Monday, October 31, 2011

Sabathia Agrees To New Deal, Stays A Yankee

Well there's some good news to get while you're out at the bar with your friend, huh?  Via LoHud:

"The new deal adds a $25 million salary for 2016 and gives the Yankees a $25 million option for 2017 with a $5 million buyout, a person familiar with the agreement told The Associated Press. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because the Yankees had not yet announced the deal.

The option becomes guaranteed if Sabathia does not end the 2016 season on the disabled list because of a left shoulder injury, does not spend more than 45 days of 2016 on the DL with a left shoulder injury or does not make six or more relief appearances in 2016 because of shoulder issues. He retains a hotel suite on trips, a no-trade provision and the right to buy tickets."

I'd say that works out well for everybody involved, huh?  CC essentially gets a 5-year guaranteed contract worth $122 million, making him once again the highest-paid pitcher in baseball annually, with the chance for it to be a 6-year/$142 million deal if he stays healthy and productive.  The Yankees get the comfort of knowing they have their ace penciled in for at least the next 5 years while not being burdened with another risky long-term guaranteed contract.  Credit to both sides for making this happen quickly and not turn into a big unnecessary storyline.

Now somebody hit the fucking music!

Halloween Weekend Mostly Treats For The Yankees

The Yankees came out of this weekend with their directors of amateur and pro scouting still in those positions, 2 All Star-caliber players at 2nd base and right field brought back for the 2012 season on team-friendly option contracts, and their GM all but locked up for another 3 years on a new deal that just needs the I's dotted, T's crossed, and a signature.  That's like the baseball equivalent of going trick-or-treating in the really rich subdivision next to your neighborhood and hitting 3 houses in a row with full-size Snickers bars and buckets full of Reese's Peanut Butter Cups just sitting on the front porch for the taking.

There's still the possibility of the CC opt out/new contract storyline being the bag of shitty pretzels or box of raisins in the candy bag at the end of the night, but at least getting these other things settled and out of the way ahead of that helps to lessen any drama that may surround the CC situation.  And who knows?  Maybe we'll get lucky and the whole thing will get wrapped up today.  That would make for a very happy Halloween for every Yankee fan.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Yankee Halloween Costume Ideas

Tonight marks the real big Halloween party night for the year.  I assume most of you, like myself, will be dressing up and going to some sort of gathering where you'll drink too much, dance badly, and possibly make a bad decision or two.  I also assume that any Halloween parties that any of the Yankees may attend tonight will be a million times better than any party I could go to out here.  So if any of those guys haven't gotten a costume yet, here's a few helpful ideas (and yeah, of course the Yankee players read this site).

Robinson Cano- Kanye West

Because like Kanye, Robbie's swag is on a hundred thousand trillion.  Get one of those ridiculous red leather combos that Kanye rocks, throw on a pair of those stupid sunglasses, done.  If you don't think somebody as awesome as Cano couldn't pull that off, you're dreaming.

Russell Martin- Duke Nukem

I posted something during the ALDS about Martin being an absolute badass.  Dude took a foul ball off the shoulder, a bat off the head, and a pitch in the ribs in a span of a few innings, then I think took a collision at the plate on a relay throw, and just shook it all off like it was nothing.  That's some hardcore badassness.  Martin could definitely pull off getting away with some of Duke Nukem's lines at the clubs.

A-Rod- An Exercise Bike

Because judging by what he's dating right now, I think she'd enjoy that.  And I'm sure he would too.  Hell, I think I would.

CC Sabathia- Captain Crunch

It looked like he re-united with the Captain as the season went on, after saying he had given him up as part of his offseason plan to lose a few pounds.  It'll be interesting to see if the Yankees make him hold to that commitment next season after they re-sign him.

Mark Teixeira & Jorge Posada- 3-Legged Monster

Hey, at then there'd be one good switch hitter between them.  Teix could talk to all the people on the right side and Jorge could handle the left.  That should work out to their advantage.

Jesus Monter- Jesus Christ


Kevin Long- Dr. House

Because he's always making the swing diagnoses that no one else can.  And it's going to take some miracle work again this offseason to save Teix's left-handed swing.

Those are just a few ideas.  But if anybody on the team goes out and really wants to scare the shit out of people, they can always go as this guy:

Friday, October 28, 2011

Friday One-Hit Linkapalooza Wonder

Busy day for me at the office today, so instead of an actual post or a full helping of links, I'm just going to direct everybody to this story on Deadspin about Howie Spira, the guy who tried to dig up dirt on Dave Winfield back in the day and got The Boss banned.

It's a long story, so give yourself enough time to read the whole thing.  But it's definitely an entertaining read and something that Yankee fans who remember that story going down should be interested in.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Darryl Strawberry And Paul O'Neill Be Battlin' Over World Series Teams


"There's no question. You cannot beat the '86 Mets.  The Yankees teams I played on were great teams with great personalities, but they were good guys. The '86 Mets would've been drilling those guys; I just know how our pitching staff was: hit this guy, hit that guy. And those were the kind of guys we were. We were mad, we wanted them to get outside themselves. That's the kind of group we had that year, so the '86 Mets were a very difficult team to play against."


"They were very good.  I couldn't sit back and go player-by-player. I think the '98 team had much more depth. We had a couple of World Series under our belts, too. We were seasoned to that point. The '86 Mets were just a great team. They won just one World Series, right?"

Oh shit, son!  It is ON!!!  D-Streezy and my man Paulie-O!  And because we're talkin' about World Series rings, each of these cats gets a minute and a half.  DJ, spin that shit!

Quotes via ESPNNY.  And who would be considered Papa Doc in this scenario?  Straw because he was part of the "bad guy" group?  Or O'Neill because he references his group winning more titles and the Free World crew was like the champions of 8 Mile?  I sound like Simmons actually trying to stretch this comparison out.  And yes, I am white as hell.

Could Other Pitchers' 2011 Seasons Affect Hector Noesi's 2012?

(Hector Noesi: Professional Pitcher.  Courtesy of The Daily News)

While the MSM, the blogosphere, and Yankee fans in general all gear up for the the hype surrounding the CC Sabathia opt out storyline and the "Yu Darvish vs. C.J. Wilson" debate this offseason, there is another potential in-house 2012 rotation candidate who could factor into the discussion as well.  That candidate would be Hector Noesi, the 2011 winner of the annual Yankees' "Top Young Pitching Prospect That We Called Up to Use in The Bullpen Because We Needed a Warm Body" Award.  Larry K did an excellent job yesterday of painting an all-encompassing portrait of Noesi's skill set and 2011 performance, and essentially laid the groundwork for the "Noesi 2012 Rotation" discussion.  But beyond his own makeup and 2011 results, there are other outside factors that could play a role in determining the plan for Noesi in 2012.  Those factors are Ivan Nova and Phil Hughes, specifically the different paths that each of them took in 2011 and how those paths intersect with the path Noesi is currently on and the path he could be on next year.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

AB4AR Self-Promotion

Time to plug the Facebook page again.  Go there, check it out, snoop around, and then "Like" the crap out of it.  It's got links to almost every post that goes up here every day, a collection of Swanny Duckson's finest Photoshop masterpieces, and is my primary outlet for getting even more jokes in at the expense of the Fraud Sawx.

The more fans it gets, the more I feel like doing more research, coming up with more post ideas, and putting more stuff out there for y'all to enjoy, so spread the word for me.  Family, friends, people you don't even know who you see on the street wearing a Yankee hat, it all works.

And just a reminder, I'll be on TYA again tomorrow.  Make sure you're checking that site out daily, if not multiple times a day.  It's the best in the biz.

(Seriously, check the page out and "Like" it.)

Offseason Housekeeping: Updating The Sh*t List

It's been a while since I've done a real update to the AB4AR Shit List, and now's as good a time as any.  So let's dive in and iron this shit out.

1) A.J. Burnett- Another year of an ERA in 5s, FIP in the high 4s, and WAR below 2?  With a whole bunch of new reasons excuses for why he pitched like garbage?  Yeah, I'd say he's still at the top of the list.

2) Joe's Bunting Strategy- Hmmmm, let hot hitters swing away or waste an out and their bat by having them sac Brett Gardner to 2nd?  This one's staying on the list for sure.

3) Randy Levine- Guh.  When I read that he was a part of the group that's in Tampa this week putting together the new CC offer and helping to finalize Cash's new deal, I wanted to re-enact the Joker's "make this pencil disappear" trick from "The Dark Knight" on myself.  On.

4) Joe's Bullpen Binder- The binder didn't seem to be as big of an issue as it was last year.  This year my big gripe was Joe's timing with bringing guys in/taking guys out and his maddening decision to not use D-Rob and Mo more in the ALDS.  So we're going to expand this to "Joe's Bullpen Management" and bump it up to #2 on the list.

5) Boone Logan- He redeemed himself in the postseason.  For now.  He's still right on the edge of being thrown back on if he continues to not get lefties out in 2012, but for now he's safe.

6) Damaso Marte- No longer a Yankee after they declined his option, so no longer a reason for me to hate him.  His spot on the new list will be filled by Pedro Feliciano, the new official LOOGY sunk cost on the roster.

7) Kei Igawa- Also no longer a Yankee.  I actually threw a party at my apartment to celebrate this (it was just me).  I hope he has fun doing whatever he's going to do now with his millions and I hope I never have to see him or hear about him ever again.  He's off.

8) Nick Johnson- Nick, I think I can finally let you go.  It's not your fault you're the real life Mr. Glass.  You're officially off the list.  Don't hurt yourself leaving it.

New Addition: Tim McCarver.- "Strike" is a 6-letter word, you goon.  Count it up.  And then stop talking forever.

New List- as of 10/26/11

1) A.J. Burnett
2) Joe's Bullpen Management
3) Joe's Bunting Strategy
4) Randy Levine
5) Pedro Feliciano
6) Tim McCarver

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

When A Phony John Lackey TJS Story Breaks, I Must FJM

("Oh I could use a beer.  And an excuse for why I was so horrible this year." Coutesy of Getty Images)

Oh, Ben Cherington.  You tricky, tricky little bitch.  I see what you tried to do here, and I appreciate the effort.  After all, if the pitcher my team signed to the same contract A.J. Burnett signed with the Yankees turned out to be a fat, lazy, dickhead piece of shit who put up numbers that made Burnett's look Cy Young-worthy by comparison, and I realized that I was now stuck with him and his awful contract for the next few years, I'd be trying to do something about that too.  But you have to wake up a little earlier in the morning to pull one over on old Brad-O.

"Cherington said the Tommy John surgery would be performed, probably by noted orthopedist Dr. Lewis Yocum... "

Ahh yes.  Dr. Lewis Yocum.  I hear he does good work.  So good, in fact, that the team can only say that he's "probably" doing the surgery.  You know, because the Fraud Sawx want to shop around, get a few more quotes from some other noted orthopedists on Tommy John Surgery before making their final decision.

"... but he did not know when."

Of course.  Because it's not like you want to rush to get a guy's elbow ligament replaced when he's a professional starting pitcher.  Especially when the recovery time is typically 12-15 months and the sooner he got the surgery done, the more likely it would be that he'd be ready for the start of the 2013 season.

"Lackey had elbow soreness during the season and had an MRI in May or June, Cherington said."

Oh really?  And yet that was never mentioned at any point during the season while he was pitching like complete dogshit.  Which is weird, considering that almost any kind of elbow soreness in a pitcher is treated like a DEFCON 1 emergency by Major League baseball teams these days.  They must have done a follow up after the season, right?

"He had another one after the season and was examined recently by Yocum in Los Angeles."

Of course he did, and of course he was.  And thank God Dr. Yocum examined him that 4th time.  Because elbow issues that require Tommy John Surgery are SOOOOOOOOO hard to find.  It usually takes James Andrews what?  Like 6, 7 times to find the problem?

"John Lackey pitched through circumstances this year that I don't think any of us in this room can fully understand," Cherington said... "

"I mean, have YOU ever tried to pitch to Jose Bautista with runners on 1st and 3rd, yesterday's fried chicken tearing through your digestive system like Drano through a clogged sink, and a pretty serious buzz?"

"... and he got beat up for it a little bit along the way. This guy was dealing with some stuff both on the field and off the field that were really difficult."

"Yeah, sometimes the beers were tough to open.  And Beckett is really good at NHL 12, so it's tough to go into your next start after losing to him in an overtime shootout the day before.  And fans in Boston are so mean to you in the streets when you're rocking a 6.00+ ERA.  It's almost like they've been so spoiled by their recent success across all forms of professional sports that they think they're entitled to winning automatically."

"I thought he showed tremendous toughness pitching through that."

Because nothing says tough like throwing your arms up in exasperation every time your defense doesn't make a next-to-impossible play to bail your sorry ass out for not locating your 2-1 pitch in the right spot with the bases loaded while you've already given up 5 runs through 2.1 innings, and then making up a fake elbow issue after the season to conveniently provide an excuse for your entire shitty 6-month body of work.

"Late in the season, Lackey filed for divorce."

Oh, OK.  Well I guess that can be kind of a distraction.  I have friends that have gone through divorces and it can be tough.  Maybe I should cut the guy a little slack.

"His wife has breast cancer."

Wait, what?  Maybe I'm a little late to this party, but let me get this straight.  HE dumped his wife while SHE had breast cancer?  That was his "off the field" stuff that he was dealing with?  Kicking his wife, who he took an oath to stand by through sickness and in health, to the curb during what will surely be the most difficult and painful time in her life??  And I'm supposed to feel sorry for HIM????


"Fans and the media were critical of his pitching. But Cherington hopes Lackey can be a much improved pitcher in 2013."

Well he certainly can't be much worse.  Although I think it's probably more important for him to become a better person first.  It's one thing to completely suck at your job and basically steal your exorbitant paycheck from your employer.  It's another to completely abandon your wife while she's battling breast cancer and then have your new GM step in and try to use that as an excuse for your piss poor performance in 2011 at his introductory press conference while at the same time concocting what is most likely a phony tale of elbow issues that also contributed to the aforementioned piss poor performance.  Shame on you, Ben Cherington, and shame on you, John Lackey.  I didn't think I could possibly hate you more than I already do, but you have proven me wrong yet again.

Not only are you a shitty pitcher, dude, you're also a shitty person.  Shittier than me.  And I really hope this fake fucking surgery you have for your non-existent elbow problem goes horribly wrong and Dr. Yocum has to amputate the arm.  See how easy it is to open your rally beers and play Halo with Lester in the locker room with one fucking arm, dick.

And Cherington?  Not a good way to start your new regime as GM.  Covering for a guy who ditched his cancer-stricken wife.  Have fun sleeping at night with that on your conscience.

Thank Goodness Joe Girardi Didn't Do What Tony LaRussa Did Last Night

Because I would have FUCKING LOST IT.

Seriously, I wouldn't even be able to write about it today because I would either still be in jail for completely trashing my apartment in a drunken rage to the point that my neighbors called the police because they were afraid there was a domestic violence incident taking place in my living room, or I would be fucking dead.  Dead from my brain exploding as I tried to make sense of what I just saw.  By now, everybody who reads AB4AR on a daily basis should know that I'm not a fan of Joe's bullpen management, and this would have sent me over the edge.

I hate to even talk about a World Series that the Yankees aren't playing in, but that was just fucking brutal last night.  Really, dude?  The phone wasn't working?  It was too loud in the stadium?  The bullpen coach thought you said "Lynn" instead of "Motte?"  Who the fuck confuses "Lynn" for "Motte???"  A blindfolded Marlee Matlin wouldn't confuse "Lynn" for "Motte."

And then you throw in the intentional walks and having the lefty face Mike Napoli and you're probably looking at the biggest managerial fuck up in baseball history.  I'm just glad that I didn't have to watch it play out with Girardi in LaRussa's place and even more glad I didn't have to listen to Tim McCarver's commentary on it.

(Hilarious LaRussa gif via SBNation)

A New Potential FA Pitching Target Surfaces

"The Phillies have declined the 2012 options for pitchers  Roy Oswalt and Brad Lidge.

Oswalt was 9-10 with a 3.69 ERA in 23 starts for the Phillies this past season. The three-time All-Star right-hander was acquired in a trade with Houston on July 29, 2010. He was 16-11 with a 2.96 ERA in 35 starts for Philadelphia." (via The AP)

Hmmmm, a 3-time All Star pitcher and former Cy Young candidate with a 3.21/3.35/3.58 career ERA/FIP/xFIP tripleslash who could be available at a reasonable price for a short-term deal?


The Yankees would have to overcome Oswalt's reported desire to stay in the NL, but I'd be willing to take a chance on him and his back for a year or 2 over offering more years to Mark Buehrle or Edwin Jackson.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Andrew Marchand's Strategy For Re-Signing CC Is... Surprisingly Good

(Would 5 years/$125 million be enough to bring the parachute pitching pants back to the Bronx?)

It really is.  Normally I'm the first to jump all over Andy and his pal Wally when they're spouting off something stupid, but the plan that Marchand lays out in this post actually makes a lot of sense.

With all the concern the Yankee front office will surely have with handing out guaranteed years and money to a guy well into his late-30s after the A-Rod deal, 5 years/$125 mil is a perfect starting point.  The annual value of that contract is higher than what they originally paid CC on his first contract, it makes him the highest-paid starter in the game again, and it lessens the risk the Yankees take on if CC's weight, innings, and knees start to catch up to him as he approaches his late-30s.

I don't know if I would take the "go find a better approach" if he wants more years like they did with Jeter this past offseason and risk damaging the relationship with CC and his agent.  Let's remember that we are still talking about a guy who's in his prime right now, not on the decline.  But like Andrew, I would not be opposed to matching any offer he does get from another team that does include a guaranteed 6th year.  I would even be in favor of bumping the money up to 26-27 mil a year over 5 or 6 years to really force CC to back up his "I love New York" talk.  And that's before we even get into talking about extra option years, incentives, etc.  Bottom line is, 5/125 is a great starting point for both sides.

P.S.- If you're looking for more CC contract talk, Mike A. at RAB had this post that referenced other contract talking points last week.

This Is Not How You Make Fun Of The Fraud Sawx

To quote Paul Mooney from the episode of "Chappelle's Show" where he's reviewing Tom Cruise in "The Last Samurai," I was offended by this.  I really was.

First off, lose the tie, my man.  You've got it tied in a big, ridiculous, Merril Hoge knot and you look like a dope.  And loosen up a little.  You look scared to death reading off those cue cards or whatever you have in front of you that has all your jokes.

Second of all, who are you supposed to be in this video?  Why are you in charge of a Fraud Sawx audition casting call?  Set the scene, man!  Give me some background so I know where you're coming from and know why this is supposed to be funny!  Are you supposed to be Lucchino?  Henry?  You have to be somebody pretty high up in the organization to be asking for resumes for catcher.  What the hell??

Third, and this was the biggest mistake of all, you didn't anybody out by name.  Don't just say they're looking for a new GM.  Say they need a new GM because Theo Epstein decided to skip town to the Cubbies because he didn't want to help clean up the mess he made.  Don't say they need a new starting pitcher, say they need somebody who isn't going to put up the worst numbers in team history like John Lackey or somebody who isn't going to choke in crunch time like Josh Beckett and Jon Lester.  Don't just poke fun at them.  Twist the fucking knife, man!

Lastly, make sure somebody proofreads your graphics before you decide to throw something up on YouTube.  There's no apostrophe in "playoffs."  Tighten that shit up, bro.

P.S.- I'm pretty sure people in professional baseball don't have to send their resumes to other teams.

(via Deadspin)

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Expanding My Horizons

A message to all the loyal AB4AR readers out there.  I recently accepted an invitation to join the team over at The Yankee Analysts, and starting this coming Tuesday you can check my stuff out over there a couple times a week.  If you're somehow a rabid follower of AB4AR and NOT familiar with TYA, I suggest you spend the next couple of days familiarizing yourself with what Larry, Moshe, and the boys over there are doing because I assure you, they do it far better than I do.

Please know that this will in no way affect what I do over here at AB4AR.  I'm not jumping ship so much as I'm forming an alliance with a much bigger, shinier, nicer, better ship.  I'll still be here each and every day churning out the same brand of sarcasm-fueled commentary and analysis that you're accustomed to.  But if you're interested in seeing my stuff in a more professional setting (and you really should be), be sure to head over and check me out at TYA starting on Tuesday.

A Preemptive Strike On The Albert Pujols Situation

(Don't even think about it, Yankee fans.  Courtesy of The AP)

Last night's performance by Albert Pujols in Game 3 of the World Series was one for the record books.  It could very well have been the greatest individual offensive performance in World Series history: 5-6, 3 HR, 6 RBI, 14 TB.  Those numbers are more than Nick Swisher could hope to put up in an entire postseason, let alone one game (zing!), and it was the kind of performance that could launch a million fantasies in Yankee fans' heads.  Luckily for those Yankee fans, I'm here to give you a dose of reality.

Stop it.  Stop thinking about the Yankees signing Albert Pujols.  Just stop.  It's not going to happen, it never was going to happen, it never will happen.  So please do yourself a favor and spend the time you would normally spend next week on hold with "Mike'd Up" waiting to get on with Mike to tell him how you figured out the perfect trade to get rid of Teix so they can sign Pujols to play first and put that time towards your wife or your friends or your job or something more productive.

Unless he secretly has the stuff to be a dominant pitcher somewhere inside him, the Yankees have no use for Albert Pujols.  They have Teix at first, The Horse at third (assuming Pujols could even still play third), and they need to keep the DH spot open for Jesus and The Horse's rest days.  And while Pujols would almost certainly be an offensive upgrade over all 3 of those guys, he represents something the Yankees are trying to move away from in their FA agent pursuits, an All Star on the north side of 30.  The A-Rod contract fiasco in '07 has left the team strapped with the worst contract in baseball for a player who is starting to fade, and it has left the team with fewer options to pursue through free agency and no way to move that contract to free up some money if the front office is serious about keeping the payroll at or as close to $200 mil as possible. 

And that's not to say that it's a foregone conclusion that Pujols is going to start falling apart next year physically and production-wise.  It's merely pointing out that he is closer to moving away from the prime of his career than towards it, he's going to be expensive as fuck, and he doesn't fill a position of need for the Yankees.  In fact, Pujols probably needs the Yankees much more than they need him.  Everybody knows that the Yankees have the most money to spend, so when you're heading into free agency you want them involved, or at least you want other teams to think they're involved.  Pujols and his agent are no different, and it's to their benefit to try to drum up the most Yankee-related interest as possible to force their real targets to cough up the most dough for the most years for Albert.  It's a smart strategy to take, but it doesn't mean the Yankees really will be or should be involved in the process.

Albert Pujols is a dominant player, a surefire HOFer, and as last night showed, he's still capable of being one of, if not the best, player in all of baseball.  But I don't see any scenario where he ends up in pinstripes next year and I don't think anybody in the Yankee front office or fanbase should even consider it.  The offensive foundation is fine, and so is the defense.  The bullpen is stacked, but the rotation is still the biggest area of need and that's where all the focus needs to be.  Having Albert in the Yankee lineup would be a dream come true, but that's exactly how it should stay in the minds of Yankee fans, a dream.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Friday Afternoon Free-Flowing Commentary

It's Friday, it's been a long week, we're all shot.  No sense in trying to construct something clever or insightful.  I'll just let the random literary diarrhea flow.

- Is Ron Washington still secretly on coke?  Like a lot of it?  I watched the clip of him on SC last night giving his "thought" on how the 9th inning played out, and all he did was recap what happened, recite the play-by-play, and that was it.  Dude sounded completely strung out, like there wasn't a whole lot firing upstairs.  Entertaining sure, but nothing that was worthy of putting in a story about the game.

- If Cory Wade can replicate 2011's success next year (assuming he's still with the Yankees), where does Joba fit into the bullpen hierarchy when he returns?  The 7th-9th innings are locked down, Wade has flourished in the middle-innings role, and the Yankees always seem to pluck an arm from somewhere that turns into something useful (maybe Kontos a/o Ryan Pope in 2012).

- And if Joba does get stuck at the bottom of the barrel, does he automatically become the best "garbage time" mop-up man in baseball history?

- I still can't let go of the belief that Brett Gardner's swing could be tweaked a little to generate some more power, and I still can't believe Dr. Long isn't trying to work on that with him.  With his speed, Gardner could get 20-30 triples a year if he could put the ball into the gaps more.

- Who's playing RF in 2012 if the Yankees decide not to bring back Swish?  Beltran?  Vlad Guerrero?  J.D. Drew??  Blech!  Not to mention the fact that the Yankees' internal crop of OF replacements are either not that great (Golson, Maxwell, Parraz, Brewer, Melky Mesa) or too far away from the big leagues (Almonte, Heathcott, Mason Williams).

- If I'm Cash, part of the new contract negotiations with CC would involve demanding that he add a couple new styles to his stable of custom Air Jordan cleats.  I was never an Air Jordan guy (being very white and very bad at basketball), but those Jordan spikes are the shit!

- If Wallace Matthews seriously thinks the Yankees are going to target Albert Pujols this offseason, then he's even further out there than I thought.

- The whole Sawxenfreude beer saga is still just as hilarious this week as it was last week.  I actually check ESPN Bahhhhhston every day just to see if there's a new article about it.

- In fairness to Beckett, Lester, and Lackey, I would have been in the clubhouse pounding beers too if I was pitching that horribly.  Boom, roasted!

- Anybody who wears a Yankee jersey with the player's last name on it is an asshole.  Real Yankee fans know who wears/wore which numbers.  Every time I see somebody with a #2 jersey with "Jeter" on it, or #7 with "Mantle," I want to scream.

- I forget where I saw this originally, but it's just as funny now as it was then.  Kudos to whoever thought this up:

Happy Friday, everybody.

Mixed Front Office Feelings On Yu Darvish?

(Courtesy of Getty Images)

I haven't gotten into talks about potential FA targets for this offseason, mainly because it's still technically the season and I don't think it's warranted yet, but then Joel Sherman tweeted this yesterday and that pretty much forced my hand.

"#Yankees scouts love Darvish, but Hal Steinbrenner/Cashman unlikely to authorize big $$ to win post #thinkIgawa"

I don't want to go way overboard on criticism here, because this is the first bit of news we've heard regarding the Yankees' plans for targeting Darvish and it very well could just be part of the Yankees' strategy to go after him.  But I will say that if there is truth to that tweet by Sherman and the Yankees really don't want to target a Japanese guy who will be arguably the best FA pitcher available if he's posted because of the previous bad experience they went through with the last Japanese pitcher they signed,

Well, not really.  I just wanted to use that clip because it's hilarious.  But it is incredibly stupid.  Kei Igawa is Kei Igawa and Yu Darvish is Yu Darvish.  And just because Igawa flamed out, that has nothing to do with Darvish's stock as a prospect.  By the same token, if Igawa HAD panned out and pitched very well for the Yankees over the life of his contract, that wouldn't automatically be a reason for the Yankees to go all in for Darvish.  The logic of evaluating any player in terms of another player's successes or failures is incredibly flawed and not fair to either of the players involved, especially in this case.  You're talking about 2 guys with different pitching styles, different makeups, different personalities, and different career paths.  For Christ's sake, they don't even pitch with the same hand!

These are the facts.  The Yankees are planning to target starting pitchers this offseason.  Yu Darvish is a starting pitcher.  The Yankees  have scouted Yu Darvish..  The general consensus on Darvish is that he is a top-flight prospect.  And from what the Yankee scouts saw, they seem to agree with that consensus.  These are the factors that the Yankees should use when determining their plan for going after Darvish.  If their scouting reports do throw up some red flags and they decide to not throw a big posting fee out there for him, that's fine.  But if the evaluation of Darvish and strategy for approaching him are both being viewed through Kei Igawa-colored glasses, that's a problem.

Again, I understand that it's way too early to speculate, and it would be equally stupid of the Yankees to come out today and tell everybody, "hey, we are sweating Yu Darvish's nuts hard and we're going to throw a boatload of money at him."  I'm sure the Yankees are playing the game and this is part of their strategy, a strategy of misdirection and half-truths regarding their intentions that we've seen before.  But we've also seen them use flawed logic when targeting FA pitchers before (think "A.J. Burnett owned us in 2008.  We should sign him to pitch FOR us" in the 2008-2009 offseason).  I'd hate to see them not go after the top available player in their biggest position of need because of more bad logic.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Tim McCarver Absolutely Sucks

That's right.  "Strike," spelled S-T-R-I-K-E, is a 5-letter word.  Just like "Idiot" or "Moron."

It's moments like this that make me almost a little bit glad that the Yankees didn't make the World Series.

(Via Awful Announcing)

Damaso Marte Not Coming Back

In a story almost as shocking as yesterday's one about Soriano choosing to come back for 2012, the Yankees announced yesterday that they would NOT be picking up Damaso Marte's $4 million option for next season.

He was lights out for the Yankees in the 2009 postseason, but other than that there was really nothing about Marte's time with the Yankees to speak of.  He was often injured, and when he was healthy he wasn't particularly effective.  And with the declining of his option becoming official yesterday, we can finally go back and close the book on that fateful 2008 trade that brought him and Xavier Nady to the Bronx.  And it ain't pretty.

Nady has bounced from the Yankees to the Cubs in 2010 and the Diamondbacks this past year, putting up below average numbers in both spots.  He still can't say healthy (like Marte) and at 32, turning 33 next month, his window to live up to the promise he showed in the mid-2000s is all but closed.  Meanwhile, the Pirates have benefited from the bounty of players they received from the Yankees in the trade.  Jose Tabata is starting to show some of the skills that made him a top prospect and is the team's everyday LF, Jeff Karstens put up a respectable 3.38/4.29/.400 line in 162.1 innings as a starter this year, Daniel McCutchen is one of their most used relievers, and Ross Ohlendorf has shown the ability to be effective when healthy.

I'd say Cash probably wishes he could use a do-over on that one.  Probably not something he wants to mention during his contract negotiation talks.  Between Marte and the Pedro Feliciano disaster of this past season, let's all hope that the Yankees have finally learned their lesson about relievers, specifically lefties.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Sour Puss Is Coming Back

In what surely comes as the most shocking story in sports since... well, ever in the history of the world, Andrew Marchand breaks in with this "hold the phone" bit of info:

"As expected, Rafael Soriano is not going to opt out. Nothing is official yet, but there is no way Soriano is going to beat the $11 million the Yankees will pay him next year and the $14 million who [sic] is scheduled to pick up in 2013 on the open market."

 Elaine, your thoughts?

I completely agree, Elaine.  This is like "The Decision," the Wayne Gretzky trade press conference, the Magic Johnson AIDS press conference, the OJ car chase, and the Lou Gehrig "luckiest man" speech all rolled into one.  I'm not near a TV right now, but I imagine SportsCenter is giving this news wall-to-wall coverage.

I apologize to anybody if reading this post was the first you heard of this story and the enormity of it caused you to faint, fall down, and/or piss yourself in shock.  I was floored myself.  But once you regain your composure, and come to terms with the magnitude of this revelation, you can sleep soundly tonight knowing that the Yankees have locked up their setup man to the setup man for next season.  And look at how happy Raffy is to hear the news:

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Y U Kno Want Swish?

(How could you not want this guy back next year?)

Did I miss something?  Has Nick Swisher not been amongst the top 10 all-around OF in the American League since the Yankees acquired him (at least)?  Does he not produce above-average output defensively in right field?  Does he not put up above-average (sometimes All Star-worthy) numbers up at the plate as a switch hitter?  Does he have a team-friendly $10.25 million team option for 2012?

Then why the hell is everybody talking about Swish like he's not coming back?  What the F?  Mike A. at RAB started this shit last week and the proceeded to fuel the Yankee fan fire of stupidity with this on Monday.  Of course, those 2 posts all but forced his colleague Joe Paw to join the fray today, and even my man Larry K. at TYA is getting in on the action.

Guys, please.  Stop this.  Swish isn't going anywhere.   You know it, I know it, and even if the American people and other Yankee fans don't know it, please don't potentially pour gas on a fan fire of stupidity that hasn't been and doesn't need to be lit.

Did he suck balls in the playoffs this year?  Sure.  But that doesn't mean the Yankees shouldn't pick up Swish for 2012 and it sure as shit doesn't mean that they are considering not picking him up.   I know the season is over, and there's only so many "2011 season recap" posts we can all write, but don't stoop to catering to the dumb Yankee fan demographic for the sake of posting something.  You're above that.

The Jesus Resting On The 7th Day?

Saw this on LoHud this morning and was a little confused:

"The Yankees have decided not to have Jesus Montero play winter ball this offseason. Between Triple-A and the big leagues, Montero played in 127 games this season, and he caught most of them.

General manager Brian Cashman said the Yankees will have Montero maintain his strength and conditioning, but they don’t want him to continue playing in games.

Just to answer some of the emails I’ve gotten recently: Cashman immediately dismissed the notion of moving Montero to right field. That’s just not going to happen."

Maybe I'm just missing something here, but I'm not following the logic of this decision.  So the kid caught 127 games this year, so what?  Last time I checked, Montero was only 21 years old and completely healthy.  He's the most prized prospect in the organization and his legitimacy as a full-time catching option is still up for debate.  He's going to be expected to fill a much bigger role on the team in 2012 and the Yankees need to decide if he can really handle being a catcher at the Major League level.  The only way to do that is to continue to have him catch and work on his skills in game situations, which he can't do if he's just off somewhere maintaining his strength and conditioning.

No one doubts Montero's skills at the dish, that's a given.  But his catching has always been the major question mark surrounding him and now the Yankees are making the decision to have him not work on it during the offseason.  That just doesn't add up to me.  They say he's not moving to the outfield, he can't move to first base, and he's going to have to give up DH ABs to all the older players that are going to need days there next season.  On those days, ideally Montero should be behind the plate to keep his bat in the lineup and give Russell Martin some rest, and the Yankees should be doing everything to get Montero reps behind the plate to see if he can handle that responsibility.  He should be catching in the fall league, winter league, and as soon as he reports to Tampa for Spring Training in 2012.

The Yankees have already stumbled over defining roles for top prospects like Joba and Phil Hughes.  I'd hate to see them go down the same path with Montero.

Monday, October 17, 2011

More Fraud Sawx Meltdown News? Why Not

Awesome flowchart for determining where to point the finger for the Fraud Sawx collapse.  I got a good laugh from this when I saw it on TYA this morning.

And if you're looking for more Sawxenfreude-related reading, here's Jon Lester basically admitting that he was unprofessional and the team gave up on Francona this year.  I'll give the guy credit for being the first to man up and take responsibility for sucking in September, but to admit that you knowingly took advantage of your manager?  Ouch.

Prioritizing The Offseason To-Do List

(Not exactly what the Yankee list will look like)

2011 is finally put to bed after my incredible series of Season Review posts last week, which means now it's time to really, really, REALLY look towards 2012.  And in looking towards 2012, you can see that there's a lot that needs to be done before the Yankees report to Tampa for Spring Training.  This is nothing new for the Yankees, but I wouldn't mind seeing things done in a particular order this year.  Here's the order in which I'd like to see those things get done to maximize the Yankees' offseason efficiency:

1) Get Cash's New Deal Done

Whether you like all of his moves or not, and whether you like the way he handles things in the media nowadays, there's no denying that Cash has done a damn good job of rebuilding this team at all levels since being given "full autonomy" a few years back while still keeping them at the top of the competitive heap.  2011 was no exception, and if you just compare the handful of moves that Cash made (Garcia, Colon, Jones, Chavez) to the one move he didn't support but ownership approved (Soriano), it's clear that he's the right guy for the job moving forward.  He knows the team, he knows the players, he knows how to find value, and he's been around long enough to be able to handle all the extra BS that comes with holding a high-profile position in NY.  Unless people want to see Randy Levine making more decisions, they should be praying to whatever God they believe in every night before bed that Cash gets a new deal and gets it soon. 

2) Re-sign CC

There has already been plenty of talk around the Yankosphere about the CC situation, and most everybody agrees that CC is a MUST re-sign for the Yanks if he chooses to opt out.  I don't see anybody offering the money or the years that the Yankees can, despite talks of Texas being a big player, but I wouldn't throw the whole world at him right off the bat.  Go 5 years/$130 mil and put the ball in CC's court to have him back up all his "I love NYC" talk and see where it goes from there.  In the end, though, the Yankees almost have to beat any other offer that comes for the big guy, because he's far better than anything available this offseason and probably in the 2012 offseason as well.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

AB4AR 2011 Season Review: The Predictions

I'll have a little fun at my own expense today, taking a look back at the 10 fearless predictions I made before the start of the 2011 season.  I know there are a couple right off the bat that I wasn't even close on.  Let's see how I did.

1) Derek Jeter will rebound enough at the plate this year for Joe to keep him as the leadoff hitter against lefties. But not enough that Joe won't scrap his plan to use Gardner against righties as Gardner will flourish in the role.

This was the case earlier in the year, but Jeter's resurgence after his DL stint kept him at the top pretty much year round.  Gardner did play well when he was in the 1-spot, though, so I'm going to be generous and give myself 1/2 a point here.

2) Phil Hughes will essentially bypass A.J. as the #2 starter with a better approach and more improved secondary stuff this year, earning himself a 2nd straight ASG nod in the process.

Oh no.  No, no, no.  Not even close on this one.

3) Russell Martin will stay healthy and productive enough to hold down the starting catcher spot for the entire season.

BOOM!!  There's one right on the nose.  Point for me.

4) Jesus Montero will start heating up with the bat in late May-early June and be called up to replace Francisco Cervelli. In one week in August he will play for 4 consecutive games, both behind the plate and as the DH, and will have 6 XBH (3 of them homers) and drive in 7 over that 4-game span, serving notice to everybody that he IS the real deal.

The timing was a little off, even though the Yankees probably should have called him up in the summer, and the numbers weren't quite the same.  But The Jesus certainly served notice during his Sept. 3-5 run, which he capped off by hitting 2 HR and driving in 3 against the Orioles.  I'm taking 1/2 a point for this one too.

5) Joba won't quite get back to being 2007 Joba in the 'pen, but he will be better than the 2009 and 2010 versions. He and D-Rob both will earn some more high-leverage innings when Soriano starts to hiccup midseason.

The only part I really got right here was the better than previous years part.  But Joba wasn't around long enough to take innings from Soriano before he was shelved with TJS.

6) 3 Yankees will win Gold Gloves this year: Cano, Teixeira, and Brett Gardner (thanks to an injury to Carl Crawford).

Haven't announced this one yet, but I feel pretty confident.  If Gardner doesn't get a Gold Glove this year, the award should be scrapped forever.

7) At some point in June or July, the Yankees will hit a rough patch and we will see at least one ridiculous story saying they should trade Betances, Romine, and Mason Williams for somebody like Fausto Carmona, and another one saying they should call up Banuelos. They will do neither. And Andy Pettitte will not be coming back. Ever. He's done.

There were never any calls for crazy trades, at least as far as I know out here.  I can't speak for what kind of stupid shit was being said on WFAN.  And while Banuelos was always mentioned, never as a serious rotation option.  Even the Andy rumors never started to percolate, probably because there was never a real bad stretch through the summer.  No points earned here.

8) We will see Andrew Brackman in a Yankee uniform this season. And also Hector Noesi and David Phelps at some point. We won't see Banuelos or Betances in one, though.

Swap Betances for Phelps here and I knocked it out of the park.  Instead it's just another 1/2 point.  I wouldn't be surprised if we see all 5 of these guys on the hill in the Bronx at some point in 2012.

9) Both Robinson Cano and Mark Teixeira will finish in the top 5 of the MVP voting, Cano coming in 2nd and Teix 5th. A-Rod, despite having a good year, will only finish 9th after making a mid-summer DL stint.

Cano might finish 2nd after a strong finish and postseason, but mentioning Teix or A-Rod in the MVP discussion for 2011 you would get laughed out of the room.  0 points.

10) The Yankees, behind their monster bullpen and CC and Phil at the top of the rotation, will win the 2011 World Series in 6 games over the Colorado Rockies, sending Jorge Posada (but not Mo) off into retirement on top.

Guh.  Blew that one too, and that one hurts most of all.   Just 2.5 correct predictions for me in 2011, with the chance to bump that up to at least 3.  So just in case you were still under the assumption that you could come to AB4AR and count on me for 100% on point insight, let this be your final lesson.  All I can do is get back in the cage and try to straighten things out for 2012.

Friday, October 14, 2011

AB4AR 2011 Season Review: The Bench

(Best bench player ever?  Probably.  Courtesy of The Daily News)

As I stated in the bench season preview post, the 2011 version was expected to be better than those of '09 and 2010.  The Yankees added some experience in Andruw Jones and Eric Chavez and seemed committed to giving Eduardo Nunez a real shot to prove his worth as a potential everyday player.  They were covered at all spots on the roster and had the flexibility to platoon against left-handed pitching without sacrificing productivity.  For guys who are only expected to fill in as needed, the bench in 2011 lived up to that job and then some.

Nunez was expected to back up the left side of the infield this year, and thanks to injuries he actually ended up playing more than the Yankees originally intended.  As far as auditions for a future role go, Nunez achieved mixed results in 2011.  In 338 PA he showed a little oomph with the stick, hitting .265/.313/.385 with 25 XBH, good for a .313 wOBA.  Nunez also stole 22 bases, which helped make the Yankee offense a bit more dynamic when he was at the bottom of the lineup.  He certainly didn't make anybody forget about Jeter or A-Rod, but Nunez wasn't a complete black hole at the plate.  His problems are all field-related.  I can't think of any other way to say it than to just say that Nunez was a disaster defensively.  He committed 20 errors on the year, 12 fielding and 8 throwing, and by the end of the year he had Yankee fans cringing and covering their eyes every time the ball was hit his way.  The horrific fielding ended up bumping Nunez down to a -0.6 WAR, and probably locked him into a career backup role, at least with the Yankees.

Any time you can add 2 former All Stars and Gold Glove winners as backups, that's a good thing.  And that's just what the Yanks did with Andruw Jones and Eric Chavez this year.  Jones was brought in to replace Marcus Thames as the "vs. lefties" 4th OF and he did that job even better than Thames did in 2010.  For the year, Jones hit .247/.356/.495 in 222 total PA and .286/.384/.540 in 126 AB vs. LHP, good for a .371 wOBA overall.  And as an added bonus he played above average defense, something Thames can only dream of, and racked up 1.4 WAR in his limited playing time.  Chavez managed to give the Yanks 175 PA thanks to injuries, and while his .256/.320/.356 line wasn't all that productive, he played solid defense at the hot corner and helped keep things moving along while A-Rod missed his time at 3rd.  It remains to be seen if either of these guys will be back for 2012, but there's no denying that both were more valuable to the lineup this year than Ramiro Pena and Thames were last year.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Ummm, Pass

Big Sloppi to ESPN about joining the Yankees:

“That’s something I gotta think about,” Ortiz said. “I’ve been here on the Red Sox a long time, and I’ve seen how everything goes down between these two ballclubs.”

Ortiz stopped well short of saying he wanted to play for the Yankees, but did express respect for the organization.

“It’s great from what I hear,” Ortiz said of the Yankees. “It’s a good situation to be involved in. Who doesn’t want to be involved in a great situation where everything goes the right way?"

Yeah, thanks Dave.  Appreciate the love.  But no amount of Yankee dick sucking you could do is going to get you into pinstripes.  Part of the reason the situation is good here is because you're not here.  So sorry about the sinking ship up north and all, but don't think for one second that this lifeboat has any room in it for your fat fucking ass.  The only time I ever want to read "David Ortiz" and "the Yankees" in the same sentence is when that sentence is describing somebody from the Yankees drilling David Ortiz right in the ribs.

AB4AR 2011 Season Review: The Bullpen

(I'd be excited too if I was that badass.  Courtesy of The Star-Ledger)

The 2011 'pen was expected to be the team's biggest strength back when I previewed it in March.  It had incredible depth, incredible power, incredible experience, incredible flexibility, and it had Mariano Rivera.  Dave Robertson opened the season as the 6th-inning guy for crying out loud.  The thought was that the deep bullpen could help ease the burden of what was considered a patch-work rotation and that Joe would be able to rotate his top 4 guys (Mo, Soriano, D-Rob, Joba) around to use them in high-leverage situations as needed and still keep everybody fresh.

Well things didn't exactly work out as planned for the bullpen thanks to injuries, but it was still a very good year for the Yankee relief core.  Anchored by Mo and D-Rob, the Yankee bullpen was easlily one of the 5 best in baseball in 2011.  In 479 combined innings of work, the 'pen put up a 3.12 ERA (4th in baseball, 1st in the AL), a 3.65 FIP (9th MLB, 3rd AL), and 7.0 WAR (2nd).  Their success was due to a combination of killer stuff, evidenced by their 6th-ranked 8.65 K/9 (2nd in the AL) and their ability to shut down situations with runners on base (MLB-leading 78.8% LOB%).  So the Yankee relievers excelled at doing what they're paid to do, but it wasn't all done by the same crew that started the season.

Can Cash Capitalize On Theo's New Deal?

The thought just popped into my head this morning.  If you were Cash, why wouldn't you use Epstein's Cubs' deal as leverage in your negotiations with the Yankees?  Think about it.

Epstein is coming off 2 straight years of no playoffs and is one of the primary architects of the team that suffered the biggest September collapse in baseball history (still love saying that), and yet he turned that into a 5-year deal worth at least $15 mil.  Cash is coming off a WS title in '09, playoffs the last 3 years, division title this year, and he hasn't gotten nearly the credit he should have for this season's success after making the deals for Garcia, Colon, Jones, Chavez, Cory Wade etc.  If Epstein is worth $3+ mil a year for what he's done, what is Cash worth?

The talks and reports on Cash's negotiations are still in the early stages but I think the recent Epstein dealings could change Cash's approach a little, especially considering his last deal was 3 years/$6mil.  I certainly wouldn't blame the guy if he wanted the Yankees to at least match what Epstein got.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

The Fraud Sawx Collapse Gets Deeper

(Losing.  Courtesy of Getty Images)

I know it seems like I'm just hanging onto anything I can to cope with the fact that the Yankees' season is over, but honestly, how can you not be intrigued by all the shit surrounding the Bahhston Self Massacre??  It's hilarious and it's everywhere.  The coverage of the collapse rivals the coverage of the 2004 World Series victory.  It's insane.  Today, a huge story was published in the Globe with even more inside information on this clusterfuck of all clusterfucks.  Read the whole story when you get a chance because it's fascinating to see how disconnected everybody in the organization was from each other.  But if you don't have the time right now, here are the highlights:

- Terry Francona maybe was/maybe wasn't distracted this year by problems with his failing marriage and painkiller usage, which contributed to him losing control and influence over his players.

- There were thoughts amongst ownership that the players were tanking in September because they were bitter about a Saturday doubleheader scheduled to try to work around Hurricane Irene.

- As an attempt to end the perceived bitterness, ownership bought every player a pair of $300 headphones and invited them to a players-only party on John Henry's yacht on September 11.

- Josh Beckett, John Lackey, and Jon Lester spent the majority of the season re-enacting the majority of my college career by drinking beer, eating fried chicken, and playing videogames in the clubhouse during games.

- Ownership didn't support the Carl Crawford signing, and stated that they had no idea about how bad things had gotten in the clubhouse.

And to top it all off, Theo Epstein has reportedly agreed to a deal to become the new GM of the Cubs for 5 years and $20 million, which is more than he made last year as the Sawx' GM.  The guy is being rewarded for being the prime architect of this disaster and then jumping ship when it all came crashing down around him.  You just can't make this stuff up.

P.S.- Imagine how wacky shit would have been in NY if stuff like this was happening to the Yankees?  It'd be like "The Bronx Zoo" 2.0.

AB4AR 2011 Season Review: The Rotation

 (Used courtesy of TYA.  Sorry, no Bartolo)

The rotation preview post was done in 2 parts back in March: the "known" spots in the rotation and then the unknowns.  Looking back on it, it's almost funny to think that I considered A.J. Burnett and Phil Hughes part of the known group going in, as they were expected to be the #2 and #3 starters well the back end would be pieced together through a combination of Ivan Nova, Freddy Garcia, Bartolo Colon, and whatever group of Triple-A arms had to step up when Garcia and Colon got cut.  Obviously, things didn't work out that way, but surprisingly, that not working out turned out to be a good thing for the Yankees, as they got way more production from their unknowns than anybody could have anticipated, turning the team's biggest weakness at the start of the season into one of their season-long strengths.

For the year, the Yankee rotation was above average.  Nothing eye-popping, but certainly better than one would expect when the team got 51 combined starts from Garcia and Colon, only 14 from Phil Hughes (and an ineffective 14 at that), and 2 from somebody named Brien Gordon.  Their starters combined for a 4.03 ERA (14th in MLB) and a 3.97 FIP (16th) in 979.1 IP (14th).  They averaged 7.09 K/9 (10th), 2.88 B/9 (16th), and accumulated 16.7 WAR as a staff, good for 6th in baseball.  That WAR stat in particular stands out as the biggest sign of the Yankees' rotational success in 2011.  Their other peripheral numbers don't stand out amongst the competition, but they knew how to get outs when they needed them and generally always gave their team a chance to win the game.  And with an offense like the Yankees', that's not a bad strategy to go with.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

AB4AR 2011 Season Review: The Lineup

I'll be doing the season review posts in the same format as the season previews.  If you missed the lineup preview, or want an opportunity to refresh yourself on my takes and laugh at some of the stupid shit I said back in March, the 2011 Lineup Preview can be found here.

Heading into the season, the lineup was one of the few things we could all be confident in, and with good reason.  There were All Stars, MVPs, and Gold Glove/Silver Slugger Award winners littered throughout the 1-9 spots and there was no reason to think that the Yankee lineup wouldn't be one of the best, if not the best, in baseball.  And to everyone's credit, the Yankees as a team were arguably the best all-around lineup in baseball in 2011.  They finished near the top of heap in traditional stats (1st in HR, 2nd in R, 2nd in RBI, 2nd in OBP, 4th in SB) as well as in the newer sabermetric categories that paint a more accurate picture of offensive strength (3rd in wOBA, 2nd in wRC+, 1st in BB%).  They had power, patience, and speed, not a bad combination if you're looking to score runs in the American League.  And as a compliment to that, the Yankees managed to play solid defense, finishing with the 7th-best team Fld % in baseball.

Surprisingly, though, the Yankees managed to stay at the top of baseball in a year where they experienced down years from some of their biggest offensive contributors.  Here's what I had to say in my preview post about Teix... :

"I believe the opportunity is there for him to have a big year and re-establish himself as the best first baseman in MLB not named Pujols."

... and A-Rod: 

"A-Rod has never looked better in Spring Training than he has this year, physically or at the plate, but it remains to be seen if he can translate the offseason workout regimen to a full healthy season of A-rodian production."

2011 Post Mortem Linkapalooza

The end of the season is bringing out some good stuff from the best in the biz.  Let's take a hot lap around the Yankosphere.

- It's never too early to start heating the stove up, and Jon Heyman does just that with this tweet making the Yanks out to be the early favorites for C.J. Wilson.  I'll withhold my comments on Wilson for now.

- This was from Sunday's NY Post, but it's Joel Sherman stating what he thinks the Yankees' offseason needs are.  I can get on board with the "more lefties" theory, but Beltran for 3 years at 40-something mil instead of Swish for 1 at 10 and change?  No thanks.

- William at The Captain's Blog with a little dose of reality/perspective  for the crowd still booing A-Rod for making the last out of the ALDS.  Newsflash, it's happened before, people.

- Vizzini at NoMaas takes a similar stance in response to the Sherman piece, reminding everyone that immediately wanting to change up the roster is stupid.  Check out the entire series of "ALDS Thoughts" at NoMaas.  Always good stuff coming from those guys.

- I'm just going to link straight to the LoHud homepage so you can peruse through their "Moving Forward" series on your own.  Expect to see the earliest hot stove news coming from there soon.

- Brien at IIATMS seems to agree with me that Joe was horrible in the ALDS.  Well, at least that makes 2 of us who think so.

- Buster Olney at The Worldwide Leader had some early details on the contract talks between the team and Cash, and early indications are that things are moving ahead nicely.

- Lord Duggan at Pinstripe Alley uses the CC situation to point out the flaws in inking big FA pitching contracts.  There's something all Yankee fans should be familiar with.

- Steve S. at TYA breaks down the whole Swish situation, painting a pretty convincing picture for why he needs to be the RF in 2012.

- Speaking out painting pictures, Joe Paw at RAB does just that in this piece about what the Yankees should/shouldn't do with Jesus Montero.  There really isn't anything more to say about that story after reading Joe's post.  If it ain't for King Felix, then there's no reason to even think about trading The Jesus.

Jonathan Papelbon Still Taking The Collapse Hard

(Courtesy of TMZ.  Obviously)

That's what I want from one of my clubhouse leaders right there.  Showing his teammates that there's a time to sulk and feel bad about suffering the worst September collapse in baseball history, and when that time is over you have to pick yourself up, put yourself back together, and get back to training to get ready to come back stronger and better in 2012.  Put the collapse behind you and use it as motivation to better yourself as a player moving forward.

I know he blew the game for them the last time they even made the postseason, and I know he blew the game that ended up costing them a playoff berth this year, but that's the kind of guy I want in the foxhole next to me right there.  Total dedication.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Final Bit Of Perspective On The 2011 Season

This wasn't supposed to be Yankees' season.  After missing out on Cliff Lee and watching the Fraud Sawx beef up their lineup with Crawford and Adrian Gonzalez, the Yankees were pretty much written off for 2011 as a team who would battle for the Wild Card and be an afterthought in the postseason, if they even made it, because of the weak pitching staff.  It was all aboard on the Philly and Bahhston bandwagons and about as much as a team with a $200 million payroll can, the Yankees were an afterthought as the offseason wore on.

Cash rebounded from the Lee miss and filled the gaps on the roster with cheap, veteran alternatives.  Freddy Garcia was brought in on a Minor League deal to compete for a rotation spot.  Bartolo Colon was pulled out of Witness Protection in the Dominican Winter League and also offered a non-guaranteed deal to try to make the team.  Russell Martin was signed on the cheap to be the bridge to Jesus as catcher.  Andruw Jones and Eric Chavez were added on 1-year deals to fortify the bench.  And Rafael Soriano, for better or worse, was handed a big contract to beef up the bullpen.  All of these moves went largely unnoticed and were largely underappreciated, especially by people like me, and the Yankees headed into the 2011 season as a $200 million underdog.

Fast forward to today.  Yes, the season is over and there will be no more Yankee baseball in 2011, but if you look at it objectively, it's not unfair to say that the Yankees had a better season than almost everybody expected and had a better season than those of the Fraud Sawx or Phillies.  Philly suffered the same fate as the Yanks, losing their ALDS series in 5 games, but did it as a much bigger favorite than the Yankees were, and the Fraud Sawx failed to even make the postseason after suffering the worst September collapse in baseball history (still fun to say that).  The Yankees used their collection of cheap signings, returning players, and strong farm system to turn themselves into the team with the best record in the American League, and did it in a year where they had just as many obstacles to overcome as everybody else.

They experienced down years from Teix and A-Rod, the #3 and #4 hitters in the lineup, thanks to a combination of injuries and pull happiness.  They watched Phil Hughes, expected to be their #2 starter this year, deteriorate and spend the bulk of the season on the DL with shoulder problems.  They watched Jorge Posada continue to devolve into a platoon player as he transitioned to DH.  They lost Joba for the season.  They lost Soriano for a big chunk of time.  They had Derek Jeter struggle early and then hit the DL in the summer.  They watched a repeat performance of Bad A.J. chew up another 190 innings in the rotation.

But they also saw Curtis Granderson have a career year, MVP-caliber even, from the 2-hole in the lineup.  They saw Robbie Cano quietly repeat his monster production from 2010.  They had CC continue to be the big-time ace that they paid for a few years ago, leading the AL in pitching WAR and putting in another Cy Young-caliber performance.  They had Jeter come back like a man possessed from his injury and hit over .330 for the rest of the year.  They had Mo still being Mo as the closer, and D-Rob taking a huge leap to the top of the relief pitcher mountain.  They got an all-around solid rebuild year from Russell Martin behind the plate, likely to lead to him being the starting catcher for the near future.  They got a combined 311 innings of 5.1-WAR pitching from Garcia and Colon, 2 guys who weren't expected to do much of anything.  They got solid production from young guys like Ivan Nova, Hector Noesi, Eduardo Nunez, and Jesus Montero, painting a brighter picture of the future moving forward.

It didn't end in a World Series victory, something that is always the measuring stick for the Yankees each season.  But in a year like this, where even the most diehard fans and smartest analytical baseball minds amongst us were resigned to the fact that this team more than like WOULDN'T reach the World Series before the season even began, I think there's nothing wrong with that.  This team exceeded most of our expectations, and they did it with contributions from players who weren't expected to do much and without contributions from some of the most important players on the team.  Making the playoffs in baseball is damn hard to do, let's not lose sight of that.  And in a year where plenty of people didn't even have confidence that the Yankees would do that, you have to look at the final result and call it a success.

Everybody deserves credit for what this team accomplished this season, and we as fans should appreciate the job that this crew did.  It sucks that they didn't make it all the way, but the results of this year should serve as a reminder that the Yankees are still one of the best teams in the business and will continue to be one of the best moving forward.  If anything, the outcome of the 2011 season has me even more confident and excited about the prospects for 2012.

Coming Up At AB4AR

I don't know about everybody else, but I'm still not quite over the ALDS loss.  But the time has come to move on and look forward, and so we'll start doing that this week at AB4AR by doing what you always do when you want to move forward, looking back.  Over the next week I'll go back and take a look at all my Season Preview posts from March and use them as the baseline for the 2011 AB4AR Season Review posts.  From there, I'll start looking at the big offseason storylines, comment on potential free agent or trade targets, and eventually roll out the inaugural AB4AR Top Prospects list some time later in the fall.

Just because baseball is over for the Yankees this year doesn't mean shit slows down at AB4AR.  This offseason will give us plenty to talk about and I hope everybody out there continues to turn to AB4AR for our brand of Yankee analysis.  I appreciate all the comments and feedback I'm getting on the site and on our official Facebook page.  Keep the commentary coming and spread the word to your friends to find the page, "Like" it, and then follow the site here every day.  The more people I have reading and commenting, the more motivation I have to churn more shit out for you to read, and it's that feedback I get from the readers that makes doing this all worth it, so thank you to all the readers and commenters out there who follow.

And with that, let's now move into the offseason...

Sunday, October 9, 2011

ALDS Game 1 In Pictures

Friend of the blog (and close personal friend of mine) Gary Corbett was lucky enough to get tickets to Game 1 of the ALDS.  He was also unlucky enough to get stuck in the rain on that Friday night and miss out on seeing CC-Verlander I.  But he was lucky enough that he got to back the following night and see the eventual Yankee win.  I asked Gary to document the experience with his camera and asked if he would be willing to share them on the blog and he was happy to oblige.  Below, check out some shots of Game 1, both nights of it, from someone who was there.

There they are.  Section 234.  It's a beautiful thing, isn't it?

Player introductions.  This was about 15 minutes after I got off a plane and started the trek home from LaGuardia on Friday night.

Click "Read More" below to see the rest.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

How Bad A Job Did Girardi Really Do In The ALDS?

I ask because it seems that from the start of the ALDS through the final game, I seem to be one of the only people who thinks Girardi did an awful job.  There really isn't that much criticism out there for how he managed this series and I just think that's wrong when you look at all the bad calls he made and how some of them affected the game.  Here's the list of bad decisions, as I saw them:

- Brought Luis Ayala into the game in the 9th to finish.  Ayala gave up enough runs to force Mo to have to come in.

- Even had Mo warming up to begin with in Game 1 with a 9-run lead.  Use Hughes, Wade, anybody.

- Left Freddy Garcia in for way too long in the 6th inning of Game 2, allowing 2 more runs to score.

- Brought in Luis Ayala AGAIN in the 9th inning of Game 2 with a 3-run deficit.  Ayala gave up the insurance run and Girardi essentially gave up on the game.

- Didn't pinch run Dickerson for Posada in 9th inning of Game 2.

- Let CC come back out for the 6th inning of Game 3.  CC gave up the insurance run.

- Putting the bunt on with 2 on, 0 out, and Jeter at the plate in the 5th inning of Game 4 (** Never confirmed that it was Joe's call, but would you be surprised if it wasn't, given Joe's track record? **)

- Not using D-Rob a/o Mo in the late innings of Game 4.

- Bringing CC into the game in the 5th inning of Game 5.  CC gave up the insurance run.

I don't know, that just seems like a lot of fuck-ups to me, especially when 4 of the decisions directly led to the eventual winning runs being scored by the Tigers in the 3 games the Yankees lost.  How can nobody else see this?  And how can more people not be calling Girardi out for this?  He was terrible.  Awful.

It was a team loss in the series, because the players screwed up just as much in their execution, but if you're doling out pieces of blame pie for everybody at the pity party, Joe Girardi should be getting a much bigger piece.

Friday, October 7, 2011

2011 ALDS Review: The Things That Were Supposed To Decide The Series

So how'd I do with my series preview/prediction?  Pretty shitty actually. 

1) Speed/Athleticism

You can say that the Yankees held the advantage in this department in the series, but it really didn't translate into anything.  Curtis' amazing catches in Game 4 were part of it, but other than that there wasn't much.  An extra base here and there and maybe Russell Martin's slide into home, but the Yankees never got the running game going on the basepaths, and the Tigers never really did anything in the field or running the bases to exploit themselves.  They played errorless baseball and didn't run themselves out of anything.  So while the Yankees probably made more athletic plays, it ended up being a wash in terms of predicting outcome. 

2) Miguel Cabrera

I was all prepared to point out how Detroit won the one game that Cabrera did anything in and got their dicks smashed in 3 out of the other 4 when he did nothing, thereby proving that he was the key and cementing my status as a baseball genius, but then the whole "Yankees can't a get hit when they need it" thing happened last night and well, yeah.

But the Yankees did do a good job of limiting Cabrera in the series.  The only game he had a hit in was Game 2.  For the rest of the series he was a combined 0-11 with 4Ks and 0 RBI.  They walked him when they had to, and pitched to him effectively to get him outs when the situation allowed them to.  Cabrera almost single-handedly won Game 2 for the Tigers, but was useless in the rest of the games.  Once again, the Yankees did something that was a key in helping them win but still didn't get the positive result. 

3) The Holy Bullpen Trinities

AGAIN things should stack up in the Yankees' favor here when you look at the numbers: 

DET Big 3: 7 IP, 8 H, 6 BB, 6 ER, 9 K
NYY Big 3: 8 IP, 1 H, 0 BB, 1 ER, 7 K

It doesn't get much more one-sided than that, folks.  The Yankees beat down every single one of the Albuquerque-Benoit-Valverde troika at one point or another, mostly Albuquerque.  And they looked like they were fixing to do it to Benoit again last night.  On the other side, save for the one bad pitch that Soriano made to Delmon Young in Game 3, the Yankees' big bullpen arms shut the Tigers down.  Unfortunately, D-Rob and Mo only combined for 3.1 of the total innings, so the advantage in performance couldn't be played into victory.

Essentially, my predictions were right on the money in that the Yankees dominated the 3 keys I identified, and completely off in that none of it ended up meaning a goddamn thing.  That was the most frustrating thing about this series.  Everything points to the Yankees being the winners, and they still managed to lose.  Just mind-bottling.