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Posted By Dr. Stan, the Stats Man

This year’s second three-game Subway Series has all New York talking. This is the first Subway Series staged in September with both teams in pennant races. The Yankees are the underdog for the first time in a long time and need the wins much more than the Mets. I checked for available seats for Sunday’s final game and found less than 10 seats available with all of them costing over 200 dollars. Over 125,000 fans will be at Citi Field to watch the three games. With the Mets’ three power-arms of Matz, Syndergaard and Harvey scheduled to pitch in the series, as a life-long Yankee fan, I expected the Yankees to lose two or maybe all three games.

The Mets pitching along with their newly explosive offensive attack and the absence of Teixeira and A-Rod from the Yankee offense led me to my pessimistic thoughts. Before the series began the Yankees trailed the Blue Jays by three games in the loss column. At the same time as the Mets and Yankees clash the Blue Jays would meet the Red Sox in a three-game series. Following these two series the Yankees would square off against the Blue Jays in their final three-game meeting for this year. For the Yankees to keep their slim hopes alive to overtake the Blue Jays it was imperative that they stayed within three games in the loss column.

The result of game 1 was a Mets 5-1 victory. Tanaka made two bad pitches which led to home runs by Duda and Murphy. Matz pitched five scoreless innings and at the end of the night the Yankees were 4.5 games behind the Blue Jays. At this point I felt the door was now closed and the Yankees are destined to appear in the one-game Wild Card game. Game 2 started off with a bang supplied by Carlos Beltran when he followed singles by Ellsbury and Gardiner with a home run off a 100 mph Syndergaard fastball. Pineda was at his best leading the Yankees to a 5-0 victory. The final game of the series matched Sabathia against Harvey. Harvey was unhittable for the five innings he was allowed to pitch. Sabathia, after giving up back to back doubles in the first inning, pitched his best game of the year. The score was 1 to 0 until Harvey was removed after only 77 pitches in five innings. The Mets bullpen preceded to detonate which led to a Yankee 11-2 blowout victory. With the Blue Jays losing their final two games to the Red Sox, the Yankees were now only 2.5 games behind the Jays. The stage is now set for their three-game series beginning Monday in Toronto. The Mets after losing two out of three games to the Yankees are still in great shape leading the Nationals by six games.

With Texeira and A-Rod not playing in the series, the veteran ex-Met Beltran was the hitting hero. Beltran’s three-run home run in game-two was the key blow. In game-three Beltran again sparked the Yankees driving in the first two Yankee runs with a double. After giving up two doubles to the Mets first two hitters in the first inning, CC Sabathia was a newly reinvented pitcher. No longer able to throw his fastball at 95 mph, Sabathia used all his pitches to keep the Mets off balance resulting in six excellent innings.

The scheduled pitchers for the three game series with the Blue Jays are Warren, Serverino and Nova for the Yankees and Price, Estrada and Stroman for the Jays. Warren is returning from the bullpen and is expected to throw about 80 pitches, Nova, returning from Tommy John Surgery, has not been good. Clearly, the pitching edge belongs to the Blue Jays. Along with their pitching edge, Toronto also has one of the most potent hitting attacks in baseball. The Yankees need to win at least two of the three games to stay in contention for a division win. Will this happen? I don’t think so.  

Finally, assuming both the Mets and Yankees make the playoffs can we maybe see a Yankees versus Mets World Series? Such a World Series between the Yankees and Mets would return baseball to its top spot in New York.

Posted By Dr. Stan, the Stats Man

In Michael Lewis’ book, Moneyball: The Art of Winning an Unfair Game, he chronicles how Billy Beane, the long-time GM of Oakland, a small budget team, had to resort to unusual tactics to make Oakland competitive. One of these strategies was to just stay within reach of making the playoffs for the first half of the season and then through the use of trades before the non-waiver trade deadline and call-ups in September make the final run for the playoffs.

Because of Oakland’s limited budget, players requiring long-term multi-million dollar contracts, were out of his reach in the off-season. This brings me to the date of July 31. July 31 is the end of the non-waiver trade deadline. Starting August 1 of each season, clubs can put players on a special type of waivers. Any player who could possibly be traded can be put on waivers and if they are claimed, the club can call them back without losing the player. If a player is not claimed within the 48-hour waiver period, he can be traded to any MLB team during the month of August. If multiple teams put in claims on the same player, only one club can have the priority waiver claim. Priority is given to the team with the lowest winning percentage in the same league, from worst to first, and then from worst to first in the other league.

This rule encourages many teams out-of-playoff-contention to make trades before July 31. Teams out of playoff contention try to discard a veteran player either to reduce their budget or because they no longer feel he can help them or because they feel they can’t resign him.

This year the Mets were able to snag Yoenis Cespedes from the Tigers. Since putting on the Mets uniform he has led a resurgent Mets offense into a commanding lead in the NL East. Before the trade deadline Toronto acquired Troy Tulowitzki from the Rockies and David Price from the Tigers. These trades helped propel Toronto from an under .500 team to the lead in the AL East.

The other special date is September 1. On this date teams can promote any player on their 40-man roster to the big league club. Most will add four to eight players, bringing their roster size to about 32, but some teams end up with 35 or more.

Here are the problems I see with the September call-up rule as it now stands. First is how the length of a September game can be affected. Forty-man rosters let managers load their bullpens with as many arms as they want. From March to August of last season only two percent of games saw a team use at least eight pitchers. In September, that number skyrocketed to seven percent. As a result, the chances of a game hitting the three-hour mark also went up by about five percent. Next, this rule creates a situation where all teams do not have the same number of players active during a game. A more pressing issue is by adding players to the daily roster, the fundamental nature of the game changes. For example, there have been teams to use non-baseball players. The prime example is the role of a pinch-runner can be filled by a track star. With a 25-man active roster you could not afford the luxury to carry such a player.

Baseball is played with one set of rules for five months, yet suddenly -- when the games are most important -- those rules change. This does not happen in other sports.

I am not against the rule but would like it changed. After all are as much a part of the game as the All-Star game. Allow teams to increase the roster to 40 players but for any game only 25 players would be active. This would keep the many benefits the call-up rule brings to the young player as well as to the team. The young player gets to audition his skills and also increase his pay and increase his Major League credits toward his free-agency and his pension. Remember how last season's Royals benefitted in the World Series by letting Brandon Finnegan get his feet wet in September.




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