"A New York Treasure" --Village Voice

News of the Day – 5/23/09

Today’s news is powered by a classic scene from “A League of Their Own”

  • Bench coach Tony Pena, on his stable of catchers, especially the new kid Francisco Cervelli:

“Sometimes, for one person to shine, something has to happen to someone else,” said Pena, who has four Gold Gloves to his name. “Defensively, Francisco Cervelli is as good as any other catcher. There are very few catchers who can move behind the plate the way Francisco Cervelli moves.”

“He has not allowed a passed ball yet, and that is something we catchers take pride in — the command of the game,” added Pena. “The energy he brings is an extraordinary energy.”

Pena also highlighted his strong working relationship with the team’s veteran catchers.

“I am honored that [Jose] Molina and Jorge Posada have the confidence to come to me and talk to me and listen to the advice that I can give them,” said Pena. “It’s not easy finding a catcher who has played 10 years in the big leagues and still wants to learn.”

  • Yankee hitting coach Kevin Long, on Melky Cabrera:

“He’s hitting the ball hard and seeing a lot of pitches, taking great at-bats,” Long said.

Long said he based that on both personal observation and statistics not quantified in box scores. After every game, Long evaluates each at-bat, like a hitting-coach version of Roger Ebert: thumbs up or thumbs down.

Cabrera, he said, has had 61 percent “good at-bats” this season, the highest percentage of any player on the Yankees. To Long, a good at-bat is defined as any hit, walk or hit-by-pitch, or any at-bat that consumes a lot of pitches or ends in an especially hard-hit ball.

As for those hard-hit balls, Long keeps track of those, too. He said Cabrera has hit the ball hard in 51 percent of his at-bats, also tops on the team. Fifty-one percent is an extremely high figure, he said. By Long’s calculations, a very good hitter will hit the ball on the sweet spot only about 40 percent of the time.

“Buster Olney has been pointing out that they’re going to pass last year’s home run total in the old [Yankee] Stadium by about July 15,” Gammons said. “I’m tired of people saying it’s too early, we don’t have enough games.

“We have enough games. We know that this was not a very well-planned ballpark. Any player that’s played there will tell you that it’s become one of the biggest jokes in baseball.” . . .

The Yankees say they did studies on how the field would play prior to construction and will continue to do more.

“There were wind studies performed before. There will be wind studies performed as we go forward, and we’re just looking like you are to see whether or not it’s the weather, the wind, what happens when the old building goes down,” chief operating officer Lonn Trost said May 12.

[My take: Then I guess they best be tearing down the old park with all due diligence.]

  • Kevin Goldstein has an update on the tallest Yankee prospect, Andrew Brackman:

Thursday’s stats: 8 IP, 5 H, 1 R, 1 B , 6 K
Maybe the ultimate high-risk, high-reward prospect, Brackman has no extended track record of success since high school, is coming off a Tommy John surgery, is just earning his first pro win last night at the age of 23, yet it’s hard to get away from a six-foot-ten righty with pure power stuff. Pitching every five days has takes a couple of ticks of his fastball, but it still looks like it’s coming from the top of a mountain and generating plenty of groundballs when contact is made at all.

  • Buck Showalter turns 53 today.  Showalter was drafted by the Yanks in ’77, spent seven seasons in their minor league system, and never made it to The Show.  He then became manager of the Yanks Oneonta team in ’85, at the tender age of 29, before taking over the reins of the big club in ’92.  He compiled a 250-236 record over four seasons with the Bombers, including a 70-43 tally in the strike-halted ’94 campaign.  Fun fact (as per Wikipedia): During his playing days he picked up the nickname “Buck” from a minor league manager’s comment on his tendency to walk around the clubhouse “buck naked”.

[My take: Given that proclivity, he and Sparky Lyle would have gotten along famously . . . ]

  • A very happy 85th birthday to Clyde King.  He was a New York Yankees coach in 1978 and 1981 and managed the team for part of the 1982 season. He then served as General Manager of the Yankees in 1985 and 1986 and was a member of the team’s coaching staff again in 1988. From 1998 to 2005, he was a special assistant to the GM of the Yankees.
  • On this date in 1948, Joe DiMaggio hit three consecutive home runs in a 6 – 5 Yankees victory over the Cleveland Indians.  Two of his homers came off Bob Feller.

Have a good weekend holiday . . . I won’t be back til’ Tuesday (hush hush . . . flyballs carry).

Categories:  Diane Firstman  News of the Day

Share: Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Share via email %PRINT_TEXT


1 The Hawk   ~  May 23, 2009 10:23 am

I saw the highlight on SC of the ball that hit Youkilis - man, what a t**t. I've tried to respect him in spite of his awful facial hair and ridiculous batting stance, but that really showed him to be an ass. The ball was clearly not intentional and barely hit him.

2 Rich   ~  May 23, 2009 10:55 am

I watched a documentary about Le Cirque on HBO last night. When they first reopened the restaurant in the Bloomberg building, the owner and founder (who has quite an impressive rags to riches life story) was devastated that the NY Times review gave them only two stars. So they replaced the executive chef, the manager, and some other key people, and received three stars a year and a half later.

I think that provides an instructive example of what the Steinbrenners have to do with the Stadium. Fire Levine and/or Troast and any other overpaid fool that presided over the planning of this joke of a stadium, commission some new studies by more competent engineers, and then make the necessary alterations so that by next season, the stadium will no longer be a launching pad and will be more fan friendly.

3 ms october   ~  May 23, 2009 11:02 am

[1] he is also a c**t - normally that is the epithet i reserve for c. tek, but i think youk has rightfully earned it. santana has never been known as that kind of pitcher.

good batch of news diane.

as to frankie c - why the hell is he not playing the number of games a normal starting catcher would play? if we must be stuck with cash appearnaces it should be the traditional times we see a buc, day after night gamet etc. what in cervelli's history suggests he can't handle a ft catching load?

i don't know whether to be impressed or depressed about melky's at-bat stats from kevin long. the good at-bats is certainly nice, but if much of that is predicated on the hard-hit outs, that is bound to drop, and though much, much improved discipline from last year, his walks are still few and far between.

while i am not a fan of certain aspects around the stadium - gammons et al need to stfu. almost all stadiums are a "joke"- that stupid hill at the astros place, the exaulted green monster. the extreme exageration about anything yankees is so predictable and tiresome - whatever.
but thank to all the homeruns, the banter's own william is famous!

4 unmoderated   ~  May 23, 2009 11:04 am

hey, an oneonta mention. tight.

5 The Hawk   ~  May 23, 2009 11:08 am

It would be ironic if, as the Yanks made a grab for pitching to make a final run during the waning days of its veteran core, the new zero G stadium itself should block their march to the World Series.

6 Rich   ~  May 23, 2009 11:16 am

[3] Girardi seems to be using Cervelli for some pitchers (CC, Pettittte, Joba) and Cash for others (AJ, Hughes), but I agree that it's dumb.

The reason that (*gulp*) Gammons is right is the disparate number of HRs hit in the current stadium as compared to the old one last year. That's what distinguishes it from other stadiums.

7 Bum Rush   ~  May 23, 2009 11:40 am

If Yankee Stadium is "joke", what's that make Fenway?:

Red Sox - 2009:
Home: .301 .378 .526 = .904 OPS
Away: .248 .342 .389 = .730 OPS

The Yankees?
Home: .274 .362 .505 = .867 OPS
Away: .267 .337 .455 = .792 OPS

Of course, Fenway is a shithole as well as that joke of a baseball park. Even Sox fans know that Gammons is an utter hack these days.

8 Rich   ~  May 23, 2009 11:45 am

[7] Post the stats from 2008 as well.

It's not about comparing the new Yankee Stadium to Fenway or any other park. It's about comparing it to the old Stadium.

I think Fenway sucks, but so does the new Stadium.

9 Bum Rush   ~  May 23, 2009 12:21 pm


Okay, sure:

Yankees - 2008:
Home: .281 .349 .440 = .789 OPS
Away: .262 .335 .414 = .749 OPS

Red Sox - 2008:
Home: .292 .372 .468 = .840 OPS
Away: .268 .344 .428 = .772 OPS

So for the Yankees a difference of +.035 OPS (using the road as a baseline), makes the new Stadium a "joke"? And when it's playing, in 20 games, to the same advantage that Fenway always plays to?

Gammons is the joke.

10 Diane Firstman   ~  May 23, 2009 12:39 pm

Don't go blamin' the weather for the bandbox:


Our findings show that the weather conditions at Yankee Stadium oppose the number of home runs being hit at the stadium. Winds really have not been a factor, given that in most games, winds were not all that strong. In most games, winds were under 10 mph, and the direction of the wind was not consistent with the right field home run theory. UPDATE: Friday night's game featured 4 home runs by the Phillies and 3 for the Yankees.

In respect to the temperature and humidity, and the laws of baseball flight, the number of home runs should be down. The laws of baseball flight say that a baseball will fly a longer distance in air that is warm and humid. Air that is warm and humid is considerably less dense than air that is cool and dry. The resistance on a baseball is greater in dense air than less-dense air. For example, a typical warm and humid New York evening would generally mean a better chance for home runs than, say, the cool evenings of April.

Our findings have shown that the majority of games where home runs where hit, the temperatures were between 54 and 69 degrees. The few games where the temperatures were in the 70s, the air was dry in those games. In all games, the air overall was dense compared to the warm, humid air that is yet to come. UPDATE: Friday night's game featured temperatures in the low 80's falling to the upper 70's. Humidity levels were moderate.

11 PJ   ~  May 23, 2009 12:45 pm

If Melky leads the team in hard hit balls, doesn't that make him closer to Paul O'Neill than we think? It seemed Paulie was quite a master at hitting the sweet spot more often than not when he made contact.

I'll take an "O'Neillian" (sorry AB) career by the Melkman every day! He needs to work a little harder on his cooler destroying though. Perhaps that gets lost in translation...

: )

12 The Hawk   ~  May 23, 2009 12:47 pm

There have been twice as many home runs in 2009 than there were in the same period in 2008. That's a big difference. Anyone who argues otherwise is myopic or drinking buckets of Kool-Aid (John Sterling I'm looking at you). The new Stadium is a bandbox. Bandbox. Bandbox.

I love the idea of using OPS to compare home run numbers. That is just sick.

13 PJ   ~  May 23, 2009 12:49 pm

[11] Oh I almost forgot...

Recently Melky had two hard hit balls with one swing along with one not hit quite so hard...

Take that O'Neill with your "Food Room Envy!"

14 The Hawk   ~  May 23, 2009 1:17 pm

[13] I don't know what's crazier, the pitcher throwing three baseballs at once, or Melky making contact on all of em. I guess the latter.

15 Bum Rush   ~  May 23, 2009 1:38 pm

Yeah, Father Chicken, cause homeruns are the only measure of increased offense.

16 RIYank   ~  May 23, 2009 3:31 pm

[12] The fact that there have been twice as many homers this year (in the new Stadium) as last year (in the old) isn't on its own very good evidence. The number of games is still small, so the statistical significance is pretty doubtful (I don't know the variance, otherwise I could tell you the significance). And there are plenty of other factors at work besides (i) stadium and (ii) random fluctuation. Different batters have hit in the Bronx this year than last, some of the same batters may just be better this year, some of the pitchers may be throwing more gopher balls, and so on.

17 Rich   ~  May 23, 2009 3:39 pm

[9} I don't understand why the Sox are a relevant comparison.

The more relevant stat is that the HR output at the new stadium will likely be doubled from last season.

I don't understand how the suckiness of Fenway or Gammons makes that any better.

18 Rich   ~  May 23, 2009 3:41 pm

[16] There have been over 1500 ABs to this point in the season (Yankees + opponents). That's not a particularly small sample.

19 Bum Rush   ~  May 23, 2009 4:13 pm

@ 17

My ire was directed at the "joke" comment. If Yankee Stadium is a "joke" because of how it plays, then Fenway is a bigger one. And worse, it always has been. Choke on that, Gammons.

Still, to take your homerun argument at face value - so what? So there are more homeruns. The reason I relied on OPS is because homeruns themselves don't tell us much (and when have they ever been used to around here to tell us any thing?). The difference could simply be the closer walls in right field. If the place is playing like a bandbox then it should be reflected in every batted ball - AVG, doubles, triples, homeruns. The data, so far, show a +.034 SLG of the new stadium relative to the old but importantly controlling for the team's road output. That's hardly overwhelming.

So there seems to be some small effect. But the difference isn't so large as to get really worked up about. The Yankees' improved offense, specifically on the road and relative to last year, is almost as big of a factor (+.030 SLG).

20 tucsontumbleweed   ~  May 23, 2009 10:43 pm

Take a look at ESPN's stadium data from http://preview.tinyurl.com/qnotka

It has a handy stat called Park Factor:

PF = ((homeRS + homeRA)/(homeG)) / ((roadRS + roadRA)/(roadG))

For 2009, Yankee Stadium favors the hitter the most at 1.63 for HR. 2nd is Chase Field at 1.45 and 3rd is Minute Maid at 1.411. So that means Yankee Stadium is NOT that much out of the ordinary.

ALSO everyone keeps comparing 2008 to 2009. How about 2005?

Park factor results for Yankee Stadium in 05 is 1.43 and is ranked #1 in favoring the hitter

21 Rich   ~  May 23, 2009 11:31 pm

[19] HRs reveal something unique about the way the ball carries. Looking at OPS obscures that because even GBs, let alone OBP, can inflate OPS.

With that in mind, looking solely at the HR totals from this year and last, I don't see the effect as being small to this point.

The plan going into the season was to build the team around pitching and defense going forward. Just sayin'.

Factor in the ridiculous price of some seats, the minimal access during BP, the way that fans can interfere with OFers as they try to catch HRs at the wall, and imo, it is a case study in how not to construct a stadium.

22 Bum Rush   ~  May 24, 2009 7:09 am

@ 21

What? If the ball is carrying differently then it should also show up in the doubles and triples. It doesn't. That it only affects homeruns tells me it's not about how the ball is carrying but where the ball is hit to. And there all the evidence points to closer wall in right field.

This team, overall, is SLGing for more power since last year when they're *not* playing at home. That difference alone is as big as the additional power in Yankee Stadium. The .035 difference in SLG at home can easily be explained by those right-field homers.

Again, I don't see what the big deal is. The effect is minimal as soon as you scratch the meager surface below raw homerun totals. I think you know how absurd that reasoning is. Homeruns, by themselves, tell us very little.

feed Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Share via email
"This ain't football. We do this every day."
--Earl Weaver