Thursday, April 26, 2012

Thoughts & Afterthoughts On The Pineda Situation

OK, it's not quite that bad, but it still definitely sucks.  The fallout from yesterday's revelation of Michael Pineda's torn labrum is still falling out, and I've got just as many opinions on the situation as everybody else.  Rather than try to compose them in a clearly-worded and orderly post, I'll take my usual easy way out and just stick to the bullet points.

- First off, anybody who wants to play the "Cash fucked up, we got sold a lemon!!!" card can just stop.  For a trade of this magnitude, and surely for every trade, the Yankees always put players through the full gauntlet of physicals and tests to make sure there are no health concerns before pulling the trigger and making the deal go through.  That's standard practice.

- There's no way that Cash, Levine, or anybody else from the organization who was involved in this deal would have gone through with it if anything showed up during the pre-trade physical that would have led them to believe there was a problem with Pineda's pitching shoulder.  If there was, and they still went through with a trade involving their top prospect, they would all deserve to be fired and would never hear the end of it in New York.  They know that, we know that, so just cut the crap with the doomsday theories.

Some Interesting Early Season Trends

The fun part about small sample sizes is the room for interpretation they leave when analyzing a player's numbers and trying to identify what he's doing right or wrong.  It's pretty easy to look at a full season's worth of stats and break down exactly what a guy did to end up with the numbers he had, but a much smaller sample can leave some ambiguity in there.  Here are some examples of early season trends for some Yankees and the varying levels of support that their stat profiles give in explaining those trends.

* Note- Stats referenced below do not include last night's game *

1) Derek Jeter's Resurgence

I went into this one fully expecting to see a huge change in contact percentages for Jeter this year compared to the last few.  When a 37-year-old shortstop who turns 38 in 2 months is sporting a .416/.439/.649 tripleslash and a .460 wOBA, I think that's a fair expectation.  I was thinking something like 25/45/30 LD/FB/GB.  Surprisingly enough, Jeter's contact breakdown so far in 2012 isn't all that different from his splits in 2011 or even 2010.  His current LD rate of 20.0% is only slightly better than the 19.0% he posted last season, although it is still higher and his highest LD rate since his last great year in '09.  His GB rate of 61.4% is only slightly lower than the 62.4% rate he had in 2011, and his FB rate of 18.6% is exactly the same.  While things like a much lower K rate (8.4%), much improved performance against RHP, and more power are obviously big contributing factors to Jeter's hot start, I really expected the contact splits to show a more dramatic increase in line drives and fly balls and they don't.  Jeter appears to still be hitting the same balls, he's just hitting them where they ain't.

2) Russell Martin's Lack Of Pop

Russell Martin has done next to nothing at the plate this season.  The guy has a .195/.400/.293 slash line right now.  Were it not for the 20.0% BB rate he's sporting, his wOBA (.339) and wRC+ (111) would look way worse and you could remove the "next to" from the first sentence of this section.  The biggest thing hurting Martin early on is his glaring lack of power.  A year after the home run was a big part of his offensive contribution, Martin has hit just 1 this year and has only 1 other XBH to speak of out of the 8 total hits he's accumulated, good for a .098 ISO.  His .241 BABIP, a career low, suggests some bad luck in there, but the dramatic increase in GB rate (63.3%, up from 47.3% in 2011) suggests something fundamentally wrong with Martin's swing.  It's worth mentioning that Martin's current K rate of 20.0% would be a career high, but judging from his BB rate he's clearly seeing the ball well, so maybe a session with Dr. Long is in order to bring a little juice back to Russ' bat.

More after the jump.

Game 18 Wrap-Up: TEX 7 NYY 3

(Not a visit you want to have in the 3rd.  Courtesy of The AP)

After getting the bad news on Michael Pineda's condition, the Yankees took the field in Arlington looking to take the series from the Rangers with Phil Hughes on the mound for the 4th time this season.  Hughes got a quick hook from Joe and it got no better from there.

Game Notes:

- Hughes retired the top of the Texas order on just 11 pitches in the bottom of the 1st, even throwing a couple changeups to Josh Hamilton, but then his usual demons reared their ugly heads.  Misplaced offspeed stuff in the zone, piss poor pitch sequencing, and a failure to put guys away with 2 strikes and 2 outs led to 4 runs in the first 3 innings for the Rangers.

- Hughes' fastball command also eluded him in the bottom of the 3rd, when he was either way outside the zone or catching the meaty parts of the plate.  2 hit batters on errant heaters is never a good sign, especially when the 2nd comes after a coaching visit to the mound, and Hughes was sent to the showers after just 2.2 IP.

- After stranding a runner in each of the first 3 innings, the Yankees broke through on a pair of singles by Robinson Cano and Mark Teixeira and a ground-rule double from Raul Ibanez in the 4th and that was it for Texas starter Scott Feldman.  A sac fly by Eric Chavez cut the lead to 4-2.

- New fireman David Phelps was anything but last night, flashing little command and allowing 3 earned runs in what was easily his worst outing to date.  Hey, they can't all be gems.  Too bad this stinker had to come after the Yankees started to get back in the game.

- After the 4th inning, the Yankee offense was mostly silent.  Somebody named Robbie Ross shut them down for 2.2 innings after Feldman left, and they only managed 2 hits after that point in the game, one of them Ibanez's 3rd homer of the season.

- Just an all-around ugly night for the Yankees.  Their starting pitching was bad, their middle relief wasn't much better, and their offense was a non-factor.