2010 Season Preview: Greatness in the 9th

Checking in on the Yanks' Rule 5 losses
Link dump: Dead money, regressing starters, standing room

Mariano Rivera pitches during Game 6 of the 2009 World Series. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola)

For the fifteenth consecutive season, the Yankees know that during home games when they have a lead in the ninth, Metallica’s “Enter Sandman” will begin playing over the Yankee Stadium public address system. The Yankees know that Number 42, Mariano Rivera, Number 42 will come slowly walking off the bullpen mound. He will hit the edge of the outfield and start jogging, slowly and confidently, toward the infield. He will make his warm-up tosses, and he will go about his business as he has done 526 times in his career.

I don’t need to toast Mariano in this post. Regular RAB readers know how much we adore and worship at the Altar of Mo. We know we’re seeing something special every time Rivera comes into the game, and we know we have witnessed greatest unfold since Rivera made his mark in the 1995 ALDS. He is the Yankee Dynasty, an all-time great who will be enshrined in Monument Park and Cooperstown sometime before, say, 2020.

Last year, Mariano was just as good as ever, and it was, in a way, surprising. He threw the last pitch at old Yankee Stadium and a few weeks later, underwent a shoulder procedure to clear up some calcification in his pitching arm. The early going was rough; he allowed back-to-back jacks for the first time in his career. Yet, by year’s end, he sported a 1.76 ERA in 66.1 innings. He allowed 48 hits, walked 12 and struck out 71 while notching 44 saves. Father Time is impervious to Mariano.

Going forward, though, what can we expect from Rivera? He’ll be 40 and one of the top five oldest players in the Junior Circuit this year. Time, as Mick Jagger once did not sing, is not on his side, and Yankee fans will one day have to come to grips with the world without Mariano Rivera.

For now, though, we can ignore that scary future and check out his projections. As a 40-year-old closer, Rivera appears to be doing very, very well for himself. Take a peek (and click to enlarge):

Overall, Rivera’s numbers do show signs of decline; that is, after all, to be expected from a pitcher his age. Still, those numbers are very comforting. His 2.74 ERA would be his highest total since only 2007 when early-season woes resulted in an ERA over 3.00. The strike out numbers remain high; the walks remain low; and the long balls remain few and far between.

There is, of course, still the question of who will follow Mariano and just how much the Yankees will miss him. Mariano Rivera last year had a WAR of 2.0, and for closers, that’s high. But even the worst closers were around only 1.5 wins worse than Rivera. Sure, 1.5 wins could mean a lot in the AL East, but it isn’t life and death. I love Rivera more than any other Yankee I’ve seen in my life, and while his postseason presence is irreplaceable, his regular season results are not. It isn’t realistic to assume the Yankees can find another Mariano Rivera, but the team will have a closer once Mo retires.

This year, though, we don’t worry about that. We see Rivera, healthy and feeling good. We see Rivera throwing easily; we see projections that look rosy; and those familiar guitar strains will soon enough fill the air. Exit light. Enter night. Take my hand. We’re off to Never Never Land.

email
Checking in on the Yanks' Rule 5 losses
Link dump: Dead money, regressing starters, standing room
  • Klemy

    I think Bill James is as close as any of these projections will be. There is no stat that applies to Mo properly to project anything beyond awesomeness. You just can’t expect less than that.

    • andrew

      I think the Cairo .90 WHIP is actually more impressive than the Bill James ERA

    • Bo

      James has to do what any projectionist does. He has to be ahead of the curve and guess that this will be the yr that he fades.

      He’ll get no credit if Mo is successful like he always is.

      You have to look into motives. Same thing with PECOTA. Its better for them to take the fail view because it’ll get them noticed and maybe paid.

      • bexarama

        They don’t really have a motive so that they can brag about it as much as it is, you know, a mathematical formula that differs from projection system to projection system.

        Also, other than CAIRO, James pretty much predicted Mo would fade the least out of all of those.

      • Rick in Boston

        Since I know you didn’t read the article or look at the chart, I’ll ask you what you’re talking about. James’ projection is arguably the most dominant one on the chart.

        Seriously, start reading and comprehending before you post. I know that’s a lot to ask.

        • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a The Large Sample Size

          I remember when I used to ask SBGL to read before he responds.

          Man, those were the days. 2008 was fun. Good times.

          • Rick in Boston

            It’s Wednesday, at work, and I live in Boston. I’m angry for a number of reasons.

            • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a The Large Sample Size

              Oh, I’m with you. I know your frustration.

              You’ve gotta hop on the Operation: SHUTDOWN bangwagon, though. It’s very liberating. Don’t try to fix or even speak intelligently to SBGL, he’s a sunk cost.

  • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a The Large Sample Size

    Note to self:
    Go to Stop&Shop, buy Vigo rice, Gatorade, Pepsi

    /wellplacedadvertising’d

    • Thomas

      I see no mention of FOX in your comment. I guess no amount of advertising can make you forget that you’ll have to hear Joe Buck and Tim McCarver.

      • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a The Large Sample Size

        They only had one tiny little ad in the corner, and it wasn’t illuminated.

        That’s not gonna cut it, Murdoch.

    • Matt M.

      jokes aside, i do get a kick outta the Johnny Walker…keep walking ads that circle the stadium where a base on balls is passed. the lojack caught stealing is also a neat hookup too.

      • http://twitter.com/JoeRo23 The Honorable Congressman Mondesi

        Yeah I agree… I don’t mind the advertising blitz as long as they make some semblance of an effort to make it witty/entertaining.

    • http://twitter.com/riddering Riddering

      Reminds me of one of my favorite pictures from the 1996 World Series: http://i43.tinypic.com/9ifim8.jpg

      • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a The Large Sample Size

        If only the ad was in sharper focus…

        I hate blurry Hooters.

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

    Just a friendly reminder: If you want to alert us to typos, please email us. Sometimes, the pieces slip through our editing process, and the comments aren’t the proper place for corrections. Our email addresses are at right, and there’s a contact-us box as well.

    • Rob

      I’m not sure deleting comments is very proper either?

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

        See the commenting guidelines. If you care to continue this discussion, e-mail. No more comments in this particular vein.

        • http://twitter.com/tafkasic the artist formerly known as (sic)

          yikes.

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

            It’s not to hide the typos; it’s because it detracts from the baseball conversation we want to have. I know it sounds heavy-handed, but it’s for the good of RAB. We’ve seen too many sites fall prey to disruptive and pointless commenting.

        • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a The Large Sample Size

          Your heavy handed state-sponsored repression of free speech only further tarnishes the already damaged credibility of this socialist blog, Kabak.

          • Thomas

            YES Network Blog => Yankees Empire of Socialism Network Blog?

            • bexarama

              ughhh I want to say something so badly but I can’t because it’d be mean

              • Spaceman.Spiff

                Whisper it softly.

        • Hey ZZ

          In one simple word:

          Unconstitutional

          Source: Rose

          • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a The Large Sample Size

            I laughed.

          • http://twitter.com/JoeRo23 The Honorable Congressman Mondesi

            Can someone hit me with some linkage to whatever this quote refers to? I did a quick search but didn’t see anything recent.

            • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a The Large Sample Size

              It’s the Health Care Reform convo from the off-topic thread.

              Starts here:
              http://riveraveblues.com/off-t.....ent-808792

              Picks up again here:
              http://riveraveblues.com/off-t.....ent-810019

              • http://twitter.com/JoeRo23 The Honorable Congressman Mondesi

                Thanks… Although I don’t know if I should be thanking you, let’s see how I feel after I check this stuff out.

                • Jack

                  http://riveraveblues.com/off-t.....ent-810038

                  The comment Hey ZZ referenced.

                • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a The Large Sample Size

                  I plead the fifth.

                  /snarkymetareference’d

                • http://twitter.com/JoeRo23 The Honorable Congressman Mondesi

                  Ugh. Ok, thanks were in order to you because you were just responding to my request… But I’m not thanking myself for bothering to ask for those links or for looking at the comments. Yikes.

                • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a The Large Sample Size

                  Clearly, it’s treason. This bill is an act of TREASON! These senators and representatives should be hanged for TREASON!

                • bexarama

                  multiple interrobangs!!!!

                • king of fruitless hypotheticals

                  i dont think we hang anybody anymore (except in the military. we dont play games. ever. well…ok, but not what you’re thinking!).

                  tjsc: MAJOR KUDOS for saying hanged instead of hung.

                  bexy: don’t say it!

  • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a The Large Sample Size

    Overall, Rivera’s numbers do show signs of decline; that is, after all, to be expected from a pitcher his age. Still, those numbers are very comforting.

    A diminished Mariano Rivera >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>> a normal human being relief pitcher

  • Nady Nation

    That’s a sweet picture of Mo/Stadium crowd.

    • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a The Large Sample Size

      +42.

      Kudos, Elise Amendola.

    • Slugger27

      is that game 6 with victorino hitting?

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

        I think it may be the last pitch of the World Series.

      • http://www.soxandpinstripes.com JGS

        I don’t see Tex anywhere. Probably pre-inning warmups

        • Thomas

          That makes some sense, but usually the umpire wouldn’t be in full bend down mode in warm up, right?

          • http://www.soxandpinstripes.com JGS

            probably right. I guess Tex was playing far enough in the hole that he isn’t in the shot

            • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a The Large Sample Size

              I guess Tex was playing far enough in the hole that he isn’t in the shot

              TWSS

              • All Praise Be To Mo

                That’s why his UZR was so bad, he wasn’t even playing 1st base, probably in the dugout already putting on those sweet goggles since Mariano was coming in he knew the game was over already.

  • bobbybaseball

    i appreciate your homage because indeed mariano is in rarified air, and we have been blessed to see it unfold. therefore, my wish for mo would be that when the day comes, that he has to hang em up becuase of an injury. it would be grusome to witness a performance declining phase out, which would be humiliating for him…

    • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a The Large Sample Size

      Meh, I’d rather he just pitch until he didn’t want to anymore and then retired. No need to hope for injury (which may happen midseason, and that helps nobody.)

      I’ve got a feeling Mo will hang them up the moment he feels like he can’t be dominant anymore. Just my hunch.

    • http://twitter.com/tafkasic the artist formerly known as (sic)

      More “grusome” would be to see his career ended by an injury. That would be really sad.

      Mo will pitch til he’s done. He’ll know when he’s done, hang up the spikes, and head back to Panama. He’s not going to stick around and post a 5.00 ERA for two years.

    • http://twitter.com/riddering Riddering

      If anyone can handle the decline and loss of elite stuff, it’s Mariano Rivera. Hell handle it with class and perspective and the fans aren’t going to forget everything he provided if he goes out poorly.

      But I don’t expect it to be that worst case scenario.

    • Mike HC

      Damn. A little selfish don’t you think? You would rather Mo have to go through a career ending injury than see him go through a couple of decline years?

      I prefer he plays until he wants to. I think Mo deserves to go out on his own terms.

    • Bo

      So you want him to get hurt instead of pitching at a mortal level?

      Thanks good to know some people have hearts out there

  • http://twitter.com/riddering Riddering

    If you really find them so upsetting it would be more helpful to make note of them and e-mail them to RAB rather than making a general complaint in a comment.

  • Mike HC

    Last season went so ridiculously well for Mo. He was also lights out in the playoffs. Same goes for all of the old guard, Jeter, Jorge and Pettitte. I just hope they can all keep it up. Last season was like a gift from the baseball gods. Guys that were superstars during the Yanks 1996-2003 run, come back to take over in 2009. How long can it last? (I guess I am in a particularly ponderous mood today)

    • bexarama

      Weirdly enough, he was even better in 2008, which might have been his best year as a closer. He’s just crazy good and we are very lucky to have him.

  • KayGee

    “He is the Yankee Dynasty, an all-time great who will be enshrined in Monument Park and Cooperstown sometime before, say, 2020.”

    Don’t you have to be retired to get enshrined in Cooperstown? By my calculations, Mariano Rivera will still be the Yankees closer in 2020.

    • t-bone rex

      If Mo is still the yankee closer by that time, I think we’re talking about renaming cooperstown mo’town

  • Christos

    Metallica is my favorite band. Mo is my favorite player. They go hand in hand.

  • Matt M.

    Question to ponder about Mo’s future:

    He has stated that he will hang it up once he can no longer compete at his level. While I agree with that and can easily see him walking away from the game gracefully, there is a difference between being good and Mariano Rivera good.

    Lets say he bows out after the 2012 season pitching to a (disappointing to him) 3.50 era (a rise from his current 2.25 career average). Midsummer 2013 we’re in the heat of a pennant race and our bullpen suffers from injury/ineffectiveness. We do our interchangeable thing and end up finding the Jose Verases and Edwar Ramirezes of 2013 are doing their very best dr jeckyll and mr hyde impersonations.

    Do you think the yankees would consider wooing Rivera back for a half season ala Roger Clemens? He might be the Hammer of god instead the Hammer of God, but wouldn’t that be better than league average relievers and playing guess who with the sox up 3.5 by mid july?

    • Christos

      Interesting idea, i think they will have to try. But Mo in my mind, when he makes up his mind, he’s not coming back.

      • Brian

        Mo is too classy to pull that Brett Favre/Roger Clemens crap. Once he’s done, we should all wish him the best that life has to offer, and look forward to seeing him at his Cooperstown induction, Mariano Rivera day at the Stadium, and at Old Timers’ Day.

        • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a The Large Sample Size

          Question: When we retire Mo’s #42, will we be the first team in North American professional sports history to have retired two different numbers for two different people?

          8 for Dickey and Berra
          42 for Robinson* and Rivera

          I don’t know any other team that can say that.

          • Rick in Boston

            The closest I can find is what the Maple Leafs do with “Honoured Numbers”, but those aren’t technically retired.

            • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a The Large Sample Size

              Ah, thanks.

              I’m talking about major North American professional sports leagues, though.

              (couldn’t resist)

            • Rick in Boston

              Actually, the Celtics could possibly one day claim to do it: IF the movement to retire Jordan’s 23 across the league ends up happening, the numbers 23 and 18 will technically be retired twice each:

              18 – Dave Cowens & Jim Loscutoff*
              23 – Jordan^ & Frank Ramsey

              * – Loscutoff wore 18 but chose to have “LOSCY” on his banner so another player could wear the #

              • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a The Large Sample Size

                Okay, thanks, that works.

                My response: We should retire #15 for Red Ruffing. Then we can double-dip on 8, 15, and 42.

                Checkmate.

                • Rick in Boston

                  I agree. I’m with you on the “Retire 15 for Ruffing” bus.

                • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a The Large Sample Size

                  11-Gomez
                  15-Ruffing
                  51-Williams

                  Do it.

                • Rick in Boston

                  Then follow it with 2, 20, 42?

                  I can roll with those. Gomez & Ruffing are the two most underappreciated Yankees by Yankee fans ever.

                • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a The Large Sample Size

                  Then follow it with 2, 20, 42?

                  You left out 13. (And probably 6, eventually.)

                • Rick in Boston

                  How could I forget A-Rod. I’m hoping Romine wears 6 and Hey Zeus rocks 21, but you’re right. Torre will get his number retired, all ultra-successful Yankee managers get a spot in Monument Park.

                • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a The Large Sample Size

                  I’m hoping… Hey Zeus rocks 21…

                  Way ahead of you, buddy.

                  http://riveraveblues.com/2010/.....ent-777205

    • http://www.riveraveblues.com Mike Axisa

      I don’t think he’d go for it. He seems like one of those guys that once they’re done, they’re done done. He’ll show his face in Spring Training and for Old Timer’s Day, and that’s it.

      • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a The Large Sample Size

        Think of the Suzyn Waldman histrionics, though. That’s hard to pass up.

        ZOMG THERE’S MARIANO RIVERA IN HANK STEINBRENNER’S BOX!!!!!!!1!!!!

        • bexarama

          For Clemens, it was goofy and stupid.

          For Mo, that’s just wrong.

      • Camilo

        how awesome would it be if it is 2013 playoffs and he is retired. 9th inning comes up and instead of Robertson/Melancon, Enter Sandman starts blaring and out marches 42. a secret signing!!!!!! so improbable for it to be kept secret and so against the rules, but it would be AWESOME!

        • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a The Large Sample Size

          MLB = WWF

          • Spaceman.Spiff

            This needs to happen.

            We already have the Heel of the league (A-Rod), the Face (Derek Jeter), and apparently steroid usage is rampant. Surprise entrances must be worked into the rules somewhere.

            • Mike HC

              How about the sneak attacks with foreign objects when the match is over

              (AJ with pies to the face)

              … Come to think of it, all of the the major sports have slowly been getting closer and closer to the WWF

            • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a The Large Sample Size

              Michael Kay: Well, the Yankees are down to their final out here, and Brett Gardner steps into the batters box as– wait a minute, what is that?

              IS THAT FEARED WILLIAMS WALKING OUT OF THE TUNNEL? FEARED WILLIAMS?!?!? OH MY GOD, HE’S BACK AND HE’S GOT A FOLDING CHAIR!

              BRIAN FUENTES IS RUNNING OFF THE MOUND! THIS IS UNBELIEVABLE!!!!!!

              • Spaceman.Spiff

                “You just can’t predict baseball!!!!”

        • Brian

          Not to mention that he would have to be on the roster by Aug. 31 to be playoff eligible.

  • lardin

    I wonder when is the last time Giradi caught Mo in the bullpen or in Spring Training? I would love to hear Girardi give a breakdown on the differnces between MO now and MO 15 years ago…

    • bexarama

      IIRC he was the bullpen catcher during the 2008 All-Star Game, so maybe then?

    • Mike HC

      I agree that it would be interesting in theory. But I can’t help but remember Girardi’s run as the color guy on YES, and come to the conclusion that it would probably be boring and obvious.

  • Bo

    Just think. If blogs like this were around in ’96 you all would be flipping out that Mo wasnt a starter.

    Or wasnt in AAA getting innings or whatnot

    • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a The Large Sample Size
    • http://www.soxandpinstripes.com JGS

      Minor League innings:

      Joba: 88.1
      Hughes: 330
      Mo: 432.1

      Also, Mo was 26 in 1996. We would probably be freaking out at a reliever throwing over 100 innings

      • bexarama

        Thank you for answering this for me. Also, Mo didn’t have the success as a starter Joba or even Hughes has had. He had one fantastic start and basically the rest were crap.

      • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a The Large Sample Size

        Yeah, I was furious when then converted Mo from a reliever to a starter, because he was an absolutely lights-out dominant minor league starting pitcher with 5 plus-plus pitches who had future ace written all over him, and everyone knew that his diverse arsenal of quality offspeed pitches meant that he could easily turn a lineup over four times a night and pitch deep into games, keeping hitters off balance with his excellent curveball, slider, changeup, and two seamer to compliment his top-shelf heater.

        Wait, what’s that you say? That never happened, and young Mo Rivera was moved to the bullpen because his offspeed stuff sucked and he was a one-pitch pitcher who would have been absolutely crushed as a starter and the entire planet knew it? Huh. My bad, you’re right, that’s how it happened. I don’t know what I was thinking.

        • Rick in Boston

          I’d love to live in Bo’s head, just for a few minutes. Man, I’d love life afterwards.

          • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a The Large Sample Size

            If I went into Bo’s head for a few minutes, I’d bring a GPS unit, a flashlight, a machete, a machine gun, some penicillin, and a cyanide capsule.

            No telling what the fuck is in there. Be prepared.

      • http://mystiqueandaura.com Steve H

        Joba: 4 potential pitches
        Phil: 4 potential pitches
        Mo: 2 pitches at the time, turned into 1 pitch

        • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a The Large Sample Size

          O:S

          • king of fruitless hypotheticals

            Bullshit.

            Mo’s got at least nine pitches:

            Cutter in and low.
            Cutter in and mid.
            etc.

  • bexarama

    I see all the projections forgot the very important “# of times figured out by Jimmy Rollins” stat.

    /jokes from November’d

  • MOboy

    Never love for MO who is irreplaceble.I bet if this was a Jeter post it would be nothing but good things said.

    Joba and Hughes are good buit they ain’t Verlander or Hernadez.Joba should be lucky if he can be the next MO.Because when MO retires the Yankees will get someone like Heath Bell.A guy in a big park and who blew 6 saves last year,

    • Nady Nation

      Can’t tell if this is serious or not. Do you honestly believe there is no love for Mo around here? We do refer to him as God, you know.

      • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a The Large Sample Size

        Yeah, that’s the confusing part.

        There’s currently 86 comments in this thread, and I count a grand total of 3 that have any single negative thing to say about Mo, and all three of those are basically saying “He couldn’t have been a starter because he only has one good pitch”.

        It’s not like we’re all bashing Mo left and right here.

        • http://mystiqueandaura.com Steve H

          Yeah, that’s the confusing part.

          Not really, I’d say it’s one of many.

          • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a The Large Sample Size

            Touché.

    • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a The Large Sample Size
    • Thomas
      • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a The Large Sample Size

        That.

        Joba and Hughes are good buit they ain’t Verlander or Hernadez.Joba should be lucky if he can be the next MO.Because when MO retires the Yankees will get someone like Heath Bell.A guy in a big park and who blew 6 saves last year,

        I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again:

        Every nonpunctuated or extremely poorly punctuated block of text I’ve ever encountered is also full of poor reasoning and/or logical fallacies.

        There’s a correlation between thinking clearly and speaking/writing clearly.

    • bexarama

      the article is called “Greatness in the 9th,” not, like, “Totally Replaceable Meh in the 9th”

  • CS Yankee

    The core four era could go down like this:
    2010 Yankees win #28…Pettitte retires, Joba wins 15
    2011 Yankees win #29…Posada retires, Jesus is ROY
    2012 Yankees win #30…Mo retires, Yanks search for next closer
    2015 Yankees win #31…Jeter retires, Yanks find stud closer

    • bexarama

      2012 Yankees win #30…Mo retires, Yanks search for next closer

      Oh, so that’s why the world is gonna end…

      • CS Yankee

        …and out of the ashes, baseball returns in 2015…
        …with Cap’t Jeets claiming his final ring (1 short of Yogi’s “one for the other thumb”)

  • MikeD

    For the eighth time in the past nine seasons, all the projection systems will be wrong. Mariano, as he does with batters, will defeat them all, even James.