Tuesday, March 29, 2011

2011 Predictions

With 2 days remaining until the open of the 2011 season, it's time for my annual predictions post.

Last year didn't exactly show me to be a master prognosticator (AJ winning Cy Young? Ugh!), but this year I have my Nostradamus hat on and will undoubtedly fare much better!

AL East-

1. Red Sox
2. Yanks
3. Rays
4. O's
5. Blue Jays

While it is true the Sox picked up 2 very good players this off season, they also lost 2 substantial pieces from last year's team. Replacing Beltre with Gonzalez and Vmart with Crawford may or may not be a push, the Sox still have a better rotation than the Yanks and I think it will carry them to a very close win of the AL East crown.

AL Central-

1. Twins
2. Tigers
3. White Sox
4. Cleveland
5. Kansas City

2011 may be the last year teams will be able to kick the Royals around...enjoy it while it lasts!

AL West

1. Oakland
2. Texas
3. LAA
4. Seattle

A solid, young staff and some nice additions make the A's the team to beat out west

NL East-

1. Phillies
2. Braves
3. Marlins
4. Nationals
5. Muts

The turmoil continues in Queens where Reyes is traded mid-season and the team loses 100 games.

NL Central-

1. Brewers
2. Reds
3. Cards
4. Cubs
5. Pirates

Don't worry...by all accounts teams will be beating up on the Pirates for years to come!

NL West-

1. Giants
2. Rockies
3. Dodgers
4. Padres
5. DBacks

AL Wild Card - Yanks
NL Wild Card - Braves

AL
Yanks over Twins
Sox over A's
ALCS - Yanks over Sox

NL
Phillies over Giants
Brewers over Braves
NLCS - Phillies over Brewers

WS - Yanks over Phillies

AL MVP - Alex Rodriguez
NL MVP- Troy Tulowitzki
AL Cy Young - Justin Verlander
NL Cy Young - Josh Johnson

Saturday, March 26, 2011

The Rotation Continues to be Cashman's Downfall

While we spend a lot of attention debating the merits of retreads like Garcias and Colon the real issue is the inability of Brain Cashman to build a complete starting 5. I know there was some excitement last year over adding Vasquez to an already good rotation but we know how that turned out. The Vasquez move was widely applauded but a GM must be scored on his results NOT how a move appeared to the public and MSM at the time.

Take a look at some of the staffs the Yankees have had since 2005. I have put any player with an ERA+ of over 100 in bold and listed all starters with 10 or more starts;

2005 Yankees - Johnson, Mussina, Wang, Pavano, Brown, Wright, Chacon, Leiter, Small (9 starts)
Post the series we never speak of the Yankees "loaded up" by signing Pavano and Wright. This works out so well they needed a player off the trash heap(Chacon) and a player from the independent league(Small) to catch fire for them to make the playoffs.

2006 Yankees - Wang, Johnson, Mussina, Wright, Chacon, Lidle (9 Starts)
Jaret Wright actually proved useful this year but unfortunately the 42 year old Johnson was less then useful. Who could have seen that coming? Chacon and Small both had era's north of 7 and picked up Lidle at the deadline in an attempt to have someone useful at the tail end of the rotation.

2007 Yankees - Pettitte, Wang, Mussina, Clemens, Hughes, Igawa
This year was two bad decisions maybe three. Clemens was brought back (OH MY GOD HE IS IN GEORGE'S BOX!), the great Igawa was signed and Hughes was rushed into the rotation at age 21.

2008 Yankees - Mussina, Pettitte, Rasner, Wang, Ponson, Joba
The Yankees took a chance with some youth and it didn't work out in the short term. Joba got hurt after pitching well, Kennedy was horrible and Hughes was horrible and injured.

2009 Yankees - Sabathia, Burnett, Pettitte, Joba
Three deep with a decent number 4. The 5th starter spot was split between Mitre, Wang, Hughes and Gaudin. The real difference in 2009 was the top three were legit.

2010 Yankees - Sabathia, Burnett, Hughes, Vasquez, Pettitte
Three good starters and two bad starters. This was enough to get the Yankees to the ALCS.

So since 2009 the rotation has produced a good staff once, in 2009. We had aging stars who could no longer get it done(Clemens, Brown, Johnson), some bad signings(Pavano, Igawa, Wright), a player who had nothing on any of his pitches (Vasquez), and a lot of mediocre veterans(Rasner, Ponson, Small, Chacon, Leiter, Lidle). These results are simply not good enough for a championship caliber team. Cashman can excuse away one or two years of mistakes but the fact of the matter is the rotation has been and remains an issue.

The Yankees inability to build a rotation has been an issue since 2005 and with the likes of Colon, Garcia and Millwood lining up for significant starts in 2011 it appears it will continue to be an issue.

Nova the Next Wang?

Ivan Nova forced his way into the Number 4 spot of the Yankee rotation by doing his best Chien-Ming Wang impressive this spring. Which got me thinking - How similar are Nova and Wang at this point of their career?

First both players have gone basically unnoticed by Baseball America. Want cracked the Yankee top ten once in 2005. Nova on the other hand has never cracked the Yankee top ten. Wang struggled in AA but blossomed at bit at AAA
AA - 4.36 era, 1.355 WHIP, 9.9 h/9, 6.8 k/9
AAA - 2.58 era, 1.088 whip, 8.0 h/9, 6.5 k/9
Looks like Wang figured out the power of the GB in AAA.

Nova on the other hand excelled in AA (2.36era in '09) and struggled in his first pass at AAA (5.10 era , 1.4 whip, and 5.8 k/9). However, much like Wang something clicked eventually for Nova as last year he lowered his hit rate (8.4 h/9) raised his k rate (7.1 k/9) and lowered his walk rate almost a full batter per 9 to 3.0 bb/9. More clicked for Nova then just realizing the power of a good sinker as is clear by his jump in k rate but the early struggles followed by success sounds just like what happened to Wang.
Now the main difference between Wang and Nova is the walk rate of Wang was much lower in the minors (2.0 bb/9). However, I do think that Nova has similar skills, followed a similar path, and even has a similar build to Wang. So maybe Nova can be the new version of Wang which for a team like the Yankees is extremely valueable.

Molina over Montero?

News came down yesterday that Gustavo Molina would most likely break camp as the Yankee starting catcher. There is no reason for a player with a career .643 OPS in the minors to be on the roster of the Yankees. Cervelli is going to be back in about a month so why not just break camp with Montero or Romine and let them experience New York? Worse case they sit and/or struglle in which case they go down in May m issing only 3 weeks of games. Best case you have your catcher of the future.

Yankees always seem to pick the guarnteed mediocrity of a veteran over the potential payoff of a prospect.

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