Alright, one more league, and this is the last one. I’ll post the sign up info at 6:30pm ET today, so check back then if you haven’t gotten into one of our other leagues.
Record Last Week: 3-3 (26 RS, 27 RA)
Spring Training Record: 8-10 (83 RS, 109 RA)
Schedule This Week: @ Phillies (Mon.), vs. Nationals (Weds.), @ Orioles (Thurs.), vs. Phillies (Fri.), @ Tigers (Sat.), vs. Tigers (Sun.)
Top stories from last week:
- As the season draws closer, more and more players are being assigned to minor league camp. This week’s casualties: Jesus Montero, Austin Romine, Colin Curtis, Reid Gorecki, Dustin Moseley, Jason Hirsh, Romulo Sanchez, Ryan Pope, Ivan Nova, and Hector Noesi. The only moves left are small personnel shifts.
- The Yankees’ brass met yesterday to discuss the fifth starter situation after both Phil Hughes and Joba Chamberlain pitched well earlier this week. There’s a chance they’ll trade either Chad Gaudin or Sergio Mitre before Opening Day, and right now Mitre appears to be winning that battle. We’re not sure if he can succeed out of the bullpen, either.
- Damaso Marte took a line drive to the back, but he’s not expected to miss much time.
- The Yanks tried to acquire Denard Span last July, but to no avail. They offered Cuban shortstop Adeiny Hechevarria $8.5M before he signed with Toronto, and some think that Derek Jeter‘s presence cost them the 20-year-old.
- Single game tickets are now on sale.
Please take a second to answer the poll below and give us an idea of how confident you are in the team. You can view the Fan Confidence Graph anytime via the nav bar above, or by clicking here. Thanks in advance for voting.
Photo credit: Elise Amendola/AP
Mark Teixeira plays a mean first base. We’ve known this for a while. He quickly established his reputation in Texas, and for six or so games per year from 2003 through the first half of 2007 we got to see it ourselves. He just seems graceful patrolling the bag, snagging tough one-hoppers and picking low throws out of the dirt. In 2009 we got a real treat in watching Teixeira ply his craft every day. He resembled a ballerina compared to his predecessor, Jason Giambi. I think Bob Klapisch nailed it when he described Giambi as being “as graceful as Herman Munster around the bag.”
That quote comes from an article Klapisch wrote about Mark Teixeira’s UZR. For the second time in the past three seasons his UZR fell below the league average. We’ve discussed this issue in the past, and have heard many people claim that the gross misrepresentation of Teixeira’s defense proves that the statistic is useless. This couldn’t be further from the truth. While UZR might not cover everything that makes a first baseman, it still does tell us important things about defensive range.
As I covered in the UZR primer, the statistic is primarily concerned with assigning credit and blame on balls in play and comparing that to the league average. This can cause confusion in zones between two positions, such as second and first base. Maybe Yankees’ opponents hit an inordinate number of balls to that side. Maybe opponents ended up taking two bases, thus hurting Teixeira’s UZR more than a mere single. Maybe he wasn’t positioned optimally. There are plenty of reasons why, in this one season, his UZR — in specific the range component — was below league average.
Again, this does not discredit UZR, but perhaps points out some of its inefficiencies. It doesn’t factor in player positioning, and it certainly doesn’t assign first basemen extra credit for scooping balls out of the dirt. When we look at a first baseman’s UZR, we have to recognize that it will not tell us these things. It will tell us only what goes into it, and that mostly involves how often a player turned a batted ball into an out, in a particular zone, compared to the league average. For the other aspects of manning first base, we’re on our own.
To that end, I don’t think anyone would argue that Teixeira played a poor first base last season. At the very least, everyone was happy enough to see an improvement over Giambi. Yet there is an important point to keep in mind. What we tend to remember are the plays he did make. The one hopper that he snagged as he was falling down. The dive to get a ball headed for the hole. The scoop on a three-bouncer. What we probably don’t remember, what we might not even notice, are the balls he just doesn’t get to. I’m not saying that Teixeira didn’t get to all these grounders that other first baseman would have. I’m saying that it’s possible that he did miss a few plays, and that we don’t remember them because they weren’t particularly noteworthy at the time.
Also keep in mind that UZR works with small samples. How many chances does a first baseman get to field a ball? Fewer than shortstop and second base, and we normally take three years’ worth of UZR data to get a read on those positions. Over the past three years, and for his career, Teixeira’s UZR is positive. It’s not massively so, but he’s certainly not rated below average. I suspect that we’ll see him in the positive again in 2010. These things tend to even out over time.
Sorry, but I couldn’t let these two utterances, one from Tex and the other from Klapisch, fly by without a comment.
Teixeira: “Look, if computers could run the game, why bother having general managers?” Because you need people to analyze and interpret the data. Also, no one’s arguing that computers should run the game in the first place. Also, scouts have their place, and it’s no marginal, second-class citizen status. Numbers are just a recording of what happened on the field, but we need to go much further in order to make the data useful. Also, there is no such thing as a perfect statistic.
Klapisch: But here’s the kicker: Sabermetrics don’t acknowledge a phenomenon known as “clutch.” Untrue, though Klap isn’t the first to misstate the general sabermetric view of clutch. The idea is that it’s difficult, if not impossible, to quantify. It does make for good storytelling, though, so most staheads have backed off arguing the idea of clutch. If you think a particular player is clutch and another unclutch, fine. It is, after all, your own definition you’re applying to the players.
Today’s rainout apparently messed up the Yanks’ pitching schedule pretty badly. They were looking at other teams for possible split-squad situations, but apparently found no takers. To keep everyone pitching they’ll have an intrasquad game tomorrow morning, followed by the regularly scheduled game, a 1 p.m. affair against the Phillies which will air on YES and ESPN.
In the intrasquad game Andy Pettitte, Mariano Rivera, and Damaso Marte will face Joba Chamberlain, Chan Ho Park, and David Robertson. A.J. Burnett will start the game against the Phillies in Clearwater, and Phil Hughes will close the game. Burnett threw just 2.1 innings his last time around, using 66 pitches, so he might only be going four tomorrow. Hughes went four last time, and could go as many as five in relief, if they need the bottom of the ninth.
Oh, and in case you hadn’t heard, Joe Mauer signed an eight-year, $184 million extension with the Twins. Our hypothetical from this week will remain just that.
That’s it for today, though. We’ve got the open thread, though, so kick back and relax for the evening.
Via Marc Carig, the Yankees have reassigned Jesus Montero, Austin Romine, Colin Curtis, and Reid Gorecki to minor league camp. With the regulars playing more and more as the season draws closer, it was time for these four to head across to the street and get regular playing time. Curtis’ performance in particular was strong, but the Yankees already have four candidates for the leftfield job, so he was always a long shot.
Dustin Moseley and Jason Hirsh were both assigned to minor league camp earlier this morning.
Johnny Damon is back in Tampa today, for what I believe is the first time since he signed with the Tigers. I’m sure that he’ll get a nice round of applause when he comes to the plate as the second batter of the first inning, which about sums up the excitement of an otherwise meaningless Sunday afternoon game in March.
Detroit brought the heat today; their scheduled pitchers include Justin Verlander, Joel Zumaya, and Jose Valverde. Phil Coke’s mullet is on the travel roster as well. Here’s the lineup that’ll have to deal with that nonsense…
First pitch is scheduled to 1pm ET, and the game can be seen on YES. The weather in Tampa isn’t great, so there’s a chance of a rain delay or a straight up cancellation of this one. I hope not.
Update: So much for that, the game’s been cancelled. I guess go ahead and treat this sucker as open thread.
Photo Credit: Charlie Riedel, AP
11:28am: Jason Hirsh too.
10:41am: Via Bryan Hoch, the Yankees have assigned righty Dustin Moseley to minor league camp, which comes as a surprise to no one. He allowed eleven hits and seven runs in 6.1 innings this spring, but I don’t think he would have been able to make the team even with a phenomenal spring. They probably just would have traded him while his value was high.
Moseley may have some kind of out clause in his contract, but I suspect he’ll fill a middle relief/swingman role for Triple-A Scranton. You always need guys like that in the minors, just to soak up inning when the kids take a beating or the weather makes thing messy.