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…. Big deal

The Yankees make a move that maybe the Giants should have, or sho

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uld I say, the Mariners make a move that maybe the Giants should have, trading an up and coming young pitcher for a hitter I believe has the chance to be an MVP candidate for the next ten years.

…. After trying forever to talk the Mariners into trading Felix Hernandez, (Brian) Cashman instead convinced them to give up Michael Pineda, the 6-foot-7, 98-mph throwing righthander with seemingly unlimited potential, for Jesus Montero.

Watching Montero explode onto the scene last season, it sure seems like a big risk. Pineda faded badly down the stretch last season, after making the All Star game. So far, all the buzz is that Cashman had to make this deal, and he’s getting kudos for doing so. It’s a bigger gamble than that. Montero is as close to sure thing as you’re gonna see. Is Pineda?

UPDATE: SI’s Cliff Corcoran delves deeper into the trade, and thinks it was a real steal for the Yanks:

…. The impact of the Pineda/Montero swap will extend far beyond the coming season, however. The Yankees will have control of Pineda, who will turn 23 on Wednesday, for the next five seasons, while the Mariners will own Montero’s rights for the next six,

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and these are two of the top young players in the game. Pineda, who was an All-Star as a rookie, is a solid 6-foot-7 stud with mid-90s heat that can spike up to 98 miles per hour and a devastating slider. Both of those pitches are legitimate major league out-pitches, and scouts believe that if he can improve his changeup he could be one of the few legitimate aces in the game. As a rookie last year, he was second in the AL in strikeouts per nine inning at 9.1, besting MVP Justin Verlander in that category, ranked eighth in WHIP at 1.10, and was 14th in strikeout-to-walk ratio with a solid 3.15 ratio. Those peripherals speak louder than his 3.74 ERA and 9-10 record for the lowest-scoring team in baseball.

Well, OK. I still think Montero is gonna solve his position problem, end up a decent first baseman, and win an MVP somewhere down the line.



Talk talk

David Pinto, my blogfather, and one of the pre-eminent baseball writers, posed a couple of interesting questions as baseball approaches the new labor agreement:

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…. What I’d like to explore this year is, now that the two sides seem to be cooperating, what can they do to make the game better. If a group were to sit down and design a league from scratch, how would you do it?

Teams are competitors, but they are also partners. The labor pool (players) is small and revenues big, so how do you justly compensate players and owners?

Should development of talent be independent of the major league, or should teams develop their own players?

What’s the the optimum number of teams in a divisions, and how much should leagues and divisions interact?

I'm gonna take a quick shot at just one

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of these. The question of revenue sharing is perhaps the most compelling issue the leagues can consider. The Yankees are in a league by themselves when it comes to revenue. Yes, there are some other teams that have very impressive levels of income, but the Yankees are just so far ahead that it seems like there has to come a point when the issue just has to be confronted. For instance, they just signed Rafeal Soriano to a contract (three years, $35 million) that makes him a top-ten paid reliever, coming off a season in which he had something like 46 saves. In addition to what they are paying him, he also will cost the team something like $17 million over the next three years in revenue sharing and luxury taxes. They did this so he could be a set-up man for Mariano, who also will make something like $15 million per season. There is no question that the Yankees are the only team that could do something like this.

Several years ago Bill James posited that the one way the teams in baseball could make a significant impact into the Yankees massive advantage would be to force the Yankees to share the revenue for every home game equally. In other words, if the Yankees play a game in Kansas City, the amount of money the Royals gain is probably something like 15 or 20% of what the Yankees earn when the teams play in NY. If the teams split the local revenue equally, it would go a long way towards balancing out the revenue discrepancy. I'm paraphrasing, and I'll look up the piece (I think it's in the Historical Baseball Abstract), and give you a more complete version, but the idea is that the Yankees have a huge advantage in local revenue, but it doesn't have to be that way. As it stands, they keep a huge percentage of the money generated in these home games, (just like every team); but since the Yankees local revenue stream is so massive, they could play all of their road games for free and still generate twice as much as any other team.

James' point is that the other teams in the league have the power to say, you don't have a game if we're not there. We are half of the attraction. Share the local revenue equally.

Think about it. Am I missing something?

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…. Pain in the ass

I’ll tell you what’s been a real pain…. The constant changing of the game times. Seems like every time I plan to watch one of the Giants playoff games, the time is different than what I read the day before. It’s worse than the weather reports I’ve been using to schedule my work.

I’ve turned on the game at least twice and found myself in the third inning. Never with the Yankees, of course. ;-)



…. Knowledge is power

Bill James is still the best. He has a new article up on his site (It’s a pay site, $3 bucks a month, and you should be going there), it’s not about baseball, per se, it’s sort of about himself, and his relationship to statistics. In fact, it’s the text of a speech he made to a group of statisticians. In the piece, he writes something that should be mailed to Brian Sabean:

…. Baseball teams play 162 games a year. I just realized last week that, sometime in the last 20 years, baseball experts have fallen into the habit of saying that a baseball team has about 50 games a year that you are just going to lose no matter what, 50 games a year that you’re going to win, and it is the other 62 games that determine what kind of season you’re going to have. This is not ancient knowledge; this is a fairly new one. A more inane analysis would be difficult to conceive of. First of all, baseball teams do not play one hundred non-competitive games a year, or anything remotely like that. Baseball teams play about forty non-competitive games in a season, more or less; I would be surprised if any team in the history of major league baseball ever had a hundred games in the season that were just wins or losses, and which the losing team never had a chance to win after the fourth or fifth inning. The outcome of most baseball games could be reversed by changing a very small number of events within the game.

But setting that aside, this relatively new cliché assumes that it is the outcome of the most competitive games that decides whether a team has a great season or a poor season. In reality, the opposite is true. The more competitive a game is, the more likely it is that the game will be won by the weaker team. If the Royals play the Yankees and the score of the game is 12 to 1, it is extremely likely that the Yankees won. If the score is 4 to 3, it’s pretty much a tossup. The reasons why this is true will be intuitively obvious to those of you who work with statistics for a living. It is the non-competitive games—the blowouts—that play the largest role in determining what kind of season a team has. Misinformation about baseball continues to propagate, and will continue to propagate forever more, without regard to the fact that there is now a community of researchers that studies these things.

In reference to the Giants, this Giants team, the pitching-dependent, offensively challenged team we’ve been ranting and raving about for the last two and a half seasons, these paragraphs explain what we’ve been experiencing. It’s like a light in a dark closet.

Of course we’re frustrated, being in nail-biters game after game, week after week. It’s because we can sense that something’s not right. There’s something about a team that wins by being perfect that fails to inspire confidence. Of course it doesn’t. As James explains so clearly, it shouldn’t. Winning teams dominate. Winning teams consistently win big. Winning teams are not built upon winning one-run games. Winning teams don’t win because they always win the close ones. They win because they blow teams out. Close games are far too often decided by one single mistake, on missed play, one error, one walk, just like Monday’s game. Teams dancing along that fine line are simply far too dependent upon luck to win enough of the time to be a real contender. And we can see that, even though the Giants are winning right now, they are not really a contending team.

“The more competitive a game is, the more likely it is that the game will be won by the weaker team.”

Great teams blow you out, and it’s the games in which they don’t that you have a chance against them. The Giants are not a great team. They have great pitching. They are one dimensional. They rely on making your offense look as bad on this day as theirs is regularly. That is no way to win a championship. It simply isn’t. You cannot bet on being able to hold down a great offensive team game after game after game. Eventually, a great offense is gonna get you, and if that great offense has some pitching, well, then you’re in real trouble.

Look at these eight games with the Padres. These two teams are exactly the same. So you get eight games of one-run baseball, each team doing everything it can to prevent the other team from running away with the game, tons of bunts, lots of runners left in scoring position. Eight games of let’s see who blinks first. Each team is playing the same way, so, on the surface, the games seem exciting.

But, in fact, they are anything but. They are frustrating. They are exasperating. They are, to me, anyway. Going back and forth between the Giants/Padres and the Yankees/Red Sox games is illuminating. Those Yankee games are exciting. Those games feature game-winning home runs, (something so rare as to have become pretty much a once a year event in San Francisco) and when a pitcher strikes out a guy with men on base, it’s an actual accomplishment. When you watch the Giants bat with men on, the exact opposite is true, it’s an accomplishment when the Giants get the runner home.

Don’t be fooled. Look closely at what’s happening with this team. They are gonna tease you all season long, but, in the end, it will take a miracle for them to make the playoffs. They simply do not have enough hitting to get it done, no matter how many shutouts they throw.

UPDATE: Really!?! 32 total bases, 6 home runs, and 8 walks allowed? Wow.



…. Front-page

Grant over at McCovey Chronicles wrote a simply outstanding article about the McGwire situation, and the whole steroids and baseball issue, and comes away with a doozy of a piece:

…. This isn’t to imply that it was just fine that a large percentage of the players were using. It’s not something that’s inconsequential, and it isn’t something that can be laughed off because a lot of players were using. But, good gravy, please stop the good vs. evil, hobbits vs. orcs, black and white discussion. Stop the false dichotomy of players from THE STEROID ERA vs. the OLD-TIMERS who did things the right way and who, if offered a way to extend their careers and improve their numbers with some chemicals, would have said “No way! I’m an old-timer who does things the right way!” I’m not sure if Rod Carew, Robin Yount, or Paul Molitor would have used steroids if they played in an era saturated in chemical enhancements, but the odds are that one of them would have. I say we kick them all out using the “Fallibility of Man” clause, just to be sure.

So when I hear or read that McGwire shouldn’t get in the Hall of Fame because he didn’t apologize the right way, it makes me stabby. Apologize to whom? To me? I had an idea he was using at the time, and I didn’t really care.

Makes me stabby? Nice. Very nice.

Go over there, and read the whole thing.



…. Yankees win!!!!

History made tonight. Matsui becomes the first Japanese-born player to win a World Series MVP, and a World Series, period.

Congratulations to the Yankees.

UPDATE: As I said yesterday, today’s game was all about Pettitte commanding the strike zone, and even though he walked five tonight, in the actual game situations, he was putting the ball exactly where he wanted to. Joe West was a bit inconsistent with his ball and strike calls, but Pettite refused to give in, and, in the end, with the early three-run lead, he was able to make sure that the pitches the Phillies swung at, the pitches that the Phillies hit, were the pitches he wanted them to swing at, the pitches he wanted them to hit. The pitches he wanted to them to hit, were thrown to the hitters he wanted to allow to have a chance to hit. All in all, the difference in the game was that Andy Pettitte commanded the strike zone, and by doing so, he won his 18th postseason game.

By the way, any talk about the Hall of Fame for Andy Pettitte (229-135 regular season record) must now consider the 40 postseason starts ( a whole extra seasons worth of work), and the 18-9 postseason record –which would raise his overall record to 257-144– was compiled at the highest, most demanding, pressure-filled level. Andy Pettitte has now won 5 postseason series clinching games. He’s now won 3 World Series clinching games. To suggest that he is the same pitcher as Jack Morris, as I read several times this week, is absurd. He’s had more than three times as many postseason wins as Morris, and he’s now won five –FIVE– World Series Championships.

Andy Pettitte did, in fact, command the strike zone, and, as I predicted, the Yankees did get to Pedro Martinez; and, as I predicted, if a Yankee hitter had an otherwordly game, he would steal the MVP from Mariano Rivera; and, as I predicted, if those things happened, the Yankees would be World Champions. And, they are.



…. Tasteless

Just the penultimate moment of the World Series, and Fox immediately cuts to a commercial instead of staying with the Sandman moment as Mariano comes in. Disgraceful.



…. Game Six

Just writing that gives me bad mojo…..

Apparently, Girardi doesn’t want to swap A-Rod and Texeira in the lineup, not one article or report has mentioned the possibility. The NY Daily News says that Tex has been taking extra batting practice. It was also noted that most of the switch hitters in the Series are doing poorly, suggesting that the long delays between games, as well as the constant switching back and forth may be making it hard for the switchies to get in a rhythm. Makes sense to me.

So, starting with that, Girardi ought to switch the two hitters, to ensure that A-Rod gets as many at-bats as possible. I noticed it Monday night in the first inning, when Texeira failed to even advance Damon, let alone get a hit. I thought that the situation would arise later in the game when an inning would be extended or ended in Texeira’s hands. I didn’t think it would be the ninth, as the tying run, but it was, and Texeira looked terrible in failing to get the game into A-Rod’s hands. The time has come to make the change.

As for Pettitte going tonight, well, that decision was made when the Yankees went with Sabathia in Game Four. Once you do that, there’s no going back. They messed with Chamberlain until he completely lost command of his pitches, they have no trust whatsoever in Gaudin, and there’s nobody else. I think the Yanks get to Martinez tonight, but the game is in Pettitte’s hands. If he can’t keep the Phillies at bay, we’re gonna see a Game Seven.

The first two innings will be key. If Pettitte cannot command the strike zone, the Yankees are in trouble, because, other than the three starters and Rivera, there’s no one Girardi trusts anymore.



…. Bad game

….for the Yankees.

Bad game for AJ Burnett. Didn’t anyone on the Yankees think the Phillies would swing earlier in the count, after Burnett went 22 for 25 first pitch strikes?

Bad game for Girardi. What the hell was he doing having Texeira in the third spot batting .063? Why didn’t he pinch run for Matsui in the ninth?

Bad game for the relievers. How many home runs can these guys give up?

Terrible postseason for Texeira. Easily the goat if the Yankees don’t close these guys out. Easily.

Well, except for Robinson Cano, who looks so lost at the plate, he might as well be playing for the Giants.

Great game/series/postseason for Alex Rodriguez. Need I say more?

Great game for Johnny Damon. Moving into series MVP conversation.

GREAT game for Chase Utley. Does he do anything other than hit the ball hard and far?

Back to the Bronx.



…. Twenty-seven

The Yankees are 27 outs away from their 27th World Series championship. They’ll send AJ Burnett tonight to face Cliff Lee, who has dominated like few in history this post season. Odds are likely the series heads back to the Bronx for at least one more game, but should it end tonight, it seems like a tough choice for MVP. It seems like Damon has been involved in a lot of the scoring in Philadelphia, (but in reality, he’s been hot the last game and a half) Derek Jeter has the best batting average and the most hits in the Series, and A-Rod has made the most of his two safeties.

I think it’s gonna end up being Rivera. There’s no chance Burnett goes the distance, so without question, if the Yankees win tonight, Rivera will be getting the last three outs. If that happens, he’ll have three saves, allowed no runs, and basically saved the season with his two inning save in Game 2. Unless one of the two superstars singlehandedly wins the game, it’s gonna be the Sandman.

UPDATE: So much for that. It looks like Cliff Lee could be the MVP, whether the Phillies come all the way back or not. As for the Yankees, this is the first game of the postseason that they had a starter get knocked out early.



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All commentary is the opinion of John J Perricone unless otherwise noted.
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