The Overused and Abused MRI

For most of us, an MRI is just some test players go through when they’re hurt. It tells us everything we need to know, no questions asked. Phil Hughes lost some velocity? Send him to the MRI tube. However, as Gina Kolata of The Times writes, MRI’s are often overused and misleading. “An M.R.I. is unlike any other imaging tool we use,” said Dr. Bruce Sangeorzan to Kolata. “It is a very sensitive tool, but it is not very specific. That’s the problem.”

The old refrain is that you can find something wrong with any pitcher if you give them an MRI, but many injuries can be diagnosed through a physical exam and patient history. “I see 300 or 400 new patients a year,” said Dr. Sigvard Hansen. “Out of them, there might be one that has something confusing and might need a scan.” It’s a relatively short but really interesting article, give it a read.

Dickerson falls short of Super Two cutoff

MLBTR’s Tim Dierkes reported on Thursday that this year’s Super Two cutoff is two years and 146 days of service time. By my unofficial count, Chris Dickerson will fall short of that cutoff by just seven days. He came into the season with two years and 48 days of service time according to Cot’s, and I have him on the active roster for 91 days in 2011. That brings him up to two years and 139 days of service time, or one week short.

Had Dickerson qualified as a Super Two, he would have been arbitration-eligible this offseason and another three times before free agency. Instead, he will earn close to league minimum in 2012 before three years of arbitration. In a way, it might have saved his job. Had Dickerson qualified as a Super Two, there’s a chance the Yankees would have non-tendered him rather than pay him a low-seven figures salary. That’s unlikely though, Dickerson’s a useful player since he can hit righties (.341 wOBA) and play pretty good defense at all three outfield spots. He’ll just do that while earning slightly less money in 2012.

Angels to name Jerry Dipoto general manager

Via MLBTR, the Angels will name Diamondbacks’ exec Jerry Dipoto their new GM. That means the Yankees are likely to retain Billy Eppler, there pro scouting director, who was a candidate for the job and even called back for a second interview. Buster Olney says he was the runner-up. Amateur scouting director Damon Oppenheimer was also up for the job, but he was told he was no longer considered a candidate after his first interview. Epp and Opp will get their shots at being GMs eventually, likely within a year or two, but I’m glad both are back. They do bang-up work.

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.