It’s Just Probability

There has been a lot of press about the fact that last night was the first ever time in baseball history that all 15 home teams won. It was written about a bunch this morning and even made the national news casts. It’s a neat thing, but the fact that it has never happened before isn’t a surprise.

Start with the fact that baseball has had 30 teams since the 1998 season, meaning this is the 18th season that you could have 15 home teams win on the same night. Now estimate the expected winning percentage for a team at home. Let’s say 60% is probably the highest average you could justify. You would therefore expect all 15 home teams to win 60% raised to the 15th power. That’s would put the odds at roughly 1 in 2,500. If you assume that all 30 teams played on the same night 162 times a season, you would have had 2,916 times that all 15 home teams could have won on the same night since the expansion in 1998.

But it is worth remembering that if you have odds of 1-in-2500, trying something 2500 times doesn’t guarantee you will experience it. Vegas makes a lot of money off of people watching roulette wheels and expecting that eight-consecutive reds will result in the ninth spin being black, but it doesn’t work that way. Each spin has the same odds as the last. (And Vegas diabolically has two green numbers so your odds of black and red are not even 50-50 but about 47.5%-47.5% with a 5% chance that green comes up and ruins you.)

All of this is another way of saying I am bored and too depressed to talk about the Yankees right now. Hopefully, that changes tonight.

Swept Away

Last Sunday the Yankees had a six-game cushion in the AL East. Today that cushion is down to 1-1/2 games. Toronto came in and swept the Yankees, winning their sixth, seventh and eighth-straight games in the process.

Perhaps the most interesting thing about this series was what wasn’t the cause of the Yankee losses- starting pitching. Well, maybe you can say Nova didn’t pitch well on Saturday, but it was the complete disappearance of the offense that killed them this weekend.  Since the Yankees scored 13 runs on Tuesday, they have scored a grand total of 4 in 5 games. That is terrible.

The good news for the Yankees is they get a day off to recoup and they get a chance for revenge next weekend in Toronto. The bad news is that things have gotten a lot tighter in the division.

Severino Arrives

Last night was a fun night to be in the ballpark. There was a huge crowd- it looked like almost every seat was full- and they were into things. Let me get to that in one second with a rant first.

Start of rant. The Yankees, just like every other MLB team, have decided to use metal detectors at the ballparks this year. I won’t get into the reasoning behind that, but if they are going that route, they need to speed people through them. Last night was an epic fail. I arrived just before the gates opened and had to stand in a line that stretched the length of 161st-street from River Ave to Jerome Ave. What made this especially infuriating is that the Yankees had people and metal detectors completely unused. I would say there were more than 50% of the detectors sitting there, with people in front of them, closed to anyone who wanted to use them. I suspect this was a trial for this innovation which is starting Friday. and while supposedly free to enter Yankee Stadium, costs $179 per year everywhere else. So, MLB and the Yankees are now going to make money off of ballpark security. Ugh, and end of rant.

As for the game, Severino looked really good, but I was reminded of that line from Bull Durham- “Don’t try to strike everybody out. Strikeouts are boring! Besides that, they’re fascist. Throw some ground balls – it’s more democratic.” The seven K’s were good, but not having enough pitches to get into the sixth inning was bad. It’s part of the process of learning to pitch, and when Severino does that, look out!

Kudos to Steven Wright who kept the Yankees off-balance all night. You could tell how effective his knuckler was by the fact that he kept throwing it, at about 77-mph, and nobody could touch it. Wright is now 2-1 versus the Yankees in his career with a 1.50 ERA. Not bad for a pitcher with a career line of 7-5 3.97.

So a fun night at the ballpark, and a good game, that’s win-win no matter what the scoreboard says.

Glass Houses and Stones

I was going to devote this morning to my excitement about heading to the Bronx tonight. I will be there at Luis Severino’s debut, and I can’t wait. But, some other news got in the way, and I feel compelled to say something about it. I will write about Severino tomorrow, but for now, bring on the PED’s!

David Ortiz said something last night that nobody can disagree with. When asked about Alex Rodriguez and his PED use, Ortiz said, “It is what it is. The guy is playing the game the right way now — as far as we know.”

At this point, you would have to be either an idiot, or completely naive to assume that A-Rod is doing what he is doing clean. He does not deserve the benefit of the doubt.But, that doesn’t make what Ortiz said very smart, in fact it is pretty dumb for him to go anywhere near that question because he is not an innocent bystander to the PED era.

It’s hard to remember now, but it was the news in Fenruary 2009 that A-Rod, along with 103 other players, failed the 2003 PED test that started all of the “fun” with Alex. When the news came out, Alex held a big press conference and admitted he did it, but claimed that it was for only the three years in Texas because of the pressure of living up to the contract. In July of that year, the news came out that one of the other 103 players was Ortiz. Ortiz issued a statement saying that he was surprised at finding out he tested positive and he would find out what he tested positive for and let the fans know. To my knowledge, that has never happened.

What you think from here probably depends on who you root for. Ortiz is beloved in Boston, and A-Rod has seen a redemption of sorts from the fans in New York. You just need to look at the reaction to Tom Brady inside of New England and outside of it to see how fans “root for the laundry”. Personally, I think A-Rod is a despicable person and a liar, but that doesn’t make Ortiz innocent. Ortiz’s claims that he has never failed a PED test since 2003 don’t sway me to his side either. Other than that 2003 test, I can’t think of a test that A-Rod failed. He was, from a testing standpoint, squeaky clean and his latest crimes only came to light because of Tony Bosch and a FBI investigation. Furthermore, the evidence uncovered during that investigation told us about things like steroid lozenges that you could use up to a certain point on game days and still pass a drug test after the game. Clearly. the cheaters have the advantage over the testing.

I hope A-Rod, Ortiz, and all the rest of the players aren’t cheating now, but I have no idea.  And if MLB ever wanted to really say they have cleaned up the game, the way to do it would be to store all samples taken for future testing- 5 or 10 years down the line. That way the science could potentially catch up with the cheating, and the players who were inclined to cheat might be dissuaded because there was the potential of their legacies being tarnished in the future.

That Was Quick

So I was thinking about the Ackley move over the weekend and I finally think I understood it. The Yankees were basically saying that while they know Ackley isn’t a great hitter, he is at least the hitter Garret Jones was. That, plus the ability to play defensively at multiple positions, made him an upgrade to the roster. It made sense, after all the Yankees had shown that they wouldn’t pinch-hit for Chris Young late in games when he faced a righty pitcher because they didn’t want to put Jones or Beltran in right. (And this was despite Young putting up a .558 OPS against RHP.)

Now Ackley is headed to the DL and the Yankees are back to where they were before minus their backup for Mark Teixeira. I would suspect this means we will see Heathcott get the callup tomorrow since Young is clearly playing tonight against the LHP (1.122 OPS against them). And I also suspect that if they needed to replace Teixeira due to a DL situation, we would see Greg Bird make his debut. But I am getting ahead of myself. Game 1 with the Red Sox is tonight, back tomorrow with some thoughts on the big debut.

2015 Trade Deadline Blog

Check back here throughout the day for updates on your favorite Yankees and Red Sox player trades.

4:08pm- Looks like that may be it. I will recap any additional moves later.

4:02pm- Cubs get Tommy Hunter according to Ken Rosenthal.

4:01pm- Jack Curry reports the Yankees did nothing.

4:00pm- We have reached the deadline, but trade reports can still come in.

3:58pm- Bob Nightengale is reporting that both the Red Sox and Yankees are standing pat.

3:56pm- Sherman tweets that unless something changes in next five minutes, the Yankees are not making a move.

3:55pm- Five minutes…..

3:52pm- Ken Rosenthal confirms the Cespedes move.

3:51pm- Jason Stark reporting Mets have traded for Cespedes.

3:49pm- Astros are apparently out on Kimbrel.

3:48pm- Looking back at last year’s trade deadline blog, the last trade report came at 4:11pm.

3:45pm- Bruce and Chapman are with the Reds, though Bruce is reportedly getting a day off.

3:44pm- Blue Jays tweet they have traded Felix Doubront to the A’s for cash.

3:40pm- 20 minutes to go….

3:38pm- Sherman reminds everyone that Cespedes cannot be offered arbitration, so if the Tigers want something for him in case he signs elsewhere they need to trade him today.

3:31pm- Rosenthal, Heyman, and Sherman are all reporting the Yankees offered Mateo to the Padres in a Kimbrel trade, but haven’t heard back.

2:52pm- John Farrell has apparently told WEEI in Boston he doesn’t anticipate any big moves from Boston.

2:47pm- In an addition by subtraction move, the Yankees have announced that they received cash from a Korean League team for Emil Rogers.

2:36pm- Blue Jays are adding Ben Revere according to multiple reports. This is on top of a trade for Mark Lowe earlier today.

2:20pm- Jon Heyman reports the Mets are making a push for Cespedes.

2:17pm- In addition, Chris Capuano has cleared waivers and been outrighted to AAA.

2:15pm- The Yankees announce they have DFA’ed Garett Jones in order to put Ackley on the roster.

1:55pm- Good point by Rosenthal on MLB Network- teams need to review medical records before 4pm today, they can’t review them afterwards, so teams are probably reviewing multiple medicals right now.

1:54pm- Jon Heyman on MLB Network reports that Yankees are not in on Chapman.

1:52pm- Joel Sherman reporting the Padres are working on something big for Kimbrel, but not with the Yankees. Padres won’t trade him to Yankees without Mateo in the deal. <Peter says- Mateo would be a deal-breaker for me in that discussion. No reason to take on all of that money and give up a big contract.>

12:08pm- Arizona is apparently out on Aroldis Chapman

12:05pm- Jerry Crasnick tweets that Broxton is headed to St. Louis.

11:38 am – The Yankees are in on several bullpen arms including Craig Kimbrel and Aroldis Chapman per USA Today’s Bob Nightengale and Jon Heyman of CBS Sports.

11:31 am – ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick and Fox Sports’ Ken Rosenthal are reporting the Red Sox and Padres are having discussions about Tyson Ross and perhaps Craig Kimbrel.

11:31 am – ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick is reporting the Red Sox are kicking the tires on Cleveland’s Carlos “Don’t Call me Hector” Carrasco.


Look Over There!

Here is my Yankee trade deadline day prediction, bet on a surprise. Brian Cashman has shown us time and again that we should ignore the rumors and just sit back and wait for events to unfold. Year after year, the names associated with the Yankees end up elsewhere and someone you did not expect at all ends up on the team.

So take a deep breath when you hear Craig Kimbrel is headed to the Bronx and wait. History says that isn’t happening.

I will start a live blog this afternoon around 2pm with rumors, trades and other tidbits. I hope to “see” you there.

Toronto Gets Price, We Get Ackley!-UPDATED

Ok, I tried to pump you up for this move, but I see I failed. The truth is, I don’t get it either. Let’s examine the good aspects of this deal.

1- Ackley is only 27

2- He is a lefty hitter

3- The price is right, Flores and Ramirez, a lefty-hitting outfielder, and a righty reliever, are commodities the Yankees have a lot of.

But here’s the problem, he isn’t very good.

Now, he was a decent second baseman with the glove until Robinson Cano replaced him there, but he is a career .243/.306/.366 hitter. And while he did play half his games in Safeco, his career road OPS is only .023 higher than his home OPS. (It is worth noting that he has a career .296/.387/.481 line at Yankee Stadium, but that is in a total of 63 PA’s. )  And if he can’t play second anymore, which some scouts suggest, what exactly is his role on this team?

To me there are three possible answers to why this trade was made.

1- The price was low enough (totally agree) that the Yankees decided to gamble on those Yankee Stadium numbers and see what happens. If it works, he is a controllable asset for the next two-plus years. If not, they can non-tender him.

2- This deal is a placeholder for something else. Perhaps Refsnyder is on the move.

3- As bad as Ackley has been, the Yankees feel he is an upgrade over Garrett Jones or Steven Drew. That’s a pretty low bar to set, but you would have to ask why the Yankees would waste any assets trying to improve on Drew when Refsnyder is in the minors and they have guys like Heathcott and Williams who could easily replace Jones.

I don’t know, but I would suspect something else to happen in the next 23 hours before the trading deadline.

UPDATE 8PM- Ackley is joining the team in Chicago tomorrow, so with the trade deadline, the roster situation should be a lot clearer.

Another Roster Move

After last night’s amazing game, the Yankees have DFA’ed Chris Capuano. Before we get to that, let’s talk about that game for a minute. Specifically, how crazy are the save rules that Adam Warren could enter a 19-5 game and earn a save because he pitched three innings? Hey he was great, Moreno was even better. In fact, the two of them pitched 8-1/3 innings of almost-perfect baseball. (One walk was the only blemish) The first ten Texas hitters went 3-for-5 with 5 walks. The final 26 went 0-25 with 1 walk. That’s an amazing reversal.

And now Capuano is gone. He was a signing I was not a fan of in December, and he really didn’t have a role on this club. He wasn’t good enough to be a spot-starter and Joe Girardi had really stopped using him entirely. Over the last month, he had a grand total of 4-1/3 innings pitched.

So good to see the Yankees cut their losses and good to see them add another young(er) arm to the bullpen, at least temporarily. Caleb Cotham was their fifth-round pick back in 2009, a draft that will now have produced six major-league players. (Better late than never as they say.) He has battled injuries and was moved to the bullpen finally this season. From there, he has taken off, dominating AA and AAA, and now he is here.

How long he stays is nothing more than a guess. The Yankees seem to have a plan to make the back-end of the bullpen a fluid thing. So, if they use a bunch of bullpen arms tonight, expect him to get shipped out and someone to take his place. The Yankees have a bunch of decent arms in Scranton, might as well give them a shot.

History Repeating

The confluence of another bad CC Sabathia start on Saturday with David Cone doing the postgame from the studio reminded me that we are seeing a familiar script unfold. It was fifteen years ago that Yankees’ fans saw Cone simply lose his effectiveness and their manager dig in his heels and insist on pitching him over and over again. Does that sound familiar?

In fairness, 2000 may have been worse than now. Cone was worse in 2000 than Sabathia has been in 2015, and his contract was up at the end of the season. (Not that contract status is a reason for loyalty, but Torre knew he wasn’t going to have Cone on the team in 2001. Girardi doesn’t have that luxury.) Cone put up a 6.91 ERA, yet made 29 starts! The Yankees signed Dwight Gooden in the middle of the season and traded for Danny Neagle, yet Cone kept pitching!  (Ah to have had a blog in 2000)

It wasn’t until the playoffs that Joe Torre finally saw the light. Cone worked exclusively out of the bullpen, and really worked is the wrong word. He didn’t appear in the Division Series and his sole appearance in the ALCS was one inning of mop-up duty. He got one batter in the World Series, but that was memorable. With the Yankees leading the series 2-1 and the game 3-2, Cone came in for the final out of the fifth and retired Mike Piazza. It was a deft bit of management by Torre, trusting a guy who had done so much for him in the past in a big spot.

In the next few days we will know how well this parallel between Cone and Sabathia will hold up. If the Yankees acquire a starter, who goes to the bullpen? We know what the answer should be, but with history and loyalty against us, we might be in for a nasty surprise.