• Heyman: Pavano Still On The Block

    Posted by on December 31st, 2005 · Comments (6)

    From Newsday:

    When the Yankees publicly have said they’d like to keep Pavano, that’s just them negotiating. They know he’d do better elsewhere.

    At this point, if the Yankees do trade Pavano, they better get a starting pitcher in return. As bad as Pavano was last year, he still was the 38th best pitcher in the A.L. (out of all hurlers with at least 100 IP). It will be interesting to see how Cashman does handle this – if they indeed trade Carl.

    The True Mr. October

    Posted by on December 31st, 2005 · Comments (0)

    *Joe DiMaggio’s consecutive game hitting streak
    *Walter Johnson’s career shutouts
    *Peter Rose’s career hits total
    *Cy Young’s 511 career wins
    *Johnny Vander Meer’s two consecutive no-hitters

    These are the answers that you’re most likely to hear when you ask someone “What baseball record will never be broken?”

    Another one just occurred to me.

    Pitching in the post-season for the most seasons in a row.

    Mo Rivera has pitched in the post-season during every year in his big league career (to date) – 11 seasons. That must be a record – eleven in a row. In fact, Rivera’s 72 post-season appearances (by a pitcher) to date might be another unbreakable mark.

    Let’s hope that Mariano keeps adding on to his streak for a while more.

    Happy New Year!

    Posted by on December 30th, 2005 · Comments (9)

    First of all, I would like to wish all the readers of WasWatching.com a very happy and healthy new year. And, may all your resolutions for 2006 come true!

    Personally, I have a ton of stuff that I need to get better at:

    1. I need to exercise more routinely so that I have a chance to be around when my kids reach the age that I was when we had them.

    2. I need to spend less and/or make more money.

    3. I need to start working on some of the “house” projects that I’ve been putting off for the last six years.

    4. I need to start updating the gallery at NetShrine.com (which is long overdue) and start working on my second book.

    And, from a Yankees-fan-perspective……..

    I need to not allow my “following of the team” to dictate my life schedule (which is something that happens now).

    I need to stop staying up late to watch the end of just about every game – and then blogging about it – and start to get more than 5 hours a night sleep.

    I need to stop trying to finagle a way to be home to watch opening day.

    I need to cease “stopping life as I know” for every series with Boston and for post-season games. It’s amazing to me that I allow the outside world to go away completely during the “big games” and have everything else revolve around the them. I have not had a productive October since 1994.

    As you can see, I have a lot to do this year! How about you? Any Yankees resolutions that you want to share?

    WasWatching.com Stat Glossary

    Posted by on December 30th, 2005 · Comments (8)

    One of the things that I’ve always wrestled with in doing this blog is the use of some of the sabermetric measures that I like to throw around. It’s not me using them that’s the issue – it’s knowing whether or not that people understand the terms that concerns me.

    Should I use the full term or are acronyms OK? Do I need to provide the definition each time that I use them? Stuff like that.

    So, I’ve decided to create an entry here where I can list some of the terms that I use – and link to it at times (when I mention some of these sabermetric measures). It seems like a good Band-Aid now for this issue of mine.

    Here are some of the terms that I use here frequently and the skinny on each:

    Bases Per Plate Appearance [BPA]

    The formula is (TB+BB+HBP+SB-CS-GIDP)/(AB+BB+HBP+SF).

    Baserunners Per Nine Innings [BR/9]

    The total number of batters reaching base against a pitcher divided by the number of innings pitched and multiplied by nine. It measures how many batters reach base on a per game basis against a pitcher.

    A league best figure for this category is typically between 9 and 10.

    Blown Saves [BS]

    When a relief pitcher enters a game, he may be said to have a save opportunity if his team currently has the lead and he would be awarded a save if he finished the game. If, while he is pitching, his team loses the lead, either by way of the score becoming tied or by falling behind, that pitcher is said to have “blown the save.” He is charged with a blown save, even if his team should eventually win the game, because he was entrusted with the responsibility to preserve his team’s lead, and he failed to accomplish that.

    Command Ratio [K/BB]

    (Strikeouts / Walks) – A measure of a pitcher’s raw ability to get the ball over the plate. There is no more fundamental a skill than this, and so it is accurately used as a leading indicator to project future rises and falls in other gauges, such as ERA. Command is one of the best gauges to use to evaluate minor league performance. It is a prime component of a pitcher’s base performance value.

    Benchmarks: Baseball’s upper echelon of pitchers will have ratios in excess of 3.0. Pitchers with ratios under 1.0 — indicating that they walk more batters than they strike out — have low probability for long term success. 

    Defensive Efficiency Record [DER]

    The rate at which balls put into play are converted into outs by a team’s defense.

    Game Score [G Sc]

    A measure of pitching performance for starting pitchers. Developed by Bill James. The formula consists of eight parts:

    1. Start with 50.
    2. Add 1 point for each out recorded.
    3. Add 2 points for each inning the pitcher completes after the fourth inning.
    4. Add 1 point for each strikeout.
    5. Subtract 2 points for each hit allowed.
    6. Subtract 4 points for each earned run allowed.
    7. Subtract 2 points for each unearned run allowed.
    8. Subtract 1 point for each walk.

    Consider this pitching line:
    IP H R ER BB K
    8.1 5 2 1 2 7

    The game score for the performance shown would be 72 (50+25+8+7-10-4-2-2).

    An average start would score 50. One start in 300 reaches a score of 90 or better, and an all-time great performance would reach 100.

    Isolated Power [ISO]

    A player’s slugging average minus his batting average. Bill James provided its current name. Branch Rickey championed the stat, calling it “Power Average.” A measure of a player’s ability to hit for power considered apart from his ability to hit singles.

    ISO = SLG – AVG

    For an individual, ISO under .080 means he can be considered a singles hitter; ISO over .200 is very good power.

    Neutral Losses [NL]

    It is a projection for how many losses a pitcher would have if he was given average run support, considering the amount of actual decisions.

    Neutral Wins [NW]

    It is a projection for how many wins a pitcher would have if he was given average run support, considering the amount of actual decisions.

    Offensive Winning Percentage [OWP]

    A player’s Offensive Winning Percentage equals the percentage of games a team would win with nine of that player in its lineup, given average pitching and defense. The formula is the square of Runs Created per 27 Outs, divided by the sum of the square of Runs Created per 27 Outs and the square of the league average of runs per game.

    Park Factor [PF]

    This is an estimate of a ballpark’s effects on batting and pitching and is expressed as either a decimal or a whole number. A neutral ballpark has a park factor of 1.00 or 100. Park factors are those used in many publications include three-year averages unless a ballpark was in use for fewer than three seasons. Park factors are also adjusted to reflect the fact that a batter or pitcher does not face his own team. Thus, different park factors are provided for a team’s batters and pitchers.

    Production [OPS]

    Sabermatricians (baseball statisticians) consider the ability to get on base (OBP) and the ability to hit for power (SLG) to be the two most valuable offensive abilities of a player. Thus one measure of a player’s prime offensive talents, his “production” or PRO, is to simply combine OBP and SLG.

    OPS = OBP+SLG

    Pythagorean Winning Percentage [PW%]

    Developed by Bill James, is the predicted winning percentage based on runs and runs allowed. The formula is as follows: Runs^2/(Runs^2+Runs Allowed^2)
    Here is the calculation for the 1999 Yankees. The Yankees scored 900 runs and allowed 731 runs:

    900^2/(900^2+731^2)=.603

    Thus, the Yankees would be predicted to have a .603 winning percentage. In actuality, the Yankees had a .605 winning percentage. A more precise calculation uses a factor of 1.83, but a factor of two works almost as well. From Pythagorean winning percentage it is possible to figure Pythagorean wins (PW) and Pythagorean losses (PL).

    Range [RNG]

    This is an unofficial measure of a defensive player’s fielding ability. In effect, it indicates how many defensive chances a player is able to convert into outs on a per game basis. Range for 1B, C and pitchers is not a meaningful stat. It is calculated as:

    RNG = 9*SC/INN

    where SC is successful chances and INN is innings played on defense.

    Performance differs by position. Typical season range factors are: 2B-4.5 to 6.0; 3B-2.0 to 3.3; SS-4.0 to 5.3; RF- and LF-1.5 to 2.5; CF-2.3 to 3.2.

    Runs Created [RC]

    A Bill James statistic. An estimate of the number of runs that a player would produce based on his offensive statistics. Runs created is an attempt to measure total offensive contribution in terms of runs (see also Runs Contributed). Divided by the runs required per win (in professional baseball, approximately 10), runs created becomes the total wins created by this player’s offensive performance. 

    RC = ((H+BB+HBP-CS-GIDP) * (TB+ 0.26*(BB+HBP-IBB) + 0.52*(SB+SH+SF)))/(AB+BB+HBP+SH+SF)

    Note: The formula shown here is the modern formula in current use by sabermetricians. Bill James created many variations of the basic formula to adjust for available data and other factors in bygone eras. 

    RC typically ranges from 0 to 120 in a 162-game season. Only players who play a lot can have a very high season total, since the number is dependent on total stats. For a team, runs created is a projected estimate of the runs the team should have scored given its number of hits (by type), walks, stolen bases, and times caught stealing. Comparing team runs created to actual runs scored gives an indication of other factors at work, factors that effect the efficiency of a team’s offense. For instance, high efficiency — consistently scoring more runs than projected — could be explained by good clutch hitting, good baserunning, good managing, or good luck (or maybe cheating). The more consistent the two figures, the less luck is probably involved.

    Runs Created Above Average [RCAA]

    This is a Lee Sinins creation. It’s the difference between a player’s runs created total and the total for an average player who used the same amount of his team’s outs. A negative RCAA indicates a below average player in this category.

    Runs Created Per Game [RC/G]

    Runs created is an accumulation stat; the more a player bats, the more runs he creates (assuming he makes some positive contribution). Converting runs created into runs created per game provides an indication of how valuable this player is to have in the lineup. RC/G is somewhat like ERA is for pitchers; it recasts the offensive contribution of the player in the context of a nine inning (in this case, 27 out) game. To calculate RC/G, multiply RC by 27 and divide by the number of outs the player is responsible for (OM), thus:

    RC/G = 27*RC/OM

    [Note: The formula shown here is the modern formula in current use by sabermetricians. Since data is available to account for all outs made, it is appropriate to use 27 outs as the context. In earlier periods, data on some kinds of outs (GIDP and CS are examples) are incomplete or unavailable. Consequently, applying the formula to other eras requires use of 25.5 or 26 outs per game.]

    One way to look at RC/G is to imagine a lineup with the same player batting in every spot. A team made up of nine 1992 model Barry Bonds, for example, would be expected to score 11.34 runs per game on average. (Bonds had 147 runs created in 1992.)

    Runs Saved Against Average [RSAA]

    This is a Lee Sinins creation. It is the amount of runs that a pitcher saved versus what an average pitcher would have allowed. It is similar to the statistic Pitching Runs detailed in Total Baseball – except (1) both have different ways of park adjustments and (2) Total Baseball added a procedure to take into account the amount of decisions the pitcher had while RSAA does not. A negative RSAA indicates a below average player in this category.

    Secondary Average [SEC]

    Developed by Bill James to measure a player’s offensive contributions beyond batting average. Secondary Averages of leagues are always very similar to the league batting average, but player secondary averages run from .100 (for truly inept offensive players) to upwards of .600. The formula is: (Total Bases-Hits+Walks+Stolen Bases)/(At Bats)

    Total Average [TA]

    A ratio of the bases a player accumulates for his team and the outs he costs his team. Total Average is a Thomas Boswell statistic included in his book “How Life Imitates the World Series.”

    TA = (TB+HBP+BB+SB)/(AB-H+CS+GIDP)

     If a player has a TA over 1.000, that’s very good.

    Win Shares [WS]

    A Bill James creation that aims towards allowing player evaluation across positions, teams and eras. It measures the total sum of a player’s contribution expressed as one number.

    Zone Rating [ZR]

    STATS Inc. devised their own system of zones to track locations of batted balls. They use this data to measure a fielder’s range in the field. Zone Rating areas of responsibility do not span the entire field — some areas (for example, deep in the gap between CF and RF) are considered to be a “no man’s land” that is ordinarily beyond the reach of fielders, and thus a ball hit there is not considered an opportunity.

    Are The Pieces Now In Place?

    Posted by on December 29th, 2005 · Comments (6)

    Here’s an updated look at the Yankees roster (from how it looked three weeks ago):

    Catchers (2): Posada and Stinnett
    Infielders (6): Giambi, Cano, Jeter, Rodriguez, Phillips, and Cairo
    Outfielders (5): Matsui, Damon, Sheffield, Williams and Crosby
    Starting Picthers (5): Johnson, Wang, Mussina, Pavano, and Chacón
    Bullpen (7): Rivera, Farnsworth, Myers, Sturtze, Villone, Small, and Wright

    Just a couple of weeks ago, I came up with the notion that a World Championship roster should have:

    1. Great table-setters at the top of the line-up, and
    2. At least one SP who is not afraid of the post-season – a guy who wants the ball in the big game, and
    3. A good/solid LHP in the pen, and
    4. A good/solid LHP in the rotation, and
    5. A back-up INF with good hands, and
    6. A 4th OF who can hit, and
    7. An effective guy in the pen who can start or relieve (in any inning), and
    8. A shut-the-door closer, and
    9. A catcher who is not an auto-out, and
    10. Two guys in the middle of the line-up who make contact as well as drive the ball.

    The Yankees might have some matches here, being:

    1. Damon & Jeter
    2. Johnson
    3. Myers and/or Villone
    4. Johnson, again
    5. Cairo
    6. Williams
    7. Small
    8. Rivera
    9. Posada
    10. Sheffield and Matsui

    The items of concern above are numbers six and seven. Both of these guys could be busts in 2006 and then you’re looking at Crosby and Wright as their subs – and we know that they should not be effective players, if given the chance, most of the time. Maybe a come-backing Dotel helps here? But, that’s still a question-mark now.

    And, it would not matter if the Yankees have items 1 through 10 if Mussina, Pavano, and at least one other member of the righties in the rotation bomb.

    Still, it’s not unreasonable to expect league average seasons from Mussina, Pavano and the rest of the question marks. So, if they go something like 62-58 combined, and Randy Johnson goes something like 18-8, then the Yankees would still be in decent shape in terms of the standings.

    If the Yankees could get some Bernie insurance now and then have Small continue to do well next year, their chances in 2006 look great.

    McPaper: Torre Is Mr. Bungl-tober

    Posted by on December 29th, 2005 · Comments (8)

    From Al Neuharth – the founder of the USA Today:

    While heartland sports fans in Illinois and Indiana will have plenty to cheer about, the curse returns to Boston. The Red Sox will miss the playoffs for the first time in four years.

    My beloved Yankees — with more talent than ever thanks to baseball’s best boss, George Steinbrenner — should breeze through the regular season to win the American League East. But Manager Joe Torre’s traditional playoff bungling from the bench likely will have them stumbling again in October, for the sixth year in a row.

    I’ve always thought that, at some point, the events of 1997, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004 and 2005 would start to outweigh the good stuff from 1996, 1998, 1999 and 2000.

    In terms of rings, Joe is just four for ten – and oh’fer his last five.

    I think what really is the killer here is how close they were in 2001, 2003 and 2004 – with the choke in 2004 being a huge anchor on Joe’s rep.

    Funny, after the 2000 season, many were ready to put Torre in Cooperstown at that moment. I wonder if his final record is, say, 4 of for 12ish, would they be so quick – considering that the record probably should have been something like 6 or 7 for 12? Of course, then, what does that do to Bobby Cox? It’s all going to be very interesting when that day comes.

    Hopefully a ring comes this year and makes it all moot.

    The Baseball Same Game – Gossage Excerpt

    Posted by on December 29th, 2005 · Comments (0)

    Since the results of the latest Baseball Hall of Fame ballot will be announced in less than two weeks, and, related, the Hall of Fame debate for former Yankee Goose Gossage is in the news these days, I have decided to share an excerpt of my book, The Baseball Same Game, where Gossage is highlighted. Those who are wondering about what pitcher(s) in baseball history were like Gossage may find this information helpful. If you like this excerpt, there are 64 additional ones that can be found in the book, if you want to pick up a copy for yourself.

    goosehiller.jpg

    Usually, the strength of a case involving pitchers in The Baseball Same Game has its foundation drawn from the comparison of Innings Pitched and Runs Saved Above Average. In the case of Richard “Goose” Gossage and John Hiller, the driver is different. In this pairing, it is The Baseball Same Game metrics other than Innings Pitched and Runs Saved Above Average that facilitate the claim of sameness.

    The marks for Gossage and Hiller in Earned Run Average versus the league average and Strikeouts Per 9 Innings Pitched versus the league average are nearly dead solid perfect matches. And, their totals for Strikeouts to Walks Ratio versus the league average and Base Runners Allowed Per 9 Innings Pitched versus the league average are fairly close as well. These four points of comparison lend towards making the case here.

    Without question, Gossage pitched more often than Hiller – as noted by the difference of 500+ Innings Pitched between the two. And, Goose had more Runs Saved Above Average than John did in his career. Nonetheless, because of the closeness in the metrics here outside of Innings Pitched and Runs Saved Above Average and the fact that the ratios of Runs Saved Above Average to Innings Pitched for Gossage and Hiller (.09 and .11, respectively) are close as well, this case will be permitted to stand in The Baseball Same Game.

    Goose Gossage was an extremely hard thrower. He first made the major leagues with the Chicago White Sox in 1972 as a relief pitcher and was nothing special during his first three seasons in the big leagues. Then, in 1975, he had a stellar season for the White Sox coming out of the pen. So, what did Chicago do? They moved Gossage to the starting rotation in 1976 and he bombed. On December 10, 1976, Goose was traded to the Pittsburgh Pirates and they decided to use him as their closer. Goose went on to be one of the ten best pitchers in the National League in this role with Pittsburgh in 1977. And, as a result of that effort, Gossage was awarded (what was then) a big Free Agent contract to come pitch for the New York Yankees.

    Goose went on to have six consecutive solid seasons as the Yankees closer. Tiring of the pressure that came with playing in New York, Gossage left as a Free Agent in 1984 and signed with the San Diego Padres. Gossage was good in his first two years in San Diego, but he was not as good in his last two years there. And, in 1988, Goose was traded to the Chicago Cubs. From this point in his career, Gossage became a nomadic and average relief pitcher. From 1988 through 1994, Gossage would pitch for the Cubs, San Francisco Giants, New York Yankees (again), Texas Rangers, Oakland A’s and Seattle Mariners. Goose even pitched in Japan during the 1990 season.

    Unlike Gossage the eventual traveler, Canadian born John Hiller played his entire career with the Detroit Tigers. Hiller had cup of coffee short stays with the Tigers in 1965 and 1966. It was not until 1967 that he earned a full-time job in the big leagues. Through the 1970 season, John was an effective pitcher for Detroit (pitching mostly in relief but also starting some games).

    On January 11, 1971, John Hiller’s career took an unexpected turn. On that day, Hiller suffered a massive heart attack (just a few months short of his 28th birthday). Subsequently, John would need to have seven feet of his intestine removed to alleviate a cholesterol problem. He missed the entire 1971 season. And, in 1972, Hiller’s action was limited to serving as a batting practice pitcher for the Tigers until a comeback to live play on July 8, 1972.

    In 1973, John Hiller fully came back. Serving as the Tigers’ closer, he was one of the ten best pitchers in the American League that season. Moreover, from 1973 through 1978, Hiller was the best relief pitcher in the American League. John’s career began to end with a sub par season in 1979. And, while he pitched some in 1980, Hiller probably should have called it quits after 1979. No longer being an effective pitcher, John retired from the game.

    There is still great debate as to whether or not Goose Gossage should be elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame. As this is being penned, it is not known if Gossage will make it to the Hall. However, if Goose does get in, as a result of this case in The Baseball Same Game, it is hoped that some will think about John Hiller on that day (as well as reflecting on the career of Rich “Goose” Gossage). In terms of qualitative career pitching results, the two were the same.

    The above is from ~~
    crsteve.jpg

    Palmeiro: Yankees Intriguing

    Posted by on December 28th, 2005 · Comments (20)

    From the New York Times:

    Rafael Palmeiro said Tuesday he still doesn’t know how steroids got into his body and is unsure whether he wants to continue playing baseball.

    The former Baltimore Oriole, speaking publicly for the first time since last season, said:”I think it is an unfair thing to expect me [play] at the age of 41, 42, the way I did when I was 30. But maybe if I have some solid years and don’t test positive, they can say he went out and hit [well]. Maybe that’s what I can do. I love baseball and I’d like to play forever, but there are other things that are important.”

    He mentioned his two sons, 15 and 10.

    “There are things I have to weigh,” Palmeiro said. “Baseball needs to be second to my family. I want to see what options I have. If there’s something that’s intriguing, I’ll do it.”

    And what might he find intriguing?

    “The Yankees would be intriguing,” he said. “But the Yankees seem to be maxed out.”

    Please Rafael, find your intrigue somewhere else.

    Let’s Be Fair

    Posted by on December 28th, 2005 · Comments (3)

    Even today, every so often, you hear a Yankees fan lament about Randy Johnson’s performance in Game 3 of the ALDS this year.

    But, let’s be fair. Just an inning after Johnson left that contest, it was a 1-run ballgame with 5 innings to play. It’s not like Johnson cost the game, completely, for New York. How did Gordon, Leiter, and Proctor do in that game? You could say that it was their 4 runs allowed in 3 innings that cost the Yankees the game. And, back to Unit, Johnson did come back in Game 5 of that series to play a big role in keeping that Yankees in that game.

    It’s not like post-season Randy Johnson in 2005 equals post-season Kevin Brown and/or Javy Vazquez in 2004.

    And, was Johnson in Game 3 this year any worse than Roger Clemens in Game 7 of the 2003 ALCS? Was he any worse than Andy Pettitte in Game 6 of the 2001 World Series? Was he any worse than David Cone in Game 1 of the 1997 ALDS? Any worse than Kenny Rogers in Game 4 of the 1996 World Series? Anyone want to remember David Wells in Game 5 of the 2003 World Series? Mussina in Game 5 of this recent ALDS?

    Just about every “great” recent Yankees starting pitcher – outside of El Duque and Jimmy Key – has spit the bit in a big post-season contest. It happens.

    To single out Randy Johnson for Game 3 of the 2005 ALDS is just unfair – unless you want to roast Clemens, Pettitte, and the others too.

    The Return Of Miggy Cairo

    Posted by on December 27th, 2005 · Comments (4)

    From Newsday:

    The Yankees expect to sign utility infielder Miguel Cairo to a one-year deal this week, according to a person familiar with the negotiations. Cairo, who was the Yankees’ starting second baseman in 2004, probably could receive more playing time with another team, but he prefers to return to the Yankees after a year with the Mets.

    In his career, Cairo has played every position except catcher and centerfield. And, if push came to shove, I bet he could play those two slots as well at some point in a game, if needed.

    Plus, he’s not a bad baserunner. Over the last two years combined, he’s a 80% stealer. Of all guys with at least 20 swipes over the last two years, only 26 in all of baseball had a better rate. (For what it’s worth, Ichiro, Figgins, and Podsednik were all under 80% over this time.)

    Granted, Cairo does not come with a great stick. But, if he bats more than 150 times in 2006, then the Yankees will have a bigger problem than Miggy’s weak bat.

    If the only other option is Felix Escalona, then I’m OK with bringing Cairo back for another tour in the Bronx.

    Jeter’s Road Woes To Be Cured?

    Posted by on December 27th, 2005 · Comments (6)

    For the last two years, Derek Jeter has forgotten how to be an effective batter in road games. Check the stats:

    jeterhome.jpg

    Now, usually, when you see a guy batting 60-something points better at home than on the road for two years in a row, you think there’s something about the home park that makes this guy better – like a friendly wall, faster turf, or maybe even sign stealing.

    But, then how do you explain 2002 and 2003 for Jeter? Back then, Derek was actually more effective on the road than when at home (where he was fine). This is the key to this mystery for me. Something happened in 2004 that caused this trend.

    In 2004, Derek Jeter became the Yankees lead-off batter. And, since that time, he’s been almost Womack-like with the stick when in the road gray’s. Why? Four months ago, I took some guesses at the reason why. And, thinking more about it now, I want to say that it’s just a mental thing.

    The beauty of this whole situation is that Jeter will not be the Yankees lead-off batter in 2006 – now that Johnny Damon is on board. It will now be interesting to see if Derek improves with the bat, overall, next season as a result of this move.

    Matsui: No WBC For Me

    Posted by on December 27th, 2005 · Comments (0)

    From FoxSports.com -

    “The reason I decided to go to the United States was to try and become a world champion with the Yankees, and I fear that chasing two goals might get in the way of that dream,” Kyodo quoted Matsui as saying in a statement.

    Reason # 107 why I love this guy. What’s not to love about a ballplayer with his head screwed on straight?

    Ball Four

    Posted by on December 26th, 2005 · Comments (2)

    Here’s a trivia question for the Yankees fan in your life:

    Q: Who are the five batters to earn 1,000 or more base on balls while wearing the Yankees pinstripes?

    A: Ruth, Mantle, Gehrig………OK, those are the easy ones…

    ….and………

    Willie Randolph and Bernie Williams.

    And, it’s a club that looks to be “un-joined” until at least around the year 2011 when Derek Jeter could join it.

    I wonder, if you asked this question to every fan going to Opening Day at the Stadium next year, how many would be able to name all five?

    Willie is the kicker. Unless you really appreciated what he did for New York from 1976 through 1988, and knew he had one of the best eyes in the game at that time, you would not think of him to be in this group.

    Let’s Not Forget About The Pen

    Posted by on December 26th, 2005 · Comments (8)

    Six and a half weeks ago, I wrote:

    This all said, it would be wishful thinking to expect more than 70 wins from the Yankees starters in 2006. Where are the other 25-30 wins (probably needed to win) coming from? The bullpen? Do we even know who is in the bullpen yet for 2006?

    Well, we know a lot more about the Yankees bullpen for 2006 now than we did then. So, it’s a good time to try and find those 25-30 wins.

    Between Mo, Farnsworth, Villone and Myers, the 2006 Yankees should get around 20 wins. Probably just a tad less – but, close to twenty.

    This means the Yankees will need solid seasons from the rest of their pen next year: Sturtze, Small, Wright and Dotel.

    Here’s the rub: One or two of those above four will not be in the bullpen for the full season next year.

    If I had to guess, I would pick, right now, Sturtze and Small to be the ones out of the gate to be in the pen (for sure) and there for most of the season. (And, if the Yankees go with 12 pitchers, then Wright makes the team as a long-man – unless he’s needed in the rotation due to an injury.) I just think that Dotel will not be a factor until June-ish.

    What does this mean? It means the Yankees are going to need good seasons from Sturtze and Small in 2006 – or from whoever fills out the pen after Mo, Kyle, and the two lefties. If they don’t get it, even with the extra offense of Damon, New York could be looking at closer to 90 wins than closer to 100 wins in 2006.

    And, 90 wins does not usually mean first place in the A.L. East.

    Joe: No Thanks Kim

    Posted by on December 25th, 2005 · Comments (2)

    From Bob Raissman:

    Joe Torre was serious about not wanting to answer questions from Kimberly Jones on YES’ postgame show. The Yankees manager not only protested to George Steinbrenner about having to answer inquiries planted with Jones by Yankee officials, he also put his money where his mouth is.

    By deciding not to return to “The Joe Torre Report” on YES’ postgame show, Torre gave up the hefty six-figure fee YES was paying him. Clearly the money was not worth the aggravation.

    Kim, if you’re reading this, send me a note at “staff at waswatching dot com.” I’ll give you my phone number. You can call me after each game and I’ll give you “The Steve Lombardi Report” – and I’ll do it for a fraction of what Torre was making on the gig. And, I promise, you can ask me anything.

    Really, consider it. When you factor in the cookie-cutter answers that you get with the pros anyway, why not go to “Joe Average Fan” and at least have some post-game fun/entertainment?

    Cano Should Not Bat 9th in 2006

    Posted by on December 25th, 2005 · Comments (10)

    I’ve seen it mentioned in the media quite a bit recently since the Yankees signed Johnny Damon – and, the topic even came up at the Damon press conference at the Stadium – about how Robinson Cano now will be batting ninth in the Yankees 2006 line-up. And, it makes no sense to me – at all.

    First off, right now, Cano shows more promise with the bat than Posada or Williams. And, whoever the Yankees have batting sixth next year deserves some protection in the line-up (rather than just being walked with runners on to set up a DP with Posada and Williams likely to supply it).

    In fact, if I were filling out the Yankees line-up, I would go with this order:

    1. Damon
    2. Jeter
    3. Giambi
    4. A-Rod
    5. Matsui
    6. Sheffield
    7. Cano
    8. Posada
    9. Some DH

    With this set-up, you have L-R-L-R-L-R-L and then a switch-hitter in the 8-hole (and maybe another in the 9th slot).

    This eliminates the chance for someone to come in with a left-handed specialist (or a righty who has issues with lefties) late in the game and leave him in for consecutive batters.

    Further, with Jason directly behind Damon and Jeter, there’s going to be many times where teams cannot use the big shift on Giambi – because if they do, then the runners will just double steal and create all kinds of havoc with no one covering third base.

    Now, the only downside to this line-up is having Sheffield bat sixth – because that might cost him some ABs over the course of the year. But, let’s face it – someone out of Giambi, A-Rod, Sheffield and Matsui is going to have to bat sixth. And, whatever the choice, it’s always going to be a situation of a great batter not getting as many ABs as he would batting higher in the order.

    Now, some might like Cano batting ninth because of the “second lead-off hitter theory” (where the thinking is that, once the order starts cranking, it’s like having Cano leading off in front of Damon and Jeter). But, think of the type of hitter that Cano is – he’s not an “on-base” guy. He’s a “put the ball in play” batter – with the hope to hit a liner somewhere on the field in a gap.

    This is the guy that you want with runners on – which he will see with the “Big Six” batting in front of him (if Cano does bats seventh).

    If Cano bats 9th, he’s going to see lots of ABs where he’s leading off with no outs or batting with 2 outs – just wait and see. I would much rather see him coming up with runners on, less than two outs, and making contact (and seeing what happens).

    In fact, I would guess now that the difference of Cano batting 7th (over 9th) could mean at least one run a game for the Yankees.

    Did you know that, from 2002 through 2005, Posada and Williams were among the the top batters in the A.L. for most “grounded into a DP” (GIDP)? Yes, here’s the top five in the A.L. for that period (with their total GIDP shown):

    1 Miguel Tejada 83
    2 Paul Konerko 77
    3 Bernie Williams 75
    4 Manny Ramirez 72
    5 Jorge Posada 68

    I don’t know Konerko’s story. I think it’s just that he’s a slow right-handed batter. But, I know that Miggy and Manny – great RBI men that they are – just don’t run out grounders and that possibly hurts them here. Bernie and Jorge run hard – it’s just that they still hit into too many GIDP.

    Drilling down on this GIDP-thing some more, Williams and Posada are the far-away leaders in GIDP (since 2002) of all switch-hitting (SH) batters. No left-handed batter or fellow SH is close to them. All the other leaders in GIDP over the last 4 years are right-handed batters. Why is this important? Think about it. Most of Posada and Williams ABs come left-handed – and they’re still GIDP monsters.

    If one of these guys bats seventh for the Yankees in 2006 – over Cano – they’re going to end rallies on a regular basis faster than a loud and juicy fart emitted during a kiss on a first date kills the chance for an end-of-the-evening “come in for a cup of coffee.”

    I really hope someone on Torre’s staff is thinking and suggests that Cano should bat 7th (and not 9th).

    The Conga Line!

    Posted by on December 23rd, 2005 · Comments (4)

    Over the last three years, Johnny Damon has averaged reaching base 252 times a season.

    For Jeter, it’s 250.
    For Giambi, it’s 211.
    For A-Rod, it’s 282.
    For Matsui, it’s 256.
    For Sheffield, it’s 270.

    The modern record for most runs scored in a season is 177 (by Babe Ruth in 1921). I don’t think Damon is going to reach that total in 2006.

    But, it would not shock me if Damon scores close to 150 runs with all those guys behind him moving him along.

    Happy Holidays!

    Posted by on December 22nd, 2005 · Comments (11)

    Barring any breaking and hot Yankees-related news, I do not expect to be posting any entries to WasWatching.com over the next three days. Therefore, I wanted to take this time now to wish all the readers of this blog a safe and happy holiday season. It’s only been 8 months now that WasWatching.com has been up and running, but, I’ve truly enjoyed all the feedback to this site and its content that you have provided this year. Thanks for that wonderful present! I hope you all have as much fun (as I’ve had here so far) during your holiday observance.

    Look for more [using Chuck Barris voice] stuff [/CBV] here starting next week!

    Mike Piazza

    Posted by on December 22nd, 2005 · Comments (3)

    I’ve seen some Yankees fans this winter express their desire for the Yankees to sign Free Agent Mike Piazza – in order to serve as a DH (and sometimes back-up catcher) for them in 2006. I don’t get it. Check the numbers for Mikey since 2002:

    000piazza.jpg

    These numbers tell us that Piazza’s overall offensive ability is in sharp decline and that his ability to hit right-handed pitching should be in serious question at this point.

    OK, so, how about just using him as a DH against left-handed pitching? There’s two issues there for me.

    First, there were only 16 LH starting pitchers in the AL last year (not including Randy Johnson) who made 25+ starts in 2005. And, six of them stunk last year. Basically, the Yankees should see a “tough” LH starter about once every other series in 2006. So, there’s not a huge demand for a “bats only against LH SP as a DH” specialist in the AL.

    Secondly, you don’t know how Piazza will even hit LHP next year. In 2005, he stunk versus LHP (with an OPS of .806 in those spots). Yes, he did better against LHP in 2004 (with an OPS of .915). But, in 2003 he had trouble with LHP (with an OPS of .839) – albeit in not many chances.

    Also, Piazza will be 37-years-old next year. And, his body has seen a lot of abuse. So, he’s a very old thirty-seven.

    Given the trend on Piazza’s ability, and the lack of need for a bats-vs.-LHP-only DH specialist, having the Yankees sign him makes about as much sense as having Victoria’s Secret sign Don Knotts to be a bra model.

    Bernie This Spring

    Posted by on December 22nd, 2005 · Comments (11)

    Now that it’s official that Bernie Williams has a Yankees contract for 2006, I find myself thinking about Roberto Alomar.

    At the close of 2001, Roberto Alomar, then 33-years-old, had a resume that proved he was one of the best switch-hitters in baseball history.

    Then, in 2002, Roberto slumped. And, the slump continued in 2003 and 2004. Finally, at age 37, with his past injuries and age impacting his skills, Alomar had to hang up his spikes just before the start of the 2005 season (while in Spring Training with the Devil Rays).

    At the close of 2002, Bernie Williams, then 33-years-old, had a resume that proved he was one of the best switch-hitters in baseball history.

    Then, in 2003, Bernie slumped. And, the slump continued in 2004 and 2005. Now, at age 37, Williams heads into another Spring Training with the Yankees.

    What if past injuries and age hit Bernie Williams this Spring like they did Roberto Alomar (at the same age) in 2005? Suppose that Bernie can’t get the ball out of the infield in his exhibition games and it’s clear that retirement is the wiser choice for both he and the Yankees (in 2006)?

    It can happen – just as easily as it cannot.

    What if it does happen? It will not be good. It will mean that Bubba Crosby, Andy Phillips, and perhaps Kevin Thompson will combine for about 650 Plate Appearances in 2006 – because the Yankees do not have anyone else on the roster behind Bernie.

    Perhaps the Yankees can carry that given the addition of Johnny Damon? But, doesn’t it seem like the Designated Hitter on the team should be someone who can hit?

    It would be nice if the Yankees invited some other players to Spring Training just a contingency plan if Bernie fails. Better safe than sorry, no?

    RSN Reaction To Johnny Damon Signing

    Posted by on December 21st, 2005 · Comments (12)

    What follows below are sundry sour grapes and tearful reactions from memebrs of RSN on the Johnny Damon signing news – along with some thoughts that are just full of hate.

    From Really Small Fish:

    There ought to be a law that states no Red Sox player can ever go play with the Yankees (suck) ever. It just isn’t right. Look, I understand it’s business and a player needs to maximize the money he makes while he is in his prime, But it’s the Yankees (suck). Go ahead Georgie take JD. A year in NYC and he will be doing lines with Howard Stern off some strippers ass at Scores for the 6am eggs and legs show. And he throws like a girl.

    From Needleworker Not In Paradise:

    Now the Red Sox nation knows why Theo Epstein resigned. He didn’t want to be in charge when Johnny Damon took the Yankee money and left a legion of fans who adore him.

    From Misery Loves Company:

    In the parlance of SOSH, Johnny was 1 of the 25, and for that he’ll always own a special place in my heart.

    But Johnny Damon is also the first man to break my daughter’s heart, and for that I hope he takes his $52m and makes Yankee fans longingly recall Bernie Williams’ 2005 season. Enjoy your corporate haircut, Johnny – you’re dead to me.

    From Sawxblog:

    The first day of winter is a cold one for Red Sox fans as we sit huddled together with a feeling that we wish wasn’t familiar. (Another) One of the most popular Red Sox players is no longer with us any more. Our team spokesman, our lead off hitter, our All Star Center Fielder, our free spirited idiot Johnny Damon is gone. Damon was supposedly the Red Sox number one priority this winter, now in losing him we are conceding him to our divisional (blood) rivals within our own division. For some reason I have a Beatles song off of the White Album rolling around in my mind with the incessant “Number Nine, Number Nine, Number Nine, Number Nine…” going over and over again in my imagination. For those of you a step back on the “Oh I get it Meter”, that’s Nine consecutive AL East titles I’m predicting for the New York Yankees.

    From Love Lettuce:

    The Yankees are like that friend you had in high school who waited until you had a serious crush on a boy, then she pounced. On that same boy. And stole him away, utterly sans remorse. In fact she wanted you to be happy for her.

    Anyway, as far as I’m concerned, New York can have Johnny Damon. I am so over him. Whatever.

    From Soxblog:

    Damon got off to a good start with the Sox and the run lasted for four fine years. But now Damon is a 33 year old who has relied on speed for much of his success. What’s more, Damon hasn’t exactly shown a fanatical devotion to conditioning or clean living. If you were to list the players who might defy the odds of getting old, Damon wouldn’t be on it.

    Johnny Damon is likely to enter a serious decline phase in his career. Soon. He’s likely to be injury prone. Added to the mix is that he’s arriving in New York with the same kind of fanfare that accompanied his arrival in Oakland, only this time with Big Apple level decibels rather than Oakland volume. He has not shown an ability to handle that kind of pressure in the past.

    From New England Sports Rant:

    Get ready Sox fans, it’s gonna be a long, long summer (and an even longer time before we win anything again).

    From Stephanie Rowe:

    Johnny Damon signed with the Yankees yesterday.

    The Yankees. As in, bitter enemy who deserves no forgiveness for anything, including the mere fact they dare to exist.

    Johnny Damon has been the spirit of the Red Sox. And now he goes across enemy lines?? I don’t understand it. He was offered $10m/year with the Sox, and he took $13m/year with the Yankees. When you’re making that much money, does three million really mean that much?

    Johnny is going to be so sorry when he shows up for spring training and discovers that baseball is no longer a game and no longer supposed to be fun.

    Sadly, I like him so much I can’t hate him for donning pinstripes. But man, I saw an awesome red sox santa hat today and I had to look away in pain.

    From Advancing the Plot:

    Johnny Damon has gone to the dark side. This is very hard to accept. For a mere $3 million more a year than the Red Sox were offering. So I don’t think it was money. I feel cheated on. He is already calling that team “we.”

    Sniffle. I am sure going to miss the beard and Jesus-hair. Steinbrenner doesn’t allow any freedom of expression. Snip snip.

    But we will get ours. I can’t wait for the booos to rain down on Johnny when he plays the Red Sox at Fenway Park this year. Roger Clemens is breathing a sign of relief.

    From This Sox (sometimes):

    Johnny Damon. Thanks for all you did. I hope at lease once, Andy Marte scores from second off you on a sacrifice fly to the triangle.

    From Yankees 2000: Promote the Curse:

    I hope this guy cuts his hair, shaves his beard and looks like a little bull queer. He was a king in Boston. He brought Boston a World Series, coined the team “the Idiots” and was, as sad it may sound, the “white face” of a city that is a pretty racist city.

    Now he comes to New York, one of Mr. Steinrbenner’s troops. I hope that ugly swing and female throwing style choke.

    From Bubba Ray’s Blog:

    Given my newfound hatred for Johnny Damon, I dumped him from my Sox team on my PS2 video game (MVP 04), and replaced him with the man the Sox should have never dealt in the first place, Dave Roberts.

    From The Honest Male Perspective:

    He broke a sacred rule in sports. He went from one side of a rivalry to the other. The Red Sox and the Yankees are supposed to hate each other. Thats the way it has always been. In the 50′s and 60′s when baseball meant something, no player would EVER switch sides on a rivalry for some extra cash or for any reason. In that day and age, both teams HATED each other, plain and simple. No player has so brashly moved from one side to the other since Wade Boggs left Boston and ruined his legacy here. We all still remember him with his porn stash riding a horse in Yankee pinstripes after their 1996 World Series victory. Simply put, Johnny Damon betrayed his country in the worst fashion possible, by joining the enemy.

    From Prizblog:

    They say revenge is a dish best served cold. It is very cold on the first day of winter. Fourteen months after Johnny Damon’s crushing ALCS performace against the hated New York Yankees, Damon has defected to the waiting arms, and wallet, of Steinbrenner’s men in stripes. And on this winter solstice, the Red Sox and their Nation begin their long, hard trek toward spring training. With 57 days remaining until pitchers and catchers report, Your Boston Red Sox have no short stop, no center-fielder, no known closer, no lead-off hitter, and two general managers.

    From Witch City Sox Girl:

    I am so disappointed in Johnny. It’s not like the Yankees offer included an extra couple of years. In fact, the money wasn’t much more, so I am puzzled as to the true motivation. The comments that he made on his way out were unforgivable. A-Rod’s first at-bat in Fenway was a rough one, but that’s nothing. You call that booing? Just wait. Johnny is going to get crucified. Fitting, I suppose with all the Jesus comparisons. The fans will be merciless.

    From The Skits-O-Phrenics:

    Last night I came across some news as one would come across a dropkick to the face off the top rope. Johnny Damon will be a New York Yankee next season. Now it was well known that he was fed up with the red sox management and wanted to change teams. It’s also well known that he is getting older and is slowing down some, and was stuck in a slump at the end of last year. So good, I’m perfectly fine with the fact that the sox lost him, make room for someone younger, more consistent, and less expensive.

    But damn hell ass balls, the freakin yankees?!

    From Tman In Tennessee:

    Screw Steinbrenner, Screw Cashman, Screw the Chokees, and finally Screw that traitorous rat-bastard Johnny Unfrozen Caveman Damon. May the lord guide those double AA’s thrown from the Fenway Bleachers next year directly to your sizeable useless melon.

    From Confessions of a Wayward Catholic:

    God hates me
    Johnny Damon signed with the Evil Empire.

    From Life on Planet Dan-E:

    David “Big Papi” Ortiz may be the soul the Boston Red Sox but Johnny Damon was its scruffy Poster Boy, and now he’s gonna have to trim the Jesus look and play for the Yankees. Since I’m a little more objective about this and can say that I can’t really blame him for going to the Yankees. They clearly showed interest and aggressively pursued him and it’s actually been surprising just how lackadaisical the Sox front office was in trying to resign him. Seriously, management dropped the ball worse than Tony Graffanino during Game 2 against the White Sox.

    From Finish My Wine dot Com:

    The TV was on for about half a minute when I heard the report on ESPN. Goddammit. Why in the name of all that’s holy did the Sox let Johnny Damon get away? They knew the sumbitch Yankees were the only other real contender. They knew damn well what he does for the team in stats, spirit and image. And by all accounts, Damon went to play for the enemy only after giving the Sox several chances to get closer to an agreement. They wouldn’t budge, so he left.

    Just when I was flying high on the Red Sox’s plan to GM by committee and send Theo Epstein packing, they go and do the unthinkable. Their offseason maneuvering was moving along fantastically. They had us all saying, “Theo who?” And now their cocky posturing has twisted the team on every front. Hell, I would’ve been happy had they traded away crybaby Manny Ramirez for a lesser bat or two, but getting rid of THE BEST LEADOFF HITTER IN THE GAME, a team leader, the face of the team, and perhaps the most popular Red Sox player since Rice or Boggs??? I mean, Damon even took Pedro’s place in the hearts of Sox fans in about the time it took the Accella to drop him at Times Square. What gives???

    From Soxygirl:

    Thanks, John Henry, Larry, Ben and Jed. You look like the world’s biggest morons now. But you don’t have to deal with Yankee fans day to day, now do you? So we’re taking all the crap for you.

    The next time that you hear from someone that the Yankees overpaid for Johnny Damon, point them to these quotes and tell them that you can buy this type of public relations for your enemy’s camp.

    Francona On Damon Tonight

    Posted by on December 21st, 2005 · Comments (7)

    I heard Terry Francona on WFAN (1050 AM) in NYC tonight, around six-oh-five (pm EST), during my ride home.

    He said that Damon “is a great player and an even better person.” He said that Damon is very “conscientious” and told a story about how Damon would call him (Terry) on his cell phone the morning after he was banged up in a game to let him know that he (Terry) should hold him (Damon) in the line-up because he would be ready to play that night.

    First off, for Francona to say this type of stuff tonight show his class. Secondly, this is a side of Damon that Yankees fans never had a chance to see up close.

    I think we’re going to like this guy.

    Lawton: New York Pressure Got To Me

    Posted by on December 21st, 2005 · Comments (4)

    From the USA Today:

    “It was such a stupid thing, but I was desperate,” Lawton told Sports Weekly during his first interview since being suspended 10 days by Major League Baseball for violating its steroids policy. “Maybe it was the pressure of playing in New York, I don’t know. I never had the urge to take any of that stuff before, but I was talking to some guys, and they guaranteed it would get the pain out.”

    Lawton, who says he had always taken pride in being clean and that he had never even taken amphetamines, was injected with the veterinary steroid boldenone.

    “I wasn’t playing well enough to be on a Little League roster, let alone be on the roster of the New York Yankees,” Lawton said. “I just wasn’t physically able to do the job. I had never been in the playoff hunt before. So I did something that will always haunt me.”

    Lawton took the steroid injection Sept. 20 in New York. Because he hadn’t been tested for steroids all season, he figured he was safe.

    Lawton showed up at Yankee Stadium the next day and learned he was starting in center field. He took batting practice and couldn’t believe the difference. He felt no pain. He drove the ball to all fields. He hit the ball into the seats. Lawton recalls Yankees manager Joe Torre joking, “Where did this guy come from?”

    In the lineup for the first time in a week, Lawton hit a home run off Orioles starting pitcher Rodrigo Lopez in his first at-bat. He went 2-for-3 with two RBI. The Yankees won 2-1 to move past the Red Sox into first place.

    “It was weird, after that one shot, I felt fresh again,” Lawton said. “Maybe it was mental, I don’t know, but the ball started jumping off my bat again. I suddenly had oomph.”

    The next day, MLB tested Lawton for steroids. He had only three more at-bats the rest of the season, and the Yankees left him off their playoff roster.

    Funny, at the time, the Yankees announcers said that it was Mattingly working with Lawton that led to that homerun.

    This is sorta/kinda scary because the same announcers give Donnie the credit for turning Giambi around this season too. But, to Jason’s defense, he’s passed every test thrown at him. Then again, maybe what he’s taking is a little more stealth than a veterinary steroid?

    No, no, no, no – I’m not saying that Giambi is living his life via his T-Shirt philosophy. I’m just suggesting that you have to consider all possible causes for a turnaround – and not just buy what the YES-boys are saying.

    Look at Lawton for an example.

    Perhaps worst of all is the line in the USA Today report that reads:

    Lawton says he talked to friends and teammates and then made a telephone call that he will regret forever.

    Geez, were they Yankees teammates? That might just be the worst news out of this whole story.

    I hope it’s not something that comes up in 2006.

    Jeter & Damon

    Posted by on December 21st, 2005 · Comments (11)

    Just three weeks ago, I said that it would not shock me to see Johnny Damon only have three more productive seasons left in his career.

    Today, I saw something – outside of the news that Damon signed with the Yankees – that makes me hope that I’m very wrong with those findings from three weeks ago.

    I was running some sorts on the Sabermetric Baseball Encyclopedia to see what batters in history have had seasons like Damon’s in 2005 – at the same age (31) he was last season. And, I found this pairing:

    000jeterdamon.jpg

    Yes, both Jeter and Damon were 31-years-old in 2005. And, as the relative batting metrics show, they had just about the same season with the bat last year (in terms of effectiveness).

    So, then, do all those Yankees fans out there (like me, three weeks ago) who think that Damon is the type to start sliding downward with the bat over the next few years also think that Derek Jeter is going to be toast at the plate come 2008?

    Now, granted, if you compare Jeter and Damon coming into 2005, say, from 1996 through 2004, you see that Derek has been a much better performer than Johnny:

    000johnderek96.jpg

    And, that’s the reason why many would say that Jeter has a higher chance at starring longer than Damon – because his resume is richer.

    Still, think of it this way: If you were a doctor, and you had two patients of the same age – one with a very healthy childhood and the other who was not so lucky as him (but generally OK) – and, on one given day (the same day) you found them to be exact mirror images of each other (in terms of conditioning), could you say (with confidence) on that given day that one patient would out-live the other because the other guy had the chicken pox when he was six and a broken arm when he was ten?

    It would not make sense to say that – because, at the moment, the patients are equal. What happened in the past is history and has no bearing on their condition today. You need to look at them now to make a projection.

    Therefore, before anyone (including me) decides today that Johnny’s life as an effective batter is going to be short one, we need to also consider where Damon is now, in 2005, and see if there’s any signs of concern.

    And, if you think Derek Jeter was a good lead-off hitter in 2005, then so was Johnny Damon. And, the Johnny Damon from 2005 was pretty much the same Damon as every year since 1999 (sans 2001 and 2003 when he slumped). Johnny’s usually good for an OPS about 50-80 points above average and around 1.5 runs created per game above average – and that’s what he’s been 5 of the last 7 years. And, that’s pretty much what Jeter has done the last 5 years as well.

    I have to say, now, there’s just a good of a chance of Damon to keep doing his thing going forward as there is for Derek Jeter. And, if you believe that Jeter is going to stay an effective batter for a while – then you should think the same about Damon.

    Jeter Will Not Be Bunting

    Posted by on December 21st, 2005 · Comments (1)

    I’m amazed at how many Red Sox fans on the Internet are saying (along the lines of) “Good, now that Damon will be batting in front of Jeter, we don’t have to worry about Derek – he’ll be laying down sac-bunts all the time.”

    Hey, the last time that Jeter had a lead-off batter of quality in front of him was Knoblauch, circa 1998-2001.

    And, in 1998 Jeter had three sac-hits. And, he had the same number (3) in 1999 and 2000. Lastly, in 2001, Jeter laid down a whopping five sac-bunts.

    I have to laugh at anyone who believes that Jeter will be bunting all the time now.

    Cashman Can Thank L.A. & Lucchino For Damon

    Posted by on December 21st, 2005 · Comments (9)

    Brian Cashman played poker on this Free Agent pick-up – and won.

    The minute that Kenny Lofton signed with the Dodgers, that closed the Damon market to two teams – the Yankees and the Red Sox.

    Knowing this, Cashman told Damon’s agent, Scott Boras, we’re going to trade for a CF now, unless Damon wants to sign now, for much less than the seven years that you’re looking for (as reported).

    Boras knew the Red Sox offer – 4 years for $40-42 million. So, at this point, he had to tell his client “We’re never going to get 7 years. We’re only going to get four – in New York or Boston. And, if the Yankees trade for a CF, then Boston has us by the short ones. We need to get the most money that we can on a four-year deal.”

    And, when the Yankees came in with $52 million, meaning three million a year more than Lucchino was willing to go on his offer (on the table), it became clear that New York was the place to go – - unless Damon wanted to give Boston a $10-12 million “hometown” discount. Hey, he ain’t that much of an idiot.

    Did Cashman really have a deal for a CF – and was ready to pull the trigger? It’s possible – and, if not, hey, a bluff is a bluff – and a good one when it works.

    I just hope this is not a case of Damon wanting to go somewhere other than New York – but the money in Yankeeland was just that much more than he could get anywhere else.

    The best thing for Damon to do is to produce, out of the gate, for the Yankees. It will get the fans on his side and that always makes your life pleasant in this town. And, when life is hassle-free, and you’re making $13 million a year, feeling good about your choice is easier than Tara Reid after being locked in a liquor store overnight.

    Damon Now A Yankee?

    Posted by on December 20th, 2005 · Comments (11)

    I just saw this link over at BaseballThinkFactory.orgfrom CBS 4 in Boston:

    (CBS4) BOSTON CBS4′s Dan Roche is reporting that Johnny Damon has agreed to a four-year deal with the New York Yankees.

    Story to come.

    (© MMV, CBS Broadcasting, Inc. All Rights Reserved.)

    It was posted there, at the CBS site, at 10:23 pm EST. It’s now almost 40 minutes later. If true, you think it would be all over the place in that amount of time.

    Very interesting though.

    UPDATE, 12/20 11:10 pm EST: The AP is running with this now too:

    NEW YORK (AP) — The New York Yankees grabbed center fielder Johnny Damon away from the rival Boston Red Sox, reaching a preliminary agreement Tuesday night on a $52 million, four-year contract.

    Details of the deal were still being negotiated and Damon must pass a physical, a baseball official said on condition of anonymity because negotiations were not yet final.

    I guess that “before X-mas” vibe that I had was not so far off after all!

    UPDATE, 12/20 11:15 pm EST: Newsday’s got it now as well:

    Johnny Damon and the Yankees have agreed to a four-year, $52 million deal, Newsday has learned.

    I said in the past that I would have been OK with three years. I guess four is close enough to three.

    One thing is for sure – the guy is not going to melt in the media. That won’t be an issue. And, he’s another bat – and that will help.

    The money? Thirteen million a year seems like a lot. But, if it was ten a year, that would have been a good deal for the Yankees. So, what’s another three a year on top of that? Bernie made $12 million last year. It’s almost a wash.

    UPDATE, 12/20 11:32 pm EST: Just something to sleep on now, from the database at BaseballMusings.comDamon’s recent numbers at Yankee Stadium:

    damonYS.jpg

    Meanwhile, Johnny was an on-base machine at Fenway Park the last four years.

    That is a tad concerning. Then again, Wade Boggs made the adjustment in 1993 with no problem.

    El Doctor Pulpo Is In

    Posted by on December 20th, 2005 · Comments (2)

    From FOXSports.com:

    Dotel signs with Yankees
    Ken Rosenthal / FOXSports.com
    Posted: 2 minutes ago

    Free-agent reliever Octavio Dotel has signed with the Yankees, FOXSports.com has learned.

    MORE TO COME

    Why do I think he’s going to need a robotic arm to be of any use?

    Wang For Reed?

    Posted by on December 20th, 2005 · Comments (9)

    From the Seattle Times:

    Even with Jarrod Washburn in the rotation, the Mariners are still in the trade market for another starting pitcher.

    And while outfielder Jeremy Reed may be the leading candidate to go in any deal, the Boston Red Sox aren’t the only possible destination.

    An industry source maintains that the New York Yankees are another possible trading partner.

    “Watch the situation with Johnny Damon,” the source said. “Seattle could wind up trading Reed to the club that doesn’t get Damon to play center.”

    Yet a second source said that Seattle, even with Washburn getting $37.5 million over four years, might be willing to take on a pitcher with a sizeable salary.

    That could be the Red Sox’s Matt Clement or the Yankees’ Carl Pavano. But more to the Mariners’ liking and payroll situation would be the Red Sox’s Bronson Arroyo, who made $1.85 million in 2005 and is not eligible for free agency for three more seasons, or the Yankees’ Chien-Ming Wang, who was a rookie in 2005.

    Imagine if Cashman hangs on to Pavano to deal Wang instead for Reed. Oh, that would get ugly in a hurry.

    Left Behind At The Dotel

    Posted by on December 20th, 2005 · Comments (5)

    I decided to take another look at the potential new Yankee, Octavio Dotel.

    Since he was injured in 2005, it makes sense to throw out his 2005 stats.

    Looking at his 2004 numbers, thanks to the sortable database at BaseballMusings.com, I noticed something concerning.

    Here is Dotel pitching to right-handed batters:

    dotelr.jpg

    Dotel kills RH batters – even last year, when he was hurt. How does Octavio do against left-handed batters? Here’s the answer:

    dotell.jpg

    This is interesting. In 2004, all of a sudden, LH batters, while not hitting well often against Dotel, when they did hit him they did a lot of damage – look at his slugging percentage allowed.

    If the intent is to limit Dotel to just facing RH batters in 2006, to combat his new issue with LH batters, why not just use Scott Proctor in that role instead?

    Gosh, I never thought that I would see the day that I would prefer Proctor over anyone in the Yankees pen. But, Dotel just might be that one.

    Next Page »