79 thoughts on “October 12, 2017: Yankees Suck”

        1. I looked it up this morning and Astros are the #18 payroll team (Indians #17). Nationals and Cubs are #8 and #9 respectively. What's really affecting my interest is how long the games are this year. Over three and a half hours. I moved forward an hour too so I simply can't watch the Dodgers more than an inning most nights.

          1. I agree. I've never been big on "speed up the game" rules, but something has to be done. Three-and-a-half to four hours to play a ball game is just not right. If I'm starting to lose interest, how much interest can casual fans have?

            1. This. I want a pitch clock.

              I also love the idea of a minimum batters faced requirement (at least 2). I find myself constantly left cold by pitchers who get one out as a specialist. That isn't impressive. Current bullpen strategy turns mediocre relievers into dominant ones by limiting their exposure. I'd much rather watch truly dominant relievers. Honestly, it's why I can't even be that mad about the Yankees right now. Their bullpen rocked.

                1. I was thinking about that the other day. I'm not sure I favor it. but I'm not willing to reject it out of hand, either, which I would have not long ago.

                  If you had seven-inning games, you'd bring back the complete game. You could cut back to ten-man pitching staffs. You could bring back the fifth outfielder and the third catcher. You could bring back platooning, because you'd have room for the extra players.

                  Obviously there'd be an effect on the records, and I'm sure there are negatives I'm not thinking about right now, but there'd be positives, too. You're right, the purists would be outraged, but there might be more people in favor of it than one would think.

                  1. It's possible you'd get the opposite effect. With 7-inning games, teams might give up the idea of starting pitchers altogether. Every game becomes essentially a bullpen start, like teams do in exhibition games or some tournaments like WBC. You could potentially leverage your pitching staff even better this way. Look at the WC game rosters--it was a single game yet teams keep loads of pitchers on the roster.

              1. A pitch clock would work if you enforce it. A ball or strike is a pretty good penalty for delay--players care about giving up a ball or a strike, but it's also not overly heavy-handed. I could also get behind the idea of making it more like a chess clock so that some pitches could have more time for some pitches if they are willing to work quickly most of the time.

                I don't like pitching specialists either, but I'd rather just enforce a clock on pitching changes--the change clock could be punished by an intentional walk. And make the pitching change clock shorter if the previous pitcher only faced one batter.

                Shaving time between innings wouldn't hurt, either.

              2. The problem isn't the time between pitches. It's the number of pitches. The pitches per PA this year were 3.9. In 1988, they were 3.58. The average game is about 38 PAs per team, so that's an exta 12 pitches per game per team, which is essentially an extra inning being played. The game has evolved to emphasize walking and less concern about striking out (or just less ability to make contact as pitchers focus on getting strikeouts). And of course, starting pitchers are throwing less pitches in starts, meaning more pitching changes. Plus relievers are being more specialized and match-ups are being emphasized, which means more mid-inning pitching changes.

                1. Check out the PACE stat in fangraphs. There's not just one problem, but time between pitches is a problem. The difference between Mark Buehrle vs. Buehrle and Tanaka vs. Tanaka is over 35 minutes. And that's just the starting pitchers--relievers often pitch at a glacial pace. Pitchers now have more pitches than they used to have and they have more intel on opposing hitters. I think they're just taking longer to reach a conclusion on what to pitch than you would have had 50 or even 20 years ago.

                  This year, no qualified starting pitcher was pitching at less than 20 seconds per pitch, when we know it's possible to go even 4 seconds better than that. This 24+ second business is a ridiculous waste of everyone's time.

                  The reason I think time between pitches matters so much is that I don't think people would care so much about how long the game takes if it is captivating the whole time. It is impossible to be captivated during a Yu Darvish start.

                  1. Maybe he's not worse than other relievers, but I got frustrated by the time between Chapman's pitches last night. Sure, it was accompanied by a Yankees win, but it felt like each pitch took forever...yeah, MLB likes to talk about how every pitch matters in the postseason but there's a limit to that.

                    1. I think it's because he's throwing so hard. It's like a 40 meter dash every 30 seconds. Institute the pitch clock and now pitchers will have to pace themselves better. It also might reduce the effectiveness of bullpens that throw incredibly hard (Yankees!).

          2. And the Diamondbacks were 26th. So this year, we had the 1, 2, 3, 8, 9, 16, 17, 18, 22, and 26 payrolls in the playoffs. By the next round it'll be 1, 2, 8 (or 9), and 18. Do you suppose we'll ever see the 5, 9, 13, 14, 15, 22, 23, 28, 29, 30 payrolls in the playoffs? Or 13, 22, 29, and 30 in the conf championships?

            MLB keeps stringing us along with a new Houston every three or four years so we get the illusion of parity, but the deck is so rigged it's a joke.

            1. I'm rather less concerned about payroll and playoff competitiveness than ubes. Also, wasn't Texas first in payroll this year? (it was according to b-r; so, the playoff teams were 2, 3, 4, 7, 9, 13, 18, 20, 21, 22). That doesn't obviate his larger empirical claim of a strong upward payroll bias in playoff qualifications. But then, that's kind of what we expect. Better teams will tend to be better paid.

              As for average length of game, per b-r the playoff teams ranked by longest average: 1, 2, 6, 8, 9, 10, 13, 15, 18, 23. Causal?

              1. Texas Rangers above the Dodgers? I see Houston quoted as $178 million, but that includes all of Verlander's contract. The Tigers covered most of it this year. The Rangers have a mere $133 million. The Dodgers opened at $241 million, down from their high of $271 million in 2015. BR puts them at $276 million.

              2. Where's the limit? Would we still watch if the Yankees could buy a rover to play 10 men in the field while the Twins only play 9? What if the Yankees can pay to get free strike cards, used when one of their pitchers really needs a strike?

                Of course, you say, MLB would never allow that, it would be unfair, unsporting even. Yet allowing them to spend $100M+ more than other teams is just "oh well?" What is $100M worth these days anyway, 10-12 WAR?

                1. How does the Yanqi advantage today compare to, say, the 1920s?

                  Free agency certainly has given the deep-pocketed teams certain leverage. But who are the Yankees' most important players? Two their top three position players were Judge and Sanchez. Their top two pitchers were Severino and Montgomery. All of those players were cheap and going to stay cheap for a couple more years.

                  1. I don't particularly care about the 1920s--I'm not going to spend any time watching baseball from that period. My choice is to watch today's baseball or not watch it.

                    This argument about the Yankees' young players is like saying I have 10 lottery tickets and you have 100 lottery tickets. But one of your first 10 lottery tickets was a winner, so clearly you had no advantage over me. The Yankees happened to hit on younger players, but they get to play with a huge insurance net that other teams don't have. Even an overpaid $20M player can be better than the player you can buy for $0.

                    I can't on one hand look at contracts and call a player overpaid or underpaid based on dollars per expected WAR, and then just turn a blind eye to the fact that $100M in payroll corresponds to 10-12 wins per season. Take 10 wins from the Yankees and they'd have 81 wins. Give 10 wins to the Twins and they'd have 95 wins.

                    I'm even disillusioned about teams like Houston and Cleveland. Is what they are doing impressive, or are they just one of the mid-level payroll teams that is bound to overperform because there are 15 of them and a couple of them are bound to hit on multiple prospects at once?

                    Maybe eventually MLB will ditch the idea of even trying to sell parity and they can switch over to a Globtrotters/Generals business model.

                    1. obviously, the point of asking about the relative advantage held by the Yankees today was not whether you were going to watch the 1927 Yankees. If you are that offended by MLB today, then perhaps you should find other pursuits.

                      This model of Yankee ballclub happens to have a bunch of young talent. That young talent is driving their outcomes.

                      This year, the Yankees spent $21.1 million on Jacoby Ellsbury (1.7 rWAR), $13 million on Chase Headly (1.8 rWAR), $13 million on Matt Holliday (0.0 rWAR), $12 million (ok, more like $5 million and half a season) on Todd Frazier (1.6 rWAR for the season, although he spent less than half with the Yankees), and 2.0 rWAR from Starlin Castro ($9.9 million). That's $70 million ($65-ish million) for 7.1 (call it 6.3) rWAR from the 3rd, 5th, 6th, 10th and 11th most expensive players on their roster. (the other top earners were Sabathia, Tanaka, Chapman, Gardner and Robertson).

                      In contrast, they got 3.9 rWAR from Aaron Hicks ($1.35 million), 4.1 rWAR from Gary Sanchez ($558K), and 8.1 rWAR from Aaron Judge ($544K). That's 16.1 rWAR for less than $2.5 million.

                      Did they pay a lot of money to Sabathia, Tanaka, and Chapman? Yes, they did. $64 million for 5.6 rWAR. Compared to the 8.2 rWAR they got out of Severino ($551K) and Montgomery ($535K).

                      If you want to argue that the $134 million (ehh, maybe $128 million, adjusting Frazier) they spent to get about 12.7 (maybe 11.8?) rWAR out of those expensive players (omitting Gardner's 4.9 rWAR for $12.5 million) was the difference between them and the Twins (who had a total payroll, according to b-r, of less than $120 million, go right ahead. But I would point out that the 24.3 rWAR for less than $4 million they got from Hicks, Sanchez, Judge, Severino and Montgomery might have had a little bit to do with their success. And pretty much nothing to do with the Yankees being the richest franchise.

                    2. One of the things that gets missed when looking at numbers this way is that contracts for valuable free agents are rarely one year deals. That's where the Yankee/Dodger/Etc. safety net really comes in. The smaller market teams don't have an opportunity to sign Ellsbury for 21 million for one year, much less 7. To say it is about $ is inaccurate. To say it is about the opportunities you have because of money is more on point.

                    3. I am not denying that the money helps the rich clubs. I'm just saying (a) I'm less disturbed by this than ubes (that was my original statement, and it was pretty mild -- clearly he's very disturbed by the financial disparities, which is his right) and (b) in this particular case, the results for the Yankees were significantly (largely? mostly?) driven by inexpensive players having good years or being very good at very young ages.

                      I do think we are better served by balancing our well-earned Yanqui hatred with some recognition that they have some very good, very young players. Likewise the Dodgers. Corey Seager, Chris Taylor, Cody Bellinger, Austin Barnes, and Alex Wood are five of their top nine players by rWAR, and all are cheap (only Wood made more than $1 million this year, and he was at only $2.8m).

                      You need to be cautious in making claims about the FA values, however, since players are tradable. The Twins may not be willing to buy at the top of the FA market, but they certainly can make trades for players with years left on their deals.

                      The Twins' best player this year by rWAR (Buxton) also happened to be very cheap. It is very hard to have a championship-quality team without getting disproportionate value from some young, cheap players.

                      The Twins only had 3 players with 2017 salaries over $10 million (Mauer at $23m, Santana at $13.5m, Hughes at $13.2m) and got about 8 rWAR from them. Compared to the Yankees' eight, from whom they got about 15 rWAR. But to say that those 5 extra 8-figure players explains the difference between the Yankees' on-field performance and the Twins' ignores the rest of the rosters.

                    4. I think part of the issue is that every team gets draft picks. If they do well drafting, any team can have a handful of prospects hit at the same time. Yes, that looms large for a team's success. There's no denying that. But the Yankees and Dodgers aren't unique in this regard, as, again, every team is afforded the same opportunities in that realm of player acquisition. But not every team is afforded the same in terms of free agency, and ability to sign in free agency also opens up trade and draft avenues. The Twins need to develop better pitching, so draft it. The Yankees can sign better pitchers, so can be more diverse in their drafts or more easily trade away pitching prospects.

                      It isn't an argument that their homegrown talent is unimportant. It is an argument that their homegrown talent is supplemented uniquely by their free agent spending.

                    5. Yep. Take for example Aroldis Chapman. Yankees were able to sign him without having to take on much risk, then flipped him for good prospects, then just signed him again. If he fails, well, they can afford it.

                    6. Nitpick: they traded for him then flipped him to the Cubs. They did sign Miller and flip him to Cleveland.

                    7. I think also one reason the Yankees and the Red Sox in the world continue to have high WAR rookies show up each year is because their fleet of scouts probably dwarfs those of the little guys. Plus they don't have to trade them away when they grab the FA's or take on salary in trades instead of trading out-right for veterans.

        2. I would think concerns with inequity would make you more disinterested in the regular season (where of course the Dodgers are going to win 90 games) than the playoffs where it's such a crapshoot every team has a legit shot if they get there.

          1. Good point. The Dodgers have the highest payroll and haven't won a World Series since 1988. Cubs won it last year for the first time in 100 years. Yankees have won once in the last decade or so. And of course, the Royals won it all just 2 years ago. There hasn't been a repeat winner since the Yankees won their third straight in 2000. The real issue is making the playoffs. Since the end of the strike and the change to the wildcard format, the Yankees have made the playoffs 19 of 23 years. The Royals have made it twice in that time and have had a winning record in only 3 seasons, finishing above 3rd place in only 3 seasons. The Brewers in that time have made the playoffs twice. The Reds made the playoffs 4 times in that time. The Mariners have been to the playoffs 4 times and haven't been in the playoffs since winning 116 games in 2001 and losing to the Yankees. In the NL, the three teams that won their divisions this year are all repeat winners. The Dodgers have won the NL West 5 years in a row, despite both NL wildcard teams coming from the NL this year.

          2. There are so many different reasons to follow baseball during the regular season. The playoff race, which only really comes into focus midway into the season, is just one of them. Individual performances, weird historical flukes, record chases, new approaches to roster construction or in-game strategy... Yes, the ultimate goal for every team is to reach the postseason, but there’s plenty more meat on the bone for a fan who loves the game as much as any particular team.

            Absent the presence of the teams I follow, why would I have any interest in the outcome of a playoffs format if the most reliable predictor of a team’s ability to reach them is payroll?

            1. For some of us, it's the enjoyment of watching the low payroll team beat the Goliath. But that doesn't so much do it for me. I think I mostly just root for individual players I like or for organizations I feel are doing smart things, regardless of payroll. I like Bryant/Rizzo/Baez and Epstein and how they built that team so I rooted for them last year. I like the Dodgers this year, too, as they have a bunch of front smart office people who are spending the money well plus Kershaw/Hill. That stuff changes year to year depending on my mood and the Twins are the only laundry I consistently root for regardless of all the other stuff.

              That said, the only reason I care about who wins the randomness of a playoff series is just how the teams are seen historically. For example, I really wish the 2001 Mariners had won the World Series, as more people would be talking about them as the greatest team of all-time, instead of an also-ran.

              1. See, I'd argue that last point. The 2001 Mariners were a great team, yes, but all time great? Other than Ichiro and Edgar, there aren't any great players. Maybe this runs into the spot where teams are more than the sum of their parts, but it seems to me that the playoff failure of that team speaks as much to their greatness as the regular season. That is to say, they were a great team, but not great enough to be in the all-time echelons.

                1. John Olerud’s career rWAR & fWAR are both higher than David Ortiz’s totals.

                  By rWAR (I didn’t bother to look at fWAR here), Olerud was also markedly better than guys like George Sisler & Tony Perez, as well as every aggrieved Yankme fan’s HoF axe, Don Mattingly. In fact, Olerud is closer to Frank Thomas & Johnny Mize than Mattingly is to Olerud.

                    1. I mentioned it because I think it’s interesting that a terrific player who performed well in 14 postseason series, including as a key player on two World Champions, doesn’t register as “great” the same way that Edgar or Ortiz does. I suspect, if asked, most people (even those outside Boston) would say Ortiz was a better player than Edgar, and possibly the greatest DH ever (depending on where one counts Frank Thomas). And yet, if the same folks were asked whether Olerud was better than Ortiz, I suspect the answer who be guffaws or at least an incredulous look. I wonder, had the ‘01 Mariners had won the World Series, if Olerud would get more respect.

                    2. Olerud did not hit any walk-off homers in the playoffs. He also switched teams a lot, which doesn't help one's reputation. He also was a first baseman who didn't hit homers, which confuses people.

                2. And I see their failure in the playoffs as mostly random noise, possibly one factor being they were built for the regular season (few superstars, but no black holes). I also consider that they were in the same division as the 102 win Athletics (with an unbalanced schedule) and still won 116 games.

                  Our definition of all-time echelon is probably just different. Do you think it's possibly for a team to be considered one of the best of all-time if they didn't win the world series? What if the 1927 Yankees had to play a division, and ALCS, and World Series and hadn't been able to make it through all 12 of those games without having a bad week? Or do you base it on them just having a bunch of players who were great for their careers, and not just getting lucky as it were and having most of your pretty decent players all having their career years in the same season?

                    1. "Only" is a strong word. The Mariners could have beat the Yankees and the Diamondbacks. Would we then say they were only built for the regular season?

                      Some teams built for the playoffs, like the 2001 D'Backs, were not as great in the regular season. A team that has two Hall-of-Fame peak pitchers pitching most of the playoff games but just crap after that doesn't impress me any more than the opposite.

                    2. Nor should it. That's not the case I'm making. The case I'm making is that the truly outstanding teams will prove it in multiple ways. Their greatness will probably span seasons (for the most part), result in WS victories (or at least appearances), have individual superstars, show up in regular season streaks and win totals (and differentials), etc.

  1. While true, I am finding myself less upset about it than in previous years. It could be that I'm just getting older or it could be that Cleveland is out what with them wanting to throw Chief Wahoo all over the place.

    Now, of course, if the Astros don't win I probably won't pay much attention to the WS.

  2. Ugh. I hate this team. I thought I was getting over it, but their constant winning is just sitting rotten with me.
    Ironically, I don't hate Judge. I feel like he's a nice guy and I wish him well. I'm even okay with Didi. However, I'm starting to grow disdain for Girardi and Gardner.
    Now I'll just have to really start rooting for the Astros. Also, if the Astros get to the World Series, they will be the first team to ever play in a World Series for both leagues.

    1. I've hated* Girardi since he was with the Marlins.
      When he got signed by the Yankees, I think I called him "Rich-man's Scioscia"**.
      What is it with former catchers?

      *Sports-hated. "Clementated" to use the Posnanski coinage.
      **Not that the Angels are poor, just Yanquis-hatred.

    1. I finally match something, and they're both baseball related to boot!

      You are 31 years, 3 months, and 21 days old - that's exactly 11,436 days!
      That's exactly as old as Manny Mota was the day Montreal trades him to Dodgers.
      That's exactly as old as Frank "Home Run" Baker was the day he hit a walk-off, inside-the-park home run against Walter Johnson in the 13th inning

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