• The Value Of “Bernie The RH-DH” In 2007

    Posted by on January 31st, 2007 · Comments (12)

    It’s been suggested that Bernie Williams could be a useful DH for the Yankees in 2007 – against left-handed pitching. Since Giambi struggles against LHP – maybe Bernie can be an asset in this role?

    The last 4 seasons, against right-handed pitching, Williams has been, basically, a .260-hitter with a slugging percentage near .400. Hence, no one is suggesting that he be allowed to face RH-pitchers with any frequency (at this point in his career).

    There is evidence to support the notion that Williams can be an effective batter against lefties. He hit them extremely well last season – and, he did a decent job against them in 2003 and 2004. (Bernie was a bust versus lefties in 2005 – but that now appears to be a fluky thing – considering 2003, 2004 and 2006.)

    But, here’s the rub: What’s the demand/need for a “Faces Lefties Only DH” in the American League these days?

    To answer that question, I turned to the Complete Baseball Encyclopedia to see how many good lefties are presently taking toe to the rubber in the Junior Circuit.

    First, I looked at AL LHP RSAA Leaders in 2006:

    LHPAL2006.jpg

    Since “0″ RSAA means a pitcher is average, there were only about a dozen “stand-out” LHP in the AL last season – and, since Barry Zito has left the league and Francisco Liriano will miss a lot of time this season, there are only 10 pitchers from this dozen who will be possibly pitching against the Yankees in 2007.

    How about AL LHP RSAA Leaders over the last three seasons combined? Here’s that list:

    LHPAL2004-06.jpg

    OK, so, maybe, based on this list, we can add Mark Buehrle and Gustavo Chacin to the list of 10 from the 2006 cut – bringing the total back up to a dozen tough LH-pitchers who live in the American League.

    Nine of these twelve pitchers are starting pitchers. It’s in starts against these guys where you would want Bernie in there (as opposed to, say, Giambi) as your DH this season. However, how many games would we really be talking about here? Maybe something like 16 games over the full season – where the Yankees may actually face these tough LH-starters? If it is 16 games, that’s less than 10% of the season.

    Is it worth carrying a player on your roster who will only be a beneficial impact to your team, as a starter, for less than 10% of the season? Sure, maybe it could be – if that player can also help you off the bench as well? If such a player could be used as a key defensive replacement and/or pinch runner, then he could be an asset to your team when he’s not starting.

    Now, we are talking about Bernie Williams – who (at this stage of his career) will not only “not help” you in the field or on the bases, but, he “will hurt” you if used in these situations.

    Therefore, Bernie Williams only use to the Yankees in 2007 would be to start as a DH in about 10% of the teams games. There has to be someone else who can be given that roster spot who will help the team in more games this season. Carrying Bernie Williams as a “Faces Only LHP” DH this season makes no sense.

    The New Boss Offers Some Opinion

    Posted by on January 31st, 2007 · Comments (6)

    Steve Swindal speaks, via mlb.com -

    With Steinbrenner unavailable, Swindal fielded questions regarding the 2007 Yankees as they approach Spring Training and seemed very enthusiastic about the team’s offseason moves.

    “I think we’ve improved ourselves — the bullpen certainly, the starting pitching, I’m very optimistic that we’re going to be in the thick of things,” Swindal said. “That’s our goal every year, to get to the World Series. We’ve come up short the last couple of years, but it’s not for a lack of trying. I’m feeling very confident that we’ll get there this year.

    “Anything short of getting to the World Series is disappointing.”

    Swindal was also asked about the future of outfielder Bernie Williams, who reportedly has been offered an invite to Spring Training. Considering the possible end of Williams’ 16-year tenure with the Yankees seemed to tug at Swindal just a bit.

    “It’s up to our baseball people to make that decision but I’ll tell you, he has contributed so much to the success of this franchise and the run we had,” Swindal said. “You can’t underestimate how important he has been to us.”

    Anything short of getting to the World Series is disappointing.

    Can we just stop saying that already? It’s starting to get as old as the YMCA dance by the Yankee Stadium grounds-crew.

    Will Torre Let Bernie Bump Melky?

    Posted by on January 31st, 2007 · Comments (7)

    From Jon Heyman -

    SI.com has learned that the Yankees have made Williams a standing offer to come to spring training as a non-guaranteed, nonroster invite.

    Since this is what I suggested two weeks ago, I’m in favor of this call…or, should I say was in favor?

    Now, I’m starting to get concerned about the Torre-factor when it comes to bringing Bernie to camp.

    Joe loves Bernie – as he should, considering what Bernie has done for Joe in the past. But, as Torre showed us last season, this is a dangerous thing. Joe put Bernie in CF last year 28 times – which was probably about 20 times too many – because of Torre’s thinking of the past instead of the present (when it comes to Williams).

    If Bernie comes to Tampa on an invite, and hits well this Spring, would Torre consider sending down Melky Cabrera (who I guess has options) in order to keep Williams on the team? I can almost hear Joe now saying:

    “Matsui, Damon, and Abreu never miss a game. With Mientkiewicz now at first and Giambi at DH, it was going to be hard for us to get Melky some regular At Bats. We don’t want to have him rust on bench here. At this stage of his career, Bernie’s better suited to play once or twice a week than Cabrera….that’s why we’re sending Melky down to Triple-A when we break camp this year.”

    Gosh, that would be stupid. It would be as bad as the Yankees decision in 1992 to have Bernie Williams start the season in Triple-A.

    I was pretty upset at that call back in 1992. If this happens to Melky in 2007, I think I’m going to be even more upset.

    Moose On Pavano, Johnson & Hughes

    Posted by on January 31st, 2007 · Comments (11)

    From Newsday -

    “I think he has to be there,” Mussina said of Pavano, when asked what the perennially injured righthander had to do to win back his teammates. “I think he has to pitch. I think he has to do his job. Just kind of be the new guy again, is the best way to put it.

    “He’s been away a long time. He’s come and gone for periods of time, and he’s been real close, and everyone thought he was coming back and he didn’t. So he’s got to earn some trust from some players again, from a coaching staff and a manager and an organization.

    “But if he can do it, we know he can pitch, and we know he can get people out. If he gets over those other hurdles, he’ll be an asset.”

    Asked if he was surprised that the Yankees traded Johnson, Mussina replied: “I guess yes and no. He doesn’t seem like he has a lot of fun pitching in New York, and he certainly wears it on his sleeve. Even as poorly as he pitched, he found a way to win 17 games.”

    Mussina believes that Johnson never adapted. “I think the expectations in New York – playing for the Yankees, all of the media coverage – the expectations are large,” Mussina said. “They’re high. Randy, his name is synonymous with 15 strikeouts, 20 wins. When you put on pinstripes, you’re expected to do that 35 times a year.

    “Realistically, that’s not possible, but then again, you can’t fight it, either. You have to roll with it, and expect yourself to do well. I think he got a bad taste in his mouth and didn’t adjust to it. He had a tough two years of dealing with what he thought was OK, and what everybody else thought wasn’t good enough.”

    From the YesNetwork Site -

    Hughes is so coveted that the Yankees refused to include him in any deal at last season’s trade deadline, and some think he could steal the No. 5 starter’s job with a strong Grapefruit season.

    Though Yankees senior vice president of baseball operations Mark Newman said on Tuesday there’s a chance that could happen, the Yankees want to see him further develop in Triple-A, and Mussina agrees.

    “I don’t think they should be throwing him into the fire at 20 or 21 years old, but he’s not very far away,” Mussina said. “I hope they let the kid go out there and develop and be a strong major league pitcher when it’s time to ask him to be.”

    I’ve always felt that one of the best things David Cone did for the Yankees was to be a mouthpiece for the players – always there for the media – so that other players would not be bothered with the chore. Cone was bright and knew what to say, etc., because he had been around (and he knew New York). Mussina has those skills too. It would be nice to see him be more like Cone was, as he’s doing here, on a more regular basis.

    Less Than 336 Hours Until…..

    Posted by on January 31st, 2007 · Comments (3)

    Pitchers & Catchers report down in Tampa for the Yankees.

    Ah, it’s just around the corner!

    An Ounce of Pitching Is Worth A Pound of Hitting

    Posted by on January 30th, 2007 · Comments (3)

    I decided to run with the question at The Immaculate Inning (today) a bit. The question there was:

    How often did the Yankees’ offense “do their job” and score at least five runs in a game? How often did the Yankees’ pitching “do their job” and limit the opposition to four or fewer runs?

    Counting up the 2006 numbers, I was able to come up with this grid:

    TIIQ2006.jpg

    So, the hitters did their job 96 times in 2006. And, the pitchers did their job 81 times in 2006. This tells us that the Yankees pitching/defense did not do their job 50% of the time last year.

    Further, there were only 49 games in 2006 where both sides did their job for the Yankees.

    Where it gets interesting is where one side failed and the other did not (last year). When the pitchers/defense failed and the hitters did not, the team went 28-19. When the hitters failed and the pitchers/defense did not, the team went 20-12. Both of these marks are very good – but it’s still better when the hitters failed as long as the pitchers/defense did not fail.

    It does all fall into the common sense bucket:

    When you hit and pitch, you win. When you don’t hit and don’t pitch, you lose. When you hit, and don’t pitch, you can still win – but you will win more, even when you don’t hit, if you pitch.

    Yogi ain’t got nothing on me.

    Bottom line, these numbers should jump out at you:

    The Yankees only lost 12 times last year when the team allowed 4 runs or less. And, when the Yankees allowed 5+ runs in a game last year, they went 28-53 (which is a losing percentage of .655!).

    You can hit until the cows come home – but, if you don’t pitch, it don’t matter (even if you have “Murderer’s Row & Cano”).

    Yanks Ask Melk To Shut It Down

    Posted by on January 30th, 2007 · Comments (12)

    From the AP:

    Yankees outfielder Melky Cabrera will skip the Caribbean World Series at the team’s request so he can rest up for next season.

    Cabrera played the last part of the winter league season in the Dominican Republic and participated in the playoffs, said Mark Newman, the Yankees’ senior vice president of baseball operations.

    “We’ve asked that he shut it down at this point. It’s been a long year for him,” Newman said Tuesday on a conference call to discuss the team’s top prospects. “We thought he needed some rest.”

    Six days in early February is going to make a difference (in terms of rest)? This is strange.

    TI^2: Did Your Job Stat

    Posted by on January 30th, 2007 · Comments (2)

    Over at The Immaculate Inning, mehmattski (with the help of some others) is running a very interesting study on how consistent a team is…as they put it:

    How often did the Yankees’ offense “do their job” and score at least five runs in a game? How often did the Yankees’ pitching “do their job” and limit the opposition to four or fewer runs?

    To answer the question, The Immaculate Inning is using a measure called Did Your Job Stat (DYJS).

    If I’m reading the chart there correctly, the Yankees were best in the majors in terms of “Did The Job Offense” – but they were 22nd in the major is terms of “Did The Job Defense.” I wonder how much of that was Randy Johnson?

    Roger & Andy

    Posted by on January 30th, 2007 · Comments (6)

    No, not that Roger & Andy…..

    I just came across a great story from seven years ago – about Roger Maris and Andy Strasberg (who was a fan). If you’ve never heard the tale, it’s worth checking out.

    I know someone, a fan, who has developed a similar relationship with a current Yankees great. So, it’s possible that something like this can still happen today.

    The key, to me, is that the ballplayer needs to be down-to-earth and classy. In the case of my friend today, I know the player is a good guy.

    Sounds like Maris was a good guy too – unlike what some may have thought to be otherwise.

    Will The Love Swell Up For Alex?

    Posted by on January 30th, 2007 · Comments (9)

    I heard on the radio this morning that Phil Simms has recently said that, in his opinion, current and former NFL players are all rooting for Peyton Manning to get a ring this Sunday – because they respect the way he carries himself and goes about his work, etc.

    Yeah, you know where this is going….

    If the Yankees make the World Series this season, do you think Orel Hershiser or some other former star turned broadcaster will come out and say that he thinks current and former baseball players are all rooting for Alex Rodriguez to get a ring?

    I don’t think that will happen.

    It would be nice if I can tell you that this won’t happen because there is a difference in the way Manning and Rodriguez conduct themselves, etc. But, I don’t know enough about Manning to confirm that opinion.

    It’s just a gut feeling – as to why I think it won’t happen. Maybe I’m wrong? What do you think? Should A-Rod get that support from his peers? Will he? Use the comments section here to share your thoughts.

    Yanks and More

    Posted by on January 30th, 2007 · Comments (8)

    There’s a relatively new Yankees blog on the scene: Yanks and More.

    If you stop by, tell them that WasWatching.com sent ya!

    Clemens: “Call Me.”

    Posted by on January 30th, 2007 · Comments (3)

    From The Daily Texan -

    Someone ought to give Roger Clemens a call – namely his former Houston Astros, New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox teammates.

    The seven-time Cy Young Award winner isn’t sure if or where he will pitch this season, but the decision may come down to who’s on the other end of the line.

    “If somebody makes a phone call, and I think I can do it again physically, I probably could,” the former Texas Longhorn said Saturday after throwing out the ceremonial first pitch at the school’s alumni game at the Dell Diamond.

    “The only reason why I’d continued to play was because of my teammates calling me,” he said. “Guys made the phone call to get me back out of the house to play.”

    “I don’t know what’s going to happen tomorrow. I’ll make that decision when it comes,” Clemens said. “I’m in good shape, but I’m nowhere near baseball shape. Mentally, it’s going to be another challenge for me.”

    Click here to see a photo of Clemens throwing the ceremonial first pitch at the Texas alumni game last Saturday at the Dell Diamond in Round Rock.

    It looks like he can afford to lose 20 pounds. Time to break out the B-12 shots?

    In any event, I wonder if any Yankees are working the phones to get Rocket to come out and play?

    Art Fowler Passes

    Posted by on January 29th, 2007 · Comments (0)

    From the Times:

    Art Fowler, who became George Steinbrenner’s sixth, ninth, 17th and 26th Yankees pitching coach in a turbulent baseball pairing with his often hired and fired manager and drinking buddy Billy Martin, died yesterday in Spartanburg, S.C. He was 84.

    Ron Guidry, reflecting on his days as an active pitcher when Fowler was his coach, once said: “Every time he’d come out there [to the mound], I’d say, `Art what am I doing wrong?’ and he’d always tell me, `I don’t know, Ron, but you’re (getting) Billy (angry).’”

    That’s how you get to reach age 84 – keeping life simple. Fowler knew what he was doing.

    New Look To The Site

    Posted by on January 29th, 2007 · Comments (35)

    I decided to go with an image file instead of just text for the banner here. If a million people hate it, I might change it back. Otherwise, it’s staying. If you have any feedback on the new look, please share it here. Thanks.

    Move Over Marv Gomez, Alberto Gonzalez Is The New Leather Man?

    Posted by on January 29th, 2007 · Comments (24)

    Kevin Goldstein at BP lists his verison of the Yankees Top Ten Prospects -

    Excellent Prospects

    1. Philip Hughes, rhp
    2. Jose Tabata, rf

    Very Good Prospects

    3. Joba Chamberlain, rhp
    4. Humberto Sanchez, rhp
    5. Dellin Betances, rhp

    Good Prospects

    6. Kevin Whelan, rhp

    Average Prospects

    7. Tyler Clippard, rhp
    8. J. Brent Cox, rhp
    9. Ian Kennedy, rhp
    10. Alberto Gonzalez, ss

    Sticking on #10, Baseball America recently said this about Alberto Gonzalez:

    He’s a tremendous defensive shortstop with well above-average range and a strong arm. Though he has improved offensively, he doesn’t offer much in the way of power, speed or walks. He spent most of 2006 in Double-A, hitting .290/.356/.392 with six homers and 50 RBIs in 129 games. If it all works out, he could become an Adam Everett-type player.

    Man, if he is “Adam Everett good” with the leather, then, maybe it’s time to think about my plan from last November with a small tweak: How about moving A-Rod to 1B, Jeter to 3B, and letting Alberto Gonzalez play SS once he proves himself at Triple-A?

    Upset Over MLB’s DirecTV Plan?

    Posted by on January 29th, 2007 · Comments (0)

    FYI, those Yankees fans who are getting the short end of it because of MLB’s call to make Extra Innings packages an exclusive of DirecTV will want to check out this link to BaseballMusings.com – it leads to an e-mail address that you can use to let MLB know how you feel on this.

    Schilling: I Would Not Play For The Yanks

    Posted by on January 29th, 2007 · Comments (6)

    From the Boston Globe -

    Red Sox pitcher Curt Schilling said this morning on Boston sports radio station WEEI that he will not retire from baseball at the end of this season, as he previously had planned.

    “I will play in 2008,” were the words Curt Schilling told Red Sox Nation this morning on WEEI.

    His contract with the Red Sox ends after this season.

    “Where I’m going to play beyond 2007, I hope it’s Boston, but I will go out and find a home to pitch,” he said. “I hope it’s here but there’s also that possibility [of pitching for another team].”

    Would he consider pitching for the Yankees in 2008?

    “It wouldn’t be in New York,” Schilling told host Gerry Callahan. “No. I could not make that move.”

    Guess what Curt: Yankees fans don’t want you here. So, we’re happy that you could not make that move.

    The Best New York Sports Arguments: The 100 Most Controversial, Debatable Questions for Die-Hard New York Fans

    Posted by on January 28th, 2007 · Comments (3)

    Best100Book.jpg

    I’ve been thumbing through a copy of Peter Handrinos’ new book, The Best New York Sports Arguments: The 100 Most Controversial, Debatable Questions for Die-Hard New York Fans.

    To be candid, before I opened the book, I was lukewarm on the probability of enjoying this work. This was no reflection on this particular book. More so, it was based on my experiences reading these types of “all-sports” debate books in the past. I’m no longer a huge football fan and I’ve never been a fan of hoops, hockey, or boxing (which The Best New York Sports Arguments also covers in addition to New York baseball).

    However, I am enjoying the heck out of reading The Best New York Sports Arguments.

    First of all, Handrinos addresses arguments that I can relate to – even if I’m not a fan of the sports.

    For example: Living in the New York area, even if you’re not a diehard fan of football, you probably know who Bill Parcells and Bill Belichick are – and can appreciate the debate on who is the best coach? Or, you can know nothing about boxing, but, you’ll probably know who Mike Tyson is – and you can enjoy the question of was he ever a great heavy-weight? And, while I’ve never watched a Knicks game, I understand the question of was Patrick Ewing to blame for them never winning a title while he was there.

    This aside, still, I should share that it seems like at least half of the “arguments” in the book are baseball-related. So, perhaps that’s why The Best New York Sports Arguments is really winning me over?

    In any event, secondly, and more importantly, what I think I am enjoying the most about The Best New York Sports Arguments is that Peter Handrinos is not shy an offering a strong opinion on each of the “arguments” presented in the book. And, while I agree with him on some and disagree with him on others, I am enjoying reading what he has to say on each.

    Reading The Best New York Sports Arguments is as if you’re sitting in a sports bar, by yourself, and you overhear the guy sitting next to you talking to the bartender about something sports related. And, the topic is something that you find interesting. So, you start to engage the guy when the bartender leaves and you find out that this guy has a lot of entertaining positions on many of the local sports teams, etc. Again, you may not agree with everything that he says, but, since he shares it in a manner that makes you think, it’s a good time.

    There’s plenty Yankees/Sox, Yankees/Mets, A-Rod/Jeter stuff in the book that will appeal to Yankees fans. And, you can tell that Handrinos has his favorites in these debates. Still, again, the way he presents his cases are more than just a guy picking his favorite and not having a good reason to back it up.

    Since The Best New York Sports Arguments: The 100 Most Controversial, Debatable Questions for Die-Hard New York Fans is a paperback book, it doesn’t cost you more than it would to pick up a couple of magazines at the newsstand. At that price, and given it’s entertainment value, it’s a worthy pick-up for the New York area sports fan who enjoys hearing positions being taken, and therefore getting stimulated themselves, on various New York sports debates.

    The Curse Of 2001?

    Posted by on January 28th, 2007 · Comments (8)

    The blog Red Sox Reality Check takes a shot at comparing the Yankees and Red Sox this year. One of the questions that they ask is:

    Can the Yankees break the mysterious curse placed upon them in 2001 by a former employee’s wife?

    This was a new one on me. So, I did some searching – which brought me back to Red Sox Reality Check, where, on October 07, 2006, they wrote:

    I traveled to a conference in August and met a former Yankee employee at the most unlikely of places, the Lazy J Ranch not far from Vail. He explained how the Yankees would not win the World Series this year, just as they had failed the past five seasons. George Steinbrenner had fired him not long before the 2001 World Series. He didn’t sulk, whine, or complain. His wife cursed the Yankees.

    I have no idea who this former employee could be…and if you’re reading this and you do, please let me know. In any event, in searching, I did find this theory (from 2005) for the Yankees post-2000 blues: The Carpetbagger Curse – here’s how it goes:

    Could the fortunes of the storied New York Yankees be tied to the tenure of Hillary Rodham Clinton (D) in one of New York’s Senate seats?

    Here are the facts: Clinton, elected in 2000, took office in January 2001. The Bronx Bombers last won a championship in 2000 and have endured a five-year dry spell since, despite making the playoffs every year. Most recently, they lost in the first round of the playoffs to the Anaheim/Los Angeles Angels.

    Coincidence? Some think not. As James Taranto of The Wall Street Journal’s GOP-leaning OpinionJournal blog put it last week, “This is known as the ‘Carpetbagger Curse’ — though at least it’s not as bad as Boston’s ‘Curse of the Bambino,’” which allegedly deprived the Red Sox of a title for 86 years.

    For further perspective, we turn to Kevin Madden, spokesman for Rep. Tom DeLay (R-Texas) and one of the Hill’s notable Yankees fans, to say nothing of his status as a rare Republican from the New York metro area.

    “A theory that sturdy has GOTTA be true,” Madden wrote us. “We have the bats, we have the pitching and we have the best manager in baseball. But having a Chicago Cubs fan who is also a Democrat serving as one of New York’s senators is like tying a brick to a cinder block. We need to defeat her in 2006 and get back to winning championships and getting real leadership in the Senate.”

    To be fair, however, Clinton has long said that growing up, the Yankees were her American League team of choice.

    Yet, however strong or weak the theory, some quick research reveals that this isn’t the first episode of “carpetbagging” that’s coincided with a turn in Yankee fortunes.

    From 1960 to 1964, the Yankees made the postseason every year, winning championships in 1961 and 1962. In fact, they missed the playoffs only nine times in the 30 years ending in 1964.

    Back then, however, Massachusetts’s own Robert F. Kennedy stepped down as President Kennedy’s attorney general to run for Senate — from New York. He was elected in November 1964 and took office the following January.

    The result? No more Yankee postseason trips until 1976.

    Finding this, I have to offer now that Hillary has got to go. It may not be fair, or logical, but, better safe than sorry when it comes to dealing with whammies (I always say).

    Still Looks Like It’s Coming Down To Igawa Vs. Papelbon

    Posted by on January 27th, 2007 · Comments (4)

    Earlier today, I shared Inside the Monster’s comments on the Yankees 2007 starting rotation. And, last night, I shared a comparison of the Yankees and Red Sox bullpens (this season) using Ron Shandler’s projected 2007 Base Performance Value (BPV) marks to assign some value on each pitcher in the pens.

    Thinking about both those items now, I came to the conclusion that it might be fun to look at the projected ’07 BPV marks for the starting rotations of the Red Sox and Yankees this season. Here are the numbers:

    Mussina – 97, Schilling – 113
    Pettitte – 88, Matsuzaka – 110
    Igawa – 65, Papelbon – 96
    Pavano – 57, Beckett – 69
    Wang – 39, Wakefield – 39

    This means that the Red Sox rotation projects out to having better skills than the Yankees rotation.

    I’m willing to throw out the “39″ for Worm Killer Wang – it’s his strikeout rate that probably ruins his BPV projection. And, back in November 2005, I wrote: “I like to believe that Wang has the stuff to whiff hitters, via 93 MPH gas, it’s just that he prefers to get outs quicker with grounders.”

    Guess what? Ray Murphy (in Shandler’s 2007 Forecaster) proves that Worm Killer has a higher K-rate in situations where a whiff is more beneficial than another form of out. So, that sort of backs my belief.

    Further, I cannot believe that Papelbon’s bullpen “stuff” is going to be the same skills that he’ll bring to the mound every five days. There’s a big difference between letting it rip for 15-20 pitches three times a week and pacing yourself over 100 pitches once every five days. I expect Papelbon’s hit and walk rate to go up, and his whiff rate to go down, as a starter.

    So, if you bump up Wang, and knock down Papelbon, it’s not a reach to say that it’s Wang/Mussina/Pettitte against Matsuzaka/Schilling/Beckett this year – with those groups being pretty even. And, then, for these two teams, it’s going to come down to Igawa/Pavano (or someone else) against Papelbon/Wakefield.

    This ring a bell? It should – it’s what I said last Monday, based on feel, rather than having numbers (like BPV) as a driver.

    This is a problem for the Yankees – because the odds of Igawa/Pavano out-pitching Papelbon/Wakefield in 2007 are not good. Pavano and Wakefield is a push of sorts. It’s Igawa versus Papelbon that’s the big issue (for New York).

    The Yankees are going to need an injury to hamper Papelbon and/or for Igawa to sneak up on folks in his first couple of tours around the league. Now, this could happen – but it’s not a lock to happen. And, if it does not happen, then the Red Sox will have a better starting rotation this season than the Yankees. It’s not a huge edge, but, it’s an edge nonetheless.

    A-Rod To Make It A Gang Of Four?

    Posted by on January 27th, 2007 · Comments (11)

    Thanks to the readers of WasWatching.com and Lee Sinins, I was able to put together a list of players who joined the Yankees after having a successful playing resume elsewhere. Here’s the list (of 67 players):

    67toYanks.jpg

    The next thing I wanted to know, off this list, was “How many of these stars joined the Yankees younger than or equal to age 36 – and went on to play with the Yankees for at least 3 seasons?” Here’s the answer:

    67toYanks36and3.jpg

    So, to date, there have been 26 stars in their prime (meaning before reaching their 37th birthday) to join the Yankees – who went on to stay in New York for at least 3 seasons. The next question that came to mind here was “How many of these 26 never won a World Series ring as a member of the Yankees?” Here’s the answer to that:

    67toYanks36and3noring.jpg

    The above 15 are guys who brought their “star” to New York, stayed a good while, and either left or are still there without a ring.

    Now, let us assume that Alex Rodriguez plays with the Yankees in 2007 – because he should, at this junction. Should A-Rod leave New York after this season, and the Yankees don’t win a ring in 2007, Alex Rodriguez would then become only the 4th “star” to join the Yankees under the age of 30 who would play with the team for at least 4 seasons, and never win a World Series ring while in New York – joining Rickey Henderson, Danny Tartabull and Dave Winfield.

    Now, Rickey and Winnie are Cooperstown material – as is A-Rod. That’s fine company. However, in terms of a “Yankees-legacy,” I’m not sure being in the Rickey-Tartabull-Winfield class is what Alex had in mind when he joined New York.

    Of course, winning a ring with the Yankees would make this all moot for A-Rod.

    Edelman On Yanks Starters

    Posted by on January 27th, 2007 · Comments (9)

    Inside the Monster, Mike Edelman’s Red Sox blog, takes a look at the Yankees starting pitchers (as well as those for the Sox). Here is what he had to say on the Yanks rotation:

    Mussina:

    Mussina has been injured in each of the past 3 years and has been limited to significantly less innings than was typical of his career before age 35. His age and heavy use work loads throughout his entire career also put him at risk for injury.

    Mussina made a mechanics adjustment that he attributed to his succes in early 2006. Something was obviously different as his numbers last year were really very atypical of previous years at a similar age. His numbers began to slip as the season went on which could be an indication of the league adjusting to his new pitching style or may just be due to the wear that forced him onto the DL in the second half.

    Wang:

    Wang’s been a pretty special story so far and managed to come in second in last year’s AL Cy Young voting despite a WHIP of 1.31 and a BAA of .277. I guess you can do that though when you have a mid-90′s slider that’s seemingly impossible for hitters to drive.

    Pettitte:

    He’s been rather healthy of late having pitched 436.2 in the past two years. In the past had trouble coming off 200+ inning seasons and he will be 35 next year but there are no red flags.

    Pavano:

    Even if he is healthy both mentally and physically next year, it will be hard for him to make 150 innings given how little he’s pitched the past 2 years.

    Igawa:

    He’s struggled in the past 3 years and was sent down the minors in 2005 having allowed an ERA of 3.86 (2nd to worst among the team’s starters). He was largely criticized by Japanese fans but improved in 2006. He’s pitched out of the most extreme pitcher’s park in Japan (Koshien Stadium) his entire career. It’s the same one that made Hideki Irabu’s statistics look misleadingly good prior to his transition to the majors.

    I cannot disagree with a single word here. I think Edelman is right on the mark with these comments. As I’ve said before, the Yankees should be concerned about the back end of their rotation.

    Thank You Jeff Weaver?

    Posted by on January 27th, 2007 · Comments (1)

    From the South Bend Tribune -

    Jeff Weaver and the Seattle Mariners have just about finalized a one-year contract worth $8,325,000 — the same salary he had last year.

    Only minor details remain for the deal to be worked out, a person familiar with the negotiations said Friday, speaking on condition of anonymity because the deal had not yet been completed.

    The 30-year-old right-hander, who helped the St. Louis Cardinals win their first World Series title since 1982, probably will take a physical early next week.

    St. Louis had been hoping to re-sign Weaver, who won three games during the postseason.

    Could this mean that St. Louis might renew their interest in Carl Pavano?

    I hope Cashman makes a few calls on this before he heads off to China.

    Bronx Pen Better Than Beantown Pen?

    Posted by on January 26th, 2007 · Comments (3)

    On Monday, I suggested that the Yankees and Red Sox bullpens this year would probably add the same value to their teams this season. Since I took some heat for that comment, I decided to look deeper into the numbers.

    I decided to use Ron Shandler’s projected Base Performance Value (BPV) marks to assign some value on each member of the pens for 2007. BPV aims to reflect, in one number, some fundamental skills used to evaluate a pitcher’s performance: K/BB ratio, K/9 IP, HR/9 IP and a pitcher’s ability to prevent hits. For relief pitchers, a BPV around 75 is good stuff and anything close to 100 is great.

    Here are the numbers:

    2007BPVs.jpg

    Hideki Okajima is anyone’s guess now. I suppose, at the worst, he could match Mike Myers’ BPV projection. Maybe he could rate as high as 75 in ’07? More than likely, it will be somewhere in between.

    I was surprised to see the BPV projection for Proctor. Last year, his actual BPV was 80. This was 51 in the first-half of 2006 and 121 (!) in the second-half of the season. That projected mark of 57 may turn out to be very low.

    In any event, using the BPV projections tells me that I was wrong earlier this week. The Yankees ’07 pen has four guys with the potential to be very good and two others who should be acceptable arms. The Red Sox ’07 pen has two guys who should be acceptable and four others (being kind and including Okajima here) who might be average at best. In a nutshell, the Yankees pen has a potential ceiling that the Red Sox pen can’t even hope to touch at this point – at least on paper.

    Keith Law: Yanks Farm Rates

    Posted by on January 26th, 2007 · Comments (5)

    From ESPN.com -

    The Yankees have long had the game’s biggest payroll, but their farm system has lain fallow for several years, the result of some uninspired draft picks and trades that rid the system of the few prospects who remained. Over the last 18 months, however, the Yanks’ system has made a stunning turnaround, going from one of the five worst systems in the game to one of the 10 best.

    What sets the Yankees’ system apart from most others is the presence of two of the 10 best prospects in baseball, something no other organization can claim.

    It’s a significant improvement for such a short period of time, and it’s very bad news for the other four teams in the AL East.

    Ah, Good Rights & Sweet Dreams….

    A-Rod’s March To 500

    Posted by on January 26th, 2007 · Comments (8)

    Alex Rodriguez needs 36 more homers to reach 500 for his career. It’s very possible that milestone should be reached this season – as it’s pretty accepted to project a 40-HR season for A-Rod in 2007.

    Thinking about this leads to some questions for me.

    How should the Yankees handle career homerun # 500 for Alex should it come at the Stadium? Should they just let the fans react to it, with an announcement on the scoreboard? Or, is this cause for a stop the game, have a moment on the field thing – since there’s a good chance that A-Rod would be the youngest player to reach 500 homers?

    At this time, I think it makes more sense to just let the fans react, etc. It’s not going to help Alex’s image to stop the game and stick a microphone in front of him at that moment.

    Secondly, is the race to 500 a good thing for the Yankees in 2007? You know that Alex is going to start to press when he hits #499. Anyone who thinks different has not been watching A-Rod over the past year. If it’s a close race for the A.L. East, and it’s late in the season, do the Yankees really need Rodriguez jumping out at every pitch trying to hit his 500th homer? Won’t that just lead to more booing and more pressing?

    It will be interesting to see if these questions become a big deal for the Yankees and A-Rod this season. I think it’s more likely that they will – rather than they do not.

    The Farns For Lieber?

    Posted by on January 26th, 2007 · Comments (15)

    Via BaseballMusings.com, I noticed that The Good Phight suggests a Yankees-Phils trade:

    Lieber to the Yankees for RP Kyle Farnsworth

    Everybody admires the Yankees’ newfound willingness to go with unproven kids at the back of their rotation, but nobody really believes that Joe Torre will start the season with some combination of Kei Igawa, Jeff Karstens, and Philip Hughes in the back of his rotation. (No, I don’t see Carl Pavano having a role here; he’ll likely strain his glaven in the second week of March, and spend the next six months rehabbing.) Lieber has pitched well for Torre in the past, and with Scott Proctor and newly acquired Luis Vizcaino on hand, Farnsworth is expendable for the Yanks.

    Three weeks ago, I suggested that the Yankees should look at Lieber. And, we know that Torre doesn’t like Farnsworth’s baby-me routine

    Could this suggested trade happen? Considering the issues with the back end of the Yankees rotation, and the depth now in the Yanks pen, it at least makes sense to consider it.

    Looking For Yankees Fans Input

    Posted by on January 26th, 2007 · Comments (22)

    I’m preparing for a study and could use some input from my fellow Yankees fans.

    Which players, in your opinion, had the best career numbers prior to joining the Yankees?

    Note the stress on “prior.” This would kick out guys like Red Ruffing and, for most, Paul O’Neill.

    Here, I’m looking for the Ruths, Mizes, A-Rods, etc. – and even the Kevin Browns and Jose Cruz Sr.’s…..

    Leave your selections in the comments here, or, e-mail them to me: staff (at) waswatching (dot com). Thanks in advance!

    January 2007 Survey Question # 5

    Posted by on January 26th, 2007 · Comments (8)

    If Curt Schilling has a great season in 2007, and if he does not retire and becomes a free agent, should the Yankees look to sign him for the 2008 season?

    Update, 1/29/07: This poll is now closed. The people have spoken!

    Half of the Yankees fans who answered said they can’t stand Schilling, and don’t want him. And, overall, 78% who answered said “Just say no to Schilling.”

    Click on the thumbnail below to see the results:

    Don’t Let Pavano Fool You

    Posted by on January 26th, 2007 · Comments (9)

    From The Post -

    After spending the winter in Phoenix working out with fitness guru Brett Fischer to reinvent his oft-injured body, Pavano takes the hill today for the first time since suffering a broken rib in an auto accident last August.

    However, Pavano said, “I know there is a lot of anticipation. I am willing to talk, but the Yankees want to do a conference call next week.

    “I just want to put this [garbage] behind me and talk about performance,” said Pavano, who hasn’t pitched in a big league game since June of 2005 when a right shoulder injury that didn’t require surgery shut him down. He missed all of last season with back, elbow and rib problems. “I am sure you are tired of asking about car accidents and broken ribs.”

    It’s interesting that this story is running today – because just last night I started to write something about Pavano here, and, I canned it because I did not want it to seem like I was trying to make news (by bringing up Pavano) on a day when there was no need to talk about a particular player. (Boy, I wish now that I saved it as a draft instead of just deleting it.)

    The upshot of what I started to write last night was around what was a reasonable expectation for a season’s innings pitched total from Pavano – based on his big league career to date.

    Getting more than 137 big league IP from Carl Pavano in a season is a rare thing. Sure, he posted 200+ IP in 2003 and 2004. However, it’s a much safer bet to expect less than 140 IP (in a season) from the Duke of the D.L, the Rajah of Rehab, the Prince of the Paycheck-Cashers, or whatever you want to call him.

    Based on what we’ve seen from Pavano, I would say there’s a 80% probability that he fails to make more than 20 starts in 2007 – even if he’s doing fine now and looks O.K. in the spring. (He’s only had 20+ starts in a season 4 times in his 9 year career.)

    The Yankees should not allow themselves to get any false hope around Pavano. This is a “Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me” situation. Don’t be fooled Cash, this one, for sure, will be on you.

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