Open Thread: World Series Game Seven

How crazy was that game last night? One of the best I’ve ever seen, hands down. The whole series in general has been one of the best I’ve ever seen, I’d probably put it right behind the 2001 World Series (the outcome sucked, but holy cow was it entertaining). I was too young to really appreciate the 1986 or 1991 World Series. We can only hope tonight’s game is half as good as last night’s. Yay baseball!

Anyway, here is your thread for the night. Game Seven starts at 8pm ET and can be seen on FOX, and there are no other local sports teams in action. No excuse for not watching now. Talk about the game or anything else you want here. Enjoy.

(video of Gary Thorne’s great call (“Hello Game Seven! Goodbye Home Run!”) via ESPN Front Row)

Hot Stove Notes: Cashman, Sabathia, Swisher

You guys really for Game Seven? I’m stoked, can’t wait. Until the first pitch is thrown, here are some miscellaneous notes from Yankeeland, all courtesy of Joel Sherman (unless otherwise noted)…

  • The Yankees and Brian Cashman have yet another three-year contract already in place, they’re just waiting until the end of the World Series to announce it. This will be Cashman’s fourth straight three-year deal. (link)
  • The Commissioner’s Office sent out a memo today, letting the teams know that the offseason clock has been moved from noon tomorrow to midnight Sunday. That’s just so the offseason officially begins on a Monday. CC Sabathia will now have until midnight Wednesday to opt out of his contract, and free agents can officially negotiate with new teams at midnight Friday. (link and link)
  • Cashman will meet with Sabathia’s agent this weekend to try to finalize a contract extensions for the left-hander. We heard last night that the team has an offer ready to go, and are just waiting to deliver it to CC’s people. (Andrew Marchand)
  • Nick Swisher‘s contract contains a limited no-trade clause, and the Yankees have asked him to submit his list of teams he won’t accept a trade to just so they know what their options are should they choose to move him. Once they see the list, they’ll pick up his $10.25M option for 2012. (link and link)

Yanks re-up with WCBS, Sterling, Waldman for 2012

Yankees radio broadcasts will air on WCBS-AM for the 2012 season, and the club anticipates the return of John Sterling and Suzyn Waldman to the Lowes broadcast booth, the Yankees announced this afternoon. While it is tough to imagine life without the dulcet tones and understated approach of what one New York columnist has not-so-affectionately dubbed Ma and Pa Pinstripe, their return to WCBS was not a foregone conclusion. The 2011 season marked the final under a deal with WCBS that had guaranteed the Yanks $13 million annually for the radio rights, and throughout the season, we heard rumblings that WFAN or WEPN 1050 would make a play for the Yanks.

Instead, the Yanks and WCBS have re-upped for one year at undisclosed terms. The team said it has “retained the option to extend the agreement for another year.” Both parties however will “continue discussions about a longer term partnership.” With a handful of potential suitors willing to pay big bucks for the radio rights, the Yanks will definitely ask WCBS for more money. Barring a deal, they could try to buy their own radio station or move frequencies. That this is a one-year deal suggests that ESPN Radio could be involved next winter if they find a station with a signal stronger than 1050. For now, though, we are graced with one more season of John Sterling and Suzyn Waldman on WCBS 880 AM.

What Went Right: Freddy Garcia

(Frank Franklin II/AP)

To set up the expectations placed on Freddy Garcia this season, I point you to the comments on the post that announced his signing. They weren’t all bad, but it was clear that most fans did not expect much out of Garcia. His spring training performance did not change anyone’s mind, and in fact it might have detracted from his case. The Yankees clearly weren’t too enamored, either, as they continually pushed back Garcia’s first start until they could push no further.

When Garcia did finally get a start, things went well. He shut out Texas through six innings and followed that up with another six shutout frames against Baltimore. In May he ran into some hard times, allowing 17 18 runs in 38.2 innings, but even that didn’t amount to a poor overall performance. Even after Boston knocked him out in the second inning of his start on June 7th, he still held a sub-4.00 ERA. It just so happens that he caught fire right after that.

From his start on June 12th against Cleveland through his start on August 7th against Boston Garcia threw 64 innings in 10 games, allowing just 21 runs, 18 earned, and striking out 39 to 15 walks. The strikeout total was in no way impressive, but the results were undeniably good: 2.53 ERA and a 6-4 record that included a couple of tough-luck losses. That’s when he sliced open his finger and missed three weeks, after which he wasn’t quite the same.

Despite a rough September in which his ERA rose from 3.09 to 3.62, Garcia exceeded expectations for the season. The Yankees signed him for peanuts — a $1.5 million minor league contract with up to $3.6 million in bonuses (he didn’t quite reach the maximum) — and got a guy who, for two months, played a sterling No. 2 to Sabathia’s No. 1. It came at the perfect time, too, since it was right around the time of Bartolo Colon‘s injury. When Colon went down Garcia stepped up, and the two of them combined to save the Yankees’ rotation for the first four months of the season.

For their minimal risk investment the Yankees got a 3.62 ERA out of Garcia, which is no small consideration. That’s his lowest ERA since 2001. His 4.12 FIP is also fairly in line with his prime seasons, and is actually a tick below his career numbers. A low HR/FB ratio led to a 4.36 xFIP, which mode bode poorly for next season. But then again he had a 4.41 xFIP last season and it didn’t spell disaster for 2011. Some veterans just figure these things out, and it appears Garcia has done just that.

The only remaining question is of whether they bring him back for 2012. Mike scratched the surface of this question earlier, and we’ll surely dive a bit deeper as the deadline to offer arbitration approaches. If they bring him back he can perhaps provide some value at the back of the rotation. If they let him walk he’ll have produced at a level far above his 2011 salary. Either way the Yankees come out winners. It didn’t seem like much at the time, but the Freddy Garcia signing ended up playing a large role in the 2011 Yankees’ success.

The RAB Radio Show: October 28th, 2011

It’s been a wild, wild playoff run, and it will conclude tonight. Of course, we can’t help but talk about it on the show.

  • Mike and I talk about the wild Game 6. It was fully of blunders, so it might not have been the best game, but the heroic moments certainly made it one of the most exciting in recent memory.
  • The Yankees have a few things coming up in the next few days. Brian Cashman‘s contract expires on Monday, but it appears that a new deal is no worry.
  • Of bigger concern is CC Sabathia, who has to make a decision on his opt-out by Monday. Perhaps the Yankees will make him an offer too lucrative to reject.
  • Then there is Nick Swisher‘s option. It sounds as though, unsurprisingly, the Yankees will pick it up. The question is of whether they keep or deal him. Mike and I discuss the possibilities.
  • Oh, and Boras was looking for an extension for Cano, only he wasn’t. That smells a little fishy.

Podcast run time 45:14

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Intro music: “Die Hard” courtesy of reader Alex Kresovich. Thanks to Tyler Wilkinson for the graphic.

What Went As Expected: Brett Gardner

(AP Photo/Kathy Willens)

Two years ago, Brett Gardner started the season as the everyday center fielder but quickly lost the job to Melky Cabrera. Last year, he was handed the every day left field job out of Spring Training and ran with it, posting a .383 OBP and a .358 wOBA that was about 20% better than the league average. Add in his brilliant defense, and the Yankees had themselves a cheap young outfielder that brought the element of speed to the Bronx.

Fresh off offseason wrist surgery (thank a Clayton Kershaw fastball for that), Gardner started the season with a new responsibility. Instead of toiling away at the bottom of the lineup, the Yankees decided to take advantage of his on-base skills and penciled Brett into the leadoff spot on Opening Day. He went 0-for-2 with a pair of sac bunts (grrr) that day, but had a pair of hits in the second game of the season. Although he went 2-for-3 with a double, a triple, and a pair of walks against the Red Sox on April 8th, the Yankees dropped Gardner back down to ninth after his batting line sat at .146/.222/.220 through the first 13 games of the season.

Hitting coach Kevin Long detected a mechanic flaw with Gardner’s lower half, and after some adjustments, the left fielder went on a prolonged tear. It all started with a double and a homer against the Orioles on April 23rd, then three days later came another long ball. Two days after that, another homer. Brett just didn’t stop hitting for three months after that. From that April 23rd game through July 25th, a span of 83 team games and exactly 300 plate appearances, he hit .317/.397/.452 with 28 steals in 35 attempts. That raised his season batting line to .288/.367/.407.

A season-ending slump (.175/.281/.246 in his final 146 plate appearances) dragged Gardner’s overall batting line down to .259/.345/.369, a .330 wOBA that was just north of the .316 big league average. He led the American League with 49 steals, a dozen behind Michael Bourn for the MLB lead. From June 19th through August 10th, he went a perfect 22-for-22 in stolen base attempts. Gardner made up for a crappy finish to the season by being one of the team’s very best hitters in the playoffs, reaching base eight times (seven hits and a walk) in the five games against the Tigers. His two-out, two-strike, two-run double off Justin Verlander in the seventh inning of Game Three tied the game at four and was one of the Yankees’ biggest hits of the postseason.

Between slightly better than league average offense and all-world defense, Gardner was worth 5.1 fWAR and 4.4 bWAR this year. Depending on your choice of metric, he was either the 10th or 15th best outfielder in baseball and either the 26th or 35th best player in baseball overall, respectively. I don’t think anyone was expecting Gardner to be a dynamic offensive player this season, all he had to do was to get on-base, swipe some bags, and catch everything hit in his time zone. He delivered just that, even if he’s proving to be one streaky player.