Sunday, September 19, 2021

Release the Kraken? Or just trade him? Either way, it's the end of an era

Over the last four years, a recurring theme of NY fans has been the tortuous wait for Gary Sanchez to become the next great Yankee catcher.

When he seemed to be jogging out grounders, we were told he was actually hurt and playing through pain. So we waited.

When he seemed to hit .140 - (well, actually, he hit .147) -  we were he told it was a small sample size in a Covid-shortened season, and he would bounce back. So we waited.

When he seemed to be plagued by passed balls, we were told he was working tirelessly to improve, that his HRs were worth the defensive lapses, and that the balls were actually wild pitches, so there! So we waited.

This last week as been unkind to Gary Sanchez, in a Johnny Depp-off-his-meds sort of way. There was that inexplicable high tag at home against the Mets, which we were told was much tougher than it looked. There was the loss to Baltimore on those two - well, they were scored as wild pitches, dammit! Yesterday brought the flubbed foul pop. which - well, I hear it was a difficult play, dealing with the sun, much tougher than it looked... 

Ladies and gentlemen, for better or worse, I do believe that our long international nightmare is nearly over.

Thirteen games, a few featuring Kyle Higashioka, and it's done. No hard feelings. It's been a long hard slog. Things weren't always his fault. I wish him well.

The Gary Sanchez Era is coming to an end. 


ranger_lp said...

For all you Strat-O-Matic fans, ICS's defensive rating is a 9...

Rufus T. Firefly said...

Our long national nightmare is almost over.

Anonymous said...

"The Gary Sanchez era is coming to an end." We can hope, but don't be so sure.

The fact that Boone has started criticizing Gary of late may mean the manager himself is on the way out. Sanchez is a sacred cow in the Yankee organization and seems to be protected by those at the top. Have you seen the latest commercial advertising for 2022 tickets? It's a saccharine bit showing a father and son playing catch in the back yard and then attending a game at the "Stadium." During the backyard scene, the dad is wearing a Sanchez jersey and the son one of Judge. Later the father is wearing a different Sanchez uniform! How would these customers (suckers) feel if anything happened to their hero?

The roots of this favoritism run deep. When both Judge and Sanchez were still prospects there was an incident when Reggie Jackson made the statement that Aaron was the best hitter in the organization. An offended rabbit-eared Cashman shot back that "Gary Sanchez is the teams top hitting prospect." Debate could not be allowed then, and if we follow the endless trail of excuses it's clear the powers-that-be are still in denial.

Until proven otherwise, assume an even "harder working" and higher paid Sanchez will be back next season.


Platoni said...

Gary always looks like he's in need of a hug. He's got the misty puppy eyes, seems soft and squishy and probably smells faintly of jasmine tea.

But so do pandas from outside their enclosures. Strong, high enclosures they are because the panda will fuck you up good if it catches you in there. Much like Gary, who's been fucking us up for years now.

Ceeja said...

I believe Girsrdi's dissatisfaction with Sanchez is one of the reasons he lost his job. I'm in favor of firing Boone and Cashman not because they are really all that bad in the large scheme if things but because you need to have a fresh perspective. Any objective outsider would see the limitation of Sanchez and Gleybar and would take immediate action.

Maybe Gleybar or Andujar could remain as a sub who can play infield and outfield, though I kind of like Wade in that role. Sanchez has to go.

The Archangel said...

And Odor is on the roster becauseeeee, Yeah- he counts $0.00 towards the Salary Cap, I mean Tax Threshold.
Yeah batting about .130 since August 1st, but Valezquez got sent down.
This team is giving me a Gallo in my neck.
I may actually root for a Lockout so that I CAN GO COLD TURKEY ON STUPID BASEBALL!!
The Archangel

Anonymous said...

I have no vested interest in keeping any of the team's players, especially if they are making a relatively high salary or will be free agents soon. I'd have no problem trading away Gary Sanchez, as long as we're getting decent value in prospects. Because I think he's worth at least a top prospect plus 2 mid-level ones.

But I see absolutely no reason to think that the front office will move him this winter. After this disastrous season, which was in fairness only a small part due to Sanchez's poor play, Cashman is going to make Covid excuses, injury excuses, and the usual what not. Cashman will do virtually nothing significant this winter. He will add a few bullpen lugnuts and perhaps another right handed "slugger". He will bring back Kluber, Gardner and pretty much everyone else, including Sanchez. Well, Rizzo might be gone. That's about it.

The Hammer of God

HoraceClarke67 said...

"You gotta play with the small hurts."—Vince Lombardi.

"I gotta ouchie in my neckie."—Joey Gallo

HoraceClarke67 said...

Here is Boone on Gallo:

"Hopefully it's just something where the neck goes out on you, sleep on it wrong or whatever, I've been there before where it really affects your swing," Boone said. "So hopefully it's something that they can work their way out of there, and be something that potentially, hopefully he's back in there tomorrow, but we'll see."

Honestly, does this nonsense ever stop?

How about, "When he came in between innings, I told him to go put a heat pad on it for five minutes, and get the trainer to work it over. Of course he went back out there, and tonight he's gonna slap some more heat on it, be ready to go at game time."

HoraceClarke67 said...

And Boone in the Daily News with as close as he gets to a blast at Sancho:

“Look, they’re both gonna play. Higgy’s obviously earned more playing time here over the last couple of years with his outstanding play and obviously what he brings behind the plate,” Boone said. “I mean, it’ll be a day-to-day situation and we’ll try and play the guy that gives us the best chance to win that night.”

I mean, I'm all for playing Higgy when he's got the hot hand, as in last year's ALDS, and he's often been better than Sancho at his worst.

But "outstanding play"? Higgy has a lifetime BA of .180. He's hitting .173 this year, and has a .639 OPS. Yeah, he's shown more pop and he's better than Sancho behind the plate. But "outstanding"? C'mon.

The Archangel said...

Booonnee is not Ralph Houk or any rational manager of old. He wants to be sure that his multi-millionaires are stress- free.

I remember when they gave us a product called 'Heet" to overcome our ouchies.
It was easier to play with pain and then stand in the shower to loosen it up afterward.

HoraceClarke67 said...

Good point on the wild pitches/passed balls thing, Duque.

Sancho has "only" 7 PB this season—but he's been behind the plate for 53 wild pitches.

His whole catching game has deteriorated notably over this time in the majors—just like his hitting. His first year up, Sancho threw out 46 percent of base-stealers, compared to a league average of 29. The next season it was 38-27, respectively.

This year? 17-24.

In general, much like The Gleyber, on top of his general suckitude, Gary always does the little things to help you lose, as we have seen this week.

But he'll be traded? Or released? Don't make me laugh. Gary is Brian's boy, as pointed out here, and hence is not going anywhere. That lockout is looking better and better.

DickAllen said...

It's sad, (so sad) so sad
It's a sad, sad situation
And it's getting more and more absurd

Eight years ago I saw Sanchez play in AFL and the guy looked like a can’t-miss all-star. He hit hard and often. Rocket line-drive double to both sides. Threw out base runners from his knees. He was truly astonishing.

Not only is his deterioration sad, it’s shocking. But the telltale was an an interview with him in the New York Murdoch this year in which he painted himself as the dumbest and least aware of gods creatures. I don’t expect every baseball player to be a rocket scientist, but this kid (who is only 28 and should be approaching career peak) seems lost to himself. It’s almost maddening and nearly impossible to find a solution to this story. Trade him? Bench him? Who the hell knows. But he has been the poster boy for all that is wrong with these New York Yankees, and that is the saddest tale of all.

(Thank you Sir Elton)

Platoni said...

At least Cole is on the mound today

Rufus T. Firefly said...


It's a medley. Segueing into Funeral for a Friend.

Why is Voit playing today? Doesn't bonehead know he's tired from running around the bases yesterday? And doesn't ICS need a start at DH "just to see if we can get him going"?

It's almost as if bonehead is trying to win.

HoraceClarke67 said...

Cole looks like he doesn't have it today.

It is sad, Dick Allen, and I think some of it MAY be due to injuries. But there also seem to be zero adjustments, no learning curve, as you mention.

And it happens to way too many players on this time. Gleyber, The Bird, Miggy, the Red Menace, etc.—there' obviously something not right with how these guys are brought up, and how they (don't) make adjustments.

HoraceClarke67 said...

Looks like a tiny, sleepy crowd up in the Bronx today. No doubt, tomorrow it will go in the books as 30-40,000. But this is just because the Yanks (and I think the whole AL) bases attendance on tickets sold, not bodies moving through the turnstiles.

Which is perfectly legitimate. But it says something when people aren't even bothering to come out, on a gorgeous afternoon, with the tickets they've already bought.

Yanks are third in attendance this year, but it will be very interesting to see where the advance sale is this winter. Could be the beginning of Defund the Yankees.

ranger_lp said...

Just like yesterday...looking like déjà vu all over again...

Rufus T. Firefly said...


Sorry. Elton John reference was for you.

We are indeed watching Funeral for a Friend.

ranger_lp said...

For Yankee Tote Bag Day, do those tote bags have holes in the bottom like Sanchez's glove?

DickAllen said...

In 2015, both Sanchez and Judge were OPS leaders in the AFL, and in 2014 Greg Bird and Clint Frazier were leaders.

Life was filled with promise. What the fuck happened?!?!?

Celerino Sanchez said...

Looks like it’s Heaney time

ZacharyA said...

Gerrit Cole on June 1:
1.78 ERA

Gerrit Cole since:
3.92 ERA

If post-sticky stuff ban Gerrit Cole is the real Gerrit Cole, this franchise is in HUGE HUGE trouble longterm.

Publius said...

The booth definitely moved into "acceptance" on the stages of grief. John flashed anger after the Os loss, but today he's keeping it light. "Oh well" is the mood.

Platoni said...

Remember when we thought we'd sweep Cleveland or at least get wins (plural)? And then we'd say that the last nine games vs AL East would decide the Yankees playoffs fate? That was fun. I've bought lottery tickets that had a higher probability

Joe Formerlyof Brooklyn said...

Trump drew circles on a map corresponding to his warped view of where a hurricane was going.

H Clinton said she was named after the guy who climbed Mt. Everest, even tho he did it when she was 9 years old.

We're not supposed to notice the stock trading of Federal Reserve Bank presidents (or Nancy Pelosi's husband).

G Bush donned a military outfit to fly onto a naval vessel and celebrate "Mission Accomplished" . . . just a bit prematurely.

How is any of this different from the routine comments of Boone and/or Cashman?

It ain't. Getting upset at what these people (all of them) say, or do -- or even noticing any of it -- is a personal mistake.

You react to it. You can't believe it. Some of it rattles around in your nervous system.

But for them (ALL of them) . . . it's just business as usual.

And if these folks are around in 2022 (all of them) -- expect the same and prepare to ignore what comes.

It's the only sane reaction.

JM said...

7 runs off Cole. You can't predict baseball.

Publius said...

They have given up.

Ceeja said...

The horror.
The horror.

Anonymous said...

Cole, Judge, they're all getting wasted on this team. Not making the playoffs next year either. It'll most probably be worse next year.

It looks to me that the front office badly misjudged the peak performance windows of guys like Judge and Sanchez. That is one thing I can't really fault them on. I also thought those guys would keep getting better and peak in their late twenties. Well, it seems that they peaked a few years ago. Need a reality check.

So one thing that you could fault the front office on is that they brought these guys up too late. Apparently, these guys played a lot of their best baseball in the minors. Players (and most athletes) these days are peaking in their early to mid-twenties. By the time they're 27, 28 or 29, they're going downhill.

Guys like Florial are being wasted in the minors. Yeah, Gardner finally showed some signs of life in the last month or so. But so what? Not making the playoffs and we have no idea if guys like Florial are major leaguers or any good. I guess they'll bring up Florial when he's 28 or 29. He'll have played his best years in the minors. Maybe he'll have one good year in the majors, when they first bring him up. Then it'll be all downhill from there.

Sterling and Waldman the other day were talking about Melky Cabrera. They were saying that he was definitely a guy who didn't put up great numbers in the minors (and that actually his numbers sucked), but when they brought him up, he did hit in the majors. I haven't looked up his minor league numbers myself, but I'll take their word for it. That's not an anomaly anymore. The trend has been going in that direction for some time now. Guys peak in their early twenties and they're old by the time they're 28. Have to bring up young players and develop them much more quickly than in the past.

The Hammer of God

Anonymous said...

Look on the bright side--Florial was allowed to make a cameo appearance late in the game.

JM said...

Embarrassing. Terrible. Not worth watching, and I'm glad I didn't.

HoraceClarke67 said...

Those are good points, Hammer—and looking at it historically, I think it's often been the case. A lot of the greats were outstanding very, very young. What made them great was that they figured out ways to keep it going.

Sure, there are always exceptions, guys like Lou Piniella or Bill Robinson who bloomed late. But as Alphonso, our Dauntless Leader, likes to say, rookies gotta flash. And they can't flash if a certain someone won't even bring them up.

True, the Yankees have had SO many devastating injuries and SO many weird meltdowns of late that it makes me think their development and training staffs are awful.

But in any case, you have to be ruthless in today's game. Case in point, when Sancho came acropper in 2018, the smart move would've been to deal him for promising young pitchers and sign Realmuto as a free agent. But Cash is all in, all the time—with "his" guys.

Ironbow said...

The Yankees are a horribly managed organization. New ownership and a radically different approach is needed if we are to ever see another WS championship. Disgraceful.

DickAllen said...

I don’t think it’s fair to make these kinds of broad reassessments. It’s too easy to lay blame about the fate of prospects.

To be fair, Cashman tried, as far back as 2012 to remold the team with home grown players, and given the crop they selected and how they performed in the minors, it was reasonable to assume some blossoming in the majors, which we now know has not worked out.

Where I do find fault with Cashman is that he’s tried to plug holes with seriously faulty veterans and created some seriously onerous contracts instead of doubling down on the farm system he tried to create. I think he panicked, especially this year, and lost sight of the original plan. It was sad to see the kids get a small chance, succeed, then get dropped when the old dogs came back.

Greg Bird was a perfect example: who could have predicted his swift and sudden fall? The same thing could be said of Sanchez. Even Andujar and Frazier. Sect, too It’s been a spectacular system failure.

The only real exception is Judge. He’s having an excellent all-round year and he’s stayed on the field.

The current team is a sadly mismatched outfit with too many older, wealthy “athletes.” While the rest of the baseball world is getting younger, Cashman has abandoned what I thought was the way to go by stocking the farm with fresh fish, then lost sight of his aspirations and sold the farm instead.

And so, in another nod to Sir Elton:

So goodbye yellow brick road
Where the dogs of society howl
I've finally decided my future lies
Beyond the yellow brick road

DickAllen said...

Sect should have read: Sevy.

HoraceClarke67 said...

Good point about the older players. And maybe it was all just bad luck injuries. But it seemed weird how whatever it was turned into completely career-derailing events.

Bird had a foot operation, came back, looked great—then broke his foot and couldn't play anymore. What? Miggy suffered a terrible, freak injury. But healed...and then everything else started breaking? Frazier's whole mind seemed to go? Gleyber and Sanchez just descended into...?

I can't say what exactly happened, but it seemed to happen an awful lot, with few adjustments. And guys didn't drop from being amazing to mediocre, it was like they fell off a roof.

Remember Coops' promise to look into the team's training methods? I would sure like to see the results of that internal investigation.

13bit said...

Dick, with all due respect, it's not about making "broad reassessments."

From my viewpoint - just mine - we are looking at a 20 year sample size of bad picks, poor player development, and crappy game tactics.

Cashman is not a baseball guy, despite his being the yankees GM for 20-something years. He comes from the pool boy school of management.

He has had enough time to show his stuff and it CONSISTENTLY comes out bad. He keeps his job despite all consequences and results. I'm not talking about being a nut job like King George and firing somebody on a whim in the space of a fart. I'm talking about him doing the same thing over and over - from his draft selections to his trades to his staffing - and having the same results FOR DECADES.

Enough is enough.

13bit said...

PS: I'm tired of the excuses.

TheWinWarblist said...

There should be no excuses for this. None.

TheWinWarblist said...

The Guardians don't even have a winning record, and they beat us like they caught us cheating at cards.

Ironbow said...

Tear it all up. This Yankees team truly sucks.

Kevin said...

Horace, you forgot Bird's torn shoulder labrum, and I think he had some Nick Johnson Syndrome leg injuries.

IMHO, this notion of bringing up young players because, well they're young, is crazy. Take Florial for instance. All the tools, except the one that enables the mind to rapidly determine a fastball from a curveball. If our system is so packed, then name all the Greats that we've traded away in past twenty years. We are the greatest at mining for fools gold in the Bizzz.

13bit said...

The official T-shirt for the 2021 edition of our noble Yankees/Highlanders should be "EMBRACE THE SUCKITUDE"

TheWinWarblist said...

2 back in The All Important Loss Column ™ with 12 to play. It's gonna be great.

Ceeja said...

When are these guys going to get mad?

Rufus T. Firefly said...

2021 retrospective:

"The year of suckitude". I can't wait for the multinight hours long special. Hosted by Dr.'s Kevorkian and Mengele. With a special forward by the Marquis de Sade. Theme song presented by the vocal stylings of Yoko Ono. Brought to you with commercials by Kars for Kids, sung by Yoko Ono.

What made it worse? Corona Virus or the Yankees. Tough choice, but no need. There is the multiplier effect in that they both sucked at the same time, so it feels ten times worse. Which is pretty difficult. On a scale of 1-2, it's a 100 for suckitude.

Rufus T. Firefly said...

Mark my words, the crowning achievement of the Suckitude masters of 2021 will be the quiet firing of John and Suzyn in the offseason.

They'll each get a commemorative signed picture (courtesy of Steiner collectibles) of HAL and Brainless french kissing while Bonehead sits in a corner and soils himself.

HAL, for the love of Yahweh, please SELL THE TEAM!

Kevin said...

Anything else, please no Yoko!

Anonymous said...

No one knows how any minor leaguer will hit in the majors until he is promoted. There are many examples of young players who weren't great at AAA but blossomed at the MLB level--two more examples are George Brett and Bobby Bonilla.

Anonymous said...

George Brett had a .281 career minor league BA and hit .266 at AAA the year before he was called up to the big club. I doubt that Cashman would have given him a chance.

Anonymous said...

Bobby Bonilla had a .254 lifetime minor league average and hit .262 the year before he was called up to the majors. Another likely Cashman reject--he wasn't a "finished" player at AAA, so forget it.

Anonymous said...

In his first year with the Pirates, Barry Bonds hit .223 with an OPS of .746. He would have been long gone under a Cashman regime.

HoraceClarke67 said...

You make some good points, Kevin. And yes, there are always guys who just get hurt over and over, and there it goes. But to have it happen to so many guys, on the same team? And to have others who seem to be uninjured suddenly crater, too?

That seems to me a little bit more than bad luck.

I agree that Florial doesn't seem to have ever really mastered hitting. But The Gleyber and Miggy both might have come up a year earlier, and other guys just hang around and hang around and hang around until there's nothing left. What was the plan with Mike Ford, or Estrada, or Wade?

Cashman seems to decide that certain guys will make it, and others will not. Maybe some actual competition would be best.

HoraceClarke67 said...

And once again, the sheer motivation of this team seems to be lacking. Again and again, they come out there looking like they're rather be anywhere but on a ballfield.

I know: this is not like the old days, when you could just snarl at guys and bench them, and expect everything to change. But all the more reason why you have to have a great clubhouse motivator.

A truly good GM would look closely at managers who have done amazing work in getting teams to play over their heads. Cashman looks closely for a guy who would fill out the lineup card exactly the way he would. Mistake.

Anonymous said...

There is no way to know how Florial would fare in the major leagues as a hitter without an extended trial--see the examples I posted above. He certainly looked decent enough in the micro-trial he was given this season. Under the Cashman regime, only over-the-hill veterans in their late thirties are allowed to stink up the joint on both sides of the ball for an entire season and still be guaranteed an everyday starting role: see, for example, Brett Gardner.

Anonymous said...

Also younger recidivist failures like Sanchez are guaranteed regular playing time even if they suck for several seasons IF and ONLY IF they are Cashman's designated "favorites." Wade never made it to the "favorites" list and so was shunted aside in favor of a chronic proven bust like Odor. Wade thrived whenever he was given significant playing time--which was seldom, for some reason only Cashman and his equally dumb defenders can fathom.

Kevin said...

Horace, the injuries that this team has incurred is almost mystifying. I have two theories: 1. We are fans who stay on top of ONE team, and what we are seeing is common. 2: The Yankees trainers are "iron-heads" who are putting out strong guys that can't apply that strength except in their "strength tunnels". I.E., strength training usually develops power in bands, think of the widely coveted and popular bench press. The strength is developed in a singular plane. Most exercises are almost by definition working the same way. But what happens when a guy swings a little to high and outside, or a player stretches awkwardly? Strained or torn muscles. I think of players like Williams, Ruth, Foxx, etc show us that there is a limited benefit from strength training. Too much of a good thing and the body "explodes". I think that it would be fairly easy to prove that the training as we see today does more more than good. Go back and look at the record books, pitchers went longer into games, hitters had more plate appearances. And those were games were people played a much rougher game, going at it hammer and tong. One more thing that I found interesting. Going back to the early eighties Bill James statistically showed that pitchers and catchers who were worked hard before age 25 had much shorter careers than players who for whatever reason (injuries, not getting to the majors early, etc) weren't worked to death. Bill Verducci's silly, cover your ass "rule" seems to have been adopted, maybe because it's easier to write up in a report as to the "whys" of pitcher injuries. As we've seen, 15-20 years out, pitchers are heroes for throwing 160 innings, and they still get hurt. I'll stop here, there are many more subtleties in training and player use. Still, why pay an ACE huge sums when you are going to work him like a fourth starter? CYA......

Anonymous said...

Any references for your claims about Bill James? Specific works in which he advanced this argument?

Who is Bill Verducci?

Kevin said...

I don't buy to far into the idea that Cashman has his favorites play more while snuffing the life out of other, more deserving players. If this were true then those "young, talented" players would bring more in trades and the team strengthened. And going back a couple of my posts ago, who has been traded out of the Yankees farm who went on to become stars in the past twenty years? Doesn't that shut the door on the "Cashman Conspiracy" theories. As for Gardner, since the All-Star game he has been worth 112 wRC. Pretty damned good for a fourth/fifth outfielder who really signed on to play a couple of times a week. He could have cheesed out when he got tired (hear me "Sleepy Sanchez?) but instead played the good company teammate. And he's still the best baserunner on the team, if he was asleep before the play, mentally, I haven't seen it. No, he's no Betts, Trout (oh, he's hurt) or whoever, but he plays, and still better than many who could be his kids. IMO, the only players I'd bring back next year starts with Judge, DJ, Voit (until he gets expensive), Gardner as a deep backup, Wade, maybe Rizzo and Gallo, if reasonable. Guys who can field are alway needed even if their bats are less than what I'd prefer. Now's the time to really assess Rizzo and Gallo and see how they play under pressure, lessening daily, unfortunately. Urshela, Torres, Sanchez, need to go while they can bring talent to restock the farm, exercise in futility that it will prove.

I forgot to add in my previous post, how did skinny players like (and many others) manage to hit the ball out of ballparks without training? And that was generally using two balls per game starting in the early twenties!

Kevin said...

**** Supposed to be Tom Verducci. DOH! As for Bill James, I'll have to go through bookshelves and boxes. I will see if I can find it.

Kevin said... NOT the article from his book that I'm hoping to find. But some of the same themes are used here.

Since my research has been cited in the discussion of pitcher longevity, I thought perhaps I should take a moment to put my views on the issue on record. Sabermetrics prizes knowledge and despises opinion. Over the last thirty years, many serious people have made sincere and dedicated efforts to understand the relationship between pitcher usage patterns and pitcher injuries. It seems to me that, despite these efforts, there is very little about the subject which is actually known. What we have is more along the lines of research-based opinions.
The ways in which pitchers are used in games has changed, since 1975, not only in one way, but in many, many different ways. The ways in which young pitchers are trained and developed have also changed in many different ways. Somebody offered a summary of some research I published twenty-five years ago. Without commenting on whether or not the summary was accurate--I don't have any idea whether it was or wasn't--I would say that no research done in this area twenty years ago is of very much relevance to modern baseball. The usage patterns have simply changed too much.

Years ago, many of us questioned the wisdom of certain usage patterns of young and less experienced pitchers, arguing that these patterns were careless and would lead to unnecessary injuries. What I think a lot of people don't understand is that that argument ended in the 1980s. Major league managers now universally accept the idea that pushing young pitchers too deep into the game carries a risk of injury. There is nobody left in the managerial ranks who does that, and there hasn't been for years.

The more relevant questions now are whether these changes in pitcher usage patterns are well thought out, whether they are appropriate, and whether they are delivering actual benefits. The two most significant changes are:

1) The switch from four-man to five-man rotations, which began in the 1970s and was completed by 1990, and

2) The imposition of pitch limits, which began about ten years later mid-1980s) and was completed about ten years later (ca. 2000).

My opinions, for what they may be worth, are that

1) There is no evidence that the switch from four-man to five-man rotations has delivered any benefits except in limited cases.

2) Modern pitch limits, while they are no doubt useful and appropriate for young pitchers, may be unnecessarily strict for mature pitchers.

3) There is little reason to believe that any modern manager is abusing the arms of his pitchers.

4) There is, however, a substantial question as to whether the ways that we develop young pitchers are solid, and even a fair question as to whether they are as good as they were thirty years ago.

5) Much of the discussion seems to proceed on the assumption that injury rates for pitchers are higher now than they used to be. I very much doubt that this is true. It seems to me overwhelmingly likely that the injury rates of modern pitchers are lower than they used to be, not higher.

Anonymous said...

Gardner has a WAR of 1 for the season and a defensive WAR in minus territory--he should not be the outfielder with the most playing time on the team with that record--in fact, it's arguable that he shoudn't even be on the team--those are terrible numbers.. He is not the best or fastest baserunner on the team--Wade is. Florial and Allen are about as fast as Gardner but were never given a reasonable shot at playing time.

Bill James's views have evolved since the article you cite. More recently he has been a persistent proponent of basically eliminating the starting pitcher in favor of guys going once or twice through the order at most, and he insists that this will be the wave of the future in baseball. I saw this expressed in a Tv interview, so I have no reference to cite.

HoraceClarke67 said...

Great analysis, Kevin, thanks!

As for pitchers, if you look at just the Yanks' pitchers going back many years—say, 1945-68—there were all kinds of promising young guys who had a terrific first couple of seasons, then blew an arm and were never the same again. Bob Grim, Johnny Kucks, Tom Sturdivant, Jim Bouton, etc. Some were able to make the transition to relievers (Grim) or eventually recover (Al Downing). But many did not.

Casey Stengel, in holding Whitey Ford back for certain teams at certain times, probably extended his career.

And in keeping with what you say, all around the majors, guys who had missed time early—often because of the war—tended to last longer (looking at you, Warren Spahn). Though there were always unicorns, such as the incredibly overworked Robin Roberts.

I do find it interesting that going to the five-man rotation didn't really help much.

I wonder why this is. The transition from pitching to contact, to pitching to just buzz strikes past everyone?...

HoraceClarke67 said...

In any case, I do think the trend toward making pitchers all but interchangeable is a terrible one, a fundamental misreading of baseball's allure.

The pitcher is the hero of the game, the "defensive" player who, unlike in all other games, starts the action.

The first baseball superstars were starting pitchers, most notably New York's own Christy Mathewson, "the Big Six." As the game evolved, you had super relievers join them—but that was all right, too. In the period of roughly 1975-1991, when the game was—in terms of actual play—at its very best, they coexisted very nicely.

Specialization broke that down—and started to break down the game, as well. Strategy was drained out as more and more of the rosters was taken up with pitchers. The relentless hard throwers led to the disastrous (in terms of the game's appeal) "3 True Outcomes" mode of hitting.

I say 'Restore the pitcher' before the game dies...

HoraceClarke67 said...

And yes, the Yankees' constant injuries remain a mystery. I think you're right about the players being overtrained. I remember some interview with Jordan Montgomery gushing over how the Yanks' staff had shown him this "technique" that enabled him to get another 5 mph on his pitches. About two minutes later, he was on the DL with an injury that cost him two years of his career and the team maybe two pennants.

It would be interesting to see, as you say, Kevin, if other systems have so many injuries.

As for the minor leaguers not working out, it IS true that they don't seem to work out anywhere else, either. But if that's the case, why do they flash so in the minors? Were they ruined in-system, or were just never that good? (Maybe playing when more mature in lower leagues?)

But I don't think that there's any doubt that Cashman decides certain guys will make it and some will not. Hence his obsession with Nick Johnson, etc.

In some ways, sticking with guys is an admirable quality. But in today's game—and with so many injuries, and considering that he himself seems to have little-to-no ability to judge baseball talent—he needs to cut bait quicker.

Deal Sanchez and sign Realmuto, already established as the best catcher in the game. If Sanchez develops after all, well, too bad. You can sit home and polish your 3 new World Series trophies.

The Yanks used to do this all the time. For instance, trading a young Lew Burdette for an aged Johnny Sain was a "bad" trade, but it probably assured the Yanks World Series rings in 1951-53. Burdette came back to bite them in 1957—but hey, if it hadn't been for the notorious "shoe polish" game, they would've won that Series, too.

Cashman is the hedgehog of all hedgehogs. He knows what he knows, and that's it. Time for a more flexible mind in the executive boxes.

Anonymous said...

Nobody knows for sure if the minor leaguers we have (Estevan Florial) are really any good. That we all can agree on. But I think we can also agree that there's no way to know until they are given the chance to play everyday for a protracted period. I think one of Cashman's basic mistakes is not giving these guys that chance. Based on the little of what we've seen this year, for instance, the team came alive when the minor leaguers came up. They actually looked like a capable ball club! Then, as we all feared, when the injured veterans came back, the minor leaguers were sent down one by one, and the team reverted to its zombie state.

It still all comes down to having too much dead wood in the lineup, Cashman's failure to make tough decisions and prune away during the winter. Our pitching has actually been somewhat decent, despite the terrible arson squad implosions of the bullpen. If our offense had been only mediocre, we might be in first place. Merely adding another right handed slugger to what we already have doesn't put us over the top. It just adds another redundancy that makes the imbalance worse.

By the way, I think a lot of us on this blog also predicted that the arson squad, um ... bullpen, would have terrible problems. I thought bringing back Chapman was plainly wrong. And even Britton, I think we should've cut loose. A smarter GM probably moves Chad Green last winter, seeing that he has been incredibly inconsistent. Chad Green has probably blown a half dozen wins this year all by himself. Failure to trade for or sign the right guys, failure to develop consistent relievers, failure to draft the right players.

Whoa, that's a lot of failures.

The Hammer of God

Anonymous said...

HC67--That was not Kevin's analysis above. He cut and pasted a long passage from Bill James but neglected to include the quotation marks, so it looks like its coming from Kevin.

Kevin said...

Sorry for the omission although on careful reading it should be plain that James wrote the piece. Still, my bad.