We don’t need statistics to tell us that Mo’s cutter is one of the best pitches, if not the best pitch, in baseball history. Hitters know it’s coming. It consistently sits 92-94 mph, so they can time it. Yet they cannot make good contact. It has been this way for well over a decade now, and Mo willing it will continue for at least two more years.

The craziest part about Mo and his cutter is that it has seemingly gotten better with age. He might not have broken any saves records last year, but Mo posted one of the most dominant seasons of his career, registering a 0.67 WHIP and walking only six hitters in 70.2 innings. How does he do it? Thankfully, we have pitchf/x to help us answer, and iamawesomer at Beyond the Boxscore takes a look at the data.

I could probably just quote the entire article, because it’s pretty mind-blowing. The most important point I took from it is that we really shouldn’t refer to the pitch as “the cutter.” Rather, it should be “a cutter,” since he throws it with varying degrees of spin. This ranges mostly between 150 and 200 degrees, so he’s mixing up the pitches even though he’s not mixing up the pitches.

Mo overall threw the cutter 82 percent of the time, with the rest being four-seam fastballs. Yet against lefties he throws the cutter almost exclusively. Not only that, but his pitches to lefties tend to concentrate in one area: high and tight. This is even more amazing because of the speeds of his pitches:

Doesn’t need to mix it up speed wise, with the vast majority of both the cutter and fastball clocking in between 92 and 94 mph. By some quick rough calculations it comes out to about a hundredth of a second difference in time to reach home plate (.435 seconds for 92 mph and .446 for 94 mph.) The fact that hitters can more or less time themselves to within a hundredth of a second of when to swing and still can’t do anything about Rivera’s pitches speaks volumes of them.

You know what lefties hit against Mo last year? .147/.173/.194. So let’s get this straight. Lefties know the pitch type, speed, and location before they even step into the batter’s box, yet they can’t even come close to replacement level production. There’s a reason why we say praise be to Mo.

To close things out, here’s an animation of Mo against the Padres last year. Those chumps didn’t stand a chance. I could seriously watch this video all day long. (As to not slow down the main page you’ll have to click on read more to see it.)

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Categories : Analysis
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When I have friends over and they peak inside my room, they’re always surprised by the number of Yankee hats I have. As you can see above — or here in a larger size — I have a hat for every occasion.

Since 1996, when MLB started the whole patch/marketing push, I’ve snapped up just about every non-Opening Day or All Star Game Yankee hat. I have World Series patches from 1996, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001 and 2003. I have the 100th season hat from 2003, the flag patch hat from 2001, and the All Star Game patch from last season.

stadiumpatchlarge So when the Yankees announced a new to go along with their new stadium sleeve patch, the collector in me got a bit excited. When I saw the new patch — at left, click to enlarge — I grew even more intrigued.

These new hats, you see, are something new from the marketing guys at Major League Baseball. Instead of sticking the patch on the left side of the hat, the patch is incorporated into the MLB logo and is on the back of the hat. The new commemorative logo is subtle and classy. It incorporates the Yankee Stadium frieze, the year and the MLB silhouetted batter. Plus, this guy looks pretty good in it. Who am I to complain?

The new hats go on sale on March 1. Admittedly, I’m a sucker for new hats, and I’ll have mine by Opening Day. Will you?

Categories : Yankee Stadium
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  • Manny rejects Dodgers again for the fourth time

    Ed. Note: The post originally scheduled for the overnight — about the new patch on the Yankee hats — will be back at 9:30 a.m. Since Manny’s rejection is timely, we wanted to toss this up as soon as we could.

    I’m beginning to wonder if Manuel Aristides Ramirez actually wants to play baseball this year. For the fourth time this winter, Manny and Scott Boras have rejected an offer from the Dodgers. The latest one was a one-year offer for $25 million with a player option for 2010 at $20 million, and from the sound of it, Frank McCourt isn’t too keen to jump back to the table.

    “We love Manny Ramirez,” the Dodgers owner said in a statement last night. “And we want Manny back, but we feel we are negotiating against ourselves. When his agent finds those ‘serious offers’ from other clubs, we’ll be happy to re-start the negotiations. Even with an economy that has substantially eroded since last November, out of respect for Manny and his talents, we actually improved our offer. So now, we start from scratch.”

    While the Giants remain on the periphery of the Great Manny Chase, I’m beginning to wonder if Manny isn’t going to be somewhat forced to sit out. By rejecting the Dodgers again, Boras has made sure that he won’t get a comparable offer from any time. Maybe Manny should stay in top shape and wait until teams come a-knockin’ in June for that playoff drive push. Who knows which team might be able to use one of the game’s best right-handed sluggers ever by then?
    · (66) ·

On the day we first reported on the potential Bank of America sponsorship deal the Yanks were set to sign for the new stadium, the Dow closed at 11510.74. Tonight, the market sleeps at 7182.08, and the potential sponsorship deal is dead.

The AP reported on the demise of a deal that could have brought the Yanks upwards of $20 million a year for the next 20 years. Ronald Blum writes:

The New York Yankees and Bank of America ended months of negotiations on a long-term, high-profile sponsorship agreement, fallout from the financial industry’s decision to accept aid from the federal government.

While the sides never discussed naming rights to the team’s new $1.5 billion stadium, they had talked about the possibility of a 20-year deal that would have included signage, special events and tickets.

“With the downturn in the economy and the effect on financial institutions including government support of those institutions, we have determined that it is better to enter into a traditional business arrangement with a financial institution,” Yankees spokeswoman Alice McGillion said.

According to the AP, BoA had been the Yanks’ official bank since 1994. It’s unclear if they will continue to sponsor the team in a more limited capacity.

Meanwhile, it’s a bad sign for everyone that Bank of America backed out of a deal that is both lucrative for them and for the Yanks. According to the AP Joe Goode, a bank spokesperson, noted that a spending of $1 by the bank on the Yanks generated a 1000 percent revenue return and a 300 percent income return.

“We recognize that our decision not to pursue a long-term partnership with the Yankees reflects a lost revenue opportunity for our company, however these are unprecedented times that perhaps call for some very difficult decisions,” Goode said.

Categories : Yankee Stadium
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Let’s run the Open Thread with A-Rod news tonight. That way, if you, dear reader, don’t want to talk A-Rod, you can talk whatever else you want. Just play nice.

In The Times today, Marjorie Connelly breaks down a poll about Alex Rodriguez and his current popularity. The Times and CBS News surveyed 1112 people, 429 of whom are baseball fans, and they aren’t big A-Rod supporters.

Sixty percent of baseball fans are bothered by steroid use by players, and 44 percent say Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez should not be allowed in the Hall of Fame, according to a New York Times/CBS News poll…

The 60 percent of fans who said the use of performance-enhancing drugs mattered a lot to them was up from 53 percent last year…

Nearly half of those surveyed, 47 percent, said any major league record set by a steroid user should carry a note indicating the drug use, and 32 percent said the record should be eliminated altogether. Fewer than 20 percent favored keeping a steroids-tainted record on the books…

Thirty-seven percent of fans surveyed said they believed that at least half of major league players use steroids, and another 38 percent said a quarter use them. Nineteen percent said few players use drugs.

For A-Rod, those results are largely meaningless. All the poll shows is what we already knew: Alex Rodriguez will get a chilly reception as the Yanks hit the road this year. Hopefully, it won’t impact his play. A-Rod, after all, is used to a bad reception.

But on a larger level, baseball looks bad in the eyes of the public. When 74 percent of poll respondents think that at least a quarter of all baseball players are still juicing, the game has an image problem. In other A-Rod news, Yuri Sucart has been banned from the team this year.

Around NY Sports: Stephon Marbury is en route to Boston. I hope he kills the Celtics … The Knicks and Nets are off while the Devils, Rangers and Islanders all play home games at 7 p.m. … Johan Santana has tenderness in his throwing elbow.

Categories : Open Thread
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Baseball is back, baby! After live blogging Hughes’s innings, Mike and I recorded this week’s RAB Radio Show. You’ll notice that we’re not as focused as we are most weeks. Blame it on us watching the game at the same time as we try to record the show. Oh well. It was beyond great to see some game action.

We start off by going over Phil’s performance. There’s not much you can ascertain from his very first start of the spring, but all in all it went well. He let a few pitches fly which grazed a couple of jerseys, but all in all he did a solid job. His only four-ball walk of the day came in an at bat where he threw all six or seven pitches to the outside edge. His fastball sat 91-92. I wonder if this means he’ll ramp it up as we get deeper into the spring.

Onto the podcast. It is available in a number of formats. You can download it here by right clicking on that link and selecting Save As. If you want to play it in your browser, just left click the link. You can also subscribe to the podcast feed, which will send it to you every Thursday. You can also subscribe in iTunes. Finally, we have the embedded audio player below.

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Hughes in STAh, the first game thread of the year. We’ve been waiting for this day ever since Jon VanEvery hit that walk-off single at Fenway Park off Jose Veras in the Yanks’ final game of 2008. Who cares if today’s game doesn’t count, it’ll be great just to see the boys in action again.

But wait, it gets better! We’ve got ourselves a primo pitching matchup this afternoon: Phil Hughes vs Rays’ phenom Wade Davis (#32 on BA’s Top 100). The last time these two met was Game Four of the International League Championship Series last season, when Hughes thoroughly outpitched Davis and clinched the league title for Triple-A Scranton. It really doesn’t get any better than this, does it?

The game is on YES, with first pitch is scheduled for 1:15. If you miss the live broadcast, don’t worry, they’re going to replay it at 7pm. Here’s the starting nine:

Damon, LF
Jeter, SS
Teixeira, 1B
A-Rod, 3B
Cano, 2B
Nady, RF
Posada, DH
Molina, C
Melky, CF

Scheduled Pitchers: Phil Hughes, Phil Coke, Brian Bruney, Damaso Marte, Jon Albaldejo, Mark Melancon

Looks like we’ll get multiple innings each out of the Phils, maybe Albie too. Anyone know anything about this Melancon kid?

Photo Credit: Steve Nesius, Reuters Pictures

Comments (127)
  • Stop the presses: Hank & Reggie have an opinion

    So Alex Rodriguez and Reggie Jackson went out to dinner the other night, and Reggie had some advice for Alex because, you know, he’s dealt with this kind of PED thing before. Coming jointly from Hank Steinbrenner, the invisible executive, Mr. October told A-Rod to “hit the baseball and hit it when it counts.” Hit the baseball. And hit it when it counts. When it counts? When is that? Seems to me like it would be, I dunno, ALL THE FREAKING TIME!!! Reggie also some other words for A-Rod, saying he’s disappointed in him and that when he retired he was one of the best of all time and is sad to see his career accomplishment tarnished. You really didn’t think Reggie could go that long without talking about himself, did you? Even Neyer agrees this is retarded. · (32) ·

  • Even Japan doesn’t want Kei Igawa back

    In 2006, Japan stunned the international baseball community when they claimed the WBC title. They’re back with a vengeance to defend their crown, and while many players — the pitchers especially — view this tournament as a potential audition for the U.S. Major Leagues, the Land of the Rising Sun is mostly concerned with capture another title. While the rehabbing Hideki Matsui won’t play in the tournament, he is wanted for it. His fellow Japanese Yankee isn’t so lucky. When asked about Kei Igawa’s omission from the team, one of the Japanese reporters assigned to the team said “They think he is not so good.” I don’t think Brian Cashman is going to voice much objection to those sentiments. (Hat tip to PeteAbe for this amusing anecdote.) · (68) ·