Thursday, April 27, 2006

Tampa Series

The Yankees won Game 1 in impressive fashion and won Game to in the third-order standings. Unfortunately the real game is first order and having a WHIP on offense of 2 for the game does not guarantee runs. In fact the Yankees were very creative in finding ways to not score including a 6-1-5 fielders choice double play. Eventually the Devil Rays broke through in the tenth with two runs against Rivera. The Yankees loaded the bases in the bottom of the tenth but couldn't score. It was mystifying that Torre went with Williams and not Phillips as a pinch hitter but that's the cost of sentimental signings. Then in game 3 the Yankees got lucky and scored three unearned runs against the Cy Young candidate Mark Hendrickson (0.00 ERA).

Monday, April 24, 2006

Series Preview Yankees vs. Tampa Bay

The Yankees open a three game series against the Devil Rays on Tuesday. This series is one the Yankees have got to win at least 2 of them.

Mussina vs Kazmir
Yankees Winning Probability (This is based on Pythagorean records adjusted to starter. I am using a majority of starter performance based on ZIPS projections right now because of the small sample size). The Yankees have an approximately 69% chance of winning this game. Kazmir has an approach which could play into the Yankees hands. The Yankees are a patient team and Kazmir relies on batters chasing pitches out of the zone. I could definitely see Giambi having a big day against him. This game is probably the one the Yankees will have the most trouble with.
Wang vs McClung
Yankees Winning Probability- 80%. This game is one the Yankees should easily take as they send out the inconsistent Wang against the consistently bad Seth Mcclung. Look for pretty much everyone to have a good game.
Chacon vs. Hendrickson
Yankees Winning Probability- 72%. The Yankees chances are probably better than this as Hendrickson's predictions is brought down by his 1 start where he had a zero ERA. Chacon has been either bad or lucky this year. Against the Orioles for example he gave up only one run in 6 innings but he did it without striking out many and he walked three batters. The other starts he was not good at all. The Yankees will probably hace to score a lot of runs to win this game which looks to be a slugfest.
This series looks like one the Yankees can take and their expected series is a 2.2-.8 series victory. They probably aren't at that high a probability as they are pitching over their heads but
their offense is excellent and the D Rays pitching isn't.

Yankees over .500

The Yankees finished taking 2 of 3 from the Orioles bringing their playoff odds up to 54%. In Game 1 they faced off against Kris Benson with Chen Ming Wang. Wang had walked the bases loaded and had two outs when Melvin Mora hit a ball to Jeter's left. Jeter showing his poor range had to make a weak off-balance throw and Phillips had to jump to get it. The umpire called Mora safe but replays showed that he came down before Mora did. That led to three runs scoring. Then in the ninth inning with the bases loaded and the Yankees down one Matsui had a full count. He took a pitch which appeared to be an inch or two off the outside corner. The umpire called it a strike and the game was over. Then in Game two Shawn Chacon somehow held the Orioles to one run despite giving up 3 walks and striking out only three. The Yankees in Game three went with Randy Johnson to take the series. He pitched surprisingly well despite only hitting around ninety and havng a slider which was flat for the first 4 innings. Giambi provided most of the offense. In the second he hit a homerun and hit another in the third. In the 5 with the bases loaded he hit a line drive hard down the first base line but right at Millar then in the seventh he hit a double which was off the base of the wall. In the third Torre showed why managers should be seen and not heard. First Jeter hit a single then he was picked off as he was running on the pitch. Then Sheffield hit a single and was caught stealing. Then A-Rod reached on an error and Giambi homered. Torre by himself took a grand slam away from Giambi and gave him a two run homer.

Sunday, April 16, 2006

Yanks 9 Twins 3

Record 6-6
Pythag Record 114-48
The Yankees salvaged the last game of the series against the Twins. The first two games were
very frustrating as they got dominated by a rookie pitcher who probably shouldn't be starting.

The next game they almost stole a game despite having a terrible starters matchup of Santana vs. Wright. They rallied and were leading 5-4 in the ninth. Mariano Rivera continued on and faced Luis Castillo. After possibly striking out Castillo on check swing he induced a weak groundball. Unfortunately it was placed in exactly the right spot and Castillo beat it out. Next he possibly struck out Mauer on dubious calls before giving up a single which Matsui misplayed into a double when he threw to third. Then he struck out White and Hunter. Then Mourneau came up to bat. Rivera induced a little bloop to second. Cano couldn't reach it and Rivera lost a game where he pitched a great inning. Then the Yankees beat up on Radke and his relievers for 9 runs in a game where Wang had his best game of the season and maybe a game where he starts striking out more batters. He struck out 8 batters and seemed to be throwing better soft stuff.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Yankees 9 Royals 7

Record 3-4
Pythag Record 111-51
Playoff Odds 33%

The Yankees started off the game well with Damon hitting a double, A-Rod walking and Giambi hitting a 3 run homer. It appeared that the Royals couldn't handle the mystique and aura of Yankee stadium. In the third with the Yankees leading 4-1 and with the bases loaded with 2 outs they got into the Royals middle relief. This would ordinarily be a good thing but the Yankees decided to stop hitting such stars as Mike Wood and Elmer Dessens. Meanwhile Wang had given up 3 more runs and when Sturtze came in he showed why he was not a marquee relief pitcher. He gave up 3 runs in 1/3 of an inning and gave way to Mike Myers who got a pickoff and a strikeout. Then in the 8th inning town 7-4 the Yankees came up to bat. Due to their innovative lineup the Royals could bring in their second best reliever who's also a lefty and have the platoon advantage for 3 batters of five with the other two being switch hitters. Fortunately the Yankees scored 2 runs and had runners on first and second with 1 out for Johnny Damon (remember that spelling Jhonny Peralta). Damon struck out but Jeter came through with a three run homer. Then Rivera came in and nailed it down in the ninth. Giambi continued with his walking ways walking three times and bringing his season total up to ten.

Monday, April 10, 2006

Guity Even of Proven Innocent

It seems from DNA evidence that Duke's lacrosse team did not rape strippers that they hired. The story was perfect for the press. You had all these trendy things going in the story. You had rich vs. poor, you had white vs. black, and you even had rape on college campuses. The story couldn't be more perfect except that the girl was lying. So far the story isn't that strange although there was a strange presumption of guilt on the students based on one of the least reliable sources possible. But Duke has refused to undo their punitive actions against the team. The coach has been fired and the season cancelled all because nobody considered that the students might be innocent. It turns out that even DNA evidence isn't enough against the presumption that athletes are all evil rapists. Duke will probably try to justify this on some moral ground but who would they be fooling. If they held every team to this standard Coach K wouldn't be making many more commercials. The story of assault seems implausible from the outset. It assumes that all 46 of the people there are complicit in the crime which makes very little sense. Suppose, for example, that 95% of athletes at the party would not report this assault (a figure which is probably high) there would be an approximately %90 chance that the crime would be reported. Assuming semi-rational behavior, nobody would be that stupid. In fact the history of these assault cases is not so good with Bryant standing out.

Sunday, April 09, 2006

Yankees Angels

The Yankees salvaged the last game of their series against the Angels 10-1 the Yankees have an extremely inconsistent offense with a standard deviation of around 4 on an average of 6 runs a game. Mussina was sharp for the whole game except for his one bad inning which is a trademark of Mussina. The Yankees offense teed off against Bartolo Colon despite the presence of Miguel Cairo playing first. There is no real reason why a lefty who hits fastballs well and can play defense, (Andy Phillips) would be sat in favor of a player who is completely worthless at everything he does. In Game 2 of the series Randy Johnson pitched better than he did on Opening Day even though he allowed 2 more runs. Johnson struck out 8 batters and walked none. He also allowed no homers. I think that Randy Johnson will have a better year than any pitcher not named Santana or Halliday. The Yankees offense was bad but not as bad as they seemed. The Yankees put 26 balls in play against the Angels. 2 of them went for hits. That is a .077 BABIP . The league average last year was around .300 if ythe Yankees had had average luck they would have had 5 more hits. This may be a bit high because they weren't hitting the ball hard all the time but I can think of three hits which the Yankees were unlucky to not get. One came from Cano who hit a low line drive straight at a fielder. The second time came with runners on first and second and 1 out. A-Rod hit a ball up the middle which hit Santana's knee. That prevented one run from scoring. In the eighth with Sheffield on second A-Rod hit a line drive which was grabbed by Kotchman that stopped another run from scoring. As for the first game I can't comment as I didn't see it but it looks like Chacon's magical mystery tour may be over. As for unluckiness the Yankees Pythagorean record is 4-2 with their record 2-4.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

A's 9 Yankees 5

Record 1-2
Pythagorean Record 1.59-1.41
In the third game of the season Torre proved himself to be worse than the blind squirrel. For the second game in a row Torre fumbled through his bullpen options and came up with maybe the worst one possible. Due to the Yankees lack of bullpen depth (Ahem Colter Bean) they were forced to go to Jaret Wright for two innings. Then with the score tied Torre faced a dilemma. Who should pitch the 8th and 9th. Farnsworth was supposedly out, having worn himself out with a 10 pitch outing the previous night, but that didn't turn out to be true (if it was true it would also be nonsensical like Guillen taking out two starters for rest on day 2 after an off day). Of course leaving Wright in was the obvious choice, right? Having done this calculation about Farnsworth Torre bided his time. First Wright gave up a triple, then after some bad defense and two runs later, he brought in the one who was unavailable, Kyle Farnsworth. This begs the question of, "Why not at the beginning of the 8th?" Torre seems uncapable of realizing that a tie game is an important situation and is one which should be entrusted to your best relievers. However Torre is like a blind squirrel in that, he knows that Rivera is his best and most important reliever (not always ,see game 2, but usually, especially in the playoff), but that is where the similarities end. A blind squirrel is a tragic creature trying to make the best out of bad circumstances. Torre takes a great situation and makes it into a bad one. Also nobody congratulates the blind- squirrel for his vision and votes him 'acorn gatherer of the year'. Finally and most importantly the blind squirrel is left to freeze and starve to death while Torre is entering his tenth year as manager.
Wang was good for the first 4 innings but was betrayed in the 4th by Jeter messing up an easy double play ball (he made up for it though by flipping to home plate 5 years ago). Wang did give up to hard hit balls after that but he relearned the dangers of being a Yankees groundballer (or flyballer heck with Posada even a strikeout pitcher isn't safe) and you can't blame him for how he pitched depressed. In the next inning he walked a run in despite throwing a perfect pitch on 2-2 which was called a ball. The defense was atrocious with Jeter's error and Cano making an error in the eighth.
The Yankees hit two home runs but aside from that were dominated by Haren, who struck out 8 batters. This was a disappointing game because it was a winnable game lost through bad defense and worse managing.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

A's 4 Yankees 3

Record 1-1
Pythagorean Record 1.355-1 (This record is the some of their pythagorean percentages in each separate game and then adding them).

The Yankees started off strong putting runners on 2nd and 3rd with nobody out in the first. Harden came back and struck out Sheffield, A-Rod, and Giambi to end the inning. The teams each scored 3 runs in the first eight innings (The Yankees with singles and groundouts and the A's with a single and two homeruns). The Yankees bullpen was looking good with a scoreless 8th. Then Torre struck with his first game-changing decision. In the bottom of the ninth in a tied game he can bring in the best reliever ever or a glorified ROOGY. This is one of the highest possible leverage situations and is the closer's secondary role. The A's understood this and brought in Street, but Torre went with loyalty, went with past performance, went by the book, and went with Scott Proctor. The results were predictable a walk, a sac bunt (again done in a high percentage time) ,then an intentional walk, and then a game winning RBI single.

Who Looked Good: Mussina looked solid giving up 2 earned runs in 7 innings. His curve was breaking sharply and he parlayed it into 6 strikeouts. He did give up two homers which is a bad sign. He walked only one and hit another for a very solid K:BB ratio. At the plate Posada was hitting the ball sharply and had a good night despite being robbed of a double. Damon was very solid with a couple of walks and a double. A-Rod had a good night with a pair of singles.

Who Didn't Look Good: Robinson Cano had a bad game despite a base hit because he was swinging at the first pitch far too often. Bernie Williams looked overpowered at times as well.
Scott Proctor also did not do exceptionally only getting the out they gave him.

Other Notes: Rich Harden looked exceptionally sharp and could turn the Cy Young ballot into a three man race with all three pitchers being under 30 years old. In the 7th inning Jeter sacrifice bunted Damon over to second. Needless to say, a hitter of Jeter's caliber shouldn't be bunting. This is a scene which will repeat itself over and over this year.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Yankees 15 A's 1 (8th inning)

Yankees Record 1-0
Pythagoran WPCT% .995

The Yankees dominated this game starting in the second inning. The first two hitters got out but the Yankees got back to back walks before finishing the inning. Zito had little velocity, with his fastball hitting an 84 mph max, and little location on his curveball. In the second inning the Yankees batted around and more for 7 runs capped by an A-Rod grand slam. After that it was just piling on runs.

What Was Good: Besides the obviously great offense there were some interesting things happening. Bernie Williams showed good bat speed and was taking pitches up the middle and showing better plate discipline. Randy Johnson was okay but did not look that impressive having only three strikeouts. He did, however, have a few balls hit for easy popups which is a good sign.
A-Rod looked in good defensive condition by robbing two hits down the line. He showed his weakness on bunts when he fumbled a softly hit ground ball.

What Was Bad: Giambi made an error on a ball he should have had pretty easily. Aside from that Everything was perfect although Giambi had a small collision with Posada due to, it seemed bad communication on a pop fly.

Other Interesting Tidbits: The A's outfield defense is sick they have a ton of range and will take away a lot of doubles and singles. Frank Thomas and Jim Thome seem to be pretty similar players as injury-prone DHs. Wy the extra risk of injury to Thomas is worth 8 mil a year and Aaron Rowand is beyond me. Both are looking good with Thome and Thomas homering in their first game.
P.S. By the way, how can you not love a pythagorean winning percentage of .995.