Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Yankees Series Preview

Tuesday: Shairon Martis at CC Sabathia

Wednesday: John Lannan at C-M Wang

Thursday: Craig Stammen at Joba Chamberlain

Manny Acta will manage this series. I doubt that will have any impact on the outcomes of these games, though. The Nationals have been swamped in bad press, losing, and personnel changes all season, so this should not surprise anyone on the roster, though it may be a little discouraging to some of the barely legal starting pitchers.

The Yankees outspend everyone to amass the most prolific arsenal of sporting talent outside of Madrid. This is no secret. The Nationals made a fair offer for Mark Teixeira’s services, but were a near non-factor in the bidding. Experts knew that the Nats had little to no chance landing him. Honestly, for that amount of money, it wasn’t worth it. Teixeira’s numbers are highly inflated from playing in Texas and he would have struggled in a non-hitters’ park. It should also be noted that with the exception of 2006, his home/away splits look like something out of Denver. Most telling is that two organizations felt that prospects in return were enough to part with his services. Baseball Reference is not exactly flattering with its player comps, with only Jeff Bagwell knocking on Cooperstown’s door. And until his contract year, he only once did he crack the top 8 first basemen in Win Probability Added, and that was way back in 2004. His agent did a very good job of selling him, and the Yankees have been rewarded with 37 extra base hits by June 15th. This would be impressive if the Yankees didn’t have eight players on pace for thirty bombs each. In summary, the Yankees wildly overspent to get Teixeira, and given their new stadium, almost any first baseman can become a .300/.550/.950 guy.

By loading up on sluggers, the Yankees, similar to the Nationals, have been awful defensively. Their numbers appear improved this year, but that may be an effect of all the balls leaving the stadium. Brett Gardner has vastly improved the outfield defense, but their infield is dreadful. A-Rod looks like he may be headed to first base sooner than anticipated, and Robinson Cano appears to be asleep while the ball is being pitched. If the Nats can put the ball in play consistently, the holes are there.

On the flip side, Martis, Lannan, and Stammen must keep the ball down. Even pop flies and broken bat bloopers turn into home runs here. I really do not trust Stammen in this kind of environment, but he has the advantage of the day game, so if he goes after hitters early, hopefully he can trick them into chasing balls out of the zone. The most damning stat of all is the Yankees 0.68 BB/K ratio, second to the Mets. The Phillies and Braves are also amongst the league leaders in this stat, and the Nats have fared poorly against all those teams. The Yankees will not give away outs.

Dead Man Walking will have his hands full taking one out of three in the Bronx. The weak link is Cashman, who is insistent upon giving away every fifth game by trotting Wang out there. Offensively, the key is to just put the ball in play. Hits can’t happen without that, and home runs will happen naturally here.

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