Thursday, January 21, 2016

The Boring Winter Ahead: Watch the 2001 World Series Game Five HERE

Game 5 of the 2001 World Series between the New York Yankees and the Arizona Diamondbacks.

Rob Manfred Announces Changes to Non-Waiver Trade Deadline

Predicting the New York Yankees Bullpen

The New York Yankees bullpen has the possibility of being absolutely ridiculous in 2015, but in a good way. Aroldis Chapman, even with a suspension, will be the Yankees closer for the season while some combination of Andrew Miller and Dellin Betances will pitch behind him in the 7th and 8th innings respectively. Behind this three headed monster will be a collection of arms drawn from an ever growing pool of pitchers that were either under contract from previous seasons or acquired in trades this offseason. Either way this is going to be one heck of a prediction post to land down since there will be so many moving parts but I’m going to go ahead anyway and take a stab at predicting the Yankees bullpen that breaks spring training camp this season.

Aroldis Chapman
Andrew Miller
Dellin Betances
Chasen Shreve
James Pazos
Nick Rumbelow
Bryan Mitchell
Ivan Nova

I’m not entirely sold on Kirby Yates although he is right-handed in what is looking to be a very left-handed heavy middle relief core for the Yankees. I honestly don’t know much about the acquisitions of Tyler Olson or what the likes of Anthony Swarzak can bring but I do know that the Yankees need another right-handed arm in that pen. Olson throws left-handed and Swarzak, unless he dominates this spring, is not on the 40 man roster leaving Nick Goody, Nick Rumbelow and Branden Pinder vying for possibly one spot, maybe two. 

I would personally have Jacob Lindgren on my roster but I feel like, again barring a spectacular spring, the Yankees will want him back down in Triple-A to start the season to ease back into things after elbow surgery. For that reason James Pazos will get the shot, the Yankees and manager Joe Girardi love their LOOGY’s, while Nick Rumbelow wins the final spot up for grabs. It could be Goody and it could be Pinder, honestly Pinder was used more often than any of them while Goody was used the most sparingly, but I’m going with my gut on this one and I’m going with Rumbelow, right or wrong. 

Those are my predictions, what are yours? Leave them below in the comments section!

Fangraphs Predicts the 2016 Season

Earlier today we took a look at the ZIPS predictions from Dan Szymborski over at Fangraphs and showed what his system thought the Yankees would do in 2016. We also prefaced that post with the fact that Fangraphs, unlike Baseball Reference, had individual and unique content on their site and those ZIPS predictions were one of those posts we alluded to. This is an official Fangraphs prediction model for the 2016 season that focuses more on runs, run preventions and wins rather than fancy stats and analytics like the ZIPS system. How did the Yankees do in this one?

Fangraphs shows no regression and no improvement in the win column for the New York Yankees in 2016. According to the predictions the Bombers will repeat their 87-win season that landed them in the postseason in 2015 which will give the Yankees the fourth best record in all of baseball. The three teams that Fangraphs believes will have more wins than the Yankees are the Chicago Cubs, the Washington Nationals, the Los Angeles Dodgers and the Yankees biggest division rivals, the Boston Red Sox (92 wins). Not the Toronto Blue Jays, not the Baltimore Orioles, not the Pittsburgh Pirates and not the St. Louis Cardinals.

Fangraphs predicts the Yankees will score 4.5 runs per game and allow 4.18 runs per game which are both downgraded from their 2015 totals of 4.72 RS/G and 4.31 RA/G. The Yankees had the second most runs scored in all of baseball in 2015 with Alex Rodriguez hitting 33 home runs and Mark Teixeira looking more like the 2009 version of himself than the 2010 and beyond version of himself so a slight regression should have been expected. The team also added Aroldis Chapman to the bullpen and will presumably have a full season of Luis Severino which should also explain why the slight downfall in runs allowed was also prevalent on the Fangraphs predictions.

The Yankees biggest upgrade though will likely come at the second base position. In 2015 the Yankees used six different second baseman including Stephen Drew, Robert Refsnyder, Brendan Ryan, Dustin Ackley and others and they combined to hit .245 with 65 RBI and 63 runs scored but in 2016 the team will likely use one second baseman for the most part, Starlin Castro. Castro alone hit 0265 with 69 RBI and 52 runs scored in 2015 and that was a down season for him that included a benching for defensive purposed and a position switch to second base. While at second base Castro hit .339 for the Chicago Cubs leading them to the National League Championship Series. In a snapshot the Yankees offense should get a huge boost at the position, finally.

The Fangraphs predictions are not 100% and truth be told they are usually a little low in most cases. The Kansas City Royals won 95 games last season and the World Series championship while Fangraphs predicted the team would have just 79 wins so take these predictions with a grain of salt. If the Yankees can match or exceed the 87-win total the website predicted I think many fans of the team would be happy with that, I have to think that I would personally.

For your reference here is the complete list for the AL East according to Fangraphs:

2016 AL East Standings (per FanGraphs projections)
1. Boston Red Sox (2015 record: 78-84)
2016 projection: 92-70 | 4.75 runs scored per game, 4.11 runs allowed

2. New York Yankees (2015 record: 87-75)
2016 projection: 87-75 | 4.50 runs scored per game, 4.18 runs allowed

3. Toronto Blue Jays (2015 record: 93-69)
2016 projection: 84-78 | 4.75 runs allowed per game, 4.57 runs allowed

4. Tampa Bay Rays (2015 record: 80-82)
2016 projection: 82-80 | 4.16 runs scored per game, 4.08 runs allowed

5. Baltimore Orioles (2015 record: 81-81)

2016 projection: 76-86 | 4.37 runs scored per game, 4.65 runs allowed

Grading the Yankees Offseason Thus Far

The New York Yankees headed into the offseason before the 2016 season with seemingly little money to work with and little roster flexibility to be seen. The Yankees, when you activated all the players on the 60 day disabled list, had 49 players and just 40 spots on their 40 man roster with just three free agents hitting the market. None of Chris Young, Chris Capuano or Stephen Drew played huge roles on the team in 2015, although Drew did play the most as the starting second baseman for much of the season, and none of them made a significant amount of money either. With that in mind and another year on the Yankees roster and aging players many fans were not too optimistic about this offseason, some even predicted a quiet offseason, but it has been anything but that.

Yankees GM Brian Cashman came out of the gates firing on all cylinders after the World Series announcing that New York was open for business and every single one of their cards were out on the table. While the team has gone more than a calendar year without signing a Major League free agent that hasn’t stopped the team from having a productive and busy offseason. The Yankees have added players via trades, they have designated players off the 40 man roster only to bring them back on new minor league deal’s and the team has stealthily added payroll and younger players that fit not only one mold but multiple molds. 

For the first time in a long time the Yankees stayed away from big names like David Price and Zack Greinke and instead added names like Aaron Hicks, Aroldis Chapman(who yes I realize is a big name) and Starlin Castro. All the while Cashman actually found value in a player like Brendan Ryan who he used in the deal with the Cubs and John Ryan Murphy who he traded to the Minnesota Twins. In the Chapman, and again yes I realize why but if any other GM took advantage many media outlets would be singing a different tune, Castro and Hicks deals the Yankees gave up relatively little in the grand scheme of things. Adam Warren was an asset to this team but on many other teams he is projected to be a 3rd or 4th starter at best and a dominant middle relief pitcher. Those tend to grow a dime a dozen across the league. 

The Yankees have also added a ton of depth in the Justin Wilson trade and with all the minor league deals and invitations to spring training they have pulled off thus far. The team is also in a position to rely heavily on their farm system once again in 2016 with Greg Bird, Aaron Judge and Gary Sanchez breathing down the necks of many aging veterans that are coming close to the end of their contracts. All this while keeping last year’s playoff team and their core for the most part intact. As long as the Yankees stay healthy and productive they can absolutely improve on their 87-win total from last season and they didn’t have to mortgage the now or the future to do it. 

I will fall short of giving Brian Cashman an “A” rating because I think the offense needed something else to take the pressure off of Alex Rodriguez and Mark Teixeira but there is nothing wrong with a solid “B+” in my opinion. 

Fangraphs Dan Szymborski’s Yankees ZIPS Predictions

I know I tend to reference Baseball Reference a lot on my articles because it’s my favorite resource for writing my articles but is a close second. What Fangraphs brings you that Baseball Reference does not, well besides two different sets of WAR’s between them, is that Fangraphs brings you unique content and Dan Szymborksi’s yearly ZIPS predictions. ZIPS is basically a glorified computer system that predicts how every team will do the following year and the ZIPS system has been extremely reliable over the years, how do the 2016 Yankees stack up as of today according to ZIPS? Well I went over to Fangraphs and I found out. 

I started with the starting pitching, the biggest question mark for the Yankees going forward, and added up a combined 10 zWAR (the higher the better). Masahiro Tanaka and Luis Severino will lead the charge for the Yankees at the top producing 3.0 zWAR each while Michael Pineda and Nathan Eovaldi aren’t far behind with a 2.0 zWAR each. CC Sabathia produced a 0 zWAR which brought the overall number down. The 2015 version of the Yankees produced a 12.9 zWAR and their 10.0 zWAR would rank them 10th overall in the American League (using 2015 numbers). 

The pitching is predicted to take a step back but that’s fine if the bullpen can pick them up, right? Especially with Aroldis Chapman, Andrew Miller and Dellin Betances anchoring the back end of the bullpen that is predicted to produce a 6.0 zWAR. Last season the Yankees bullpen produced a 5.3 zWAR which tied the Houston Astros for the second best total in the Major Leagues. Only the Baltimore Orioles produced a zWAR at or above 6.0 in 2015. 

One thing is for certain though, and I feel like this is something that Yogi Berra would have said, you can’t win a game if you don’t score any runs. The starters can exceed their 10.0 zWAR and the bullpen could put up another 10.0 zWAR but that means nothing if the offense falters and begins to show its age. The Yankees offense produced a 20.4 zWAR in 2015 behind the returns of Alex Rodriguez and Mark Teixeira but ZIPS predicts that another year on the roster will hurt the Yankees overall dropping them to a team total 19zWAR in 2016. This does not take into account potential ZIPS predictions for Greg Bird or Aaron Judge who may or may not get a chance to play in 2016. If they do play Judge is predicted to produce a 1.5 zWAR while Bird looks good for a 2.0 zWAR. Carlos Beltran is listed at a 0.0 zWAR right along with CC Sabathia.

Using ZIPS from around the league it looks like the Yankees will once again fall somewhere in the 80-90 win area with a shot at one of the two Wild Card spots in the American League. The season will depend on injuries and the effectiveness of their aging and high-priced stars, per the usual. Can Teixeira and Rodriguez hold up over one more season and can Beltran and Sabathia keep their heads above water as their careers come to a close. Can Jacoby Ellsbury bounce back and can Brett Gardner play at a major league level in the second half? These are all questions that ZIPS, or any advanced metric for that matter, cannot answer. We’ll all just have to stay tuned and find out for ourselves this season. 

The Last Yankees Bench Spot Battle Royal

The New York Yankees have added a ton of depth to the team and the infield in recent weeks after a few early offseason trades left the team a little thin at certain positions. After the trades of Jose Pirela to the San Diego Padres and Brendan Ryan to the Chicago Cubs the Yankees middle infield was especially a concern but Brian Cashman and company has added a slew of players on minor league deals and such that are now fighting to make a difference and win the last spot on the Yankees bench in a free-for-all battle royal this spring.

Pete Kozma was the first name to be added to the list of participants in the battle royal and has since been joined by the likes of Donovan Solano, Lane Adams, Robert Refsnyder and Ronald Torreyes before he was designated for assignment. So who wins the spot? Before you can answer that you have to address the Yankees current situation and their needs.

The outfield is completely stacked with Brett Gardner, Jacoby Ellsbury, Carlos Beltran, Aaron Hicks and Dustin Ackley on the roster and Mason Williams, Slade Heathcott, Ben Gamel and Aaron Judge waiting in the wings while the catcher position seems solidified as well with some combination of Austin Romine, Gary Sanchez and Brian McCann. The infield is where the team may need some help though with obvious backup holes at third base and the shortstop position. As it stands right now Starlin Castro is the starting second baseman as well as the team’s backup at both positions leaving the options limited for Joe Girardi at this point.

Adams is a DH and outfielder so he seems unlikely, although his bat would look good in the Yankees lineup, while Refsnyder’s inability to play anywhere but second base may hurt his stock. You’re left essentially with Solano and Kozma who are defense first type players who carry little weight in the terms of offense. The one area that sets these two apart is the fact that Solano can play third base and the shortstop position as well as the outfield, all needs for the Yankees.

Solano has the win the job this spring, don’t get me wrong, but right now you would have to think that his name is at least written in pencil on Joe Girardi’s lineup card heading into spring training camp here in just about a month’s time. 

This Day In New York Yankees History 1/21: Joe D Misses the Hall

On this day in 1953 the Yankee Clipper Joe DiMaggio missed out on the Hall of Fame in his first try at Cooperstown. DiMaggio would have to wait until the 1955 season before 88.8% of the BBWAA added him to the ballot and inducted him into the hall. On this day Cardinal legend Dizzy Dean and Al Simmons were elected to the hall.