Every once in a while we here at the Pinstriper like to talk amongst ourselves about the myths of baseball. So we decided why not share what we have discussed with our lovely readers?
Baseball Myths: Keep Your Eyes on the Ball
Aynone who played baseball, or any other sport involving a ball, as a child always heard the same advice over and over and over. Keep your eye on the ball. Keep your eye on the ball. You were supposed to keep your eye on the ball while you were hitting, fielding, and running. Heck, you had to watch that ball while you were on the bench. It was beaten into your brain like multiplication tables. But is it even possible? At the major league level, scientists say no.
A study by Ken Fold who is a visual psychophysicist who works at the University of New Hampshire concluded that it was physically impossible for hitters to keep their eyes on the ball. When the ball is traveling at major league speeds between 90 and 100 mph players can only see the ball 5 to 6 feet in front of the plate at best. So the next time you see Johnny Damon’s head fly around in the box and his eyes start drifting towards the right field fence, don’t get so upset, he can’t do much better.
On a side note, how great would it be to have Fold’s job title at Holiday parties or around the family table? So Bobby, what do you do now? Oh I am a publicist for a small chain of grocery stores. Thats nice, what about you Ken? Visual psychophysicist. No contest.
We will be back soon with more baseball myths. Thanks for reading!
I love that the Yankees have picked up the lefty centerfielder Curtis Granderson. He seems to be a class act, a good fielder, and a good hitter (though he is terrible against lefty pitching) with speed whose power will be augmented by Yankee Stadium.
Of all the players the Yankees were rumored to be looking at outside of their own club this off season, I thought Granderson would be the best buy. The Yankees gave away a good prospect in Austin Jackson, sending him and lefty Phil Coke to the Tigers. They also shipped off Ian Kennedy to the Diamondbacks to secure the 28 year old Granderson who is a combination of speed, power, and youth that will do some damage in pinstripes. While this was more than I had anticipated the Yankees were going to need to give away, it is not unreasonable and I am fairly confident that Granderson will make it a worthwhile deal.
My prediction is that he hits around .270 with 30 homeruns and 70 RBI’s with 25 steals. I know it is a lofty prediction but it is certainly attainable and expectations are always high in the Yankee Universe.
Check the post below for more analysis of the Granderson trade.
UPDATE: 5:40 PM: Brandon, here! Had my friend edit some pictures and get the traded players in their new teams caps. Little obvious that it was edited, but still, I find them interesting.
The Yankees are cutting payroll?! What an unbelievable thought. Except, in reality, if the Yankees are going to go out and get a free agent starter then the amount they cut from the payroll will not really be significant at all. Just thought I would mention that.
Jon Heyman of Sports Illustrated twittered that the Red Sox have the best chance to land Halladay. He also notes that the Blue Jays would want a combination Phil Hughes, Joba Chamberlain, Austin Jackson, and Jesus Montero from the Yankees. Combine that with the 20 million a year that Halladay will command for 4-5 years and unless the Blue Jays are willing to make a different deal it appears that the Yankees will not go that far to get the Doc.
After all who can blame them? You are talking about two of their best young pitchers who have both proven to be shutdown relievers and have, though Hughes more than Joba, potential to be great starters in the majors. Then you have two of the Yankees best prospects who are considered by many scouts to have MLB-ready bats. I ask, is giving up three of these players too much, even for a pitcher as dominant as Halladay?
There are a couple ways I wanted to go with this particular look back. I wanted to go back to when the Yankees signed Alex Rodriguez initially but then there would be too many possibilities. But, I found that it was a lot more feasible to discuss what might have occurred if the Yankees had chosen not to resign him in 2007.
After all it was perfectly reasonable that the Yankees would not resign A-Rod. Scott Boras operated in such a way that it was certainly possible the Yankees had had enough of dealing with Alex Rodriguez’s massive contract. They had offered him $230 million dollars and had previously said that they would not play around with A-Rod if he opted out.
So the Yankees do not sign Rodriguez which leaves 3rd base open. Here are a few possibilities:
RED SOX SIGN ALEX RODRIGUEZ
Despite the idea that Boston would never want to sign A-Rod because they dislike Boras or did not believe that A-Rod was a “Boston” guy, in reality it would make complete sense for them to sign him. With Mike Lowell’s contract up, they could sign Rodriguez to a huge contract and generate even more publicity for their campaign to defend their World Series title.
YANKEES SIGN MIKE LOWELL
In need of a 3rd basemen, the Yankees sign Mike Lowell away from Boston. This has the added benefit of slighting the Red Sox while gaining Lowell, who at the time, was regarded as a very potent third basemen. There was serious interest in Lowell on the part of the Yankees so do not mistake this as just a rumor. They might have even signed him even if they brought A-Rod back.
YANKEES SIGN MARK TEXEIRA
Pretty easy to see that this signing would still have occurred.
YANKEES MOVE ROBINSON CANO to third base and sign (gulp) LUIS CASTILLO
Of all the other free agent second basemen available, Castillo makes the most sense for the Yankees. His career average was around .300 and he was a fairly good defensive second basemen who might have have been able to replace Cano’s production at 2nd base.
Recap of the Yankees Starting lineup:
WITH LOWELL AND TEIXEIRA
1. Jeter SS
2. Damon LF
3. Teixeira 1B
4. Matsui DH
5. Posada C
6. Cano 2B
7. Lowell 3B
8. Swisher RF
9. Cabrera CF
WITH CASTILLO AND TEIXEIRA AND CANO AT 3RD
1. Jeter SS
2. Damon LF
3. Teixeira 1B
4. Matsui DH
5. Posada C
6. Cano 3B
7. Swisher RF
8. Castillo 2B
9. Cabrera CF
I have to say, even if one were to take into account the extra money that could be freed up to buy a pitcher, it would have been a very bad move to put Cano at 3rd and sign Castillo, or really any other 2nd basemen because the 2007 class was not stellar at that position. With Lowell and Teixeira in the lineup it looks infinitely better but, upon comparison to the lineup the Yankees have today with Rodriguez both of these lineups simply do not compare.
The Yankees would have to part with quite a bit if, as Peter Gammons reports (MLB Trade Rumors), the Red Sox would have to part with both Casey Kelley and Clay Buchholz. I can only imagine that the Yankees would have to give up Austin Jackson, Ian Kennedy, and maybe one other prospect to get Doc and then an additional $20 million a year to keep him. That is a really hefty price to pay and while I do love the idea of having Doc in our rotation losing three top prospects is not easy to stomach. Add onto that the fact that the Yankees made three blockbuster deals last year and it seems a little unreasonable that they would need to sign Doc. The rotation is far from set but resigning Pettitte while tinkering with Hughes and Chamberlain as well as with a healthier Chien-Ming Wang sounds like a perfectly reasonable option. After all, the Yankees won the world series doing just that.
Would I love to have Doc? Absolutely. But is he worth giving up three top prospects and 20 million a year? If that is the case, Doc might not be the Yankees huckleberry, even if he wants to be.
Trading Nick Swisher would be a poor choice by the Yankees brass. Recent rumors about making Swisher available have been dismissed by the management but Swisher’s place on the Yankees is clearly not set in stone. He is not the greatest player but his positive externalities have a lot of impact. Clearly Economics 120 has taught me a lot. Swisher definitely had a positive impact on the Yankees this year and no one is denying that. Those who defend Swisher primarily point to his help off the field first and his abilities second. People who think Swisher is overrated are saying that his abilities, average by all accounts in the field, good at the plate, and his mythical clubhouse appeal, are not necessarily worth keeping if he is a part of a trade that might bring Curtis Granderson or Roy Halladay to the Yankees. In the end it comes down to determining just how important Swisher is to the Yankees. The only problem is that externalities are exceedingly difficult to measure. So while his talent alone might not justify keeping him, it depends on whether his positive impact on the team justifies keeping him. Since we will never know just how much he helps, it is not easy for management to make that determination.
For me, however, the choice is very clear. KEEP HIM. Does any Yankees fan remember the team ever being this upbeat or together? Make fun of the pool tournament and pies all you wish, those things are great to see. Could you ever imagine the 2007 team hitting each other with pies? I feel like they would have started fighting each other. Swisher played an integral role in changing the culture of the Yankees from a group of players to a team and that, in my mind, is the difference between missing the playoffs and winning the World Series (getting three of the best free agents doesn’t hurt either). The point is, Swisher might not be the best player in the world, but he is important to the Yankees in other ways than just on the field.
There are two schools of thought when it comes to club house morale, it’s important or it isn’t. Pundits absolutely crushed the 2004-2008 Yankee teams for being too business-like or a collection of 25 players rather than a team. But, as soon as the Yankees become a fun team rather than a bunch of stiffs with the additions of CC Sabathia, Mark Teixeira, AJ Burnett, and most importantly Swisher, club house morale is suddenly overrated. I don’t quite see how this works.
I feel that the answer is that a happy club house helps but in the end talent is what determines a team’s success. In that case it would be a mistake to trade Swisher for anyone other than Halladay. He is the only person that the Yankees appear to be targeting that has the talent to justify the removal of Swisher’s swagger if talent is what wins out in the end. Is talent the key to winning and happiness overrated? Or is talent important for success and good team morale important as well? What do you think? Let me know in the comments section.
It has not been more than a few weeks since the Yankees won the 2009 World Series but already the team well known for its off season acquisitions is making a splash in the free agent market. Rumors of pursuing John Lackey, Curtis Granderson, and Roy Halladay have permeated the rumor basins. These kinds of things are nothing new to any Yankee fan who has watched the team make major moves almost every off season this decade. The big announcement that I believe has the most impact on the team, however, is not the pursuit of big name players but Brian Cashman’s statement that Phil Hughes and Joba Chamberlain will be starters next season (NY Daily News). My question is, why?
Hughes for the most part of the season was nothing short of spectacular in the bullpen. He became the 8th inning guy that Chamberlain was before the experiment with Joba as a starter. Hughes had a stellar 2009 campaign in the bullpen, posting an ERA of 3.03, a WHIP of 1.12, and striking out 96 while walking only 28 in 86 innings pitched. If the Yankees resign Andy Pettitte and Chien-Ming Wang returns to be at least somewhat effective then Hughes’s presence in the starting rotation would not be absolutely necessary. But, if you absolutely had to put one of them back in the rotation it would be Hughes.
Joba simply isn’t cut out to be a starter with such stringent pitching limits. When he came up in the bullpen with the Yankees he was electric, energizing, and dominant. I watched his first save as a Yankee in a meaningless game against the Blue Jays late in the season a few years ago and the crowd went wild as Joba struck out the last batter on a fastball that clocked at 100 mph. His stretch as a starter ultimately ended with him traveling back to the bullpen so the Yankees management can say what they want but he was ineffective as a starter. Their unwillingness to pitch him during the playoffs speaks to that. Mariano cannot pitch forever and Joba is a better fit for being a closer than a starter with a pitch count.
If the Yankees go and get Halladay or even John Lackey putting Joba back out in the starting rotation would not be worth it if they were still going to protect him with a pitch limit. The only way it would make sense is if they simply let him pitch until his arm got tired the way Nolan Ryan has his pitchers work for the Texas Rangers. Otherwise he needs to be left in the bullpen where he is incredibly effective.