Friday, June 12, 2009

Zombie Bob Ross, The Tragic Death of Nick Green, and a Sweep

Just like last time the Red Sox swept the Yankees, some journalist is going to publish something ridiculous about how terrible the Yankees are. The offender this time is Gordon Edes.

(Look, I hate the Yankees, and am loving the Sox 8 - 0 record vs. them, but I can't deny that they're a good team. That's what makes the rivalry fun. There's no joy in winning 8 games against, say, the Washington Nationals, because you're supposed to win all 8 of them.)

Brace yourself for this one.

BOSTON – A regular bunch of pinstriped artists, these Yankees. They can’t beat the Red Sox, so all they want to do is draw the big picture for you. Joe Girardi talked about the big picture. So did CC Sabathia, Nick Swisher, Derek Jeter and Johnny Damon. At any moment, you expected the Yankee clubhouse guys to start passing out sketch pads and brushes.

That was a terrible joke, and I know something about terrible jokes, given how many I've made in the short lifespan of this blog. I would also like to point out that one does not use "sketch pads" to paint. (Like the name suggests, one uses them to sketch.) YOU SIR FAIL AT EVERYTHING.

“It hasn’t been fun for us against the Red Sox,” Girardi said after the New York Yankees fell to 0-8 against the Red Sox this season following a 4-3 collapse Thursday in which they couldn’t hold a two-run lead in the eighth with their best pitcher, Sabathia, on the mound. “But the big picture is, there is a long way to go.”

Well, we’re here to paint a different picture for you, one that doesn’t employ the don’t-worry, there-are-over-100-games-left broad strokes offered in defeat by the Bombers.

Oh, breaking out your sketch pad, are you? I eagerly await your I-Am-Going-To-Say-Somtehing-Totally-Retarded pointillism masterpiece. Seurat himself will no doubt rise from the grave and salute you. (Or maybe just Bob Ross. Incidentally, I think Zombie Bob Ross would totally beat Zombie Seurat in a fight.)

Anyways, I'm going to take the middle road between Edes and Girardi, because I think they've both got valid points. Picking eight isolated games in which a team loses all 8 of the games is not a good barometer to said team's merits because of the small sample size. I will say, however, that all 8 of these losses are to Yankees' main rival in the division, so they do count for more than Girardi wants to admit. If the team fails to win the division this year, I think the 8 losses to the Red Sox to open the season series will be very significant.

Many fans know enough hardball history to recall that as recently as last season, the Tampa Bay Rays spent the summer unable to beat the Red Sox in Fenway Park, then turned it around with a huge series win in September and won the ALCS against Boston in October. Some New Yorkers with longer memories will recall that the powerhouse Mets in 1988 won 10 of 11 regular-season games from the Dodgers, holding them to a grand total of 18 runs in those games, only to lose the NLCS in seven games to L.A.

But these Yankees haven’t yet earned the right to take the long view, not when they’ve been a portrait of shocking imperfection against the Red Sox, displaying flaws that could well mean Steinbrenner & Sons will once again be questioning their investments come October. You pony up over $423 million for three players, like the Yankees did last winter, and you expect masterpieces, not something you’d be embarrassed to hang in your basement.

Okay, let's break this down: Team A sucks miserably against Team B, then finally does something good against Team B in the playoffs. So the Yankees could easily be Team A and the Red Sox could easily be Team B this season. Except this can't be true because the Yankees just finished losing 8 games in a row to the Red Sox meaning they are a terrible team and therefore cannot possibly do something good late in the season. The only way this is logic is if you're a dadaist.

I'm also ashamed to hang Edes' metaphors in my basement, mostly because I fear someone would catch me and wonder why I was trying to nail an imaginary concept to a wall.

Maybe that’s the real reason for all those empty front-row seats in the new Yankee Stadium. Why pay top dollar to see a team that, whenever their archrival shows up, reminds their fans that the grandeur of their new surroundings can’t by itself restore a balance of power that has shifted since 2004 from the Bronx to the Back Bay? Yankees president Randy Levine would disagree, but you might as well spend your bucks on soccer instead.

I'll agree with this, considering that this series WAS IN BOSTON. Anyone that bothered to show up to Yankee Stadium for the last three games probably wouldn't have enjoyed themselves much. Trivial factual accuracy aside, the I'm-Going-To-Say-Something-Completely-Retarded pointillism masterpiece just arrived. Yankees fans don't go to other games against other teams because of the team's woes vs. the Red Sox. Zombie Seurat is disappointed to discover that he cannot eat your non-existent brain, Gordon Edes. (Zombie Bob Ross, on the other hand, is muttering something about happy trees.)

Also, I'll have to double check this, but I'm pretty sure the worth of a front-row seat at Yankee Stadium is roughly equivalent to the entire net worth of Major League Soccer.

Before arriving on Yawkey Way this week, the Yankees had a built-in excuse for losing their first five games against the Boston Red Sox. They didn’t have A-Rod, who was still recovering from hip surgery.

Plus their pitching sucked.

But this week Rodriguez was back, expensive new bauble Mark Teixeira came into town riding a hot streak of seven home runs in his last 15 games, and the pitching could hardly have been lined up better – new imports A.J. Burnett and Sabathia bookending Chien-Ming Wang, who was supposedly on the comeback trail.

"Hardly have been better"? You have one over-rated pitcher, one very good one, and one who had a 14.46 ERA coming into his start last night.

So what happens? Burnett and Wang couldn’t get out of the third inning in their starts.

I wasn't particularly surprised that Burnett sucked, but my feelings on him are already well-known. Also, scientists apparently have managed to distill optimism into an inject-able form and given Edes a good dose straight into the back of the skull, because there's no other reasonable explanation for his surprise at Wang's performance. HIS ERA IS OVER 14. (Yes, I know, I constantly mention how ERA is a bad way to judge a pitcher, but having an ERA of 14 after throwing over 20 innings is universally horrific. In his *best* start of the season Wang went 4.2 innings and gave up 5 runs. The dude can't pitch.)

Sabathia pitched magnificently but was brought down by a guy he could stuff in his back pocket and still have room for his wallet – Dustin Pedroia, the Red Sox gnat who refused to yield in a 10-pitch at-bat before drawing a walk that galvanized Boston’s winning rally....

Thus the sportswriter fetish for "scrappy" white guys continues. You could easily replace the "Dustin Pedroia" in that sentence with "David Eckstein", "Scott Podsednik", or "Darin Erstad" and find it had been written roughly 47891323409214213 times before. (Though the Erstad ones would also have some mention about how he used to be a punter.)

...“Look, there are more than 100 games to go. Our day is going to come. But we got outplayed these eight games. They played us well. There have been some close games, some we probably should have won. But we’ve made way too many mistakes.”

It began with Rodriguez, who couldn’t get the ball out of his glove for an easy force play Tuesday night. Yankees right fielder Nick Swisher missed a fly ball Wednesday night, then committed an unholy base-running gaffe Thursday, getting doubled off second by left-fielder Jason Bay after a leadoff double in the second inning. “I thought the ball was going halfway up the wall,” Swisher said...

What actually occured was Swisher was too busy drawing a pentagram in the infield dirt to notice Bay had caught the ball. Fortunately for Swisher, his ritual was completed before he was out, and Beezlebub was still summoned. (Nick Green, alas, was promptly killed). The day was saved when Indiana Jones showed up (being pursued by Nazis, of course) and closed up the portal to Hell by...DID YOU PROOFREAD THIS ARTICLE GORDON EDES? Isn't there something called an "editor" who can let you know when you make poor adjective choices? Is this really what journalism has devolved to?

The rest of this article talks about the various ways in which the Yankees lost the game. There's nothing particularly mock-worth (since it's just summary), except for this:

...Pedroia, the next batter, fouled off five straight two-strike pitches, three of which were clocked at 95 miles per hour...

We need to know this because Dustin Pedroia is incapable of hitting any pitch thrown faster than 76.2 miles per hour. (It's like Speed, except without the terrorists and bombs and Keanu Reeves.)

So the Yankees go home to face the Mets, two games behind the Red Sox in the AL East, yet miles behind in how they are perceived.

“I’d like to sit up here and say, ‘It never means more than it means,’” Red Sox manager Terry Francona said. “But it’s hard not to get excited.”

Now, that’s a truer picture.

What Francona is actually saying here is he's trying hard to not excited over a relatively meaningless 3-game sweep (much like the point Girardi was making). So, ultimately, you have just contradicted the entire purpose of your poorly argued article. Bravo, Gordon Edes, bravo.

Now if you'll excuse me, Zombie Bob Ross has filled up my sketch book with paintings of happy trees and is starting to look a wee bit peckish...

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

A.J. Burnett is awful, Sox now 6 - 0 vs. Yanks.

Quick check-in on Robinson Cano before I begin:

His OBP has declined to a Juan Pierre-like .335.

(Juan Pierre, meanwhile, has an OPS+ of 129 and an Adrian Gonzales-like OBP.)

Okay, and now...

A.J. Burnett is vastly overrated

Burnett pitched terribly last night against the Red Sox, which made me excited because it means the Sox still haven't lost to the Yankees yet, and it continues to foster my theory that A.J. Burnett is not as good a pitcher as conventional wisdom say he is. I would like to qualify this by saying that any major league pitcher that can potentially throw 200+ innings in a season and not suck too terribly is an asset to any major league team. However, this does not mean said nameless pitcher deserves a 5-year $82.5 million contract. So I'm thrilled the Yankees are stuck with him, and I look forward to many more beat-downs by the Sox over the years, as I would argue Burnett is exactly the kind of pitcher that team is prime to massacre.

What's that I hear you say? A.J. Burnett won 18 games last year?

Hogwash, I say, and smarmily mock your misguided notion whilst sipping port in my zeppelin.

Anyways, yes, this statistics is true, but it's very misleading when it comes to judging the merit of Burnett as a pitcher. Those 18 wins came shackled to a 4.07 ERA, or for those of us more statistically inclined, an ERA+ of 105. Essentially, he gave up runs at only a slightly above average rate. He was 4th in the AL in wins (placing him behind Roy Halladay and tied with Dice-K in this category), yet his ERA+ placed him 23rd among qualifying pitchers, placing him in the range of guys like Gil Meche and Jered Weaver (both fine pitchers, but not $82.5 million/5 years kind of guys). Burnett's 18 wins were luck.

Doth mine ears hear the voice of an unwashed peasant? Does it say Burnett's ERA is distorted because of a few bad games?

Phineas! More vintage! Tell the boys in the engine room to increase speed!

I heard the "bad games" argument a lot in the offseason, and I would like to counter it by saying that while good pitchers do occasionally have lousy outings, at some point it ceases becoming an anomaly and starts becoming a trend. Suffice to say, Burnett had more bad games than most pitchers with those number of wins. To illustrate this, I present an ordered list of all pitchers from 2008 that won at least 15 games, coupled with how many times they gave up at least 6 earned runs:

Pitcher - # outings with 6+ ER (final record)
Roy Halladay - 0 (20 - 11)
Ted Lilly - 0 (17 - 9)
Johan Santana - 0 (16 - 10)
Mike Mussina - 1 (20 - 9)
Tim Lincecum - 1 (18 - 5)
Edinson Volquez - 1 (17 - 6)
Ryan Dempster - 1 (17 - 6)
Gavin Floyd - 1 (17 - 8)
Dan Haren - 1 (16 - 8)
Chad Billingsley - 1 (16 - 10)
Cliff Lee - 2 (22 - 3)
Dice-K - 2 (18 - 3)
Roy Oswalt - 2 (17 - 10)
John Lester - 2 (16 - 6)
Joe Saunders - 3 (17 - 7)
Ervin Santana - 3 (16 - 6)
Jamie Moyer - 3 (16 - 7)
Kyle Lohse - 3 (15 - 6)
Ricky Nolasco - 3 (15 - 6)
Brandon Webb - 4 (22 - 7)
A.J. Burnett - 5 (18 - 10)
Aaron Cook - 5 (16 - 9)
Bronson Arroyo - 6 (15 - 11)
Mark Buerhle - 6 (15 - 12)

Furthermore, those 5 crappy starts mark his career high in this particular category. So Burnett won 18 games while still managing to throw more lousy games than ever before. Not the kind of consistency I'd want for 80 million dollars.

But...but...he lead the AL in strikeouts!

What drollery!

Sure, strikeouts are impressive, but lest it be forgotten A.J. Burnett was also 5th in the AL in walks, leaving him with a 2.69 K/BB walk ratio. Now, this isn't horrible (15th best in the AL; Roy Halladay was 1st with a 5.28 ratio), but it gets worse when you condiser that he was one of only 4 pitchers to strike out 200 batters. (In other words, he walked A LOT of guys.) Combine this with his half-decent (although not great) hits / 9 inning ratio, and you've got a pitcher with a downright pedestrian 1.342 WHIP, good for 26th in the AL. (For reference, Paul Byrd ranked 23rd in WHIP.) Essentially, a lot of guys got on base vs. Burnett, which is a recipe for disaster no matter how many guys he struck out.

Incidentally, before you accuse me of nit-picking Burnett based on one season, I would like to point out that 2008 was a roughly average year for him, plus it seems that the whole reason he got a big contract was based on this year anyways. (I highly doubt he would've reached anywhere near the $80 million mark if he'd never won more than 12 games in a season, as was the case before 2008.) Furthermore, all the problems he had in 2008 that I've outlined above are continuing in this season. In fact, he's been worse so far. His ERA, K/BB ratio, Hits/9 ratio, and WHIP are all up (along with his ERA+ going down to 92), plus he's giving up home runs at a downright Wasdin-esque rate of 1.5 per 9 innings. In other words, he's not pitching that great, just as I expected. But he's the Yankees' problem now, so I'm extremely happy about this. I look forward to him pitching many more games against the Sox, considering that their offense is an on-base-percentage machine (first in the AL right now) and Burnett excels at letting guys do just this.

Phineas! Set a course for Antartica!

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

I looked it up

My research was by no means exhaustive or comprehensive, but I glanced at bullpens over the past 10 years and found only 1 (the 2002 Atlanta Braves) that matches the ridiculous domination of Hermanson, Politte and Cotts.

I also rediscovered the existence of John "WAY BACK" Wasdin, and I'm happy to report that my childhood memories of him giving up way too many unfortunate home runs are supported by his lousy HR/9 inning ratios.

Yet another post not about Robinson Cano

I'm regretting the name of this blog at this point.

Anyways, Ozzie Guillen once again proves he knows nothing about baseball. If it weren't for the freak World Series win in 2005*, this guy probably wouldn't have a job because he's an idiot.

“If this was the 1980s, (none) of these guys would be in the big leagues right now, because if you hit .210-.230 and you can’t execute, I don’t think you should be out here,” Guillen said.

“When you can’t bunt, hit-and-run, squeeze and move the guy over, you better hit 40 home runs and drive in 140.”

So lets dissect the crazy bullshit here step-by-step:

1. If this was the 1980s, (none) of these guys would be in the big leagues right now

I'll admit that I didn't follow baseball in the 1980s, so I'm not too familiar with the changes in style of play since that point. I can say with little doubt, however, that most teams from any era would take some of the White Sox regulars. Jermaine Dye is having on of the best seasons of his career (BA/OBP/SLG of .288/.353/.565), Paul Konerko seems to be going through a small renaissance after two slightly-off years, and Jim Thome is still a big power threat even though he's on the downside of his career. That none of these guys would be good enough to play on any team from the 1980s is unfathomable. I have a hard time accepting that there was no market for guys that get on base frequently and hit home runs.

Although technically speaking, Ozzie is correct. No one on the current White Sox roster was in the big leagues during the 1980s.

2. because if you hit .210-.230 and you can’t execute, I don’t think you should be out here

This one I'll agree with. Sure, batting average is not the best way to gauge a hitter's performance, but I'll give Ozzie the benefit of the doubt that "executing" covers the players that hit .230 yet are still major offensive forces. Adam Dunn, for instance, has a career batting average of .248, yet his career EqA is .302. (Side note: Adam Dunn playing for the Nationals proves two things: first, his agent must be horrific, and, second, that most front offices still don't understand modern statistical analysis in baseball.)

That being said, who are all of these not-cool-enough-to-hang-out-with-Don-Johnson choke artists that make up the White Sox offense? Since I'm assuming Ozzie is only talking about recent struggles, I looked up the offensive stats for the Sox regulars over the past two weeks, and the culprits are:

Chris Getz (10 major league at bats prior to this season)
Josh Fields (career OPS of .721)
Brian N. Anderson (career OPS of .649)

In other words, the players that sucked beforehand and not the cornerstones of the offense (i.e. Dye, Konerko and Thome). Therefore it should be no surprise to Ozzie that his lousy players are playing lousy baseball. Sure, they probably shouldn't be out there as starters, but the White Sox don't seem to have the talent to replace them. Although, once again, Ozzie does get points for the "shouldn't-be-playing-in-the-80s" thing. All three players were under the age of 10 come 1989.

3. When you can’t bunt, hit-and-run, squeeze and move the guy over, you better hit 40 home runs and drive in 140.

I would argue that the huge problem with the current White Sox offense is their inability to get on base. Out of 14 teams in the AL, they're ranked 11th in OBP. Bunting, hit and runs, squeezing, and generally "moving guys over" all contribute to this number decreasing. Furthermore, if your offense can't get on base, no amount of "small ball" is going to help you because there won't be anyone on base for it to hypothetically benefit.

Also, is it me or did Ozzie just equate a guy's ability to bunt with hitting 40 home runs? Is it possible that he doesn't listen to the things that come out of his mouth or is he really that dumb? If the latter is the case, Ozzie can have a team full of Scott Podsedniks, I'll take one full of Adam Dunns and we'll play an entire season against each other. Factoring in aberrations, I guarantee I'll win at least 120 of those games.

*If you do not believe that 2005 was a fluke, take a look at the stats of Dustin Hermanson, Cliff Politte and Neil Cotts. How many teams have had three regular relievers with ERA+ over 200?* Especially guys who never did anything significant afterward?

*Maybe I should look that up.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Oh, right

Since it seems I've drifted away from my original intent of ceaselessly mocking Robinson Cano:

Cano's OBP is currently .351, which not only isn't that great, it's only 31 points above his batting average.

(Robinson Cano sucks.)

Gambler's fallacy

If you flip a coin ten times, there is a good chance it will come up heads all ten times. Does this mean the coin is rigged? Probably no, and this is just a case of small sample size. Flip that coin 100 times, and you'll no doubt find that the coin comes up heads just about as many times as it does tails. Flip it 1,000 times, and the ratio of heads to tails should get even closer to 1:1. This is basically the Gambler's fallacy at its finest, and it seems the baseball world falls prey to it far too often. If we are to rise above it, however, it should come as no surprise, for instance, that the Yankees are in first place and the Royals are under .500 right now. Anomalies exist over a small sample size, but everything will eventually tend towards the expected result.

So on that note...

What the hell is up with Juan Pierre and when is it going to stop? Excluding tonight's game, Pierre currently has an EqA of .349. No, I am not making that up. Juan Pierre, the man who's never had an EqA of above .276, and hasn't been above league average (.260) since 2004, is putting up Albert Pujols-like numbers (career EqA of .345). Logic tells us that he'll eventually go back to being an exceptionally mediocre baseball player, but, for now, let's all bask in the supreme oddity of his current production.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Juan Pierre is a Hall of Famer

I've been away from baseball for a bit, and I'm sure all zero of the people that read my blog have been disappointed. Have no fear, however. I'm back and trying to catch up on the things I've missed. So I'd like to take a moment to touch on this whole Manny Ramirez thing. Ignoring the larger issue of what this means for baseball's image and Manny's legacy, it's a serious blow to a Dodger's team that has essentially built its lineup around Ramirez. They're facing 50 games without their most prolific hitter and there's no obvious stand-in.

Or is there?

Steve Phillips knows the answer to the Dodgers' problem. And it's Juan Pierre.

Ramirez clearly makes the Dodgers a deeper and stronger lineup. But his replacement, Juan Pierre, is a proven major leaguer who, although he is different from Manny, can still be a major force offensively. Remember, Pierre is hungry for playing time and has waited patiently for an opportunity to play. Now that it has arrived, look for him to explode.

This could be a brilliant piece of satire, except I'm pretty sure Steve is serious. This is the same man who thought it was a good idea to sign Mo Vaughn when he was GM of the Mets. Getting back to the point at hand, Juan Pierre is not a major force offensively, unless you count how much he sucks. He has one season with an OPS+ above 100 and that was in 2003. In fact, his OPS+ has declined every year since that point, down to the 73 he posted last year. You know who had a higher OPS+ last year? David Eckstein. Every inch of his 5'6" frame is packed with mediocrity, and Juan Pierre was WORSE offensively. The only way this can good for the Dodgers is if Pierre literally explodes, in which case they can put Xavier Paul in there for good. Even if he isn't as "good" as Juan Pierre, at least he's young and has time to develop.

There's no doubt the Dodgers' offense will be different, but it should still be highly productive. I don't have any doubt that on July 3, when Manny returns, the team will still be in first place and their young players will be even more confident in their own abilities.

WHAT? Does Steve Phillips have magical powers? How can he guarantee this? This...just doesn't make sense, unless Steve is some being from a parallel universe in which Juan Pierre is Hall of Fame caliber outfielder. (Random fact: Micah Owings had a higher OPS+ than Juan Pierre last year. Owings is a pitcher.)

Without Ramirez batting third in the order, expect manager Joe Torre to experiment a little bit before settling on a regular lineup. With the way second baseman (and 2-hitter) Orlando Hudson is swinging the bat, he certainly could hit in the third spot. Leadoff man Rafael Furcal could drop to second, behind Pierre in the top spot. Torre would also have the option of moving Ethier to the No. 3 spot, with Kemp hitting fourth.

The only way Juan Pierre should be batting lead-off in this lineup is if Joe Torre suffering from age-onset dementia. Ignoring the less-than-Jason Varitek-OPS+-in-2008, the lead-off hitter is supposed to be someone who gets on base. You know who doesn't get on base much? Juan Pierre. He hasn't had an OBP over .350 since 2004. In 2008, he got on base at a .327 clip. You know who had an OBP higher than that? Andre Ethier, Russel Martin, Jeff Kent, James Loney, Matt Kempt and Blake DeWitt. (The most frequent 2 - 7 hitters for the Dodgers in 2008. The only reason why this list doesn't extend to the 2 - 8 hitters is the most common 8th hitter for the team in 2008 was none other than Angel Berroa.) Juan Pierre has no business batting lead-off. He should barely be batting anywhere, for that matter. Out of 204 players with 400 at bats last year, Juan Pierre ranked 179th in VORP. This is the player who is going to keep the Dodgers offense going. Congrats, Steve Phillips, for writing what could be the most retarded thing I've read about this whole Manny nonsense. (And I read Bill Plaschke too.)

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

I'm still on fire with the nicknames

In the below post, I forgot to make fun of Jose Albaladejo's pitiful K/BB ratio (currently 1.33).

More like Jose "All Balls All Day-O!"


Ladies and Gentlemen, the unfounded panic begins!

Pardon me while I play devil's advocate, since the unfounded panic among Yankee fans seems to have reached ridiculous levels. (Come talk to me when the Red Sox aren't on an 11-game winning streak and maybe I'll be less forgiving.) Anyways...

THE YANKEES AREN'T TOUGH ANYMORE, by one panicked John Harper. (Yes this has been torn apart by several bloggers already. But that doesn't stop it from being insane.)

In the end, the steal of home was more than an embarrassing punctuation mark to a sweep at the hands of the Red Sox that was full of heartbreak and exasperation.

For the Yankees, it was symbolic of a weekend in which they were beaten in the cruelest of ways, three losses that leave you wondering if they are as tough as the Red Sox anymore. Is it possible that years of first-round playoff exits and then an empty October in 2008 have stolen whatever grit remained from the Joe Torre glory years?

Yes, it is possible. If that grit was still around it would mean someone never cleaned old Yankee Stadium, and their dirty standards are being kept up in the new place and...ew. Just...ew. Housekeeping aside...

You could surely make the case after the Red Sox seemed to will themselves to comeback victories on Friday and Saturday, and then the Yankees Sunday night looked like a team that had had the fight taken out of them by those stinging defeats...

Y'know, my will to win baseball games would suffer too if I had to constantly read tortured prose like this.

...Suddenly, Alex Rodriguez can't get back fast enough. Suddenly, nobody cares if he wants to kiss himself in the mirror as long as he gets Angel Berroa and his two errors Sunday night out of the lineup.

I know A-Rod is the favorite whipping boy of just about everyone (especially given the admissions of steroids), but give me a break. Why is it a bad thing that the Yankees need him to get healthy? They're are always going to be worse off with him out of the lineup because he's one of the best hitters in the game and plays a decent third base for a guy who's really a shortstop. And yes, Angel Berroa is fucking awful, but the Yankees have already gone through two third basemen so far. (Although Cody Ransom was pretty fucking awful too.) Although that being said, the Red Sox have Nick "Why The Fuck Am I A Starter" Green as a shortstop, and I'm pretty sure he's sole reason why they haven't won 15 of their last 11 games. Asshole.

Secondly if Steroid-Taking-Pansy-Rod (I'm on fire with the nicknames) is such a malignant force on team unity or whatever, wouldn't he automatically make the Yankees less tough and henceforth cause them to lose more games? Is anyone really surprised at the lack of logic here?

Suddenly, the pressure is really on CC Sabathia to shake off his April mediocrity and flex his $181 million muscles tonight in Detroit before this turns into something bigger than an early-season slap in the face.

You know who did this last night? Justin Verlander. (And Tim Wakefield, but that's another story.) At least CC didn't give the Yankees bullpen another chance to suck...

For the moment, there are plenty of reasons to be concerned about these Yankees, but if you are looking for the reason this sweep looms as truly significant, it has to be the difference between the bullpens.

In the first two games of the series, the Red Sox had already established the obvious: only one of these two teams has a championship-caliber bullpen.

Statistically the Sox have the best bullpen in the majors, while the Yankees have some real issues, and that difference could wind up dictating the direction of the American League East race this season...

If you look at it, both bullpens weren't that impressive. While Delcarmen, Paplebon and Ramon Ramirez have been good, there's a precipitous and concerning drop-off after that. (Masterson hasn't been awful, but he's in the rotation now, which is where I think he belongs.) Furthermore, by what stats do the Red Sox have the best bullpen in the majors right now? Sure it's good, but I'd argue the Kansas City Royals are at least as good, if not better, and the Los Angeles Dodgers (minus Ronald Belisario) aren't that much farther behind. (Did I seriously equate the Red Sox and the Royals? There's a sentence I thought I'd never write.)

But yeah, the Yankees bullpen is awful. But that's due to their pitchers being young and terrible, not because they aren't tough. This problem certainly could be attributed to the so-called "Golden Years" of Joe Torre, in which the Yankees relied on an increasingly aged group of free-agent pick-ups to staff their bullpen. (In 2004, their last "Golden Year", the main guys coming out of the bullpen besides Rivera were Tom Gordon, Paul Quantril, and Tanyon Sturtze). Such luck couldn't continue forever, and I can't fault them for trying to home-grow a bullpen. Just too bad all those young pitchers haven't been good.

...Tell the truth: had you ever heard of Hunter Jones and Michael Bowden, the two rookies who pitched 2-2/3 scoreless innings? Did you even know that Takashi Saito, the former Dodger who closed out Sunday night's game, was in the Red Sox bullpen?

I will tell the truth: I'd heard of Hunter Jones, I was vaguely aware of Michael Bowden, and, yes, I did know Saito was in the pen, ESPECIALLY SINCE HE PITCHED IN GAME ONE OF THE SERIES. This is one of several shots taken at the so-called "B-squad" of Sox pitchers, and I'll admit that Jones and Bowden are relative unknowns, but Takashi Saito is an established major league pitcher and was part of the much-lauded low-risk bits-and-pieces moves the Sox made in the offseason. In short, the only reason to not know about Saito is just not knowing anything about baseball. Although I wouldn't be surprised if this was true of John Harper, considering how dumb this article has been already.

Maybe Ellsbury's steal of home juiced the crowd and made Pettitte look foolish, but it wasn't the decisive moment in the game. The Sox already led 2-1, and after the game Pettitte wasn't nearly as angry about the steal as he was for getting careless with an 1-2 fastball to David Ortiz that gave the Sox that lead and put Ellsbury at third.

"I had him so set up for a fastball inside that I got careless and I ran it across the plate," Pettitte said. "That pitch changed the game."

It didn't have to, but the Yankees couldn't recover. They couldn't put together any kind of offense against Justin Masterson, the reliever who has taken the injured Daisuke Matsuzaka's place in the Sox rotation, or the "B" relievers.

None of this has anything to do with toughness. And what's with the Masterson hate? He hasn't been the second coming of Pedro Martinez, but he's pitched decently well (career ERA+ of 152 and career WHIP of 1.229) in his time in the majors. Just because Masterson is young and lacking in big league experience doesn't automatically mean he can't pitch. Just because the Yankees' young arms have generally stunk so far doesn't mean the same has to be true for the other team. And it has nothing to do with toughness and everything to do with bad pitching. This stinks of an entitlement complex on the part of John Harper...

The only good news for the Yankees was the debut of Mark Melancon, whose two scoreless innings could prove significant.

With Brian Bruney on the disabled list because of an elbow injury, the Yankees are praying that Melancon, a righthander who some in the organization have been touting as Mariano Rivera's successor someday, can be a Joba-like bullpen phenom immediately for a bullpen that started the night with a 6.68 ERA.

By contrast the Boston pen leads the majors with a 2.38 ERA. Presuming that Masterson goes back to the pen at some point, the Red Sox could have the strongest and deepest relief corps in the majors...

The loss of Bruney hurts the Yankees bullpen a lot, since he was the only one not named Rivera that was pitching well. But, again, WHAT DOES THIS HAVE TO DO WITH TOUGHNESS? Also, ERA isn't necessarily the greatest measure of a good bullpen, just the way that batting average isn't necessarily the best way to gauge hitters. I'd also like to note that this vaunted Boston bullpen contains 3 regulars with ERAs over 4 right now (Okajima, Saito, and Javier Lopez) and that this 2.38 figure is distorted by the impossible-to-sustain-over-the-course-of-a-season awesomeness of Delcarmen and Ramirez. The sum of the whole is greater than its parts.

I will admit however, that Right now it looks like the Red Sox have a very deep pitching staff, but this has NOTHING TO DO WITH TOUGHNESS. It has everything to do with the Red Sox having a better pitchers.

Who knows, maybe the Yankees just caught the Red Sox when they were hot, and no one will remember this sweep in a couple of months.

Yes, exactly. Why are you making my points for me?

Then again, Pettitte admitted, "We know that's a really good team and they play really hard."

This is a throwaway quote. Pettitte is basically saying good teams play good baseball. And yet John Harper is staking his whole toughness assertion on this quote. You sir, fail at writing.

As a side note, you know who else plays really hard? David Eckstein. And he su...oh wait, he's not doing that badly this year. (I started that joke before I looked his stats up.)

Let's try that again.

You know who else plays really hard? Darin Erstad. He plays so hard that he used to be a punter as well as a baseball player, yet his OPS+ is currently -5.

There we go.

What was I doing? Oh right...

The Sox have a better bullpen, no question. But the troubling question that comes out of this series is simple: Are they more tough-minded, too?

Simple answer: No. The Sox just have a better bullpen, and that was the major reason for the sweep. IT'S REALLY THAT SIMPLE.

Better pitching is in no way analogous to being tougher, unless you define "tougher" as "more difficult to beat because Phillip Thaddeus Cocaine IV isn't coming out of the bullpen". (I'm still on fire with the nicknames.) You know what team had a great bullpen? The 2005 Chicago White Sox, yet Dustin Hermanson was a bed-wetter, Cliff Politte had arachibutyrophobia, and Neal Cotts threw like a girl.

Monday, April 27, 2009


The Red Sox got a nice performance from the bullpen tonight to finish off the sweep of some baseball team I don't really care about and would never write a blog dedicated to making fun of them. (Who gave you that crazy idea? Was it Steve?) Having been given a heavy workload in games 1 and 2 (and imploding in the latter), it was concerning to see Justin Masterson not make it out of the 6th. That being said, Hunter Jones (who?), Michael Bowden (WHO?) and Takashi Saito (wh...oh wait, I know this one) combined to pitch pretty damn well,a rare occurrence this weekend from either team. The Sox pitching (with a few exceptions named Ramon Ramirez) has been really under-performing this season, so hopefully this is a sign of things changing for the better. (Is it too much to hope that Okajima learns how to pitch again?) I can't argue with 12 - 6, but at some point those 16 - 11 wins are going to catch up with the Sox, even if the offense continues to get better and/or Nick "Why the Fuck Am I A Starter" Green is replaced with a real shortstop.

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