A great story by Travis Sawchik at Triblive.com about the Pirates. Specifically, how they got better. More specifically, how it was largely a function of improving the defense. Not by merely getting good defensive players, but through strategy, research and hard work:
The Pirates experimented with a comprehensive defensive philosophy the past several seasons, but this was different.
• Position players had to change. They had to shift from areas of the field where they had been stationed their entire careers and trust the pitching staff’s ability to locate pitches.
• Pitchers had to change. The staff had to rely on a new primary pitch and trust the radical defensive alignments behind them.
• Old-school coaches had to change. Coaches trained in 20th century baseball orthodoxy had to trust 21st century concepts.
The club’s improvement would not come through adding Gold Glove-caliber fielders or pricey free agent pitchers but rather improving the sum of its defensive parts.
The plan has been a success.
Go read the article and check out the plan. It’s a great explanatory piece in and of itself and it’s a great example of how defense likely will never be reduced to a single or even a couple of overarching stats. So many moving parts. Watching the moving is pretty fantastic.
Wild Card teams get to set their roster for the one-and-done game and then reset it for the Division Series if they advance. As such, you sometimes see some weirdness with the wild card roster. The Yankees, who just set theirs for tonight’s game, are no exception.
Masahiro Tanaka will be tonight’s starter, but Luis Severino, also a starter, will be around as well in case Tanaka gets knocked out early and they need more innings. In all, the Yankees are carrying nine pitchers and three catchers. In addition, they have Rob Refsnyder, Slade Heathcott, and pinch-runner Rico Noel as bench players. In case you forgot, pinch running can matter a lot in a Wild Card Game.
Either way, it beats having a regular season-type roster with 13 pitchers or something. I mean, if you’re using more than nine pitchers, you ain’t winning anyway.
Here’s the whole roster:
It was inevitable that someone would report on what, specifically, was going on with CC Sabathia in the run up to his decision to go into rehab yesterday. And today we have that story, at least in the broad strokes, from the New York Post.
Speaking to an anonymous source close to Sabathia, the Post reports that the Yankees’ starter more or less went on a bender from Thursday into Friday and continued on to Saturday, which resulted in his Sunday afternoon phone call to Brian Cashman in which he said he needed help.
Notable detail: Sabathia is referred to as “not a big drinker” in the story. Which is something worth thinking about when you think of others who have trouble with alcohol. It’s not always about massive or constant consumption. It’s about the person’s relationship with substances that is the real problem. Many who drink a good deal are totally fine. Many who don’t drink much do so in problematic ways and patterns. For this reason, and many others, it’s useful to avoid engaging in cliches and stereotypes of addicts.