Sweating the small stuff

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Team official: 'Nova is going to get Game Two'

With their strong play in the first five months of the season, the Yankees appeared set heading into September. They had won 81 games and sat just 1.5 back of the Red Sox for the AL East lead. More importantly, they led Tampa Bay by 7.5 games for the AL Wild Card, a hefty margin with less than a month of baseball left on the schedule. The comfortable lead gave them a chance to ease off the accelerator and make sure their starters were healthy and rested come September 30th.

In September they’ve actually managed to outplay their pace to date. They’ve won 11 of 18 games, which is a better ratio than they managed from April through August. No team in the AL East has won more games this month. And, thanks to a Boston collapse, the Yankees have taken a commanding lead in the division. With just 10 games to go they’re six up on Boston in the loss column. Any combination of five wins and Boston losses will seal up the division and give the Yankees their 12th AL East crown in the last 16 years.

Even with their strong position, it feels as though the Yankees have a number of issues heading into the postseason. These concerns mainly involve the pitching; people have asked who pitches behind CC ever since Cliff Lee signed with Philadelphia. Even now, just 10 days away from ALDS Game 1, the question doesn’t have a sure answer (other than it not being A.J. Burnett). Yet even that question might be overblown. The Yankees starters this year have a 4.06 ERA, right around the mark of the playoff-bound Tigers, and ahead of the Red Sox. Their 3.92 FIP ranks sixth — and the Rangers are the only playoff-bound team ahead of them. Finally, their 3.79 xFIP ranks first in the league.

(And yes, the situation changes in the playoffs, when there’s a greater emphasis on the top of the rotation and the bottom of the rotation disappears. But the Yanks’ top four starters all have ERAs under 4.00, which makes their league ranking actually look a bit better.)

If the Yankees are looking so good, then why the quibbling over them? Why the needless arguments about minute aspects of what is currently the best team in the AL? I think Will Leitch of New York Magazine hits on the issue perfectly with this paragraph in his latest column:

This year has been monotonous, dull, and seemingly preordained, which is to say it has been the platonic ideal of a Yankees season. The last time the Yankees weren’t in first or second place in the AL East was April 8, when they were a game and a half behind the Blue Jays. The rest of the season, the team has been comfortably ensconced in playoff position, knowing, without much doubt, that they would be playing into October. There were a few bumps along the way, but minor ones, nothing to concern anyone. Some Yankees fans might grouse about the rotation, but all any fan can hope for his team is to secure a spot in the postseason, and the Yankees have had theirs secured for months. Most of the year has felt like one long twiddling of thumbs until the weather started getting cold and the games started mattering again.

In other words, the Yankees’ solid play throughout the season has caused a sort of restlessness among fans. We’ve seen Jeter’s 3,000th and Mariano’s 602nd, both of which make great moments. Really, they’re the definitive moments of the 2011 season. What this season lacks is drama. And when there’s no drama to follow on a day-to-day basis, the drama-seeker will tend to conjure it from nowhere. Hence the concerns about the rotation that fares well when compared to its peers. Hence the concern over the manager who, for the fourth straight year, has managed to keep his bullpen in good shape. Hence the concern — for some reason — for the lineup, which has outscored every team except Boston.

This isn’t to say that none of these areas are of concern to the Yankees in the playoffs. Certainly the rotation can present a concern, at least. But again, this has to be viewed in relation to the rest of the league — the Yankees do have opponents, after all. And yet by these measures the Yankees stack up very well against their playoff-bound brethren. They’re not guaranteed anything. No team is, nor will any team ever have a playoff guarantee. But in terms of the things they can control, the Yankees are in great shape.

Why sweat the small stuff, then? Answer: What else are fans going to do during a “monotonous, dull, and seemingly preordained” season? It can get annoying at times, sure; there’s only so much small stuff to sweat, and sweating it too hard gets obnoxious. But that’s far better than the alternative. Would anyone seriously like to switch places with the Red Sox now, just in the name of drama? No, thank you. October provides enough drama.

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Bichette, Santana top Baseball America's list of top 20 GCL prospects
Team official: 'Nova is going to get Game Two'
  • http://twitter.com/rebeccapbp Asha Greyjoy

    I’ll take boring, dull and monotonous if it means an October berth every. single. time.

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

      Word.

    • gc

      True, and amen. Which is why all the grousing some people do about “needing” to win the division or secure home field advantage makes me chuckle. Those things are nice, indeed, and I’d be thrilled if they got both, but they’re not necessary. Just get in, baby — and preferably with your starting pitching lined up in the most optimum way and your roster as healthy as possible. Then let the chips fall where they may.

      • Jimmy McNulty

        I want the division because I’d like to avoid Verlander like the plague. The division because I’d like to see the team that went undefeated in the offseason to lose the division. Sure WC teams can win the WS but wouldn’t you rather go into the playoffs as the best team in baseball?

        • D-Rob’s Great Escape

          Winning the division doesn’t mean we’ll avoid the Tigers. I would prefer TX as well because their best pitchers are LH’s and the Yanks hit them better then RH’s but all TX has to do is win 1 more game then DET and we get DET.

          • Jimmy McNulty

            Well Texas was a lot closer than I thought to Detroit, I’m still thinking Detroit takes second place in the AL to the Yankees if they end up winning the East.

    • MattG

      Not me. This year, more than ever, I have been cursing the wildcard. What a pennant race it would have been! It seemed like for five whole months, the Yankees and Red Sox were within a pair of games of one another. Baseball’s playoff structure totally robbed me of all that excitement.

      • KeithK

        Amen. There is nothing – nothing – more exciting in baseball than a great pennant race. The wild card has robbed us of a few that could have been great.

      • Ted Nelson

        But no Wild Card would often rob a deserving team of the playoffs, and rob half the fans that get playoff excitement of that excitement. It’s a trade-off.

        And anyway… the Yankees are about as much in a race for the playoffs right now as they would be for the division with no wild card. I’m not sure the division race would have been much more exciting than the wild card race.

  • Jimmy McNulty

    Yeah, I’ll make a slight quibble. The season was boring because:

    A.) No shinny new toys, it took to September to get Montero.
    B.) Meh-ish year from the farm, no new breakouts besides Mason Williams.
    C.) Losing record to Boston. Beating Boston is always fun and makes for an exciting season.

    It wasn’t a bad season, just one that was kinda…well, odd. Alex, Teixeira, and Jeter had weak years and Cano hasn’t lived up to the impossibly high standards of 2010. Granderson’s awesome, but he’s kind of a boring player too. No Swisher AS campaign, no huge years on the farm, no new acquisitions, yeah…kinda uneventful except for the two most marketable regular season events in Yankee history.

    • http://www.riveraveblues.com Joe Pawlikowski

      I don’t think it’s as much a quibble as an elaboration. And I appreciate it.

    • http://bleedingyankeeblue.com Jesse

      Jeter had a weak year? What the hell did you expect from him?

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

        Yeah really, he far surpassed my expectations.

      • Cris Pengiuci

        After 2010, this was a good bounce-back for him. Not too many people expected this of him, especially after his slow start to the season. I hope he can maintain this for the rest of his contract/career. Granted, not worht $17 mil, but we all knew that he couldn’t play to that level (and we didn’t sign the deal).

      • Jimmy McNulty

        He exceeded my expectations, but it’s not like he had an MVP Caliber season like he has had in the past. Look at the past few seasons of the Yankees:

        2010: Everyone in the farm performed well, Cano was an MVP candidate.
        2009: Jeter and Teixeira MVP candidates. Teixeira was a huge signing and everyone instantly loved him for spurring Boston, and Alex Rodriguez was good when he played.
        2008: Bad season, everyone got injured and they missed the playoffs.
        2007: Alex hits over 50 HRs, endears himself to the fanbase (then fucks it up) and provides huge excitement for all Yankee fans.
        2006: Jeter has an MVP season, home grown player opening up a can of whoop ass all over the AL? Yeah I’ll take that.
        2005: Alex is the MVP, bad year last year and Alex does his best to wash that taste out of everyone’s mouth.

        I mean, weak probably wasn’t the right word. You’re right, he had a good year, but not an elite year. My point was that this team has lots of good players, but there are some players that have special places in the hearts of fans. Jeter, Cano, Teixeira, Alex, and Swisher. Granderson had a down year last year, and there’s still some idiots that would rather have IPK and Jackson at the beginning of the year. I love me some Granderson, but I don’t think he’s quite as beloved as the others I listed. Thus because it’s him that’s having the huge year, not say Alex, Cano, or Teixeira it’s not quite as exciting. “Boring” is an emotional term, sports elicits an emotional connection. Thus when it’s say Jeter that’s kicking ass and taking names fans feel a bit differently than if it was a different player doing the same thing.

        • http://bleedingyankeeblue.com Jesse

          I see your point on Jeter. But c’mon, the guy is 37. How many elite 37 year old everyday players are there?

          Also regarding the IPK and Jackson over Granderson…I don’t know who in their right mind would say that. Jackson is a strikeout machine with little power. Sure he’s a very good defensive center fielder and is fast, but so is Granderson (at least with the “eye test” with the good center fielder part). And Ian Kennedy would have nowhere near the season he’s had in Arizona if he was here in NY.

          • Jimmy McNulty

            Not really criticizing Jeter, at the very least it wasn’t my inent. He’s getting old, the point was that the things that usually make for an exciting season: elite year from the farm, elite years from fan favorites, all time greats on the team, or home grown talents, crushing bitter rivals, shinny new toys, shit like that wasn’t happening.

            And yes, that’s why I described the IPK/AJax over Granderson crowd as “idiots.”

          • http://twitter.com/JimIsBored JimIsBored (Jim S)

            “And Ian Kennedy would have nowhere near the season he’s had in Arizona if he was here in NY.”

            There’s no way to prove that true or false. For what it’s worth, he’s pitching in a ridiculously hitter friendly park, which slightly counters the effects of playing in the NL West.

            He may have been slightly worse, but to say “no where near” seems like an exaggeration.

          • Ted Nelson

            Going into this season it was a whole lot easier to say that than finishing a 7 fWAR season, but those guys are still younger and cheaper than Granderson. Granderson could start declining in a couple of years (or next year seeing at it’s hard to follow up a 7 fWAR season), while at 24 and 26 AJax and IPK’s best seasons are more likely to be ahead of them.

            I’m perfectly fine with Granderson (especially after this season), but I thought that was a pretty fair price of solid MLB-ready pieces for him.

      • CP

        Jeter Career: .313/.383/.449/.832
        Jeter since DL: .331/.379/.442/.822 (286 PA)

        • Rich in NJ

          Jeter since DL: .331/.379/.442/.822 (286 PA)

          Jeter from the start of 2010 until he went on the DL this season:

          .267/.336/.357/.692

          Last year, Jon Heyman speculated that his 2010 season was due to the pressure of his impending free agency. I thought that was a ridiculous explanation at the time.

          This season, Girardi has tried to explain Jeter’s pre-DL slump by citing the pressure of reaching 3000 hits.

          Perhaps one or both of these statements are absurd, but because I don’t think what he has done since he came off the DL was foreseeable to anyone, perhaps they are a little less crazy than I would have otherwise thought.

          • http://twitter.com/JimIsBored JimIsBored (Jim S)

            It may have been foreseeable to those who knew he was hurt, but yeah, no one outside of that.

            • Rich in NJ

              Except I can recall reading a quote from Kevin Long late last season (or shortly after the season) to the effect that Jeter had been healthy all year.

              Maybe Jeter was hurt and Long was either out of the loop or unwilling to acknowledge it, but that’s why I didn’t mention an injury as a possible explanation.

              • the Other Steve S.

                better check with Minka

          • Brian S.

            Or maybe the .400 BABIP he posted in August had something to do with it.

            • Rich in NJ

              Maybe, but his LD% was 31.6 % in August, 24.0 % in September. It was 16.1 % in 2010, so he has hit the ball harder.

          • https://twitter.com/TheRealJeromeS Jerome S.

            I think it’s nuts. He must have been injured or something. Jeter’s won five world series with the Yankees, and I think he’s known as “Captain Clutch”; I can’t imagine him becoming a noodle with the bat because of an upcoming contract or milestone.

    • Ted Nelson

      Way to stick to your schtick: always look at the downside of everything…

      • Jimmy McNulty

        I bought a DJ3K Jersey the other day, what else do you want? It wasn’t a bad year, just kinda odd. The big contributions came from people that were from players who recently brought in and hadn’t quite won over the entire fan base and from CC, where the spectre of him leaving loomed large. There’s certain things that most fans like aside from winning, not many of those things happened…but hey they’ve done plenty of winning so far.

        FWIW, I think with a bit better marketing Bartolo Colon could have became a fan favorite that everyone loved. Sort of the Nick Swisher of the rotation, very good but not great player that everyone loves. He’s a great big fat guy, this is America there’s plenty of people that could identify with that.

        • Ed

          I do kinda get your point, and even agreed with your first post at first. But as you go on, you’re really contradicting yourself.

          “The big contributions came from people that were from players who recently brought in and hadn’t quite won over the entire fan base”

          You said A-Rod was the highlight of 2005, yet that description fit him pretty well then.

          “and from CC, where the spectre of him leaving loomed large.”

          And this fits A-Rod’s 2007 season perfectly as well.

          • Jimmy McNulty

            While A-Rod hadn’t quite won over the fan base, he’s still a once in a generational type talent. When those guys are kicking ass and taking names it’s quite different. Doesn’t matter who they are when they’re performing all of baseball takes notice, and it’s fun to be a part of it. If Albert Pujols were to become a Yankee by some miracle, it doesn’t matter how the fans feel about him…love him or hate him it’s fun when he’s a monster. You know you’re watching something special whether you like him or not. You’re right about A-Rod/CC, the thing though. I’m unsure if CC’s season is still as exciting as a 50+ HR season where a guy gets his 500th HR.

        • Ted Nelson

          It’s hard to measure how boring or exciting a season is, so I really don’t know if this was more boring or less boring of a season than most…

          Yankees were in a race back and forth with the Red Sox all season, though. Cano is only a tick below last season, really: .389 wOBA last season, .377 this season… defensively he might be comparatively worse this season. Cano also won the HR derby in a good show. A-Rod had a very good season–best offensive 3B is the AL–he just missed some time. Swisher has the best fWAR of any AL RF not named Bautista. Gardner’s at 5 fWAR thanks largely to his exciting defense and speed. Teixiera is 3rd among AL 1B in fWAR. Nunez’s throwing arm is anything but boring… Low minors dazzled with potential stars, while the high minors had fairly similar seasons outside of Brackman.

          I don’t see what makes this season much different from last season. Last year they won the WC by 6 games and Boston limped through a good portion of the season looking fairly life-less. A-Rod missed time last season. Jeter was worse last season. There were no big acquisitions I can think of outside of Granderson, just like this season there are none outside of Martin. Montero struggled in AAA the first half of both seasons before turning it on (McAllister struggled in AAA… Melancon struggled, was traded, and shined… Romine’s AA stats were practically identical… despite the memes about how the seasons went I’m not sure this MiLB season went any worse… people were just shocked by how strong the farm suddenly was last season). Andruw Jones this season is largely Marcus Thames last season. I don’t know that 2010 was any more exciting than 2011. Maybe that it’s a repeat of the same thing is boring?

          More than boring I think the article is right that people were just looking for things to complain about. Maybe waiting for impending doom with the Yankees just like they largely are with the economy. All season there was enough about how the rotation was going to fall apart any moment that I never got the impression they were in the playoffs for sure… I think that’s a bit of hindsight by the author there. Now it’s obvious they were always in the drivers seat, but as it progressed people thought the Yankees were a lot more likely to be in Boston’s position or worse than Boston. If anything I always got the impression the “mighty” Red Sox would never miss the playoffs.

          • Jimmy McNulty

            Compared to the rest of the league I think Cano had a worse year than he did in 2010, A-Rod missed time…time without A-Rod climbing the HR leader boards…BOR ING!!!!!, low minors? Too far away to get excited about. Identical stats in the same league as the past season is kinda taking a step back. No big acquisitions last year? Javy, Nick Johnson, and Granderson. Three players to get excited about. I for one, was looking forward to Javy’s redemption, but we all know how that turned out. Thames hit a few walkoffs last year no? I recall him hitting one off of Papelbon for sure. They had a good year, not quite the excitement as last season, though IMO. Cano opening up a can of whoop ass was pretty much my highlight of the year. Swisher’s AS campaign was fun.

            Ted, Boring’s an emotional thing. There were too huge highlights this year 602 and DJ3K but we all knew they were coming, it’s hard to get excited about something you knew was coming. DJ3K was INCREDIBLE though, it surpassed my expectations.

            • Ted Nelson

              -Cano had a worse season, yes. Not a ton worse though, and he won the HR Derby.

              -A-Rod climbing the HR leaderboard literally one more spot (would have needed 31 more HRs to pass Mays) would have been exciting, but not Jeter’s 3000th hit or Mo’s 602nd save?

              -“low minors? Too far away to get excited about.”
              Largely the same as last season… Manny and Dellin were still A ball, Sanchez was really the big surprise.

              -Javy was terrible. He was as exciting last season as AJ and Phil Hughes were this season. That he was a bit exciting going into the season doesn’t mean he was exciting during the season.

              -Johnson was hurt all season. Barely played. His eventual replacement Lance Berkman was no good either.

              -Granderson’s can of whoop ass has been very fun… and Cano isn’t exactly slacking this season either. At various times A-Rod, Martin, Jeter, and Swisher have been among the hottest players in baseball.

              -Swisher has matched his 2010 fWAR already with some game left to play.

              I never said boring wasn’t an emotional thing. What I said is that it’s hard to measure. That you choose to actively look for the dark spot of every cloud instead of the silver lining doesn’t mean that the season as a whole was any more boring for the average Yankee fan than 2010.

              “There were too huge highlights this year 602 and DJ3K but we all knew they were coming, it’s hard to get excited about something you knew was coming.”

              Yet one of the few things you point to disappointing you about this season is A-Rod not doing something we all know is coming by passing Griffey… which he very well might do this season since he’s all of 1 bloody HR behind him.

              • Ted Nelson

                And even if they didn’t decide to bring him up until September, you did see the much anticipated debut of Jesus Montero this season. I’ll take that and the maturation of Nova this season over no big debuts that I can remember and a few 4 IP starts by Nova down the stretch because Javy was un-pitchable.

          • Cris Pengiuci

            Nunez’s throwing arm is anything but boring

            Possibly the truest of all the things you mentioned. :-)

    • theyankeewarrior

      It’s pretty unreasonable to not be happy about Jeter’s production this season.

  • Now Batting

    I think last year’s ALCS is another reason why people have such a strong emotional response about the rotation heading into the playoffs this year. Hughes got lit up in both of his starts and AJ got lit up in his one start. Only Pettitte had a strong outing and he’s obviously gone. Considering that we haven’t really upgraded over Hughes and Pettitte from last year, there is obviously concern from the fan base heading into this year’s playoffs.

    • CP

      CC and Pettitte were both pitching hurt in the playoffs last year, Hughes was clearly fading down the stretch even before the playoffs began, and AJ is AJ.

      It’s funny how people forget things like that.

      • MattG

        And this year, Colon is clearly fading, Freddy’s caught acute gopheritis, and Hughes is the new AJ.

        /exaggerated for effect

        The results will write the story. If the Yankees’ starters pitch well in October, which means the same as they pitched during the regular season, the Yankees will be fine. If they don’t, the post-mortem will be familiar.

        • Now Batting

          You’re preaching to the choir.

          I’m saying their struggles last ALCS and the lack of a clear improvement in the SP category has led to an *emotional* response from the majority of the fanbase about concern over pitching heading into this October.

  • Monteroisdinero

    A big Montero post season will be the type of drama I will most enjoy.

    • Cris Pengiuci

      Provided he makes the roster. Certainly not a given. He should make it (I think I’d take him over Andruw, as they fill the same role), but the Yankee brass may take Andruw over him due to the “experience” factor, and a touch more versatility. Personnaly, I wouldn’t put Andruw anywhere near the OF except during warm ups. He’s OK, but with Dickerson (or someone else) on the roster, they have a defensive specialist. My guess is Posada gets the nod as the DH against right-handers.

      • MattG

        I’m not understanding the harsh critique of Jones, here. Andruw is a major reason why the Yankees have throttled left-handers this season. He will not only be on the roster, but he will be in left field a lot if the Yankees play Texas.

        As will Montero. His chances of making the post-season pretty much hinge on the Yankees making the post-season, and not much else.

        • Monteroisdinero

          The thing is-if Montero rakes and we lose it will be more exciting than if a veteran (who may not be on the roster next year let alone the next 10-15) does.

        • Cris Pengiuci

          Not meant to be harsh criticism of him at all. He does provide added flexibility over Montero, but I’d keep Gardner in against lefty starters for his defense and his speed on the base paths (if he gets on). I’m not sure Jones is needed. Montero may possibly supply equal or better offense.

          Re-read my comment. Perhaps “Not put him anywhere near” the OF was a bit strong. It’s just that he’s no defensive substitution for the starting 3, in my mind.

          • Ted Nelson

            “Montero may possibly supply equal or better offense.”

            And he may not… Montero has 18 PAs against MLB LHPs in MLB, while Jones has 140 with a .405 wOBA this season. Montero has a .700 BABIP against lefties and a .063 ISO. Certainly that’s not sustainable in either direction. He’s not likely to have only a .063 ISO, but he’s also not likely to have a .700 BABIP. Where’s his true talent? We don’t know. If he were unlucky with a .100 BABIP against lefties right now, though, I doubt you’d be calling for him to replace Jones. It’s too small a sample to put that much stock in either way. I’d like Jesus on the roster, but Jones has his utility too.

            Let’s not jizz ourselves yet. As Mike’s earlier post on the 1996 season shows, a “can’t miss” top prospect can have a good rookie season for a 100 PAs or so and still miss (Ruben Rivera).

            • Cris Pengiuci

              My position on Montero is based on Cashman’s (I believe) commnet about him being possibly the Yankees best option for DH during the playoffs, not the stats he’s put up. Definitely only a SSS. In that case, I’ll trust the guys who earn the big bucks to make these decisions. After all, if they screw up, it may hurt their paycheck (or jobs). If I’m wrong, it doesn’t mean anything, because I don’t make these decisions.

              As you point out, Jones has been very good this season. That doesn’t mean he will (or won’t) be in the post season. Just an indication of what is likely.

      • Ted Nelson

        It’s not about “experience”… Jones is crushing LHP… .405 wOBA.

  • radnom

    I have an actual quibble.


    the drama-seeker will tend to conjure it from nowhere. Hence the concerns about the rotation that fares well when compared to its peers.

    BS. There are legitimate concerns about the rotation that are not imaginary. And simply pointing to solid season-long ERA/FIP numbers does not make them imaginary. Those numbers don’t accurately capture the concern. There are legitimate reasons to wonder if Colon and Garcia are the same guys from the first 3/4 of the season. AJ has developed into a real problem this year, which, while irrelevant to this years playoffs, is a topic that will continue to affect the Yankees into the future.
    Its not all doom and gloom, and the Yankees certainly have a good chance this year, but the issues are not “conjured from nowhere” either. And the numbers cited to back that up are pretty irrelevant to the actual concerns.

    • CP

      the rotation that fares well when compared to its peers.

      All of those issues you state are no worse than what the other playoff caliber teams have to deal with (except the Phillies). Thus, the rotation fares well when compared to its peers.

      • radnom

        I have already stated that the numbers used to back that up (from the article) are irrelevant. So now you just repeat the point with no evidence. Thanks for your contribution.

        Yes, other teams have issues too. To say the Yankees pitching situation is as good as any in baseball except the Phillies at the moment….well, I’m not sure I agree.

        • http://twitter.com/JimIsBored JimIsBored (Jim S)

          Saying the numbers are irrelevant does not make the numbers irrelevant.

          You didn’t cite any numbers of your own to counter the “irrelevant” ones.

  • Mr Obvious

    For anyone who thinks the Yankees farm system took a step back should look no further than what happened with the Redsox farm system this year.

    Other than Wieland none of their high profile (pitching prospects) guys made any significant progress.

    • Jimmy McNulty

      Well yeah, but we just got done with 2010…where it looked like the team might finally have enough aces to compete with Boston. Everyone hit well, a lot of players got promoted, few injuries, and some awesome debuts. DBJ and Mason were nice debuts but it wasn’t 2010. I wasn’t saying the farm had a bad year, it was just kinda…meh.

      • http://notanevilempire.com/ Steve O.

        might finally have enough aces to compete with Boston.

        HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA

        (takes breath)

        HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA

        • MannyGeee

          wait, where did we get 7 aces from?

  • Dave B

    This article was a good reality check. I’ve been worried about the rotation/bullpen for weeks. However, I have a lot of faith in Girardi to pull the right strings in October. What he has done with his patchwork rotation, injuries in bullpen (Joba), Soriano’s sub par year, and Robertson’s development is nothing short of amazing. The guy is turning into one of the better strategists in the game, at least in my opinion.

  • dkidd

    the only difference from last year is that if our starters blow up against texas, i’ll be slightly less surprised

    i feel better about making it to the ws than i did last year. no idea why

  • Monteroisdinero

    I read the entire Leitch article and it is actually an article on Joe Girardi and how he keeps the drama down and how, with the talent we have, we should be grateful for that as personality and chemistry problems are the only things that can derail us (during the regular season). He cites Joe’s handling of Posada and AJ.

    Joe G; the great pacifier/defuser

    Leitch does go on to say that in the postseason, keeping the drama down (talent alone) doesn’t cut it.

    • http://twitter.com/JimIsBored JimIsBored (Jim S)

      “Leitch does go on to say that in the postseason, keeping the drama down (talent alone) doesn’t cut it.”

      Maybe not, but there isn’t really any pattern of manager-type that does cut it.

      • http://twitter.com/JimIsBored JimIsBored (Jim S)

        Also, I’m an idiot. I have no idea why Girardi doesn’t cut it in the postseason. He’s won the whole thing 50% of the time he’s been there.

        SSS alert. Of course, the entire idea of figuring out which kind of managers succeed in the postseason is ripe with small samples.

        • MannyGeee

          he has a .666 Playoff Appearance average. thats better than Tito AND Bobby Cox! (about a week away from bumping that up to .750!!!)

          #BestManagerEver

  • MattG

    Contributing to the angst is that Colon and Freddy were pitching quite a bit better several weeks ago, and Nova’s slider, which appeared to be a revelation, has sort of disappeared. I’d like to have the Yankees’ staff from May back, please, Hughes notwithstanding.

    Still, your point about the competition is well taken. Relatively speaking, Detroit must be pretty confident, while Boston and Texas have a lot more to worry about than New York.

  • http://notanevilempire.com/ Steve O.

    Sometimes, boring is good.

    (ducks)

    • Jimmy McNulty

      Still Water runs deep.

      • http://notanevilempire.com/ Steve O.

        Deep sand runs quick.

        • Jimmy McNulty

          I was trying to suggest that boring is okay…

          • http://notanevilempire.com/ Steve O.

            Oh, I know.

            (squints eyes)

  • Victarion Greyjoy

    Quiet, woman! The Drowned God will never allow you to drink in his watery halls if you don’t STFU

    • http://twitter.com/rebeccapbp Asha Greyjoy

      Shuddup Nuncle, you’re chasing dragons. I mean. Pfft. Dragons.

      • Crows Eye Greyjoy

        The Kraken has spoken!

        • Theon Greyjoy

          Usurper!

  • TomH

    You write: “The Yankees starters this year have a 4.06 ERA, right around the mark of the playoff-bound Tigers, and ahead of the Red Sox. Their 3.92 FIP ranks sixth — and the Rangers are the only playoff-bound team ahead of them. Finally, their 3.79 xFIP ranks first in the league.”

    I think we won’t have to wait too long in the post-season to learn whether or NOT we’re going to have, in the Yankees’ staff, an example of the undue contemporary reliance on mere statistics as against reliance on what common sense may be revealing. It could be that, yep, the stats don’t lie,and the Yanks motor their way to #28.

    But what if the stats do lie (or at least mislead)?

    What if, after all, the people who say “after CC, the deluge” are right: that Freddy and Bart had been over-achieving for 4 months and that September has outed them? Take them out, and you’re left with AJ–who’s like that guy in the old Li’l Abner comics who walked around with a black doom cloud over his head–and Hughes with his mystery wound.

    I’ve been following the Yankees since the Raschi-Reynolds-Lopat rotations, and in all the years of Yankee success during that time I can’t ever recall seeing so puzzling a rotation as this one.

    Well, if they get to the Series, I really hope that the Phillies have, somehow, been eliminated. If they haven’t been, we have a good chance of seeing a 1963 or 1976 type Yankee performance.

    • http://twitter.com/JimIsBored JimIsBored (Jim S)

      The problem is, one bad start in the postseason might be all Garcia/Colon get, and that doesn’t mean, at all, that they couldn’t cut it in the postseason. The statistics aren’t misleading if you’re going to use one start to judge them; you’re just using them wrong. Statistics rely on huge samples, the playoffs are, what, 19 games at most.

      The playoffs are a crap shoot, plain and simple. If the 06 Cards can win a world series, against common sense and stats both, that should be a pretty good sign to all involved that predicting them can be fun, but in the end, pretty meaningless.

      • MannyGeee

        speaking of huge sample sizes:

        Player 1: 6-2, 3.11ERA, 2.05 K/BB in 55.0 IP
        Player 2: 2-3, 3.61ERA, 1.86 K/BB in 52.1 IP
        Player 3: 7-4, 4.66ERA, 1.87 K/BB in 77.1 IP

        Those are the playoff records for 3 pitchers mentioned above. guess which one of those guys is getting the ball in game 1?

        (That would be Freddy, Colon, and CC… in order)

        so, yeah… there’s some stats.

        • Cris Pengiuci

          Past performance does not guarantee future returns.

    • Ted Nelson

      Not winning the world series does not mean that the “stats lied.” The Yankees have roughly a 12.5% chance of winning the WS if you consider all playoff teams equal (or at least the Yankees as equal to the average of the others).

      The stats tell you how they pitched in the regular season. They do not predict the future. Stats do not equal magic. Even if the Yankees had 4 CC Sabathia’s, that doesn’t guarantee they don’t all fall apart in the ALDS the way CC did in G1 of the ALCS last season or Cliff Lee did in the WS last year. It’s a potentially tiny sample.

  • http://bleedingyankeeblue.com Jesse

    Can the playoffs just start today? Please?

    • http://twitter.com/JimIsBored JimIsBored (Jim S)

      Yeah. This.

    • Red Sox Nation

      +86

    • theyankeewarrior

      That would not give the Sox time to complete their collapse and A-Rod time to get his October ’09 swing back.

      • http://bleedingyankeeblue.com Jesse

        Eh, to be brutally honest with you, and I really do enjoy seeing them collapse, but I couldn’t care less about their potential collapse. Let’s be honest, if the playoffs started today they’d play the Tigers. Do you really think they could beat them in a five game series? I certainly don’t think so. Heck, Boston just got owned by the Rays twice, the Jays, and they are struggling to beat the Orioles (sorry, I don’t see Boston scoring 18, let alone 8 in a single playoff game against the Tigers).

        But, you do make a valid point on A-Rod getting his timing back, although we’ve seen some glimpses of it the last few days.

        • MannyGeee

          not sure the Red Sox can score 18 in an entire series against the Tigers in their current state.

          • http://bleedingyankeeblue.com Jesse

            That’s true.

            • Cris Pengiuci

              Considering it would be only 3 games (Tigers Sweep Sox!), yeah, I don’t see that happening either. :-)

  • theyankeewarrior

    Agree wholeheartedly about not sweating the small stuff that applies to the 2011 team and their chances of making the playoffs and performing well in October.

    The team that Cashman assembled, and the team that Girardi runs out there every day (or lately twice a week) is just about as good as we could have asked for, taking into account the FA market, Lee’s refusal to pitch in NY, the mid-summer trade market, etc.

    However, I think things that will effect the future of the team like Phil Hughes and AJ Burnett’s sucktitude, bad contracts/guys who can’t stay healthy like Soriano and Alex, Tex’s suddenly shitty LH swing and the outright release of a guy like Aceves are reasons to be upset/frustrated.

    I, personally, have tried to keep my frustrations focused on situations of this nature. The ones that can effect the long-term success of the team, and not necessarily be a huge burden on the 2011 Yankees.

    They are in first place and are a top team in MLB. That’s nothing to be upset about.

  • Urban

    It has been sort of an event-free season, allowing fans to focus on small points. Bring up Montero now! Bat Tex fifth! Gardner should lead off! Yawn. The fact that those have been some of the bigger issues says it all.

    There have also been pleasant surprises, from Colon’s comeback to Jeter’s improved play in the second-half. The pitching staff overall has been one of the pleasant surprises, yet it’s also been the focus on one of the most overplayed concerns: “Who’s the second starter in the postseason?!” I got wrapped up in to it for a bit, but then I realized it didn’t matter. The Yankees don’t have a Lee- or Lester-level pitcher, and the differences between Colon, Nova and Garcia have been so minimal that I can’t get all that worked up. I expect Girardi will go with who looks best going into his last couple of starts, with some consideration to opponent and location.

    It really doesn’t matter. The fact that all three have pitched to a similar level is the perfect example of the hohumness of this season. The Yankees just have to hope whomever they select is on his game, and if he isn’t, they’ll be second-guessed.

  • Foghorn Leghorn

    2011 has been an eventful and memorable season for many reasons…

    let’s see here…

    we had a chase for 3,000, a chase for 602…and a resurgence from an unexpected source named Bartolo. We have three guys battling it out for the RBI lead and a guy hitting 40 plus bombs, scoring a ton of runs..AND THE YANKEES ARE LEADING THE LEAGUE IN STOLEN BASES???

    And let’s not forget an epic Home Run Derby champion..and contributions from young players and bench players.

    This year may have been more boring than others for the fact that it lacked controversy and drama but 2011 has been a great year!

    • MannyGeee

      and don’t forget Nunez’ coming out party. that kids gonna win a batting title someday…

      /startingthenarrative’d

  • MannyGeee

    wow, you forget in all the boring that we have a guy on our team NOT NAMED A-Rod or Tex with over 40 HRs and in serious AL MVP consideration…

    and a guy who is a few bad breaks away from being a 22 game winner,

    and a rookie pitcher (non-top prospect at that) with 15+ wins and will get some AL RoY consideration.

    and the most expensive 7th inning man in the history of foreverdom,

    and 2 major milestones reached by sure fire HOFers….

    quietly a pretty heavy season!

    • Yank The Frank

      and a catcher that can shut down the running game…are you listening Texas?

      • Foghorn Leghorn

        looks at claw and antlers and just shakes head…

  • LiterallyFigurative

    Personally, I think Yank fans just NEED drama to make our lives complete.

    I compare this Yankee team to the teams of the mid 2000’s, post collapse.

    They have:
    A far more stable bridge to Mariano.
    A diverse and explosive offense, and a much more reliable and steady defense.
    Solid starting pitching with a true #1.

    This franchise has been able to win 95ish games yearly, while including young players into the fold, which was something that wasn’t happening from the late 90’s to 2005 or so.

    I feel almost no angst about this team, maybe because they won in 2009, so I KNOW certain guys (CC, Alex) can do the job in October. No AJ in the rotation makes me feel better too.

    Plus, all the possible AL opponents have warts, just like us.

    All the pissing and moaning over the course of the season (When to bring up Montero, should Jorge get more PT, who’s the #2 starter in the middle of June (as if that even mattered), Gardner 9th or 1st) has been background noise to me.

    Cashman has built a team who has no MVP from a position player standpoint. This team could concievably survive any of their main position guys getting hurt over the course of a season. The farm system is strong and provides contributors to the overall value of the team.

    What’s not to like?

    Outside of the irrational pursuit of The Perfect Team, I have no issues with this team and the season they’re having.

    Some fans just want the Sure Thing.

  • Evan3457

    Boring?

    I don’t think the Yanks are to blame for the Rays playing the super-two game and screwing around with Sam Fuld and not Jennings for four months plus, or for the Sox utter collapse from out of nowhere. If not for those two things, there might have been an incredible 3-way race for two spots just about the whole season long.