Monday, April 06, 2009

Opening Day 2009

I'm still working on that promised documentary recommendations post, but Opening Day dictates that I leapfrog it with a tip of the cap to the return of baseball. Here's a Yankees video primer from our buddies at NoMaas.org:


Opening Day 2009 from nomaas on Vimeo.

I'm warming up with a nice scoreless Mets-Reds game right now. The first pitch of the Yankees season gets chucked in a little less than 2 hours. The Bronx Bombers had a healthy offseason of purging dead weight and signing big money power players. I'm looking forward to checking out the Big Two - and I mean Big - this afternoon when CC Sabathia throws his first pitch and Mark Teixeira takes his first swing as Yankees. Let's go Yanks! Let's go blue skies in Baltimore!

36 comments:

Dan said...

Well, that was ugly. Would have preferred a rainout.

Joel said...

Wow,I guess 161 million does buy what used to....

CC = 0-1 ouch!

akboognish said...

Any comments on the new stadium? Or are you holding off until you make the trip to the Bronx?

Oh yeah and not sure if you noticed today but the Sox and Giants were both winners in THEIR opening day games (Giants finally have been officially adopted as the official akboognish west coast / NL team).

Dan said...

Joel - CC's a notoriously slow starter and he's good for 250 innings a year. The jury's not in yet.

akboognish - the game was in Baltimore, so I haven't seen the new Stadium yet. from what I've heard, I'll barely be able to see it from any seats that I might be able to afford too. Giants??? boo.

akboognish said...

right, forgot about the fact that the game was in Baltimore.

What's wrong with the Giants? They're going to get crushed by the Dodgers but they some good pitchers and, most importantly, no Barry Bonds. Games are pretty cheap this year and their ballpark is pretty great. I don't have to feel guilty rooting for them, since there are no other AL teams that I care about. They also have cool uniforms (I like the cream/orange/black thing).

I know I sound like a lightweight fan, but that's because when it comes to the NL, I am one.

Dan said...

just fucking with you. Makes sense to pick a local team that doesn't conflict with existing loyalties. I rooted for the Bucs when I was living in Tampa - as long as they weren't playing the Steelers.

Joel said...

I know CC has some issues getting out of the gate and maybe I jumped the gun but 161 million dollars is an obscene amount of money did give anybody to anything on the face of the planet!

Sabathia holds a lifetime postseason record of 2 wins and 3 losses in 5 games. He has pitched a total of 25 postseason innings, giving up 33 hits, 22 walks and 22 earned runs resulting in a 7.92 ERA. He also struck out 24 batters.[16] In the 2007 ALCS he beaned 3 batters.

And given his post season woes I think he managed to pull the biggest Brinks job since Hank Paulson..

Nice Stadium.

Joel

akboognish said...

Nice stats, Joel. I'll take Beckett over Sabathia any day. The Yanks are back to overpaying for free agents to cure their ills. Sabathia will get plenty of wins this year and will vastly improve the Yank's pitching, but he won't be a season-changer for them. Same thing with Tiexiera; all he does is make up for the fact that Posada, Damon, and Jeter are still in the line-up with A-Rod joining soon.

But I do love the high hopes the Yanks fans have for this year: all the better for the Sox to stay under the radar and just play good baseball.

One thing is that all of us have to stay wary of the Rays, especially with that Vanderbilt flamethrower hanging in the minors! But I'd be surprised if they did as good this year as they did last year. This three-way slugfest is going to take a while, and should be fun to watch the whole season.

Dan said...

You guys are a joke. Sabathia averaged 247 innings a year the last 2 years. His contract is for 7 years and you're ready to call it a bust after the first 4.1 innings out of 1729.

ha.

Joel said...

Your right,the Rays have a bit more swagger after there post season run last year and I think they could repeat there same success this year.

I think Brian Cashman is a good GM and has plenty of money to throw around but I think the Yanks are lacking those club house guys,(Scott Brosius, Paul O'Neill, etc) Jeter is the face of the franchise but he is getting a little long in the tooth and just can't carry these guys on his back for much longer.

Dan said...

Joel, do you seriously think you're qualified to judge the clubhouseguyness of the current roster of Yankees? You must pay for ESPN INsider or something.

Joel said...

Dan,

I think your missing the point and I know he is a workhorse, but an ERA above 7 in the post season sucks.

And if you look at A-rods post season
woes your looking at close to 1/2 a billion dollars (and I did say a BILLION!) tied up in with two chokers...

Now thats a joke.

Dan said...

You're right, Joel. CC Sabathia is a bad pitcher and Teixeira and A-Rod are bad hitters. Thanks for your input. I'll pass it along to Cashman.

Joel said...

I'm sorry Dan,sometimes I hate when the facts get in the way of the truth...

I feel your pain.

Dewy24 said...

I wouldn't focus too much on C.C. and A-Rod. The Yankees improved their starting pitching and they won't have problems scoring runs. But what could be the biggest problem for the Yankees is getting to Mariano. If I were a Yankee fan I'd extremely concerned with Albaladejo, Coke, Bruney, Marte and Edwar Ramirez filling out my bullpen. The Yankees opener might be a blueprint of the rest of the season. Yanks were only down 6-5 on an uncharacteristic bad start by C.C. (actually is was pretty characteristic of his play off starts but that is a problem for you to deal with later). The bullpen came in and completely let the game out of hand. C.C. will be fine but the bullpen implosion is a far more likely outcome. Maybe the bullpen can pull in together but aside from Marte there is not a lot of experience there. It is actually pretty shocking how few innings this bullpen has pitched in the majors and I don't think Yankee Stadium is a good place to learn on the job, particularly this year.

Dan said...

Joel, you're like a 13 year old. Keep listening to Steve Phillips.

dewy24 - the bullpen concerns me.

Joel said...

Dan,

Chill out its just baseball.

dewy24,

Coke,Marte,Ramirez,Veras,Bruney & Rivera will be servicable but if they could get Brett Tomko, Alfredo Aceves and Dan Giese up to speed it would give the Yanks some nice long relief options out of the pen.

Dan said...

another classic 13 year old's argument tactic.

Dewy24 said...

You guys know the Yankees farm system much better than I do you're right that the current bullpen plus possible additions may be sufficient. But the Yankees had a major drop in runs scored last season and I don't see the addition of Teixeira alone will turn that around. His bat is essential taking over for Giambi who actually had a productive year last season. Fewer runs scored will result in a lot more close games which could expose a weak bullpen. Now if C.C. has a Cy Young type season and the rest of the starters pitch as expected the bullpen might not be much of a problem. Another reason C.C. was such a good pick up for the Yankees is, as Dan said, he is an inning horse. The same can be said if a bunch of guys get hot at the plate and the Yankees score 950-ish runs like they used to prior to last season.

akboognish said...

I forgot how much I missed baseball season and these types of discussions.

Now, what about Lincecum, Cain, Randy Johnson, and Barry Zito? If Johnson wins 12 games and Zito gets his groove back, the Giants could actually give the Dodgers a run.

Here's a question: is C.C. going to turn out to be the Yankee's Zito (they're both inning horses, cy young winners, successful in their small market teams, and over-paid expensive free-agent pick-ups). I wouldn't have ever thought Zito was going to go this direction when he left Oakland.

The good thing for the Giants is that he's not that bad a 4-spot, and if they all get lucky and he turns it on they could be in great shape.

What they lack, unfortunately, is a Tiexiera-type of batter (who I do think will perform, but I agree with Dewy24 that he is essentially replacing Giambi), but this being the NL that might not be as important as it is in the AL-East.

Joel said...

After your condescending reply to my post,
"You're right, Joel. CC Sabathia is a bad pitcher and Teixeira and A-Rod are bad hitters. Thanks for your input. I'll pass it along to Cashman."

How was I supposed to reply?

If you post like a child don't be surprised if you get a child like reply back.

Dewey24,

Your right if the Yanks bats get hot and CC can win 20 games it will
cover up a suspect bullpen.

-joel

Dan said...

It's never you, Joel.

Dewy24 said...

ak-

I'm such an American League guy I can't really talk much about the Giants. Quickly looking at their roster it looks like they could have a very good pitching staff if Zito can bounce back from a very poor year last year. Randy Johnson is no longer an elite pitcher but he is still pretty good. I just don't see how that are going to score runs (I don't want to hear any of that 'small ball' nonsense).

I can see why you adopted the Giants and probably would have done the same. Cool park, nice uniforms, no Sox conflict, closer to where you live. That said having lived briefly in the East Bay and still have friends there the A's have a certain working class cache that I've always liked. It is kind of similar to the Cubs/White Sox rivalry. Also Nomar is the A's first baseman which would have complicated my choice. But with Bonds gone that team is 100% more likable.

Dan said...

On the Teixeira (29 yr old) is basically a replacement for Giambi (38 yr old) argument:

Giambi07 - .236 ba, 14 hr, 39 rbi, 108 ops+ (injured half the year)
Giambi08 - .247 ba, 32 hr, 96 rbi, 128 ops+

Teixeira07 - .306 ba, 30 hr, 105 rbi, 150 ops+
Teixeira08 - .308 ba, 33 hr, 121 rbi, 151 ops+

Here's some more stat analysis done by the ruthlessly honest staff at nomaas:


The #s are VORP, Games Played, VORPr

Pujols 170.7, 306, .558
Texeira 118.3, 289, .409
Berkman 115.2, 312, .369
Fielder 109.7, 317, .346
Pena 101.2, 287, .353
Howard 90.0, 306, .294
Youkilis 84.7, 290, .292
Gonzalez 83.5, 323, .258
Morneau 75.9, 320, .237

"So, in a group where offensive production is held to a higher standard, Teixeira is the 2nd most valuable offensive player over the course of the last two full seasons. When adjusting for the number of games played, he separates himself even more.

Taking it a step further, over the same two-year period Teixeira has the 8th highest VORP total of any hitter in baseball. This should be especially amusing to those that claim he somehow isn’t worth his contract because he is a first baseman, since the numbers are adjusted for position. We’ll repeat that just to make certain that it’s clear: over the last two seasons, only Pujols, Hanley Ramirez, A-Rod, Chipper, Wright, Utley, and Holliday have been more productive offensively when adjusting for positional scarcity.

If we look simply at offensive production with no regard for position, Teixeira is tied for the 4th highest OPS+ in all of baseball (151) over the last two years. Only Pujols, Chipper, and A-Rod are ahead of him, with Ortiz posting the same 151. If we take it back to a period of four years, he is still ranked extremely high, coming in at 11th highest. The beautiful thing here is that Teixeira has been trending upward, increasing his walk rate and decreasing his strikeouts.

[defensively?] Teixeira converted 83.4% of balls hit in his zone into outs during 2008. That was second among qualified 1B, only behind Albert Pujols.

Giambi in 2008? 67.9%"

Anyone want to revise their opinion on this matter?

Dan said...

On that most quantifiable of stats - clubhouseguyness - here's an interesting take on A-Rod as a clubhouse guy from longtime A-Rod/Yankee hater, Bill Simmons:

http://sports.espn.go.com/espnmag/story?id=4050462

Dewy24 said...

I don't think I need to revise my opinion. All I said is that based on last years stats there isn't a huge difference between Teixeira and Giambi on offense. Tex had a VORP of 35.2 and Giambi's was 30.2 which spread out over a season is negligible. You're completely correct that over the long run Teixeira will be a more productive player but I don't see a huge difference this season. I thought he was a great signing for the Yankees and was upset that the Sox didn't get him even though we didn't really have a place for him. You're absolutely right that Teixeira is better defensively but I never said he wasn't.

I have to say I'm very happy you are using sabermetrics in support of your arguments but my guess is you will drop them the moment I bring up Jeter's historically bad defense at short.

Brian said...

Finally, baseball.

Gotta love the MLB package. I told myself that I'll stick with the MLB network (which has exceeded expectations) and drop the $160 or whatever this year. The free first week is pure marketing genius, reeling suckers like me in every time.

akboognish,

Lincecum is the man. At least last year he showed a little bit of Pedro. And I'm hoping he keeps it going. He's the future for my fantasy club.
Cain is a horse and would win 15 games a year on any other club.
Big unit is too rusty.
Zito has the same stuff that Jamie Moyer has without the craftiness.

Giants would have been a much more complete team if they could have landed Manny. Last year they managed to cobble together what looked to me like the worst lineup in the modern era. I swear they had smoke in center and mirrors batting cleanup. They got some youngsters that will hit in a few years but I don't think their kids are ready for the big show just yet, which means Lincecum will be lucky to get 14 wins.

Dan,
Teixiera will hit. We know that. But offensively you can't ignore that Giambi and Abreau both drove in a lot of runs and to lose those two is not insignificant. I'm not too confident in their outfield production (I write this while Swisher knocks one out, with a bit of fan assistance). They are an aging club with more every day guys playing age 34 or over than you would like to have. And with the notable exception of Mr. Teixeira, the talent level of the youngsters isn't what you would hope for either. For most teams that would be a huge problem. When you have more money than God (or Bill Gates for you Athiests), thats not so much a problem I guess.

Pitching on the hand, should be a strength. At least the rotation looks good. I do think the Brewers rode Sabathias arm like it was an overnight rental car and he could have an off year when you look at the numbers at seasons end. But he'll be very good and I would expect next year to be a better year than this one. Burnett is a crap shoot in non contract years but when he's healthy and motivated, 10K/outing is the expectation. I just cannot warm up to Wang, and maybe as the #3 here thats a good spot for him. Pettite is a good #4 and would be a #3 on most clubs, but some year he is going to put up very ordinary numbers (oh wait, thats what 2006 was). His K totals are going the wrong way and I think his overall effectiveness will be questionable.
I guess Joba is flying under the radar and he could be effective, but to me he's their closer once Rivera decides that he too is old and acts his age.
I'm still high on Hughes, 5 years from now its going to be Bucholz and Hughes that are the anchoring each squad.

I could continue to the rest of their pen and the rest of the AL east, but I'm pretty sure this has exceeded standard posting limits, so back to the game.

Dan said...

Finally, baseball.

When dewy24 can make his annual completely baseless accusation that I am anti-sabermetric. Your memory's only going to get worse at your age, so I can only assume I will have to deal with this false accusation for the rest of my life.

Finally, baseball.

When I can enjoy the annual hypocritical Sox bullshit about how rich the Yankees are and how poor the-sox-and-the-rest-of-the-league are because the Sox have the same payroll as the rest of the league. (Spare me the payroll list - I'm looking at it right now.)

dewy24 - you seem to be saying that Teixeira is not an offensive improvement over Giambi, without saying it. Or maybe I'm just mashing your comments in with akboognish who said that Tex is "essentially replacing Giambi", which is ridiculous. So let me ask you a simple question: whose offensive production would you rather have in 2009, Tex or Giambi? Very simple question. Tell me you'd rather have Giambi's 38 year old post-steroid bat. Not talking about defense. Just offense.

Brian - You're comparing Teixeira to two players. He can only hit once per 9 team at bats.

All I'm saying is that an in-prime Tex is a big upgrade over an old Giambi (upgrade in offense plus his defense will save them some runs on the other line of the scoreboard). Also, if Posada can come back and be decent offensively that'll be a big boost in their catcher's offensive production. If A-Rod comes back effectively too, and you'd have to assume that he will, I think this team is going to score a lot of runs.

I agree with you about Hughes, Brian. If any of the starters get injured, he's a good replacement, or possibly some good bullpen support later in the season. I honestly have no idea what to expect from him but I'm cautiously optimistic.

Listening to the game right now and loving it (listening to baseball, not just listening to the Yankees win). Decent outing by Burnett. 4 hits (2 hr) and 4 rbi for Tex and Swish so far today.

Dan said...

Also, Robinson Cano - on base 3 times today, hr, single, 3 runs scored, 2 rbi. His batting average was down about 40 points last year. If he hits like he did the previous 3 years, that'll be a big boost. He's 27.

Brian said...

No argument over the improvement at 1B on both sides of the game. But Teixeira + Swisher isn't going to be significant upgrade vs the numbers of Giambi + Abreau. And no question Teix is the only one of the four that 3 years from now will still be producing (and for that matter, starting somewhere).

I guess I'm just saying that the yankees lineup on the whole might not score as many runs as they did last year. Take Arod out for a month and replace him with cody ransom and that'll surely impact seasonal totals. It'll also cost them a game or two if you compare win shares over the period.

In Cody's defense, have you seen his vertical leap clip on youtube? It deserves mentioning here.

Sure, the sox have deep pockets. But its a pleasure to watch the mix of homegrown talent (youk, lester, pedroia, ellsbury) along with some pricey veterans (papi, drew, beckett). The homegrown guys fill the void that stats can't. By that I mean they provide a higher level of emotional attachment to a team. Otherwise you're a club of henchmen. Its like rooting for the Kennedys or Microsoft or Google. having the financial resources comes in handy when they make mistakes (see SS for the past few seasons). They aren't crippled financially the way a club like say Detroit almost surely will be this year.

There are some big ifs with all three teams in the AL east, but for all of them their low end projections makes much of the rest of baseball look JV.

Some things to watch for in the AL east:

Rays:
-Bullpen. Lots of guys had career years.
-SP health. Lots of innings last year, and they all were fine (except Kazmir, but he is a 27 game starter, period). I'm afraid Shields might take his first step back after posting strong numbers.
-Hitting. Nowhere but up.

Sox:
-Dice K. It was real cool when he won so many games last year, but I'm not sure he can play keep away and either get the strikeout or walk people and still win. His numbers need some regression to the mean.
-Lester. I hope he's the horse he looks to be, but he's a verducci candidate big time.
-Bullpen: On paper, as good as they've ever had.
-Offense: They'll get on base and they'll score runs. I can't see Pedroia repeating or exceeding last years totals. But Papi and Lowell (no spring chickens) will almost certainly post better totals more than counteracting any dropoff by pedro.
-Ellsbury. If he can get on base at a 370 clip or better, he becomes one of the twenty best outfielders in the game. If he struggles to get on base, the sox struggle to score runs.

Yankees:
-Starters: discussed above
-Offense: Damon is such a gamer, but apart from him I have no confidence (or putting my sox cap on - fear) in any of those guys. Jeters decline has started, Posada got a free pass last year, but I think we'll see his decline as well.

In the end I could see any scenario playing out. I probably have to give the edge to the rays winning the division, pending the health of Smoltz and Penny. If those guys put up numbers ala 2006, I think that'll be the difference maker.

P.S.
Baltimore:
Weiters.

Brian said...

Edit:
"Apart from Damon I have no confidence in any of those guys" - meaning their outfielders. Not the whole lineup. Not when you have 2 of the top 10 hitters in baseball manning the corner infield positions.

Dan said...

I'm with you on cheering more for the homegrown talent. The Yanks always have a handful of homegrowners: Jeter, Posada, Cano, Joba, Wang, Pettitte (once removed), Rivera, and for what it's worth, Gardner, Pena, Cabrera, Veras, Ramirez, Aceves, and Coke. And Matsui's only been a Yankee in MLB so he gets some points for that even though he played many years in Japan.

Swish v Abreu is another question. Though Swish looked pretty damn good today! 3 hits and 5 rbi.

Good AL East breakdown there. Did you mean "dropoff from Manny" instead of Pedro?

Brian said...

Hell no. Manny is dead to me. Thats just what me and my buddy tito francona call Pedroia

Dewy24 said...

Dan-

I'm not saying Teixeira isn't a an improvement over Giambi. He is. I just don't think he is a huge improvement. Of course I'd take Tex over Giambi. I thought I was clear about that when I said "I thought he was a great signing for the Yankees and was upset that the Sox didn't get him even though we didn't really have a place for him."

And why the preemptive payroll strike? Did anyone even mention it?

Dan said...

Brian mentioned it.

Great Bruins game last night. Got me excited for the playoffs.

Joel said...

Dan,

Do you think you could make the B's your adoptive hockey team instead of the those Big Bad Islander's of the 70's?