Open Thread: Looking forward to the season


Yanks fans have plenty of reasons to get excited for the 2009 season. Whether it’s the new Stadium, the free agent acquisitions, or the up and coming talent, things seem to be going pretty well for the Bronx Bombers. Over at Jorge Says No! — which, despite the title, is not a Yanks blog — Josh continues his Five Things to Look Forward To series with the Yanks. So what does an outsider (Josh is a Mets fan) think about our favorite team?

Joba, A-Rod, Gardner, Jorge, and CC. Of course, there are different things to be thankful about with each of them. For instance, Josh seems to think we can look forward to A-Rod’s tabloid antics, yet makes no mention of the XBH he’ll rack up during his five months. Other than that quibble, I think Josh is pretty spot-on with the reasons we Yanks fans are so excited for 2009.

Just to add some fodder to the discussion, I got an email from ACTA Sports earlier today with some tidbits from Bill James:

  • The Yanks used to be a good baserunning team, with them taking an average 47 more bases than other teams in the six years from 2001 through 2007. Last year it was -4. Hopefully Gardner helps bring that number back to the positive.
  • Melky hits way too many fly balls, and without a power stroke it’s the leading cause of his futility. “In 2007 he hit 28% fly balls (fly balls as a percentage of balls in play), and he hit .154 on them. In 2008 he increased that to 34% fly balls, and the average went down to .123.” If fly balls don’t leave the yard — and just 6.3 percent of Melky’s did in 2008 — they’re pretty much useless.
  • Pitchers love to throw A-Rod inside: he’s led the league in three of the last four years in percentage of pitches off the plate inside. I wonder how much K-Long and A-Rod look at this type of data when determining how to prepare for the season.

There’s one more bit in there about Derek Jeters and groundballs, but I’m going to tackle that topic at midnight.

With that, here’s your open thread for the evening. Game 1 of the WBC finals is tonight, with Korea facing off against Japan. In NBA action the Magic head to the Garden, and in the NHL the Devils are in Philly. Just as an experiment: Anything goes here, so be bitches to each other.

Very Short Game Recap by Ben
We have a lot of content for the next few days, and the Spring Training recaps aren’t quite at the top of our list of priorities. So here’s a short one: The Yanks dropped a game to the Phillies today. Chien-Ming Wang and Jorge Posada were set to play a minor league game, but it got rained out. Instead, the two trekked to Clearwater. Wang was strong through five and faltered a bit in the 6th. He took the loss while allowed 3 ER on 5 H, 2 BB and 2 Ks.

Meanwhile, Brian Bruney continued to struggle. He gave up a pair of runs on Matt Stairs home run, and his spring ERA stands at 7.56. While his job is safe, the Yanks are relying on him to firm up the 8th. Dan Giese also gave up three runs today. He probably won’t break camp with the Yanks at this point.

Categories : Open Thread


  1. Matt says:

    UPDATE, 2:41 p.m.: Wang fans looking. He has seen 11 pitches in two at-bats despite not being allowed to swing. He’s just so terrifying at the plate.

    Most feared hitter since Jim Rice.

  2. Mike A. says:

    Is the WBC Finals a series? I thought it was just one game.

  3. andrew says:

    Swisher’s comments about Nady having the lead for the job:

    “You might say something that will come out the wrong way. I’m not going to do that,” he said. “This is a great team and we have an opportunity to do some wonderful things this year. I want to be a part of that; I want to win. Coming over here, that was the biggest thing, I want to win. But I also want to be a part. I’ve played every day pretty much my whole career. I think there’s going to be a lot of at-bats out there for me. I’ve got to be ready when I’m told I’m ready to play.
    “I don’t know how to put it. I don’t know how I’m feeling or whatever. I just know I want to be in there everyday. That’s it, that’s what I can say.”

    Good to see he’s got some fire, hopefully Girardi finds a way to get him into the lineup a bit more than the average 4th outfielder

    • Matt says:

      Even if he doesn’t win the starting job in right away from Nady, I think he’ll still get plenty of PAs when/if Damon needs days off, if Gardner needs days off, or if they’re facing a real tough right-hander, he can replace Nady.

      I’ll definitely be getting a Swisher t-shirt jersey at some point this year. GO NICK!

      • Ryan S. says:

        Yeah even while Nady is the starter, Swisher will have a good amount of opportunities to get in some ABs. To me, it feels like a foregone conclusion that Swisher eventually wins it out unless Nady is on a 90+ RBI pace, in which case … oh well. Its a good problem to have because I don’t think many people see either guy having a bad year.

    • Artist formerly known as 'The' Steve says:

      He’ll get plenty of ABs in the first half. If he outplays Nady, maybe they deal Nady at the deadline to fill a need. I understand his frustration, but Nady’s in a contract year, they control him for 3+ and statistically they’re pretty much the same. Swish is a shade better RF, but not enough to decide things one way or the other.

    • Ben K. says:

      Swisher will be fine once the Yanks realize that Xavier Nady isn’t as good as they think.

      • DCR says:

        I wish they would consider starting Swisher in CF.

      • Drew says:

        I hope so, I don’t understand why Girardi would use Nady’s performance in pinstripes last year as a reason. .268 isn’t so hot. I know Swish wasn’t better in Chi town but he takes good “Yankee” AB’s and definetly has more power than X. Plus, I don’t remember Nady setting the world on fire with his defense.

  4. Artist formerly known as 'The' Steve says:

    We really need some new material. The same 3 jokes are getting old.

  5. Artist formerly known as 'The' Steve says:

    Sorry in advance if this annoys Ben, but there’s an A-Rod-Hooker follow up piece today.

    “Former madam Kristin Davis, who served three months in jail and is on five years’ probation after pleading guilty to promoting prostitution, spoke in generalities when reached by Newsday on Sunday.

    “All I can say is, there is a connection,” Davis said when asked about Rodriguez, a former Mariner.

    Davis declined to comment on the specific allegations, saying she does “not talk about my personal life or who I date.”


    I speculated the other day that Alex’s PR people might be behind the story (which if true, makes Ben’s rant way off base) for various reasons. Now Davis comes out today and says she doesn’t want to talk about it. So if she’s not the source, that kind of narrows things down, no?

    • Ben K. says:

      Why would A-Rod’s PR people be behind that one? I’m truly curious. I didn’t see your post about that theory the other day.

      • Ben K. says:

        Actually, never mind. I just dug it up.

        That’s an interesting theory. But you’d think they’d link something juicier than a prostitute story. If that’s the best they’ve got, either Selena Roberts’ book is going to be the most boring baseball book this spring or A-Rod’s people are going to be blindsided by the (untrue?) revelations.

        • Artist formerly known as 'The' Steve says:

          Something else to throw in the mix here is that Alex is repped by William Morris

          . . . who has a few sports figures but for the most part handles Hollywood actors and musicians, the people you see all day long in the gossip papers about who they’re sleeping with. Those stories aren’t accidents, either. They are fed to those outlets to keep their clients in the public eye constantly, which is good for an actor or musician. Notice how often Alex has been in the papers lately?

          When you hear people around the team complaining about the people Alex has doing his PR, they’re referring to WM and I’m sure they have reasons and an understanding of their (and WM’s) business when they say those things. Kim Jones brings it up every chance she gets when she subs on WFAN.

  6. A.D. says:

    Damn, hopefully Bruney didn’t loose too much weight and now sucks

    • whozat says:

      He always kind of sucked. The guy still only knows where the ball is going some of the time. I just hope that, if this continues to crop up in-season, they aren’t afraid to cut down his role and find a way to get someone like Robertson or Melancon (or even Albie) up to get more outs.

  7. Steve H says:

    Schilling, HOF or not? I lean towards yes, then I see how remarkably similar his and Kevin Brown’s career (Identical ERA+ and almost identical W-L). The postseason obviously puts him ahead of Brown, but by how much? Seriously, what % of the vote will Brown get as opposed to Schilling? I’m sure it will be a huge, huge difference, but I don’t think it will be very reflective of their whole careers. Though I lean towards thinking he belongs, if he had never made the postseason, would he even be considered? What if he put up identical #’s, but never got to play for a winning franchise? Hershiser, another somewhat similar pitcher(though clearly a notch below), with a great postseason resume and a magical Cy Young season, got 4.4% in 2007, which is probably around what Brownie will get.

    • Matt says:

      Looking at the two of them now, side by side, they’re much closer than I would’ve thought. Schilling does have the edge in K/9 (8.60-6.62), BB/9 (1.96-2.49), K/BB (4.38-2.66), WHIP (1.14-1.22), and FIP (3.23-3.33).

      • Steve H says:

        Yeah, some of those peripheral stats are great for predicting, but in the end, when looking at a 20 year career, I’m less likely to consider K/9, BB/9, etc. They are obviously important, but I’d use them more as a baseline for future success. If after 20 years, Brown and Schilling both have 127 ERA+’s, I care less about how they got there, then the fact that they did. Not that I condone Brown or Hershiser for the HOF, but consider the following.

        How much better of pitchers were Don Sutton, Phil Niekro, and Gaylord Perry(cheater, btw) than Schilling, Brown, and Hershiser? Were they better at all? Of course they all stuck around and hit the magic 300 wins with their longevity and consistency, but considering all 6 pitchers changed teams in their careers (hence, no team got 20 years of consistency out of any of these guys), wouldn’t you take all 3 borderline Hall of Famers for a 10 year span over the 3 Hall of Famers? Look at the career winning percentages.

        Niekro .537
        Sutton .559
        Perry .542

        Schilling .597
        Brown .594
        Hershiser .576
        And for kicks, Mussina .637 (wow)

        • Artist formerly known as 'The' Steve says:

          Winning pct isnt a great stat to use, unless you’re top 10 all time or something. For example, 6 of the top 12 pitchers in W/PCT all-time aren’t even HOFers.

          Ron Guidry had a .651 (27th all time) and he’s not a Hall of Famer. Mussina’s .637 ranks him 38th.

          I think Moose is a HOF pitcher, but that’s a bad argument.

          • Steve H says:

            I agree that winning % alone is a bad agrument, but there a ton more to back up. For a 10 year period, those 3 borderline or non-Hall of Famers were better pitchers than the the HOF’s.

      • Thomas says:

        In the same respect though Brown had a superior GB/FB% and a better HR%.

    • Thomas says:

      Personally, I would put Schilling in. However, I also would put in Kevin Brown, who I feel was the superior pitcher in his prime.

      Brown in his top six season with over 200 inning had ERA+ of 216, 169, 169, 164, 150, and 143.

      Schilling in his top 6 season with over 200 innings had ERA+ of 157, 150, 150 (in AL), 143, 143, and 134.

      Brown also pitched significantly longer in the AL.

      • Steve H says:

        Around here, I don’t think we have an appreciation for how good Brown was before the Bronx. He was a dick, he sucked, and he choked here, but he was a damn nasty pitcher.

        • Thomas says:

          Brown also was killed by his contract. People will always remember him signing that huge contract and then getting hurt, which is probably due to 9 season with 210+ innings including 3 straight of 230+ before signing the contract (and 2 more in the two year of the contract).

          Additionally, you don’t really associate Brown with a team. He played 2 poor seasons on the Yanks, 5 with the Dodgers, 1 year with the Orioles, 1 with the Pads, 2 with Florida, and 7 season (5 full) with Texas before he was really good. So he is probably most associated with the Dodgers, but they hated him, because of his contract, injuries and he wasn’t as effective there in his previous 3 years (though still damn good for 3 out of 5 years).

          • steve (different one) says:

            Brown was also in the Mitchell report, right?

            right or wrong, that’s probably going to keep a borderline player out.

            Schilling and Moose, both yes.

            hate schilling, but his K/BB ratio is unreal. throw in the postseason resume….hard to keep him out.

            his peak was great, even if he didn’t quite get the counting stats.

  8. Ben K. says:

    By the way, folks, we have a slight change in the posting schedule tonight. We have a 9 p.m. up right now on food at the new stadium and a short 10:30 post instead of just the usual one post at 10. Lots of content today.

  9. Drew says:

    Can’t we all agree, these “shot at Jete” things are way out of control and lost that humorous vibe about 6 weeks ago?

  10. Matt says:

    Okay, fantasy draft in 15 minutes. It’s a keeper league, and I’ve kept Cano, Hamels, Manny, and BJ Upton. The top ranked plaers that are non-keepers (I have the first pick):

    Josh Hamilton
    Carl Crawford
    Justin Morneau
    David Ortiz
    Aramis Ramirez
    Russell Martin
    Matt Kemp
    Curtis Granderson
    Brian McCann
    Jake Peavy

    Categories: R, HR, RBI, SB, BA, OBP, W, S, K, ERA, WHIP, K/BB

    • A.D. says:

      Hamilton or Morneau.

    • UNION YES. says:

      Hamilton obviously. I think Morneau usually goes in the 3rd round. Don’t know about your catcher situation, but Mauer doesn’t seem too healthy these days.

    • Steve H says:

      Hamilton. In that park and lineup, he’s due for some big RBI #’s every year, as well very strong in R/HR/BA/OBP. He truly should only get better, last year was his first full season of baseball in years and he was a beast.

      • UNION YES. says:

        Keep in mind that while last year was Hamilton’s first full season, he’s not all that young anymore. Nevertheless, he’ll be putting up big numbers for years to come.

        • Steve H says:

          He’s 27 (28 in May) which is usually when people hit their primes. The fact that his body has now withheld for a full season, I think he’s only going to be better the next few years before he starts his natural decline when he’s 32, 33, etc.

    • Matt says:

      I ended up going w/Morneau; I figured my OF was alright with Manny and Upton. Ended up with:

      Alexi Ramirez
      Damon (Util)
      Ian Stewart
      Felipe Lopez
      Delmon Young

      Ervin Santana

      I went light on pitching because there’s an innings limit.

      • andrew says:

        Your pitching doesn’t even seem that light, but thats also because I really like Harang and the Unit. Overall solid team, I’m not a big fan of Dunn at the price he normally goes at (he’s Thome or Giambi with a few more home runs). Good balance I think, well done.

  11. Drew says:

    Wow, Ichiro has sucked in the WBC. Maybe we could buy low. Kevin Cash for Suzuki, straight up.

    • Steve H says:

      Make them throw in King Felix and I think we have a deal.
      Though they’d have to eat some of Ichiro’s salary, obviously.

      • Drew says:

        Now you’re being ridiculous. If they throw in King Felix and eat some of Ichiro’ salary, I’ll throw in Berroa.

  12. UNION YES. says:

    I might gamble on Morrow over Felix.

  13. UNION YES. says:

    With news of Wang not pitching all that great and Bruney’s 7+ ERA, my fan confidence is now at 6. When I get back to my senses and realize that this is just ST, it’ll go back to 7. I’m in no shape to be polled right now.

  14. Expired Milk says:

    Okay I was arguing about this with people on another board.

    What chances do the Cardinals have on winning the NL Central?

    • UNION YES. says:

      Tough to say. Their chances are better than the Brewers. Carpenter seems healthy. Wainright is going to be nasty. They got the bullpen. Good offense. Reds are in a better position than the Brew Crew.

      • Expired Milk says:

        My argument was that the Cubs are a better overall team. The Cards have done nothing to improve their team this off season and weren’t very good last year to being with. The Cardinals imo would be 2nd but Cubs taking the division without much trouble.

        • UNION YES. says:

          Yeah but they were without their aces for a good amount of time.

          • UNION YES. says:

            and Chris Perez, Jason Motte, and Colby Rasmus await. Their defense is questionable though. Especially at 2nd base.

        • andrew says:

          I agree, the Cubs added Bradley who will be a big boost to the lineup when he’s healthy and are a superior club. Carmol and Gregg could be a nice 1-2 punch at the end of the game. I think the Cubs hitters, with Bradley, Soriano, Derrek Lee and Aramis Ramirez are a little bit better than the Pujols, Ludwick, Ankiel, Glaus foursome, and I think the Cards SP have more questions than the Cubs. But if Zambrano continues his second half slide and Carpenter rebounds then it could get interesting.

  15. pat says:

    Ok wbc NOW you have my attention. This is a pretty good game.

  16. Mike A. says:

    That looked like it hurt.

  17. Doug says:

    Wow, PERFECT bun by Ichiro.

    That is the Platonic form of a bunt right there.

  18. dkidd says:

    the wbc final is a great great game

  19. Mike A. says:

    This shit is epic.

  20. Doug says:

    Fight him, Ichiro! FIGHT

  21. Jack says:

    Japan won consecutive titles? That’s it, the WBC needs a salary cap.

  22. pat says:

    If we can’t find a suitable replacement for Jeter in a few years I’m down with signing one of these little flying ninjas that seem so abundant in Asia. They might not hit for shit but DAMN, they can flash the leather.

  23. andrew says:

    For those of you still awake. noMaas has a pretty fun Schilling video montage up right now… if you’re up at 2 AM, its probably worth your 2 minutes

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