Thursday, May 02, 2019

The Biggest Cover Up On The Planet - Jacoby Ellsbury

The new norm in American culture is the conspiracy theory. Trump this, Obama that, Hillary this, Attorney General Barr that. But you can forget all about those and the FBI election secrets. Those are all chump change when it comes to the Jacoby Ellsbury / Yankees cover up and conspiracy. Can we get a subpoena for Jacoby Ellsbury to talk to Congress?

As far as I can tell, Jacoby Ellsbury has not talked to anyone in a long, long time. Do a Google search and look for the last time Jacoby Ellsbury was quoted as saying anything. I could not find anything. Can you? Oh wait! I found one here.

The last time that Jacoby Ellsbury suited up for baseball was during the 2017 playoffs. He went zero for 12 with two walks. That was the end. Zip. Nada. Nothing since. His contract was for $168 million spread out over seven years. The contract has this year and next year to go and then a $5 million buyout. So your grand total is $173 million for what has thus far added up to 8 fWAR or 10 rWAR depending on which system you like better.

Here is what we know: Sometime after the 2017 post season and in Spring Training 2018, Ellsbury pulled an oblique muscle during batting practice. According to, After that injury, Ellsbury and the Yankees tried a number of avenues to deal with the injury to no avail and he had arthroscopic surgery performed by Dr. Bryan Kelly on his hip (hip?) to repair a torn labrum. Somehow his injury went from his oblique to his sacroiliac and all that led to a hip surgery. Yes, the stomach bone is connected to the hip bone, etc.

The surgery ended his 2018 season that never began and recovery time was pegged for six months. There was talk that he was going to show up for Spring Training on March 5 or 6, but that never happened and the lights went dark other than his name being among the multitude of injured Yankees.

There have been reports that the Yankees have given away his locker. Hmm...interesting. But, what seals the conspiracy aspect of this are the words of Aaron Boone on April 28. Let's look at them from a New York Post story and keep in mind how vague they are:

Before the Yankees’ 6-4 win over the Giants on Saturday at Oracle Park, manager Aaron Boone said Jacoby Ellsbury is “dealing with different things” and that “a number of little things that continue to pop up.’’
Ellsbury is on the IL (DL!) after having hip surgery last year, and Boone said the outfielder is dealing with shoulder and hip problems. Ellsbury hasn’t played in a big league game since 2017 because of a long list of ailments.
“Certainly not in the short term,’’ Boone said when asked about Ellsbury making it back to the team.
Compare the vagueness of that answer to any other time Boone has been asked about an injury. He usually says things like: "The doctor says that the metacarpal is still sore and there is some swelling still that has to be dealt with before he can start baseball activities." I made that up, of course, but those are the types of answers both Boone and Brian Cashman give when questioned. 
But what does Boone say about Ellsbury? "Umm...ahh...he is dealing with different things and a number of little things that continue to pop up." Okay...right. Ellsbury has once again been pushed to the 60-day disabled list.
You would have to assume that the Yankees have insurance on Ellsbury's contract. You would have to assume that they collected on that insurance last year. Another missed year for Ellsbury would mean more insurance payments, right? Wrong? Probably. Is the vagueness some sort of buffer to continue the insurance payments? Ellsbury's not talking. Boone is not talking specifics. It stinks or at least smells badly.
It seems pretty certain that Jacoby Ellsbury will never play for the Yankees again. If they can ever get healthy, the team has Aaron Hicks, Clint Frazier, Aaron Judge, Giancarlo Stanton and Brett Gardner. There is no room on that dance card, especially for a guy who was not very good the last time he played and has since missed two years of baseball.
I have never seen a situation like this one with the Yankees and a bad free agent signing. I've seen teams dump players. I've seen one bad contract traded for another. I've seen a now-terrible player still playing. But I've never seen a bad free agent signing hidden away and buried. Perhaps the conspiracy thing is tongue-in-cheek, but maybe it isn't.
I was listening to a sports radio program. I wish I could remember which one and the guest on the program was a former basketball NBA star. I cannot remember which one of those he was either, especially since I have not followed the NBA since Bill Bradley retired. But something about that interview stuck in my head.
The player was asked why his team never had many injuries and other NBA teams have lots of injuries. The player responded that much depends on the type of fitness people you hire. Some teams make it a super-high priority and others do not. I found that to be interesting.
Then, I thought about the Yankees. If you look at a lot of the injuries they have sustained thus far, many of them have been muscular. Judge had an oblique tear. Stanton had a bicep problem. Hicks has soreness in his back. Clint Frazier sprained an ankle. I believe Sanchez's injury was muscle related. Does that go back to the Yankees' fitness people? Are they not performing the correct exercises for the range of motion of playing baseball? Do they not stretch properly?
The statements by the former NBA player and the injuries to the Yankees, not only this year, but last year, make me wonder. I do not want people to lose good jobs, but I think it warrants further investigation by a team so dominated by metrics.

Wednesday, May 01, 2019

Were We Watching Two Hall Of Fame Pitchers In Sabathia and Greinke?

Last night we watched CC Sabathia and Zack Greinke pitch a very competitive game as the Arizona Diamondbacks defeated the New York Yankees, 3-1. Sabathia gave up only two runs in 5.1 innings and notched his 3,000th strikeout against John Ryan Murphy, a catcher he used to throw to when Murphy was with the Yankees. Greinke, meanwhile, pitched 7.2 strong innings against an albeit depleted Yankee lineup and won his fifth game in six decisions. The Diamondbacks are 6-1 when Greinke pitches. Did we witness a future Hall Of Fame match up?

For better or worse, Roy Halladay's inclusion in the Hall of Fame on top of that of Jack Morris has changed the equation a bit with starting pitchers. Morris, we will not discuss at all as his inclusion was ridiculous. Halladay was one of the first "modern" pitchers voted into the Hall with the new emphasis of shorter outings, pitch counts and heavy bullpen usage--though Pedro Martinez and Mike Mussina could also be in that conversation.

Halladay finished with a Wins Above Replacement total of 64.5 ( or 65.4 ( According to JAWS, he is the 43rd best starting pitcher of all time. Halladay finished with a 203 wins, a .659 Winning Percentage, a 3.39 career FIP and 2117 strikeouts. He won two Cy Young Awards and finished in the top five in that award five other times.

If Roy Halladay is our new bottom standard for Hall of Fame pitchers (no disrespect meant), then where do CC Sabathia and Zack Greinke stand? Let's start with Greinke as he seems to have a more solid argument.

Zack Greinke has two more years on his contract and is 35-years-old. At his current rate of productivity, he will add a bit to his resume. Greinke currently has compiled 66.9 career WAR ( lists him more than ten wins lower!) and JAWS considers him the 47th best pitcher of all time. He won his 192nd game yesterday, good for a .617 winning percentage. He has a 3.40 career FIP and 2,481 strikeouts. He was won Cy Young Award and was screwed out of another and has finished in the top five as recently as two years ago.

Greinke is also one of the best fielding pitchers of his generation and arguably his generation's best hitting pitcher. It can easily be speculated that Greinke will finish with near 210 wins, 2,600 strikeouts and 68-70 WAR.

CC Sabathia is in his last season. Whatever he compiles this season will be it. And with the Yankees' quick bullpen trigger, Sabathia does not get the chance to pile up a lot of decisions. He made 29 starts last year and only figured in 16 decisions (Greinke figured in 26 decisions in his 33 starts). Sabathia currently has Wins Over Replacement totals of 63.2 (b-ref) and 66.4 (fWAR). Sabathia has 247 wins and should go over the 250 mark by season's end. And, as stated, he reached 3,000 strikeouts last night. Sabathia has a .616 winning percentage and should not finish under .614 even if things go flooey. Sabathia used to be a good hitter but has not had a hit since 2009 and is laughably one of the worst fielding pitchers of his generation.

JAWS considers Sabathia the 68th best starting pitcher of all time. But, he is also only the third left-handed pitcher to record 3,000 strikeouts and the last pitcher to compile ten complete games in a season AND 250 innings.

Roy Halladay had big moments in the post season. Who can ever forget that perfect game? Greinke and Sabathia have been okay in the post season but not great.

Personally, Zack Greinke is a lock. Since he left the Kansas City Royals after 2011, he has won over 70% of his decisions. That is still an important statistic to me. He has been effective even for teams who play in hitters' parks like Milwaukee and Arizona. I believe him to be one of the most underrated pitchers of his generation.

CC Sabathia will be an interesting case. The 3,000 strikeouts are impressive. The legend of what he did that season for Milwaukee will never grow old in the telling. He might just be the last pitcher to win 250 games. Pitching for the Yankees will be a blessing and a curse for his case. I think he is on the bubble which might get blown in after all is said and done.

Personally, if I had a vote, I would vote Sabathia, Greinke and Justin Verlander into the Hall of Fame. Time will tell how the voters really feel about the trio. All three are at least better than Jack Morris.

Tuesday, April 30, 2019

The Yankees This Week And Other Thoughts

I wrote somewhat conservatively last week about the West Coast swing the New York Yankees faced despite facing two struggling teams. The week really could not have gone better (other than the Chad Green meltdown that cost the one loss). They went 7-1 for the week and kept pace with the still-winning Bay Rays. The Yankees end their trip with two games against the highly competitive Diamondbacks and then fly home for a weekend set against the Twins. Let's take a look at the week ahead.

Tonight, the Yankees face Zack Greinke and counter with CC Sabathia. The Diamondbacks are 16-13 and battling the Dodgers for the NL West division. And they have a good team, which is surprising considering who departed this season, namely Paul Goldschmidt. To this point, that deal is looking just fine as his replacement at first base, Christian Walker, leads Diamondback position players in WAR and is having a terrific season.

He is not alone. Many of the offensive players on the team are batting well as the team is currently ranked first in slugging percentage in the NL and fifth in OPS. The only batting weaknesses they have are at short, second and behind the plate. Heck, even Zack Greinke has an OPS of 1.731 with two homers.

Greinke is homer-prone, but has won four of his five decisions and has looked particularly good lately. The second starter (tomorrow) is a 30-year-old journeyman getting his first shot in the big leagues: Merrill Kelly. Kelly should be an easier task than Greinke, but the Yankees should be very familiar with Greinke as an organization.

The Diamondbacks' bullpen is deep and talented. After some injury-plagued seasons, Greg Holland is back to being dominant as the closer. Archie Bradley, Yoshihisa Hirano and Andrew Chafin have all been effective. The one caveat with this bullpen is allowing free passes as all of their top relievers are averaging four walks per nine or more. But then again, the same can be said of the Yankees' bullpen.

Neither Gio Urshela nor DJ LeMahieu are in the lineup tonight, which is not good news and are huge losses in this hodgepodge lineup. If the Yankees are to win tonight, Sabathia and the bullpen will need to be sharp and hope the Yankees can scratch out a few runs. At least Sabathia knows what a bat looks like.

Tomorrow, it will be Masahiro Tanaka and the aforementioned Kelly, which seems a wash to me. Tanaka, in my humble opinion, is always a fifty-fifty proposition whenever he takes the mound.

After an off day on Thursday, the Yankees will face the Twins at home. The Twins at Yankee Stadium have always been a welcome sight. But they are a good team this year. They are in first place in the AL Central with a sparkling 17-9 record. Led by new manager, Rocco Baldelli, the Twins are no longer the fusty, old-fashioned team we are used to. Joe Mauer is gone.

The Twins' offense has been effective. Heck, Eddie Rosario has eleven homers already and Byron Buxton has twelve doubles! They are first in the AL in OPS.  The Twins' bullpen might be one of their biggest strengths and they are getting surprisingly good starting pitching considering its rotation makeup.

I am expecting a split in Arizona and a 2-1 edge over the Twins. That Twins series could go the other way, however and in a heartbeat.

With two more injuries, this time to Urshela and LeMahieu, how much more can this Yankee lineup be stretched? Success this week will totally depend on how well they pitch. If they do not pitch well, the week could be a long, long one.

Other Thoughts:

One of the great Yankees sites closed its doors this week as River Avenue Blues called it quits after twelve years. I have been blogging for a long, long, long time and I know how hard it is to keep the drive going. But these guys set the standard for all things Yankees and they were a must read. I remember when working for "It's About The Money Stupid," a favorite saying among the writers when a good idea was written about, only to have it beaten into print by RAB, was, "We've been Axisa-ed again!" Good luck to all their writers and a hearty thank you for their work over the years. One of the best things you could say about them was that they were never jerks or arrogant on Twitter despite being the leaders of the pack. Well done, folks

Chad Green had a terrific first outing for the Triple-A team as he struck out five in two innings without allowing a run. Let's see if he can repeat that a few times because the Yankees really need him.