Friday, December 19, 2014
The Yankees are close to bolstering their biggest question mark.
The team is finalizing a deal with the Marlins on a deal that would send Martin Prado and David Phelps to the Marlins for right-hander Nathan Eovaldi and first baseman Garrett Jones plus power pitching prospect Domingo German, The Post’s Joel Sherman confirms.
Eovaldi, who turns 25 in February, went 6-14 with a 4.37 ERA last season for the Marlins. He gives the Yankees a proven arm in a rotation filled with unknowns.
This was a real gut punch, as watching a healthy Prado hit was one of the few things I was looking forward to with the 2015 Yankees on the offensive side of things, so it seemed quite curious to trade away one of the few strong parts of their biggest weakness. However, all said and done the trade is a pretty equal value deal, with the Yankees picking up a young pitcher who should at the very least eat up some innings. He’s likely a better bet to be a #4 starter than Phelps was. And Garrett Jones IS useful insurance for the inevitable Teix/A-Rod/Beltran injuries. And the Yankees might really be high on Rob Refsnyder, who could make up a lot of the value Prado was going to give just by himself, not even counting Eovaldi.
So while I don’t like the move, I understand it. Cashman is a smart GM when it comes to trades, so I really should just trust him. Plus this frees up about $6 million that could be put towards their budget for a starting pitcher, in which case this could be a really significant move if it helps them to land Scherzer.
EDITED TO ADD: Apparently the Yankes are paying $3 million of Prado’s salary this season and $3 million of his salary next season as part of the deal. I definitely don’t like that part. So this just frees up $3 million this season.
Thursday, December 18, 2014
Yankees president Randy Levine confirmed Thursday that the team is highly unlikely to bid on right-hander Max Scherzer, the top starting pitcher in this offseason’s free-agent crop.
“The chances of us bringing in a guy for six [years] and $25 million or over in my opinion is virtually none,’’ Levine told reporters at a midtown news conference to announce a broadcast deal between the YES Network and the New York Football Club. “At the end of the day you have to be realistic in any organization.’‘
Max Scherzer, 30, is believed to be seeking a deal in line with the six-year, $155 million contract Jon Lester recently signed with the Cubs.
Levine did not mention Scherzer by name, but his words echoed those of two sources who spoke to ESPNNewYork.com Wednesday on condition of anonymity.
“He’s a great pitcher,” the source said of Scherzer, “but not even the Yankees can have three $25 [million] to $30 million pitchers on the payroll. You just can’t.
Honestly, I still wouldn’t count them out on Scherzer, as that sure sounds like it might be a case of them trying to drive his price down.
The Yankees have not said they are done adding pieces to a revamped bullpen, but it doesn’t appear veteran reliever Jason Grilli will be joining the cast.
“We talked to Cash [Brian Cashman], and he said ‘not at the moment,’ ’’ said his agent, the former slugger Gary Sheffield, when asked if the Yankees were interested in the right-handed Grilli, who has 50 career saves. “We will sit back with the offers we have and wait.’’
The Yankees probably have more pressing needs than their bullpen, although I still would have liked to see them bring in a closer like Grilli and use Betances and Miller more optimally. But one will be the closer, and one will pitch the eighth, and they’ll lose a bunch of games in the sixth and seventh instead.
In addition to Grilli, Rafael Soriano is a free-agent reliever with plenty of closing experience. The 34-year-old, who pitched for the Yankees in 2011 and 2012, has 207 career saves.
Wednesday, December 17, 2014
After signing free agent third baseman Chase Headley to a four-year deal, Yankees GM Brian Cashman suggested that returning slugger Alex Rodriguez will become a full-time designated hitter for the rest of his tenure in pinstripes.
“I can’t expect Alex to be anything,” Cashman told the Associated Press. “Even before the suspension, he wasn’t the same player at third base on the defensive or offensive side.
“We look forward to him hopefully solidifying himself as a tremendous DH for us.”
I’m not all that optimistic that Rodriguez is going to hit enough to be a tremendous DH, but Yankee DHs hit .230/.290/.372 last season. Their only positions that had a lower OPS than that were right field (only two more years!) and shortstop.
Because of that, Rodriguez doesn’t necessarily have to be a tremendous DH to be an upgrade on last season. CAIRO projects him at around .252/.333/.399, which is barely above replacement level at DH. But over 500 PA, the difference between Rodriguez’s projection and the Yankee D"H"s last season would be about 14 runs. That’s like a month’s worth of runs for the Yankees these days.
Anyway, I am not expecting a damn thing from Rodriguez this year, but I would absolutely love it if he has a decent season. Not just because it would help the Yankees, who need a lot of help, but because it would annoy a lot of people. And what’s better than annoying people, really?
Tuesday, December 16, 2014
Jack Curry is reporting that the Yankees have re-signed Chris Capuano for 1 year/$5 million.
I like Capuano as a back of the rotation arm, but the Yankees still need at least one more starter for me to be sanguine about their rotation next year. Hiroki Kuroda would do it, honestly. But Scherzer (at a more reasonable, sub $200 million, contract) would be better.
Perhaps no transaction better illustrates where the Yankees are right now than signing Chase Headley to a four-year, $52 million contract.
The business model that has mainly enriched the Yankees for nearly four decades — see problem, throw wallet at problem — has ebbed toward being obsolete to them.
The number of elite position players in the game is at an historic low. The subset of those that ever become available to the Yankees is minuscule. The number of teams that could battle the Yankees for that minuscule group is larger than ever, both in free agency and trade.
I agree with Joel Sherman’s point here. It’s a lot harder to bring elite players to your team from elsewhere now. This is why the Yankees will be mediocre until they start producing their own talent again.
Monday, December 15, 2014
Per Jon Heyman’s Twitter:
headley signing with yanks. 4 yrs, a little north of $50M
A year longer than I’d have preferred, but the terms seem fair overall.
Yankee fans hoping to see Max Scherzer in pinstripes probably won’t like what GM Brian Cashman said in a television appearance late Sunday night.
Asked by NBC’s Bruce Beck about Scherzer, the best free agent starter available this winter, Cashman said, “I think that’s a lot higher level than we’re willing to play in right now.
“I don’t think Yankee fans will be looking at Max Scherzer.”
Of course, Cashman could be posturing and the Yankees’ wants and needs could evolve over the off-season. But the club has been saying that it is unlikely to pursue a long-term contract for a pitcher that probably soars toward $200 million.
Friday, December 12, 2014
Projecting the 2015 Yankees on December 12, 2014
In yesterday’s thread, there was some discussion about FanGraphs’ depth charts pegging the Yankees at around 82 wins. Quickly eyeballing their depth charts told me that their playing time estimates are way off. So I figured I’d take a shot at my own version of this and see how good the 2015 Yankees appear to be as of today, using the latest version of CAIRO which I just uploaded.
Fair warning before I start, it’s not pretty.
Let’s start with the position players.
|John Ryan Murphy||C||250||.224/.277/.356||.269||187||22||5||0||0.5|
BR: Linear weights batting runs
BRAR: BR above replacement level, adjusted for position
wOBA: Weighted on-base average
Outs: Estimated outs made at bat (including DPs)
Def: Estimated runs saved compared to average at position, pro-rated for playing time
WAR: BRAR + Def divided by 9.5
Although I have WAR listed for comparative purposes, we only really care about runs. With this depth chart and these projections and based on the league average of about 4100 outs made at the plate in a typical season, the Yankees do figure to have a slightly better offense than last year according to linear weights, although they only pick up about 16 runs over last year’s meager 633. Obviously, there are some assumptions here that may have a big impact on what they actually end up doing. Robert Refsnyder may not make the team at all if they end up signing Chase Headley. Or he could hit so well in spring training that he breaks camp as the starter and gets 600 or more PA and exceeds his projection while doing it. But based on injury history and ages, I think these depth charts are realistic as of right now, although I am always open to suggestions. We could even do a community playing time forecast if people are so inclined.
So that’s half of the team. What about the other half?
|SP9||Jose De Paula||40||47||29||5||15||26||6.04||5.00||4.51||-0.2|
FIP: Fielding-independent pitching
RAR: Runs saved above replacement level using RA
WAR: Wins above replacement level (RAR divided by 9.5)
Again, even though WAR is listed here, we only care about runs. In an ideal world, the Yankees get 200 innings out of Tanaka and Pineda and Sabathia can stay healthy and pitch to that projection and give them another 180-200 innings. In the world I live in, it’s not a question of if Tanaka’s elbow will go, it’s a question of when. I’m also not sanguine on a full and healthy season out of Pineda. I can’t imagine Sabathia’s knee will ever allow him to make 30 starts again in a season, and I’m also not sure that projection is not a pipe dream and his days of being a better than replacement level pitcher are gone. Phelps should be a fairly reliable back of the rotation guy. You can flip Warren and Mitchell if you like, but Warren doesn’t project much better as a starter. And Nova may not be able to pitch at all, or may not be any good if he does.
CAIRO LOVES Luis Severino and Jaron Long, but that’s just minor league translations and I’m not sure either is a good bet to reach their projections. It doesn’t particularly like anyone of the other potential starters. It has never like Manny Banuelos and I’m not sure why.
The bullpen looks a little better, particularly if you think Betances is better than his projection. I think most of the lower depth relievers can exceed their projections if used appropriately by Joe Girardi, but adding another strong reliever would be a big help.
But the most glaring weakness on this team right now looks like the rotation. And as much as I didn’t want the Yankees to get involved in the Max Scherzer sweepstakes, I can’t see how they can go into the season even pretending to be “A Championship Caliber Team™” without him.
If the Yankees don’t make any other moves, here’s the net.
I figure out estimated winning percentage using PythagenPat, and remove the estimated defensive runs saved from the projected pitcher runs allowed. Even with all that, the Yankees look like a 75 win team. Maybe you can pretend they will exceed their run differential again like they have the last two seasons and get to 77 or 78 wins.
Adding Scherzer and Headly might give them 6-7 more wins. That might make them a fringy contender. And if I’m pessimistic on the health of Tanaka/Pineda, they can obviously be better than that. But a middle of the road guess without lots of hopeful assumptions pegs them as a bad team right now.
Imagine what they would look like if CAIRO wasn’t designed to make the Yankees look super-awesome!
Thursday, December 11, 2014
Ken Rosenthal reports that the Dodgers signed Brandon McCarthy for 4 years/$48 million. That’s a lot, but not unreasonable.
It’s getting late early this offseason. They could really use Headley a lot, but they really need two starting pitchers. I like Brandon McCarthy for 4 years/$48 million a heck of a lot better than Max Scherzer for whatever it is he is asking for (I think 50% of the moon) or Edinson Volquez for any sort of deal. Hiroki Kuroda, please don’t retire!
If the Yankees have budgetary problems, why in the world did they give Andrew Miller 4 years/$36 million?
The Yankees seem to excel the last few years at having confusing offseasons.