Archive for the ‘Alex Rodriguez’ Category

(In addition to appearing at The Captain’s Blog, this post is also being syndicated atTheYankeeAnalysts.)

Some of Brian Cashman's best decisions have involved trades he didn't make.

The trade deadline has resulted in some of the most lopsided deals in history, but that doesn’t mean evey swap made under the gun has to have a winner and loser.  Each year, there are just as many deadline deals that are prudent as ones that are impetuous, but what about the trades that don’t get made? Sometimes, by not pulling an itchy trigger, a general manager can make his team a deadline winner even without making a single transaction.

During his Yankee tenure, Brian Cashman has not been very active during the trade deadline. In fact, when he has made a major in-season deal, it has often come earlier in the year when the pressure of the deadline was off in the distance. What Cashman has been very good at, however, is avoiding impetuous deals that would have a negative impact on the future more than help in the present.

In his first year as GM, Cashman inherited a strong team and built it into a powerhouse with additions like Chuck Knoblauch and Orlando Hernandez. However, despite compiling a record setting winning percentage over the first four months, the Yankees were still front and center amid several rumors at the deadline. In particular, it was reported that the team was close to securing Randy Johnson for a package including Hideki Irabu and a combination of prospects like Ramiro Mendoza, Mike Lowell, Ricky Ledee and Homer Bush.

Although it’s hard to imagine that Johnson would have had a negative impact on the Yankees, an improvement would have been impossible.  Granted, if the deal had been made, the Yankees may not have had to face Johnson in the 2001 World Series, but it’s also possible they wouldn’t have gotten there without the likes of Roger Clemens and David Justice, two players later acquired using players rumored to be in the mix for Johnson.

In 1999, the Yankees reportedly considered trading Andy Pettitte for Roberto Hernandez.

In 1999, Andy Pettitte was having one of his most difficult seasons in the big leagues. During the first half, the normally reliable lefty compiled a 5-7 record with a 5.59 ERA, leading to speculation that the Yankees might trade him before the deadline. One of the more prominent reports involved the Yankees trading Pettitte to the Phillies for two prospects who would then be flipped to Tampa for Roberto Hernandez. Had that trade been made, there not only wouldn’t have been a core four, but it’s also possible the Yankees wouldn’t have had four championships to celebrate. Because of Cashman’s ability to resist the pressure from above to trade Pettitte, the Yankees were able to enjoy 85 more wins, including nine in the post season, from the homegrown left hander.


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When Derek Jeter returned from the disabled list on July 4, there was some concern about whether his re-installation atop the lineup would short circuit a Yankees offense that had scored 5.7 per game in his absence. In addition, there was speculation about whether Joe Girardi might drop the Hall of Fame shortstop down in the lineup once his milestone 3,000th hit was attained. Almost immediately, however, the Yankees’ manager put an end to the whispers by steadfastly stating that Jeter would remain at the top of the batting order for the remainder of the season. Since then, Girardi has been more than rewarded for his vote of confidence.

Although the Yankees have experienced a one run per game decline in offense since Jeter’s return, the shortstop hasn’t been to blame. In fact, since July 4, Jeter has been the team’s best offensive player. Over the last 18 games, Jeter’s line of .324/.385/.521 has more resembled some of his best seasons than the year-plus decline that has led many to question his future. Expanding the sample to include the entire month of July, Jeter’s wOBA of .402 ranks third on the team behind Eduardo Nunez (.406) and Brett Gardner (.403). Jeter also leads the team with a WPA of 0.76 during the month, a figure equal to the combined total of the next two leaders (Nunez and Gardner). Ironically, in the absence of Alex Rodriguez, the Yankees who have stepped up the most are the ones most fans probably least expected.

Derek Jeter’s RHP/LHP Splits, 2002-2011 (click to enlarge)

Source: fangraphs.com


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(In addition to appearing at The Captain’s Blog, this post is also being syndicated at TheYankeeAnalysts.)

The Yankees offense currently ranks second among American League teams in just about every meaningful category, including wOBA, OPS+ and runs per game. However, the lineup has seemed to lack consistency as well as a definitive positive trend. As a result, the aggregate numbers look good, but to the naked eye, something seems to be missing.

Most recently, that “something” has been Alex Rodriguez. In the eight games played during his absence, the Yankees has posted a line of .244/.307/.333 along with a wOBA of .294 and per game output of four runs. Thankfully, the pitching staff, namely C.C. Sabathia, has been good enough to give the team a 5-3 record in that span, but if the bats don’t pick up, the Yankees may not be able to keep up with the division leading Red Sox.

Top-10 Offenses Compared to League (R/G Basis), 1901-2010 (click to enlarge)

Source: Baseball-reference.com

The Red Sox have been able to pull ahead in the American League East because of the prolific production by their lineup. Granted, the Red Sox have taken considerable advantage of FenwayPark (wOBA of .376 versus .333 on the road), but nonetheless, the bats have been booming in Beantown.  In terms of runs/game versus the league average, the 2011 Red Sox not only rank second in franchise history to the 1950 squad, but also compare favorably to some of the best offenses of all time. Currently, Boston has outscored the league average by 27%, a rate that, if maintained, would rank eleventh among all teams since 1901.


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As the trade deadline nears, the Yankees will probably be linked to every impact player available on the market. If the team gets shutout, have no fear, Carlos Beltran is on the way. Or, if Bartolo Colon stumbles again, there’s still no reason to fret. Ubaldo Jimenez is being measured for pinstripes. Whatever the Yankees’ need, the next two weeks will provide a rumor to fill it. Of course, much of the rampant speculation will likely be news to even Brian Cashman.

Although it’s fun to identify acquisition candidates based on marquee value, it’s sometimes more constructive to examine the relationships between general managers. For example, if the Red Sox need reinforcements, there’s a good chance Theo Epstein will turn to the San Diego Padres. Not only is Padres’ GM Jed Hoyer a former Red Sox’ executive, but the two teams have made 11 trades since Epstein took the reins in Boston.

Brian Cashman’s Most Common Trade Partners (click to enlarge)

Source: Baseball-reference.com


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Over at least the past three weeks, Alex Rodriguez has been playing with what was termed a “sore knee”. Since first mention of the diagnosis during the Yankees June series at Wrigley Field, Arod continued to get on base and play gold glove caliber defense. However, as has often been the case during his career, much of the focus was on what he hadn’t been able to do: hit homeruns.

Pain in Arod's knee could have a crippling effect on the Yankees' lineup.

It now seems obvious that Arod’s inability to drive the ball over the wall was the result of playing on an injured knee. Now, the question becomes did his sore knee originate as a slight meniscus tear, or did one develop after three weeks of playing with an injury that could have been alleviated with a few days of rest? 

This isn’t the first time the Yankees might have paid a heavy price for allowing a star to play through an injury. Back in late May, Joba Chamberlain complained of general soreness, but he was allowed to continue pitching through the pain. In fact, on June 5, he threw an almost career-high number of pitches in a relief outing against the Angels. Shortly thereafter, Chamberlain was sent for an MRI, which discovered a ligament tear that resulted in season-ending Tommy John surgery.


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Despite garnering six All Star selections, three Yankees were conspicuous by their absence from the team. Both Mark Teixeira and CC Sabathia currently rank among the top three players at their respective positions, according to fangraph’s WAR, while David Robertson sits atop all American League relievers in the category. If either or all three had been named to the team, it would have been justifiable.

If the Yankees had ended up with nine All Stars, it would have come within one of the franchise record, which was set in 1939 when 10 Bronx Bombers were selected. In that year’s game, the Yankees also fielded six starters, another franchise high.  Even with six participants, the 2011 team ranks among the top quartile in terms of the number of players selected to the midseason classic.

Yankees’ All Star Selections by Year (click to enlarge)
Source: Baseball-reference.com

Although some Yankees fans might not be happy with six All Stars, especially after the team had eight in 2010, others might argue the team is lucky to have that many.  In the mainstream media and among the more casual fan base, Russell Martin’s selection as a backup catcher is most likely to be called into question. However, Martin does rank third in WAR among A.L. catchers, so if three spots are allocated to the position, the Yankees’ backstop is certainly deserving.

Derek Jeter’s election as the starting short stop for the American League has been discredited by the sabermetric crowd. The future Hall of Famer’s struggles have been well documented, so his selection can’t be justified by first half statistics. However, nowhere in the voting bylaws does it mandate that criteria be used as a basis for inclusion. Since the game’s inception, legendary figures well past their prime have frequently been elected, so Jeter’s inclusion is well within precedent. It is, after all, a contest for all stars, and the Yankees’ short stop qualifies as one of the brightest in the game.

Robinson Cano is another Yankees’ All Star that could be disputed. Although Cano’s WAR of 2.6 is nothing to look down upon, he currently ranks fifth among A.L. second basemen. Like Jeter, however, albeit to a much lesser degree, Cano has established himself a bona fide star, so the combination of his current season statistics and impressive track record suggest that, if not a worthy starter, the Yankees’ second baseman is a deserving reserve.

Most Frequent Yankees’ All Star Starters, By Position

Po. Player #
C Yogi Berra 11
1B Lou Gehrig 5
2B Willie Randolph 4
3B Alex Rodriguez 6
SS Derek Jeter 8
LF Several  1
CF Mickey Mantle 12
RF Dave Winfield 5
P Lefty Gomez 5

Source: Baseball-reference.com

All things considered, there probably should be six Yankees jogging out to the foul line at Chase Field next Tuesday. However, some might argue for a different combination. That debate is part of the charm of All Star Game. Although the midseason exhibition has been met with increased cynicism over the years, the number of ballots cast and the volume of discussion about the selections suggest that the event is not only still relevant, but one of the highlights of the baseball season.

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Jorge Posada’s sixth inning home run in the first game of today’s day/night doubleheader was his seventh of the season, but first since April 24. The two-run blast, which gave the Yankees a 4-2 lead, also ended the longest homerless streak in Posada’s career. The 38-game drought was one day longer than a previous power outage that lasted between the 2002 and 2003 seasons.

Power Outages Among Yankees’ Regulars

Player Tm Strk Start End G AB BA OBP SLG
Brett Gardner NYY 7/5/2010 4/19/2011 84 273 0.212 0.337 0.297
Derek Jeter NYY 5/10/1997 8/6/1997 75 311 0.289 0.359 0.357
Russell Martin LAD 9/27/2008 6/19/2009 62 222 0.239 0.350 0.279
Robinson Cano NYY 5/9/2008 6/24/2008 41 153 0.288 0.319 0.366
Jorge Posada NYY 4/24/2011 6/19/2011 38 124 0.250 0.329 0.323
Nick Swisher OAK 4/15/2005 6/15/2005 33 117 0.222 0.300 0.274
Alex Rodriguez SEA 7/8/1994 6/11/1995 32 101 0.228 0.248 0.257
Curtis Granderson DET 6/24/2006 7/28/2006 27 105 0.276 0.333 0.324
Mark Teixeira NYY 6/13/2009 7/8/2009 23 92 0.261 0.370 0.326

Source: Baseball-reference.com

Posada’s career-high homerless streaks ranks in the middle of the pack when compared to similar stretches endured by the other regulars in the Yankees’ lineup. Not surprisingly, the longest streak without a homer belongs to Brett Gardner, while the shortest span between home runs is enjoyed by Mark Teixeira. However, it is interesting to note that regardless of each hitter’s profile, their home run drought was also accompanied by a more pervasive slump.

Although Posada has already shown signs that his season-long doldrums are in the past (he was hitting .432/.450/.514 in his previous 40 plate appearances entering today’s action), perhaps this afternoon’s homerun is the final confirmation? The Yankees could definitely use more power from the DH slot, and if he is anywhere near his old self, Posada is more than capable of supplying it.

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(In addition to appearing at The Captain’s Blog, this post is also being syndicated at TheYankeeAnalysts.)

By roughing up Brett Anderson in last night’s 10-3 victory over the Athletics, the Yankees improved their record against lefthanders to 11-6, the fourth best mark in baseball. In addition, the Yankees exited the game with the two batters who have the most RBIs against southpaws: Curtis Granderson (19) and Robinson Cano (18).

Have mechanical adjustments turned Granderson into a lefthander’s worst nightmare (Photo: NY Post)?

No one should be surprised to see Cano among the games most effective hitters against left-handed pitching. Over his career, the Yankees’ lefty swinging second baseman has had considerable success facing hurlers who throw from the port side. Since 2007, Cano’s wOBA against lefties has been .370, including a rate of at least .349 in every season over that span.

Curtis Granderson, however, is another story. When the Yankees acquired him from the Tigers before the 2010 season, the biggest knock on Granderson was his inability to hit lefties. In fact, many suggested that the weakness would eventually render him a platoon player. After a difficult first few months in pinstripes, it looked as if that prediction would come true, but following a much heralded tutorial with hitting coach Kevin Long, Granderson completely changed his profile as a hitter.

Not only does Granderson lead the majors in RBIs off left-handed pitching, he is also tops with nine home runs and third in wOBA with an astounding rate of .505. What’s more, he hasn’t exactly been picking on the weaker members of the herd. Counted among Granderson’s long ball victims are Jon Lester, David Price and Anderson, three of the best lefties in the American League.

Major League Leaders Against Lefthanders, Ranked by wOBA

Chris Iannetta Rockies 0.565 45 6 13 0.333 0.467 0.917
Jay Bruce Reds 0.545 47 5 16 0.381 0.435 0.857
Curtis Granderson Yankees 0.505 69 9 19 0.323 0.373 0.823
Howie Kendrick Angels 0.503 66 5 10 0.364 0.462 0.727
Jose Bautista Blue Jays 0.503 45 4 7 0.333 0.467 0.750
Mike Napoli Rangers 0.495 55 5 15 0.302 0.455 0.721
Hanley Ramirez Marlins 0.490 43 2 5 0.378 0.465 0.676
Alfonso Soriano Cubs 0.490 49 4 9 0.391 0.429 0.717
Michael Young Rangers 0.489 64 1 13 0.431 0.484 0.655
Jed Lowrie Red Sox 0.485 59 3 16 0.429 0.441 0.696

Source: fangraphs.com

Considering the Yankees have two lefthanders who have feasted on pitchers throwing from the same side, one might expect the team’s overall performance against southpaws to be off the charts. However, that’s not the case. Although the team’s wOBA of .365 against lefthanders is very impressive, it isn’t an extraordinary figure. In fact, the Yankees are not even close to the rate posted by the Cardinals, who lead the league with a wOBA of .388 against lefties.


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The last three years haven’t been very kind to Mets’ owner Fred Wilpon, so what’s one more bad day?

Fred Wilpon has seen better days, but the firestorm following recently published comments was not one of them.

In a recent profile in The New Yorker, Wilpon’s rise and (at least temporary) fall as a self-made millionaire were chronicled in impressive detail by staff writer Jeffrey Toobin. However, what gained most notoriety were a handful of unflattering remarks that Wilpon made about his own team and several of its players. Although it is a shame that the enlightening profile was overshadowed by a few off-the-cuff remarks, the reality is, if not for his position as owner of the Mets, there likely would not have been a profile in the first place.

In addition to lamenting the overall poor play of his team, Wilpon also had pointed criticisms about several star players. “He won’t get it,” was Wilpon’s assessment of Jose Reyes’ chances at signing a Carl Crawford-like contract, while David Wright was described as “a really good kid; a very good player; not a superstar”. Not exactly the high praise you’d expect from an organization about its homegrown talent.

Perhaps the greatest criticism, however, was reserved for Carlos Beltran, who also happens to be most Mets’ fans favorite whipping boy. After miming Beltran’s flinching strikeout that ended the 2006 NLCS in response to a question about the Mets being cursed, Wilpon went on to call himself a “schmuck” for signing the centerfielder “based on that one series” (a reference to Beltran’s playoff performance in 2004).

The resultant firestorm stemming from the comments was predictable, if not ironic. Anyone who listens to sports talk or reads the tabloids in New York has likely heard all of Wilpon’s statements repeated countless times. Of course, the people spouting them aren’t the owners of the team.

Instead of debating whether Wilpon should have been so forthright, or even whether his assessments were correct (I happen to think he was wrong on all three: Reyes will get Crawford money; Wright is a superstar; and the Beltran signing wasn’t a bad one), I am more intrigued by the suggestion that the Mets are cursed, particularly as it pertains to free agents.  After all, Wilpon’s sentiments seem to be shared by the entire fan base, which frequently laments the team’s perceived misfortune in free agency.

So, just how poorly have the Mets done in free agency? In order to address that question, let’s first take a look at the Mets major signings since the advent of free agency in 1976. With a few noted exceptions, this list only contains prominent players who signed as a domestic free agent and had previously spent less than a year with the team. In other words, players re-signing after a longer tenure (e.g., Oliver Perez) or before filing for free agency (e.g., Mike Piazza and John Franco) are excluded. (more…)

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(In addition to appearing at The Captain’s Blog, this post is also being syndicated at TheYankeeAnalysts.)

Much to the chagrin of the rest of the baseball world, this weekend brings the latest installment of the epic battle between the Yankees Universe and Red Sox Nation. 

Over the next 72 hours, FOX, ESPN, and local sports networks in both regions will inundate their audiences with coverage of a rivalry that has  taken on a life of its own. Much like European soccer powerhouses interrupt their regular season schedules to play highly anticipated international tournament games, when the Yankees and Red Sox meet, the events seem to transcend the sport. 

Like it or not, when the Yankees and Red Sox play, the games generate great interest. Fueling that passion has been the success enjoyed by both teams over the last decade. However, the rich history between the two teams is also a factor. Even though the Rays have established themselves on equal footing with both behemoths, their limited history, and even more limited fan base, hasn’t yet kindled the intensity that exists between Boston and New York.

Although it often gets swallowed up in hype, the fact of the matter is the rivalry has been highly competitive over the last decade (and, as noted below, the last 45 years). Not since 2001, when the Yankees won 13 of 18, has one team dominated a season series. Over the subsequent 10 years (including the playoffs and the three games played so far this year), the outcomes have practically been the split down the middle, with the Yankees maintaining a small 94-90 advantage. With each team being a perennial pennant contender, the games have taken on a heightened significance, which undoubtedly has contributed to the intensity on each side.

History of the Rivalry, 1901-1911


Note: Blue in the chart above represents years when the Yankees won more than 50% of the season series. Red represents when the Red Sox won more than 50%. When the season series was split, a gray area is visible.
Source: Baseball-reference.com


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