Tuesday, September 05, 2006

All Cylinders

Sorry for the lack of updates recently. I've just moved in to my dorm room for the coming school. year. My class load is pretty difficult, but I should still be able to fit in a lot of updates here.

The Yankees called up Sean Henn (now a full time relief pitcher) and infielder Andy Cannizaro. Cannizaro is a career minor leaguer who managed to hit .276/.367/.380 for Columbus.

He won't see any meaningful playing time (although his .361/.426/.484 line against left handed pitching may make him more useful than say, Nick Green, to a postseason roster), but Cannizaro is a hardworker who will thoroughly enjoy this callup. He was a fan favorite in Columbus.

I've been critisizing Joe Torre all year, and despite his shortcomings, I'm having a hard time doing so right now. He has been still making the same mistakes that he has all along - keeping Jaret Wright around (you know that he is going to make the postseason roster), abusing Proctor and Villone (thankfully at least Proctor is still functional), and the like. But, as evidenced by last night's victory, this team is absolutely steamrolling right now. Even though we were being dominated by an inferior Luke Hudson, the team fought off pitch after pitch to make him work. As the Royals stretched Hudson out to 117 pitches, they were forced to bring in their terrible middle relief. As the Yankees always seem to do, they took down their weak underbelly.

Its a great formula. In 2002's Moneyball, the Oakland A's management told Michael Lewis how much they valued taking a lot of pitches. The Yankees have built this team around the same philosophy. Even Cano is begining to do so. Top-down, this is one of the greater hitting lineups that baseball has seen since the Cleveland Indians carried Thome, Ramirez, Lofton, Vizquel, Justice, Alomar, and others to the World Series.

In general, the Yankees are simply playing great fundamental baseball. Now, I don't use the big "F" work like most pundits. The Yankees don't bunt, steal, hit and run, and do all the funky little things that make games exciting but, despite popular appeal, don't lead to more winning when employed on a broad scale. The Yankees get on base (.364 OBP, by far highest in the league), are getting their hits (tied for the league lead with a .285 batting average), not making extra outs (79.9% Stolen Base rate, 2nd in the AL, 116 GIDP, 7th in the AL) and wearing out pitchers (20732 pitches seen, 2nd in the AL, 3.80 per PA). Our pitchers are keeping baserunners off the bases (.325 OBA, 4th in the AL), and not allowing extra base hits (.407 SLGA, 2nd in the AL). Jorge and friends have kept runners from running all over us, catching 43 (1st in the league) of 143 potential stealers. Our fielders turn the 2nd highest percentage of balls in play into outs (71.29%, 2nd to Detroit) in the AL. Despite scoring 776 runs (1st in the league), we have not relied on the long ball (173, 5th in the AL)

Simply enough, the Yankees are efficient. We get outs in extra places, and prevent outs in others. We take the extra base, whether through larceny or long balls.

It's hard to say bad things about a manager whose team is doing all of this. Hopefully his bullpen management doesn't cost us in the playoffs.