A requiem for the 2010 season

The joy of winning in 2009 is still a fresh memory in Mr. Potato Head's mind.

Pity the poor Yankee fan. For the past 48 hours, since Alex Rodriguez struck out looking to send — Schadenfreude alert! — his former Texas Rangers ballclub to its first World Series berth in franchise history, the atmosphere around Yankee fans has been funereal. We wanted another Fall Classic appearance; we wanted another trophy; and we’re going to mourn our loss like it’s nobody’s business.

Since the game ended, the Yankees have gotten it on all sides as the haters have come out of the woodwork. You have your “told you so” folks who just knew the Yankees wouldn’t win. You have your commentators examining the team with a fine-toothed comb to find the flaws in every player. You even have your displaced Orioles-fan Marylanders fans who live in New York City but take special glee in a Yankee playoff loss. Even as we realize that the Yankees were outplayed by a very good Texas team, we know that theonly people sad this weekend were the Yankees and their fans.

And Major League Baseball.

As the league office reminded the media this weekend, the two 2010 League Championship Series were the most-watched series in the past three years, and the ALCS was TBS’ most successful. “The 2010 ALCS was the most-watched LCS on TBS since the network began airing the round in 2007 averaging 8.22 million viewers,” the release said. “Game 6 of the 2010 ALCS registered 11.86 million viewers making it the second most-viewed baseball game ever on cable television beating the game where Mark McGwire tied Roger Maris for the most home runs in a season on ESPN on September 7, 1998 (10.62 million viewers). Only the 2008 ALCS Game 7 between the Boston Red Sox and Tampa Bay Rays registered more viewers (13.36 million) on cable.”

Everyone, it seems, loves the bad guys. While most of those millions were rooting for the bad guys to lose, as long as the bad guys are still around, baseball enjoys its popularity. No one likes the Yankees, but where would be without them?

As the Yanks’ own 2010 season draws to a close, we can look back at a successful year and shouldn’t let the dull finish in the ALCS ruin the fun we had. We watched the Yankees win 95 times this year, and only two teams in all of baseball enjoyed more victories. A Major League-best 3,765,807 fans saw the team win 52 of their 81 home games, and on the road, Yankee games averaged a league-best 34,939 fans per game. Overall, the Yanks’ average per-game attendance of 40,715 was best in the game by nearly 2000 fans. Everyone loves the bad guys.

On the field, we had our memories. On April 22, the Yankees turned their first triple play since 1968. Brett Gardner and Derek Jeter banged out some inside-the-park home runs. Jorge Posada tied a career high with three stolen bases. Robinson Cano came into his own, hitting .319 with a .914 OPS, and he could be due for some post-season hardware. Alex Rodriguez launched his 600th career home run. CC Sabathia won 21 games. Mariano Rivera sported a 1.80 ERA at the age of 40.

Of course, we saw our fair share of frustrations too. Derek Jeter, playing out the final year of his contract, turned in a down season. Mark Teixeira struggled through a dreadfully cold start and an injury-plagued finish. A.J. Burnett couldn’t turn his stuff into outs, and Javier Vazquez flat-out lost his stuff. But over the course of 162 games, the bad will come with the good.

So this year, we won’t get a parade or a trophy. We won’t get 11 wins in October and November. We won’t have the joys of seeing 27 turn into 28, and we won’t get back-to-back titles for the first time since 2000. We’ll get the hate and the gloating, but we’ll always have the Yankees. Most fans love to hate the bad guys, but we just love ’em through thick and thin. Here’s to 2010. It didn’t end as we wanted it to, but it was a very good year.

Open Thread: Locker clean out day

The contract negotiation from hell will start soon. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)

It happens every year, but sometimes it’s a happier experience than others. The Yankees cleaned out their lockers at the Stadium today, or at least did so in theory. Some of them … actually, probably most of them took care of that last night, but a few trickled in throughout the day based on what the beat writers were saying. One cool thing did come out of today though, Chad Jennings posted this awesome breakdown of the clubhouse. Make sure you check it out. Otherwise, today is pretty much the last time the players will report anywhere until the first day of Spring Training, which is a little under than four months away. For shame.

Anyway, here’s your open thread for the night. The late NFL game has the Vikings at the Packers, so you might not want to watch if you hate Brett Favre. The Devils and Rangers are also playing (each other), so there’s that. Maybe Ilya Kovalchuk and his 15-year, $100M contract will be a healthy scratch again. You guys know what to do, so have at it.

Laird stays hot in the desert

That’s a picture of Austin Romine chatting with Phoenix Desert Dogs manager and Yankee legend Don Mattingly before a recent Arizona Fall League game, which comes courtesy of reader Ryan NotsureifhewantsmetousehislastnamesoIwont. Here’s a slideshow of the rest of Ryan’s pics, make sure you click “Show Info”: so you know what you’re looking at. Let’s get you caught up on all the winter ball action …

Phoenix Desert Dogs (4-3 loss to Peoria on Thursday)
Austin Romine, DH: 0 for 4, 1 BB, 1 K
Brandon Laird, 1B: 2 for 5, 1 R, 1 HR, 4 RBI – no outfield in this one

Phoenix Desert Dogs (7-6 loss to Surprise on Friday)
Austin Romine, C: 0 for 4, 1 BB, 1 PB – just three for his last 20 (.150) allowed one stolen base in one attempt
Jose Pirela, 2B: 0 for 4, 2 K, 1 E (throwing)
Craig Heyer: 3 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 1 K, 5-3 GB/FB – 25 of 41 pitches were strikes (60.8%)
Ryan Pope: 2 IP, 4 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 0 BB, 1 K, 3-2 GB/FB – 16 of 25 pitches were strikes (64%) … he was on the mound when the runner stole
George Kontos: 1 IP, 4 H, 3 R, 1 ER, 0 BB, 1 K, 2-0 GB/FB, 1 E (throwing) – 16 of 24 pitches were strikes (66.7%)

Phoenix Desert Dogs (6-1 loss to Scottsdale on Saturday)
Brandon Laird, LF: 2 for 4, 1 2B, 1 K – .353/.371/.647
Jose Pirela, 2B: 0 for 4, 1 K
Manny Banuelos: 4 IP, 8 H, 5 R, 2 ER, 1 BB, 3 K, 1 Balk, 3-4 GB/FB – 46 of 65 pitches were strikes (70.8%) … lots of strikes, that’s good

There were no AzFL games today. Now onto the Latin American leagues …

Dominican Winter League
Zack Segovia: 1 G, 1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 1 K

Wilkins Arias and Jon Ortiz are also playing in the league, and chances are a few more players will trickle in during the season. Former Yank Humberto Sanchez is also playing in the DWL.

Mexican Pacific League
Justin Christian: 10 G, 16 for 45, 7 R, 2 2B, 2 HR, 6 RBI, 2 BB, 2 K, 6 SB (.356/.383/.533)
Walt Ibarra: 10 G, 10 for 34, 9 R, 3 2B, 3 RBI, 4 BB, 6 K, 1 SB, 1 CS (.294/.375/.382)
Francisco Gil: 2 G, 1 IP, 3 H, 4 R, 4 ER, 1 BB, 1 K, 1 WP (36.00 ERA, 4.00 WHIP)
Eric Wordekemper: 4 G, 4.1 IP, 6 H, 6 R, 5 ER, 1 BB, 3 K, 1 WP (10.38 ERA, 1.62 WHIP)

Venezuelan Winter League
Jose Gil: 8 G, 11 for 30, 4 R, 3 2B, 1 HR, 6 RBI, 5 K (.367/.375/.567)
Luis Nunez: 6 G, 2 for 10, 1 R (.200/.200/.200)
Marcos Vechionacci: 8 G, 9 for 28, 2 R, 1 2B, 2 RBI, 1 BB, 5 K, 2 SB, 1 CS (.321/.345/.357)
Edwar Gonzalez: 3 G, 1 for 6, 1 R, 1 2B, 2 K (.167/.167/.333)
Josh Schmidt: 2 G, 2 GS, 8 IP, 5 H, 5 R, 4 ER, 5 BB, 11 K (4.50 ERA, 1.25 WHIP)

Juan Marcano, Emerson Landoni, Eduardo Sosa, and Jesus Montero are all playing in the VWL as well, but have yet to appear in a game. No Yankee farmhands have played in the Puerto Rican League yet (season started two days ago), but Jon Albaladejo and Rene Rivera are there.

Marte had shoulder surgery, out until after 2011 All Star break

Via Erik Boland, lefty reliever Damaso Marte underwent surgery to repair a torn labrum in his throwing shoulder last Friday, and won’t begin to throw again until after the 2011 All Star break. Marte was afraid he’d never be able to pitch again, so he took this as good news. For all intents and purposes, consider him out next season. He won’t start throwing until after the break, nevermind facing batters and stuff.

Damaso is under contract for under $4M next season, then the Yanks will buy out his 2012 option (another $4M) for $250,000. Since signing his regrettable three-year, $12M contract after the 2008 season, Marte has thrown just 31 innings with a 6.39 ERA. The ERA’s skewed by the ass kickin’ he took before going on the disabled list in 2009, though. He did hold lefties to a .136/.205/.242 batting line over the last two seasons (73 plate appearances), which is what he’s supposed to do. We’ll always have the 2009 playoffs, Damaso.

Greatest Yankee Seasons: Pitching Edition

As a follow-up to yesterday’s post on the greatest Yankee seasons of all time by position, I wanted to take a look at the top pitching seasons in Yankees history.

Starting Pitchers

1.  Ron Guidry, 1978.  Traditionalists will love Gator’s 25-3 record, but that in itself doesn’t show just how great Guidry was in 1978.  Guidry’s ERA of 1.74 led the league in  by an amazing 0.53 and he became the only Yankee starter in history (min. 160 IP) with an ERA+ greater than 200, landing at 208. He was 2nd in the league in Ks and K/9, only behind Nolan Ryan, while giving up just 6.1 hits/9 and 13 HRs all season in a whopping 273.2 innings pitched.  Guidry’s FIP was 2.19, leading the league by 0.52.  He was flat out dominant in 1978, leading the league, batters included, in bWAR by a full win.

2.  Lefty Gomez, 1937. Gomez with 8.9 bWAR was the most valuable pitcher and 2nd most valuable player in the AL in 1937.  He led the league in wins, ERA, SHO, K’s, H/9, K/9 and K/BB.  His 21-11 record doesn’t do him justice.  Despite playing for a Yankee team that scored 979 runs, Gomez had 7 starts (21% of his total) in which they scored 2 runs or fewer.  His 191 ERA+ is the third best in Yankee history and one of only three to even top 180.

3.  Lefty Gomez 1934. Run support wasn’t an issues for Gomez in 1934 as he led the league with 26 wins (vs. 5 losses) while leading the league in ERA, CG, SHO, IP, K’s, WHIP, ERA+ and H/9. Per bWAR he was the most valuable pitcher in the league and 4th most valuable player, behind just Gehrig, Gehringer and Foxx, all fellow Hall of Famers.

4.  Spud Chandler, 1943.  Chandler was a decent pitcher who had just 809.2 career innings pitched through age 34.  then, a,t 35 he had a season for the ages, winning the league MVP while leading the league in wins, ERA, CG, SHO, ERA+, WHIP and K/BB. He also OPS’d .658 in 98 AB’s for what it’s worth.  His MVP was pretty legit too, as per bWAR he was tied for 2nd as most valuable player in the league.  His ERA+ of 198 was 2nd in Yankee history. There is a major asterisk next to Chandler’s season, however, as in 1943 several great players, including Joe Dimaggio, Ted Wiliams and Bob Feller were off fighting in World War II.

5.  Whitey Ford, 1964.  Ford may have been a little better in 1958 but I’m putting his ’64 season here in part because he threw an extra 25.2 innings.  His ERA was 2.13 and his FIP of 2.45 was the best of his career by 0.42.  Despite leading the league in nothing, this was the best season of Ford’s career. It was the only season he cracked a bWAR of at least 6 (6.3), placing second in the league in that category (behind Dean Chance who had an amazing year).

Middle Reliever

Mariano Rivera, 1996.  This was an easy one.  As great as Mo has been as a closer, this was the most valuable season in his career.  In his first full season in the majors, Rivera took the league by storm.  He put up career highs in K/9 and allowed a career low 1 HR despite throwing 27 more innings than in any other season. While FIP has always been unkind to Mo, this was the only season of his career with a FIP under 2 (at 1.88).  Despite throwing just 107.2 innings, Rivera was 9th in the league in bWAR for pitchers at 5.4.


Mariano Rivera,  2008.  This of course was just an exercise in picking out Mo’s best year as a closer (though go check out what Steve Farr did in 1992, sneaky good).  Though he’s had many off the charts years, I had to go with Mo’s 2008.  His 12.83 K/BB ratio looks like a typo but it was legit.  He also gave up just 0.5 HR/9, which is special for anyone but Mo, for him it’s average.  You could easily argue about 5 of Mo’s seasons are his best and get no argument from me.

Open Thread: An RAB Thank You

(AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)

The Yankees’ season ended with disappointment last night, but Ben, Joe, and myself want to take a second to thank everyone for another great year at RAB. The readers and commentors are what makes the site go, and we’re thankful for you guys. A big league season features far too many ups-and-downs to count, but having such a kick-ass readership makes it easier to tolerate. So thank you, and here’s to 2011.

Oh, and don’t forget, RAB doesn’t go anywhere in the winter. We’ll still be around to cover the hot stove action, winter meetings, trade rumors, and free agent talk, as well as offer speculation, analysis, dumb ideas and the like. The Yankees are a 12-months a year kind of team, and we’ll be around for all of it. Hopefully you all will be as well.

Anyway, here is your open thread for this fine evening. The Giants and Phillies resume the NLCS at 8pm ET on FOX (Jonathan Sanchez vs. Roy Oswalt), plus all of the hockey locals are in action. Talk about whatever you want here, just be cool.