The RAB Radio Show: September 23, 2011

We’re running a shorter than usual show today, because we’re all talked out about the 2011 Yankees. We’ve been doing this all season, and it’s been a blast. Next time we’re on the air, it’ll be time for Game 1 of the ALDS. So, without getting into any playoff previews:

  • Lots of stuff about the Rays and Sox and their race to the AL Wild Card.
  • A few things to look for in the final few days, including the Bartolo Colon situation.
  • The quick road ahead before they get to the playoffs.

Podcast run time 30:59

Here’s how you can listen to podcast:

  • Download the RAB Radio Show by right clicking on that link and choosing Save As.
  • Listen in your browser by left clicking the above link or using the embedded player below.
  • Subscribe in iTunes. If you want to rate us that would be great. If you leave a nice review I’ll buy you a beer at a meet-up.

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

RAB and FanGraphs, together again

Just bumping this up top as a reminder. You can still attend the event if you’re under 21, you just have to check in when you get there. They’ll give you a bracelet so they know not to serve you alcohol, but that’s better than not attending.

Last July, we got together with the crew from FanGraphs (and various Mets bloggers) for the first ever FanGraphs Live Discussion. There were a total of four panels and ours basically discussed the state of the team and what not (recap here), and the only complaint seemed to be that it ended too early. We had to be out of Florence Gould Hall by I think noon, otherwise we could have talked for hours. A great time was had by all.

FanGraphs has done a number of Live Discussions since then, and they’ll be coming back to New York this Sunday. This one will be much more informal, no panels or anything. It’ll just be a bunch of us baseball nerds talking about baseball. All the details can be found here, but here’s the nuts and bolts…

Time: 1pm ET (until whenever)
Date: Sunday, Sept. 25th
Location: Amity Hall

Ben, Joe, and I will be there, as will a few FanGraphers, Mets bloggers, etc. Best of all? It’s free! The last event was something like $10 a person, right? No worries this time though, just show up (the entire downstairs is reserved) and enjoy the happy hour prices and baseball talk (and watching, of course the game will be on). Don’t worry, we’ll post a reminder later in the week, but I just wanted to get this on your radar.

Kei Igawa on his future

Kei Igawa’s career with the Yankees is effectively over, the lefty was placed on the minor league disabled list about a week before the season ended and a month or so before his contract was set to expire. Patrick at NPB Tracker passed along a recent interview with Igawa from the Japanese version of the Wall Street Journal, in which he says he wants to sign with an MLB club that will give him a legit chance at a big league job this offseason. I, and I think several of you, assumed that he’d go back to Japan after the season, but the dude still wants to chase the dream. More power to him.

Interestingly enough, Igawa said in the interview that Brian Cashman and then-manager Joe Torre had to ask him what his best pitch was in a meeting during his first season in New York. Pretty good sign that the team may not have done enough homework before acquiring him.

Mailbag: Montero, Posada, Affeldt, Robertson

We’ve got four straight forward questions in this week’s mailbag, so no nonsense answers today. Remember to use the always handy Submit A Tip box in the sidebar if you want to send in any questions during the week.

(Jim McIsaac/Getty Images North America)

Will asks: What do you think of Jesus Montero‘s debut so far on the big league team? It seems like he’s been striking out way too much. Do you think Montero has a good chance at making the playoff roster? And how much can we expect him to actually contribute?

I think Montero’s been fine overall, neither great nor terrible. He obviously started out very well and has cooled off a bit (still at .313/.389/.542 overall), but that’s a function of having just 54 plate appearances more than anything else. Yeah, the strikeout rate is high (27.8%), especially of late (11 whiffs in his last 28 PA), but it’s not terribly surprising for a 21-year-old kid making his debut. Montero’s shown that Yankee Stadium-friendly opposite field stroke and we’ve seen the power on display, so we know the tools are there. Regardless of what happens this month, good or bad, we weren’t going to learn too much about the kid anyway.

As for the playoffs, yeah I think he makes the roster as the primary DH against lefties. We’ll talk more about Jorge Posada in just a second, but I hope the team decides to leave the traditional backup catcher at home and rely on those two as emergency fill-ins should anything happen to Russell Martin.

Cliff asks: Not sure when you do these but I was curious if you think Posada is going to make the postseason roster. If not, do you think they will announce it before Sunday so we can give him a proper send off in the last home game?

I was pretty sure that Posada was going to make the playoff roster all along, but I think that AL East-winning hit on Wednesday cemented it. He can still hit righties (.270/.346/.464), so he’s probably the best choice to platoon with Montero at DH. Plus Jorge can also be useful off the bench as a pinch-hitter and super emergency catcher. I don’t put much stock in intangibles but they definitely do exist, so if nothing else, we know that Posada won’t be overwhelmed by the moment in the postseason. He’s been through all that already, and it’s just one less thing the Yankees would have to worry about.

I would be very surprised if the Yankees announce that Jorge will not be on the playoff roster in time for the final home game,but like I said, I expect them to carry him on the roster. So that last point is basically moot.

(Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images North America)

Scout asks: If the SF Giants decline his 2012 option, Jeremy Affeldt will become a free agent, and evidently without compensation. Does the lefthander make sense for the Yankees, assuming he will require a two-year deal?

Damaso Marte‘s contract expires after the season, so the Yankees have one of those $4M a year LOOGY spots to fill. We’ll go more in depth with potential free agent targets and what not during the offseason (so I don’t want to spoil it too much), but yeah, Affeldt would be a fine target. He held lefties to a .144/.206/.200 batting line with 24 strikeouts and just five walks in 97 PA this year, which is quite a bit better than the .245/.369/.365 batting line they posted against him from 2009-2010 (43 K, 29 BB in 195 PA). I think that has more to do with health than anything.

Affeldt, 32, still has pretty good stuff (low-to-mid-90’s two and four-seamers with a curveball) and he has been really dominant against same -side batters when it comes to getting ground balls over the last few seasons. The Giants have a $5M club option for his services next year, but apparently it will be tough for them to bring both Affeldt and Javy Lopez back next season. I’m very much against multi-year deals for less than elite relievers, but the Yankees obviously aren’t. Affeldt would definitely be an intriguing target after the season, assuming he hits the open market.

Daniel asks: With the success that Robertson has had this year and should he have a similar year next year, should he be made the closer after Rivera? If Rivera retires at the end of his current contract, the Yankees will still likely have Soriano for another year, and he has experience closing, but Robertson appears to be the better pitcher.

The one thing we have to remember is: how often do relievers have back-to-back elite years? The answer is not very often, so we shouldn’t plan out the rest of David Robertson‘s career just yet. That said, he’s obviously the best in-house replacement for Mariano Rivera, just like Phil Hughes was in 2009 and Joba Chamberlain was in 2007. I’d almost prefer that if Robertson does take over as closer, he does it as the guy that replaces Rivera’s replacement. It’s going to be impossible to fill Mo’s shoes, and I suspect the natives will be restless if the new guy struggles out of the gate. We saw it when Tino Martinez took over for Don Mattingly, fans booed him like he kicked their dog or something.

Assuming Rivera retires after next year, the last season on his current contract, I’m not sure the worst move in the world would be to let Rafael Soriano (a.k.a. the Proven Closer™) close at first, then have Robertson replace him if he fails. And if he doesn’t fail, then he’ll be a free agent after the year and Robertson could step after that. The closer’s job is overrated in general, and I think you can make a really strong argument that Robertson would be more valuable to the team pitching the seventh and/or eighth inning while a lesser reliever starts the ninth with a clean slate.

Rays blow out Yanks in game no one cares about

The last time the Yankees were losing by ten or more runs after just four innings of play (like they were in this game) was October 2nd of 2009, a game they lost to the Rays after clinching the AL East. Ah history, love how it goes and repeats itself like that.

(Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)

BartoLOLo CoLOLon

Wow, what a terrible start by Bartolo Colon. Granted, a Derek Jeter throwing error in the second didn’t help matters, but wow. The big guy allowed seven runs (five earned) on seven hits and a walk in just three innings, and pretty much everything was hard hit. Bart’s now allowed 30 runs in 39.1 IP over his last seven starts, which isn’t exactly what you want to see so soon before the postseason. It is what it is though. Hopefully Freddy Garcia settles down with the homeritis and stabilizes the third spot in the rotation.

Brackman, Betances & Montero

(AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)

You can see why the Yankees gave Andrew Brackman all that money, that’s definitely a first round arm. It’s not first round command of course, but Brackman was sitting 90-93 with the cutter and showed both a curve and a slider. I’ve never heard about the cutter before, did he pick that up sitting in the bullpen, or is it just a lack of information? Either way, he allowed a single and a walk in 1.1 IP of work.

Dellin Betances was an eighth round pick, but he showed off a first round arm by firing some mid-90’s fastballs with a sharp curve. His command needs work as well, but that’s no surprise. Betances walked four and hit a batter in just 0.2 IP, and everything was up. Classic symptom of overthrowing. Two-thirds of the Killer B’s debuted, making this one of the most exciting blowout losses I can remember.

While that was happening, Jesus Montero was busy going 3-for-3 with two walks. One of the hits was a double, and he laid off some tough offspeed pitches for balls as well. So a really good day for one prospect, an okay day for another prospect, and a really bad day for another prospect. Nice little  microcosm of the Prospect Rule of Three.

Definitely not looking forward to seeing this kid for the next six years. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)


The Triple-A Scranton Yankees managed to score eight runs … well, the Scranton Yanks and Andruw Jones manged to score eight runs. Jones clubbed a two-run homer and also singled in a run, and both Eduardo Nunez and Ramiro Pena had multiple hits. Chris Dickerson, Austin Romine, Nick Swisher, Jorge Posada, and Brandon Laird had one hit each, and Montero obviously contributed to the offense.

Matt Moore was stellar, striking out 11 batters in just five innings in his first career start. It’ll be tough to separate what was really him and what was a side effect of the Yankees celebration on Wednesday night, but that’s a problem for the Rays bloggers. The kid’s not the best pitching prospect in the game by accident though, he sure was fun to watch. The pitching rich get richer.

Scott Proctor was worse than Colon, believe it or not. He allowed a pair of two-run homers and five runs total in just an inning of  work. Aaron Laffey allowed a run and recorded four outs before giving way to Brackman. George Kontos cleaned things up with 1.1 scoreless innings at the end of the night.

Both the Rangers and Tigers lost on Thursday, so the magic number to eliminate each from the homefield advantage race dropped to one and two, respectively. That should be taken care of by the end of the weekend, if not sooner.

Box Score, WPA Graph & Standings has the box score and video highlights, FanGraphs some other stats, and ESPN the updated standings.

Up Next

It’s time to welcome the Red Sox to town … for a meaningless series. Meaningless for the Yankees, that is. Those guys have quite a bit on the line. Garcia gets the ball against Jon Lester on Friday night.

2012 Draft: Astros will select first overall

With some help from the Twins, the Astros have clinched the worst record in baseball this year. That means they’ll pick first overall in next June’s amateur draft, and unfortunately for the Houston faithful, there’s no clear cut top talent in this class. Stanford’s Mark Appel is the early favorite to go first overall, but he’s hardly Stephen Strasburg.

The Yankees, meanwhile, can still pick anywhere from 26th to 31st. In all likelihood, they’ll pick 30th overall for the second time in six years (there’s a compensation pick earlier in the round that pushes everything back one). They took Andrew Brackman with the 30th pick back in 2007. Of course that pick could be surrendered as compensation for signing a Type-A free agent, say C.J. Wilson. The Yankees are also guaranteed to have the 89th overall pick after failing to sign second rounder Sam Stafford this summer.