Archive for the 'NY Yankees' Category
The Yankees make a move that maybe the Giants should have, or sho
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,
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.
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:
…. 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
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?
I’m sorry, but I just can’t help myself.
Eric, one of my backtalkers, pretty much sums up the common thread in all of the internet-wide negativity surrounding Jeter’s negotiations:
“I don’t know that he deserves anything. He has given a lot to the Yankees, yes, but he has received a lot, too. How many other players have had the chance he has? Playing for the Yankees, especially in the last 15-20 years in an era of unprecedented revenue (allowing the Yankees to REALLY shoot off the charts with their payroll) has helped Jeter become the player he is/was. “
My question is this, how can Eric –and pretty much everyone else that is thinking along these lines– miss the single most salient point in this debate by so much?
The reason the Yankees’ revenue has gone up so much in the last 15 years is because they became a dynasty. It is because they won 4 World Series in 5 years (and just missed 4 in a row), and have made the postseason fourteen of the last fifteen seasons, and Derek Jeter is one of the main reasons that has happened. Not to pick on you, Eric, but, did you even read what I wrote? Do you, or for that matter, anybody, have any sense of history whatsoever?
Prior to Jeter’s arrival, the Yankees had won nothing for almost 20 years. NOTHING.
NOTHING! NOTHING! NOTHING! NOTHING!!!!!!
How can you even discuss this, if you have no apparent knowledge about the history of what has happened, unless you’ve already decided that you know everything there is to know about the issue? The Yankees in 1995, went to the postseason for the first time in Don Mattingly’s career. His last season. Prior to that, the Yankees hadn’t made the playoffs since 1981. The only reason people wanted to be a Yankee was for the cash General von Steingrabber was doling out, and even then, the lure of big bucks wasn’t always enough. There was no cache, no pizzaz. The “Aura” of the Yankees was a memory. No ballplayers talked about how much they wished for “the chance to play for the Yankees.” In 1992, Greg Maddux turned the Yankees down when Steinbrenner tried to sign him as a free agent. The “Boss” offered more money than Atlanta, and Maddux said no thanks. Forget about how ballplayers didn’t want to come to the Yankees, neither did the fans. No fans poured into Yankee Stadium to watch the greatest team the game had seen in the last 50 years, because that team didn’t exist!
The Yankees drew 1.7 million fans in 1995, good for 7th out of the fourteen teams in the league. SEVENTH!!!!! They were 7th again in 1996, 5th in 1997. In 1998, when the Yankees went 125-50 throughout the regular season and the playoffs, making a case for being the greatest baseball team in history, they were still only 3rd in the league in attendance. (By the way, you know who was the best player on that team, arguably the best team of all-time? Derek Jeter, with 7.8 WAR) They were 3rd again in 1999, and then again in 2000, as they were winning their third consecutive World Series. It wasn’t until 2003 that the Yankees led the league in attendance, after they had been in the World Series for the 6th time in 8 years.
Over the course of that eight year run, during the regular season, Derek Jeter led the Yankees in almost every meaningful, measurable statistic: hits, times on base, at-bats, plate appearances, runs scored, doubles, games played. He was a Rookie of the Year, an All Star every season. He played in 1,197 of a possible 1,296 games. In the postseason, he was simply a sensation. A quick look at what he did during those first eight years is illuminating.
In ’96, he hit .360. In ’97, he hit .333. 1998 saw him post just a .235 batting average overall, but he hit .353 in the Serious. In 1999, he was on fire, batting .375 to carry the team. In 2000, he posted a .317 batting average. In 2001, after going 8 for 18 while leading the Yankees back from an 0-2 deficit against the A’s, he hurt himself diving into the stands in Game Five and managed just 6 hits the rest of the playoffs. It should be noted that his injury certainly contributed to the Yankees falling to the D’backs and derailing their chances of winning their fourth title in a row. In 2002, against the eventual champions, the Anaheim Angels, Jeter did all he could, going 8 for 16 in the four game loss, with 2 home runs and 6 runs scored. And in 2003, when the Yankees went to the Series again, Jeter batted .314 for the playoffs, and .356 in the World Series. Today he is the all-time leader in virtually every significant statistic. He’s even third all-time in postseason home runs, with 20. Sure, he’s played in a lot of playoff games. He’s one of the reasons why.
And don’t give me that Core Four bullshit. Pettitte left. And, sure, Mariano Rivera is the best closer ever, but he’s responsible for something like 200-250 batters a season. Posada’s been the number one catcher for a while, but let’s not forget, Girardi was the number one catcher in 1996 and 1997, and in 1998 and 1999, he was still getting 75-odd games behind the dish. That’s three of the first four titles. During these fifteen years, the Yankees have had a parade of players at virtually every postion but short, many of them players who were paid more money than Jeter at the time. No matter how you slice it, it’s been Jeter who has been the one constant.
Nothing had changed in the world of the Yankees over the last fifteen years, other than all the winning. Steinbrenner was still going out and signing the best free agents available, as he had been since he took over the team in the 70′s. He was still giving those players –players who hadn’t contributed to any Yankee tradition, championships, or anything– huge sums of money, almost always more than anyone else was offering. Jason Giambi, Mike Mussina, hell, people forget that Tino Martinez was a free agent they brought in to replace Mattingly. Roger Clemens, David Cone, anyone remember Chuck Knoblauch? When they signed Knoblauch after the 1997 season (his fourth All Star season in the previous six), they gave him a four year deal worth $6 million per. You know how much Jeter made in 1998? $750,000. Even Darryl Strawberry ($825,000) made more than Jeter in 1998. Virtually every player on the team did. Practically every everyday player in baseball did. Derek Jeter’s 7.8 WAR was second to A-Rod’s 7.9 in the American League that season. A-Rod made $2.6 million, even though he played for Seattle. That’s a terrific illustration of how much things have changed. The Seattle Mariners were paying their All Star shortstop three times as much as the Yankees were paying theirs.
Over the last 15 years, Derek Jeter has been the Yankee shortstop day after day, at the plate 600 times a season, gets 190-plus hits like clockwork, and has been a team leader of the highest order. He is the face of the franchise, and the franchise’s outrageous financial success is intrinsically tied to what the team has done on the field, which is tied to the one player who has been there the whole time, a decade and a half that has changed the fortunes of the Steinbrenner family, and the Yankee franchise, forever.
The Yankees gave 37-year old Kevin Brown $32 million dollars for 200 innings of 5-plus ERA. Don’t tell me how they can’t overpay Derek Jeter, that this is a business decision, that his worth is set by the market. That is utter nonsense.
If the Yankees can throw $90 million dollars combined on the ground for Carl Pavano and Kei Ishigawa; they can absolutely, without question, and without reservation, give Derek Jeter the same amount of money for his last four years with the team. He is different. He is not just any player, and the Yankees are wrong to pretend like he is.
Wow, I am stunned by the negative reaction. I know that many people feel Jeter is over-rated and all that, but to hear that he’s not a leader, already over-paid, in obvious decline, etc.. Stunning. I’ve always thought that his leadership qualities were overblown, sure. I mean, it was clear to me that when the Yankees landed A-Rod, A-Rod probably should have taken over short, and Jeter should’ve slid to center-field, like Yount did for Milwaukee about a thousand years ago. In terms of what’s best for the team, that move was a no-brainer, A-Rod was clearly the better player, the Yankees at the time needed a center-fielder, and Jeter had always shown excellent instincts on fly ball. Of course, only Jeter could’ve have stopped it, and when he did, he dropped down a notch in my estimation.
That said, he is one of the constants during this historic run of dominance by the Yankees. This is a fact, and it is not in dispute. What is in dispute is what he is going to be paid for the next four years or so. The fact that the Phillies gave Jimmy Rollins a lesser deal, or gave Chase Utley, who is younger and a better hitter, the same deal as the Yankees are offering Jeter doesn’t matter at all. What other team are paying their players has no bearing on this at all. When the market said CC Sabathia was worth $100 million, the Yankees gave him $161 million. The Yankees pay more. They pay more, because they make more.
If you are the top software programmer for Bob’s software company, you’re gonna make a lot less than if you are the top software programmer for Apple. I would’ve thought this is common knowledge, but apparently, it isn’t. If a player comes to the Yankees and helps lead them to the playoffs and beyond, he is making an impact on the Yankees bottom line, and the Yankees bottom line is bigger, much bigger, than just about any other team’s. He is adding value to the franchise. Jeter has added massive value to the franchise over the 15 years he’s been there. You don’t compare his salary to what a player in San Francisco or Philadelphia makes, because there is no comparison.
And one of the main reasons that that is the case just happens to be the current dynastic run that Derek Jeter is an irreplaceable part of. Obviously, people don’t remember, but back in 1996, the Yankees hadn’t won anything in almost 20 years. Don Mattingly played his entire career as a Yankee, and only made the playoffs in the last year. And, Steinbrenner was considered a joke, a buffoon. Lupica called him General von Steingrabber, and he was –rightfully– regularly pilloried in the NY Daily News, the NY Post, and even Sports Illustrated for his antics. Remember Billy Martin? Steinbrenner hired him 5 times. 5 times! He fired Yogi Berra 16 games into the season, a move that prompted Berra to boycott the Yankees for some 15 years. Steinbrenner was a gas bag, a joke, widely ridiculed around the league.
Now, they’re talking about whether Steinbrenner will get in the Hall of Fame within a year of his death. The Yankees were rich, and they spent more than anybody, but they weren’t rich like this. They weren’t a team the rest of the league worried about at all, because they never won anything, even though they spent and spent and spent. During Jeter’s time with the team, they’ve made the playoffs fourteen of the last fifteen years, been to the World Series seven times, and won five championships. The Yankees have represented the American League in almost half of the World Series that have been played while Jeter has been on the team. Read that sentence twice. I mean, how can that be overstated? What team wouldn’t give $100 million dollars right now to have that sentence be written about their team instead of the Yankees? What team’s fans wouldn’t trade the last fifteen years of their franchise with the Yankees?
In the fifteen years prior to Jeter’s arrival, the Yankees had Don Mattingly, by all measures, a much better baseball player than Derek Jeter, a man who also happened to be considered Jeter’s equal in terms of being revered by the fans, being classy, in handling the media, the spotlight of Yankee stardom. He was surrounded by some considerable talent, including Hall of Fame players Rickey Henderson and Dave Winfield, as well as a few almost HoFers like Ron Guidry and Dave Righetti. The Yankees during those 15 years, the Lost Mattingly years, for lack of a better term, lost the 1981 World Series, and lost in the Wild Card round in 1995. That’s it. 15 years of baseball with the highest payroll, just like now, with the best player in the league for something like half the time, just like now, the Yankees won nothing. They weren’t on TV all the time, the series with the Red Sox weren’t considered the best baseball there was. They were an afterthought.
During the last fifteen years, the Atlanta Braves had a run of dominance that neatly coincided with the Yankees run. They’ve been to the Serious five times, and won only once. Why is that? They had plenty of talent. If you guys think it’s so easy to replace Jeter with Adrian Beltre, how come the Braves were only able to parlay all that talent into just a single championship? The Marlins were able to get two titles, for crying out loud.
Derek Jeter is one of the constants of this run. He is one of the Core Four, and they are one of the main reasons the team is where it is now, where the Steinbrenners are now. As a member of the Core Four, he’s been the top ranked player on the team four times during that stretch, a feat only equaled by A-Rod (four of the last six seasons). You want to tell me that it’s just a coincidence that the last fifteen years have seen the Yankees make the Serious half the time, while the previous fifteen it was once? Jeter’s not a leader? He should be paid like a Hanley Ramirez?
I don’t see it that way. He deserves a nice send-off, a thank you, if you will. Not to have his legacy trashed by a group of people who should know better, people who are riding on the coattails of some of his best work.
UPDATE: Still loads of vitriol all over the web about Jeter. Astounded to see how much of it is anti-Derek. Harvey Araton sees my point:
…. let the Yankees, who have thrown countless millions at players who gave back next to nothing, try to tell Jeter to go shop the qualities that have helped put such a classy face on a franchise run by people who would take the last dime from the pocket of a homeless person.
Let them say to Jeter with a straight face that there will be no position for him to play when he makes the inevitable move from shortstop — after winning 1990s championships with the likes of Charlie Hayes at third and a second baseman, Chuck Knoblauch, whose throws to first base were the stuff of tee-ball legend.
…. I’d like throw in my two cents on the Derek Jeter situation.
The Yankees are blowing this.
Jeter is hyper-competitive. You don’t get to where he’s gotten without a certain kind of fire burning inside you. Jeter is ultra-intense, ultra-competitive, and he’s gotta be that way with everything. Knowing this, it seems obvious that he is insulted that the Yankees are playing hardball with him, especially after watching A-Rod get a contract extension three years ago worth more than he has made in his entire life, even though A-Rod –at the time– hadn’t brought the Yankees even a single American League pennant, let alone a championship. He knows that, at that time, A-Rod was being vilified as A-Fraud, with nothing but notable post-season failures as a Yankee. He knows that since signing that deal, A-Rod’s reputation and value have been tarnished by his steroids scandal, and that he, Derek Jeter, is, as he has always been, as clean as the driven snow. He knows that he, too, is going to be passing a significant career milestone next season, and that the Yankees will, once again –because of what he, Derek Jeter, is doing– be the center of the baseball, and really, the entire sports world, when he does.
He’s insulted, he’s angry, and he’s right to be. A-Rod is signed through his age 42 season, and the Yankees are telling Jeter they are only willing to go to his age 39 season. He knows that the Steinbrenner family is wealthy beyond their father’s wildest dreams, and he knows that he is one of the reasons, one of the main reasons that they are. For Hank and Hal Steinbrenner to try and tell him about who earned what and how much it should be is disgraceful. They were born into wealth, they have built nothing. Work? All they do is sign checks and wear expensive suits. They know nothing about real hard work. They were sitting in the luxury box watching Derek Jeter build their dad’s team into financial juggernaut and a modern-day dynasty the likes of which we’re likely to never see again.
Derek Jeter is one of the main reasons the Steinbrenners are as wealthy as they are, he is one of the main reasons the Yankees are worth $1.6 billion dollars, one of the main reasons they have a cash flow from television and radio worth some $500 million dollars a year –much of it from the YES network– on which he is featured about ten times a day.
He deserves better. He is different. He is Derek Jeter. And he deserves another contract that pays him big. A five-year deal worth something like $75 million would probably get it done, but I think he wouldn’t complain too much if it was more money for a year less. Three years at $15 million per? Really? That’s less than they’re paying AJ Burnett, for crying out loud. Javier Vasquez makes $15 million a year. You think Jeter is gonna sit there and make as much money as a couple of the biggest busts on the team? No way.
See, here’s the rub…. the Yankees are forgetting who they are dealing with. When they say it’s just another contract negotiation, that it’s just another day in the life of running a team, that it’s business as usual; they are wrong. This is Jeter, the captain, the most beloved Yankee since Don Mattingly. And more importantly, Jeter is Jeter. He’s not Bernie Williams, who really did have no other baseball choice when the Yankees told him he would have to earn his way in the team. Williams said, the hell with it, I’ll go play guitar.
Derek Jeter is a proud man, cognizant of his place in baseball history, his place in Yankee history, and his own image. He is very much like Joe DiMaggio in that respect, in fact, old-timers around the Yankees say that he is like DiMaggio in many ways, and in that he is; the Yankees are going to lose if they keep going down this path. DiMaggion wouldn’t tolerate any form of disrespect. If you crossed him, you were as good as dead to him, forever. Jeter is very much like that. DiMaggio walked away when he felt he couldn’t keep up with his own level of greatness. He walked away from money, from fame, from everything. He simply disappeared. He said, if I can’t still be great, if I can’t still be DiMaggio, I don’t want to be here at all. You think there’s no way Jeter sees the writing on the wall? You bet he does. You bet he knows all about how DiMaggio walked away. You don’t think maybe he’d rather play golf than see his legacy tarnished by another year of leading the league in outs, another year of writers all over the country saying that he is old, that he has no range, that his Gold Glove was a fraud?
If the Yankees, if Hank and Hal think Derek Jeter is gonna sit there and allow his career, his worth, his image, his legacy, get treated this way by a couple of spoiled rich kids, they are out of their minds. If they think that he is going to sit there and listen to them talk about him like this in public, denigrating his worth to the franchise, to all of baseball, really, and that he is just going to take it, they are wrong. The Yankees think he has no choice, but he does.
Jeter can retire. Oh, yes, he can. He can walk away, tell the Yankees go ahead, see how easy it is to sell $10,000 dollar tickets with A-Rod as the face of your franchise. See how easy it is to be THE YANKEES when I am not here anymore. Jeter can retire, he can walk away right now. You think he doesn’t already know he is on the downside of his career? You think he hasn’t seen other great stars look like crap because they couldn’t walk away? He sure has. He’s seen players hanging on, just trying to get one more payday, one more chance to play. He is not that player. He can walk away. Jon Heyman asks the question from a different angle:
…. A friend of Jeter’s posed this question: Why not? Why can’t Jeter leave? The friend pointed out that most of Jeter’s dearest friends and allies are gone from the Yankees. Torre is gone. Mattingly is gone. George Steinbrenner is gone. Bernie Williams is gone. Tino Martinez is gone. The Core Four may still be there, but best friend Jorge Posada has been told he’s lost his catching job and the other three remain free agents at the moment (all three, including Jeter, were declined arbitration by the Yankees).
He can leave, but not to another team. He can retire. He can walk away proud, with his head up, instead of playing these games.
And he will, before he allows himself to be dragged through the mud by Brian Cashman and –more importantly– those two spoiled rich kids. He can walk away, satisfied that he is a five-time champion, that he is gonna be standing in front of the crowd in five years thanking everyone for helping him forge a Hall of Fame career.
Jeter can retire, and if the Yankees keep up this bullshit, I wouldn’t be the least bit surprised if he did.
Giants win the pennant!!!
Is there a more improbable World Series team in recent memory?
What a performance by the pen. 6-plus innings of no run ball, after Sanchez spit the bit. Really, just a simply unbelievable performance by the pitching staff since the beginning of September.
As for the team management, and in-game coaching, I am eating every bit of crow there is in my house. While accepting the NL trophy, Sabean looked and sounded humble and classy, as did Baer, Bochy, Neukom, and NLCS MVP Ross. (Sidebar: The NLCS MVP was probably Wilson, 3 saves and a win in as close a series as you are ever gonna see).
What is there left to say tonight? Did I doubt this team? You bet. Did I doubt Bochy? Absolutely. Did I question the signings, the trades and the free agent pick ups by Sabean. As often as I had the time to do so.
What am I supposed to say here?
On many counts, I have been proven wrong.
The Cody Ross pickup, which was clearly __and understood at the time to be– a blocking claim, worked out pretty well, wouldn’t you say? The Aubrey Huff signing? Anyone who predicted this kind of season from Huff –especially his defense– send me the link –the dated link– and I’ll make you a star. Freddie Sanchez? He sure came on late. I was wrong on him, no doubt. Bochy made enough mistakes in these playoffs to last a lifetime. In the post-season, it always comes down to pitching. In the end, at least so far in the NL, the Giants had more of it then everybody.
Ask Joe Girardi, the manager of the defending champion NY Yankees:
…. Girardi did not throw a pitch or swing a bat. His job was to put players in the best position to succeed. One of his greatest strengths is his preparation, and his choice to flip Andy Pettitte and Phil Hughes in the rotation, based on several relevant factors, seemed to make sense. Hughes went 0-2 with an 11.42 E.R.A. at Rangers Ballpark, and Pettitte, though he pitched well, worked only once, held back Friday in advance of a potential Game 7 start.
Once he makes a decision, Girardi says, he never second-guesses himself. He trusts his instincts — or the numbers — and accepts the outcome, for better or worse. By not bringing in Rivera to pitch the ninth inning of Game 3, with the Yankees trailing by two runs, Girardi left himself open to criticism when Texas hammered three other relievers for six runs. It put the Yankees at a 2-1 series deficit with Burnett scheduled to pitch a crucial Game 4.
Bochy swapped his pitchers, and it didn’t work, actually. Sanchez came in on a rush, cruising in his previous 80 or so innings. He failed to record a win against Philadelphia. He went 8 innings in the series, allowing 8 hits, 5 walks, 5 runs (4 earned), and failed to get out of the third inning in tonight’s penultimate game. He posted a 4.50 ERA in the series, and if it weren’t for the outrageous performance by every pitcher Bochy called upon, would have likely been the goat of the NLCS.
Instead, he was saved by his teammates. OK. Johnny like that.
Bochy used Wilson in an unusual fashion, and it worked some of the time, and it didn’t other times. He pinch hit, pinch ran, made double switches, moved his outfielders around….
Some of his moves worked, and some didn’t.
The Giants are in the World Series because of their otherwordly pitching staff. Simple as that.
Ask Joe Girardi what he would’ve given to have Jonathan Sanchez and Madison Bumgarner as his two worst starters.
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.
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.
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.
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.