Fan Confidence Poll: March 8th, 2010

Record Last Week: 1-4 (16 RS, 38 RA)
Spring Training Record: 1-4 (16 RS, 38 RA)
Schedule This Week: vs. Phillies (Mon., split squad), @ Pirates (Mon., split squad), vs. Pirates (Tues.) @ Tigers (Weds.) vs. Braves (Thurs.), @ Nationals (Fri.), @ Tigers (Sat., split squad), vs. Orioles (Sat., split squad), @ Pirates (Sun.)

Top stories from last week:

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Given the team's current roster construction, farm system, management, etc., how confident are you in the Yankees' overall future?
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Tex’s early season woes not shared by other switch hitters

In his excellent first base preview, Mike wrote about Mark Teixeira‘s early season struggles. His April 2009 was particularly poor, perhaps due to the wrist injury that sidelined him for a few games early on. A recovery even to his career April line of .249/.349/.433 would be helpful in 2010. Yet, as is evident from the triple slash, Teixeira’s career numbers in April far fall below his overall performance. His explanation involves working on two swings, one from each side of the plate, during spring training, so it takes him a bit of the season to get into a groove. Makes sense, right?

Maybe it does make sense for Teixeira himself, but as Raphy at the B-R blog notes, his fellow switch hitters do not share this predicament. Raphy ran the numbers on every switch hitter from 2000 through 2009 and compared their April numbers to the rest of the season. The difference, it turns out, is negligible. Switch hitters hit for a .005 better batting average, a .001 worse OBP, and a .007 better SLG. Some or all of those differences can probably be attributed to generally better production in later months. In fact, in three of the last five years the league posted its worst slugging month in April.

This made me wonder how some of the other top switch hitters in the game fared. While as an aggregate switch hitters performed just as well in April as they did the rest of the season, this covers over 285,000 plate appearances. Clearly there will be some players in there who just weren’t as good, and were consistently not as good. Maybe there’s some kind of trend when we look at only the top switch hitters of the past decade.

No, that doesn’t change the story at all. In fact, a few of the players have hit better in their teams’ first 25 games than in the rest of the season. It appears, then, that these switch hitters don’t take an extra month to get into the groove. Maybe it’s something specific to Teixeira, or maybe it’s something else entirely that keeps down his season numbers.

If in April Tex had hit to the .310/.392/.596 rate he did for the rest of the season, might that have given him a better shot at the MVP? That would have given him 33 hits, 13 walks, 17 singles, 8 doubles, 1 triple, and 7 home runs, increasing his season totals by 14 hits, 7 singles, 4 doubles, 1 triple, and 2 home runs. While that’s probably not enough to win MVP in a league where Joe Mauer raked from the catcher position, it might have been enough to help the Yankees add a few more early wins. According to linear weights, Teixeira created 14 runs through May 7. Had he hit to his season totals, he would have created around 25 runs. That might have won them another game or two.

We take the trade-off, of course, in a heartbeat. Teixeira does struggle in April, and given his past there’s no reason to expect 2010 will be different. But the way he hits the rest of the season makes up for it. Perhaps the return of Alex Rodriguez, historically a strong April performer, will help offset Tex’s struggles. If he does buck the trend, even for one season, we could certainly see an MVP performance from Teixeira.

Photo credit: Kathy Willens/AP

Open Thread: The Boss and Mr. October

There’s really no rhyme or reason to it, but I found that picture to be pretty cool. It was taken during yesterday’s game by RAB’s (un)official Spring Training photographer, Kathy Willens of the AP. It’s a shame George isn’t around as much as he used to be, but in the end I guess it’s good, because the team is run much more intelligently and efficiently than before.

Anyway, use this sucker as your open thread tonight. The Ranger and Devils are both in action tonight, but feel free to talk about whatever you want. Just don’t be a dick.

Pettitte throws his first game* of the spring

For the first time since Game Six of the World Series, Andy Pettitte took to the mound today against hitters trying to do some damage off him. He threw a two inning simulated game on a back field of the Tampa complex, throwing 36 pitches total to Colin Curtis (a lefty) and Randy Winn (a switch hitter). “Mentally, I feel like I’m seeing my pitches,” said Pettitte. “Especially, at my age, I’m happy at 9 o’clock in the morning to be able to get it going, I was up at 5:30 trying to get ready for this.”

Sometime in the next week, the bullpen trio of Mariano Rivera, Damaso Marte, and Chan Ho Park will get into an exhibition game. Pettitte and Javy Vazquez are the only remaining members of the projected starting rotation that have not yet gotten into a game against opposing players, but that should happen this week.

The Sunday Sports Section

Every Sunday it seems like there are tons of Yankees links in my reader. They’re all worth a read, or at least a glance, kind of like the Sunday sports section. I’ll try to make this a regular thing. This way, you’ll also know about what time I wake up on Sundays.

Saturday Night Open Thread

Have at it.

Tynan shippin’ up to Boston

When last we heard from Ronan Tynan, Will Leitch had profiled the troubled singer. Exiled from Yankee Stadium this fall after his anti-Semitic remarks became public, Tynan has since seen his public bookings dry up and his persona grow diminished in the eyes of his former fans.

The Times today checked in on Tynan and found that the one-time Yankee celebrity is moving up to the land of the enemy. He has sold his Upper East Side apartment and will be decamping for Boston shortly. Writes Corey Kilgannon:

He insists he has not given up on New York — he will keep a rented apartment here. Nor is he angry at the city. He said he was moving mainly for a change and because he had family and friends in Boston.

When pressed, however, he admits that life here has become strained: the barrage of angry e-mail messages and letters; the death threats; the surgeon who wrote saying he would let him die on the operating table, if Mr. Tynan were his patient; the prominent chef who steered him away from a table of customers because one of them was a Jewish man who refused to meet the singer.

“It hasn’t driven me out, because I love this city so much, but it has saddened me,” Mr. Tynan said in an interview this week at a friend’s apartment in Manhattan. “I’ve cried and I’ve laughed with New Yorkers, irrespective of creed or whether they’re Jewish or Catholic or Protestant.”

Tynan continues to claim that his remarks about the “Jewish ladies” were misconstrued and that he’s not an anti-Semite because he sang at an Anti-Defamation League. His remarks, still, were out of line.

When the news of his departure to New England popped up in the press this week, one publication wondered if he would come sing for the Red Sox. Tynan refused to speculate, but considering Red Sox Nation’s tolerance for anything Yankees, it’s hard to see them accepting him.

Photo Credit: AP Photo/Mike Segar