Checking in on other blogs: Spring Training, Top 30…

"Despite nonstop blabbering about Joba's weight gain, reports * are that he is throwing the ball better than he did last year." (Reuters)

With Spring Training starting up along with the 2011 baseball season, it is time to check up on some other Yankee blogs.

  • William J. of the newly formed The Yankee Analysts (a merge of the great TYU and Yankeeist) penned a great piece about the history of Yankees Spring Training, dating back 110 years. It’s definitely an interesting read, as it is quite informative. I for one never would have guessed that at some point the Yankees trained in Alabama. Check the post out for more.
  • In case you missed it, Mike Axisa of RAB came out with his annual top 30 prospects list, always worth the read.
  • Earlier this month, Tom of Friday Nite Yanks posted a poll about who most people expected to play in the Bronx in 2011. It doesn’t surprise me that Freddy Garcia won the poll out of the other candidates.
  • Frankie Piliere came out with his list of baseball’s top 100 prospects about a week ago. Five Yankees made the list, check it out to see who and where on the list they fell.

* Joba story.

The Aftermath of the Soriano Signing

In the case that you have yet to hear the news, the Yankees have agreed to a deal with free agent reliever Rafael Soriano worth $35M over the course of three years. The deal includes opt out options for Soriano after each year of the deal, but that doesn’t really benefit the Yankees in any way. Obviously Soriano will improve the 2011 team, however, his deal could significantly hamper the Yankees in 2012 and 2013. I’m not a fan of this deal because of the inflexibility it brings to the roster and the payroll, but there is something that I feel would make it better deal.

"Joba's talent is wasted in the bullpen." (Getty Images via Daylife)

 

The signing of Soriano obviously affects Joba Chamberlain. With Mariano Rivera and Rafael Soriano manning the ninth and eight inning, Joba is left as either a seventh or sixth inning pitcher, depending on David Robertson. The only thing more wasteful for Joba than putting him in the bullpen is to have in such an unimportant role. It is time for the Yankees to do something with Chamberlain. I advocate that the Yankees either trade Joba or give him a shot at the rotation which sorely needs help, preferably the latter. Let’s all remember, Joba is only 25 years old, with plenty of room to develop into a great starter. But even if you believe Joba has reached his ceiling, there is no denying that he is better than Sergio Mitre. The Yankees have been looking for starters all offseason because they aren’t comfortable with both Ivan Nova and Sergio Mitre being in the prospective rotation, but they have had a viable starter right in their hands their whole time in Joba, and now with the Soriano signing, it is time to move Joba to the rotation.

Cashman against Soriano signing?

Just a few days prior to the signing of Rafael Soriano, Brian Cashman specifically said he would not give up the Yankees 31st pick in the 2011 draft to sign anyone. However, in signing Soriano, the Yankees did just that. So did Cashman have a change of heart? Well, according to Buster Olney the signing was “ownership-driven.” Peter Gammons takes this further and says that team president Randy Levine was directly responsible for the Soriano deal. What does this all mean? Well, if ownership did really go over Cashman’s head, then it is an ominous sign. Remember, Brian Cashman did not take full control of the team until 2005, and it is clear that prior to that, when the ownership was running the team, many unwise moves were made and the farm system was ignored. Then again in 2007, ownership led by Hank Steinbrenner went over Cashman’s head and signed Alex Rodriguez the monstrous ten-year deal he is currently serving. Hopefully, this doesn’t start becoming a patter, because if it does I fear what could happen to the Yankees.

The Yankees’ Late Season Skid

"The Yankees have been going through a frustrating stretch of games lately, but the team needs to pick its collective heads up and start playing better baseball soon." Photo Credit: Getty Images via Yahoo Sports

It’s hard not to notice that the Yankees have not been winning a lot of ballgames lately. The Yankees went 16-13 in the month of August, and so far have gone 10-12 in September. So since August 1st, the Yankees have gone 26-25, just one game above .500. Fortunately, it seems that they are all  but a lock for a playoff spot, whether it be by means of winning the division or by winning the wild card. Still, the Yankees don’t appear to be in great shape. Still, is there reason to worry?

I can certainly understand if you are a concerned Yankee fan, and I too am concerned, but I’m just not sure how concerned we should be. We have to keep in mind that for majority of the time the Yankees have gone 26-25, Joe Girardi has not been using the “A” team. It seems like Chad Gaudin has been called upon to come into a big spot countless times lately, and that probably will not happen in the playoffs. On the flip side, Girardi has heavily rested his better relievers like Joba Chamberlain and David Robertson, most likely in preparation for the postseason. Turning the attention away from the bullpen, the position player regulars have not been used as often as usual lately. The bottom line is, Girardi has not been throwing out the “A” team very much lately, and I’m okay with that in this case, but it means the team has not won as many games as it most likely would have under normal circumstances. Fortunately, once the playoffs begin, we should be seeing the “A” team every game, and if we don’t, there is something wrong with the head of the Yankees’ skipper.

While I do not think the Yankees recent struggles is as big a deal as it has been made out to be, I certainly don’t think it is a non-concern. It would inspire a lot of confidence if the Yankees finished up the season strong heading into the postseason.

“Hopefully Mr. Harrison is right, the sun will come up tomorrow.”

Rediscovering Joba

This season, we all know the Yankee bullpen has not been that great. Yankee relievers have been very inconsistent and unreliable this year (aside from Mariano Rivera), but they’ve been covered up by outstanding starting pitching. Perhaps the biggest disappointment of the Yankee bullpen has been 24-year-old Joba Chamberlain. At quick glance, Joba Chamberlain has been awful this season. We as fans watch his outings which end in bad results and then look at his ERA which has now risen to 5.95 and we conclude that he has been awful this year. While that may very well be the case, let’s analyze Joba a bit more. Before I say anything let’s take a look at some statistics and compare Joba’s seasons.

Taken from Fangraphs (Click to see larger)

As you can see, Joba’s FIP (Fielding Independent Pitching) has generally been similar to his ERA throughout his career, except for 2010 when his ERA has been 5.95 but his FIP has been 3.01. This could be indicative of bad luck, but let’s not assume that yet. When we look at Joba’s BABIP (Batting Average on Balls in play) we see that it has generally been about .320-.330 throughout his career, but this season it has jumped to .399. This could indicate that Joba is getting unlucky breaks in the form of bloop singles, seeing-eye grounders, etc… However, it could also mean that batters are just making much better contact against Joba this year. I’d say it’s a bit of both. Joba’s GB%, LD%, and FB% are pretty much in line with his career averages, so I don’t think that is a concern. Let’s take a look at pitch types.

Taken from Fangraphs (click to see larger)

The first thing that jumps out at me here is how worthless Joba’s fastball has been this season and last season. In 2007, the year Chamberlain stole Yankee fans’ hearts, his fastball was worth 3.2 runs above average. Then in 2008, it jumped to being worth 8.2 runs above average. In 2009, however, Joba’s fastball’s value fell of a cliff. Joba’s fastball in 2009 was worth -20.2 runs above average (or you could say 20.2 runs below average). That is awful. In 2010, Joba has regained some value on his fastball, but it still below average at -2.4. For someone who has averaged a velocity of 94.4 mph on his fastball this year, -2.4 runs above average is not very good at all. I would imagine that the reason behinds Joba’s sub-par fastball is that he isn’t necessarily throwing it for balls, but he is missing within the strike zone. The drop in runs above average in Joba’s slider this year is also noteworthy.

So what should the Yankees do with Joba?

The Yankees could leave Joba in the role his is in now and hope some luck goes his way the rest of the year, they could demote him within the bullpen, or they could send him to AAA. I vote for sending Joba to AAA where he can straighten himself out in a no pressure zone and regain his confidence by blowing away measly AAA hitters. However, if the Yankees want to send Joba to AAA, they will have to act fast. Joba made his major league debut 3 years ago on August 7th, and if the Yankees don’t send him down before August 7th this year, he would have to pass through waivers in order to be sent down. Despite Joba’s struggles this year the first team which would get a shot to claim Joba would do so in a heartbeat. So if Joba is going to be sent down, it will happen soon. What do you think the Yankees should do with Joba?

Yankees lose out on Haren

"Dan Haren will not be wearing pinstripes anytime soon." Photo Credit: Getty Images via Yahoo Sports

Update 7/25/10

The Angels have just acquired Dan Haren in exchange for Joe Saunders and other prospects. I know nothing about the prospects so I can’t say for sure but it sounds like the D’backs were the losers in this trade.

Just two weeks ago the Yankees were in heavy talks with the Mariners regarding Cliff Lee. In fact, it seemed that the Yankees were just about ready to fit Lee into a Yankee uniform, however, it never came to be. The Mariners pulled out at the last-minute and traded Cliff Lee to the Texas Rangers. Now, with the Cliff Lee non-trade in the rearview mirror, the Yankees appear to be in serious discussions with the Arizona Diamondbacks for Dan Haren. Last night the news broke that the Yankees were rumored to be the front-runners in the Haren sweepstakes, and while things have quieted down, there is a good chance that the Yankees still are in the lead for Haren.

In return for Haren, the Diamondbacks are rumored to want pitching, pitching, and more pitching. I think it’s safe to say that Jesus Montero will not be a part of any possible trade for Haren, but last night we did get an idea of who the Yankees might send to Arizona. Last night, Frankie Piliere reported that Ivan Nova could very well be the centerpiece of the trade and that Joba Chamberlain could also be in the deal. However, this morning Bob Klapisch tweeted that the Yankees are not willing to include Joba in a potential trade for Haren and Jon Heyman said the same and added that the Yankees are willing to include Ivan Nova, Zach McAllister, and two other prospects. Heyman also said that the Yankees are willing to take on all of Haren’s contract but they have no interest in taking on anyone else from Arizona. Stay tuned for more updates.

If the Yankees can acquire Dan Haren for Ivan Nova, Zach McAllister, and two lesser prospects I would surely be in approval of the trade, but if the Diamondbacks demand that Joba be included in the trade, that’s when I get a bit uneasy. If the Yankees trade Joba they would be selling very low on him, which is usually not a good idea. Joba has run into a lot of back luck this season (I have a post planned about this and it should be up in the upcoming days) and is bound to see his numbers improve next season if not this season. However, Dan Haren has also experienced bad luck this season and the Diamondbacks would be selling low on him too. Still, Dan Haren doesn’t project to be a big part of the Diamondbacks’ future while Joba could very well play a key role in the Yankees future if they make him a starter. I really don’t know where I would stand on a trade for Haren which includes Joba.

A-Rod leads Yankees to 8-4 Victory

After losing four out of their last five games, The Yankees defeated The Minnesota Twins tonight with the help of Alex Rodriguez. Let’s break it down…

Pitching

Allan James Burnett started tonight for the Yankees and he went 6.2 innings while only allowing 3 runs (2 earned). He wasn’t great as he walked 4 batters and only struck out 4 batters, but he held the damage to a minimum. Damaso Marte followed Burnett with two outs in the 7th inning, and with the Yankees leading 3-2 Marte gave up an RBI single to Joe Mauer and an RBI double to Justin Morneau. Marte did manage to escape the 7th inning, however. Joba Chamberlain came in to pitch the eight with the Yankees leading 7-4 and he struck out the side. PitchFX clocked Joba’s fastball in at an average of 95 MPH tonight with the high at 96, for those of you wondering. Chamberlain was awarded the winning pitcher for his effort. In the ninth, some guy named Mariano Rivera pitched a 1-2-3 inning and that was the end of the story.

Hitting

The Yankees offense had been kind of stagnant lately, but it seemed to awaken tonight. In the bottom of the 4th, with the Yankees down 1-0, Brett Gardner hit a solo home run. Later in the inning Robinson Cano doubled to score Mark Teixeira. In the bottom of the fifth Mark Teixeira doubled to score Brett Gardner. Then the big blow came in the bottom of the seventh when Alex Rodriguez came up to the plate with the bases loaded and The Twins leading 4-3. On the second pitch of the at bat Matt Guerrier gave Alex a pitch to hit and A-Rod took advantage of it depositing it into left field for a grand slam. The Yankees then led 7-4 and would never look back, but Francisco Cervelli tripled in the eight to score Juan Miranda just for fun.

Here's one of those cool Win Probability graphs for you.

Swisher ailing

Nick Swisher left today’s game with a strain in his left biceps which has been bothering him lately. fortunately, according to Chad Jennings the MRI came back negative.

New Look

So, as you can see 161st Street looks a little different, haha! This design obviously isn’t set in stone, I just didn’t feel like working on it anymore today, so please any suggestions to make it better would be great. By the way, I’ve noticed that depending on the size of your computer screen you may or may not see the full background image. Larger screens will display the blue background with pinstripes running down it, smaller screens will only display the blue background (because the pinstripes are cut off). Either way, let me know what you think about it.