New York relievers from both the Bronx and Queens get examined in this week's Reaper.
Mariano Rivera| Yankees
Shallow (30 Keepers): No Medium (60 Keepers): Fringe Deep (90 Keepers): Yes AL-only (60 Keepers): Yes Super Deep (200 Keepers): Yes
As recently as last offseason, it was difficult to imagine Mariano Rivera as anything other than the ideal keeper candidate as far as closers go. It made perfect sense. While most stoppers have a shelf life comparable to that of an NFL running back, Mo’s run of sustained excellence more closely resembled that of a 40-something placekicker. Sure, he was bound see a decline in performance at some point, but when? Every year, we wondered: “Is this the year?” But it never seemed to arrive.
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Is Goose Gossage right to say that Mariano Rivera has it "easy?"
Believe it or not, most of our writers didn't enter the world sporting an @baseballprospectus.com address; with a few exceptions, they started out somewhere else. In an effort to up your reading pleasure while tipping our caps to some of the most illuminating work being done elsewhere on the internet, we'll be yielding the stage once a week to the best and brightest baseball writers, researchers and thinkers from outside of the BP umbrella. If you'd like to nominate a guest contributor (including yourself), please drop us a line.
Kevin Baker is a novelist and historian who is currently at work on a social history of New York City baseball, to be published by Pantheon.
Brian Cashman lets the Captain set his own course, but will he also say no to Mo?
Well, they don't refer to the American League East as the drama division for nothin'. In this corner, we've got two of the most recognizable stars of a generation: the Captain, Derek Jeter, face of the game's marquee franchise, plus Mariano Rivera, perhaps the greatest closer in baseball history as a matter of common perception and acclamation. And in that corner, we've got Brian Cashman, a canny money manager, even for the steward of the game's great cash cow, and a man pondering how much Steinbrenner gold he can dish out to employ the pair of grand old men.
The Yankees get back their big Mo, the Red Sox settle in long-term, plus news and views from around the game.
Joe Girardi agrees in large part with modern ways of thinking. He's a regular reader of Baseball Prospectus, holds a degree in industrial engineering from Northwestern University, and comes across as bright and articulate, which is why he landed a gig as a broadcaster for a year on Fox's national telecasts after being abruptly fired by the Marlins following his selection as National League Manager of the Year in 2006.
The Pirates are one of baseball's most inept franchises. Does the small market excuse carry any weight?
Of course, Pittsburgh is a small market club. The real question is how small relative to the other markets. Here's a revised and updated version of the population section of the "Take to Your Beds!" table:
Derek has a rundown of a Game You May Have Heard About.
So the question is, why are we back with these two teams? They came into this weekend series a game and a half apart in the standings atop the AL East. So far, the Yankees have taken the first three games-sweeping a Friday doubleheader that featured an afternoon blowout and the longest nine-inning game in major league history in the nightcap, then blasting past the Sox in the late innings of Saturday's game. With two games left in the series, the Red Sox have the opportunity to salvage the series, or to watch a prime chance slip through their fingers. With the level of competition we are seeing in the AL Central, the loser of this division race is anything but guaranteed a playoff spot via the wild card.
The PECOTA projection that has garnered the most attention this year is the one for the Reds' Wily Mo Pena. Nate Silver breaks down how PECOTA arrived at such an optimistic--and accurate--prediction.
I think it's a mistake to assume that your tools are smarter than you are. At the same time, the advantage of an objective system of measurement--be it VORP, PECOTA, or, hell, SAT scores--is that it prevents you from being fooled by biases that you might not even be aware of. Prior to this season, the name "Wily Mo Pena" conjured up an image of a young, chubby ballplayer with terrible plate discipline and a goofy name, someone had been a "prospect" for seemingly forever (a friend of mine drafted him in a Scoresheet Baseball league way back in 1999), and who was only in the big leagues as the result of an ill-advised contract that had been conceived years ago. It's easy to be dismissive of this sort of player; it seems like there are hundreds of them who have come and gone over the years. At one time or another, we've all been fooled by a big performance in a hitters' park by a player repeating the Southern League, or a hot run by an old rookie during a September cup of coffee.