Friday, May 31, 2013

The State of The Yankees Entering June

I find it funny to read comments by some Yankee fans concerning the four game sweep of the Subway Series to the Mets. I keep reading "Wait until September" or "We'll see when the World Series is on and the Yankees are playing". My favorite was "We were saving our strength for Boston". Stop with the false bravado folks. This team will be lucky to finish the month of June with a .500 record with the way they are hitting. Let's look at their schedule this month:
Los Angeles
You have all three American division leaders this month (Boston, Cleveland and Texas), two division rivals who are at least five games over. 500 (Baltimore, Tampa), they play 10 games on the West Coast which always proves difficult for the Yankees (Seattle, Oakland, Anaheim) and two games against the Dodgers.

With how their schedule is looking this is the worst time for the team to have stopped hitting and producing runs. And you can't blame the pitching.

The rotation has actually done their job. In three of the four games against the Mets, the starters gave up four runs. In those same three games the Mets scored a total of seven runs. You can't let pitching like that go to waste especially when you have the toughest month on the schedule approaching fast.

Maybe the additions of Teixiera and Youkilis can add some bulk to a very small and thin lineup. Hopefully Tex doesn't have his notoriously slow starts and Youkilis can play like he did to start the season. You also hope that no one else falls prey to the injury bug that seems to keep affecting the team. As we see, the injuries might already be hard to overcome. We'll have to wait and see how it plays out.

So please fellow Yankee fans, root and believe in your team but don't do it blindly. The Yankees have overachieved based on the fact that they were patching holes in the lineup due to the massive amounts of injuries to their roster. I think that early season magic has petered out and we really need to be realistic about this team's chances as they look at the moment. And certainly don't downplay the effort put forth by the Mets and their fans obvious reaction to their team sweeping the entire Subway Series.

Regardless if the team was complete or injured, the Mets won those four games fair and square. So stop being sore losers and let the Mets fans enjoy their moment in the sun. 

Sisco Kid

Friday, May 24, 2013

The Amazing Walk Discipline of Bob Tewksbury

My friend Christopher and I were talking about the 1987 Yankees earlier today when he mentioned that former Yankees pitcher Bob Tewksbury walked a total of 20 batters during the 1992 season. I had mentioned that I needed to look at his statistics a bit more closely and I was amazed at how little number of batters he walked over his career. Before I go into his lack of walks, I wanted to go into a little background on Tewksbury.

Tewksbury was drafted by the New York Yankees in the 19th Round of the 1981 Draft. After a number of seasons in the minors, Tewksbury was called up in April of 1986 and made his debut on April 11, 1986. He would pitch during the 1986 and part of the 1987 season for the Yankees before being sent down to the Yankees AAA affiliate Columbus Clippers. His demotion caused Tewksbury to ask for a trade.

His wishes were granted with his being traded on July 13, 1987 with Rich Scheid and Dean Wilkins to the Chicago Cubs for pitcher Steve Trout in one of the many lopsided trades the Yankees seemed to fall prey to during the late 1980's. Trout went 0-4 wth a 6.60 ERA in his only season with the Yankees and would himself be traded with Henry Cotto to the Seattle Mariners for Lee Guetterman, Clay Parker and Wade Taylor.

Tewksbury never really seemed to find himself in his season and a half with the Cubs going 0-4 with a 6.75 ERA in only 8 games pitched. He would be granted free agency and signed with the St. Louis Cardinals. It was with the Cardinals that he would show flashes of his limited walk potential.

In six seasons with the Cardinals (968.2 IP), Tewksbury walked a total of 125. That's an average of almost 21 walks in an average of 161 innings pitched. Here are the number of innings and walks during his six years in St. Louis:

1990145.1 150.9
1991191.0 381.8
1992233.0 200.8
1993213.2 200.8
1994155.2 221.3

Tewksbury led the National League in 1992 and 1993 with less than one walk per nine innings pitched. He would still be impressive in the walks department upon joining the Texas Rangers for the 1995 season, the San Diego Padres in 1996 and the Minnesota Twins to close out his career in 1997-1998. Here are his walk totals for those seasons:


Tewksbury's best season was the 1992 season when he made his only All-Star appearance and was third in the National League Cy Young Award voting. Here are his statistics for that season:
Bob Tewksbury



Now I'm not saying that Tewksbury was an elite power pitcher and starter. Far from it, but let's see who, if anyone, came close to that 20 walk range in close to 200 innings during last season. The closest  starter that I've been able to find is Cliff Lee of the Philadelphia Phillies who walked 28 batters in 211.0 innings pitched. Kyle Lohse formerly of the St. Louis Cardinals walked 38 in 211.0 innings pitched and Bronson Arroyo of the Cincinnati Reds walked 35 in 202.0 innings pitched. 

It makes you wonder what the Yankees may have looked like if they had kept pitchers like Bob Tewksbury, Doug Drabek, Jose Rijo and Al Leiter instead of trading them for players who did not produce for the team as these young players may have. The Yankees dynasty might have come sooner...or might not have come at all. I leave you to speculate on that.

Sisco Kid

P.S. Former pitcher Steve Trout who I mentioned was traded for Bob Tewksbury is the father of Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim's Mike Trout. Figured I'd throw that little nugget of trivia out there for you gals and guys.

For Further Reading:
- Click Here to access Bob Tewksbury's career statistics from Baseball
- Click Here for the article Cubs Put New Man In Action from the Chicago Tribune website dated July 17, 1987
- Click Here for the article Yanks Trade Trout, Cotto To Mariners from the Sun Sentinel website dated December 23, 1987

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

What's Happened to B.J. Upton

I believe that a big part of the Atlanta Braves struggles since their hot start of 12-1 to start the 2013 season has to do with the downright horrible offensive showing of free agent acquisition B.J. Upton. Upton was signed by the Braves during the offseason to a 5-year $75.25 million dollar deal which has him in a Braves uniform through the 2017 season.

Players can slump when arriving at a new team with a new park to deal with especially when the player changes leagues. Look at Albert Pujols. He struggled in his first season with the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. It happens. But what stands out to me are three things when it comes to B.J. Upton's struggles on the offensive side of the game (Stolen Bases/OBP, Strikeouts and Batting Average). Here are his stats at the end of play on Sunday May 12th:

B.J. Upton341248194036
154733.248.258.153 .506 

B.J. is not getting on base in the way a player of his caliber should be getting on base. With his speed you would think that Upton would generate more walks and try to make things happen on the base paths. Up to now, Upton only has 15 walks with just 3 stolen bases and was caught stealing 3 times. He is a very aggressive runner so he does get thrown out more than you would like. In 307 total attempts at stealing a base for his career, Upton has been thrown out 72 times. That roughly a quarter of his attempts resulting in getting caught which I believe is a respectable percentage (Tim Raines is the best in the modern era with a .847 stealing percentage 808 stolen to 146 caught stealing). Upton's On Base Percentage is really low considering that until last season, he always had an OBP in the low to mid .300's. Last season his OBP was .298 which would lead me to believe that he is free swinging more for power hits instead of generating walks.

I would also say that his free swinging has led to a ridiculous amount of strikeouts. As it is Upton already has 47 strikeouts. At this rate (to be conservative) Upton is on pace to strikeout 180-200 times which would be a career worse. His worse season in terms of strikeouts was last season at 169 K's. His batting average reflects his seemingly reckless approach to hitting. He is batting an Adam Dunn-like .153 with only 19 hits in 124 at-bats. He has four doubles and three homers with 0 triples. I would have thought that playing in a somewhat open stadium like Turner Field that Upton would be driving more balls into the gaps and utilizing his speed in an advantageous manner generating singles into doubles and doubles into triples.

Maybe B.J. would benefit from a move down into the lineup as Braves Manager Fredi Gonzalez did the other day with Upton batting 7th. Maybe a bit of a relief from the pressure would help Upton out. Whether it does or not still remains to be seen.

Sisco Kid

- Click Here for B.J. Upton's career statistics from Baseball

Monday, May 13, 2013

What A Difference Ten Games Makes

The key to any professional Baseball team is to get off to a good start and try to maintain a consistent pace throughout the season. Now that is often easier said than done since many factors can undermine a good start such as injuries, inefficient play and difficult scheduling. For this post, I wanted to look at four MLB teams whose place in the standings have changed significantly in the last ten games.

The Cleveland Indians
The Indians were sitting at .500 with a 13-13 record before they ripped off 8 wins in their last 10 games to take the lead in the American League Central with a 21-15 record. They've been led by a power surge in the homerun department and much improved starting pitching specifically from Ubaldo Jimenez and Scott Kazmir. The team that got shellacked by the Yankees earlier this season seems to have gotten their act together. Whether they stay that way or revert to their previous form remains to be seen.

- Team Report on the Cleveland Indians from Yahoo! Sports
- The Cleveland Indians page from Yahoo! Sports

The Boston Red Sox
The Red Sox had the best record in the league at 20-8 before they ran into a brick wall called the Texas Rangers. Going into that series the Red Sox had won 8 out of their last 10 games and seemed to be running optimally on all cylinders. What happened in the next 10 games includes a three game sweep by the American League West leaders Rangers, dropping three out of four to the Minnesota Twins at home and dropping two or three to the seemingly reawakening Toronto Blue Jays. The slide has left the Red Sox in third place in the American League East with a 22-16 record.

I think Manager John Farrell says it best:
"I think we've got a number of guys dealing with frustration right now. There's no question about it...The key for us is maintaining our level of preparation and our work routine. Those are the two things that we can control."
The Red Sox go into a pivotal series against division rival Tampa Bay Rays who are owners of a 6-game winning streak and are 7-3 in their last 10 games.

- Team Report on the Boston Red Sox from Yahoo! Sports
- The Boston Red Sox Page from Yahoo! Sports

The St. Louis Cardinals
The Cardinals are sitting atop the National League Central with a 23-15 record after ripping off 8 wins in their last 10 games behind solid pitching by starters Adam Wainright, Shelby Miller, Lance Lynn and Jamie Garcia. The Cardinals seem to be the pace setter in a seemingly three team race in the National League Central. Both the Cincinnati Reds and Pittsburgh Pirates are close to the Cardinals and are playing very good baseball sitting only two to three games behind the Cardinals.

The Cardinals have a stretch where they play against under .500 teams (Mets, Brewers, Padres and Dodgers) they can add more distance within the division.

- Team Report on the St. Louis Cardinals from Yahoo! Sports
- The St. Louis Cardinals Page from Yahoo! Sports

Atlanta Braves
The Braves struggles are more than just in the last 10 games. After ripping off a 12-1 start to the 2013 season, the Braves have gone 9-15 since to sit at 21-16. They are barely hanging on to first place in the National League East. The Washington Nationals have seemed to have gotten a bit more consistent (with the exception of Stephen Strausberg) by playing good ball in the last 10 games of their own.

The seemingly explosive Braves offense just seems to be unbalanced these days. In the last three games against the San Francisco Giants, the Braves only scored 4 runs while giving up 23 to a team that really isn't one of the most dynamic when it comes to scoring many runs. It seems that the hits and runs just seem to come from a handful of players. Justin Upton has slowed down, B.J. Upton is struggling mightily, Dan Uggla still seems to not be able to find his form in Atlanta, Jason Heyward's bat is missed in the lineup. The return of Brian McCann and his hot bat might help to spark the Braves' offense but the pitching also needs to step up and stop giving up so many runs. Braves Manager Fredi Gonzalez says it best:
"We haven't been real fun to watch right now. What did we score? Four runs the past couple games. They have a good club, and any time we made a mistake they took advantage. We haven't gone deep into a game with our pitching, and we haven't been scoring runs. They're a good team."
The Braves have a decent stretch against the surprising 21-17 Arizona Diamondbacks, the Dodgers, Twins and division rival Mets. Can the Braves rediscover the energy that caused them to run roughshod over the league to start the season or will they continue to struggle going into the month of June.

- Team Report on the Atlanta Braves from Yahoo! Sports
- The Atlanta Braves Page from Yahoo! Sports

Sisco Kid

Friday, May 10, 2013

Early Favorites To Start the 2013 All-Star Game

Since we are reaching the halfway point in the month of May, I wanted to take a look at the potential starting pitchers for both leagues in this year's All-Star game that will be played at Citi Field. I have to say that the choice in the National League might be a bit easier to predict that in the American League. 

I believe that hometown favorite Matt Harvey (barring any injury and/or slumping) will start the All-Star Game for the senior circuit. Harvey is currently at 4-0 with a 1.28 ERA in 49.1 IP with 22 hits and 7 runs (7 earned) allowed. He's struck out 58 while allowing 12 walks for a WHIP of 0.69. Opposing hitters are batting .133 against him. 

The most serious competition for Harvey is Jordan Zimmerman who is at 6-1 with a 1.59 ERA in 51 IP with 33 hits and 9 runs (9 earned) allowed. He's struck out 34 while walking 9 batters for a WHIP of 0.82. Opposing hitters are batting .182 against him.

If the Mets would score more runs in games where Harvey has started, he could easily be 6-0 or even 7-0. Other potential starters for the NL are Tim Hudson of the Braves (4-1 3.83 ERA), Patrick Corbin of the Diamondbacks (5-0 1.75 ERA) and Lance Lynn of the Cardinals (5-1 2.72 ERA)

The American League has a bit more of a logjam when it comes to potential starting pitchers in the All-Star Game. I believe that based on current pitching performance (barring injury and/or slumping), Clay Buchholz of the Boston Red Sox will start for the American League. At 6-0 with a 1.60 ERA in 50.2 IP with 34 hits and 9 runs (9 earned) allowed. He's struck out 56 while walking 18 batters for a WHIP of 1.03. Opposing hitters are batting .193. I don't believe that he is a total lock for the starting position since both Matt Moore of the Tampa Bay Rays and Yu Darvish of the Texas Rangers have legitimate claims to the starting slot in the All-Star game. 

Moore is also 6-0 with a 2.14 ERA in 42 IP with 26 hits and 10 runs (10 earned) allowed. He's struck out 43 hitters while walking 23 for a WHIP of 1.17. Opposing batters are hitting .176 against him. 

Darvish is at 5-1 with a 2.56 ERA in 45.2 IP with 27 hits and 13 runs (13 earned) allowed. He's struck out a league leading 72 hitters while walking only 15 for a WHIP of 0.92. Opposing batters are hitting 1.69. 

Other starters that might make the contest interesting are Jeremy Guthrie of the Kansas City Royals (5-0 2.28 ERA) and Felix Hernandez of the Seattle Mariners (5-2 1.53 ERA).

So there you go folks. My bet is on Harvey vs. Buchholz at the 2013 Mid-Season Classic in Flushing, NY. Let's see if it happens. What do you think. Yea? Nay? 

Sisco Kid

Friday, May 3, 2013

A View of the Standings Almost 30 Games Into 2013

I think I'm going to take a peek into my predictions at random points during the season to see how badly I made my picks in both the American and National League Standings. So at the point of game 30 for most teams, here is how the standings look (courtesy of Yahoo Sports):

 American League
 Boston Red Sox208.714--11-59-314899+49Won 28-2
 New York Yankees1710.6302.511-56-5125114+11Won 27-3
 Baltimore Orioles1712.5863.57-510-7146121+25Won 16-4
 Tampa Bay Rays1215.4447.58-44-11113114-1Lost 25-5
 Toronto Blue Jays1019.34510.56-104-9106150-44Lost 22-8
 Kansas City Royals1510.600--8-47-611398+15Won 27-3
 Detroit Tigers1611.593--10-46-7134107+27Won 17-3
 Minnesota Twins1212.5002.57-65-698101-3Won 15-5
 Cleveland Indians1213.4803.04-68-7126109+17Won 47-3
 Chicago White Sox1215.4444.07-75-897109-12Won 25-5
 Texas Rangers1711.607--8-49-712194+27Lost 25-5
 Oakland Athletics1613.5521.59-87-5162142+20Lost 14-6
 Seattle Mariners1317.4335.09-84-9103131-28Won 16-4
 Los Angeles Angels1018.3577.06-74-11117148-31Lost 13-7
 Houston Astros821.2769.54-94-12118168-50Lost 33-7
 National League
 Atlanta Braves1711.607--8-49-711588+27Lost 24-6
 Washington Nationals1514.5172.59-76-7101116-15Won 25-5
 Philadelphia Phillies1316.4484.57-86-8107130-23Won 15-5
 New York Mets1115.4235.07-84-7126124+2Won 13-7
 Miami Marlins821.2769.55-113-1081131-50Lost 24-6
 St. Louis Cardinals1711.607--7-510-6127100+27Won 37-3
 Pittsburgh Pirates1612.5711.08-48-8116114+2Won 16-4
 Milwaukee Brewers1413.5192.59-75-6127125+2Lost 25-5
 Cincinnati Reds1514.5172.512-43-10128106+22Lost 24-6
 Chicago Cubs1117.3936.05-76-10100117-17Lost 16-4
 Colorado Rockies1711.607--9-38-8148119+29Won 14-6
 San Francisco Giants1612.5711.08-48-8124117+7Won 35-5
 Arizona Diamondbacks1513.5362.08-87-5121108+13Lost 35-5
 Los Angeles Dodgers1314.4813.57-86-691115-24Lost 16-4
 San Diego Padres1117.3936.05-76-10107131-24Won 16-4
x-Clinched Playoff Spot; y-Division Champ
Last updated Friday, May 3, 2013 3:31 pm EDT
Now looking back to my predictions for the American League from March 28, 2013, my picks for the AL are all screwed up. The only teams that I have correctly picked (if the season ended today) were the Houston Astros. Not very surprising there. The Boston Red Sox lead the majors with a 20-8 record playing gritty ball backed by some damn good pitching by Clay Bucholz and John Lester. The Yankees are also playing gritty ball leading them to a 17-11 record. Baltimore is where I thought they would be in the middle of the pack with a 17-12 record and Tampa is starting slow at 12-15. The Blue Jays are playing some bad ball amid injuries and failed expectations totally busting my prediction for the AL East with a dreary 10-19.  I know I said we need to see how this team plays together before crowning them with any championship but are the Blue Jays really this bad? Are the Boston Red Sox really this good?

Weather has played havoc on games played in the Midwest especially with snow cancelling many games. So in the AL West, Kansas City leads the division with a 15-12 record with Detroit hot on their heels with a 16-11 record. The Twins have played the least amount of games in the majors and are at .500 with a 12-12 record while Cleveland who looked like they were going to get demolished all season are actually one game under .500 with a 12-13 record. The White Sox are the bottom dwellers with a 12-15 record. Is this the season that Kansas City finally plays to the expectations and potential people have been saying that they have with their talented players and prospects?

In the West, the once again under-performing Angels are ruining my picks. First in the division are the Yu Darvish lead Texas Rangers with a 17-11 record followed by the balanced Oakland A's with a 16-13 record. After that the division takes a dip with the Seattle Mariners at 13-17 and the Angels at 10-18 and the Astros at 8-21. Can the Angels rebound in time to catch up to the Rangers and Athletics before being buried in the AL West?

My picks for the National League are a bit better compared to today's standings. In the National League East, my picks are almost on point with the exception of the flip-flop of Atlanta and Washington being one and two in the division. The Braves after a torrid start have come back down to earth with a 17-11 record while the Nationals are right behind them with a 15-14 record. The rest of the division is Philles at 13-16, New York at 11-15 and the dreadful Miami Marlins at 8-21.

The Central has the tightest race in the National League. The St. Louis Cardinals are in first with a 17-11 record. The Pirates are hot on their heels with a 16-12 record, Milwaukee at 14-13, Cincinnati at 15-14 and the Chicago Cubs joining their American League neighbors the White Sox in last place at 11-17. The Reds were my pick to end up in first place so we'll see how Dusty Baker leads this team in the months to come.

In the West, the surprising Colorado Rockies are leading the division with a 17-11 record. The healthy duo of Carlos Gonzalez and Troy Tulowitzski are crushing the ball in the way the team imagined when they were both signed to long term deals. The Giants are right behind them at 16-12 and the in third Diamondbacks at 15-13. The Los Angeles Dodgers are sitting at a disappointing 13-14 and the Padres are where I thought they would be at 11-17. Injuries and slumping players have wreaked havoc on the Dodgers who came into the season with high expectations due to the arrival of new management and their high spending. Will the team gel and play to the degree that many expected them to play? Time will tell on that one.

So keep you eyes glued to the standings and I'll return to them at another point in the season to see where everyone stands.

Sisco Kid