Mike Silva's New York Baseball Digest » Blog Archive » Crisis Averted

Crisis Averted

By Mike Silva ~ September 23rd, 2009. Filed under: Mike Silva.

Last night NYBD contributor Frank Russo joined me on the show as we sounded the panic alarm for the Yankees. Not me of course, but Frank was very concerned about the Yankees recent poor play and the Red Sox easy schedule. Enter Zack Greinke and a big win in Anaheim and all is well in Yankeesland.

A few things to think about, most of which we talked about on last night’s show.

Wouldn’t these two guys have been helpful?

Brett Tomko: 4-1, 2.95 ERA, 1.00 WHIP

Brad Penny: 3-1, 4.01 ERA, 1.01 WHIP

Of course Tomko was a Yankee and didn’t perform well out of the bullpen, or did he? When you look at his game log Tomko had one really bad outing against the Mets (Castillo dropped pop up game) and the rest was pretty solid. They might have pulled the plug on Tomko too soon.

Penny is a different story. He pitched terribly in Boston, but showed some flashes, even doing well against the Yankees earlier this year. The cynics will cite his turnaround due to pitching in the NL West, but I think his upside is far better than Chad Gaudin or Sergio Mitre. Frank gave us an interesting tidbit from his Yankee insider. He was told that Penny wanted to be a Yankee, but the team only was willing to guarantee him a caddy job for Joba. He would be asked to pitch relief for all of Joba’s 3 inning stints. Penny said no since he wanted a guaranteed rotation slot. Of course, this could have changed with the current state of the pitching staff.

Frank talked about the failure of Brian Cashman to not go out and obtain pitching depth. This won’t bite the Yankees right now, but even last night you needed to use a lot of bullpen after Gaudin couldn’t complete the fifth. The lack of rotation depth not only impacts a Game 4, but doesn’t allow the bullpen proper rest and utilization.

Finally, Frank told us a story where the Yankees could have obtained Randy Johnson a year earlier in 2004. Apparently Arizona was willing to part with him for Javier Vasquez and Cashman turned it down. How different would have 2004 ended with Randy Johnson in the rotation instead of Vasquez. Ironically that is exactly the deal that was struck over the 2004-2005 offseason. Hard to say how history would have changed, especially since RJ wasn’t exactly dominant during his two years in New York.

Best quote of last night’s game comes from Peter Abraham at his LoHud in Game Thread:

UPDATE, 11:06 p.m.: Chad “The Man” Gaudin has a shutout through three innings. I hear Nebraska is lovely in October. Maybe Joba can catch a few football games.

Kudos Pete, couldn’t have said it better myself.

To download the entire show, which included an appearance by Natalie Niekro, founder of the Joe Niekro foundation, click here

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Mike Silva has hosted sports shows on 107.1 FM Champions ESPN Radio Long Island ,1240 AM WGBB , Blog Talk Radio and live from Mickey Mantle’s Restaurant. He’s also built and maintained two popular social media hubs: New York Baseball Digest and Sports Media Watchdog. Mike has broken national and local stories, as well as been mentioned on the YES Network, SNY.tv, WFAN, Sports Illustrated, ESPN, NY Daily News, New York Magazine, Journal News and the NY Post. Contact Mike professionally at mikesilvamedia.com

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9 Responses to Crisis Averted

  1. James K.

    What about NYBD faves Paul Byrd and Jarrod Washburn? How are those guys faring right now? We don’t hear too much about them anymore here…

  2. James K.

    P.S. Tomko is having a terrible year. He’s been ridiculously lucky. His FIP is a putrid 5.39 (a far better indicator of a pitcher’s performance than ERA) and his BABIP is a way-lucky .228.

    Look at the process, not the results.

  3. Mike Silva

    With all due respect we are getting out of control with this BABIP stuff.

    Is CC Sabathia and his .276 BABIP lucky? Or perhaps he is locating his pitches well which makes it more likely that those batted balls turn into outs. Grant it, I understand your point, anything can happen when a player makes contact (bloop, bad hop, wind, etc.), but you can’t turn that to meaning all BABIP are “luck”. You get ahead of the count, make good pitches, and locate and your BABIP will be just fine.

    If it was just “luck” then you or I should be able to throw some slop up there and get ourselves a contract.

    Bottom line: Paul Byrd, Washburn, Garland, etc. would have been veteran arms that could help this team. I wouldnt give up A-Jax for Washburn (funny how that rumor which was mocked here is now being talked about in the mainstream), but I would have considered Nova or Kroenke. I am shocked at Washburn’s performance in Det (or is it unlucky BABIP).

    Tomko didn’t do a terrible job here and probably deserved more of a chance. Personally, denegrating most of these guys (and this isnt just you James, you have tons of company) is just a way to justify Joba’s pathetic performance.

    The fact that someone writes Frank and says he wouldnt trade Joba for any pitcher in the league tells me we have gone way over the kool aid quotient with this kid. Right now, until I see something more, he is another golden arm who has no idea how to utilize his talents. To mention his name with Verlander, Lincecum, or to a less extent, Mike Pelfrey, is hilarious. He is more Chad Gaudin than Verlander.

  4. James K.

    This has nothing to do with Joba. Not sure where that came from.

    The BABIP concept is something worth reading up on. It seems like you don’t have a good grasp on it – again, don’t criticize something before you fully understand it. This is the WAR/UZR thing, part 2. In general, a pitcher’s BABIP should sit somewhere in the .295 range, give or take .015 points. Certain pitchers have displayed an ability to control BABIP moreso than others (Johan Santana, John Lannan), but for the most part if a pitcher’s BABIP is .228 or .250 he is getting lucky, and if it’s .350 he’s getting way unlucky. Don’t believe me? Here are the career BABIP’s of some of the best of our time:

    Pedro: .291
    Clemens: .294
    Maddux: .289
    Sabathia: .295
    Halladay: .300
    Randy Johnson: .302
    Schilling: .304
    Mussina: .299
    Smoltz: .293

    So is Brett Tomko really “making good pitches and locating better” than these guys because his season BABIP is .228? No, of course not. He’s been lucky, plain and simple. If you read Fangraphs or USS Mariner or Lookout Landing (a couple great Mariners blogs) you would have read all about the freefall Washburn’s ERA was due for, after leaving the Mariners and their league best defense. Of course it happened, as predicted by these evil and clueless sabermetrics proponents.

    This is why we should look at defense independent pitching stats like FIP and tRA instead of fielding dependent stats like ERA.

  5. James K.

    Also I am not a big fan of Joba, a Joba apologist, or someone who thinks he is the next great pitcher. I am just a person who prefers sensible baseball discussion over nonsensical talk radio style gibberish. Any comment I made here re: Joba was to counteract the talk that a 23 year-old kid with good stuff and pretty decent track record is somehow already a “bust”.

  6. Mike Silva

    I am not taking BABIP and demeaning it. Obviously the .300 # is something that trends tend to fall towards. I don’t think we should diminish someone like Tomko just because he is pitching well. Is it the process or result? Also, some of those players pitched in the steroid era and in small ballparks. Is it fair to compare the BABIP trend? Do we look at it like OPS + (adjusted for park and era, etc.)

    Bottom line: BABIP or not, the Yanks needed as much inventory of arms as possible. Whether that be Garland, Byrd, Washburn etc. Not saying they should have given up a prospect, but to pitch only 3 deep for a month is crazy. Mitre has a .331 avg BABIP although only about .250 the last 30 days. Why is he still been pretty bad? I think the stat shouldn’t be used as a main indicator of success or failure, just one piece. There are tons more reasons why Tomko might be pitching well (park, competition, etc,), but it couldn’t hurt to keep him around.

    If not for a great weekend against Boston in August this lack of pitching could have cost them the division. And I guarantee you that Joba would be on the fans grittle (although that would be unfair, its the Yanks not him that ruined him)

    Also, not calling Joba a “bust”, just throwing cold water on the kid. Too much hype, too little results, and, as you can see from Pete Abe’s comment, too many empty quotes. The media is now mocking him which is ironic since they, including Pete, defended him earlier this year. I wonder what Mark Teixeira or A-Rod are thinking as they watch the develop of Joba take precedence over winning.

  7. Mike Silva

    Btw- here is the question I have on FIP (not in a nasty way either)

    Based on the formula it takes out everything but a pitchers HR, BB, and HBP. So naturally a pitcher that gives up homers (Bert Blyleven) will not fare as well as someone who doesn’t give up homers. I understand the “fielding aspect”, but how can you absolve the batter from just about every hit but a homer. Ballpark could impact this a great amount as well. There seems to be a huge emphasis on homers versus walks.

    It’s not a terrible stat, but again something I would use after looking at the traditional ERA (or ERA +). Also, is that league specific factor adjusted each year? Is it simply the average FIP? Lots of variables that make me feel uncomfortable.

    If I am missing something or wrong, forgive me, because I did look up the formula.

  8. James K.

    Recommended reading about defense independent pitching stats, AKA why ERA is stupid. It’s long but worthwhile. Keep an open mind.


    Process = K’s, BB’s, HR’s, GB%

    Results = ERA, WHIP – both heavily dependent on defense and luck (this is why we look at the process and not the result)

    Your citation of Mitre’s BABIP then question about why he has stunk shows me that you have not taken the time to understand the BABIP concept. His FIP this season is 5.32. This is awful. His BABIP does indeed show that he’s probably been unlucky, but that doesn’t mean he has actually been good. Barring a BABIP of like .050, he will likely give up a ton of runs based on that FIP.

    Lastly, Bery Blyleven’s career FIP is 3.19. This is outstanding. Yeah, he gave up homers (but only towards the end of his career really, and for his career his HR/9 is a pretty good 0.78) but he also racked up strikeouts and minimized walks.

  9. Jason

    “Grant it, I understand your point, anything can happen when a player makes contact”

    Grant it???

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