PECOTA likes the Yanks

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Last week, Baseball Prospectus unveiled that basic PECOTA projections for the 2008 season. For the uninitiated among us, PECOTA is a computer projection system that calculates the likelihood of how a player will perform in a season based on his past performance by comparing him to similar players. Got it? Good.

Anyway, when the Weighted Means spreadsheet hits, it’s always fun to page through to see how the computer predicts the season to turn out. Since I know you’re all dying to find out, Melky projects to around .283/.342/.404. No further comment, your honor.

Saving any of us the trouble of doing the number-crunching, Paul, one of the Red Sox fans, at Yanksfan vs. Soxfan, figured out how PECOTA projects the Yanks, and Yankee fans should be guardedly happy. When all is said and done, an ideal, computerized PECOTA world, the final AL East standings look like this:

Yankees 103-59
Red Sox 101-61

And that was before Curt Schilling’s injury came down.

But of course, baseball teams don’t play computer-simulated games. They play the games on the field, and besides the fact that two 100-win teams in one division is rather unlikely, a perfectly simulated PECOTA season is rather unlikely too.

This should, however, give despairing Yankee fans reason to hope. Too many critics look at the Red Sox’s October and forget that what happened in the six months prior. They saw a team comeback from a 3-1 ALCS deficit to win seven straight and a second World Championship in four years. But the Red Sox were no sure lock at the end of September when the Yanks had cut their division lead to two.

Now PECOTA likes the Yanks, and we do too. There should always be hope, projections aside.

Categories : Analysis
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  • Schilling dealing with major shoulder issues

    Talk about a story coming out of nowhere. A report today in the Boston Herald notes that Curt Schilling has some shoulder issues. It could be as bad as a torn rotator cuff and/or labrum. Surgery, they say, will take him out for the year.

    Schilling underwent a physical before signing his one-year, $8 million contract, so either they missed it, or it’s something that has developed since then. The Red Sox, much to Schilling’s chagrin, have looked into voiding the agreement.

    To sum up: Couldn’t have happened to a nicer guy.
    · (44) ·

While the Yankee beat writers are getting a tour of the new Yankee Stadium later today, we’re going to do you one better. Thanks to reader Paul V., we’ve got our hands on some photos from inside the construction site, and they are fantastic.

The photos, all taken by Robert Barkovitz, show the Stadium going up. You can view a slideshow below or check them out at my flickr site. Some highlights:

Check out the rest in this slideshow. I love watching these big construction projects go up, and it’s too bad the Yanks don’t have a construction cam set up as the Washington Nationals do. Instead, we’ll take the glimpses inside as we can get them. Again, thanks to Robert Barkovitz for these shots.

Categories : Yankee Stadium
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  • Sheppard, health in doubt, may not return

    Despite a report in January that promised good health, Bob Sheppard, according to Richard Sandomir of The Times, may not resume his duties at Yankee Stadium in the spring. According to the Yanks’ PR guy Howard Rubenstein, Sheppard is “struggling to recover his health” following his bout with a bronchial infection in September. It will be a sad day in Yankeeland when Sheppard, believed to be 97, must step down or worse. Our thoughts are, of course, with the family. (Hat tip to my mom on this one.) · (8) ·

Let me start this one off with my typical Roger Clemens-Steroids disclaimer. I don’t know what Roger Clemens did or when. I don’t know if he’s telling the truth; I don’t know if Brian McNamee is telling the truth. But I do believe in the legal right that places the burden of proof on the prosecution. In other words, Clemens is innocent until proven guilty.

And this latest round of news — seven- or eight-year-old gauze or used syringes — hardly strikes me as a smoking gun.

The story according to Duff Wilson and Michael S. Schmidt of The Times:

Brian McNamee has given federal investigators bloody gauze pads, vials and syringes he said he used to inject Roger Clemens with steroids and human growth hormone in 2000 and 2001, a lawyer with knowledge of the case said Wednesday.

McNamee, Clemens’s former personal trainer, hopes that DNA and chemical tests on the materials will support his contention that he injected Clemens with those drugs, the lawyer said. The disclosure came a day after Clemens gave a sworn deposition to Congressional investigators Tuesday.

Clemens’s lawyer, Lanny A. Breuer, responded that McNamee “apparently has manufactured evidence” and was “a troubled man who is obsessed with doing everything possible to destroy Roger Clemens.”

It’s pretty hard to take this one too seriously, and I’ll turn to Breuer for a concise summary. Breuer said this “defies all credibility. It is just not credible — who in their right mind does such a thing?”

Supposedly, the story goes, McNamee had these syringes at home but had not yet opted to share them with federal investigators out of what one source termed “lingering loyalty” toward Clemens. When Clemens basically threw him under the bus at that bizarre press conference a few weeks ago, McNamee decided to wage his own war against the Rocket.

It doesn’t take a legal expert to know that this evidence would hardly be too convincing. As Schmidt details in a sidebar piece, this revelation brings up more questions than it answers. Why did McNamee withhold evidence for so long? Why and how was he storing the syringes?

Meanwhile, it’s nearly impossible to date leftover injections in syringes or crusted blood. As one law professor said to Schmidt, Clemens’ defense team will have a field day with this. “Clemens’s defense lawyers will attack McNamee on cross-examination, claiming that the evidence was manufactured by McNamee in response to the revelation that Clemens had taped him,” Mathew Rosengart said.

This story — already bizarre — just gets stranger by the day. I wonder if Bud Selig is still pleased that his half-hearted efforts at rooting out steroids in baseball has led to this debacle.

Categories : STEROIDS!
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In 2007, the Padres and the Red Sox topped their respective leagues in bullpen ERA and batting average against. Thing is, entering the season, neither team had much to boast about in that department. In fact, the Sox pen was in such shambles that Jonathan Papelbon told Tony Francona that he wanted to move back to the closer role (or at least that’s how Boston tells the story). So how did these two teams come out ahead?

Skilled closer

Obviously, the first step in building a bullpen is creating a viable endgame. Both Trevor Hoffman and Jonathan Papelbon qualify as such. They keep things relatively stable at the end — Papelbon more than Hoffman, though, as he blew just three saves last year (and we remember a couple of ‘em), while Hoffman was the goat in seven games, including the most important one for the Padres.

There’s not much else to say about this. We have it in Mo, who I think we all can agree is better than Hoffman at this stage of his career.
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Categories : Death by Bullpen
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Pitchers and catchers are still at home. Position players have a few weeks left in vacation. Yet, the Brian Cashman Job Watch is already on the go.

Today, Joel Sherman checks in with his latest: Brian Cashman may very be building a farm system for his successor. Using the Super Bowl Champs as an example, Sherman draws parallels between Cashman and Ernie Accorsi, the former New York Giants GM who built the current Giants team.

It is possible, and Cashman knows this, that he might be rebuilding a farm system for another man, that he will play Accorsi and hand off something ready to blossom to his successor. He insists he is fine with that prospect, recalling how fortunate he was to be gifted a championship roster from his predecessor Bob Watson, saying he owes it to that memory and to professionalism and to Yankees fans to guarantee his baton pass is as fruitful.

“You want to make sure it is sustainable for the next person,” Cashman said.

Cashman has just one year left on his contract. No one would be surprised if he returned again, that his love for the job and his long history with the Steinbrenner family produce another contract. But no one around the Yankees – or really around baseball – would be surprised either if VP of scouting Damon Oppenheimer, like Reese, graduates from heading a draft room to directing the big room. Oppenheimer’s outstanding recent drafts have provided much of the backbone to support Cashman’s vision of restoring youth and financial sanity to the Yankees roster.

A lot of Brian Cashman’s most vocal critics have long pointed to the Yanks’ farm system in the pre-Cashman days as a sign that Brian is an overrated GM. While this argument ignores the fact that Brian Cashman, as an Assistant GM before his days as a General Manager, was instrumental in building up the Yankees farm system, it also ignores what Cashman has been able to accomplish since 2005 when he seemingly wrested control away from King George and his Tampa minions in order to build up a franchise.

Since then, the Yanks have skyrocketed in prospect ratings from the low 20s to the upper echelons of the list. That is not to say that Cashman has been a perfect GM. I’ll happily defend Cash, but I know that the Yankees are a flawed team with an astronomical payroll. But it’s hard to understate the importance of their farm system.

They have top-notch arms in Joba, Phil and IPK ready to contribute at the Major League level now. They have position players who should develop just in time to contribute when they are most needed. And they have a new organizational philosophy that will keep them spending on the amateur draft and international free agents while maintaining a competitive Big League club through free agency.

Who knows what the future holds for Cashman? He may jet to Philadelphia as many have speculated. He may stick around. He could retire and come back after a few years away from the game. But no matter the outcome in 2008, he has left his mark on this team, and it’s for the better.

Categories : Front Office
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