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A Wet Thursday

[UPDATE, 10:29 a.m.] -- Initial indications from the Yankees are that this game has a chance to begin at about 3 p.m. The team sees a "window of opportunity" sometime around then to maybe get this thing under way. But we'll see.

---

The Bronx is under water right now. It's pouring outside. The tarp is on the field. We've still got about three hours until the scheduled first pitch for this afternoon's series finale at Yankee Stadium, but a steady rain is forecasted for the entire day. (Might make for dreary conditions at Bethpage, too.)

Anyway, I'll post again soon with updates, but nobody seems to think this game is gonna happen today.

Some morning reading, while we wait.

The gamer.

Chien-Ming Wang wasn't spectacular last night, but at least he took a break from being historically awful.

Even the tabloids give Lannan some love.

A-Rod is slumping, going 3-for-30 in his last nine games. I guess that counts for a slump in a region where they don't get to watch Austin Kearns.

By Chico Harlan  |  June 18, 2009; 10:23 AM ET
 
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Next: Today's Lineups (*)

Comments

Stay dry, Chico. Get this thing in. We have a chance for a winning streak!

Posted by: jdschulz50 | June 18, 2009 10:32 AM | Report abuse

Not a nice way to welcome a newcomer! Both of my posts have been immediately after a new post! Repost below:
---------
Re: Lannan's success since McCatty -
A big part of this is due to Lannan taking the role of staff leader (hard to use the term "ace") since the rest of the rotation are rookies. His efficiency is critical because the others aren't pitching deep into games and the impact on the bullpen has been clear to all of us.

Lannan's shown me character in this role, and hopefully his recent attacking style (attributable to McCatty or not) will rub off on the youngsters. Pitching ahead in the count is critical at any level, but especially when you're a youngster and falling behind in the count often results in a fattie over the plate.

I'll also agree with Brue about the sweeping curve (still a good one, in itself) and the impact of the arm angle with his fastball. Same spot, makes that 88-90 mph look a bit faster (sneakier) and jumps on the hitter a bit, and is really spotting it well (right at the knees).

Posted by: mo_dc | June 18, 2009 10:34 AM | Report abuse

For comparison purposes and to keep yourself busy during the rain delay, Chico, how about digging up links to the Yankees equivalent of NJ for us. Given all the whining that goes on around here about how the Nats FO so totally screws the fanbase every time a game is rain delayed and/or called off, it would be nice to see how a supposedly major league ownership handles the same kind of situation and how the fanbase up in New York reacts. I would predict the same kind of thing we always see here on NJ, only ramped up to Times Square proportions. Prove me wrong.

Posted by: section417 | June 18, 2009 10:39 AM | Report abuse

Repost, only because there was a lot of digging that went into it. Mo - the "arm slot" thing looks to me to be a mirage.

The big breaking ball affected his fastball, imo, because it messed up his arm slot because he'd have to drop down to throw the breaker. He was only throwing about 86 mph (for strikes) before, and now he's throwing 90 for strikes, whereas before there's no way he could locate it before. He's basically staying in the sam arm slot with all his pitches, so they look the same coming out of his hand."

Brue, don't mean to pick on your lyin' eyes, but that's not what the stats say - if you go and check the PitchFX charts at fangraphs, Lannan doesn't change his release point much at all - his slider comes out hair more horizontal than his other stuff, but they are all very tightly grouped, release-wise.

Besides that, the charts also don't suggest an increase in velocity (for strikes or otherwise) - his FB is in general a teensy bit faster this year (87.8mph on average as compared to 87.6 last year), but the big difference looks like he's throwing a two-seamer this year (or that the pitch/FX is recognizing it as a two-seamer this year). With that, he's actually throwing a lot less four-seamers this year (51% as opposed to 63% last year) - even including the two seamers, he's still lower. The game charts look like he's thrown a few more FBs recently, and the results have been a bit better - he thre 60.3% strikes in the first 11 pre-McCatty starts this year, and has thrown 64% strikes in the last three.

For all that, though, you'd expect if there were some change in his arm slot to make his motion more deceptive, that you'd see that in people being fooled for strikes - and that hasn't really been the case. In the three games since McCatty's come in, he's thrown 292 pitches - he's had exactly 12 swings-and-misses. Around 60% of his strikes are foul balls. That's ok - as I said before, he's not a strikeout guy. People aren't really being fooled, they're just successfully beating his stuff into the ground, which is what he should want.

I just think this is a case where we want to credit McCatty for improving something that was already good. I do think, though that McCatty's emphasis on throwing strikes and taking your chances is showing some impact - 64% strikes vs. 60% strikes is an important little uptick - and that's also led to an increase in the number of ground balls he's gotten and not surprisingly to an increase in IP.

Posted by: Highway295Revisited | June 18, 2009 10:49 AM | Report abuse

Thanks for the readings and weather report, Chico.

Welcome to mo_dc. Don't worry, the new posted thing happens to all of us.

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | June 18, 2009 10:50 AM | Report abuse

417, try:

http://www.nydailynews.com/blogs/yankees/

I love in particular:

"Ya notice that Mark Feinsand didn't say a single thing about Alex Rodriguez? Absolutely NO INSIGHT into WHAT could be wrong with the slugger, at all!! Right now, A-Rod is like a living, breathing ball-and-chain on this Yankee team. They ain't moving FORWARD, for sure, they're just stuck in one place as the Red Sox continue to pile up a bigger lead. Mark, ARE you AT the game, at all, or do you just take it in, at home, like the rest of us on YES, with a snack table in front of you? Mark, do you have access to the clubhouse? Can you talk to Joe Girardi? Have you even introduced yourself to Joe? Does Alex grimace when he sees you approaching his locker? WHY all this secrecy about A-Rod's dead bat? Is it physical, or mental? Is Kate Hudson wearing him out? HHHhhhhhmmmmm???"

Posted by: joebleux | June 18, 2009 10:55 AM | Report abuse

Outsider-

I agree - I think there is an impact of a "trust yourself and throw it" message, but I do think there's a difference between "pitching to contact" and "rock and fire" - "rock and fire" is a fine approach when you've got really dominant stuff. JZimm can rock and fire, confident that his mid-90s stuff might bail him out. Lannan's got to "pitch to contact" - to try to control WHAT KIND of contact the hitter makes - basically, to try to get the hitters to beat grounders to infielders. The difference in my mind is the extent to which you need to stay down in the zone, work corners, etc.

Lannan has gotten a grand total of 70 swings-and-misses over his 800+ strikes this year. That's around 8%. That's not "rock-and-fire" stuff. That's "throw it low, let them hit it, and hope your butchery-of-a-defense doesn't screw it up" stuff.

Apologies if this is too much seamhead number crunching for the assemblage. I now return you to your normal programming of FIRE EVERYBODY!!!!!

Posted by: Highway295Revisited | June 18, 2009 10:57 AM | Report abuse

I didn't realize that today's game was a home game . . .

Posted by: lowcountry | June 18, 2009 10:59 AM | Report abuse

Thanks for the PSA, joebleux, I'm calling the capitalization police now. Even in New York, we can't let excessive capitalization take over our streets.

Posted by: Section506 | June 18, 2009 11:00 AM | Report abuse

506: it gets better. Later in the same blog entry, the heart-wrenching:

"LONGER TERM? Yanks haven't won a World Series since 2000!! Is THAT long enough!! I'm thinking about putting THIS on MY tombstone: 'I told the doctor ALL I wanted was to live LONG ENOUGH to see the Yankees win ANOTHER World Series!'"

Posted by: joebleux | June 18, 2009 11:03 AM | Report abuse

Excellent find, joebleux. I found this one as well but it's pretty short on psychodrama and therefore on schadenfreude potential. It does have a post by scnatsfan, though. Well done.

http://weblogs.newsday.com/sports/baseball/yankees/blog/2009/06/gameday_live_65_nationals_at_y.html

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | June 18, 2009 11:14 AM | Report abuse

aaaaaaaaahahahahahahahhahahahahahahhahahahahaha

It makes me so happy.

Posted by: Section506 | June 18, 2009 11:15 AM | Report abuse

Also from 1a's blog find:

"That was one poor loss by the Yankees just one hit or fly ball to push the tying run home and it can't get done. some of the players such as Melky and Swisher starting to show their true level of play. Melky diving in the OF when staying on his feet and limiting the damage of hit turned into a triple. Can'twait for a true CF and for that matter an outfield which is patrolled by real starting OF's Melky, Gardner and Swisher are part time at best, Damon is a DH at this time in his career."

Posted by: Section506 | June 18, 2009 11:27 AM | Report abuse

Great article in today's WSJ about the optimum timing for a managerial firing: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB124528377668925611.html. For those who do not have a subscription...

If You Must Fire Your Manager, Now Is the Time

"Firing the manager -- the last resort of downtrodden baseball teams -- generally doesn't work. Statistically, in-season replacements do almost as badly as the skippers they replace. But if you must make a change, as the surging Colorado Rockies are showing, there's a sweet spot for doing it: right now, between the team's 35th game and its 95th, sometime in mid-July.

"Based on an analysis of all of the changes since 1969, the first year of divisional play, managerial changes during this span have the greatest likelihood of sparking a dramatic turnaround. While the chances of such a swing are still remote -- before this season, just 14 of the 178 teams that switched skippers reached the postseason -- 11 did so during this stretch.

"In total, in-season replacements have a .470 winning percentage since 1969 versus .454 for the managers who were replaced. Teams that dump their manager a week or two into the season almost never turn it around, like the 1988 Orioles (54-107), while the die is usually cast for teams that change late. Last year, the Brewers made the playoffs after replacing Ned Yost with Dale Sveum in September, but Milwaukee was ousted in four games in the first round.

"There is a chance to hit the lottery by making a move in late spring or early summer. The surge of the Rockies, who had won 13 of their first 17 after Jim Tracy replaced Clint Hurdle, is reminiscent of the 1989 Toronto Blue Jays, who stormed to the AL East title with Cito Gaston after a 12-24 start under Jimy Williams."
—Darren Everson, page D8

The interesting stat is the 1989 Blue Jays, who had a winning percentage of .333 before making the change. When taking a look at those Blue Jays and that season (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1989_Toronto_Blue_Jays_season), it was a combination of Cito plus a few transactions, the season turned around.

I'm as cynical as the next guy, and by no means do I believe that the Nits have a prayer to win a title. But I'd be very curious as to what a managerial change and some roster moves can do for this club.

Posted by: joemktg2 | June 18, 2009 11:37 AM | Report abuse

"Based on an analysis of all of the changes since 1969, the first year of divisional play, managerial changes during this span have the greatest likelihood of sparking a dramatic turnaround."

Correlation does not equal causation.

Posted by: ihatewalks | June 18, 2009 11:48 AM | Report abuse

Joemktg2, the key phrase in your whole post is, "...and some roster moves..."

Posted by: ihatewalks | June 18, 2009 11:52 AM | Report abuse

I hope it rains the entire day and the game is canceled. I was supposed to be on a bus right now heading up to NY to catch the game, but woke up and watched, The Weather Channel. They say it is supposed to rain all day in the NY area, so that would be great. I would've love to be the only sane person with Nats gear on in the, Bronx....

Posted by: ENJOYA | June 18, 2009 11:56 AM | Report abuse

Those roster moves have to happen, e.g., NJ, and they will happen. Changing out just one variable (the manager) is not enough: more than a few variables need to change for the dynamic to have a chance to improve.

Posted by: joemktg2 | June 18, 2009 11:56 AM | Report abuse

Thanks 295 - I appreciate your pitching insights. I agree that it is his 2-seamer, riding on the knees with some movement, that is fueling much of this recent success. He is placing it well, and getting lots of groundballs and foul balls.

I don't think the "swing-and-miss" stat is very relevant, and would be curious how many of those would have been from the sweeping curve anyway. My hunch is most of them. But your previous point about his increased reliance on the fastball instead of the sweeping curve as his main pitch equals shorter at-bats, and assuming we can field ground balls, deeper starts.

From watching Glavine, Maddux, and others similar, you pitch much longer in the game with a 2-pitch groundball out (after starting with a first-pitch strike) than striking out guys (minimum 3 pitches, right -- plus all those foul balls and nibbles).

This team's rotation needs to go deeper, and that means shorter at-bats. But, could you blame these youngsters with the defense behind them?

Posted by: mo_dc | June 18, 2009 12:03 PM | Report abuse

Maybe they'd like to trade for Kearns or Willingham?

Just a thought.

Posted by: soundbloke | June 18, 2009 12:04 PM | Report abuse

506 and others, those posts are GOLDEN. Almost verbatim to our posts! LOL

Posted by: NatsNut | June 18, 2009 12:06 PM | Report abuse

NATS WIN. Give Manny an extension.

Posted by: dovelevine | June 18, 2009 12:10 PM | Report abuse

Maybe they'd like to trade for Kearns or Willingham?

Just a thought.

Posted by: soundbloke | June 18, 2009 12:04 PM
--------------------------------------------
From the roster of everyday players, other than Zim and possibly Flores, everyone is available (don't know if there are any no-trade clauses). But doubtful that there's any market value for Kearns. If anything, he's a throw-in to get rid of the contract.

Posted by: joemktg2 | June 18, 2009 12:10 PM | Report abuse

Enjoya - I'm right with you, I also had a ticket to the game today and was to be on the 6:45 bus this morning. At 5:45, weather.com had 100% chance of rain between the hours of 1 and 5, so I stayed put as well.

Posted by: MinorLeagueFanatic | June 18, 2009 12:14 PM | Report abuse

Speaking of weather, there are a couple of new posts up.

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | June 18, 2009 1:15 PM | Report abuse

Lannan works faster than any other pitcher I've ever seen ... almost looks like he starts his windup as soon as he gets the ball back from his catcher.

Interesting that Posada tried to disrupt Lannan's rhythm last night by stepping out - and great to see that it didn't work!

Posted by: diogenes_quixote | June 18, 2009 1:22 PM | Report abuse

separate topic, but why does the "Schedule" link still go to the spring training schedule? This, too, must be Manny's fault.

Posted by: Sec3mysofa | June 20, 2009 2:19 PM | Report abuse

The comments to this entry are closed.

 
 
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