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Posts Tagged ‘Kyle Farnsworth’

There can be no doubt that the American League East is easily the best division in baseball. In fact, this year could wind up being historic in terms of division play, as my projections show 4 of the 5 teams capable of winning 90+ games this season – a feat that’s never been accomplished before. Is the talent level in the East really that much better than the rest of the AL? In a word, YES.

Both the Boston Red Sox and Yankees look to be the class of baseball this year. I project both teams to win 105 games this year and finish tied for the division crown. How evenly matched are the two juggernauts? The projections also have them splitting the season series, 9-9. Many prognosticators are giving the edge to the Red Sox this year, based on their starting rotation of Jon Lester, Josh Beckett, John Lackey, Daisuke Matsuzaka and Clay Buchholz. While the Yankees rotation is known to be unsettled, relying on a return to form by AJ Burnett, Phil Hughes avoiding regression from his 18-8 2010 season, and a collection of rookies and reclamation projects to fill the 4 & 5 spots, the Sox rotation also has question marks. Can Lackey reclaim his form? Can Beckett come back from an injury plagued season? Will Buchholz ever deliver on his promise? Can Matsuzaka come back from injuries and inconsistency? In short, both teams could have excellent rotations – or horrible ones, once you get past the aces. But offensively, both squads are loaded 1 – 9. The Yankees projected line-up of Derek Jeter, Nick SwisherMark Teixeira, Alex Rodriguez, Robinson Cano, Jorge Posada, Curtis Granderson, Russell Martin and Brett Gardner may actually be better than the team that led the league in runs scored last season. Boston counters with Carl Crawford, Dustin Pedroia, Adrian Gonzalez, Kevin Youkilis, David Ortiz, JD Drew, Marco Scutaro, Jarrod Saltalamacchia and Jacoby Ellsbury. Both line-ups are capable of scoring 1,000 runs. The real differentiators between the teams are in the bullpens and on the bench. The Yanks have a slight edge in the bullpen, with the 1 – 1a tandem of Mariano Rivera and Rafael Soriano. The Sox have a slight edge on the bench.

As for the rest of the division, Tampa Bay suffered some tremendous free-agent losses. Despite that, they come into the season with their only real question being the strength of the bullpen, where the oft-traveled Kyle Farnsworth heads a makeshift relief corps. The additions of Manny Ramirez and Johnny Damon, along with new shortstop Reid Brignac and rookie Desmond Jennings, should actually make the offense better. And Tampa’s rotation remains one of the game’s best, led by David Price. But while good enough to win pretty much any other division in the game, this year’s Rays aren’t in the same class as either New York or Boston.

The same goes for the Orioles, although Baltimore may have the most improved team in the league. The infield was completely remade, as Mark Reynolds, Derek Lee and JJ Hardy join Brian Roberts. The O’s also brought in veteran slugger Vladimir Guerrero and closer Kevin Gregg. Add in what looks to be the league’s best young rotation and proven winner (and old friend) Buck Showalter as manager, and Baltimore is poised to shock people the same way Toronto did last year.

As for the Blue Jays, this team lost too much – and replaced those parts with questionable signings – from last year’s overachieving squad to compete this year. They’ve brought in pitching guru John Farrell to lead the team, but this team will suffer from losing Cito Gastons “let-’em-fly” attitude on offense. Include a rookie catcher, changes at 1st, 3rd and all three OF spots and it will prove to be too much turnover to overcome. One bright spot for the Jays this year could be rookie starter Kyle Drabek, one of the game’s more hyped young pitchers.

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I read this today from Andrew Marchand of ESPN New York:

“Chamberlain’s role as the eighth-inning man and, quite possibly, his Yankees future are on the clock. The Yankees will not let Chamberlain’s inconsistency prevent them from making the playoffs or winning a championship.”

That’s quite a statement and makes it sound as if Joba Chamberlain is on the trading block. Regardless of his inconsistency this year, I find it a tad bit hard to believe the Yankees will give up on him this quickly. After all, he’s only 24 – and unlike most guys his age, he’s actually logged more innings and appearances at the major league level than he has in the minors. (He’s made 132 major league appearances for 319 innings vs. 18 appearances for 88 innings in the minors). What we’ve witnessed in the Bronx is the maturation of a thrower into a pitcher at the major league level. This is not something that lends itself easily to New York. Folks in Kansas City or Pittsburgh are accustomed to seeing young pitchers get walloped on a daily basis. Yankee fans haven’t seen this type of spectacle since Al Leiter‘s arrival in 1987.

This isn’t to say that Joba has done a spectacular job in the 8th inning role he was handed. He hasn’t. But I would be much more worried if there weren’t signs of progress. There are. His K/9 is back up to 9.6; the HR/9 is back down to 0.5. Both of those numbers are actually pretty comparable to his 2008 season, which leads me to believe that putting him back in the bullpen has helped correct some of the issues that came to the fore last year (fewer strikeouts, more nibbling, more walks, more pitching from behind). The one area he hasn’t made progress in is hits allowed, which has ballooned to 10.1 per 9 innings. But even that isn’t indicative of what Joba is doing (or not doing): his BAbip (that is, the batting average on balls actually put in play) is a respectable .280. So why the seeming unending trail of blown games?

When Joba has been bad, he’s been spectacularly bad: in 13 of his appearances this year, the opposing team has lit him up for a .700 OPSa or better – which means in 1/3 of his appearances, Joba has basically imploded, allowing opposing batters to rip him hard. In those appearances, Joba has pitched to a 1.305 OPSa. That’s a great number if you’re an outfielder, not so much if you’re a pitcher. But in his other 26 appearances, Joba has held hitters to a highly respectable .326 OPSa. (By comparison, Mariano Rivera‘s OPSa this season is .397). In case you’re wondering, OPSa is the combined on-base and slugging average against a pitcher – a great way to measure if a pitcher is getting guys out, pitching into bad luck or just plain getting hammered. When your OPSa is sub .400, it means that not only aren’t opposing hitters getting on base, they aren’t exactly killing the ball when they do. When its north of .700, the fans in the bleachers better have brought along their gloves.

So, the key to the second half may simply be getting a 24 year old kid with a history of mental lapses to concentrate. He has demonstrated that he has the talent and ability to do the job and only lacks the consistency. I wouldn’t bet against him finding some of that consistency in the second half of this season. I certainly wouldn’t want to see Joba traded away for another tired retread, a la Octavio Dotel or {shudder} Kyle Farnsworth.

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In part two of our look back at Brian Cashman’s track record since gaining autonomy over baseball operations, we take a look at what has happened under his hand between October 2007 and October 2008. Part one can be read here and post two can be read here.

Signings and Re-Signings

Re-signed Jorge Posada to a 4 yr/$52.4 million deal.

Re-signed Mariano Rivera to a 3 year/$45 million deal.

Re-signed Alex Rodriguez to a 10 year/$275 deal.

Signed Robinson Cano to a 4 year/$30 million deal.

Exercised 2008 club option on Bobby Abreu.

Signed LaTroy Hawkins to a one-year contract.

Signed Jose Molina to a two-year contract.

Signed Wilson Betemit to a one-year contract.

Signed IF Billy Crystal to a Minor League contract with an invitation to Spring Training. (more…)

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At the end of the 2005 season Brian Cashman almost left the Yankees as he was fed up of fractured chain of command on the baseball operations side of the Yankees. Cashman took nearly two weeks to decide whether or not to come back. In the end, Cashman wanted more authority and received it as well as a 3 year/$5.5 million contract. Since late 2005, the Yankees have finished in first (2006), in second with a Wild Card berth (2007), in third place (2008) and in first place with a 27th World Series championship (2009).

Obviously, a lot has happened in Yankeesland since Cashman was given full autonomy from good draft picks to good free agent signings (or re-signings) to good trades and obviously, there is the converse of that. Over the next 4 posts (this one included) we will try to breakdown a portion of those transactions that either mattered or made some sort of an impact and give Cashmoney a grade for each year and overall.

When we say year, we generally mean from late October to late October (For example October 2005-October 2006 would be a year) unless otherwise specified.

Without further milking the cow, here’s October 2005 to October 2006 and our analysis of the first year of Cashman’s autonomy.

(more…)

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Continuing with our trend of analyzing various aspects of the Yankees since 1996, today we delve into to their top 10 biggest free agent busts since their return to glory. Now, without further gilding the lilly, let’s get to the topic at hand.

10. Roger Clemens – Contract 1 yr/$17.4 mil. This would be the Rocket’s last year (2007) pitching in the big leagues and he didn’t give the Yankees pitching staff the boost as expected. As a Yankee in 2007: 6-6, 4.18 ERA with 68 K’s in 99 innings.

9. Kenny Lofton – Contract: 2 yr/$6.2 mil. After seeing Juan Pierre in the 2003 World Series, Steinbrenner wanted someone of that mold and found Lofton. Lofton wasn’t exactly a great asset in his one year as a Yankee. As a Yankee: 7 SB, 3 CS in 83 games.

8. Octavio Dotel – Contract: 1 yr/$2 mil. Dotel only pitched 10 forgettable innings after coming back from Tommy John Surgery. As a Yankee: 14 games, 10.80 ERA in 10 innings.

7. Jaret Wright Contract: 3 yr/$20 mil. Wright was signed during the same offseason as Carl Pavano and was only moderately better than him, which isn’t a real compliment. As a Yankee: 16-12, 4.99 ERA, 118 K’s in 204 innings and a 1.6 WHIP.

6. Jose Contreras – Contract: 4 yr/$32 mil. Contreras never seemed to be comfortable in New York and he couldn’t pitch well against the Red Sox. After 36 games, he was playing for the White Sox. As a Yankee: 15-7, 4.64 ERA, 154 K’s in 166.2 innings and a 1.3 WHIP.

5. Rondell White – Contract: 2 yr/$10 mil. Looking at Rondell’s numbers up until this point, one would say this was a decent deal, until White stepped on the field. It became apparent that Rondell should have stayed in the NL. As a Yankee: .240 BA, 14 HR, 62 RBI, .666 OPS (Lowest of career to this point). (more…)

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