In his yearly tradition, Dave Pinto has posted his Probabilistic Model of Range for the 2007 season. Over the next week or so he’ll post the results for each player by position. Today, though, he goes over teams as a whole. I’ll point to Pinto’s brief explanation of PMR:

Basically, for each fieldable (non inside the park home runs) ball put in play, six parameters are used to determine how difficult it was to field the ball. A probability of turning the ball into an out is calculated, and those probabilities are summed. That gives us expected batted balls turned into outs. We turn that into a predicted DER (defensive efficiency record), compare that to the actual DER and calculate a ranking.

The model is based primarily on visiting player data, smoothed, distance on fly balls. Only 2007 data was used to construct the model.

Now, the Yankees were far from the top spot in DER. However, the difficulty of balls put in play against them moved them to the top spot. What does this tell us about the team?

Well, for one, they don’t strike out a ton of guys, ranking 12th in the American League in 2007. Hopefully this changes with Joba and Hughes in the rotation next year.

The question this poses to me: Did the Yankees pitching get lucky last year? PMR would suggest yes. A lot of the “difficult” plays the Yankees made over the course of the year could just as easily have gone for hits. Such is the nature of baseball. Sometimes the ball has eyes, sometimes it goes right to a fielder. All you can do is hit the ball hard, and it appears that’s what happened against Yankee pitching last year.

Thankfully we’re heading into 2008 with an altered rotation.

Categories : Defense
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I promise you that I will stop talking about A-Rod just as soon as something else happens in Yankee-land. Maybe the GM meetings will bring us some relief this year. I hear the Yanks want this guy from the Twins — Johan Somebody or other.

Anyway, the latest news comes to us, unsources, from The Boston Globe, part owners of the Boston Red Sox. Hooray conflict of interests. The news is in Nick Cafardo’s rather extensive Notes column. Cafardo writes, in the Etc. section, about A-Rod:

If Alex Rodriguez could handpick the team he plays for, Boston might well be No. 1 on his list. According to a source who has talked to Rodriguez recently, he’d love to play for the Sox because he thinks they can win multiple championships… Whither the Yankees? “That’s something I will keep between Brian Cashman and myself,” Boras said. “I’m not making any more comments about the Yankees.”

There’s just so much to say about this little tidbit. Let’s start with A-Rod’s thinking that the Red Sox can win multiple championships. Clearly, A-Rod’s been doing his homework on the Red Sox, and he has decided that the Red Sox’s framework and organization best suits his own desires of finally nabbing that elusive ring. Never mind the fact that A-Rod’s old team owns the most championships in baseball history and is a perennial playoff contender. He wants to go to the World Series champion now, and he’s going to run crying to his mommy if it doesn’t happen.

See, A-Rod just knows what everyone else knows: The Sox have built up quite the team. Rich Lederer on The Baseball Analysts wrote a two-parter on the bright Red Sox future (Part I, Part II), and Baseball Prospectus has quite the love for Boston (Kevin Goldstein, New York’s own Jay Jaffe, John Perotto). It’s so disingenuous of A-Rod to want to go to Boston. In other words, it’s just like him.

Now, I also think there isn’t a snowball’s chance in hell that A-Rod winds up in Fenway. First, the Red Sox management is just too smart to give A-Rod a ten-year deal worth $30-35 million a year. They don’t want to pay 38-year-old A-Rod that much, let alone 41-year-old A-Rod. Theo Epstein, John Henry and, for all his idiotic talk about the Yankees-Red Sox rivarly, Larry Lucchino just don’t do that anymore.

Meanwhile, if A-Rod thought he had it rough with the New York fans, just wait until he experiences the full wrath of the Red Sox fans. They would expect this greedy turncoat to go 4 for 4 with 4 HRs every day.

Finally, in this three-sentence tidbit from Cafardo, we get another glimpse into the A-Rod/Boras relationship, and it’s starting to sound a little bit like Boras thinks he blew it with the Yankees. The closer to Cafardo’s entry is a veiled comment about Brian Cashman that one could interpret to mean that Boras and Cashman are indeed talking secretively about A-Rod’s potential return to the Yankees.

Yeah, right. The Yankees have made it perfectly clear that A-Rod is dead to them. They aren’t turning back from that stance any time soon.

Boras, you see, is using the media to intimate that the Yankees are in play because that serves to drive up A-Rod’s price. As long as that glimmer of a possibility exists, Boras can use it as leverage. But the Yankees have seemingly out-smarted A-Rod and Boras by maintaining a hard-line stance. The Yanks are not negotiating. Good luck to you, Scott, they said. And I have to think that Boras is maybe beginning to believe that the best deal he’ll see this winter for A-Rod is the one the Yankees originally offered before A-Rod opted out. Wouldn’t that be sweet, sweet revenge?

Categories : Hot Stove League
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AzFL Peoria was off.

HWB Honolulu was rained out. The game will not be made up.

Carribean Leagues
Frankie Cervelli: 1 for 10, 1 R, 1 2B, 2 BB, 4 K in 4 games
Edwar Gonzalez: 10 for 46, 3 R, 1 2B, 1 HR, 5 RBI, 1 BB, 2 SB, 1 CS in 14 games
Jesus Montero: 15 for 39, 8 R, 1 2B, 3 HR, 7 RBI, 5 BB, 5 K, 1 SB in 11 games
Edgar Soto: 1.1 IP, 3 H, 4 R, 4 ER, 3 BB, 1 K in 2 games
Marcos Vechionacci: 19 for 60, 8 R, 4 2B, 2 3B, 2 HR, 9 RBI, 4 BB, 7 K, 1 SB in 17 games
Guillermo Villalona-Bryan: 0 IP, 2 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 0 BB, 0 K in 1 game

Skimpy updates because the Yanks just cut a bunch of guys. I’m pretty confident they’ll resign Scott Patterson though, so here’s his update:

Scott Patterson: 6.1 IP, 7 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 4 K in 5 games

Categories : Down on the Farm
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On a very slow news day in Yankee-land, Peter Abraham chimed in with his take on the A-Rod/Boras blame game. In his view, we should be blaming Alex Rodriguez and only Alex Rodriguez for this opt-out extravaganza. Scott Boras, Abraham contends, simply works for Alex Rodriguez. Scott Boras, he writes, “wasn’t above him manipulating any strings”

To back up his contention that A-Rod is the one who deserves all of our ire, Abraham cites the case of Ron Villone, a fair-to-mediocre middle reliever who also happens to be a Scott Boras. Villone, who has made a meager (by baseball standards) $12 million over a 13-year career, has asserted his own desires about those of Boras’. Abraham writes:

Ron Villone is a Boras client. We were talking about it a few months ago and he told me that on several occasions during his career, Boras wanted him to sign with a certain team and he didn’t. “At some point you have to do what is best for you and your family,” Villone said. “You’re a man, you make your own decision.”

Using this as the basis for his argument, Abraham wraps up the piece by pinpointing A-Rod and his desire for more money as the root cause of the opt-out.

Now, while I’m sure A-Rod is no saint in the whole controversy, I have to disagree with Abraham’s assumption that Alex opted out all by himself and that Boras is working only for what A-Rod wants. I have a unique perspective on this agent-client relationship. My father is an agent himself, and throughout my life, I’ve met a lot of agents and heard a lot about the agenting business. While its true that Boras is working for A-Rod, to think that Boras had nothing to do with this opting out is simply naïve.

Of course, agents are working for their clients, but when their client is the number one star and money-marker, agents will try to push a little bit harder for that bigger deal. That bigger deal, you see, has ramifications that echo all the way down to the Ron Villone’s of the world. When Scott Boras says to A-Rod that by opting out, A-Rod could make $300-$350 million over the next ten years, A-Rod is going to listen. When Scott Boras sees an opportunity to imprint baseball with his fiscal legacy, as this article in The New Yorker claims Boras wants to do, he’ll leap at that opportunity. If it means pushing A-Rod a little bit harder, then so be it.

By taking advantage of the opt-out clause, Boras is making it known to Major League Baseball that owners should not take these clauses lightly. For two years’ running, a major Scott Boras client has opted out when presented with the option to do so. By triggering these clauses, Boras can extort more money from owners. “Give us more money or give us an opt-out clause,” he’ll say in negotiations. With this bargaining chip as well as the opportunity to really cash in with A-Rod, you can bet that Boras, while not pulling all of the strings, is certainly giving his client constant advice.

Meanwhile, the Ron Villone analogy is just plain wrong. To Boras, Ron Villone is nearly a non-entity. He makes less than the league average salary and doesn’t help Boras achieve any of the long-term goals he has set out for himself. If a Ron Villone says to Boras, “Keep me in New York,” Boras is going to listen because he (that is, Boras) has nothing to lose. But A-Rod is a whole different beast.

Abraham may choose to blame A-Rod based upon his first-hand knowledge of Rodriguez. I can’t vouch for that because I, unlike Abraham, do not have access to the Yankee clubhouse. But I do have access to an agent, and I know how the business works. You can bet that Boras had a major role in A-Rod’s opting out. Definitely blame A-Rod, but don’t give Boras a free pass just because he works for his clients. It’s a two-way street.

Categories : Rants
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Minor League free agents

By in Minors. · Comments (12) ·

BA’s got the list, here’s the Yanks’ players:

New York Yankees (22)
Chris Farley, Scott Patterson, Justin Pope, Ferdin Tejeda
Lefthanders: Ben Kozlowski, Charlie Manning
Catchers: Alan Atacho, Ben Blumenthal, Jason Brown, Raul Chavez, Omir Santos
First baseman: Erubiel Durazo
Second baseman: Juan Francia
Third basemen: Mike Kinkade, Carlos Mendoza
Shortstops: Andy Cannizaro, Angel Chavez
Outfielders: Jose Cruz, Rudy Guillen, Noah Hall, Kevin Reese, Jamal Strong

They’d be stupid not to bring Patterson back, and probably should do the same with Kozlowski and Manning. All three of those guys have a chance to help out the Yanks’ bullpen next year. Other than that, maybe keep Omir Santos, but it wouldn’t be that big of a loss if they couldn’t resign him. No one else is worth getting upset over.

Digging through the rest of the list, guys like Gustavo Molina (C, Orioles), Rodney Choy Foo (SS, Indians, love the name), Dane Sardinha (C, Tigers, Bronson’s older brother), Brooks Conrad (2B, Astros), Jason Stokes (1B, A’s), Dewon Brazelton (RHP, Pirates), Tripper Johnson (3B, Pirates), Jesse Foppert (RHP, Giants), ex-Yank Brandon Claussen (LHP, Nats) and Mike Hinckley (LHP, Nats) would all make good scrap heap pickups. Admittedly, I do have inexplicable man-crushes on Stokes and Hinckley, so take those names with a grain of salt.

Categories : Minors
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AzFL Peoria (11-5 loss to other Peoria)
Brett Gardner: 1 for 5, 1 E (throwing)
Juan Miranda: 2 for 3, 2 R, 2 HR, 2 RBI, 1 BB, 1 E (fielding) – tied for the league lead in homers…only 1 RBI behind Matt LaPorta for the league lead
Reegie Corona: 2 for 4, 1 RBI, 1 E (throwing)
Rock ‘n R-Ohlendorf: 2 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 2 K – I think that’s my best nickname to date, no?
Eric Wordekemper: 1 IP, 1 H, 1 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 1 K

HWB Honolulu (9-5 win over West Oahu)
Austin Jackson: 1 for 5, 1 R, 1 2B, 1 RBI, 2 K, 1 SB - 9 XBH in his last 8 games
Bradley Suttle: 0 for 4, 3 K

Categories : Down on the Farm
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For the first 15 days following the World Series, free agents are allowed to talk to and negotiate with only their former teams. That, however, doesn’t stop interested teams from using other means — like the media — to express their interest. And that’s just what the Mets are doing in their pursuit of Jorge Posada.

Both The New York Post and Fox Sports’ Ken Rosenthal are reporting that the Mets are prepared to go all-in in their effort to land the services of the Yankees’ All Star catcher. From The Post:

The Mets have interest in Posada, the longtime Yankee catcher who filed for free agency on Monday and who would fill a position of uncertainty for the club. Paul Lo Duca has filed for free agency as well. Though Lo Duca’s agent, Andrew Mongelluzzi, said yesterday the Mets have an interest in re-signing him, he is no lock to return. Either way, Posada is a more accomplished option…

The tricky issue with the Mets and Posada is that the Yankees will bid for the backstop, who made $12 million this past year. They’re expected to offer him a three-year deal in the range of $40 million, and they almost certainly won’t be the only other team in the hunt either, as the Marlins could be a surprise candidate. Posada loves the Yankees – he’s been with them since debuting in 1995 – but does like New York, meaning the Mets could be viable if he doesn’t return to The Bronx.

Right now, the Mets are talking with Lo Duca, but it’s clear that Posada is the superior catcher. Now, while the Yanks are probably going to offer Posada a three-year deal with a performance-based option, if they don’t wrap it up before those 15 days are over, the Mets could jump in with an offer that just might break the bank. And that is our Jorge Posada Doomsday scenario.

What happens if the Mets offer Posada a guaranteed four- or even five-year deal at $15 million a year? It’s not out of the realm of possibilities. Posada would be a big name for that team, and the Mets certainly have the money.

At that point, it will be hard for the Yanks to justify a counter-offer. Posada turns 37 next year and is coming off a career year. For a catcher, that’s incredibly unlikely. His career line of .277/.381/.479 makes him one of the game’s best catchers over the last decade and a perennially underrated Yankee, but the Yanks, DH or no DH, shouldn’t pony up $13-15 million for his services when he’s past the age of 40. If the Mets are willing to assume that risk, the Yanks may have to roll the dice on finding another catcher.

Hopefully, it won’t come to this. Hopefully, the Yankees will offer Jorge Posada a deal he likes and wants to sign. In my opinion, Posada will be back in the Bronx, but the Mets lurk. As much as we want to, we can’t ignore them on this, another day of the tumultuous Yankee offseason.

Categories : Hot Stove League
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We’re number one

By in Self-Promotion. · Comments (18) ·

Not to brag or anything, but River Ave. Blues currently holds the top spot on the rankings of Yankee blogs. We’d like to thank Alex Rodriguez, Peter Abraham’s new server and all of our readers for making that possible. We’ll enjoy it while we can.

Categories : Self-Promotion
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Another day, another ridiculous Alex Rodriguez story.

Buster Olney, the official ESPN writer of River Ave. Blues, has a report that states something mind-boggling: A-Rod wasn’t going to even meet with Yankee officials if they didn’t start their contract extension offer at $350 million. The Yanks were initially willing to go up to about $250 million for the next eight years and fell $100 million short of Scott Boras’ insane demands just for a meeting.

Basically, Boras wanted the Yanks to pay A-Rod a whopping $43.75 million per year to play baseball for them. Does he really expect any team to approach that figure? And what’s he going to do when he has to settle for less than the $30 million a year the Yanks were basically offering as a starting point for negotiations? With the Yanks starting the conversations at $150 million for five years, I believe they would have been willing to go up to $175 million, and Boras wouldn’t even sit down to listen to these ridiculous figures.

For that money, A-Rod isn’t really a good fit anywhere.

Categories : Hot Stove League
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