Links and Tidbits

Things I learned while surfing the Web last night:

  • Don’t blame the juice, unless you mean the ball.
  • Never mind Engel Beltre, the Red Sox may have traded the best change-up in baseball for the post-roid shell of Eric Gagne. Never has a trade looked so good and so bad within just six months.
  • Not only are the Red Sox the best team in baseball, but they’re the nicest, too!
  • Carl Pavano is a menace to everyone around him.
  • Joe Girardi is making sure the Yankees are as boring as ever — "each Yankee found a printed list of rules on the chair in front of his locker, 17 in all, [including] … a ban on earrings."
  • Just when you think you can make a safe assumption ("this is the first time in over a decade [the Yankees] are nobody’s AL East favorite"), Baseball Prospectus blows it up.
25 comments… add one
  • The big difference, I think, between common wisdom (Heyman) and more reasoned analysis (BP) is the status of the rotations. And there, because Schilling is out, it comes down to the kids, and depth. I see it as:
    1 – Beckett v. Wang; Edge SOX
    2 – Dice-K v. Pettitte; Edge YANKS
    3 – Wakefield v. Mussina; PUSH
    4 – Buchholz v. Hughes; PUSH
    5 – Lester v. IPK; PUSH
    Of course, that leaves out Joba for the Yanks. But where ever he ends up, the Yanks seem to have the advantage of his 150 innings. Furthermore, of the two systems, the Yanks seems to have more starting pitching depth, as widely ranked. Sure, Dice-K could have a breakout season, but to me he should be judged only on what he’s shown so far.
    I love how Papelbon came out and said the Sox are the team to beat “if healthy”. Well, isn’t that a statement beyond obvious. Problem is, they’re already not healthy. And of the two teams, they have the only other 40 year old. Whereas the Yanks definitely slot in Joba with an injury to Moose or Pettitte, what happens if Wakefield goes down? Tavarez?

    A YF February 17, 2008, 9:34 am
  • We already had the Joba rules. Now we have the Joegee rules. Here’s what’s listed in the link above:
    1. Be on time. No excuse for lateness.
    Great rule, especially if it applies to the bats of Bobby, Robi, and Melky prior to the all-star break.
    2. Shorts and T-shirts only permitted during spring training.
    Notice he didn’t say that a shirt was required.. mmm more shots of ARod sunbathing. Woot!  What? So? He’s smokin’.
    3. Curfew of 1 a.m.
    *image of Joe sneaking around with a flashlight doing bed checks*

    4. Jewelry – only one chain is permitted. No earrings.

    Who will be the first major-leaguer to wear a nose ring? There’s already a couple of pierced nipples on the squad. Prince Albert? Anyone? Anyone?
5. Only neatly cut beards, mustaches, goatees. No long hair or “unshaven looks.”

    Science has not yet provided a material durable and sharp enough to pierce Jason’s muzzle. NASA uses it on the heat shields of the space shuttles.
6. No family members in the clubhouse until after games.
    Which gets me to thinking: why don’t we ever see Hank and Hal at the same time?
7. No cell phones in the dugout.
    Resistance is futile. Neither your agent nor the players’ association can help you. You will be assimilated.
8. Cell phones only allowed in the clubhouse until one hour before games.

    Now it’s starting to sound like “Joe’s Cider House Rules.” Why doesn’t he just say, “no cell phones.”
9. No competing speakers in the clubhouse.
    The Yankees clubhouse is nothing but competing speakers. I guess now ARod, Jetes, Jorge and Johnny are going to have to sing barbershop.

    The list in the link only had rules one through nine. Here’s the rest of the rules that I received on good authority:
    10. Please don’t smoke in bed.
    11. Please don’t call the manager “Little Joe”, “Joe Jr.”, “The Little General”, “Joe and is the volcano”, “Napoleon as Josephine”, “Meet Joe Backstop”, or “You’re no Donny.”
    12. Please don’t go up to the roof to eat your lunch.
    13. Under no circumstance shall you try and show “it” to the Laker Girls.
    14. Please — even if you are very hot — do not go up to the roof to sleep.
    15. Under no circumstance when Moose throws his fastball will you tell him “nice change-up.”
    16. There should be no going up on the roof at night.
    17. Be careful when walking on the tile floor in the shower. It’s Pavano when wet.

    attackgerbil February 17, 2008, 1:55 pm
  • The “New” rules don’t sound any different then the rules that Torre had. Those seem to be simple, standard Yankee rules. I don’t see anything there about Nipple rings? I guess Joba is in the clear.

    John - YF February 17, 2008, 2:42 pm
  • It is not surprising such rules exist for Yankees:
    In lieu of Roger,
    and of Pettitte,
    and of Giambi,
    and of Sheffield,
    and of knobloch,
    and of Brown,
    and of Grimsley,
    and of Justice,
    and of Villone, Velarde, Neagle, Naulty, Morris, Manzinillo, Holmes, Hill, Estalella and Bones.
    No, not at all.
    But will some ethical Yankee fan please step up and denounce the three-peat from ’98 to ’00?
    Thank you and have a wonderful, and hopefully clean, 2008 season.

    Dirty Water February 17, 2008, 7:24 pm
  • > ethical Yankee fan.
    Well, I’m out.

    attackgerbil February 17, 2008, 8:03 pm
  • 2 – Dice-K v. Pettitte; Edge YANKS
    In what universe? The universe where Pettitte isn’t 10 years older than Matsuzaka and coming off a season in which he was in the Top 10 in both hits and walks allowed?
    Just for the record, these are their 2007 peripherals:
    Dice – Stat – Pettitte
    8.84 – K/9 – 5.89
    3.52 – BB/9 – 2.88
    8.40 – H/9 – 9.95
    2.51 – K/BB – 2.04
    1.32 – WHIP – 1.43
    .249 – BAA – .282
    And while Pettitte posted a better ERA than Matsuzaka (4.05-4.48), their ERA+ was almost identical (110-108, thanks to park factors) and Matsuzaka led in WPA, 1.68-0.65.
    Perhaps that’s why Bill James, CHONE, Ron Shandler, PECOTA and ZiPS all project Matsuzaka to have a much better season than Pettitte next year, with Marcel the lone system to pick Pettitte.

    Paul SF February 17, 2008, 8:29 pm
  • Well, if you buy into the projections, then I guess you believe the Yankees have the better team? Especially after Schilling went down?
    On Dice-K, in the universe where he’s just as likely to improve as to regress. He feels very much like a prospect in that regard. The peripherals show he was luckier than Pettitte (BABIP: .301 vs. .325). Pettitte has a 118 career ERA+. Based on a much bigger sample, he’s clearly a better pitcher until proven otherwise.
    Furthermore, if you want to hang your hat on the projections, the Yankees would seem to have more of an advantage based on what Joba /Hughes/IPK are expected to do vs. Buchholz/Lester/?????
    It should be another great season. Let’s not argue about this stuff. My only point is that I can see how BP ranks the teams as they do, especially with Schilling missing significant time, if not the whole year.

    A YF February 17, 2008, 8:56 pm
  • The peripherals show he was luckier than Pettitte (BABIP: .301 vs. .325)
    But Pettitte’s career BABIP is .315, and his 2007 actually was lower than his 2006, so I don’t see a big improvement from Pettitte even if his luck shifts closer to his mean.
    [I edited this portion of my comment after I realized I mixed up whose BABIP was whose].
    he’s clearly a better pitcher until proven otherwise.
    A 118 career ERA+ means very little when predicting future performance when the player is going to be 36 (and has reached that average just once since 2002). The 2007 numbers I listed show that Matsuzaka already proved that he was the better pitcher last year, so it should be no surprise that most projection systems disagree with your contention that Pettitte will be better than Matsuzaka.
    I used the projections as corroborating opinions, not the basis for my argument, as you seem to be alleging, so bringing up Schilling and other projections and extrapolations is just noise. I agree with your other assessments, but the key is your Pettitte vs. Matsuzaka comp, which I don’t see as being in any way realistic. The Sox are clearly better than the Yanks in the top two slots in their rotation, and it’s not particularly close. Of course, anything can happen, and Wang and Pettitte could both have better years — I’m not saying their incapable of doing so. But it’s not something I’d be counting on.

    Paul SF February 17, 2008, 9:10 pm
  • “The 2007 numbers I listed show that Matsuzaka already proved that he was the better pitcher last year”.
    I don’t see that – at all. Pettitte gave up more hits because he was less lucky. Otherwise everything else is very close. I’d be willing to assent that the comp is a PUSH, but again I don’t put much weight in one year from a pitcher. Dontrelle Willis was recently very good with a funky delivery and stuff. Now not so much.
    118 ERA+ means Pettitte is already proven as a better pitcher with a much longer track record. Dice-K is working off of one season. To assume he’ll get better just because he’s younger is as much of a guess as any other prospect with one year in the game.
    The rest isn’t noise, because based on the same projection systems you’re using for Dice-K, the Yankees get the edge at the back of the rotation. So regardless of one slot in the rotations, I’m interested more in why Heyman (and Papelbon) are saying what they’re saying. The match ups are very close across the board, especially with Schilling down (and possible out all season). Frankly, I’m not much interested in an argument based on projections, especially for pitchers.

    A YF February 17, 2008, 9:26 pm
  • Frankly, I’m not much interested in an argument based on projections, especially for pitchers.
    An odd statement, since you started by projecting which team had the better slot-by-slot rotation. Why back off when one of those projections is challenged?
    Anyway, this statement — Pettitte gave up more hits because he was less lucky. — made me curious. If Matsuzaka had a BABIP of .323, what would his hits have looked like?
    Best I can tell (doing quick-and-dirty math), Matsuzaka would have allowed 10 more hits with a BABIP roughly 20 points higher than his 2007, pushing his H/9 to 8.84, or still far better than Pettitte last season. So I think we can discount luck as the reason why Pettitte gave up more hits — and it still wouldn’t explain three more K/9 or one fewer baserunner per nine.
    Incidentally, I do agree that one season isn’t enough to go on to make a firm statement one way or the other, but considering Matsuzaka had the better 2007 and is still in the prime of his career, I don’t think it’s unreasonable to make educated guesses based on past experience with pitchers posting those numbers at those ages. The likelihood is that Daisuke will be better than Pettitte — again.

    Paul SF February 17, 2008, 9:45 pm
  • look, all i know is….if andy feels an obligation to his team, he’s willing to do anything to get the job done. that’s the kinda guy you want on your staff…..i think.

    sf rod February 17, 2008, 10:33 pm
  • “but considering Matsuzaka had the better 2007 and is still in the prime of his career”
    this is a debatable subject–by no means definitive.
    Pettitee’s ERA+ 110
    Dice-K’s ERA+ 108
    We can argue periperal stats all we like, but the result was pretty similar.

    Nick-YF February 17, 2008, 11:11 pm
  • Peripherals are better indicators of future performance — and truer indicators of past performance — than ERA/ERA+.

    Paul SF February 17, 2008, 11:34 pm
  • “An odd statement, since you started by projecting which team had the better slot-by-slot rotation. Why back off when one of those projections is challenged?”
    Not odd at all. My interest begins and ends with the prevailing views on where the two teams sit before the season starts. Presumably, most commentators are seeing the Sox as having the much better rotation. But the projections – overall – show nary a hair of difference, and if anything give the Yankees the edge based on the better youth and depth. Considering that the Yanks are widely viewed to have a better offense, I’m just not surprised by the BP analysis, but very surprised at what everyone seems to be saying. Breaking down the pitchers was just one way to show how close the rotations are, especially since Shilling went down.
    “this is a debatable subject–by no means definitive.”
    That’s exactly right. I place greater weight on the sum of a player’s career. Others seem to place greater much greater weight on one season from a first-year player.
    “Peripherals are better indicators of future performance — and truer indicators of past performance — than ERA/ERA+.”
    It’s convenient to leave out walks. For me, that’s what will really determine the nature of Dice-K’s 2008 given how often he would completely lose it last year.

    A YF February 18, 2008, 6:43 am
  • I guess it has to do with the Yankees finsihing just two games behind Boston last year despite significantly worse injury situations?

    RollingWave February 18, 2008, 7:46 am
  • Another thing to add, looking at the rotation purely on the first 5 man is often misleading, because almost NO team every make it through the season without at least 7 to 8 guys getting starts. and in the Yank/ Sox case with so many very young or very old guys, it’s only more likely to go up then down.
    thinking more closely about the next 5 guys might give a better idea on why the projections (which is after all, just projections) like the Yankees so much

    RollingWave February 18, 2008, 7:49 am
  • “and truer indicators of past performance — than ERA/ERA+.”
    This is where, I believe, I have a bit of a philosophical difference with you, Paul, which is fine. It’s what makes baseball discussions so lively and interesting. In the specific case of Matsuzaka v. Pettitte, I don’t happen to think the peripherals are that different as to suggest one player had a better year over the other. Dice-K had significantly more strike outs. Pettitte’s walk rate was lower. Dice-K gave up fewer hits. Pettitte gave up fewers homers. Pettitte logged a few more innings. But a larger point is that regardless of peripheral stats, at a certain point, I believe, you have to look at the bottom line–which I think means you should look at runs given up by these pitchers. Mark Beurhle and Tom Glavine have had remarkable careers outperforming their peripheral numbers. In other words, I think the peripheral argument falls short in their cases.

    Nick-YF February 18, 2008, 9:31 am
  • Fair enough, Nick. My first instinct is to look at ERA/ERA+, but in this case, the results were pretty similar, so I went to the periphs to see if there was any separation.
    The big problem with Matsuzaka last year was the walks, and I agree that he needs to bring those down to have success in the bigs. It seems realistic to believe that he can, as he gets more used to the American ball, strike zone, mound composition, etc.
    What the periphs clearly show is that Matsuzaka is better at missing bats than Pettitte (fewer hits, more strikeouts). I would gamble on that pitcher having the better year — particualrly when he’s going to be 27, as opposed to 36.

    Paul SF February 18, 2008, 10:27 am
  • One thing that has not been brought up is VORP, WARP and RAR. Daisuke is in the top 10-15 in SP’s in all 3, while AP is in the top 40. I know those 3 (VORP, WARP and RAR) are generally used for fantasy use, but in a case like this it can only help clear up the haze a little.
    This is a discussion I really have little interest in soley because I have so many concerns with the Yankees SP. What does Moose give you? How does Joe G. stretch 140 over the course of the season and maximize Joba’s usefullness? Is IPK as good as his small sample size in the bigs showed? How does a playoff caliber team balance between the health and future of their “Big 3” and a pennant/playoff race? To compare the Yankees to the Sox is really not a productive or telling exercise. You can disect the bottom 2-5 all you’d like, they have something we don’t and that’s a legit, shut down #1. Now Joba or Phil may be that someday but until that day comes the Sox have the edge regardless of what 2-5 look like. The Sox have ?’s too, but when you have a #1 like they do it minimizes the other would be flaws.

    John - YF February 18, 2008, 11:19 am
  • Here are some things I think are key to Daisuke having a successful season:
    1. More consistent command, particularly with the 4-seam fastball.
    2. Adjustment to pitching with 4 days rest and a 162 game season. Matsuzaka has said that he tired as the season wore on and never really got a second wind.
    3. Lower pitch counts. This should help with his fatigue problem.
    4. Finally, a better hair style. That mullet is embarrassing and really has to go. This website might be of some help.

    SoxFan February 18, 2008, 11:51 am
  • Since this thread is about tidbits…
    “I’m not going to count out the Braves,” Victorino said. “What, did this become a two-team race now? Don’t overlook Atlanta. With their pitching staff that they’ve got -Glavine, Maddux, Smoltz, Hudson, Hampton – you’ve got five starters there that can be on my team. It’s so funny. It’s been Mets-Phillies, but don’t sleep on the Braves. They’re probably laughing inside, not saying anything – like, ‘Okay, just let us go to work.'”
    Can someone please tell the Flyin’ Hawaiian what’s wrong with that statement?
    Kyle Kendrick’s almost Trade was hysterical!

    John - YF February 18, 2008, 12:19 pm
  • Wow, John, that’s awesome. Maybe he thinks 2008 is just a 90s Braves reunion tour based on their bringing Glavine back?

    Devine February 18, 2008, 1:59 pm
  • I’m using this as an open thread to rant a little bit.
    I was at Virgin Megastore at Times Square playing MLB 07 (or 08, wasn’t paying attention) and I was playing Yanks against my friend’s Mets.
    Now, I know all Sox fans aren’t like this, but I literally got heckled the entire game by this Sox fan (decked out in Sox gear – a hat, leather jacket, etc), including traitor calls every time Damon is up at the plate.
    I wasn’t even wearing anything that day (though I usually have a Yanks hat) but ya..

    Lar February 19, 2008, 10:10 am
  • Sorry, mang. That is very annoying. Hope you won (or were winning) the game to shove it in his face a little.

    Devine February 19, 2008, 11:31 am
  • Ya, haha, just had to rant about it. It was quite unnecessary.. luckily it was just with my pal who also didn’t really care. If I was with my little brother or something it might’ve been an annoying situation..

    Lar February 19, 2008, 12:52 pm

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