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Tag: Steven Goldman
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Top Billin’

World Series GM4 X

Here’s a dumb spring training story and a dumb rebuttal.

Now, that we’ve got that out of the way, check out Steven Goldman’s ranking of Derek Jeter against the greatest shortstops of all time:

Sixteen shortstops rated, Jeter wins 13-3, with only Banks, Smith and Ripken coming out ahead. Given Jeter’s extraordinary consistency at bat and career accomplishments, that seems fair. While a few shortstops exceeded him at their peak moment, and many were fairly rated as superior on defense, the totality of his contributions, combined with when he made them, at a time when baseball was at its most cosmopolitan and competitive, means he cleared a higher bar than most of his predecessors. He might not have been the best shortstop ever, but he wasn’t far off.

[Photo Credit: Al Bello/Getty Images]

The Big Ouch

Steven Goldman on Michael Pineda’s season-ending injury. I hope the kid is okay when he returns next year. I was looking forward to watching him pitch. The few times I saw him last year was enough to get me excited. This injury is especially tough because the Yanks gave up such a promising young stud like The Jesus to get Pineda.

This is a bummer, man.

[Image via: Faust Arp]


Take Me Out

Tomorrow night in the Village, Glenn Stout, Jay Jaffe, Steven Goldman and Dan Barry are the featured speakers at Gelf’s Varsity Letters reading series.

I’m so there.

Bleacher Creature

The old perfessor, Mr. Goldman, has a new address. Bookmark it, baby.

Course you can still find him at Pinstriped Bible as well.

The Bernie and Kirby Show

Over at the Pinstriped Bible, Steven Goldman compares Bernie Williams with Kirby Puckett:

Both were excellent hitters with very different skills who nonetheless arrived at similar results. Puckett was short and stout, Williams long and lithe. Puckett reaped a huge benefit from his Metrodome home park, hitting .344/.388/.521 at home, .291/.331/.430 on the road. Williams was about the same hitter everywhere. Both were Gold Glove center fielders who won several of the defensive awards with their bats. Both won a single batting title. Puckett led the AL in hits four times; Williams walked too much to compete in that department.

Career-wise, Williams looks a little worse overall, but that’s because his peak isn’t quite so high and his career is a little longer. Due to glaucoma, Puckett’s career came to an abrupt end, depriving him of a decline phase, whereas Williams got to play until he was no longer useful. If you consider both through their age-35 seasons, it’s a virtual tie: Williams had hit .301/.388/.488 in 1804 games, while Puckett hit .318/.360/.477 in 1783 games. When you adjust for time and place, there isn’t a lot of difference–at which point, I would argue, you have to look at Puckett’s home-road splits.

Why, Oh Why?

Over at Pinstriped Bible, Steve Goldman asks: Why did Joe Girardi play for one run in a two-run game?

In the bottom of the ninth inning of Tuesday night’s game against the A’s at Yankee Stadium, the Yankees trailed 6-3 entering the frame. Jorge Posada led off with a solo home run off of A’s closer Andrew Bailey, closing the deficit to 6-4. Russell Martin followed with a double, and Brett Gardner reached on third baseman Scott Sizemore’s error, putting runners on first and second with no outs and bringing Derek Jeter to the plate.

Jeter is tremendously hot right now. He came into the game hitting .339 since returning from the disabled list and he went 3-for-3 with a walk prior to the ninth-inning plate appearance. Again, the Yankees needed not one run, but two. In baseball this year, teams that have put runners on first and second with no outs have scored an average of 1.4 runs, which is to say the Yankees stood a very good chance of scoring one run there and a solid chance at scoring another. Teams that have runners on second and third with one out see their expected runs go down to 1.3, a fractionally smaller number, but it’s still less of a chance to score. I leave it to you whether eliminating the double play was worth trading that fraction of a run as well as the possibility of having three chances to score those two runs instead of two. Again, we’re talking about old school Derek Jeter here, not April-June Jeter. The formerly ground-ball obsessed GDP expert has hit into just three twin killings in 40 games, the last one coming about two weeks ago. What do you do?

Girardi chose to take the bat out of Jeter’s hands.

Center Stage

Steve Goldman looks at Curtis Granderson as an MVP candidate. He examines stats from Baseball Prospectus, Fangraphs and Baseball-Reference and says that:

One of the main reasons for variance between these measurements is the way they handle fielding, with each having different ways of tabulating a player’s defensive contribution. What is fascinating is that despite this, all three rankings agree that Granderson shouldn’t be anywhere near the MVP award, and they agree on the reason: they think he has been a poor defensive player this year. Conversely, they agree that Brett Gardner has been a spectacular defensive player, which is why he shows up in the top 10 for two of the three sites (Gardner ranks 17th in BP’s hierarchy). BP’s fielding runs say that Granderson has set the Yankees back about 10 runs with the glove beyond what an average defender would have done, equivalent to a full win. Fangraphs’ version of the same says about the same thing with -8 runs, while BB-Ref generously only penalizes him seven runs.

What perplexes me here is that I can’t see it, whether on television or at the ballpark. When we talk about Derek Jeter’s defensive deficiencies, I have always been able to see his difficulties going to his left. The statistics merely confirmed what I already knew. In this case, Granderson’s problems aren’t obvious to me, so I ask you: have you noticed Granderson fail to play a solid center field?

That’s a good question. I have a hard time wrapping my head around fielding stats, that’s for sure.

[Photo Credit: ESPN]

You’re All Wet

Before we get to the usual Yankee-Red Sox excitement, a brief word on A.J. Burnett. Here’s Steven Goldman:

His numbers aren’t that bad,” said Joe Girardi on Wednesday night. “If you look at the numbers of Hughes, I mean, Hughesy made one good start. We look at the whole year, and A.J.’s been decent for us.”

Joe: you’re measuring by the wrong yardstick, the yardstick of hyper-inflated super-offense. We aren’t there this year. The AL is scoring 4.3 runs per game. The last time you could say that was 1992. Burnett hasn’t been the outright disaster that he was last year, but “decent” might be generous. His ERA has risen every month of the season. He has a career-high home-run rate going… And he’s signed through 2013, so no one wants to admit that the higher upside is to be found elsewhere.

Mike Mussina was dropped from the rotation when he struggled in 2007. Ron Guidry was sent to the bullpen a couple of times towards the end of his career. It doesn’t have to be that Phil Hughes ends up in the bullpen, assuming he continues to pitch well (big assumption, I know) or Ivan Nova heads to Triple-A. There are other options, no matter how seemingly disruptive. The point is to win, not to spend four years avoiding the consequences of an ill-considered contract.

Loyal reader, Dina Colarossi, has a fine solution: “I think his new role should be sitting in a dunk tank outside the stadium before every game. Charge people $5 a shot, and they will recoup his contract in no time at all.”

And just think how much better we’d feel.

[Photo Credit: N.J.com]

Know When to Fold 'Em

Steven Goldman looks at A.J. Burnett vs. Ivan Nova:

Everything about Nova—good fastball but weak secondary offerings and a tendency to stop fooling hitters in the middle innings seems to scream relief work. He might someday develop that solid extra pitch, but it’s a gamble, whereas a Jimenez (or another established pitcher) has already cleared that particular hurdle. I remain a strong believer in internal development and a youth movement for the Yankees, but I don’t believe in youth solely for youth’s sake—if that was a goal worth pursuing, you could bring up any kid from any level of the minors. No, the youngster has to be demonstrably better than what you currently have. Nova is better than Burnett right now, but in the long term he’s likely to be surpassed. He’s just not special, and when someone offers to trade you their best stuff for your everyday, average players, you jump. That’s how legendarily lopsided trades are born. Every deal is a gamble, but Nova is not one of those chips not likely to come back and bite them.

In short, when it comes to Nova, the Yankees need to use him (for Burnett) or lose him (for someone better than Burnett and himself).

Bible Thumpin'

Our pals, the Three Amigos, are doing some fine work over at PB.

Here’s Cliff on Derek Jeter

Goldie on Eduardo Nunez and Jesus Montero and

Jay on Fab Five Freddy and the  incredible Curtis Granderson.

Class is in session.

Is He Gone Yet?

Saying goodbye is never easy. Just ask Andy Pettitte who is taking his own sweet time to announce his retirement (this just in…Bernie Williams still hasn’t officially retired).

According to Brian Costello in the Post:

“We’ve been moving forward as if he’s not playing,” Cashman said. “He may tell us otherwise at some point, but, no, this week we’re not expecting to hear anything from Andy. He’s already given us the courtesy on several occasions of telling us don’t count on him and he’s not expecting to play. It’s not official, but he didn’t want to hold us up.”

…”He might call and say, ‘Hey, I want to play,’ but I don’t expect a call with him telling us, ‘Hey, I’m not playing,’ because he’s kind of already told us don’t count on me playing,” Cashman said.

A few weeks ago, Steven Goldman was exhausted by this story:

They Yankee with the third-most wins in team history has been waffling all winter, and his indecision has been accorded more weight than it deserves. A 39-year-old pitcher who made only 21 starts the previous season, no matter how good, only deserves to be accorded so much projected value.

…If We Don't We're Gonna Blow a 50-Amp Fuse

Steven Goldman’s latest take on Brian Cashman and the Yankees’ off-season:

On one hand, Cashman’s nerves are understandable. He has a reliable ace in CC Sabathia and then four question marks. However, you would think he would be excited about what a great opportunity the team has to get better and save money at the same time. As I’ve said throughout the offseason, the Yankees have so many near-ready pitching prospects that at least one of them should pay off. It’s entirely possible they go 0-for-8 or so in young starters in 2011, but it seems unlikely, especially given how talented some of these kids are. While only one of them seems to have true ace potential at this writing (young Mr. Betances), somewhere on this year’s Scranton or Trenton rosters lurks a pitcher or two who can fill out the back of a rotation better than Dustin Moseley or Sergio Mitre can, and that’s all the Yankees really need if their offense and defense are up to last year’s standards. What should be even better from Cashman’s point of view is not only can these tyro hurlers be good, they won’t be arbitration eligible for two or three years.

If all of Cashman’s fears are justified, then 2011 turns out to be a transition year as the Yankees break in their new rotation. Yes, the results-only crowd, which tends to include Yankees ownership, would consider that a disappointment. The problem is, as the Pavano-Wright epoch demonstrates, you can’t force these things. Even Cliff Lee by himself wouldn’t have made 2011 any more of a sure thing, though he would have reduced the number of gambles the Yankees would have to undertake. Penciling Freddy Garcia and his 4.50-5.00 ERA into the rotation won’t change a thing except to lower the team’s profit margins. If the Yankees want to take an injury-prone, low-strikeout fly-ball pitcher and stick him in Yankee Stadium and have him shell the Bleacher Creatures, that’s their right, but it isn’t smart and it isn’t better than letting a kid do the same thing, because the kid is cheaper and might actually get better.

Bible Studies

Over at the Pinstriped Bible, Jay writes about Bill Hall:

At some point, Hall began working out in the offseason with Yankee hitting coach and noted resurrectionist Kevin Long, who’s done a magnificent job of straightening out both Nick Swisher and Curtis Granderson over the past couple of years. Traded to Boston for Casey Kotchman, Hall found plenty of playing time in left field, at second base and in spot duty at five other positions (including an inning on the mound!) for the injury-wracked Sox, and he turned in a season whose overall line is almost a dead ringer for his career numbers, hitting .247/.316/.456 with 18 homers in 382 PA. Underneath the hood, he had a strong rebound against righties at the expense of a brutal year against lefties, some of which may have had to do with habits developed to succeed in Fenway; he took advantage of his natural pull tendency and hit a lot of fly balls off of and over the Green Monster.

In all, Hall would bring an intriguing skill set to the Yankees, as well as liabilities. Unlike Peña, he can competently fill in at six positions (second, short, third, and the outfield) for weeks at a time in the event another player hits the DL, and he can pop a ball out of the yard every now and then. But he’s got a history of contact woes and widely variable performances; anyone who’d be surprised if he were to be suddenly released in June while hitting .141 in minimal playing time because he’s suddenly forgotten how to hit to the opposite field hasn’t been paying attention. Still, for a few million dollars — and particularly with Long on hand to monitor his swing — he’d be a big upgrade on what the Yankees had on the bench last year.

While Steve takes on the Justin Upton rumors:

Upton is one of the most talented young players in baseball. The first overall pick of the 2005 draft, he tore the cover off the ball at two levels at 19 and made his major-league debut that same year. His age-20 season wasn’t great by the standards of right fielders, but was fantastic given his age. In 2009, he followed with one of the better seasons ever produced by a 21-year-old. His hitting .300/.366/.532 in the majors when most players his age were in Single- or Double-A compared favorably with any number of current or future Hall of Famers, a list stretching from Ted Williams and Jimmie Foxx to Alex Rodriguez and Albert Pujols.

This season was a different story. Like his older brother B.J., who had a big season at 22 and then went backwards, Upton disappointed with a .273/.356/.442 season in 2010. Ironically, if he had been a 22-year-old rookie, we might look at the season and say, “Not bad. A little inadequate for a right fielder, but he’s only 22 and maybe he builds on this.” Upton had already set a higher bar for himself, so his season was inevitably seen as a letdown.

It is difficult to pinpoint is the reason why Upton had such an off year, but at 23 it is far too soon to give up on him. He has speed, power, good speed in the outfield, and is probably still several years from the center of his prime. He is also right-handed, and though he didn’t hit lefties very well in 2010, in 2009 he murdered them, hitting .377/.445/.762. In games started by left-handers, the Yankees were 31-27 (.534) versus 64-40 against right-handers (.615).

Hot Stove Rountable, Part II

Final Days

Charles Pierce and Steven Goldman on Sparky Anderson.

Running on Empty?

Over at PB, Steve Goldman reflects back on the 1958 Whirled Serious. The Yanks won, coming back from a 3-1 hole:

Casey did some things that Joe Girardi can’t do. He can’t/won’t ask CC Sabathia to pitch in every game, he can’t ask Mariano Rivera to throw four innings—hell, it seems like he can’t ask Rivera to throw at all—but Joe also has some things that Casey didn’t have, like a bullpen stocked with pitchers, some of whom aren’t Sergio Mitre or Dustin Moseley. He has far more freedom to make moves with pitchers than Stengel had, and at much less of a risk to anyone’s health. In short, if there is any lesson to be taken away from the 1958 World Series, it is this: HEY, JOE: QUICK HOOK.

Back to the (immediate) future, Cliff wasn’t moved by yesterday’s Yankee win:

Perhaps its because, even if they do come back to tie this series, they’ll still have to beat Cliff Lee in Game Seven to win it. Perhaps its because, after being dominated by the Rangers for four games, a single win, even a lop-sided one such as the 7-2 Game Five, doesn’t carry enough weight to restore balance to the series. Whatever it is, Game Five felt like a repeat of Game Three of the 2007 Division Series against the Indians, a face-saving but empty victory that did little other than postpone the inevitable series loss suffered in the following game.

The Price is Right

I think David Price and the Rays will find a way to beat Cliff Lee and the Rangers tomorrow night. Either way, neither Lee or Price is likely to start Game One of the ALCS against the Yankees. Over at the Pinstriped Bible, Steve Goldman takes a look at the possible pitching rotation for the New Yorkers:

Now, we know that the Rangers are reluctant to use Lee on short rest, but perhaps young Price won’t be subject to the same limitations. Yet, moving up Price, or Lee for that matter, doesn’t change anything. Whether they pitch Saturday (three days) or Monday (five days), they’re getting two starts in the seven games. If they pitch on regular rest on Monday, they have the benefit of their usual recovery time, and the manager retains the option of asking them to come back on short rest for Game 6 or regular rest for Game 7.

After the first four games, determining the matchups becomes difficult and depressing. Given Andy Pettitte’s fragile physical state, it seems spectacularly unlikely he would pitch on short rest for Game 5. That means A.J. Burnett or Ivan Nova or Waite Hoyt or someone who wouldn’t ideally start is going if Game 5 is necessary. One alternative, and it’s probably not a good idea or even a realistic one, is Hughes pitching Game 2 . This would open up the possibility of shis tarting Game 5 on three day’s rest. Then Pettitte would pitch Game 3 and would line up to pitch in the seventh game if, for some reason, Sabathia couldn’t make another short-rest start.

Massive Attack

The Yankees roster is set.

AJ Burnett isn’t all bad, after all. Dig this from Chad Jennings:

“It would be silly for Hughesy not to start,” said Burnett.

…“Joe’s the best manager I ever played for…He’s done more for me this year probably than any manager has ever done. He cares about me as a person and as a player. I’ll be down in that pen and be ready to get one out or two outs or whatever I’ve got to do for him.”

Cliff breaks down the line ups for the ALDS like only he can.

Jay roasts it up at BP.

And Steve Goldman’s always droppin’ science:

Andy Pettitte starts Game 2: This isn’t necessarily a bad decision, because if healthy, Pettitte is a terrific, experienced pitcher who any team would like to have on the mound in a tight spot. That said, foregoing the opportunity to let Phil Hughes pitch before Target Field’s wall of wind (“The Air Monster?”) seems like an error.

…Greg Golson makes the postseason roster: This is not a bad call as Golson can play defense, pinch-run, and swing at a southpaw in an emergency. Hopefully, Joe Girardi can remember not to make moves with Golson that he wouldn’t have made during the regular season. Otherwise, Golson will pinch-run for Nick Swisher in the fourth inning of some game and then end up getting three at-bats.

[Picture by Chris Giarrusso]

Mix n Match

Over at PB, Steve Goldman writes that Joe Girardi is not to be confused with John McGraw (or even Billy Martin).

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"This ain't football. We do this every day."
--Earl Weaver