Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Not Feeling So Good

A couple weeks ago I made the comment to my colleague, Burch, that I wasn't scared of the Rays. Although the team wasn't playing well, I felt they would play better sooner rather than later. To go along with that was the fact the Yankees had a 6 game lead in the AL East. Well here we are today, and I'm starting to get a little worried. That's right, good ole Mr. Optimistic is not feeling so... optimistic.

I still believe the Yankees will win the division, and avoid a one-game playoff with the other Wild Card winner, but I'm not as strong in that belief as I was. So I took a trip over to Fangraphs in order to see if the numbers gave me a clearer picture of things.

Did you know that Fangraphs is located in the middle of a desert?

I wanted to look at things over the last 30 days, because in that time I've been disappointed with the way the team has played. The starting pitching has been good, but the relievers have been less than impressive. The Yankee bullpen, over the last 30 days, rank 5th in WAR, 5th in FIP, and 11th in ERA in the American League. Those rankings may not seem bad, but when you see that the Rays rank 3rd, 1st, and 1st in those same stats then you start to see a problem.

When you look at starting pitching, and add that to what I just said about relief pitching, things get more worrisome. While the Yankees rank 4th in starter's WAR in the AL, the Rays starters rank 2nd. When it comes to starter's FIP the Yanks rank 5th and the Rays 2nd. And in ERA it's Yankees 7th and Rays 1st.

So whether you look at things from a starting standpoint, or a relieving standpoint, the Rays have been better in the last 30 days.

But team hitting is clearly in the Yankees favor.


When you look at each teams hitting WAR, wRC+, and wOBA over the last 30 days the Yankees better in all three. The Bombers have a WAR of 4.6, wRC+ of 111, and wOBA of .339. Not that the Rays offense isn't good though, as their team WAR is 3.8, wRC+ is 98, and wOBA is .310. But the Yankees team hitting is better.

It's when I looked at each team's runs scored and runs against that I started to look like the guy in that last picture (yeah, sorry, that's not actually me). You see, while the Yankees have scored 136 runs over the last 30 days, the Rays have scored 125. And you have to keep in mind that the Rays didn't have Evan Longoria for 9 of those games in said time period. When it comes to run prevention things really separate... the Yankees have given up 123 runs, while the Rays have only given up 64. That all works out to the Yankees having a run differential, over the past 30 days, of +13, while the Rays run differential is +61.

Finally you have to look at the fact the Yankees have lost Mark Teixeira for at least a week (Jeter missed 18 games with a calf strain last season), Alex Rodriguez's return is probably a couple of weeks away,  and if it wasn't for Jeter and Swisher having OPSs of 1.078 and 1.168, this team could already be looking up at Tampa Bay in the AL East standings.

Oh, and to top it all off, Steve Pearce is batting clean-up for the Yankees tonight against Cleveland.

Yankee fans felt the same way after seeing tonight's lineup.

So while I still believe the Yankees will win the AL East, they are making it harder and harder to be so optimistic.

Blue Jays @ Yankees 8/28/12

Casey McGehee was sent down to Low A Charleston to make room for Steve Pearce because he will be eligible to be called up back up on 9/3 because Charleston is not going to the playoffs and the Thunder and Empire State Yankees probably are.

Yankees win 2-1

The Yankees will play the second game of their three game set against the Toronto Blue Jays tonight at Yankees Stadium. On the mound for the Yankees will be Phil Hughes on an extra day's rest so maybe he will be sharp with that curveball. Opposing him will be the Blue Jays Ricky Romero. The game will be televised at 7:05 pm ET on YES.


Derek Jeter SS
Nick Swisher 1B
Robinson Cano 2B
Steve Pearce DH
Russell Martin C
Curtis Granderson CF
Andruw Jones RF
Jayson Nix 3B
Ichiro Suzuki LF

Go Yankees!!

Dave Miley Wins IL Manager Of The Year Award

Yankees AAA manager Dave Miley has won the minor league International League manager of the year. The Scranton WIlkes-Barre Yankees, or the Empire State Yankees whichever way you look at it, are one game away from winning their division which is not too shabby for a team without a home this season. Miley also won the award in 2007 with the same Scranton team.  Scranton has the second best record in the International League with a 81-47 record this season. Congrats to Dave!

Alex Rodriguez & Andy Pettitte Injury Update

Alex Rodriguez and Andy Pettitte both went to see the team doctor before last night's devastating loss and we got some more good and encouraging news for both of them.

Alex Rodriguez is cleared to take full batting practice with no restrictions. He has been long tossing and hitting off of a tee for weeks now so this is a major step. Barring any *gulp* setbacks we should see Arod in a minor league game as early as the weekend or early next week. We really need him back so hopefully this all goes well for his sake and the Yankees sake.

Andy Pettitte is taking another step forward in his possible September return as he was cleared to start throwing off of a mound this week. Andy has been throwing off of flat ground and has had no troubles or set backs so this is the next step. Andy is expected to, again without any setbacks *quivers*, pitch in minor league rehab assignments possibly during the AA and AAA playoffs. Talk about a playoff tune up for the old left hander. We, much like A Rod, really need a healthy Andy back right now so again I hope that all goes well in this next major step.

Another Scoreless Inning For Feliciano In Rehab

Pedro Feliciano made his sixth rehab appearance tonight, this time with the AA affiliate Trenton Thunder. Pedro threw 17 pitches, 9 for strikes, with two strike outs and a walk in his latest scoreless inning. He was only hitting 84 MPH on the radar gun. A mid September return for Feliciano is still the plan going forward which is encouraging for us.

Meet A Prospect : Brandon Laird

With September call ups and an expanded active roster on the way I thought it would be a good time to look at the prospects that we have on the 40 man roster that may not be household names. We will continue our series with AAA affiliate Empire State Yankees 3B prospect Brandon Laird.

Brandon J Laird was born on September 11th, 1987 in Cypress California. Brandon comes from baseball bloodlines with his older brother, Gerald Laird, being a catcher in the majors for the Detroit Tigers. Brandon spent his high school years at La Quinta High School in Westminster, California. After finishing his high school career he was drafted by the Cleveland Indians in the 27th round in 2005 but did not sign and instead decided to attend Cypress College in California. Two years Later Laird was drafted by the New York Yankees in the 27th round and later signed.

This is Laird's second season under 40 man protection from the Rule 5 draft and is playing at the hot corner for the AAA Empire State Yankees. This was after Laird was named the MVP and Rookie of the Year of the Eastern League after belting over 20 home runs in a season. He was called up to the show for a short cup of coffee in July of 2011 after a Ramiro Pena injury and is looking to make that happen again. After getting a hit and an RBI in his first game off then Atheltics pitcher Craig Breslow he came around to score his first run in that game. When he was quickly sent back down the minors he did nothing but win the 2011 Minor League Gold Glove award at 3B.  Laird, now 24 years old, is running out of time and options though if he has any dreams of being a Yankee. Laird seems like an all or nothing kind of Adam Dunn power hitter but he may have a future in the majors, albeit in a limited role, because of his defense. 

Laird has great bat speed and even has great plate discipline, which sounds weird when you see him swing out of the zone sometimes, and is never off balance at the plate. His main downfall, besides a pretty high K/BB ratio, is he is a little over aggressive sometimes and likes to go outside the strike zone trying to do too  much. Laird has very raw power that he is trying to tap into in AAA and is very streaky with his power but seems to be an excellent August hitter with a career .335 average in August. His range at 3B is considered mediocre and his footwork is considered atrocious, although his first base mechanics and foot work is really bragged on by most scouts. He is far from a defensive liability or someone you have to hide at DH but he has a lot to work on.