Out With The Crowd: "The AL East is weird this year"
OWTC celebrates the upcoming trade deadline by talking Yankees baseball with my old friend and lifelong Bombers fan Tim (he's popped up on TN before as "Omega"). We talked about run differentials, reversions to mean, and which player he considers the real Asian sensation. Our conversation is below.
Sarah D. Bunting: Who's your favorite new Yankee so far this season?
Tim: I think I'd have to say Hiroki Kuroda. It is unbelievable to me that he hasn't shown any drop-off from switching leagues. He's been much better than anyone expected.
I did think that might turn out to be something of a…not a Vasquez. Not a Kevin Brown…who was the other one that switched leagues and sucked for the Yanks. Loaiza?
I just assumed he'd be solid and probably add a run to his ERA. …Great question — Vazquez was ridiculous. I'm not sure who you mean.
I'm not either, although the fact is, this isn't an uncommon phenomenon with starters coming into the AL East from elsewhere. Any number of candidates.
Yeah. Plus, a righty coming from a pitcher's park in a lousy-hitting division. Melky Cabrera is now one of the best hitters in the NL West.
Yeah, WTF? Remember when they basically had to tell him and Cano they couldn't ride bikes anymore because they were a bad influence on each other?
Yes, too funny.
Do you have a least favorite Yankee acquisition in 2012?
Nothing against the guy personally, but Chris Stewart. The only way that move makes sense is that someone who matters hates Francisco Cervelli personally. He's not better than Cervelli, he's four years older, and he can't be sent to the minors.
He's the Brandon Belt of the Yankees.
Who is, Cervelli or Stewart?
I guess I'm not that familiar with Belt.
Just in the sense that the refusal to give Belt a chance had to be personal because otherwise it made no sense.
Oh, I got you.
Anyone you were sorry to see go? At this point in the season, you could count injuries/trades as well as anyone who got traded or left over the winter…
I was sorry to see Montero go, even though I think it was a good trade. Injuries, I'm really sorry not to be seeing Gardner and Pineda.
The Gardner situation seemed really strange to me, with all the "setbacks."
My guess is that they really hoped surgery would not be necessary.
Anyone you were happy to see go?
That's an easy one. AJ Burnett.
Heh, he's on my fantasy team. Gambled that he'd tear up the crappy NL Central, but it's not going to last.
Nicely done. His W-L is more spectacular than his other numbers, which are good, but not great.
And he's facing the Astros however many times, which helps.
True! The guy has some value, but not anywhere near what the Yankees were paying him. It was good to get him off the books.
It's amazing what an occasional 98-mph fastball will make people think you're worth.
Yes, and he was coming off a career season when they signed him. Maybe they thought it was a new AJ rather than a fluke.
Makes you wonder if the contract-year performance myth is really a myth. (see: Reyes, Jose) (wait: don't) …What's your biggest concern with the Yankees this season?
I guess I'd have to say injuries. But that may be a symptom of the larger problem of having a bunch of key players who are aging and declining. I would also add that the Yankees have been lucky that the Red Sox have been extraordinarily un-lucky this year. The injuries plus a reversion to the mean by the Sox could mean a much closer finish than the standings might otherwise lead you to expect.
That was my next question. Well, I was going to ask where you see the Yanks finishing in the standings, but it's hard to see how they wouldn't finish first. So maybe you want to expand on that a bit and talk about how you see the AL East settling out.
It's going to be hard for the Red Sox to dig themselves out of the hole they are currently in, but they are the only team in the division that looks competitive. So I would have to agree that the Yanks likely finish first.
The Orioles are a mirage, then, is your take.
Absolutely. The AL East is weird this year. Check out the run differentials: the Yanks have the largest, which you would expect from the first-place team. But after the Yanks, the standings are in reverse order in run differential terms. In other words, the last-place team (in terms of run differential) is in second and the second-place team (in terms of run differential) is in last!
…Jesus, the Twins.
Yes, the Twins and Astros.
I'm surprised Toronto's is on the plus side. It's got to be hard to keep hope alive if you're a Jays fan. No matter what you do, it's like shouting down a well.
I went to a depressing Jays-Sox game in Toronto. Lots of empty seats, half of the people there were Red Sox fans, and Toronto got destroyed (we're talking "mercy rule" territory). This was last year. At least they have Jose Bautista.
That's such a strange park, if memory serves. Just kind of dim inside.
I remember when it was state of the art — and the Jays were good!
The last time I was there, they still hadn't dealt with that situation with people leaving their hotel curtains open and Doing It in full view of the ballpark. My friend Q and I made many many "infield fly rule" jokes.
I was thankfully not aware of that situation when I was there!
You couldn't really see anything, not where we could afford to sit. Heh.
This is actually the first I've heard of it. I believe I've heard of a similar problem with the High Line.
I have heard that too. You'd think that would be on some kind of architectural pre-flight checklist by now. "All sightlines rated PG." …De-digressing back to the Yankees: Do you see them in the Series this year? And if not, who do you see facing off in the Classic?
It's such a crapshoot with the current postseason system, but I'd say they have a decent shot.
Most of the other interviewees are saying the Rangers finally get it on the third try, but I'm getting the feeling that's not happening, I can't really explain why.
Texas is really good, so are Washington and St. Louis.
Washington has been really fun to watch. Even when they're brooming Met ass (sigh). Any pleasant surprises for you this year, Yankee or otherwise?
I was just going to say Washington. Mike Trout is also very exciting. Anytime a 20-year-old is this good, it's surprising — and exciting.
I'm loving watching Harper also.
Yes, he'd be a bigger story it not for Trout. Lucky for Harper he won't be competing for the same RoY trophy.
Still, it's nice to have two great rookies in the same year. I guess there was a lot of excitement about Heyward, but that hasn't turned out quite like we thought. …Any unpleasant surprises for you? Mo aside.
Andy Pettitte in that his injury reversed what had been an extremely pleasant surprise. The only game I've been to this year is the game he got hurt.
Ohhhhh man, I forgot all about that injury. Brutal.
Before the injury he had been pitching better than he ever had before. It was amazing.
And it hasn't been a good year for the older gents trying to hang on (Vlad, Matsui…Moyer), so it was nice to see one of those storylines working out.
Right. I wonder if PEDs made us forget a little bit that this is how things usually go.
Probably. Although I'd put any one of those dudes in the Mets bullpen. It is oh so very bad. …If you could tell Joe Girardi any one thing, what would it be?
Don't ever let Raul Ibanez hit against a LHP in a key situation again. Especially when Andruw Jones is available!
I never thought I'd hear that phrase again. I thought Jones was done.
A. Jones can still hit lefties and seems to field okay.
Any other complaints? Players or subplots that are annoying you? Mine is Chipper Jones's stupid tweets, but then again, I just hate that dude.
Jered Weaver's unbelievable luck annoys me.
And by "unbelievable luck," you obviously mean "hippie hair." Heh.
He has no business having an ERA that low. According to Fangraphs, his expected ERA is around 4. And I probably have something against him because he reminds me of his brother and former Yankee Jeff.
Ugh, THAT guy.
Tags: AJ Burnett Andruw Jones Andy Pettitte Brandon Belt Brett Gardner Bryce Harper Chipper "LAAAAAARRRRRY" Jones Chris Stewart Esteban Loaiza Francisco Cervelli friends hairdon'ts Hateful Buntsy Should Never Have Signed Up For Fantasy Baseball Hideki Matsui Hiroki Kuroda Ichiro! Jamie Moyer Jason Alias Heyward Javier Vasquez Jeff Weaver Jered Weaver Jesus Montero Joe Girardi Joey Bats Jose Reyes Kevin Brown Mariano Rivera Melky Cabrera Michael Pineda Mike Trout New York Yankees Out With The Crowd Raul Ibanez Robinson Cano that's what she said Vladimir Guerrero