Open Thread: Football in the Bronx

Army and Notre Dame play in the first non-baseball team sporting event in the New Yankees Stadium tonight, unless you count some charity event. The game starts at 7pm ET and can be seen on NBC, though I’m not much of a college football guy so I’ll probably pass. If anything, I’ll tune in or a few minutes just to see what the Stadium looks like. Other than that, all of the hockey and basketball locals are playing at some point, so talk about whatever you want in this here open thread. You know what to do, so have it.

Photo from the Yankees.

Larry Rothschild’s effect on pitchers

When the Yankees hired Larry Rothschild away from the Cubs to be their new pitching coach yesterday, Ben noted that his staffs tend to boast high strikeout rates. Earlier this summer a poster on the FanGraphs Community blog looked at exactly that, and found out that pitchers did in fact improve their strikeout rates with Rothschild, close to 2.5% as a group. But what about walks? Another Cubs Blog tackled that a few days later and found that yep, pitchers improved their unintentional walk rate with Rothschild as well. More strikeouts and fewer walks is a great recipe for success.

The Yanks as a group struck out 0.62 fewer batters and walked 0.19 more (per nine innings pitched) in 2010 than in 2009, with CC Sabathia‘s rates taking a hit in particular. With any luck, Rothschild will help get the staff back into strikeout mode, which would be a tremendous help.

Leyritz acquitted in Manslaughter DUI case

Jim Leyritz has been acquitted of manslaughter, a Florida jury decided today. The jury, which had been deadlocked yesterday, convicted the former Yankee only of a misdemeanor DUI. He could face up to only six months in prison instead of 15 years had he faced a conviction for manslaughter.

Leyritz was arrested in December 2007 when he collided with another vehicle at a Fort Lauderdale intersection. The other driver was killed when her vehicle rolled over. The case agains Leyritz hinged, in part, upon the traffic light at the intersection. The prosecution tried to show that Leyritz ran a red light while drunk, but defense witnesses cast doubt on both the light and Leyritz’s BAC at the time of the crash. While he blew a 0.14 later that night, experts said Leyritz might not have been drunk at the time of the crash.

The Associated Press has more on the acquittal:

Two witnesses testified that Veitch had the green light at an intersection before Leyritz’s Ford Expedition hit her vehicle, causing a rollover crash that ejected her onto the pavement. But under cross-examination, those same witnesses were less definitive about whether Leyritz’s light was red or yellow.

Defense expert witnesses also said Veitch’s lights may have been off and that Leyritz did not appear to be speeding. They also raised questions about the reliability of Leyritz’s blood tests and suggested he may have suffered a slight concussion that caused his body to absorb alcohol more slowly.

Prosecutors insisted that Leyritz was too drunk to react to the traffic light or avoid the collision with Veitch’s Mitsubishi Montero. They said he consumed the equivalent of between 11 and 12 shots of liquor in the three hours before the crash, which happened around 3 a.m.

Leyritz had settled a wrongful death lawsuit with the Veitch family earlier this year. He agreed to pay them $350,000 as a settlement. Leyritz must have had some good lawyers to escape with just a misdemeanor DUI.

Better or Worse: Hitting Edition

Today and tomorrow I’m going to take a look at some core Yankees and whether I think they will be better or worse in 2011 than they were in 2010.  I’ll start with the hitters today, come back tomorrow as I review the pitchers.

Jorge Posada

2010: .248/.357/.454, .357 wOBA, 18 HR.

2011 Outlook:  As a full time DH that is certainly a line we can live with from Posada.  Despite his advanced age I think he has a shot to improve on that line as he won’t have the same wear and tear he did as a full time catcher.  While the final line was a little subpar for Posada, it’s easy to forget he was OPS’ing over 1.000 heading into June (though with limited time due to injury).  The one issue I could see is that Posada will have trouble adjusting to the DH position as many players have in the past (and he has struggled in 90 games as the DH in his career).  Overall I expect a slightly better performance from Jorge if he is, as expected, the full time DH.

Mark Teixeira

2010: .256/.365/.481, .367 wOBA, 33 HR.

2011 Outlook:  2010 was the worst year of Tex’ career since his rookie season.  He’s turning 31 just after Opening Day so there’s no age related concerns.  He’ll be better next year than he was this year, book it.

Robinson Cano

2010: .319/.381/.534, .389 wOBA, 29 HR

2011:  I can’t see Cano improving much on his 2010, it was truly a special season, but if he can sustain his walk rate he just might do it again next year.  His BABIP on the year was consistent with his career levels, his power was very similar to his 2009 season and he continues to remain healthy.  I would guess he’ll have a slight regression in 2011 but still put up the second best season of his career.  If the walk rate sustains or even improves though, look out.

Derek Jeter

2010: .270/.340/.370, .320 wOBA, 10 HR

2011:  While Jeter’s age is working against him I expect (hope) him to improve in 2011.  While I don’t know if he’ll return to his 2009 level ever again, I think he can definitely be better in the next few years than he was in 2010.  I guess somebody should have told him it’s a contract year.  Seriously though I think he’ll improve, but he’ll be 37 in June so there’s no guarantee.  Players like Jeter have fallen of a cliff before, let’s hope he doesn’t for a few more seasons.

Alex Rodriguez

2010: .271/.341/.506, .363 wOBA, 30 HR

2011:  While A-Rod’s 2010 was great, it was pretty poor based on the insane standards he has set.  He’s regressed every year since his monster 2007 but I’d expect a little bit of a bounce back in 2011.  He may never bat .300 or slug .600 again, but I would expect him to get on base at a better clip than he did this year.  The good news is he continues to move further away from his serious hip injury but the bad news is that he’s getting up there in age.  I don’t think he’ll be an MVP candidate, but he’ll be better.

Brett Gardner

2010: .277/.383/.379, .358 wOBA, 47 steals

2011: Gardner did all that could have been asked of him in 2010.  I do worry that what we saw last year was pretty close to his ceiling though.  If he can plateau there for a few years I’ll be thrilled, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see him regress to the .265/.350/.360 range next year. While I don’t advocate trading Gardner I certainly would see what his value is on the trade market.

Curtis Granderson

2010: .247/.324/.468, .346 wOBA, 24 HR

2011:  Aside from his big early season homerun off Jonathan Papelbon, Granderson was a disappointment for quite a while with both ineffectiveness and injury.  It also didn’t help that while Granderson was struggling, Austin Jackson was off to a great start in Detroit.  Once Granderson took a few days off in the summer to work with Kevin Long however, he turned it on in a big way.  Something clearly clicked (some may even say #cured) and I expect big things from Granderson next year.

Nick Swisher

2010: .288/.359/.491, .377 wOBA, 29 HR

2011:  As we all know, Swisher seemed to substitute some walks for hits this year on his way to one of the best seasons of his career.  Swisher, aside from his one year in Chicago has been pretty consistent throughout his career so I would expect something similar in 2011.  I don’t see him getting a lot better than this year, nor do I see him getting worse.

Yankees interested in J.C. Romero

Via MLBTR, the Yankees have expressed interest in free agent lefty reliever J.C. Romero. The 34-year-old spent the last three-plus years with the Phillies, but he’s battled elbow and back issues over the last two seasons. He’s also walked (42) more guys than he’s struck out (40) since 2009, and lefties have gotten him to the tune of a .362 wOBA during that time. Given the injuries and declining performance, I sure hope the Yanks don’t sign him. At least not to a guaranteed contract, anyway.

Open Thread: Help Wanted

Do you want to write for RAB? Well here’s your big chance. We’re looking to add one or two weekend writers to our staff. Apparently Steve has this thing called a “life” that’s getting in the way of his blogging time. Doesn’t even sound like a real thing if you ask me.

Anyway, the idea is that you would contribute two posts each week, one on Saturday and one on Sunday, preferably for the 10am or 1pm ET time slot. We’re looking for someone that’ll fit right in with RAB. A casual writing style, no cursing in the posts (family blog), and most importantly some creativity. We don’t want someone that will just blockquote three paragraphs of a MSM article and add two sentences of commentary at the end. Originality is a must. To get an idea of what we’re looking for, just browse through Steve’s archive.

If you want to apply, here’s what to do…

  • Email us at riveraveblues (at) gmail (dot) com and put “RAB Weekend Writer” in the subject line to help us stay organized.
  • Tell us a little bit about yourself in the email. Background info, how long you’ve been a Yankee fan, how long you’ve been writing/blogging, why you think you’d be a good fit for RAB, the usual.
  • Send us samples of your writing, but please no attachments. Just send us a hyperlink (several, preferably) or embed it in the text of the post.

Unfortunately this is not a paid position. The only thing we can offer is a great amount of exposure (~40,000 hits a day and growing) and of course promotion of any of your work found elsewhere. Trust us, we wish it could be more. I honestly have no idea how many people will inquire, so I can’t give you an exact time frame for when you’ll hear back from us. With Thanksgiving coming up I wouldn’t expect to hear anything next week, so the Monday after that (Nov. 29th) is probably the earliest we’ll get back in touch with people. Thanks in advance to everyone that applies, and good luck.

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Here’s tonight’s open thread. The Rangers and Knicks are both in action, but not until a little later because they’re west of the Mississippi. Talk about whatever you want, so have at it.

Minor Moves: Betances, Laird, Pope, Johnson

Don’t the Yankees know that 4pm ET on a Friday is no time to break news? After announcing that Larry Rothschild will be the new pitching coach, the following minor league news made the rounds…

  • Dellin Betances, Brandon Laird, and Ryan Pope were all added to the 40-man roster, protecting them from the upcoming Rule 5 Draft. I thought that George Kontos would get protected as well, but the Yankees must feel that he isn’t capable of sticking on a big league team’s 25-man roster for a full season yet. He, along with Craig Heyer and Lance Pendleton, are candidates to be selected.
  • The Yanks acquired minor league outfielder Cody Johnson from the Braves in exchange for cash considerations. Johnson, 22, was the 24th overall pick in the 2006 draft but it hasn’t clicked yet. He’s got big time power (career .233 ISO) but is a whiff machine (39.0% strikeout rate), and in fact 49.9% of his 1,813 career plate appearances have ended with a homer, walk, or strikeout. Three true outcomes FTW. Johnson is likely to begin 2011 with Double-A Trenton.