Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Yankees May Get Plenty Of Rest In The Playoffs

Nowadays, if a person was to question any of the landslide of decisions being made by a team's analytical department, that person would be considered "Old School" or out of touch. I support and appreciate many of today's new numbers. They do help in understanding things. I have spent a fan's life with a love of box scores and for poring over statistics.  But some still seem counter-intuitive to me. Resting position players is one of them.

I have always written as a fan with a typewriter. The Yankees have always been my team. I am a fan of all things baseball, but the Yankees are deep, deep in my blood and my DNA. The first 77 games of the 2018 season were probably the most fun I have had watching the Yanks in over fifty years of doing so. Why the first 77 games? It was the last game the Yankees were in first place. The team's record was 52-25. With all the young players and the addition of Giancarlo Stanton overcame the concern of the lousy starts by Gary Sanchez, Greg Bird and Sonny Gray.

Since that point, the Yankees have only gone 39-33 and they are 6-8 in September. When they do not hit multiple homers, they cannot score, the pitching has been inconsistent and sometimes the focus seems to come and go. The team does not seem to have a valid plan against the pitcher they are facing. Rather, they stick to their own batting agenda. Those are all observations, so take them or leave them.

The one thing that has rankled more than anything is the emphasis on resting position players. A fan tunes into a game and Aaron Hicks is not playing or Gleyber Torres or Miguel Andujar. If I am not mistaken, those three are the most versatile hitters on the team. Two of them are incredibly young. What is that fan to think?

The first question is: How much rest does a really young player need? The second is: How do you create statistical wins when a game can be lost because one of those three are being rested? Is a statistical win more critical than an actual one?

Let's take the most recent such events. The Yankees had what seemed like a soft spot on their schedule. They played teams like the Twins, Tigers, Blue Jays, etc. This soft spot was in front of the last two weeks that were going to feature a bunch of games against the Red Sox and Rays, both teams that are tough to beat. You would like to have your foot full on the throttle for those games, right?

The period starts right after the Orioles series that the Yankees swept to start the stretch off on the right foot. Next came the White Sox (beginning August 27). The Yankees were short-handed without Didi Gregorius and Andrew McCutchen was not there yet. So the team can be forgiven for DHing Andujar and starting Walker. But they lost two of three.

Then it was on to Detroit, another bad team that had purged its best players. Shane Robinson started in right field and Kyle Higoshioka was behind the plate. Dillon Betances blew a save in a game where he faced left-handed batters in the bottom of the ninth and Zach Britton faced the right-handed ones in the eighth. Bizarre. They went on to split that series, 2-2.

They had a critical three-game series in Oakland. They lost the first game and won the second. In the third game, Miguel Andujar was "rested." The Yankees lost that one and only managed five hits. What everyone will remember is how badly Luis Severino and Gary Sanchez worked together that game. A little offense might have helped, especially in the first inning when they loaded the bases and were a hit away from popping Mike Fiers.

They Yankees won the first two games of a series in Seattle. Then they lost the third one. Andujar was again riding the pines and Didi, though back, was not allowed to start and only pinch hit as his replacement went 0-3.

It was on to Minnesota and the Yankees won the first game. But Sonny Gray was given a start and it did not go well. Brett Gardner was given a day off and Stanton played left. There was one play Stanton could not make that Gardner would have cleaned up that had a lot to do with the runs the Twins piled up--as did a passed ball by Austin Romine who had to play because Gray was pitching. Jonathan Loaisiga should have started the game. Brett Gardner should have started that game. Gardner again did not start the last game which the Yankees also lost. Sitting Gardner meant sitting a player who had seen the starter, Jake Odorizzi more than any other Yankee.

Finally, the team came home to face the Blue Jays. They won the first game easily, 11-0. The rest of the series was awful. Andujar again (!) did not start on Saturday. He did hit a grand slam pinch hitting later in the game. But perhaps, if he had come up in the bottom of the second when the Yankees had bases loaded and no outs, he would have fared better than a Neil Walker strikeout (followed by two more strikeouts). Say Andujar kept the rally going and pushed across a couple of runs, the Yankees would have made different pitching decisions and not let the game get out of hand.

Dillon Betances blew the save plain and simple in the last game. But the Yankees only scored two runs and Neil Walker came up in the ninth and flied out deep (I'll give him that) because the Yankees had removed Andujar for defensive purposes.

The last one listed, that second Blue Jays game was so not understandable. The Yankees had just had a day off the previous Thursday and had another one coming on Monday after the series. Again, how much rest does a player need?

What this does is defy a sense of urgency. The Oakland A's are breathing down the Yanks' collective necks for home field advantage for the Wild Card Game. The Yankees are one for 2017 and 2018 (combined) at Oakland. Every game needs to be played to the max for the rest of the season. But how do you create that mental image in a player's (and the fans') mind when resting people is more important than winning? There is no science that can measure the psychology such decisions create in players.

Perhaps I am a big old school. Why do teams like the Yankees mess around and have Aaron Judge get his toes wet for a week before letting him hit in a live game? Why is Aroldis Chapman throwing simulated games when Betances has blown two games in the past week? Again, where is the urgency? The Yankees urgently need to play the Wild Card Game at home. And even then, they could go home after one game if they lose.

The Yankees have bought into the idea that players need regular rest. It is an idea that has full sway in MLB team analytical offices. Joel Sherman was quoted in this Mike Axisa article that Theo Epstein, AKA, "The Brilliant One," said that a player getting 650 plate appearances was "passe" and 500 was plenty. What!? You are going to take thirty games of Aaron Judge, Mike Trout, Mookie Betts, etc., away from their respective teams!? It is absurd. It is also unfair to the paying fans not to see the best players on the field. I am not buying this one. Throw rocks. Call me Gramps. That's fine. But it is absurd.

This season could have been so much more. You can blame it on injuries. Every contending team has had injuries, so I do not want to hear that excuse. I said before the season (on another site) that the Red Sox made the best managerial decision and the Yankees did not. I still believe that. Joe Girardi was fired because he tried to create too much urgency. Aaron Boone does not create enough. I know where Girardi got the team last year. We'll see what happens this.


Saturday, June 20, 2015

Whelp...

I have been slavishly writing here for years and years trying not to miss a day. I have written through travel days and business meetings and long trips. I started every vacation day sitting here making sure I didn't miss a day and fulfilling some inner goal.

So, my first day of vacation is here and I slept late. And instead of immediately starting my vacation day plan, I sat here (late) and said, "I have to write my post!" Actually...no, I don't. I am on vacation!

And so, my friends, I am taking a holiday. I will not be writing until July 7. I apologize to my regulars. But I am not apologizing to myself. It's time of a holiday and I am going to enjoy it.

I'll see you in eighteen days.

Friday, June 19, 2015

MLB Game Picks - Friday: June 19, 2015

I will be traveling today and have no way or time to craft a post. As such, I will just give you my picks and see you all for a real post on Saturday: 
Saturday's picks
  • The Tigers over the Yankees
  • The Pirates over the Nationals
  • The Phillies over the Cardinals. Yes, that's right.
  • The Blue Jays over the Orioles
  • The Reds over the Marlins
  • The Rays over the Indians
  • The Mets over the Braves
  • The Royals over the Red Sox
  • The Cubs over the Twins
  • The White Sox over the Rangers
  • The Rockies over the Brewers
  • The Athletics over the Angels - The Pick of the Day
  • The Padres over the Diamondbacks
  • The Astros over the Mariners
  • The Giants over the Dodgers

Thursday, June 18, 2015

MLB Game Picks - Thursday: June 18, 2015

Another 10-5 day with another Pick of the Day incorrect! Doggone it! Talk about going 29-15 the last three days and not being able to enjoy it! How could Clayton Kershaw lose on me! Oh well. Those are the breaks.
Friday's Picks:
  • The Orioles over the Phillies: The Phillies have a chance in this one as Bud Norris has not been pitching well. But even if this is a high scoring game, I expect the Orioles to win it. Sean O'Sullivan goes for the Phils.
  • The Cardinals over the Twins: The Twins finally won last night but have been in a tailspin. They face Jaime Garcia who has been pitching great. Mike Pelfrey will probably not fare well here.
  • The Rockies over the Astros: The last few times I've picked Collin McHugh, he has let me down. I will probably turn him around by picking against him. Heh. David Hale goes for the Rockies.
  • The Athletics over the Padres: Unless the A's blew their wad last night in scoring all those runs, they should win this one. Kendall Graveman has been pitching well and is opposed by Ian Kennedy.
  • The Diamondbacks over the Angels: I had a feeling that Allen Webster would thrive outside of Boston. And I could be right. I am picking him tonight over C.J. Wilson.
  • The Yankees over the Marlins: I am probably a fool for picking the Yanks in a game that CC Sabathia starts. But Dan Jennings did not inspire me with his managerial moves last night. How can you not pinch hit for that catcher last night!? Mat Latos goes for the Fish.
  • The Rays over the Nationals: The Nats are one big confusing team to me this year. Doug Fister is back from the DL. But I don't trust that. Besides Chris Archer is going for the Rays and expecting them to lose is futile these days.
  • The Braves over the Red Sox: So yeah, the Red Sox were supposed to be pretty good and the Braves were supposed to be really bad this year. How has that worked out so far? Shelby Miller over Clay Buchholz.
  • The Indians over the Cubs: You know...I am really over the position player pitching thing. Teams have never carried more pitchers than they do these days. There should never be a reason to put position players on the mound. It's ridiculous. Anyway, Danny Salazar over Jason Hammel.
  • The Tigers over the Reds: Justin Verlander looked good in his first start. He had is velocity back too. He should go deeper into this game making it easier for me to take him over Mike Leake.
  • The Royals over the Brewers: The Royals are simply the better team here and that makes me pick them even though Jeremy Guthrie is pitching for them. Jimmy Nelson goes for the Brewers.
  • The Pirates over the White Sox: The White Sox are losing regularly these days and Jeff Samardzija is not getting much help. He won't tonight either with Gerrit Cole going for the Pirates.
  • The Mariners over the Giants: The Mariners aren't getting much for offense. But if they pitch, they have a chance. I like Mike Montgomery a lot. So he is the pick over Ryan Vogelsong.
  • The Dodgers over the Rangers: I'm still smarting from last night with this pick. The only thing having me pick against the very hot Rangers is that they are starting Anthony RanaudoZack Greinke goes for the Dodgers.
And the Pick of the Day (come on now!)
  • The Blue Jays over the Mets: I have a sick feeling that the Blue Jays offense is going to whack Bartolo Colon into submission. R.A. Dickey is usually just fine at home in the dome.
Yesterday: 10-5, June: 126-110, Season: 504-459, Picks of the Day: 37-34

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

MLB Game Picks - Wednesday: June 17, 2015

Yesterday looked so good. Despite being totally wrong about the Yankees / Marlins game (ahem), I finished at 10-5. But that dang Pick of the Day did me in again. I have struggled mightily with that this year, more so than any other year. And the Tigers had the lead too. They simply couldn't hold it.
Wednesday's picks:
  • The Orioles over the Phillies: While I have some reservations on Ubaldo Jimenez, I have more about Kevin Correia against the Orioles lineup right now. I hope he knows how to duck.
  • The Yankees over the Marlins: The Yankees are different animals at home than on the road. They are nearly a .600 team at home. My one concern is Michael Pineda. I have questions about his health right now and he hasn't looked good. Jose Urena goes for the Marlins.
  • The Nationals over the Bay Rays: The series moves to Washington and they clubbed the Rays yesterday. I know. I am picking Jordan Zimmermann again. Woe is me. The Nats win behind him and against Matt Andriese.
  • The Blue Jays over the Mets: The Blue Jays get their DH back and that should help. Drew Hutchison should be better than Jon Niese.
  • The Braves over the Red SoxJoe Kelly has been gruesome. He is the Red Sox' Eovaldi. Alex Wood is solid and the Red Sox lose the DH.
  • The Indians over the Cubs: This game seems about even, so I ma going with the home team. It will be Shaun Marcum against Tsuyoshi Wada.
  • The Reds over the TigersDavid Price has been so good. But he might be out-gunned by Johnny Cueto tonight. Todd Frazier is going bananas at the plate.
  • The Brewers over the Royals: I can't see anything good coming out of a Joe Blanton start and Mike Fiers has been much better of late.
  • The Pirates over the White Sox: The Pirates don't have to worry about which outfielder to start today because they have the DH. Jeff Locke should be better than John Danks, which isn't hard to do.
  • The Cardinals over the Twins: The Twins' slide continues as the St. Louis Hackers...I mean Cardinals prevail with Carlos Martinez on the mound. Tommy Milone goes for the Twins. That's quite the story in St. Louis...and quite embarrassing.
  • The Astros over the Rockies:  I don't know what to do with this one. The last time I picked against Brett Oberholtzer, he threw a gem. But he is pitching in Coors. At the same time, Kyle Kendrick has been dreadful at home, just dreadful.
  • The Diamondbacks over the Angels: I just have a feeling the D-backs will get to Hector SantiagoChase Anderson is usually solid.
  • The Athletics over the Padres: I am pretty sure that Jesse Chavez, who has come on strong lately, will be better than Odrisamer Despaigne.
  • The Mariners over the GiantsMadison Bumgarner usually comes up big against another ace. He's had the best of the duels with Kershaw, for example. But he is in the home of Felix Hernandez. One swing might determine the outcome of this game.
And the Pick of the Day:
Yesterday: 10-5, June: 116-105, Season: 494-454, Picks of the Day: 37-33

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

MLB Game Picks - Tuesday: June 16, 2015

I effectively reversed the results of Sunday, which makes me feel a whole lot better. Tanaka got out-dueled by Tom Koehler and I never expected the Nationals to lose their starter in the first inning due to injury. But overall, it was a good day.
Tuesday's picks:
  • The Cardinals over the TwinsMichael Wacha has already won eight games. He should extend the Twins' slide tonight. Kyle Gibson is capable of staying with him for a while, but the Cardinals will prevail.
  • The Astros over the RockiesChris Rusin and Vincent Velasquez are two good looking young pitchers. Velasquez is a little more erratic. But I still like Houston in this one, especially at home.
  • The Padres over the Athletics: The Bud Black dismissal was not unexpected. Perhaps the team had a hangover about it last night. But they bounce back tonight and Andrew Cashner gets a rare win. Scott Kazmir goes for the A's.
  • The Giants over the Mariners: I keep waiting for Robinson Cano to bust out, but he hasn't yet. and Nelson Cruz has hit a wall of sorts. Tim Lincecum will need to be good though. J.A. Happ goes for the M's.
  • The Braves over the Red Sox: Again, they are talking about clubhouse issues in Boston. John Farrell's noose is getting tighter. Wade Miley won't help and Julio Teheran shuts them down...again.
  • The Pirates over the White Sox: Picking Chicago was a big mistake yesterday. I won't make the same one today. Charlie Morton over Jose Quintana.
  • The Orioles over the Phillies: The Phillies are so bad. Gosh. The Orioles should have no trouble here. Chris Tillman vs. Jerome Williams.
  • The Yankees over the Marlins: Both Nathan Eovaldi and David Phelps are pitching against their former teams and both will be motivated. I think Alex Rodriguez needs to play third in this one and give Chris Headley a breather.
  • The Mets over the Blue Jays: The Mets ended the Jays' winning streak last night and built their division lead in the process. Matt Harvey has had some poor outings lately. He needs to bounce back tonight. Scott Copeland was brilliant in his first start. Is that real though?
  • The Nationals over the Rays: The Rays keep rolling and the only games they lose are when Alex Colome pitches. He pitches tonight. Tanner Roark goes for the Nats.
  • The Cubs over the Indians: The same match-up as last night's postponed game: Jake Arrieta over Trevor Bauer.
  • The Rangers over the DodgersChi Chi Gonzalez came back to earth with a thud in his last outing. Will he bounce back? Can Brett Anderson hold down the Rangers' lineup? We'll see.
  • The Royals over the Brewers: I do not know how Chris Young does it. But he does and picking against him has not worked for me. Matt Garza throws strikes. The Royals like strikes.
  • The Angels over the Diamondbacks: I was wrong with this one last night and Jeremy Hellickson has been good of late. But I have to go with Garrett Richards and the Angels here.
And the Pick of the Day:
  • The Tigers over the Reds: I like Michael Lorenzen. But I like the Tigers more than the Reds and I especially like what Kyle Ryan is giving the Tigers right now.
Yesterday: 9-5, June: 106-100, Season: 484-449, Picks of the Day: 37-32

Monday, June 15, 2015

MLB Game Picks - Monday: June 15, 2015

We are not going to talk about yesterday. We are going to pretend that it never happened and move on. If you ask me, I will deny all association with it.
Moving forward, Monday's picks:
  • The White Sox over the Pirates: The Pirates have been hot, but have only faced nine lefty starters all season. They have handled them well, but Carlos Rodon is a different animal altogether. Francisco Liriano has been good of late.
  • The Tigers over the Reds: Neither this year's Anibal Sanchez or Jon Moscot excite me very much, but the Tigers are home and all things considered equal, should win.
  • The Braves over the Red Sox: The Red Sox just got drubbed over the weekend. It was a bloodbath. I'm surprised the manager is still there. How can you pick them to win these days? Rick Porcello hasn't been pitching well. Williams Perez seems to bend but not break too much.
  • The Yankees over the Marlins: The Yankees lose the DH so Alex Rodriguez sits. But Masahiro Tanaka should overcome that deficiency. Tom Koehler is a decent pitcher though.
  • The Mets over the Blue Jays: The Jays lose one of their big bats and again, the law of averages is weighting heavy here with this win streak. Noah Syndergaard has been disappointing. Mark Buehrle is Mark Buehrle. Take the good and the bad.
  • The Nationals over the Rays: I am going with this pick thinking Bryce Harper can at least DH today. Someone needs to tell the Rays they aren't this good. And Erasmo Ramirez has been the shock of the century thus far. Gio Gonzalez better have a good day or this pick is going down too.
  • The Cubs over the Indians: I love the Cubs this year. I love what they are doing with their youth. I sure wish the Yankees would do that. Jake Arrieta gentille Arrieta has been great of late. Trevor Bauer is having a pretty good season for the Indians.
  • The Rangers over the Dodgers: The Dodgers know Yovani Gallardo but he has a chance to be good today. Carlos Frias hasn't run into an offense like the Rangers yet this year so it will be a test.
  • The Astros over the Rockies: Any time Dallas Keuchel is on the mound, I like the Astros' chances. Chad Bettis has has some spectacular games himself this season. If he is on, this becomes a bullpen game.
  • The Royals over the Brewers: This is two road interleague series in a row for the Royals, which seems unfair. They need their DH. Even so, they did not fare well in St. Louis, so they might take it out on the Brewers. Kyle Lohse will be intent on not letting that happen. Edinson Volquez goes for the Royals.
  • The Cardinals over the TwinsJohn Lackey is so hard to figure sometimes. I think tonight will be one of his good games. The Twins will go with Trevor May, who has been up and down. No DH for the Twins.
  • The Angels over the Diamondbacks: Whenever I bash mouth Jered Weaver, he proves to me he can still win games with his swill. The Angels need to hit for this pick to work and Robbie Ray will try to keep that from happening.
  • The Padres over the Athletics: Jessie Hahn goes for the A's who lose the DH. Tyson Ross is usually good at home.
  • The Mariners over the GiantsTaijuan Walker has had three good starts in a row, so perhaps he is settling down to be the pitcher we expected him to be. Tim Hudson goes for the Giants and pitches these days on knowledge more than stuff.
And the Pick of the Day:
  • The Orioles over the Phillies: The Phillies get an extra hitter in the lineup. Is that a good thing? Wei-Yin Chen versus Aaron Harang. The hot Oriole offense should stay hot here.
Yesterday: 5-9, June: 97-91, Season: 475-444, Picks of the Day: 36-32