Over at Baseball Crank, they’re busy previewing each division using Established Win Share Levels. You can click on that last link to get an explanation as to how this is all formulated. As Mike might say, this is some voodoo at work here. But rest assured, it’s all just for fun. I don’t think anyone seriously believes that they can fully predict how a baseball season will unfold.
About the Yankees, he says:
The Hated Yankees have run off the road in October seven years running now, but the regular season juggernaut shows no sign of stopping. A lineup with four 34-year-olds, a 36-year-old and a 37-year-old could change that in a hurry – consider even how much the Yankees lose if A-Rod drops back to .290 and 40 HR – but there’s a lot of quality bats here and the Yanks’ bench, while not great, is not quite as bare as it was for much of the late Torre years. 2008 is an exciting year for purist Yankee fans who have waited a long, long time to see the team break in a significant amount of young talent (Melky getting an everyday job, two rookie starters and maybe three if Joba slots in for Mussina), but it’s also a year of risk.
Not bad, but not a shining review. Funny, then, how the EWSL system puts the Yanks at 101-61, atop the AL East. About the Red Sox, whom the system has checking in at 88-74, he says:
I can’t quite put my finger on one single reason why the defending champs are not rated higher by EWSL, other than the loss of Curt Schilling. The rest is little things – the mid-30s wearing-down of Manny, Lowell and Varitek, the uncertainty of two rookies in the rotation, the relative lack of solid relievers after Papelbon and Okajima, the difficulty of projecting health and productivity from the erratic backgrounds of Beckett and Drew, even the decision to carry a backup catcher with a remarkable facility for accruing service time without accumulating even a single Win Share (Cash has notched zero Win Shares in four of his five big-league seasons).
There’s nothing I’d love more than to see the Sox finish with under 90 wins. No, wait, yes there is. They could always implode and finish with 70 wins. Yeah, that’d be sweet (cue dream sequence).
So let’s stack these predictions up against PECOTA:
So it seems the biggest discrepancy the system has is with the Jays and the Rays. I think it’s quite crazy to go predicting that the Rays will win 88 games this season. But if that’s what the computer says, that’s what the computer says. Me? I’m glad that the people play the game.
What we’ll probably see is a mid-ground here, with both the Jays and the Rays finishing near the .500 mark. And by “near the .500 mark” I mean I’d figure the Rays to nab between 74 and 81 games, with the Jays more in the 79 to 86 category. Still, there’s plenty that will go wrong between now and then. For the record, I’m fairly confident that the Yanks won’t win 100 games, just like I’m confident that the Red Sox will win more than 90. Should be another interesting September, especially as we close out the season at Fenway.
That Joba Chamberlain kid, he sure can pitch.
One day after getting his official bullpen assignment for the start of the season, Joba entered the game as a reliever and blew away a few Blue Jays kids. Eleven pitches later, Joba found himself with three strike outs. It was a vintage Joba performance, if a pitcher with 24 MLB innings under his belt can be considered vintage.
In the post-game interviews, he shared some comments with Peter Abraham:
“It felt great. Just getting going, it’s like riding a bike. … I was more aggressive; just attack the zone. You let your competitive edge and your abilities take over. I think I did a better job of throwing my slider. It was back to the slider that I’m used to throwing and not trying to baby it.”
A couple of points worry me in this quote. Let’s unpack it.
First, Joba notes that he was more aggressive in attacking the zone as a reliever because he let his “competitive edge and…abilities take over.” This indicates to me that Joba the Starter spends more time — perhaps too much time? — thinking through his role as a starting pitcher.
Sports psychology tends to get a short shrift in a world in which athletes are supposed to represent some sort of ideal man, but starting pitchers have four days to prepare. The mind takes over. In one-inning stints that arise when the situation of the game dictates it, a pitcher can leave his thoughts at the door. If Joba is overanalyzing his starts, I’m concerned. He has the stuff to be a starter; he needs to overcome that tendency to suppress his competitive edge.
Next, I am no fan of hearing Joba discuss his approach to his slider right here. Supposedly, he was trying to baby his slider, and I think anyone that saw him pitch earlier in the spring would believe that. During his longer appearances, it seemed as though he was trying to be too fine with his breaking pitchers. Instead of attacking the zone, he was trying to nibble at the corners. He wanted the called strike instead of the swing-and-miss strike. With a 90 mile-per-hour slider, just attack the zone.
Again, this is an issue of mentality. Joba has to translate that reliever mentality into a starter’s mentality. He had accomplished this in the Minors, and I have to wonder if moving him into a high-octane role as a late-inning reliever pushed back some of that mental development.
Right now, I’m not complaining. Joba turns Yankee games into seven-inning affairs. But I’d hate to see this become an issue down the road.
Recently arriving in the mail was Richard Bradley’s latest called The Greatest Game. Bradley uses the 1978 playoff game between the Yankees and Red Sox as a way to explore the historic rivalry between the two teams. The book so far is excellent, and I’ll have a review when I’m through. To whet your appetite, take a read through an excerpt of the book posted on ESPN’s Page 2. It’s good stuff. · (2) ·
The good folks at No Bias Baseball released the second episode of their Matt Around the Order podcast. In it, they sit down with Jim Callis and talk offseason. At around the 16-minute mark, Callis opines on the Santana negotiations: “Depending on who you talk to…[the Twins] were never really offered those offers,” he says, referring to the reported Yanks’ offers that centered around Phil Hughes and Melky Cabrera. We’ll probably never know the truth about the month-long Santana Sweepstakes, but the more we hear, the more likely it seems that the Yanks were never too keen on sending the farm to Minnesota regardless of Hank Steinbrenner’s public comments. · (11) ·
The Yanks square off against the Blue Jays today in what will be a test of the Yanks’ young guns. While the next few games will be televised, today’s game is the last chance to see Major League for a few days. Wang and Pettitte will not throw against division rivals.
Meanwhile, the Yanks will throw their young tandem of Ian Kennedy and Joba Chamberlain at Toronto today. Kyle Farnsworth will get some tosses in as well. After last night’s Phil Hughes game, Yankee fans would be comforted by a dominant Kennedy/Chamberlain outing. But worry not about Mr. Hughes. It’s only Spring Training.
Today’s game is on ESPN, and friend-of-RAB Keith Law will be joining the telecast in the 5th to talk about the Yanks and Red Sox minor leaguers. Be sure to check that out. The game will also be carried on MLB.tv and should be available here on Gameday at 1:05 or so.
While Spring Training stats are, by and large, meaningless, if I’m in charge of giving out the rest of the $105 million owed to Barry Zito, I am alarmed by his spring numbers. In 12.2 spring innings, Zito has surrendered 21 H and 24 ER. He’s walked 10 hitters while striking out 0. That’s not a typo, and I sure am glad the Yanks didn’t sign him when they had the chance. · (15) ·
That is one spacious entryway.
When last I visited with new Yankee Stadium 24 hours ago, I was bemoaning the prices of the Premium Seating experience. Today, we can leave baseball economics and the free-market effect on ticket prices behind us for a few minutes. Let’s delve deeper into what the stadium will look like upon completion.
Hidden in the not-so-deep recesses of the Premium Seating web experience is a comprehensive set of images that offer up architectural renderings of parts of the inside of the new stadium. For $1.4 billion, the Yankees sure are getting a gem of a stadium even if it turns baseball games into sports experiences, as the marketing folks would have you believe.
Atop this post we see the Great Hall. Yes, it sounds like something out of Harry Potter, but in reality, it is the new entryway to the stadium. That gold-etched sign will front this majestic new hallway. With ample space for large crowds and a high ceiling, this new entryway will certainly lessen the feelings of claustrophobia that come crashing over fans as their enter through the current stadium turnstiles. Staircases lead up the concourses, and banners honoring Yankee Greats hang from the rafters.
Moving to the outfield, we come across Monument Park. From this photo, it’s hard to get a sense of the Yankee shrine. It does appear that the Yanks’ architects anticipate young girls in pink Yankee hats and women in high heels and pant suits at the stadium. Neither of those things belong at a baseball game. It looks like the plaques in the park will no longer be in an open-air part of the stadium; a part of the outfield seating structure appears to hang over the plaque wall.
Looking out at the field from behind home plate, we see a sea of blue seats ringing the field. Gone is the monolithic feel of the current outfield way (and, apparently, the Bronx as well, according to that photo); restored is the trademark façade from the pre-renovation days. The upper levels do appear somewhat recessed, and the field dimension’s will be identical to those in the current stadium. The view from the Terrace Level behind the plate still looks amazing, and the outfield scoreboard looks fairly huge.
Returning to the bowels of the stadium, we come back to the Experience part of the trip. A sports bar, a martini bar and a steakhouse that will be open year round are just some of the new additions to the Stadium.
Those are just some of the new changes coming to Yankee Stadium when the team moves across the street. For now, these are just renderings of planned additions, but the renderings sure do look luxurious. As the new Stadium nears completion, I’m sure we’ll see more glimpses inside what will become an ostentatious baseball temple in the Bronx. For $1.4 billion, it better be this nice.
See also: Yankees open up new stadium to beat writers.
No not that Gardner, I’m talking about RHP Mike Gardner, who the Padres plucked from the Yanks in the Rule V Draft. Gardner had an unimpressive spring for the Friars, which made it easy for them to use the 25-man roster spot elsewhere. I expect Gardner to return to Double-A Trenton to start the year, with a halfway decent chance of contributing to the big league team at some point this year. · (3) ·
“Personally, when it comes to the game and its history, I think I certainly have a case for The Boss, George Steinbrenner,” Jackson said. “With his ten pennants and six world championships, I would give him my nod to one day be elected to the Hall of Fame.”
As anyone who knows Yankee history is sure to understand, it’s only a little ironic to hear Reggie Jackson of all people proclaiming George’s Hall of Fame destiny. But then again, Reggie and George seemed to have each other’s backs in the 1970s.
Meanwhile, as much as we don’t want to admit it, Jackson is right: George Steinbrenner belongs in the Hall of Fame. He’s been suspended from baseball twice; he’s one of the most abrasive owners in the game; but his contributions to the game and his legacy will live on long after he passes away. Forget the pennants; forget the World Championships. Just look at baseball’s current financial structure, and you will understand why George belongs in the Hall.
The Yankees did what we figured they’d do in deciding to start Joba Chamberlain in the bullpen this year. Girardi says his future is as a starter, though he didn’t say whether it would be this season.
Update by Ben: Tyler Kepner tells us that the Joba Rules will not be in effect this year. Joba can pitch whenever and as often as Joe Girardi and Dave Eiland see fit out of the pen. · (20) ·