A Series Preview With River Ave Blues’ Joe Pawlikowski | The Process Report

A Series Preview With River Ave Blues’ Joe Pawlikowski

With the Rays and Yankees squaring off beginning tonight, it seems like as good of a time as ever to catch up on things in the Yankees’ universe. In doing so, we turn to Joe Pawlikowski from the best Yankees’ site around, River Avenue Blues, to get some perspective on Joba Chamberlain, Joe Girardi, and Derek Jeter, amongst others.

The Process Report: For the life of me, I’m having issues figuring out what the problem is with Joba Chamberlain’s ERA because of his good stuff and peripherals. Is his BABIP mostly a victim of fluctuating circumstances, or is there something more there?

Joe Pawlikowski: There are certainly some luck issues with the BABIP. But he’s also laying in some fat pitches, maybe to avoid the walk. He had some issues with control last year, so this could be his way of working on it. So it’s a combination of luck and fat pitches, but I’m not sure what the split is.

TPR: Derek Jeter is, by far, the worst producing regular bat in the lineup over the past few weeks. Is the general fan base becoming frustrated with Jeter’s overall lack of production or can he just live of his reputation in perpetuity?

JP:There seems to be a divide in the Yankees’ fanbase, and it shows every time we do a post on Jeter. There are many, many fans who think he can do no wrong, and that to criticize him is to be ungrateful for the championships he has helped produced. Every time we write a post about Jeter with even a tinge of negativity we’ll get a few comments from these types. There are others, though — and I’d say that the RAB audience leans this way — who see a 36-year-old shortstop who is aging normally. They’re extremely frustrated, of course, but they don’t view this as some catastrophe.

TPR: The bullpen obviously needs some work. Are there any in-house options the Yankees can turn to? And given their near limitless budget, do you see the Yankees cleaning up on the waiver market to sure up the pen?

JP: There don’t appear to be many attractive options available on the trade market. Judging from his track record, Cashman doesn’t like to trade for relievers. I’m sure they’ll pay attention to see who becomes available, but I wouldn’t count on anything there. In-house they don’t have a ton of options unless they want to take a AAA starter and put him in the bullpen. The guy I had high hopes for coming into the season, Mark Melancon, is apparently broken. He’s been pretty horrible since May.

TPR: Jesus Montero’s name was dropped in the Cliff Lee deal – believably so – and … well, the fantastic Joakim Soria rumor that made no sense whatsoever. Is he just the new buzzword in trade talk involving New York or do you think the Yankees are legitimately interested in moving him?

JP: I don’t think they’re interested in moving him. They might not be optimistic about him sticking at catcher, and obviously he can’t play 1B for the Yanks, but I think they’d prefer to have his bat in the lineup, even at DH, before they trade him. I imagine his value to other teams would be higher if he proves he can hit at the major league level, rather than at the AAA level, where he’s absolutely murdering the ball now.

To the Soria rumor, that was based on nothing. It was speculation that went through a few rounds of telephone and turned into something it wasn’t.

TPR: Can you sum up Joe Girardi in a concise manner? Is he smart? Does he have lapses? How does he compare to Joe Torre and your perception of Terry Francona and Joe Maddon?

JP: Girardi’s a former catcher with an engineering degree from Northwestern, so he’s certainly smart. He seems to apply his intelligence to baseball well. He has lapses, and he makes some inexplicable moves (subbing Aceves for Robertson in Game 3 of the ALCS, for example), but overall I couldn’t be happier. He does a good job with picking the correct reliever in the right situation. Torre did his thing and was successful, but his warts showed towards the end of his tenure.

I think he’s on a level somewhere around Francona and Maddon, though Francona has much more experience and Maddon has his creative streak. In any case, I don’t think there’s a manager I’d rather have for this franchise and this group of players than Girardi.

TPR: RAB is heavily involved in the August 7 event, can you share some insight on the get together for the New York readers previously naïve of its existence?

JP: The TV Guide description would be, “Group of excitable writers and media types gather to discuss baseball coverage and statistics.” We’re going to kick things off a New York baseball panel, featuring the three of us at RAB and moderated by Carson Cistulli. Anyone who has listened to FanGraphs Audio should know that it will mean a jovial, well-led discussion. There will also be a statistics panel featuring Mitchel Litchtman, a/k/a MGL, co-author of The Book and creator of UZR. The headliner, though, will be a baseball media panel, which promises to be a doozy. Will Leitch (Deadspin, New York Magazine), Michael Silverman (Boston Herald), Alex Speier (WEEI), Matt Cerrone (MetsBlog), John Sciambi (ESPN), and many more will discuss how baseball is covered. With Jonah Keri moderating the panel, I expect nothing short of the most enlightening conversation about this topic ever formally held.

Thanks to Joe for partaking and make sure to check out my half of the series preview at River Avenue Blues. If you’d like more information on the RAB-FG event or wish to purchase a ticket, check out this link.

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