Yankees win the SALCS…

…Where the S stands for spreadsheet. Baseball Prospectus’s Clay Davenport reran his LCS projection numbers and has come up with new figures to express the odds of each team advancing to, and then winning, the World Series. Before we go into how greatly the computer favors the Yankees I want to quote from Davenport’s post, because his methodology is a special kind of wonkiness.

Game 3, LA vs Philladelphia, expecting Kuroda (for the Dodgers) and Lee to pitch. The Phillies had a team EQA of .276; in a 4.5 rpg environment that works out to 5.22 runs (.276 divided by .260, raised to the 2.5, times 4.50 = 5.22). Home game, so raise by 4% to get 5.43. They’re going against a RHP, and they had a .779 OPS aginst RHP, and .781 overall. Run scoring changes with the ratio of OPS, squared, but we can only count on the starter to be in the game for about six innings (and frequently less). So we’ll have six innings with a run rate of 5.43 * (779/781)^2, and three innings where we’ll use the 5.43 rate, so now we have them at 5.41. Their opponent, Kuroda, carries a 4.82 NRA but, once again, he’s only in the game for six innings. The other three go to the Dodger bullpen, which we’ve rated – by taking the average NRA of the five relievers most likely to be used – at 2.88. The total Dodger team rating with Kuroda becomes 4.17. So we take the Philly run total of 5.41, multiply by 4.17/4.50, to get an estimate of 5.01 runs.

If we do the same math for the Dodgers, we end up with an estimate of 3.89 runs. The win probability for the Phillies is just the Pythagorean percentage from 5.01 runs scored and 3.89 allowed – or .624.

Because we don’t typically use it here, NRA is defined as, “Normalized Runs Allowed. ‘Normalized runs’ have the same win value, against a league average of 4.5 and a pythagorean exponent of 2, as the player’s actual runs allowed did when measured against his league average.” Now that we have the spreadsheet nerd business out of the way, we can see how much the computer favors the Yankees.

Using the above-described simulation, the Yankees would win 73.34 percent of the time in the ALCS against the Angels. That’s a pretty heavy advantage against the Angels, and I suspect the teams are a bit more evenly matched than that. Even more remarkably, the Yankees win the World Series in these simulations 40.55 percent of the time, against 8.3 percent for the Angels, 28.4 percent for the Dodgers, and 22.7 percent for the Phillies.

Unfortunately for the computers, they’ll play the real games on the field. But we can still have fun with the numbers these players produced during the season. If nothing else, this shows just how dominant the 2009 Yankees were, and should continue to be.

Laird’s perfect day helps Surprise win again

AzFL Surprise (12-5 win over Mesa)
Brandon Laird: 5 for 5, 3 R, 1 2B, 1 RBI – amazingly, he was only the second best Surprise hitter today … Moose tacos drove in seven
Colin Curtis: 1 for 5, 1 R, 1 HR, 2 RBI – threw a runner out at second from RF

Still no Dominican Winter League or Puerto Rican League rosters. The DWL starts tomorrow, and I don’t know what they’re waiting for.

NLCS Game One: Phillies @ Dodgers

2009 NLCSTwo full days after the Phillies made a remarkable comeback against Huston Street and the Rockies in Game Four of the National League Division Series, the Championship is finally ready to get underway. It’s not as bad as the brutal four day layoff the Yankees and Angels have to endure, but it’s bad enough.

In case you forgot, this year’s NLCS is a rematch of last year’s NLCS, except the Dodgers have home field advantage this year, not the Phillies. Cole Hamels will start the series off for the Phightin’s, the same way he did last year. Los Angeles will counter with the Clayton Kershaw, who graduated high school just three years ago. Since their lineup is loaded with lefty power hitters, the Phillies might have their hands full with young southpaw, who held lefties to a .173-.237-.252 batting line this year.

TBS is carrying the game (and the entire series), with first pitch scheduled for 8:07pm ET. Here’s the lineups:

Philadelphia
Jimmy Rollins, SS
Shane Victorino, CF
Chase Utley, 2B
Ryan Howard, 1B
Jayson Werth, RF
Raul Ibanez, LF
Pedro Feliz, 3B
Carlos Ruiz, C
Cole Hamels, SP (10-11, 4.32 regular season)

Los Angeles
Rafael Furcal, SS
Matt Kemp, CF
Andre Ethier, RF
Manny Ramirez, LF
James Loney, 1B
Casey Blake, 3B
Ronnie Belliard, 2B
Russell Martin, C
Clayton Kershaw, SP (8-8, 2.79 regular season)

Use this thread to chat about the game, or whatever else you please. Just make sure you follow the guidelines and be cool to each other.

Yanks could bolster coaching, scouting with Peterson and Towers

What better way to take your mind off the rain than with some proposed additions to the Yankees coaching and scouting staff?

After Kevin Towers lost his job earlier this month, Mike wondered whether he’d be a good addition for the Yankees. With his scouting acumen, it certainly couldn’t hurt. Earlier this week, Buster Olney noted that the Yankees might be a good fit for Towers:

Yankees general manager Brian Cashman has long been friends with Kevin Towers, who was recently released from his duties as GM of the Padres, and given that relationship, there would appear to be excellent odds that Towers will land with the Yankees as a special assistant sometime in the months ahead. Towers could serve as an evaluator for Cashman, taking on responsibilities like looking for pitching — which is considered to be Towers’ specialty — or scouting minor leaguers, or helping to prepare the Yankees as they consider options before the trade deadline.

After the Padres fired him, Towers said that he’s not looking for an office gig.

“I know I don’t want to be in an office if I’m not a general manager. And I’m not looking for a job where I feel the GM might be in jeopardy, that’s not me.

“I want to be with a team where I know and trust the people I’m working with and feel I can make a contribution. I’d be happy to scout and to be the eyes and ears for a GM if that’s what is needed. I just want to be in a position where I can help a team compete,” added Towers.

That would seem to make him an ideal candidate for the Yankees. With the team running deep into the postseason, it appears Brian Cashman’s job is not in jeopardy. Towers would be free to scout, evaluate, and contribute. That’s the way he wants it, and it appears that opportunity could exist with the Yankees.

In what seems like a throwaway line in his latest column, Jon Heyman connects Rick Peterson to the Yankees. “Peterson, a New Jersey resident, also might have a chance to become a pitching coordinator for the Yankees.” This would be stupendous, especially if he’d be working with the minor league pitchers.

It might seem like this would be stepping on Nardi Contreras’s toes, but that doesn’t have to be the case. Peterson, an expert in biomechanics, could evaluate in a different way than Contreras. Plus, you can never have enough information on pitchers. For more on Peterson, check out his video breaking down the Yankees pitching, and his Pitching Perspectives archive at Full Count Pitch.

The Yankees might not add major free agents this off-season, but they’d do well to look into Peterson and Towers to boost their behind the scenes staffs. Sometimes those moves can be just as important as the player personnel ones.

Linkage: Jeter, Swisher, Kennedy, Walk-offs

Just a little more than four hours until real life baseball. I don’t know about you, but I can’t wait. Here’s some random links to hold you over…

A problem for a rainy day

In case you haven’t noticed, it’s raining in New York, and with a Nor’easter settling in over the area, this rain may not stop for a few days. With first game of the ALCS scheduled for tomorrow night amidst a 60 percent chance of rain, the game very well could be rained out, the Yanks’ best laid plans thrown into disarray.

For the sake of this discussion, let’s take a look at the ALCS schedule and two potential alternatives if Game 1 were to be rained out.

Date Schedule Alternate Alternate 2
Oct. 16 Game 1 Rain Out Rain Out
Oct. 17 Game 2 Game 1 Game 1
Oct. 18 Off Day Game 2 Game 2
Oct. 19 Game 3 Game 3 Off Day
Oct. 20 Game 4 Game 4 Game 3
Oct. 21 Off Day Off Day Game 4
Oct. 22 Game 5 Game 5 Game 5
Oct. 23 Off Day Off Day Off Day
Oct. 24 Game 6 Game 6 Game 6
Oct. 25 Game 7 Game 7 Game 7

In my opinion, Major League Baseball will have two choices if the Yanks and Angels can’t fit in Game 1 on Friday. The teams would play Game 1 on Saturday and Game 2 on Sunday, the currently-scheduled travel day. Then, without skipping a day and with a cross-country flight involved, the Angels and Yanks would meet in Anaheim on Monday afternoon. Since the game is schedule for a 4:13 start on Monday, travel could be tight.

My preferred alternate is in the right column of that table. Instead of just pushing back one game, the schedule would be rearranged to the familiar 2-3-2 ALCS format we used to enjoy prior to last year’s TV accommodations. The Yanks and Angels would play two in the Bronx on Saturday and Sunday, three in Los Angeles from Tuesday-Thursday and then two more in the Bronx the following weekend. No unnecessarily harried travel days would be involved.

The bigger problem from the Yanks’ perspective is the havoc rain or the threat of it wreaks on their pitching plans. Right now, the ALCS is set up to benefit the Yanks. Although Joe Girardi has yet to announce it, the team could very well go with a three-man rotation, and only once — CC Sabathia in Game 4 — would their starter go on short rest. Meanwhile, this extra off-day would allow the Yanks to use their ace in a potential Game 7.

Any rain-out throws that plan out of the window. Since both alternative schedules feature a compression of sorts, the Yanks would have to make a choice. Either Sabathia would pitch both Games 4 and 7 on short rest or the team would have to use four starters. Thus, under the latter scenario, Chad Gaudin would probably pitch in Game 4, Sabathia on full rest in Game 5, Burnett in Game 6 and Andy Pettitte — if the ALDS rotation holds — in Game 7. I have no problem with Pettitte taking the mound at home for Game 7, but I’d rather see CC.

Right now, we don’t know what MLB will choose to do. They have TV obligations to uphold, and a cross-country trip to schedule. A rain-out would be messy, then, on many fronts.

In the end, rain matters, and the Yankees say they have a contingency plan. Hopefully, unlike in 2004 when rain altered the Yanks’ ability to go with their preferred pitchers during the latter half of the ALCS, the team can overcome a postponement. They certainly have the depth to do so.

Postscript: The rain also has a confusing impact on the tickets fans currently hold. As Brian Costa notes, a rain-out technically pushes back both games. If Friday’s game is canceled, tickets for Home Game 1 would be honored on Saturday, and tickets for Home Game 2 would be honored on Sunday. I’d hate to be the security guards turning away confused fans for Saturday’s game.

Yanks add Guzman to ALCS roster

Chad Jennings has the news: Fast Freddy Guzman has been added to the Championship Series roster in place of Eric Hinske. Hinske has gotten just 15 plate appearances in the last month, and most of those came as the Yanks were resting players down the stretch. Guzman at least gives the Yankees another pinch running threat. I assume Hinske will head to Tampa to stay sharp, because his bat could be extremely valuable off the bench if the Yanks make it to the World Series.

In case you’re wondering, Hinske was not only left off Tampa’s ALCS roster last year, he was also left off their World Series roster. He wasn’t added to the WS roster until prior to Game Four, when Cliff Floyd hurt his shoulder.