If you’ve been reading my stuff long enough, then you might remember my Friday Randomness posts from the pre-RAB days. That was a long, long time ago. Geez. It was literally just a collection of links I had sitting around, interesting stuff I read throughout the week. Almost all of it was baseball related, but once a while some non-baseball stuff would sneak in. I’ve decided to bring that back here and this is the first entry. The nightly open thread is a pretty good spot to do that. This week’s stuff is pretty old, but that’s okay. Away we go:
- My buddy Robert Sanchez profiled Cy Young winner Max Scherzer earlier this year for ESPN (Insider req’d). Scherzer’s brother Alex committed suicide last June and Max really opened up about their relationship and how his brother’s death affected him both on and off the field. Robert is one of the best writers I know and Scherzer is an impossibly great guy (met him at the ALCS). You can’t read the piece and not come away rooting for him.
- Former big leaguer infielder Adrian Cardenas — who I once wrote up as a potential target for the Yankees — wrote an article in the New Yorker about why he quit baseball at age 25. He now studies creative writing and philosophy at NYU because he simply enjoys school more than baseball. Hard to believe someone can work so hard to get to the show then give it up to go back to school, but I guess the game isn’t for everyone, even if you’re good at it.
- In another ESPN piece (Insider req’d), Sam Miller wrote about the science of team chemistry. Front offices are trying to measure and quantify “clubhouse atmosphere,” and a study by professors from Rutgers and Santa Clara University found that clubs with a lot of diversity outperform other clubs by about three wins a year. Young players hang out with other young players, Dominican players hang out with other Dominican players, star players hang out with other star players, stuff like that, so the more overlap you have between groups, the better the clubhouse chemistry. Pretty fascinating stuff.
- Last one and this one’s kinda old: friend of RAB Jonah Keri spoke to Coco Crisp about the art of stealing bases, specifically getting jumps and reading a pitcher’s move. It’s a long but really interesting read. These small, easy to overlook “game within the game” aspects of baseball always fascinate me.
I’ll try to keep the links more current going forward, but I had some bookmarks to clean out and these were all in them. Figured I might as well post them here rather than just dump them. Hope you find one or two worthwhile.
Friday: Anyway, now that that’s all out of the way, here is open thread for the night. The Devils and Nets are both playing tonight, plus there’s college basketball on somewhere. I’m sure of it. Talk about whatever. Go nuts.
Saturday: Once again, use this as your open thread for the night. The five hockey and basketball locals are all playing, plus there’s college football and basketball on somewhere. Anything goes here. Have at it.
Sunday: Here’s the open thread for the evening. The late NFL game is the Chiefs and Broncos (that should be fun) plus the Rangers are playing as well. Talk about those games or anything else.
If you’ve read this site long enough, then you’re probably familiar with the idea of linear weights and wOBA. If not, then I suggest checking out Joe’s primer. In a post at the FanGraphs Community blog yesterday, Sam Menzin presented an article from the 1915 edition of Baseball Magazine (pdf link), in which author F.C. Lane questions the idea of batting average and its accuracy. Allow me to excerpt…
Lane opens his discussion with a question: “Suppose you asked a close personal friend how much change he had in his pocket and he replied, ‘Twelve coins,’ would you think you had learned much about the precise state of his exchequer?” He goes on to compare two mens’ respective financial situations: Man A, with “twelve coins” consisting of a combination of quarters, nickels, and dimes; and Man B, with twelve silver dollars. Saying both men have equal financial means is equivalent to the system of tracking batting averages, he explains. “One batter, we may say, made twelve singles, three or four of them of the scratchiest possible variety. The other also made twelve hits, but all of them were good ringing drives, clean cut and decisive, three of them were doubles, one a triple, and one a home run…Is there no way to separate the dimes from the nickels and give each its proper value?” Sound familiar?
This issue was not solely unique to Lane’s inquisitiveness. John Heydler, secretary and future president of the National League, added, “that the system of giving as much credit to singles as to home runs is inaccurate to that extent. But it has never seemed practicable to use any other system. How, for instance, are you going to give the comparative values of home runs and singles?”
Lane goes on to use an example of two players, one with a higher batting average and lots of singles and another with a lower batting average but lots of extra base hits. He compared each players’ hit rates (singles, doubles, triples, homers) to the league average, which is essentially an early version of wOBA and wRC+. It’s very fascinating stuff, a nearly hundred-year old article questioning the merits of a statistic still valued so highly today. I suggest clicking the links above and reading both articles, Lane’s and Menzin’s. I really can’t recommend it enough, it’s amazing stuff.
Full Disclosure: Our own Larry Koestler edited the post for Sam. Not that that means anything, just figured I’d mention it.
Another rainy, yucky afternoon in New York, so I’ve got some inks that will hopefully brighten up the late lunch hour…
One of the two times Fat Elvis went deep in pinstripes. (AP Photo/Jim Mone)
Berkman, Ellsbury named Comeback Players of the Year
MLB announced today that Jacoby Ellsbury and former Yankee Lance Berkman have been named the AL and NL Comeback Players of the Year, respectively. Call me a homer, but I think Bartolo Colon should have taken home the AL award. I view this season as a breakout year for Ellsbury, not a comeback. Colon’s career was basically over, it had been four full year since he was last an effective pitcher. Put it this way, what would have surprised you more in March, Ellsbury having the year he had, or Colon having the year he had? Oh well, just my two cents. Congrats to Puma.
Ortiz and the Yankees
Amidst the chaos going on in the Boston, David Ortiz told ESPN’s Colleen Dominguez that he didn’t want to be part of the drama next year. That led to an exchange about the Yankees, and possibly wearing pinstripes in 2012…
“That’s something I gotta think about,” Ortiz said. “I’ve been here on the Red Sox a long time, and I’ve seen how everything goes down between these two ballclubs.”
Ortiz stopped well short of saying he wanted to play for the Yankees, but did express respect for the organization.
“It’s great from what I hear,” Ortiz said of the Yankees. “It’s a good situation to be involved in. Who doesn’t want to be involved in a great situation where everything goes the right way?
Well, I’m glad Ortiz is willing to spend some time thinking about joining the Yankees, but it takes two to tango. As Joe explained yesterday, acquiring a DH is so far down the team’s priority list right now that it’s one notch above “get a new second baseman.” They’d have to give up a draft pick to sign Ortiz since he’s a Type-A free agent (and will certainly be offered arbitration), and then deal with the inevitable PED questions when the Red Sox throw him under the bus as part of their smear campaign like they do everyone else.
Yanks exec interviewed for Phillies gig
Just a small note, but George King reports the Yankees allowed assistant pro scouting director Will Kuntz to interview for the Phillies minor league director position, but he did not get it. This comes on the heels of the news that both Billy Eppler and Damon Oppenheimer were given permission to interview for the Angels vacant GM position (Kuntz works under Eppler). I guess it’s good to know the Yankees front office people are wanted around the league.
It’s been a busy day, and the playoffs haven’t even started for the Yankees yet. Let’s take a second to recap all of the content from earlier today, just so no one misses anything…
It’s a gorgeous Monday afternoon in New York, beautiful blue sky with a light breeze … they should dome the Tri-State Area with weather like this. Anyway, if you’re stuck spending your lunch break inside, here’s a pair of links to help pass the time…
A.J. Burnett, Reliever?
Joe wrote a post about why the Yankees should stick A.J. Burnett in the bullpen earlier this month, and Lucas Apostoleris added to the argument today at FanGraphs. The graph above shows that Burnett’s fastball velocity drops a good two miles an hour during the course of a typical start, peaking right around 94 mph through his first 30 pitches. Unsurprisingly, his strikeout rate dips later in the game and he gets hit harder. Joe Girardi said yesterday that they’re going to get back to a five-man rotation after the upcoming Red Sox series, and right now A.J. is clearly the odd man out. Given the info presented in Joe’s and Lucas’ posts, it would be interesting to see what the right-hander could do in one-inning relief bursts.
Previewing The Yankees’ Arbitration Cases
The Yankees had three relatively simple arbitration cases last year, settling on one-year contracts with Phil Hughes, Joba Chamberlain, and Boone Logan before hearings even had to be scheduled. It won’t be that easy this year though, the Yankees have six players up for arbitration as Tim Dierkes’ shows in his Arbitration Eligibles series at MLBTR.
None of the six players – the three guys above plus David Robertson, Brett Gardner, and Russell Martin – are non-tender candidates, and all together they could end up costing the Yankees around $18M or so. Most of that is Martin (figure $6M or so), who’s going through arbitration for the fourth time as a Super Two. Gardner will probably get something close to the $2.4M that Michael Bourn got his first time through arbitration last year, and the relievers will be lucky to top $2M each. I really have no idea what Hughes is looking at, but Tim suggests $3.4M or so. Hooray for cheap talent.
As we await out the start of Hurricane A.J. tonight and Hurricane Irene tomorrow, some links for your reading pleasure:
- While Derek Jeter didn’t have much to say about his personal life and in fact walked away from reporters this afternoon, Minka Kelly’s rep confirmed that Jeter and Minka Kelly split up. The rep said Jeter “has broken up with” Kelly. So take that for what you will.
- Aaron Taube wrote an entertain piece on Jorge Posada’s second base adventures yesterday. Posada, who started out with the Yanks as a middle infielder, hadn’t played there since his days with Oneonta in 1991. While his throw to first for the final out of the game wasn’t much, he can add it to his Major League resume now too.
- A-Rod met with MLB officials today to discuss reports of his poker playing. The Yanks’ slugger refused to give any details, but he said he’s not worried. “They asked me a lot of questions. I answered them. It went well. I feel great about it,” A-Rod said. “I think they have their information. Now they can report back to the commissioner.”
Got some interesting minor league stuff to pass along, so check it out while you wait for tonight’s game…
A-Rod on Montero
“We came in here and had a good session, talked a little bit about the mental side of hitting, the little bit about the mechanics,” said Alex Rodriguez to Kristie Ackert yesterday, referring to the time he’s spent with Jesus Montero this week. “We talked about hopefully getting together this winter in Miami, working out with Kevin Long and [Triple-A Scranton hitting coach Butch Wynegar] and whoever wants to come down to Miami and have a little bit of a winter hitting camp. Obviously he’s a guy we expect big things from and what saw tonight and the past few nights, he’s not going to disappoint.”
A-Rod spent time with all the players in Scranton, but Wynegar says he really took Montero under his wing. “He is trying to show him the work it takes at the major league level. And Monty is just absorbing it all … I hate to say this, but I think Monty’s getting a little bored in the minor leagues, he’s ready for that next challenge. I told Brian Cashman I think he needs that next challenge, and I hope he gets it next month.”
Who is Jose Quintana?
High-A Tampa left-baller Jose Quintana has opened some eyes in DotF this year, pitching to a 3.08 FIP with 8.26 K/9 and 2.75 BB/9 in 85 IP. He was an unknown coming into 2011, just making a handful of appearances in rookie ball last season. In a piece for Baseball America (subs. req’d), George King digs into the 22-year-old’s story. Apparently the Yankees signed him three years ago after the Mets cut him loose with just three career appearances to his credit.
“We gave him a second opportunity,” said VP of Baseball Ops Mark Newman. “Pat McMahon, who leads our Latin America player development, had him in the program and he liked him. He kept telling us there was more there.” Newman adds that Quintana sits 89-91 mph with his fastball and also throws a curveball and changeup. “There is some deception and a lot of swings and misses.”
Ranking The Minor League Markets
The Sports Business Journal (no subs. req’d, I believe) published a final ranking of minor league markets today. Charleston, home of the Yankees Low-A affiliate, placed seventh behind Hershey/Harrisburg, San Bernardino, Providence/Pawtucket, Reading, Portland (Maine, not Oregon), and Syracuse. Trenton ranks 42nd (between Kingsport, TN and Roanoke/Salem, VA), Staten Island ranks 56th (between Durham and Hagerstown), and Scranton/Wilkes-Barres ranks 139th (between Williamsport and Greeneville, TN). The ranks are based on more sports than just baseball, and factors include team attendance, the local economy, venues, etc. The Yankee brand is very important to the various minor league affiliates, that alone draws significant attendance.
Lunchtime linkage for those of you that prefer a later meal, like myself…
(AP Photo/Carlos Osorio)
The Jorge Posada Hypocrisy
I swear, I wrote the first half of his great Jack Curry article on the train this morning. I mean, granted it wasn’t word for word, the premise was the same: the Yankees are coming off as extremely hypocritical for taking Jorge Posada out of the lineup because it’s best for the team while continuing to give A.J. Burnett starts every five days (or every six days, really). Jack’s a far better writer than I am, so go read his article to get the gist of what I was trying to say.
American League Best Tools
Every year, Baseball America surveys managers, coaches, and scouts about the best tools in both the American League and National League (no subs. req’d). I usually find these pieces interesting, but this year’s effort is a bit … wonky. Those surveyed voted Brett Gardner as the best bunter in the AL, which is most certainly not the case. He’s gotten a lot better recently, a lot better, but I’m not convinced that he’s even the best bunter on the team.
Derek Jeter was dubbed the best hit-and-run artist, while Gardner took home fastest baserunner honors but was named just the third best overall baserunner (behind Jacoby Ellsbury and Elvis Andrus). CC Sabathia the was voted the third best pitcher (behind Justin Verlander and Jered Weaver) and as having the second best slider (Felix Hernandez). Mark Teixeira and Robinson Cano were named the best defensive players at their position, and Alex Rodriguez was third at the hot corner (Adrian Beltre and Evan Longoria). And finally Mariano Rivera was named the top reliever, just ahead of … Kyle Farnsworth. Yep.
Austin Romine‘s Achy Back
Double-A Trenton backstop Austin Romine was placed on the disabled list a few days ago with a back strain, something that required an MRI but apparently isn’t serious enough to end his season. The club is hopeful he’ll be back by next week. How did he injure his back? As Mike Ashmore explains, it was just a case of minor league life…
“My back was tight after the long bus ride after the 7 o’clock game in Akron,” Romine said.
“We had to drive and get back really early in the morning, and I fell asleep with my legs up in a bad position. I got up and my back was a little sore, and I thought it was just regular soreness. I usually have soreness at this time of the year. I played through it and woke up in the morning with a little pinch in my back, so I let them know. It stayed sore for a little while, so they thought that sitting on the bus for four hours and going to Altoona would probably be a bad thing with the back thing going, so I stayed back and got treatment done.”
Romine said his back is “really good” right now but they’re just being cautious. You’d think he’d have the whole sleeping on a bus thing down after three plus years in the bush leagues. Of course, it could just be a cover story.
The Circle of Reliever Life
In case you haven’t heard, the Braves have released Scott Proctor today and replaced him on the roster with Arodys Vizcaino. It’s one former Yankees reliever for a former Yankees prospect, one pitcher they overworked for another they never had the chance to overwork. Arodys’ call-up is similar to Joba Chamberlain‘s in 2007; he’s been starting in the minors but they moved him to the bullpen to maximize his innings limit on the year. The only difference is that Atlanta doesn’t need Vizcaino right now, at least not like the Yankees needed Joba. The second (really third) Javy Vazquez trade didn’t work out for the Yankees, at all, but that’s life. Look ahead, not back.
Never was a fan of 8pm ET starts on Sundays, but what can you do. Here’s a few links to help pass the time this afternoon…
“Kick ass. Pop champagne. And get some ho’s.”
The Post published an exclusive article by Luis Castillo today, not the player but the former Yankees’ bat boy. He worked for the team from 1998-2005, and was part of the last group of bat boys that did not have to sign confidentiality agreements. He’s got a memoir called “Clubhouse Confidential” coming out, but revealed some of his favorite moments in the linked article. Castillo wrote about Derek Jeter‘s nicknaming habits, being Alex Rodriguez‘s personal assistant, Hideki Matsui‘s battle cry before Game Seven of the 2004 ALCS, and lots more. Check it out, it’s a must read.
Yankees aggressively blocking players on waivers
The trade deadline has passed but teams can still make deals once they go through the trade waiver process. It’s usually not much of an obstacle, but it’s part of the process. Peter Gammons says the Yankees have been the “heaviest on blocking claims,” starting pitchers in particular, meaning they’re claiming players off trade waivers to prevent them from going to other teams. Teams can pull a player back if they’re claimed on trade waivers, but the risk is that they can award you the player and his contract (see Rios, Alex). The Yankees definitely aren’t putting claims in on players with bad contracts (like Carlos Zambrano), but they’re probably gobbling up everyone else. Whether or not they make a trade for one of the guys they’re claiming is a different matter all together.
A-Rod unlikely to be suspended for poker allegations
Surprise! MLB will not suspend A-Rod for this latest round of poker allegations according to Todd Venezia. No wait, that’s not a surprise at all. Instead, Alex “will be warned again and not lightly” according to one of Venezia’s sources. I’m sure that will teach him a lesson.
I have a bunch of browser tabs open with various miscellaneous Yankee news. Time to share.
- From the “It’s Never Too Early To Plan Ahead” Department comes some information about the 2012 schedules. The details on the Yanks’ slate hasn’t hit the wires yet, but the Red Sox’s season schedule is out. Per Gordon Edes at ESPN Boston, the Yankees will be in Beantown on Friday, April 20, the 100th anniversary of Fenway Park’s opening. The two clubs then do not meet again until July 6-8 also in Boston. The Red Sox visit the Bronx for three game sets from July 27-29, August 17-19 and October 1-3. Essentially, the two clubs will play 12 games against each other over the final two months of the season.
- Earlier today, during an appearance on MLB Radio on SiriusXM, Brian Cashman said Iva Nova would likely start on of the games of the July 30 doubleheader against the Orioles. However, he has been placed on the AAA 7-Day disabled list after rolling his ankle during his start last night. The Yankees still believe he will be ready for the doubleheader, and this trip to the DL shouldn’t impact his standing as a potential trade chip.
- Tom Verducci of Sports Illustrated says the 1998 Yankees were the best team he ever covered.
- Watching the Yankees at home is akin to a baseball symphony, writes Times music critic Anthony Tomassini.
- Finally, here’s one that’s been making the rounds lately: Light eyed players — including the Yanks’ own Brett Gardner — have trouble fielding the ball during day games.