran for Schmidt, which makes me think Sabean would reject the deal outright. The inclusion of a high ceiling guy like Austin Jackson might pique Sabean's interest, but I don't think I'd be very willing to part with him at this point. He can play center field, and you'd have to think he has Carlos Beltran potential with the bat.

Plus, by keeping an offer out on Schmidt, you help keep him out of the Red Sox hands. I fully expect Theo to make a reasonable bid on the San Fran ace.

Rumors A-Flyin'

For our morning cup of coffee, let's take a look at some of the existing trade rumors. These are mainly coming from MLBTradeRumors.com, which is a wonderful site for bored people who like to read baseball gossip.

Mets still looking to add an arm

Quite a few interesting tidbits on the Mets here, as they are rumored to be pursuing not only Barry Zito, but newcomers to the market Roy Oswalt and Jason Schmidt. Yes, you read that right: Roy Oswalt has been shopped over the last few days, most notably in a proposed exchange for Miguel Tejada.

(Aside: If Peter Angelos won't deal Tejada for Oswalt, he's not going anywhere. For shame, Angelos, for you have done your team a disservice. Oswalt helps the team this year and for many in the future; Tejada has pretty much checked out since a hot April and May.)

Lastings Milledge would be the centerpiece of such a deal, and it is rumored that Brian Bannister would be integral to an Oswalt trade. Schmidt wouldn't require the son of Floyd, though there are few details surrounding the Giant. Smart money says he stays put.

As for Zito, it appears Billy Beane has lowered his demands and has removed Milledge from a prospective deal: John Maine, Carlos Gomez, and Aaron Heilman. I had never heard of Gomez before reading this, but MLB Trade Rumors gives a nice summary:

If you're not familiar with Gomez, here's a little background. He's a 20 year-old CF/RF currently residing in Double A. Gomez is holding his own with a .281/.341/.432 line so far, including a blistering July (1.096 OPS). He's a raw prospect and has struggled with lefties. Baseball America seems enamored of his tools and ranked him third among Mets prospects entering the season.


It's tough to part with three young players, but there has to be a balancing act between winning this year and shoring up your team for the long term. Over the off-season, the Mets were assembled to win this year. Failing to deal for a starter before 4 p.m. would signal an inconsistency in the front office logic. You don't want to overpay, true, but you also don't want to let your most egregious flaw remain vulnerable.

However, I have faith in Minaya, and am confident he'll pull the trigger on a deal for a starter before the closing bell today, likely, though, for Livan Hernandez rather than Schmidt, Oswalt, or Zito. It appears that Greg Maddux is right out.

Soriano Sweepstakes

The Yankees are out, and it is reported that the White Sox and Tigers, despite the lack of a significant addition, have also taken their names out of the hat. That, of course, could be a smoke screen. Jim Bowden has done a decent job so far this deadline, and he's not about to taint that reputation by leaving Soriano on the roster. Their contract negotiations are far enough apart that it can be assumed Soriano will not be playing in Washington next year. The smart move – the only move, really – is to send him packing for whatever value you can squeeze.
The Marlins have popped up as last-minute Soriano suitors, though it is a confusing notion. They certainly wouldn't want to raise the price of Soriano, netting more value for a division foe. Plus, why would they want to sacrifice some of their prized farm system for a 2-month rental? The Marlins still don't stand a good chance of making the playoffs absent a real surge in August and September. So why the interest?

Your guess is as good as mine.

For the rest of the league, it doesn't appear anything out of the ordinary is imminent. The only thing that leaves me uneasy is the lack of aggression by the Red Sox. Their closest competitor just landed a serviceable starter and a solid (maybe more) outfielder, and they're stuck with the same parts they've had all year. Theo Epstein isn't just going to sit idly by. That is, unless everyone is holding him up a la the Yankees. He's got some talent in the farm system, and I'm sure a lot of the deals he's working revolve around talent he's not so willing to part with.

I'll be monitoring the ticker today, especially for Red Sox dirt.

Sunday, July 30, 2006

Breaking Down the Abreu Deal

Time to reach into the minor league stats database to help examine the Abreu/Lidle trade.

Full Name: Carl Andrew Henry
Born: May 31, 1986, Oklahoma City,Oklahoma
Height: 6-3 Weight: 205 Bats: R Throws: R
High School: Putnam City (Oklahoma City,OK)
College: None
Drafted: Selected by New York Yankees in 1st Round (17th overall) of 2005 amateur entry draft

Year/LevelABAvgOBPSlg
2005/R181.249.333.381
2006/A263.224.316.327


From First Inning:

Henry is striking out in over a quarter of his plate appearances and struggling on the field during his first full season of baseball. His projection is terrible, but that's what happens when your list of similar players includes highly-touted teenagers like Scott Moore and Gookie Dawkins. He's too young and athletic to dismiss, but he probably won't have a meaningful career in the big leagues.


It should also be noted that he has committed 25 errors at shortstop this year, and has been relegated to DH in recent games. I’ve heard rumblings that he’s going to be switched to the outfield, where his bat doesn’t leave him with much value. I was high on Henry when they drafted him in 2005, but have wizened up over the course of this season.

Full Name: Matthew J. Smith
Born: June 15, 1979 Las Vegas, Nevada
Height: 6-5 Weight: 225 Bats: L Throws: L
High School: n/a
College: Southwest Missouri State University
Drafted: Selected by Chicago White Sox in 44th Round (1310th overall) of 1997 amateur entry draft

Year/LevelIPK/9BB/9HR/9ERA
2005/AA54.29.713.790.332.80
2005/AAA27.210.734.230.982.60
2006/AAA23.27.992.281.162.28
2006/MLB12.06.756.000.000.00


I’m actually sadder to see Smith go than Henry. With the evidence mounting that T.J. Beam just won’t be able to cut it this year, Smith could have been an adequate replacement. The only drawback of his 12 scoreless Major League innings is the high walk rate, something that will inevitably drop from 6.00. On the other hand, his home runs allowed has climbed with each successive level, meaning he might be due for some clobbering at the Major League level.

For the bounty of Abreu and Lidle, the sacrifice of Smith and Henry seems like a steal – and it is. On pace for just 13 homers this season, Abreu may have lost a little pop. But the Yankee Stadium porch in right field is 16 feet closer than that of Citizens Bank Park, so he might finish ahead of his current pace.

The real ramifications of this trade lie a month ahead, when Sheffield and Matsui are projected return. Everyone’s doing it, so I might as well point out the potential lineup for September and beyond.

1. Damon – CF
2. Jeter – SS
3. Giambi – 1B
4. Rodriguez – 3B
5. Abreu – RF
6. Sheffield – DH
7. Matsui – LF
8. Posada – C
9. Cano – 2B

As our foes in Boston would say, that is one wicked good lineup. Pitching is still an issue, but this lineup will help compensate for that shortcoming. An underrated aspect of the trade is how it will improve our bench for the stretch run. Much as I’ve liked Guiel, he’s not going to make the cut, nor is He of the .557 OPS. Melky and Bernie will serve as backup outfielders and more than capable pinch-hitters. Cairo will backup the infield, Phillips at first and Fasano behind the plate. Compare the potential bench this year with that of last year:


20052006
PlayerPosAvgOBPSlgPlayerPosAvgOBPSlg
Tony WomackIF.249.276.280Miguel CairoIF.235.271.299
Ruben SierraDH/OF.229.265.371Bernie WilliamsOF/DH.280.326.428
Bubba CrosbyOF.276.304.327Melky CabreraOF.281.353.392
John FlahertyC.165.206.252Sal FasanoC.243.284.386
Andy Phillips1B/IF.239.272.401


So the deal shores up both the starting nine and the bench. For the pitching staff, Cory Lidle may not be a savior in disguise, but he’s decent. We need a fourth starter, and Lidle provides just that. As I post his stats, take into consideration that he pitches his home games at Citizen’s Bank Park, which would be the most favorable park to hitters if they didn’t play games in Denver.

IPK/9BB/9HR/9K/BBGB/FBERA
125.17.042.801.362.511.574.74


You’d think that with peripherals like that, Lidle would be much better suited pitching in a more neutral park like Yankee Stadium. Fourteen of his 19 homers allowed this year have come at Citizen’s Bank Park.

This leaves the rotation at Johnson, Mussina, Wang, Lidle, Wright.

The final aspect of this trade is the bullpen, which pretty much stays the same. Ponson, Myers, Villone, Proctor, Farnsworth, Rivera. This will be in addition to Wright when (if?) the playoffs roll around. It’s scary, though, knowing that if we make the playoffs, Cory Lidle or Jaret Wright will be called on to start.

As for the rest of the pieces surrendered, well, let’s just say the projections on them aren’t high. Jesus Sanchez .264/.343/.319 with 19 strikeouts to 9 walks in 91 AB in rookie ball. That isn’t great, but not terrible for an 18-year-old catcher. You never like to see the team let go of a young catcher, but at 18 years of age, it’s tough to project how he’ll develop. Plus, the Yankees seem to have a plan for their catcher of the future.

Carlos Monasterios, a right hander from the GCL Yankees, is the final throw-in for the trade. He has pitched 30 1/3 innings this year, notching a 2.97 ERA. Control has been his most impressive attribute; he has walked only three batters all season (0.89 per nine innings in a small sample size). Other than basic stats, there’s not much literature on Monasterios.

There’s really no room for complaining here. The Yanks instantly got better without giving up anything of real value. The crux of the deal was in the money owed to both Lidle and Abreu. Thankfully, Lidle is off the books after this year, and while Abreu may command some serious dollars next year – $15 million plus a $2 million buyout on his $16 mil 2008 option – he’s not going to hinder the Yankees payroll situation much.

For a few additional takes:

Peter Abraham has some dirt on the move:

Torre said that Bernie will go back to the role they intended to use him in: occasional DH, pinch hitter and fill-in outfielder.


I did a little jig when I read that.

Ben at Sportszilla and the Jabber Jocks has a similar take on Lidle:

Corey Lidle might be the key component in the trade however. Lidle’s K rate has jumped to 7.04 this year, his career mark is 5.68, but his walks have increased as well leaving him with a 2.51 K/BB. His GB/FB is okay a 1.57, but in Philly where homers rule, that wasn’t going to fly. Overall that left him with a 4.74 ERA and 1.36 WHIP. He’ll be helped by moving to Yankee Stadium which is a better park to pitch in than Citizen’s Bank, but hurt by the DH. Overall, posting an ERA in the low to mid 4.00’s is probably where Lidle should end up. That represents a huge upgrade over even Jaret Wright and certainly over Sidney Ponson.


On paper, it's all peaches. Now they just have to play the games.

Abreu/Lidle

Per ESPN:

Stark reported the Yankees will send 18-year-old minor-league shrotstop C.J. Henry -- their No. 1 pick in 2005 -- and 27-year-old left-handed reliever Matt Smith. The Phillies will also pick one other minor-leauge player from an agreed-upon list, while the Yankees will take on responsibility for Abreu and Lidle's contracts.


I've been a C.J. Henry defender for a while now, noting that Jeter didn't fare all that well his first two years in the minors. It looks more and more like Craig Hansen, despite his contractual demands, would have been the smarter pick there. Having him in addition to J.B. Cox would have been super sweet.

That said, I'm not sad to see him go under these circumstances. And if Smith has to go in this deal, Smith has to go in this deal. The Yankees look to have a few bullpen prospects in the minor league system, so Smith was expendable.

Once again, more to come once the terms are finalized.