Thursday, September 17, 2009

Off Night News, Notes, And Links

Another Yankee-less Thursday night is upon us. Here's stuff to ponder, read, and watch in the meantime:

Lost in the hoopla of the Jorge Posada-Jesse Carlson suspensions was that Shelley Duncan also received three games for his role in the melee. Shelley was certainly right in the thick of things, but I don't understand how he winds up with a sentence as lengthy as the chief participants. And what separates him from the other 60+ players who were involved in some way or another? Duncan is appealing.

The Save Gate 2 movement is losing traction. Craig from Circling the Bases has a good idea as to how it could be helped.

A.J. Burnett apparently has completed a class at the Joba Chamberlain School of Public Relations.

I wish Ken Rosenthal would go away. Joe Posnanski finds a dimpomatic way to dismiss him. Rob Neyer weighs in as well.

If Ken Davidoff thinks coke is a performance enhancer, he clearly wasn't watching the Yankee bullpen last month. (h/t IIATMS)

The Yanks and Cowboys may have collaborated to create Legends Hospitality Management, but the Yankees failed to impart to the Cowboys that you shouldn't sell the standing room only tickets until all the seats are sold out.

Former Yankee Nick Green is having quite a time for himself up in Boston. Not only did he get the benefit of the call on not one, but two bordeline strike threes last night before driving in the tying run, he's also banging Heidi Watney. Even Erin Andrews thinks Watney is hot. Green should go buy himself a lottery ticket before this lucky streak runs out.

I've spent my fair share of time here bitching about Michael Kay, John Sterling, and Suzyn Waldman. On the opposite end of the announcing spectrum is the Detroit Tigers' longtime voice Ernie Harwell. Harwell is 91 and announced last week that he has inoperable cancer. He was given a night of honor at Comerica Park last night. Jason at IIATMS has a look at it.

These pictures have nothing to do with the Yankees or sports at all, but I find them awesome. I'd post some of the pictures here, but our whole black and white thing wouldn't do it justice. Give them a look, and tell me the inroductory one doesn't remind you of the Wizard of Oz.

YES will be airing this Yankees Classic tonight, back from when A.J. Burnett was untouchable.

No NFL games this Thursday, but ESPN has college football. It'll be #20 Miami hosting #14 Georgia Tech in a big early season ACC match-up. Mark Teixiera will be pulling for the Yellow Jackets, A-Rod for The U. Who you got?

This will be the Hurricanes' second game of the year, both big prime time contests on ESPN. It's also the second consecutive ESPN Thursday night game for the Ramblin' Wreck. Meanwhile, my alma-mater will be on ESPN360 for each of the season's first four weeks. And I don't have access to ESPN360, so screw you ESPN and screw you Cablevision.

If you don't tune in for the game, do yourself a favor and tune it at halftime for the sublime "Ask Dr. Lou" segment with Lou Holtz. It's crazy old man comedy at its finest.

NHL pre-season contests have started. Both the Rangers and Devils are off tonight after facing each other last night. The Islanders play in Calgary tonight in an untelevised game. Meanwhile, my local team hasn't played in twelve years.

If you need an off night from sports, the incredible It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia returns to FX at 10 PM. Watch out for Green Man.

See you in the morning.

Minor Matters

Congratulations to the Tampa Yankees and Staten Island Yankees, who respectively won the high A Florida State League and short-season NY-Penn League Championships last night.

Meanwhile, the AAA Scranton Yankees are on the brink of elimination, down two games to none against the Durham Bulls. If there's any silver lining, it's that Ian Kennedy started last night's game, tossed three perfect innings, and fanned three before Kei Igawa came in to take the loss. The series now shifts back to Scranton for the final three games. If the Yanks pull back even they'll have to face top prospect Nuke LaLoosh in the deciding Game 5.

As always, Chad Jennings has all the coverage you could possibly want on Scranton.

The Big League Yanks have pretty well decimated Scranton's roster with September call-ups. Once Scranton's season is over, we could see Juan Miranda recalled as well, and if the Yankees get creative with the 40 man, possibly Kevin Russo or Austin Jackson too.

Could Derek Jeter Get In The HoF Unanimously?

It's been a while, but I don't think there is any other way to approach this than FJM-style. Maybe I was inspired by yesterday at Deadspin. Or maybe there is so much wrong in this post that I tried to react to it using blockquotes but it was impossible without it seeming like I was quoting him out of context.

(Before you tell me in the comments, I have no delusions that I am as brilliant or funny as the FJM fellas, but when you disagree with just about everything in a piece, there aren't too many ways of responding to it other than bolding what they say and reacting in regular font.)

Is Derek Jeter an all-time, all-time, all-time great, a la Mantle, Ruth, Rickey Henderson, Bob Gibson, Sandy Koufax, etc? No.

But he is an all-time great—the shortstop with the most hits, a four-time World Series champ, an undisputed leader and grinder.

Luis Aparicio had the record for hits as a shortstop before Jeter and he received just 84.6% of the vote and it wasn't even his first ballot.

Phil Rizzuto was the Yankee shortstop for 7 World Series titles but had to be elected by the Veterans Committee 38 years after he retired, and unlike Jeter, he won an MVP.

Lots of people disputed Jeter's leadership when he didn't stand up for A-Rod. Others have said that Jorge Posada was the real, fiery leader in the Yankee clubhouse.

And "grinder" is a nebulous, bullshit term that has been used to describe the least talented player on every high school team ever assembled.

That’s why, I truly believe, Jeter may way become the first unanimous Hall of Same selection.

I really do.

All of those things in combination are pretty impressive, but none of those guys who you named as being better than Jeter were elected unanimously.

I know… I know—some moron voter will make a stand by voting NO; his chance to say, “If Ruth wasn’t unanimous, Jeter shouldn’t be.”

You really don't think he'll get in unanimously, then. So what was the point of this article again?

But Jeter, well, Jeter is perfect. First, look at his lifetime statistics. Second, look at the three Gold Gloves (yes, his defense isn’t what it once was. But, in 2009, it’s been very good). Third, look at the four titles. Fifth, look at the captaincy. Sixth, look at the clutch situations—especially The Flip against Oakland. Seventh, look at the dignified way he carries himself.

Okay, since you brought them up, let's actually look at these things instead of just listing them offhandedly, shall we Jeff:

Yes his statistics are very good, particularly his batting average and OBP, especially when you consider that he plays shortstop. I'm with you.

Second, look at the three Gold Gloves (yes, his defense isn’t what it once was. But, in 2009, it’s been very good)

It's not that his defense wasn't what it once was, it's that there are very smart people who contend that it was never very good to begin with. Derek Jeter isn't going to the HoF for his defense.

Third, look at the four titles.

Those four championships came in his first 5 years and he hasn't won one since then despite playing on the team with the highest payroll in the league every year during that time even though Jeter has been great all along. Which kind of goes to show that championships are a pretty terrible way of measuring individual performance.

- Apparently because you used "four titles" in your 3rd point, you didn't include a #4. Clever.

Fifth, look at the captaincy.

Mmmkay, I'm looking. And I see Jason Varitek, who is the captain of the Red Sox, and the only way he's getting into Cooperstown is by driving down Interstate 88 and ponying up the $16.50 entry fee. I also see Thurman Munson who, despite winning a Rookie of the Year (like Jeter), and MVP (unlike Jeter) was not inducted because his career was tragically cut short. It's about the numbers not the "captaincy".

Sixth, look at the clutch situations—especially The Flip against Oakland.

Let's disregard the flip play that you mentioned because he has done something like that exactly one fucking time in his career on which Jeremy Giambi might have been safe anyway. If we are basing Hall of Fame voting on fluke plays in the playoffs, let's add Mookie Wilson and Aaron Boone while we're at it. But let's focus on the larger point; his performance in clutch situations in general.

If you had actually looked at his career numbers on B-R like you told everyone else to in point #1, you would know that Jeter's OPS in the regular season is .846. How about in late and close situations during the regular season? .811.

His OPS in the postseason is exactly the same as the regular season right now, .846. He's been great in the ALDS at .957. In the ALCS, though? .743, pretty close to leage average. In the World Series, the clutchiest of all baseball gaming situations? .809. There's something to be said for staying close to his great career norms under intense pressure, which is more than most can claim. But let's not pretend that Jeter has delivered transcendent "clutch" performances throughout his career whenever the pressure rises. Because no one does that. Because "clutch" comes and goes.

Seventh, look at the dignified way he carries himself.

Amazingly, this might be the most salient point of them all. He hasn't done anything to offend the people voting for him and he won't lose any votes to vindictive writers like many others have. But recent inductees Cal Ripken and Tony Gywnn carried themselves with the same level of class and still came up 8 and 13 votes short, respectively.

I'll add one thing of my own, which I mentioned above... #8 - He's never won an MVP. I personally don't think that should keep him off the first ballot, but that might have been the difference between the 5 voters who went for Ripken but not Gywnn. Or maybe they were racists. In which case 2 or 3 of them should vote for Jeter.

I thought it utterly insane that Rickey Henderson had a handful of voters who didn’t support his Hall bid, but the Rickster was, factually, arrogant and a wee-bit selfish. He didn’t deserve any Nays, but he didn’t always carry himself with professionalism.

And that handful will be the same people who, in defense of Babe Ruth, Ty Cobb, Christy Matthewson and Honus Wagner, won't vote for Derek Jeter.

Jeter is, for lack of a better word, perfect.

You already said that. Putting in a one sentence paragraph doesn't make it a better point.

To vote against the man would be illogical. And downright stupid.

The BBWAA doing something illogical? Or stupid? I refuse to believe it.

Derek Jeter is a surefire first ballot Hall of Famer is he never records another hit. He's the greatest Yankee shortstop of all time and like Tim Marchman said, he's as winning a winner as ever won. But there are going to be at least a few complete assholes out there who, instead of individually deciding whether or not they they he belongs in the Hall of Fame, will take it into their own hands to block his unanimous induction. It's ridiculous but it's reality.

However, had Pearlman made his case with actual facts or sound logic, we could have saved ourselves a lot of time.

They're Not Saying "Bruuuuuuuuuu-ney"

Did you ever play on a youth sports team where the coach would play their child outside of the order of merit? The kid might have been a shitty goalie or quarterback or shortstop, but the coach kept running him out there hoping against hope that they would succeed.

That's how I feel every time Joe Girardi calls for Brian Bruney out of the bullpen. Everyone else in the 'pen seems to have the innings they work determined by their performance in recent outings. Except Brian Bruney.

As Matt mentioned in the recap, Bruney has been pulled from his last 8 outings in the middle of an inning. It's not becase Girardi is getting all match up happy and using him as a ROOGY, either. Bruney has allowed at least one baserunner in 7 of those outings including six walks. Ten of the 22 batters he's faced have reached base. He's thrown just 50% of his pitches for strikes and only 4 of the outs he's recorded over that time have come either on the ground or via strikeout.

But for some reason, Girardi keeps trotting him out there in big spots, four of the eight times with a lead of two runs or fewer, in the 8th inning or later.

In a way, it makes sense that Girardi is giving him every chance to succeed by putting him into tight games, hoping that he'll come around. At the same time though, by pulling him mid-inning every time, it's clear that Girardi isn't giving him a chance to really fail, either. That saftey net is okay when the rosters are expanded, but when they contract back to 25 for the postseason, you can't afford to have someone that unreliable pitching in any sort of important situation if you are going to keep him on such a short leash.

It seems that Joe G's goal in running Bruney out again and again is trying to prep him for the playoffs regardless of the results. Nevermind that if David Roberston or Damaso Marte had a stretch anything like this, they would have been relegated to mop of duty and been an afterthought when October rolled around.

So what is it with Girardi and Bruney? I guess it's the fact that Bruney had a 1.83 ERA in 34 1/3 IP last year for him. That's fantastic, but that was a year ago, he still walked a batter every other inning and he didn't pitch at any point between April and August. That's not a very big sample size.

This year he has one 12 1/3 inning stretch in April when he only gave up 2 runs and walked 4 while striking out 16. He briefly appeared to back on track in the middle of August. But he also misled the team in regards to the severity of the injury he suffered back in April only to go back on the DL after one inning in the middle of May. His ERA this year is 4.36 and FIP is 5.33. He's just not very good.

The unfortunate reality of Brian Bruney is that the good stretches he's had are the anomalies. He's a pitcher who has walked 6.4/9IP and with an 4.35 ERA throughout his career, which is almost exactly what he's done this year. He's only 27 years old, so perhaps he could improve down the line, and I'm not suggesting they give up on him completely.

I just don't want to see the guy on the postseason roster, barring an injury to someone else. He's no better than 12th on my pitching depth chart at the moment.
  1. Sabathia
  2. Burnett
  3. Pettitte
  4. Chamberlain
  5. Rivera
  6. Hughes
  7. Aceves
  8. Coke
  9. Marte
  10. Robertson
  11. Gaudin
  12. Bruney
Any objections?

Godzilla Against Southpaws

Good morning, Fackers. Thanks largely Hideki Matsui's continued success against lefthanded pitchers, the Yankees celebrated yet another walk off victory last night. They needed it to stay 6.5 games up on the Red Sox who had some heroics of their own, scoring two in both the bottom of the 8th and 9th, en route to beating the Angels 9-8. However, the Angels' loss means that they Yanks are now 7 games up on the Halos for homefield advantage.

Back to the Yanks, though. Sure, Chad Gaudin put together a solid effort and Frankie Cervelli got the pie, but had Joe Girardi chose to sit Matsui like he did his other power hitting lefty, Johnny Damon, the Yanks might not have been within striking distance when the bottom of the ninth came around.

Hideki started early, as he drove in a run off of lefthanded starter Brian Tallet with a single to put the Yanks up 2-0 in the first inning. He also chipped in late, during cruch time, with the biggest hit of the game in terms of WPA, a game-tying, two run homer in the eighth inning off of lefty reliever Scott Downs.

Amazingly, 12 of Matsui's 25 home runs this season have come against southpaws despite having less than 1/3 of his plate appearances against them. He's averaging a home run in every 11.6 PAs against lefties (which would be good for 51 HRs/600PA) but only every 26.1 PAs against righties (23/600). Matsui has a pretty even platoon split over his career (including HR/PA), but this year, what he lacks in BA and OBP against lefties, he's making up for with long balls, now slugging a truly Godzillian .610.

Is this a product of the New Yankee Stadium? Eight of his 12 dingers off lefties have come at home and all of them have gone out to right or right-centerfield. His BB/K ratio against lefties is down at home, meaning he might be trying to swing for the fences more often.

He also has an even home/road split, which means that only 5 of his longballs against righties have come at TNYS. This seems to be a symptom of the rare but deadly Reverse Inverted Nick Swisheritis.

Is there some luck involved? It's baseball, isn't there always? Sixteen of his 21 doubles have come against righties and you would expect the doubles and home runs to even out on each side of the platoon split over time. His BABIP is lower against lefties too (.242/.291), but that's partially as a result of all the homers.

It seems a foregone conclusion that the Yankees will let Matsui walk at the end of the season and it's almost impossible to argue with that. They aren't going to plug up the DH spot with a guy who can no longer play the outfield. But perhaps a team like the Royals who have the lowest production out of their cleanup hitter in the majors by a staggering margin could use his help. Or perhaps he'll go back to Japan and continue to mash over there. Or maybe he'll just hang up his cleats for good.

Regardless, it's nice to see Matsui during his last our of duty make a graceful exit from the Bronx. He's been nothing short of dignified in his tenure here and it would have been terrible to see him exit with a bunch of strikeouts and errors. Credit goes to Joe Girardi and Brian Cashman who saved his knees by not letting him play the field, but most of all to Matsui who has played a crucial role in the Yankees resurgent offense this year.