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A New York Yankees blog by Chad Jennings and the staff of The Journal News


Pinch hitting: Greg Mathews

Posted by: Chad Jennings - Posted in Misc on Jan 20, 2010 Print This Post Print This Post | Email This Post Email This Post

Our next pinch hitter is Greg Mathews, who delved into Chien-Ming Wang’s numbers and determined it might not be such a bad thing to see him sign elsewhere.

After growing up in New Jersey, Greg was a knuckleballer at at Springfield College — it seems natural that he was a pitcher – and he now works as a group sales associate at Wilmington Blue Rocks in Deleware. “In my family, you were born a Yankee fan, going all the way back to my great-grandfather who saw Lou Gehrig play,” Greg wrote. “I was 10 years old when Mattingly went deep in Game 2, and Gary Thorne’s play-by-play still echoes in my mind.”

———

On the “Wang” side of a trend

In Chien-Ming Wang’s first two full seasons as a starter, he boasted 38 wins pitching in the American League East. His 2008 campaign started off at eight wins and two losses before the ankle injury occurred in Houston, and he never fully recovered, leading to his awful 2009 season.

After Wang was non-tendered this offseason, it was reported that the Yankees wanted the opportunity to match any offer that Wang receives. Sure, his Win/Loss record is great and he suffered the unfortunate injury, but would it really be a good idea to bring him back?

Off to Fangraphs.com I went.

From 2006 to 2008, there were some trends that raised a red flag when looking at a sinkerballer. During his first full season in ’06, Wang had a ground ball rate of 62.8% and his line drive rate was 16.9%. The following year, his GB rate fell to 58.4% and his LD rate rose to 18.3%. This was true again in 2008, when his GB rate was down to 55% and LD rate jumped to 22.1%. From ’06 to ’08, Wang saw a 7.8% drop in ground balls, but the negatively trending batted ball percentages weren’t the only thing that caught my eye.

In 2008, Wang began to walk batters with more frequency.

In 2006, Wang faced 900 batters and walked 52, or one walk every 17.3 batters faced. In 2007, he issued a walk to every 13.9 hitters and even more often in 2008 when the rate hit 11.5. This was especially evident in his five no-decisions prior to the injury when he was walking one out of every EIGHT batters. So not only were batters hitting the ball harder every year, Wang was walking them at a rapidly increasing rate.

When looking at these stats, my theory is that batters are laying off of that low sinker. The pitches that used to be pounded into the ground are now being let go. Wang has to throw it higher in the zone and the hitters are making better contact. These are not good trends when pitching against the perennially tough batters of the AL East. I loved Chien-Ming Wang while he was here, but it is time to move on without him. What do you think?

 
 

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119 Responses to “Pinch hitting: Greg Mathews”

  1. NYsandman January 20th, 2010 at 9:44 am

    Very good analysis. Statistics aside, Wang was very gritty during the start of that 2008 season. While the rest of our rotation was losing 2 or 3 out of four games, Wang could be counted on to stop the bleeding. I miss seeing his cool nature on the mound, and it truly was horrific to watch his composure change during that Cleveland game. I think we all wish he could have ended his tenure in NY better, but it’s just not clear his rehab will make him effective again. Our pitching depth and his uncertainty just do not mesh together.

  2. Doreen - Ain't it Just "Grand"? January 20th, 2010 at 9:44 am

    Greg -

    That was enlightening. I didn’t know this. Something to chew on, certainly.

  3. rover January 20th, 2010 at 9:45 am

    Like most big league pitchers, he was approaching a point he needed some reinvention.

  4. Erin January 20th, 2010 at 9:48 am

    Very nice job Greg!

    As much as I’ll hate to see him go, I’ve prepared myself for the realization that Wang will probably not be back.

    And I take comfort in the fact that of all of the Yankees 103 wins last year, one of them belonged to CMW :)

  5. Meals January 20th, 2010 at 9:51 am

    I can’t agree more.
    Thank you Wanger for your time in pinstripes but the Yanks need to move on.
    Also his playoff #’s are awful…

  6. SJ44 January 20th, 2010 at 9:53 am

    Very good analysis.

    Now you see why the Yankees were looking to increase his reportoire of pitches.

    Much like hitters making the adjustments on Joba’s slider (laying off it with 2 strikes), hitters began to adjust to Wang.

    Baseball is a game of constant adjustments. Mariano Rivera (one trick pony with his cutter) is the only pitcher I have seen in my lifetime to have sustainable success with only one pitch.

    That’s the exception rather than the rule.

  7. SJ44 January 20th, 2010 at 9:55 am

    You do realize his playoff numbers were an extremely small sample size?

    CC’s playoff numbers weren’t great either going into this year.

    I suppose you didn’t want him pitching in the playoffs because of his “numbers”.

  8. m January 20th, 2010 at 9:56 am

    Mo pitches 1 inning at a time. But point taken.

    Best of luck to CMW.

  9. Preisendanz January 20th, 2010 at 9:56 am

    Great points – in a “Moneyball” world Wang is not the kind of pitcher you want to employ.

  10. Fran (the original) and OPPC member January 20th, 2010 at 9:59 am

    Good points Greg. I like Wang but don’t see the Yankees making him an offer.

  11. blake January 20th, 2010 at 10:01 am

    Even Rivera has had to adjust as he’s gotten older. He throws a lot more 2 seamers now than he used to to keep hitters honest and he varies the amount of break and speed on the cutter as well. Its still amazing thay he has done what has has with no offspeed pitch. Goes to show that a well located fastball really is still the best pitch in baseball.

  12. Tom B January 20th, 2010 at 10:03 am

    There’s a reason there have been like 4 good sinker bal pitchers ever.

  13. upstate kate January 20th, 2010 at 10:04 am

    I wonder if the same is true w/ Dice-K. The longer he pitches in the AL east, the more familiar batters become w/ his pitches. For that matter Wake’s knuckleball seems more effective against teams that don’t see him as often…just speculation on my part.

  14. Ballpark January 20th, 2010 at 10:05 am

    Hey Greg it’s Frank great job.Glad to hear your doing well.Wang probably should go to N.L.where he may a chance.Yanks were wise to move on he might have been the worst starting pitcher in AL. last year.He was 1and6 in 9 starts with 11.38 era.In a close race he could have really hurt.

  15. CompassRosy January 20th, 2010 at 10:07 am

    JohnC
    January 20th, 2010 at 9:23 am
    Are Yanks making a mistake by not at least checking out Ben Sheets?

    ____________

    http://www.thenewsstar.com/art.....for-scouts

    “I was impressed,” said Seattle Mariners scout and former Major League catcher John Stearns, following Sheets’ outing. “Ben was free and easy, throwing the ball really well with not too much effort. He had good velocity. I was especially impressed with his curve ball. He’s got a plus Major League curve ball with a lot of depth to it.

    “It looked to me like he was healthy, and health is the key issue here. I’m going to give him a strong recommendation to our organization.”

  16. m January 20th, 2010 at 10:07 am

    blake,

    Interesting you should say that. I went to yankees.com last night to look at the current roster, but I never got to it because I was distracted by a video of Jeff Nelson (can you say bland?) talking about who will be the fifth starter.

    He was saying both should be starters, but then he ended up (with no transition that I could hear) saying that he feels Hughes will be the 5th starter and Joba will be in the pen. Felt Joba’s personality (“fire”) basically fits the bullpen and that he should be pitching “everyday”.

    Anyway, watching the video I was reminded of Hughes’ control.

  17. SJ44 January 20th, 2010 at 10:14 am

    It doesn’t matter that Mo pitches one inning at a time.

    Every closer in the game has at least 2 pitches. Mo has one, although he has thrown more 2 seamers than he has in the past.

    Wang’s most effective outings were pounding 95-95 MPH sinkers pitch after pitch. Once he lost velocity on that pitch, without a more consistent slider and curveball, he was batting practice.

    Just as Sheets prefers to go to the NL to build up his value again, I believe Wang should do the same. Preferably in St. Louis where he can work with the best pitching coach in the world in Dave Duncan.

  18. upstate kate January 20th, 2010 at 10:14 am

    CompassRosy
    congrats to your team for signing Felix. You should be in a good position to beat the Anels this year.

  19. hjcho January 20th, 2010 at 10:15 am

    These are good points. Obviously, big league hitters should pay attention to scouting reports and they adjusted. However, big league pitchers adjust, too. Before the injury, Wang had re-introduced his slider and started using an occasional change-up. At least as far as I can remember, these resulted in a lot of swings-and-misses. One cannot assume he would have improved his numbers, but these were signs of adjustment. Any pitcher who can throw a mid 90s fastball for strikes has a good foundation to work from, but at this point, we’ll never know if Wang would have progressed with his secondaries.

    I have a lot of affection for Wang, not just because he is Asian, but because he projected an image of total professionalism. He went to the mound and did his job with no drama. He was called up at a time when the team desperately needed starting pitching. Unfortunately, he has had several injuries, and now it is doubtful he will recover the form that made him a valuable member of the team.

    The big mistake was letting him start the 2009 season in the rotation. Everyone missed the signs in spring training that he was not ready to come back, which compounded his mechanical difficulties and lead to the final disastrous shoulder injury. He should have started the season on the DL, stayed in Florida, and worked his way back.

    As disappointed as I am that he was non-tendered, I understand why the Yanks did it. I would love to see him get a minor league contract with incentives, to see if he can work his way back, but it probably wont be with the Yanks. I am grateful he was there for the team when they needed him and I wish him well.

  20. upstate kate January 20th, 2010 at 10:15 am

    make that **Angels**

  21. Captain Chaos January 20th, 2010 at 10:19 am

    Chaos here…would be nice to show those percentages with respect to the rest of the American league sinker ballers. I would venture that even in his worst year he was likely a head of the league average. Additionally, that says nothing with respect to how he stacks up against other types of pitching. While some nice stats and interesting analysis the fact remains Wang is not pitching due to his inability to come back 100% after his injury.

  22. randy l. January 20th, 2010 at 10:20 am

    “When looking at these stats, my theory is that batters are laying off of that low sinker.”

    greg-

    nice job, but your theory is a classic case when someone only looks at only numbers and stats and doesn’t look at the specifics of the situation. with your baseball background you surely realize there’s more to the story behind the numbers.

    in 2006, wang was still very much under the tutelage of his minor league coach who taught him the trick pitch ( wang’s sinker was unique).

    in 2005 that coach was with him as the yankee bullpen coach. in 2006 that coach was with him in spring training and at yankee triple a and only a phone call away.

    in 2006 and 2007 the yankee front office believed that wang couldn’t continue to be a one trick pony( as the rest of the sabermetric world dogmatically believed) and encouraged the coaching staff to have wang throw other pitches.

    this is a fact. anyone who has any info about behind the scenes yankee info concerning wang knows this. peter a. talked of it frequently. i’m sure if sam b. wants to comment on it he would say the same thing. the degree that the yankees messed with wang is the only thing that is open to debate.

    the yankees did mess with wang constantly during 2007 and 2008 so he didn’t really keep throwing the devastating sinker the way he did when he first came up.

    the very stats you give could be used to show that he should have kept throwing strikes with his unhittable sinker instead of mixing in other pitches that may have thrown his mechanics with the sinker off.

    the key thing his original coach taught him was that he had to shorten his stride dramatically to get sink on his sinker. this obviously caused him to lose velocity on his fast ball, but the trade off was worth it in movement.

    wang always struggled with that short stride and would revert back to the long stride without realizing it. his 4 seam fastball and slider were very familiar to him with a long stride because that’s what he used to throw with the long stride.

    encouraging wang to throw more of the pitches he used to throw with the long stride only made it more difficult for him to maintain the short stride necessary for the sinker.

    so it’s not so simple as you explain it by the numbers you give.

    i do agree with you that wang should move on however. the yankees are not a sinker organization the way the cardinals, for example, are.

    wang and the present yankee coaches( and management behind the coaches) really don’t mix well .

    nothing against anyone. just two different approaches.

    if wang goes to st louis ( and he’s healthy) or tampa bay ( back with the original coach), he’ll likely be the old wang again.

  23. m January 20th, 2010 at 10:21 am

    SJ,

    LOL. I was trying to make the point that even Mariano Rivera would have a difficult time going through a lineup 2-3 times with 1 pitch.

    And vice versa, Wang would have an easier time facing 3-5 batters at a time with a limited repetoire.

    But point taken. ;)

  24. jayhi January 20th, 2010 at 10:21 am

    Statistics are interesting, but in Wang’s case I think his groundball rate was dropping because he was trying to add to his arsenal and throw more breaking balls. A correlation does not always point to cause and effect

  25. CR9 January 20th, 2010 at 10:21 am

    http://insider.espn.go.com/nfl.....id=4838995

    “The Jets’ RB could be the real deal; their QB could become JaMarcus V2″

    What a sick article.

    More of ESPNs anti NY propoganda.

    I know a QB who recently played a playoff game and looked like a weasel, of course sans the videotape help that helped create him.

  26. GreenBeret7 January 20th, 2010 at 10:29 am

    The fact that you only picked out the negative numbers doesn’t do much for me. You failed to mention that the strikeout rates continued to climb and the WHIP stayed fairly even, though alternating up and down years. It’s also rather difficult to judge two partial first half seasons and claim that he was getting worse. Like many pitchers, he gets stronger as the season goes along.

  27. HenryfromDC January 20th, 2010 at 10:29 am

    The increasing walks trend is a warning sign if you think Wang remained the same “sinkerball” pitcher he was in 2006. But he wasn’t. He was becoming a more complete pitcher. Just as easily I can list stats from 2006 to 2008 to support the opposite, even as the walks increased:

    K/9 increased – 3.14, 4.70, 5.12
    K/BB inconclusive – 1.46, 1.76, 1.54
    AVG decreased – .277, .265, .249
    OBP static – .320, .324, .318
    SLG decreased – .375, .368, .335

    and yet his pitches per plate appearance remained the same, 3.39, 3.48 and 3.51. If people were laying off his low sinkers, the # of pitches would increase faster, but they haven’t. Which leads me to believe he was adjusting nicely as he matured as a pitcher.

    I love the stats and discussion though. It’s a valid argument either way.

  28. m January 20th, 2010 at 10:29 am

    “sick”?

    How do describe people who go postal or do unthinkable things to others?

  29. Frank January 20th, 2010 at 10:30 am

    “More of ESPNs anti NY propoganda.”

    CR9:

    Let’s face it, the Jets aren’t winning because of QB play. Sanchez is along for the ride, his only responsibility being not to do anything to lose the game. He’s never asked to win one. That’s the job of the defense and O-line on this team.

    Russell comparison is bogus. Sanchez should be a decent NFL QB at some point. Russell likely won’t be. Then again, your comparison to Brady is equally ridiculous…at least to this point.

  30. CompassRosy January 20th, 2010 at 10:31 am

    upstate kate
    January 20th, 2010 at 10:14 am
    CompassRosy
    congrats to your team for signing Felix. You should be in a good position to beat the Anels this year.

    Thanks, Kate.
    We up here in the left corner are hoping the “winter of our content” translates to “our cup runneth over this fall” ;-)

    There certainly has been no faint praise for Jack Z…
    http://compassrosy.blogspot.co.....er-of.html

    Steering in the right direction, slow and steady, and all that. A nice, over-due change.

  31. ko January 20th, 2010 at 10:36 am

    I don’t think hitters all decide to adjust. Wang clearly had problems when his sinker wasn’t sinking the way it should. When his fastball was sitting at mid nineties, he was able to skate by when he didn’t have his best sinker. I don’t understand the logic, from the Yankees point of view, that he’s better off going to the Cardinals. He was the Yankee ace for two full seasons and halves of two others just recently. How do you justify giving up on a talent like that because you’re not a sinker organization or because wins-losses don’t mean everything and that other stats mean more? The great ones adjust to the talent at hand, the schlocks throw up their hands and move on because they can’t deal with it.

  32. Jerkface January 20th, 2010 at 10:39 am

    Randy et al:

    Fangraphs has Wang throwing the same amount of fastballs in 2008 as 2006. Unless you’re saying that he mixed in more 4-seamers, he never mixed in more sliders or anything.

    The percentages on all those pitches stayed the same.

  33. Bobby Meacham January 20th, 2010 at 10:40 am

    With no DH in the NL, Chien-Ming Wang can become a better baserunner.

  34. Jorge (México) January 20th, 2010 at 10:43 am

    Great job, Greg. Congrats.

  35. vinny-b (NJ and Granderson - thank you Cashman!) January 20th, 2010 at 10:44 am

    nice call chad. Except NYY didn’t have a chance to select him:

    TUESDAY, 2:42pm: The Pirates have claimed outfielder Brandon Jones off waivers from the Braves, according to MLB.com’s Mark Bowman. Atlanta designated the 26-year-old for assignment last week to make room on the 40-man roster for Eric Hinske. As Bowman notes, the Pirates have “routinely shown interest” in Jones. Jones was mentioned when the Braves were pursuing Jason Bay in the summer of ’08.

    The Nationals were the only other team who had a chance to claim Jones before the Pirates grabbed him.

  36. Money Mike January 20th, 2010 at 10:44 am

    As people were saying you need to increase your repertoire as a pitcher, but i truly believe that that is the reason he started getting hit harder. The Yankees made he start throwing that damn slider so he would have a strikeout pitch. It was gaining more movement as he used it more but he could not located it and it was getting hit hard. Therefore was throwing more pitches and later in the count people were laying off anything close to being low, i really believe that pitch was the downfall of him as a pitcher.

  37. vinny-b (NJ and Granderson - thank you Cashman!) January 20th, 2010 at 10:45 am

    side note: is Melky a better player/prospect then Brandon Jones? Maybe ATL should had retained him

  38. Frank January 20th, 2010 at 10:46 am

    “How do you justify giving up on a talent like that because you’re not a sinker organization or because wins-losses don’t mean everything and that other stats mean more?”

    The “sinker organization” thing does seem weak. With their present infield, having a sinkerballer should be a non-issue. At the same time however, you have to ask how the Yankees justify offering arbitration to Wang and pay him something on the order of $6.5M-$7M given the uncertainty of his health? Non tendering was the correct call.

  39. randy l. January 20th, 2010 at 10:46 am

    “K/9 increased – 3.14, 4.70, 5.12
    K/BB inconclusive – 1.46, 1.76, 1.54
    AVG decreased – .277, .265, .249
    OBP static – .320, .324, .318
    SLG decreased – .375, .368,.335 ”

    HenryfromDC-

    nice stats.

    the thing behind the stats with wang that is the problem is that he’s not a machine.

    when he tries to throw more sliders and four seam fastballs he eventually goes back to his old stride length which is too long for the sinker. the muscle memory is that strong.

    there were games when he went to the slider and four seam fastball more and he had great games. the problem is in that particular game it may have followed a period where
    he threw mostly sinkers and his sinker was tuned up with a short stride length.

    in other words wang had trouble repeating the same stride length when he tried different pitches.

    pro golfers go though this all the time. it would take jack nicklaus who played a fade a month to get ready for the masters which plays better with a draw. then it would take him a month to get his fade back afterwards.

    wang may not have continued winning 19 games a year with the one pitch used primarily, and may have dropped down to a yearly 14-15 game winner and a solid number three.

    in retrospect, is there anyone who wouldn’t have taken that ?

  40. andrew33 January 20th, 2010 at 10:47 am

    That was a great piece – well done

  41. m January 20th, 2010 at 10:49 am

    “The “sinker organization” thing does seem weak.”

    Who came up with this one? Isn’t Mitre a sinkerballer?

  42. Jerkface January 20th, 2010 at 10:52 am

    The Yankees made he start throwing that damn slider so he would have a strikeout pitch.

    2005 FB: 77.9% SL: 12.9% CH: 7.5% SF: 1.6% Mystery: 1.3%
    2006 FB: 75.5% SL: 14.7% CH: 4.5% SF: 5.3% Mystery: 1.3%
    2007 FB: 76.4% SL: 16.2% CH: 6.2% SF: 1.2% Mystery: 0.8%
    2008 FB: 77.0% SL: 17.1% CH: 3.5% SF: 2.5% Mystery: 1.5%
    2009 FB: 81.3% SL: 12.6% CH: 2.7% SF: 3.4% Mystery: 1.5%

    Wang’s changeup suffered more than his fastball. Everything you all are saying is not supported by the Data

  43. GreenBeret7 January 20th, 2010 at 10:53 am

    Yeah, but, Mitre has never been any good anyway. Nobody expects him to do anything.

  44. randy l. January 20th, 2010 at 10:57 am

    “Fangraphs has Wang throwing the same amount of fastballs in 2008 as 2006. Unless you’re saying that he mixed in more 4-seamers, he never mixed in more sliders or anything.”

    jerkface-

    could you provide a link to that page?

    i’d like to look at it.

    thanks.

  45. Joe from CT January 20th, 2010 at 10:59 am

    Great post. Now we can truly see we are better off without Wang.

  46. m January 20th, 2010 at 10:59 am

    No, but the organization paid for him to rehab and investing in his immediate future.

    Just wondering if anyone from the Yankees actually perpetuated that they’re not a sinkerball organization.

    I know they wanted to go with strikeout pitchers mostly because of the defense, but I doubt that the Yankees would shy away from Wang because he’s a sinkerballer.

    A groundball pitcher would be an antidote to a flyball park.

  47. Erin January 20th, 2010 at 10:59 am

    GreenBeret7
    January 20th, 2010 at 10:53 am
    Yeah, but, Mitre has never been any good anyway. Nobody expects him to do anything.

    *****************
    :D

  48. John in Ohio January 20th, 2010 at 10:59 am

    I liked the piece, but I don’t necessarily agree. Major league hitters adjust, and that explains the numbers cited.

    Wang’s hard sinker was outrageous, and all the ground balls kept the defense alert and on their toes.

    The injury and susequent mechanics problems are a darn shame. This guy was a winning machine, and I wish him well.

  49. Jerkface January 20th, 2010 at 11:00 am

    Fangraphs.com, input Wang, click Search

  50. Erica - always OPPC - Bring Back Johnny!!!! January 20th, 2010 at 11:03 am

    Just in case anyone was itching for their daily Johnny Damon fix-

    http://www.mlbtraderumors.com/.....ement.html

  51. Jacob Ruppert January 20th, 2010 at 11:04 am

    I was really hoping we would bring back Wang this season but after reading this post, I am a little hesitant. I still think he can be effective if he can regain his velocity but I am not sure that is possible. Either way, I wish the Wanger the best.

    I also read that ESPN article comparing Sanchez to Russell. I guess it goes to show you that the football version of sabermetrics hasn’t quite reached baseball’s level because that comparison is absurd.

    Russell at least had one season to pick up the NFL before he was thrust into the starting role. Sanchez had to come in and immediately start. He is learning on the job. I think a better comparison is Flacco who had to do the same and put up better numbers. But Flacco, IIRC, started for at least 3 years at Delaware while Sanchez had 1 season at USC so I think we can cut the kid some slack until he has had more than 35 starts since high school.

  52. randy l. January 20th, 2010 at 11:04 am

    jerkface-

    assume this is the page you’re referring to:

    http://www.fangraphs.com/pitch.....position=P

  53. sarge-in-fla January 20th, 2010 at 11:06 am

    excellent article. easy to understand, even for a yankee fan of my considerable age. thanks.

  54. Erin January 20th, 2010 at 11:06 am

    Erica-Ernie and Bert’s “Dance Myself to Sleep” just came on my ipod :)

  55. GreenBeret7 January 20th, 2010 at 11:06 am

    I’m sure Cashman realizes it now that it’s too late, but, Cashman should have been put on the 60 Day DL to start the season to get him into pitching condition. They wasted him for the first 3 months that turned into another year. He’s got a very good chance to really help another team by June or mid-season at the latest. It amounts to picking up a free starter for the run.

  56. Dan January 20th, 2010 at 11:07 am

    A minor but important distinction: Wang ripped up his foot in Houston, not his ankle.

    As for the rest of the post, the numbers are certainly an indicator that the league was catching onto him. I do feel he was both smart and talented enough to adapt, however, the injuries have never allowed him the opportunity to adjust.

    I wouldn’t be surprised if he signed with St. Louis and was a No. starter by Sept. 1. Wang is a good pitcher.

  57. randy l. January 20th, 2010 at 11:07 am

    or rather this one:
    http://www.fangraphs.com/stats.....#pitchtype

  58. Jerkface January 20th, 2010 at 11:07 am

    Just his regular pitch type page.

  59. GreenBeret7 January 20th, 2010 at 11:10 am

    Cashman should have been put on the 60 Day DL

    Oooops. Don’t get excited, Randy, I don’t agree with your views on Cashman….though, I’m not sure that he’s a great talent evaluator.

    ***Wang*** should have been put on the 60 Day DL

  60. Frank January 20th, 2010 at 11:10 am

    “m
    January 20th, 2010 at 10:49 am
    “The “sinker organization” thing does seem weak.”

    Who came up with this one? Isn’t Mitre a sinkerballer?”

    It was Randy, but as it turns out he was drawing a comparison with the Cardinals rather than flat out saying the Yankees aren’t a sinkerball organization. That is NOT weak.

  61. Greg January 20th, 2010 at 11:10 am

    Hey Frank R.! Thank you! I hope you and your family are doing well!

    Randy and others: There are definitely things that Wang did very well for the Yanks and there are more factors that go into how well a pitcher pitches. I didn’t only consider the bad stats of Wang’s, these were just things that would make me hesitate about resigning a pitcher in the AL East.
    It was hard to include comparisons to other sinkerball pitchers and other stats to support my theory, while keeping the post to around 300 words. This topic is something you can go on about for hours, so I decided to focus on those areas.

    Thank you everyone for reading.

  62. Erica - always OPPC - Bring Back Johnny!!!! January 20th, 2010 at 11:13 am

    Erin
    January 20th, 2010 at 11:06 am
    Erica-Ernie and Bert’s “Dance Myself to Sleep” just came on my ipod

    ********************

    I need to download that one to my iPod. I totally have a CD with that song on it. LOL

  63. MaineYankee January 20th, 2010 at 11:15 am

    randy

    This a question, not to be confused with me disagreeing with you.

    Is it possible that Wang was having issues with the shoulder again as to why the Yankees were having him throw something other than the sinker?

    Understand I have no understanding as to the effects of certain pitches on the shoulder, so this is just a thought as to the Yankees agenda with him.

  64. braeden January 20th, 2010 at 11:17 am

    Wang is a good pitcher when well. I have to trust Cashman on this one. Even though I hated the way Eiland treated his offseason last year, setting him up to fail. He wasn’t allowed to workout in the offseason. How did he make it through spring training not being up to par, who dropped the ball?

    Bob Klaspich:Johnny Damon running out of options http://www.northjersey.com/spo.....l/yankees/

    mlbtr says he considered retirement?

  65. bru January 20th, 2010 at 11:18 am

    on fangraph for wang under pitch type values comparing years 07 & 09

    for 07 his wfb is 13.0
    in 09 his wfb is -16.1

    w – The prefix “w” infront of any of the pitch types denotes runs above average.

    what is this telling us ????

  66. Erin January 20th, 2010 at 11:18 am

    Erica – always OPPC – Bring Back Johnny!!!!
    January 20th, 2010 at 11:13 am
    Erin
    January 20th, 2010 at 11:06 am
    Erica-Ernie and Bert’s “Dance Myself to Sleep” just came on my ipod

    ********************

    I need to download that one to my iPod. I totally have a CD with that song on it. LOL

    ****************
    It may just be my favorite E&B song. I love when Ernie sings the line about the Boogie Woogie Sheep, and Bert goes “the what?” It cracks me up every time. lol

  67. bru January 20th, 2010 at 11:19 am

    http://www.fangraphs.com/stats.....position=P

  68. kd January 20th, 2010 at 11:20 am

    nice post.

    i will miss wang and thank him for what he did. never say never though, who though javier would be back?

  69. Jerkface January 20th, 2010 at 11:21 am

    Wang has never led the league in GB%: Brandon Webb, Derek Lowe, Fausto Carmona, Tim Hudson, Felix Hernandez, Jake Westbrook, AJ burnett, Mark Mulder, and Aaron Cook have all at some point been above Wang.

    He is always near the top, but never the best in any season. The thing is though, guys like Brandon Webb and the others use other pitches effectively. Webb throws way less fastballs, because he has a nice change and curve. He also strikes dudes out. I guess wang just isn’t a complete player and would be better served just pounding fastballs, but other pitchers can mix it up effectively while maintaining better GB rates than Wang.

  70. Erica - always OPPC - Bring Back Johnny!!!! January 20th, 2010 at 11:23 am

    Erin
    January 20th, 2010 at 11:18 am

    It may just be my favorite E&B song. I love when Ernie sings the line about the Boogie Woogie Sheep, and Bert goes “the what?” It cracks me up every time. lol

    ************

    Did you see the Sesame Street cake on Cake Boss (TLC) last night??? Check your listings they repeat the show constantly.

    It was AMAZING!!!!! I would gladly accept it for my next birthday

  71. randy l. January 20th, 2010 at 11:24 am

    “Yesterday, I began my writing at FanGraphs with the assertion that right-handed sinker-throwing prospects are a breed inherently undervalued by the conventions of minor league prospect coverage. They do not throw hard, they do not strike people out, and they do not possess a ceiling.
    … Simply: they are underrated because they are most dependent on inexperienced fielders.”-bryan smith fangraphs

    http://www.fangraphs.com/blogs.....s-part-two

    jerkface-

    so minor league sinkerball pitchers are undervalued?

    is that why st louis has had so much success in bringing in guys like Joel Pineiro and encouraging his two seam fastball and sinker.

    is the sinkerball undervalued in major league baseball?

    i can see it now.
    news flash:” sabermetrics discovers sinkerball is an undervalued pitch only a year after discovering defense is an undervalued asset.”

  72. CR9 January 20th, 2010 at 11:24 am

    Frank

    Did I mention anything to do with this playoffs re: Sanchez?

    No, I did not. ESPN’s comparison to Russell is clearly anti-NY slanted. A kid, in his first NFL season, starting every game, after starting 1 season at USC, is doing pretty darn good.

    But since you brought this playoffs up, he did help win the Bengals win, and helped with the Lead Changing TD in the Chargers game as well. I do not see why, if the situation demands it, Sanchez cannot help this team win.

    His role is obviously to “not lose the game” a la Trent Dilfer with the Ravens, but he can certainly win the game if the situation demands it.

    My Brady comparison is absurd, but when a person objectively looks at it, what exactly is Brady?

    Sometimes my view gets clouded and I think he is some extraordinary QB, but really, he may be nothing more than the creation of videotape of other team’s film.

  73. Erin January 20th, 2010 at 11:26 am

    Erica – always OPPC – Bring Back Johnny!!!!
    January 20th, 2010 at 11:23 am
    Erin
    January 20th, 2010 at 11:18 am

    It may just be my favorite E&B song. I love when Ernie sings the line about the Boogie Woogie Sheep, and Bert goes “the what?” It cracks me up every time. lol

    ************

    Did you see the Sesame Street cake on Cake Boss (TLC) last night??? Check your listings they repeat the show constantly.

    It was AMAZING!!!!! I would gladly accept it for my next birthday

    *******************
    NO!!!! I’ll have to see if I can catch it tonight-thanks for the heads up!

  74. Erica - always OPPC - Bring Back Johnny!!!! January 20th, 2010 at 11:28 am

    Erin
    January 20th, 2010 at 11:26 am

    Did you see the Sesame Street cake on Cake Boss (TLC) last night??? Check your listings they repeat the show constantly.

    It was AMAZING!!!!! I would gladly accept it for my next birthday
    *****************

    Sesame Workshop ordered the cake for the 40th anniversary. When they brought the cake to the party all of the muppets were there!!!!!!!!!!!!

    *******************
    NO!!!! I’ll have to see if I can catch it tonight-thanks for the heads up!

  75. GreenBeret7 January 20th, 2010 at 11:29 am

    randy l.
    January 20th, 2010 at 11:24 am
    “Yesterday, I began my writing at FanGraphs with the assertion that right-handed sinker-throwing prospects are a breed inherently undervalued by the conventions of minor league prospect coverage. They do not throw hard, they do not strike people out, and they do not possess a ceiling.
    … Simply: they are underrated because they are most dependent on inexperienced fielders.”-bryan smith fangraphs

    http://www.fangraphs.com/blogs…..s-part-two

    jerkface-

    so minor league sinkerball pitchers are undervalued?

    is that why st louis has had so much success in bringing in guys like Joel Pineiro and encouraging his two seam fastball and sinker.

    is the sinkerball undervalued in major league baseball?

    i can see it now.
    news flash:” sabermetrics discovers sinkerball is an undervalued pitch only a year after discovering defense is an undervalued asset.”

    ————————————————————

    good thing that Mel Stottlemyre never found out that he was undervalued and lucky besides, huh? That’s who Wang reminds me most of.

  76. CR9 January 20th, 2010 at 11:34 am

    m
    January 20th, 2010 at 10:29 am
    “sick”?

    “How do describe people who go postal or do unthinkable things to others?”

    Umm… What’s the point of that question?

    I would describe those people as being sick, but would not judge them, and cerainly not without the facts.

    Does that mean I cannot think that an ESPN article is sick? I, along with every other Lohud blogger, have the facts regarding ESPN. The fact that they’d attempt to compare apples and oranges to the point of turning Mark Sanchez into a flop like Russell is absurd. Even being a Patriots fan, one would think you might see that.

  77. Jerkface January 20th, 2010 at 11:34 am

    so minor league sinkerball pitchers are undervalued?

    I think most minor league sinkerballers with a modicum of command could come to the big leagues and be decent (innings + high ERA) to good without effort. I don’t know if they are undervalued. They might be. I suppose many are burned out before they reach the majors because minor league defenses are more than likely to be terrible.

    I think organizations like The Twins might see the high ERA and not think to look further and end up losing out on good sinkerballers.

  78. bru January 20th, 2010 at 11:35 am

    wangs wfb was
    05 13.5
    06 18.8
    07 13.0
    08 8.6

    in 2009 his wfb was -16.1

    i don’t know exactly what this says but it is a huge drop off

    was his fastball the problem?

    location,velocity,etc???

  79. Jerkface January 20th, 2010 at 11:38 am

    was his fastball the problem?

    location,velocity,etc???

    Did you watch last season? Yes his fastball was the problem. All belt high and right down the middle. Terrible.

  80. randy l. January 20th, 2010 at 11:38 am

    maine yankee-

    i would think the sinker should be easier on the right handed shoulder because of the pronation built in to it( turning a doorknob to the left). sliders tend to create supination( doorknob turned to right).

    but i don’t know what the yankees thought about wang’s shoulder.

    i would think a slider would make a bad shoulder worse.

  81. blake January 20th, 2010 at 11:39 am

    Damon isn’t going to retire.

  82. Erica - always OPPC - Bring Back Johnny!!!! January 20th, 2010 at 11:41 am

    Erin-

    I am reposting this cause I managed to type my comment in the middle of the old ones. Silly me.
    ****
    Sesame Workshop ordered the cake for the 40th anniversary. When they brought the cake to the party all of the muppets were there!!!!!!!!!!!!

  83. randy l. January 20th, 2010 at 11:42 am

    I think organizations like The Twins might see the high ERA and not think to look further and end up losing out on good sinkerballers.”

    jerface -

    are you kidding?

    the twins just look at won/ lost record.

    they never get to era.

  84. m January 20th, 2010 at 11:44 am

    CR9,

    My post got eaten, but I was just giving you a hard time.

    People who harm others in twisted ways are “sick”. People who bruise the feelings of certain fanbases are “biased” or “senior writers at espn.com”. ;)

    And comparing Russell who’s never done a thing in his professional career to Sanchez who’s helped his team reach the AL Championship in his first year is ridiculous, but it isn’t “sick” imo.

    :peace:

  85. Erin January 20th, 2010 at 11:46 am

    Erica – always OPPC – Bring Back Johnny!!!!
    January 20th, 2010 at 11:41 am
    Erin-

    I am reposting this cause I managed to type my comment in the middle of the old ones. Silly me.
    ****
    Sesame Workshop ordered the cake for the 40th anniversary. When they brought the cake to the party all of the muppets were there!!!!!!!!!!!!

    ************************
    OMG, I HAVE to see this!! Thanks so much for telling me about it! :)

  86. randy l. January 20th, 2010 at 11:47 am

    prediction:

    if wang wins 19 games with the cardinals in 2011, this blog will explode.

  87. The Mad Prince in Pinstripes January 20th, 2010 at 11:48 am

    “Ultimately, though, it seems that Brian Cashman has once again accurately gauged the outfield market.”

    OK, that’s grand and whatever and I am glad we let Abreu walk, but if Cash has accurate gauged the market and could have Damon for $5-6 million this year, I’d like to see the Yankees reap the benefits of properly gauging the market.

    Damon can still help the Yankees a lot.

    I recognize that Cashman called Boras’s bluff and has successfully made he and Damon look like fools, but I like Damon, love his swing, and dig what he brings to a club.

    I hope he reaches out to Cashman asap on a one year deal.

  88. Jerkface January 20th, 2010 at 11:50 am

    the twins just look at won/ lost record.

    they never get to era.

    They’re gonna miss out on a lot more than some sinkerballs then! :)

    Everyone thinks SABR guys are against sinkerballers because of the luck thats inherant in being a good sinkerballer. I think that is true in some cases, but I really feel that a good SABR analyst should be able to see that Chien-Ming Wang, or Aaron Cook, or whoever, with a good defense is going to be an asset.

    And if a team is so old fashioned they are looking at wins or just a pitchers performance on the face of things (Bill Smith suggesting he’d rather have Livan Hernandez despite no one ever thinking Livan looked like a good pitcher and his stats all sucked) then they would also be missing out on sinkerballers that have bad defenses. At the same time an old fashioned organization should be able to see exactly what is happening with a sinkerballer without needing stats.

    Teams like the Cardinals obviously value groundballs and I think they try to put together excellent infield defense.

    So in that sense, with both ‘sides’ having reasons for overlooking sinkerballers might lead to them being undervalued.

    I’d love to be GM for a few years and see if I could collect a bunch of ground ball pitchers. I’d have to use things mentioned in that article like defensive efficiency and the like to project my ballers with a major league defense. I’d imagine I’d get a solid but not overwhelming rotation with adequate depth.

    Maybe that is a reason they are overlooked. No sinkerballer is going to be dominant unless they have other useful skills (Webb, Halladay, Felix strike guys out), so why focus on a group of players that will never be the best all around? Could be another reason they got undervalued, like when on base wasn’t really looked at because many on base guys weren’t going to be the best option.

  89. m January 20th, 2010 at 11:50 am

    What kind of friend would tell a reporter that their friend is considering retirement?

  90. m January 20th, 2010 at 11:54 am

    That being said, even though Damon would bring a lot to the club as some (passionately) point out, the fact remains that he’s in decline.

  91. The Mad Prince in Pinstripes January 20th, 2010 at 11:56 am

    m, maybe that friend knows something about Damon that we don’t. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with his considering retirement.

    he’s won two rings, one with NYY and one with BOS, he’s made a ton of money, and probably doesn’t find playing for a $2 million contract to be worth the effort that comes with a 162 game season.

    I don’t blame him…I’d retire if I was a pro baseball player and contributing member of a championship team and was being offered such a vast decrease in salary.

  92. m January 20th, 2010 at 11:57 am

    Oops, my last post was not to say that Damon is close to retirement. Just to say that “he would bring a lot to the club” doesn’t come without risk or costing you defensively.

  93. Jerkface January 20th, 2010 at 11:58 am

    m, maybe that friend knows something about Damon that we don’t. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with his considering retirement.

    What friend is snitching to reporters about your plans? Sounds like a crappy anon source or likely, not a real friend.

  94. MaineYankee January 20th, 2010 at 11:59 am

    randy

    That sounds logical.

    I guess my thought on the Wang situation is that possibly the Yankees tried to change his pitching style based on things they knew about him that we aren’t privy to.

  95. m January 20th, 2010 at 11:59 am

    Mad,

    Nothing wrong with considering retirement. He might not be feeling the love right now, and could be feeling down about the prospect of playing.

    But if my friend was trying to get a contract as a free agent, I certainly wouldn’t divulge that kind of information.

    Who needs friends like that?

  96. blake January 20th, 2010 at 12:00 pm

    I don’t see much risk at all if they can get Damon for one year at 5 million.

  97. randy l. January 20th, 2010 at 12:00 pm

    jerkface-

    just from my quick look at fangraphs, one of the problems with a sinker ball pitcher’s stats is that there is not a stat for sinkerballs.

    a two seam fastball that burnett throws doesnt act at all like a two seam fastball that wang throws.

    and i think there’s a difference in wang’s two seam fastball and his sinker though i’m not sure of that.

    fangraphs lists wang’s sinkers in with his fourseam fastballs .

    that’s not a very accurate thing to do.

  98. m January 20th, 2010 at 12:02 pm

    blake,

    Not a real risk.

    But they’ll have to massage Damon’s playing time to coax what they need out of him.

    Abreu took $5M, but as far as I know he played fulltime in the field and played it pretty well.

    I don’t think the Yankees see Damon as a fulltime player for them.

  99. Jerkface January 20th, 2010 at 12:03 pm

    fangraphs lists wang’s sinkers in with his fourseam fastballs .

    that’s not a very accurate thing to do.

    PitchFX, I am almost positive, differentiates from a sinker and a 4seam and a 2seam, so I think its just how fangraphs aggregates data. There are some pitchFX tools you can use that can give you really detailed charts and things, but I am not at home so I don’t have any of my bookmarks.

  100. Jerkface January 20th, 2010 at 12:09 pm

    http://rzar.wordpress.com/2009.....h-fx-tool/

    Here is a link to a ton of pitchFX tools.

  101. Wave Your Hat January 20th, 2010 at 12:10 pm

    “Sabremetric” guys like pitchers who throw strikeouts.

    Randy l will probably say that there’s no great insight there, that back in the day all the grizzled old scouts liked strikeouts too. For good reason. If you strike guys out, nothing bad can happen. If you let batters put the ball in play, it gets a lot dicier.

    Wang’s below average strikeout rates tended to make folks nervous about how long he could continue to excel. That’s not to say once he rehabs fully he won’t go on to great success somewhere – there are exceptions to every rule.

    I’d love to see Wang win 20 games somewhere even if it’s not with the Yanks. But I’m pretty sure if he does win 20, it won’t be with the Yanks. To win 20 you need an opportunity to start, and it is unlikely to happen for him here.

  102. randy l. January 20th, 2010 at 12:13 pm

    “I guess my thought on the Wang situation is that possibly the Yankees tried to change his pitching style based on things they knew about him that we aren’t privy to.”

    maine yankee-

    that could be the case.

    i could throw a real monkey wrench into the situation if i said that wang’s coach told me he could teach wang how to throw the slider with the same arm pronation and stride length as he throws his sinker if he were still his coach ( i wouldn’t do that though because i don’t like to cause trouble) . :)

    all the pronation/supination when stuff throwing different pitches is beyond my baseball knowledge ( you have to remember my main job as a bullpen catcher was to stop the ball from rolling a really long way ).

    but it is my understanding that all pitches can be thrown with the arm supinating. it doesn’t make quite make sense to me, but i don’t doubt it’s true.

    teams do teach how to throw breaking balls differently . i read once that the braves organization, for example, teaches supinating the wrist , elbow, shoulder a bit when throwing breaking pitches.

    mike marshall would have a stroke with that.

    the overall point is that there is a lot of behind the scenes stuff that we fans don’t know which is what you’re saying.

    i agree.

  103. vin January 20th, 2010 at 12:13 pm

    “If you strike guys out, nothing bad can happen.”

    Unless if Posada is catching. ;)

  104. m January 20th, 2010 at 12:17 pm

    The New York Times is going to start charging for content.

  105. blake January 20th, 2010 at 12:17 pm

    m,
    I don’t see any reason why Damon couldn’t give the Yankees what he did last year and that was worth more than 5 million dollars. I think he gives them insurance in case Johnson gets hurt and I think its nice to have another professional hitter around come playoff time.

  106. m January 20th, 2010 at 12:17 pm

    *online content

  107. randy l. January 20th, 2010 at 12:22 pm

    “PitchFX, I am almost positive, differentiates from a sinker and a 4seam and a 2seam, so I think its just how fangraphs aggregates data.”

    jerkface-

    it seems that fangraphs doesn’t differentiate with it’s fx data.

    http://www.fangraphs.com/pitch.....position=P

    if you look at the pitch types in the glossary box to the right the sinker isn’t even listed as a pitch.

    that’s clearly a situation where fangraghs could be improved.

    there is obviously such a pitch as a sinkerball and fangraphs doesn’t seem to recognize that.

  108. Jerkface January 20th, 2010 at 12:24 pm

    Yea Fangraphs doesn’t list a sinker, but they just take the raw pitchFX data and aggregate it into whatever they are displaying. You should write them a cranky email to stop including sinkers in their fastball category.

  109. SJ44 January 20th, 2010 at 12:28 pm

    The issue isn’t whether the Yankees see Damon as a fulltime player. If they sign him, he’s playing fulltime.

    The issue is, they don’t want to pay him what he wants, Period.

    Its not more complicated than that.

    He has NO offers on the market at the present time. None.

    None at 7 million, 5 million or even 2 million.

    There is no reason for the Yankees to pay him 5 million a season because they would be bidding against themselves.

    That’s not going to happen, no matter how much they like the guy.

    This is where fans have a disconnect with their teams. Its a business first to the teams and the players. Whomever has the hammer (player or team) uses it.

    In this instance, the Yankees correctly evaluated the Damon Market. They aren’t changing their minds.

    If he wants to play for 2 million, he’s a Yankee.

    My guess is, he’s not playing for 2 million. He would retire before doing that.

    He got bad advice from Boras. He should have a 2/14 deal with the Yankees in his pocket right now.

    Unfortunately for Johnny, you can’t unring that bell.

  110. m January 20th, 2010 at 12:30 pm

    blake,

    Certainly no harm when you put it that way.

    Damon will have to accept certain realities very soon, imo.

    But he’s a gamer. He’ll land on his two-feet just fine.

  111. randy l. January 20th, 2010 at 12:31 pm

    jerkface-

    i’m kind of lazy sometimes so i freely pass the ball to you to improve fangraphs by telling them about this.

    afterall, if it wasn’t for you sending me to fangraphs, i wouldn’t have noticed it.

  112. S.o.S. January 20th, 2010 at 12:33 pm

    I cant take this anymore!! Ill take signing Tony Womack for our left field void just to have something else to talk about. I cant remember a year that its been so dead in here with not much action from the front office. We’ve beatin the Johnny horse to death. Anxiety has gotten the best of me.

  113. Erin January 20th, 2010 at 12:34 pm

    SJ44
    January 20th, 2010 at 12:28 pm

    My guess is, he’s not playing for 2 million. He would retire before doing that.

    ********************
    I wondered earlier if Damon’s kicking himself for not taking that offer. It’s too bad the situation is what it is right now-I never expected Damon to be without a team on January 20th.

  114. Erin January 20th, 2010 at 12:34 pm

    New post

  115. blake January 20th, 2010 at 12:35 pm

    Sj,

    Of course if they could get Damon for less than 5 million then that’s great but don’t you think anything 5 and under is a pretty good value for him?

    I agree that they don’t want to pay him what he wants but by all accounts that’s still well above 1/5.

  116. Frank January 20th, 2010 at 12:35 pm

    “The New York Times is going to start charging for content.”

    Noted Ghostbuster, Egon Spengler said it best when he uttered “Print is dead”.

    What choice have they got? Circulation is in the toilet. I think we’ll see more of this from newspapers down the road. Personally, I’d only buy the NYT if I were housebreaking a puppy, but I would not object to paying the equivalent of an annual subscription for the right to read the content of a paper I’m interested in. Not sure how they can survive without charging for it.

  117. Louisiana Lightning In A Bottle January 20th, 2010 at 12:52 pm

    I appreciate Wang’s performance as a front line Yankee starter. That said, you could see it in 2008 – the sinker started to tail rather than sink, velocity down an average of 2 – 3 mph. From there, bad luck took over. With velocity in the low 90′s and average secondary pitches Wang projects to poor man’s Derek Lowe (best case).

  118. Raja January 20th, 2010 at 4:01 pm

    This is pretty biased journalism. Surely Wang deserves better respect. I agree that while his ground ball rate has gone down, his strikeout rate over the same period has doubled. If he can get his mechanics squared away, he is still a dominating pitcher. The Yankees could do much worse for a #5 pitcher than Wang.

  119. mke d January 20th, 2010 at 8:08 pm

    the problem was everyone put pressure on wang that u have to be a strike out pitcher to be an ace that is when the numbers started to fall good luck CMW


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