Pitchers frustrated by new Stadium

Heyman: Angels were close on CC
Game 44: Lefties battle in rubber match

Just when it looked like the home runs at the new Stadium were coming back to a normal level, the hitters have started popping pitches out of the park at an alarming rate. Over the five games so far this week the Yankees and their opponents have hit 23 home runs. True, both the Yankees and the Phillies are home-run-hitting teams, but this is still a high total, and particularly to right field. Unsurprisingly, the pitchers aren’t taking the trend so well.

The Daily News spoke to Andy Pettitte on the matter, and he said what is true for pitchers at every park: “It’s simple, if you leave a ball up and they hit it with the barrel right now, it’s a home run. You can’t make a mistake up in the zone.” What he means, I would imagine, is that a mistake is far more costly then it was at the old park. Leave one up last year and maybe it’s a fly-out to the warning track. Leave one up this year and will almost certainly clear the fence. It’s easy to imagine how that makes a pitcher feel, especially a veteran like Pettitte who normally does a good job of keeping the ball in the park.

Pettitte goes on to talk about how a pitcher’s stuff plays into the equation: “You have to get the ball down, especially if you are not overpowering. If you don’t have, or if you are not throwing, overpowering stuff, you cannot let your guard down ever out there right now.” Yet as A.J. Burnett learned, even if you do have overpowering stuff you can’t let your guard down. Dave Eiland talked about Burnett’s mistakes from Friday night, noting that all three home runs he surrendered came when he left his left side open, altering the spin on the ball which ultimately meant a pitcher higher in the zone than intended. Those are the kinds of mistakes both the Yankees and their opponents are taking advantage of.

Unfortunately for a contact pitcher like Pettitte, the new Stadium just doesn’t play to his style. Runners frequently reach base off the southpaw, but he’s able to bear down in those situations and get ground balls or lazy flies, thus limiting the damage. Now, though, situations become tougher with men on base because even a slight mistake can lead to multiple runs. Again, this leads Pettitte to a universal pitcher tenet:

“I cannot walk guys,” Pettitte said. “I walked a guy in that inning before the three-run homer. I am gonna have to stop doing that, because you know you are gonna give up home runs. I am gonna give up a few homers, so I just can’t walk guys.”

I don’t think anyone is against any of the Yankees pitchers walking fewer hitters. Perhaps Andy should have this talk with Jose Veras.

Thanks to The Artist for sending this in.

Heyman: Angels were close on CC
Game 44: Lefties battle in rubber match
  • http://www.theyankeeuniverse.com/ The Artist

    This is the news story of the day, the one with serious and far reaching implications if the Yanks don’t figure out how to deal with it. Andy Pettitte admitted that its getting into his head and making him consider changing the way he pitches.

    Veteran pitchers often walk batters for a reason, because they’re getting good swings at their other pitches, or they don’t have good stuff that day and they try to get a hitter to chase something out of the zone. Take that away from a pitcher and you take away their ability to pitch around certain hitters. That means coming over the plate to a hitter who’s swinging the bat aggressively with stuff that isn’t moving. So it’s ‘Damned if you do, damned if you don’t’. Also, pitching like you ‘can’t make a mistake’ is a great way to pitch a lousy game. That’s the way rookies pitch, and here you have a 15 year veteran talking like a rookie.

    We saw Phil Hughes bow his head in disbelief during the 5th inning of his last start after allowing his second HR in as many innings, the first to Ty Wiggington and the second to Adam Jones. A start where he had dominating stuff and struck out a career high 9 batters in 5 IP. AJ Burnett gave up 5 runs in 6 innings on Friday, all 5 scoring by the long ball. Mariano Rivera has already allowed 5 HRs, which matches his season high since becoming a reliever, and its still only May.

    We all know the effect Coors Field had on pitchers, with the most famous case being Mike Hampton. Joe Girardi played for 3 years in Colorado before becoming a Yankee, I hope he has some answers for his increasingly frustrated pitchers.

    • Pasqua

      Well said. I have had the same concern of late: not so much that the balls get out with great frequency, but that it’s bound to have an impact on the approach of both hitters and pitchers. Homeruns are one thing, but getting out of your “comfort zone” can be very detrimental to your success, I would imagine.

    • http://www.riveraveblues.com Benjamin Kabak

      I think the answers should be to just keep pitching the way they’re used to pitching. I know Andy’s a more cerebral presence on the mound as most, but he will have to internalize the fact that the Yanks’ opponents are dealing with the same conditions and same pitching handicap.

      Long term, though, the Yankees are going to have to address this because they’ll lose out on the opportunity to sign free agent pitchers.

      • CT Yankee

        Great point. We have not seen free agent pitchers flock to coors field

        • steve (different one)

          when the Rockies paid top dollar, FA pitchers signed there.

          when they stopped, they didn’t.

          have we not learned anything from this winter? it’s almost ALWAYS (99.999% of the time) about the money.

          • Mike Pop

            +1.

            I don’t think getting the pitchers will be the problem, I think losing games due to cheap long balls will be the main problem.

            But, they can also win games to cheap long balls.

  • CT Yankee

    I would really like to hear Yankee Management come up with some contingency plan if this is anything other than a statistical aberration. I’ve heard stories about the jet stream to right field that could be cut down, but would like more details. It seems simple, block it during BP on some days, open it on others and document the difference. At the very least, make it look like you are aware of this. I Can easily see this getting into Hughes, Wangs, and Burnetts head. If its getting to Andy, that makes me nervous.

    • steve (different one)

      . At the very least, make it look like you are aware of this.

      do you really think the yankees are not aware of this?

      i think the abominable snowman is aware of the issues here.

      • CT Yankee

        Of course they are aware. I would like a little more transparency.

    • http://www.riveraveblues.com Benjamin Kabak

      They already have come up with a story. They claim that when the old Stadium is dismantled, the wind patterns will shift and home run totals should decline to more acceptable levels.

      • CT Yankee

        I’ve heard that story. Again, this is easy to test. Just do it.

        • steve (different one)

          um, they are doing it.

          • CT Yankee

            How? Where?

            • steve (different one)

              maybe i am confused by what you meant, if so, i apologize.

              the Yankees are currently dismantling the old stadium. it’s happening right now.

              • CT Yankee

                I was hoping they would just hang a freaking tarp up there to block the wind. When is the stadium expected to be down?

            • http://www.riveraveblues.com Benjamin Kabak

              Well, they’re in the process of taking apart the old stadium. They can’t just do it overnight. That project is due for completion next summer.

            • Some call me…tim

              HAHA!

              Joba to teh 8th!!onehundredeleven!!!!!

      • steve (different one)

        i guess we’ll see. if that happens, problem solved.

        if it doesn’t, they are going to have to look into raising the wall in RF, removing some seats, etc.

        next would be trying to close off some of the open spots on the concourses, though i have no idea how they would approach that.

        i do know this: if it is affecting their ability to compete for a championship, the team will spend the money to address it. in that respect it is no different than their approach to spending/signing players during the Steinbrenner era.

        • http://www.riveraveblues.com Benjamin Kabak

          if it is affecting their ability to compete for a championship, the team will spend the money to address it. in that respect it is no different than their approach to spending/signing players during the Steinbrenner era.

          I could not agree more.

        • http://www.theyankeeuniverse.com/ The Artist

          I seriously doubt this will affect their ability to win a Championship. If anything, it will ENHANCE their chances for this year. Yankee pitchers will learn to pitch (somewhat) to this stadium, whereas opposing pitchers will be without a road map. Also, the Yanks bat last, so a ballpark that yields HRs will lead to many dramatic walk off victories like we’ve been seeing lately.

          Look at the Phillies, they play in a bandbox and are the defending WS champs.

          • NaOH

            The three-year Park Factors for Citizens Bank Park are identical to the last three years at the old Yankee Stadium. This is the same stereotyping announcers use when they refer to the Metrodome as the Homerdome even though it has favored pitchers or been neutral for 5 of the last 10 years.

            • steve (different one)

              true, but they were much higher in the first season.

              then, i believe, they took steps to adress it (removed seats, raised the wall).

              the yankees could do something similar after the season.

              the stereotype exists b/c “you never get a second chance to make a first impression, yada yada”….

              • NaOH

                I know what you mean, but I think the stereotype exists because too many people don’t look up numbers which aren’t on a stadium scoreboard or shown with a player’s name on TV.

  • Zack

    Hmm… well dont walk guys and dont leave the ball over the middle of the plate and you wont give up 3-run home runs

    • JobaWockeeZ

      Did you read the article? It’s not just the middle but if they hit a ball well enough that’s up on the zone then it’s a home run. Routine fly balls hit to right have a shot of getting out of the park.

  • http://www.theyankeeuniverse.com/ The Artist

    Just to take this point a bit further, I’ve noticed a pattern developing in many games at this ballpark, one that was repeated yesterday. A HR is yielded on a pitch that a good pitcher’s pitch, the pitcher gets affected and yields more damage immediately thereafter. Yesterday we saw it with Lidge, after the A-Rod HR he walks the next batter and gives up the game winning hit to Melky. Jeremy Guthrie gave up a ridiculously cheap HR to Nick Swisher on Wednesday, then gave up 2 more HRs immediately afterward to Cano and Melky. Phil Hughes made a good pitch to Justin Morneau which landed in the bleachers, and he walked the next 2 batters he faced. Pitchers are clearly being shaken by the ease in which this stadium yields Homers. Right handed fly ball pitchers are in for a long day.

    Actually, more like a short day.

    • Zack

      I don’t buy that argument, that happens in every stadiun. Throw a pitch and an all star first baseman (morneau) has the ability to hit it out, the pitcher gets rattled and loses concentration/control/etc

      • http://www.theyankeeuniverse.com/ The Artist

        “I don’t buy that argument, that happens in every stadium”

        What don’t you buy? Yes, it happens everywhere, but its happening far more often here. And on pitches that shake a pitchers confidence, since those same pitches yield outs in most other places.

        • steve (different one)

          you may be on to something.

          but let’s not forget that Lidge also sucks this year and whether or not A-Rod’s HR was “cheap”, it was an AWFUL pitch that deserved to get crushed.

          just a high meatball.

          i’ve been watching A-Rod for 5 years and when he gets 2 strikes, you have to try to get him to chase something down. that pitch was up and over the plate.

          also, he didn’t walk the next batter. Cano got a base hit up the middle (doesn’t change you theory, just pointing out that Cano doesn’t walk…)

        • Zack

          “Yes, it happens everywhere, but its happening far more often here.”

          I think that’s perception, is there a stat that shows the number of walks after HRs per stadium?

      • http://mantisfists.files.wordpress.com/2008/10/julius-carry-aka-shonuff.jpg The Honorable Congressman Mondesi

        I just want to know how Joe Torre’s use of Scott Proctor is applicable here.

        • 27 this year

          IETC

        • steve (different one)

          well, if Torre was still here, Proctor’s arm would fly off his body and probably be caught at the track in the old stadium. in the new stadium, his arm becomes a souvenir.

  • http://www.theyankeeuniverse.com/ The Artist

    For any of you fans of the defunct “Fire Joe Morgan” blog, there’s a Yankee focused blog along those same lines, skewering the bad journalism and commentary we see on a daily basis surrounding the team. Check it out:

    http://thebuffetisclosed.com/

    They have the hard to find clip of the Paps douchebaggery from last night.

    • Zack

      The first post I read from that site is:
      “The sooner his (Papelbon) elbow pops and his career ends, the better baseball will be.”

      • http://www.theyankeeuniverse.com/ The Artist

        Now that’s some fine journalism right there.

      • will

        I agree with that site.

    • JobaWockeeZ

      How did ESPN react to this? Is it “he’s so passionate about the game and has great emotion, unlike Joba Chamberlain who is a Yankee and therefore only plays for the money.”

    • CT Yankee

      Very Funny. Of course Eck understands perfectly.

    • steve (different one)

      “the buffet is closed”?

      is this like a “Fire Peter Abraham” site?

      yes, i went there. sue me.

      • steve (different one)

        wow, i posted this before clicking. it actually is about Abraham. shame on me.

    • Accent Shallow

      This just comes across as petty crap, as opposed to FJM, who at least seemed curious in intellectual honesty.

      • Accent Shallow

        Wow, and this is why you don’t switch horsemen mid-apocalypse.

  • Mike Pop

    Obviously the Yankees are bush league and built this stadium so A-Rod can break the HR Record easily, the Yankees could set the single season mark, and contribute to ruining baseball history.

  • steve (different one)

    i don’t know how to get double-splits, but does anyone know the number of HRs that were hit to this point last season around MLB?

    anecdotally, it seems like HRs are way up all around baseball, and no one is really talking about that.

    i don’t have the data, so i am just speculating, but maybe it’s not JUST the stadium, but it’s the stadium coupled with a change to the ball, perhaps???

    • 27 this year

      one broadcast brought up the fact that the balls used had a slight change, I think the seams were not as raised or something causing the ball to be more aerodynamic? I remember something was brought up. However, homeruns are up across the league but Yankee Stadium is outrageous compared to the league average and stuff.

      • steve (different one)

        sure, but maybe it’s not SO outrageous as it looks when you compare this year to last year, since there is more than one change happening.

        also…the Yankee offense sucked last year.

        so, you are also comparing this year to the worst offensive yankee team in a decade.

        not trying to deny the stadium isn’t homer happy, just want to know HOW much of an effect it really is.

  • steve (different one)

    final thought:

    shouldn’t we be comparing the total RUNS for the stadiums, not just HRs??

    it could be easier to hit a HR and yet not be a “hitter’s park” to the same extreme degree overall.

    for example, there is more foul territory up the baselines. perhaps the pitchers pick up an extra out or two from that.

    if that is the case, perhaps some minor tweaking to the dimensions would be enough to push the park closer to neutral, even though it will always be a good park to hit HRs in.

  • Drew

    Andy, just get the out bro.

  • Tony

    A launching pad stadium introduces more randomness to the outcome every day, and if you assemble the most talent (as the Yankees will do every season, forever), that additional randomness can act ONLY as a detriment over the long run. This is a fact.

    It would be like adding a coin flip every third inning to award a bonus run (or two, or three…). A bad team has the chance to luck out and get a free lead, or open up a bigger lead to compensate for a bad bullpen. It isn’t worth the risk to the more talented team, because they should be ahead anyway. Better teams want randomness to be limited. A talent advantage is diluted by this kind of ballpark. I don’t see how that can be disputed.

  • OldYanksFan

    Considering CC and AJ are signed long term, and we have Wang, Phil and Joba for as long as we want them, and hopefully some ML talent on the farm, I don’t see us signing any BIG name FA pitchers in the near future… except if we can steal Halladay. And pitchers also like to play in the PS, which I believe the Yankees will offer a reasonable chance of.

    That being said, I do NOT like the ‘bandbox’ label YS is (deservable) getting. While YS has many great features, in general, there are FAR to many failures. I can forgive all the HRs somewhat, as that is a bit harder to foretell. But the Architect and Triost should be shot. They spent $1.5 BILLION dollars on this thing. Think about how much money that is. $1.5 BILLION dollars!!! And yet Monument park, and many other aspects, don’t compare to the old stadium.

    It’s nice they kept the ‘old dimensions’, but at this point, something has to be done. I can’t believe they have the short walls. Watching OFers leap, with their gloves above the wall, to make a great catch, UNENCUMBERED by fars interferring, is one of the great defensive thrills in the game. At this point, they need to get rid of the first 3-4 or so rows in RF, which would make the field 15′ or so deeper, and allow for a taller wall.

    Screw the old dimensions. It’s more important to have a reasonable, professional ballpark.

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