Larry Mahnken and SG's

Replacement Level Yankees Weblog

"Hey, it's free!"

The Replacement Level Yankees Weblog has moved!  Our new home is:

Larry Mahnken
Sean McNally
Fabian McNally
John Brattain

This is an awesome FREE site, where you can win money and gift certificates with no skill involved! If you're bored, I HIGHLY recommend checking it out!


Disclaimer: If you think this is the official website of the New York Yankees, you're an idiot. Go away.

May 9, 2006

Here we go again
by SG

After one game last week, the Yankees and Red Sox are set to battle over first place in the AL East again, with a three game set beginning today. The Yankees have won five straight games, and Boston has won four straight. In the first game, the struggling Randy Johnson will face the struggling Josh Beckett. I've already discussed Randy Johnson's struggles here, but what about Beckett?

Here's Beckett's scouting report, courtesy of Wikipedia (which is a great source for free scouting reports on a lot of players).

A native of Spring, Texas, Beckett has grown to become one of the premier young pitchers in the major leagues. He is a hard-thrower, wielding a 97-mph fastball, a consistently 90 mph changeup, and a 12-to-6 curveball, which is particularly evil and ranges in the mid-to-high 70 mph range. His career thus far has been impressive, but injuries (most of the time blister problems) have limited him to only 99 starts (101 appearances) over the past four years. His most productive season came in 2005, when he posted career-highs in wins (15), starts (29), innings (178.2), strikeouts (166) and WHIP (1.18), as he tossed in a sharp 3.38 ERA for good measure. He also hadn't won more than 10 games until the past campaign.

After starting the season with three strong starts, Beckett's struggled a bit of late. The league is hitting .230/.321/.439. More indicative of his struggles are his HR, BB, and K rates.

HR+: 83
BB+: 91
K+: 81

Beckett's been below average in all three of the outcomes that he has the most direct control over. What's interesting is that his ERA of 4.86 is better than both his FIP(5.56) and his Component ERA(5.40). So he's pitched even worse than his numbers indicate. It should be noted that all six of the homers he has given up came in just two games, against offensive powerhouses Toronto and Cleveland.

There's no question about his talent, but so far the new league has been a struggle for Beckett. Hopefully the Yankees can take advantage before he fixes whatever's wrong.

Johnson started six games against Boston last season, defeating them five times. Boston's got a new look this year with the additions of Mark Loretta, Mike Lowell, J.T. Snow, and Wily Mo Pena, who homered off Johnson last spring. Batter/pitcher matchups are generally useless due to the small sample size, but none of the new imports have had much success against Johnson so far, so we'll see if he can rebound.

The fact that Boston and New York are basically tied in the standings is pretty annoying, because the Yankees have outperformed the Red Sox in almost every measure so far this season but wins and losses.

Team OPS+
Boston: 109
Yankees: 128

Team ERA+
Boston: 108
Yankees: 124

Team Defense by Zone Rating
Boston: 8.3 runs below average
Yankees: 3.2 runs above average

What's interesting about those defensive numbers is that Boston's problems are almost entirely in the OF (-11). Their infield defense is slightly above average (.3 runs). The Yankees on the other hand are -2.2 runs below average defensively in the infield, and 3.6 runs above average in the outfield. Boston's catchers have been 2.4 runs above average, and the Posada and Stinnett have been 1.8 runs above average.

Pythagorean Record
Boston: 17-14
Yankees: 20-9

Runs Scored per game
Boston: 5.2
Yankees: 6.3

Runs Allowed per game
Boston: 4.8
Yankees: 4.1

Boston's had a slightly tougher schedule thus far, as their opponents have a combined winning percentage of .493, compared to the Yankees, whose opponents have a .479 winning percentage, but this is mitigated somewhat by the fact that the Red Sox have played 16 games at home (11-5) and 15 on the road (8-7), compared to the Yankees, who have played 12 games at home (9-3), and and 17 games on the road(9-8).

On a completely different note, a lot of my fellow Yankee fans have espoused pitching inside or even hitting David Ortiz as a means to combat the Yankees' seeming inability to get him out. It's conventional baseball wisdom, but would it really help? I took a look at Ortiz's career splits versus all opponents.

Ortiz has been hit by a pitch by seven of his 21 opponents.

His collective batting line against those seven? .278/.368/.536

His line against the teams that haven't hit him? .286/.367/.532

I don't think you can intimidate as good a hitter as Ortiz is. That's not to say that you shouldn't try to pitch him inside at times to be less predictable, but if people think that the only reason that he has killed the Yankees is because they don't pitch him inside, they are a)wrong b)not giving Ortiz credit for being a damn good hitter. The Yankees would be better off seeing how Anaheim and Oakland pitch Ortiz, as they've held him to lines of .217/.318/450 over 214 PA and .259/.325/.432 over 206 PA respectively. Incidentally, neither team has ever hit Ortiz with a pitch.

Gary Sheffield went to see a doctor for a second opinion on his wrist, according to Newsday.

When Gary Sheffield went to get a second opinion on his bruised left wrist yesterday, he feared the worst-case scenario, a season-ending injury, according to a friend.

The diagnosis Sheffield heard, however, was not nearly that bad. Manhattan-based hand specialist Dr. Charles Melone instructed Sheffield to rest his wrist completely for "10 to 14 days" so it can heal, Sheffield's attorney, Rufus Williams, said last night.

"It's unfortunate, because he wants to play," Williams said. "But it could've been worse."

The Yankees, while refusing to comment on Sheffield's latest diagnosis, spent the day making plans to put him on the 15-day disabled list and likely call up Melky Cabrera.

Cabrera did start in RF last night for the first time this season. If they do bring Melky up, I hope it is to start him as the regular RF. We've seen what Bernie and Bubba can do, and it's not much.

Update:It's official. Sheffield to the DL, Cabrera to the Bronx (thanks to Kevin Elster?)

The Yankees put Gary Sheffield on the 15-day disabled list Tuesday because of a bruised left hand and called up outfielder Melky Cabrera from Triple-A Columbus.

I can't speak for anyone else, but I don't like these Red Sox series very much. The games themselves are usually very tense and exciting, but the hype and nonsense tends to drown that all out. Anyway, here's hoping the Yankees take two of three.