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Entries in Yankees (14)

Tuesday
Mar122013

Halladay says he is healthy after rough outing and more

"Roy Halladay insisted Tuesday that he is fine.

But is he really?

He struggled terribly in 2 2/3 innings at Bright House Field against a lineup featuring mostly Detroit Tigers reserves. He allowed six hits, seven runs, four walks, one wild pitch, two home runs and one hit batsman. He lacked tempo and command throughout the start. He also lacked velocity. One scout said his fastball hit just 86-88 mph on the radar gun. Other reports had gun readings clocking his fastball a mile or two less than that.

Halladay's velocity has dropped since his first two Grapefruit League starts, when he sat in the 89-91 mph range. It dropped into the 86-88 mph range in his third start before sitting in about the same area Tuesday.

Halladay appears to be going in the wrong direction with Opening Day just 20 days away.

"The good part is, there's no soreness," Halladay said. "Nothing hurts."

He blamed his troubling performance on lethargy. He said a completely revamped, more intense workout program, plus throwing two bullpen sessions in between starts, contributed to his lackluster performance.

"I think I've always been a lot harder on myself than any of you guys have ever been. I can promise you that," he said. "You also are aware of what's going on, and it's hard to explain sometimes how you're feeling, what you're working on, what you're going through, what you're trying to do. When you know in your head what's going on, it's a lot different."

Source: MLB.com

Lawrie expects to be ready for season opener

"Brett Lawrie insists there’s no reason to worry.

Blue Jays fans, of course, will worry anyway.

The injured third baseman returned to the Jays spring training complex on Tuesday morning to see team doctors and training staff after participating in a non-active role with Team Canada at the World Baseball Classic until the Canadians were eliminated Sunday night."

Source: Thestar.com

Samardzija turns corner as opening day approaches

"Three weeks before he takes the mound on Opening Day in Pittsburgh, Jeff Samardzija moved closer to being ready for the Cubs' first game that counts.

While Samardzija's line -- 4 2/3 innings, 4 earned runs, 4 hits, 2 walks and 2 home runs allowed -- wasn't what he'll look for in 21 days, he was nevertheless encouraged by how he felt after ramping up the intensity for the first time this spring.

"I really thought today was a big turn for me, just how I felt, my pitch execution -- if I missed, I didn't miss by much," Samardzija said. "The adjustments I need to make are pretty simple, I feel like."

Source: CSNchicago.com

Patient appraoch with Ortiz is the right move

"I don't think it requires high levels of cynicism in the bloodstream to have heard the Red Sox' recent explanation for sore-heeled David Ortiz's scheduled five-to-seven-day hiatus and immediately mutter: ''Right. More like five to seven weeks."

I suppose any time the Red Sox' medical team concludes a diagnosis without alienating a player is a victory nowadays. But let's just say Monday's acknowledgement that Ortiz, who was limited to just 90 games last season after suffering a slight tear in his right Achilles' tendon, will probably begin the season on the disabled list hardly comes as a surprise."

Source: Boston.com

Jeter to play shortstop Wednesday

"Derek Jeter says he will play at shortstop Wednesday night against the Philadelphia Phillies.

It's the first time in the field for Jeter since ankle surgery last fall. Jeter says Tuesday after working out in Tampa that he'll "be out there" against the Phillies after two games as the designated hitter.

The game Wednesday also marks the spring training debut for Yankees pitcher Andy Pettitte.

Jeter went 0 for 2 Monday in his second game at DH since breaking his left ankle in October. He had a single in two at-bats Saturday."

Source: NYPost.com

Joe Nathan still building arm strength

"Texas Rangers closer Joe Nathan gave up back-to-back triples Monday, but the bigger development was the progress of his slider. After the two triples, which accounted for San Francisco’s second run in a 2-1 victory, he found the Giants committing to and chasing his slider. That led to three consecutive strikeouts.

Nathan said his arm strength is still lacking, but that it has come later during spring training in recent years. He compiled a 10.29 ERA in seven spring games last year and a 9.72 in 2011, his first year back from Tommy John surgery."

Source: Dallasnews.com

Nick Markakis out roughly two weeks

"The cause of Nick Markakis’ neck soreness is more severe than originally thought, but the Orioles hope that some rest will allow the team’s starting right fielder to return to spring training games in the next week or two.

A MRI on Monday revealed a small disk herniation — or slight tear — in the C4-C5 section (neck area) of Markakis’ spine, manager Buck Showalter said."

Source: Baltimoresun.com

Thursday
Jan102013

Who Are The Best Players To Fall Off The HOF Ballot In Year One? 

Lofton's all-around game failed to impress BBWAA voters during his first -- and unfortunately last -- year of Hall of Fame eligibility. The 2013 Hall of Fame vote will long be remembered as the year that Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens were denied entry into Cooperstown. Lost in the raging PED debate, however, is the fact that some noteworthy players fell off the ballot entirely during their first year of eligibility. Kenny Lofton, David Wells, Steve Finley, Shawn Green, Julio Franco and Reggie Sanders, among others, won't be in play in 2014 because they failed to garner the five percent of the vote necessary to stay on the ballot (Bernie Williams also got axed during his second year of eligibility).

Lofton's lack of Cooperstown love got us thinking: Who are the best players to fall off the ballot in their first year of eligibility since the 5% vote minimum was implemented in 1979? Here's a closer look at the top five players to fall short of 5%  BBWAA vote threshold in year one -- plus one guy who was initially snubbed but got the Hall call thanks to the Veterans Committee. The players are ranked by Baseball-Reference's Wins Above Replacement, which considers offensive, defensive and pitching value.

Lou Whitaker, 2001

Sweet Lou was a complete player, combining rangy defense at the keystone with superb strike-zone control and sneaky power for a player listed at 5-foot-11, 160 pounds. According to Baseball-Reference's Total Zone defensive system, the three-time Gold Glove Award winner saved 77 runs more than an average second baseman during the course of his career. At the plate, Whitaker had more walks (1,197) than strikeouts (1,099) and hit 244 home runs, sixth all-time among second baseman. With 71.4 career Wins Above Replacement, Whitaker trails just Eddie Collins, Joe Morgan, Nap Lajoie and Charlie Gehringer and bests recent Hall of Fame inductees at the position like Ryne Sandberg (64.9) and Roberto Alomar (62.9).

Despite that resume, Whitaker garnered a paltry 2.9% of the vote during his first and only year on the ballot. Perhaps voters focused on his so-so batting average (.276) and wheels (143 steals, 65.6% success rate) instead of his strong secondary skills and defense. Whitaker was a quality top-of-the-order hitter, but he didn't fit the speedy, slap-and-dash archetype.

Bobby Grich, 1992

Everything just said about Whitaker applies to Grich, too. Like Sweet Lou, Grich was an up-the-middle player with plus defense (+82 Total Zone runs, mostly at 2B but also with solid marks in limited time at shortstop), a good eye (.371 on-base percentage) and pop (224 career home runs) despite playing his home games in Memorial Stadium and Anaheim Stadium, both pitcher-friendly parks. The six-time All-Star's 67.8 WAR rank seventh all-time among second baseman.

Grich, who got just 2.6% of the HOF vote, also likely suffered from not playing the "little man's game." His career batting average was .266, and he stole 104 bases with a 55.6% success rate.

Ron Santo, 1980

This injustice was made right -- albeit posthumously -- when the Veterans Committee elected Santo to the Hall of Fame in 2012. The first time around, however, Santo got only 3.9% of the vote even though his WAR total at third base (66.6) ranks behind just Mike Schmidt, Eddie Mathews, Wade Boggs, Chipper Jones and Brooks Robinson. The BBWAA later petitioned to have Santo and two other players who fell below the 5% threshold in their first year on the ballot (Ken Boyer and Curt Flood) reinstated, and they were. While Santo stayed on the ballot for a full 15 years the second time around, he never got more than 43.1% of the vote. The third time was a charm, thankfully.

Santo played solid defense at third (+27 TZ runs) and was one of the better hitters at the position, placing seventh in OPS+ (125). Maybe Santo and other third basemen aren't given enough props for playing a more difficult position and are instead lumped in with other sluggers at first base. There are fewer hot corner players in Cooperstown (15) than at any other position on the diamond.

Rick Reuschel, 1997

A doughy fellow who had the misfortune of pitching at Wrigley Field when it truly was a bandbox (Wrigley boosted offense between three percent and eleven percent during his Cub years), Reuschel had neither the shiny-looking ERA nor the high win total (214) of an archetypal Hall of Famer. When you adjust for Wrigley's gusting winds, however, Reuschel's ERA was 14% better than the league average. He also surrendered the second-fewest home runs per nine innings pitched (0.6) among Expansion Era starters topping 3,000 frames.

Reuschel's career WAR total (66.2) actually tops that of Jim Palmer (63.2) and Don Sutton (62.9), and it's in the same ballpark as possible 2014 first-ballot Hall of Famer Tom Glavine (69.3). If Reuschel pitched the bulk of his career in a more hospitable park and got more run support, he would have gotten more than a mere 0.4% of the vote.

Kenny Lofton, 2013

If Tim Raines is the poor man's Rickey Henderson offensively, then Lofton is the poor man's Rock. That's far from an insult -- Raines' on-base ability and high-percentage prowess once he reached should have landed him in Cooperstown years ago. Similarly, Lofton was an on-base fiend (career .372 OBP) who wreaked havoc on the bases. While he didn't keep up the dizzying stolen base pace he set during his first stint in Cleveland (he led the league in steals each year from 1992-1996), Lofton retained his wheels into his early 40s, finishing with 622 steals and a 79.5% success rate. The four-time Gold Glove Award winner was also a breath-taking center fielder during the first half of his career and saved +108 runs. That's fifth-best all-time among guys covering the middle pasture, behind just Andruw Jones, Willie Mays, Paul Blair and Devon White. When you consider that Raines was mostly a left fielder, and not a particularly graceful one, Lofton might just be Raines' equal in terms of overall value.

Lofton ranks a surprising seventh all-time in WAR (64.9) among center fielders, just ahead of Brooklyn Dodgers legend Edwin Donald Snider (63.1). Even so, he got just 3.2% of the vote this year. Maybe Lofton could have used a catchy nickname -- is Duke taken? Or maybe it would have helped him if he didn't switch unis so often that he became the unofficial pitch man for a shipping company. In addition to the Indians, Lofton also played for the Astros, Braves, White Sox, Giants, Pirates, Cubs, Yankees, Phillies, Dodgers and Rangers. He never spent more than one year with any of those clubs, and he was traded six times during his career.

Kevin Brown, 2011

Brown deserved better than the 2.1% of the ballot that he received a few years ago. Among starting pitchers who threw at least 3,000 innings during their career, he ranks 15th all-time with a 127 ERA+. On a per-inning basis, he was as effective as Curt Schilling, Tom Seaver and Bob Gibson. Don't get the strait jacket out -- I'm not suggesting Brown was anywhere near the caliber of pitcher that Seaver or Gibson were. Seaver threw roughly 1,500 more innings than Brown, and Gibson about 600. But Brown's career WAR total (64.3) puts him in Palmer/Sutton territory. Surely that's worth more than a dozen votes.

Brown likely fell off the ballot because he was named as an alleged user of Human Growth Hormone in the Mitchell Report and made a godawful impression in the country's biggest media market. He had an ERA near five during two injury-riddled years with the Yankees. Some of those maladies were self-inflicted (he punched a wall in frustration in September of 2004), others were courtesy of the Sox (David Ortiz took him deep during a two-inning disaster start in Game 7 of the '04 ALCS). This sort of stuff, coupled with a low win total (211), draws the ire of sports writers.

Whitaker, Grich, Reuschel, Lofton and Brown aren't the only guys whose legitimate Cooperstown cases were short-circuited. Here are the top 20 players who fell off the ballot during their first year of Hall of Fame eligibility:

     Highest career WAR totals for players knocked off HOF ballot in Year 1

Friday
Oct192012

Yankees Hitters in October: An Autopsy

The New York Yankees' season ended last night when Prince Fielder snagged Jayson Nix's pop-up at the lip of the infield grass, completing the Tigers' four-game ALCS sweep. The sad part? Nix's one-hundred-foot floater was one of the Bombers' better ABs -- hey, at least he made contact!

New York led the American League in both on-base percentage and slugging during the regular season, but the club's offense no-showed in October. Here's a post-mortem on the Yankees' bats:

  • Collectively, the Yankees batted .187, got on base at a .254 clip and slugged .303. Ichiro was the only Bomber to tally double-digit hits (11), and Raul Ibanez was the only guy to go deep more than once (he hit three HR).
  • New York's trademark plate patience disappeared in October. The Yankees chased 32.4% of pitches thrown out of the strike zone during the playoffs, up from 27.3% during the regular season. Teams have been jumpier overall in the playoffs while facing higher quality pitching (the chase rate has increased from 28.4% during the regular season to 30.4%), but that's still a major jump in swinging at junk for the Yankees.
  • The club's biggest hackers were the hitless Eric Chavez (43.6% chase rate) and Robinson Cano (41.5%), who went 3-for-40. Chavez went after pitches thrown a foot outside, while Cano extended the zone down to his shoe tops:

Chavez's swing rate by pitch location

 

Cano's swing rate by pitch location

 

  • Curtis Granderson whiffed 43.5% of the time that he swung, far north of his already-high 29.7% miss rate during the regular season. He struck out 16 times, four more than any other postseason hitter.
  • The second-most whiff-tastic hitter? Alex Rodriguez. Despite being plastered to the bench for much of the ALDS, A-Rod struck out 12 times during the postseason. He whiffed 37.9% of the time that he swung (27.1% during the regular season).
  • Robinson Cano didn't record a single hit against a breaking or off-speed pitch, going 0-for-23 against curves, sliders and changeups. Pitchers buried Cano with soft stuff thrown low and away:

Location of breaking and off-speed pitches thrown to Cano during the playoffs

  • Russell Martin's hitting woes weren't due to poor plate discipline -- he just couldn't connect on pitches thrown over the plate. Martin saw a strike 55.6% of the time, second-highest among playoff hitters with at least 30 plate appearances (Jon Jay is first, at 56.2%).
  • Nick Swisher passed on some meatballs. He swung just half of the time that he got a pitch thrown middle-middle over the plate, down from about 76% of the time during the regular season. The average swing rate on middle-middle pitches is about 75% during the playoffs, and it was 72% during the regular season.