Friday, November 8, 2013
While David Robertson is clearly the top incumbent candidate to replace the retired Mariano Rivera, Yankees GM Brian Cashman isn’t just handing him the job this winter.
“We haven’t anointed anybody the closer, so I don’t know,” Cashman said. “I know Robertson wants it. But we’ll see how the winter shakes out and how the competition in spring training takes place.
“We’re going to look at everybody and anything and see where the winter takes us. The bottom line is, we have to get a collection of talent to bring to spring training. The cream rises to the top, and we have to find as much cream as possible.”
With all of the questions the Yankees have to address Robinson Cano, the rotation, catching, to name a few closer might not be at the top of the list with a potentially effective option in Robertson already in house.
Still, the uncertainty is all part of the messy business of replacing an icon once all the emotional farewells are over. The Yanks, in fact, have already made inquiries about elite relievers.
The San Francisco Chronicle reported Wednesday that the Yankees were one of five teams to express interest in Grant Balfour, the demonstrative Oakland closer who had a 2.59 ERA last season and was 38-for-41 in save opportunities. Balfour, who will be 36 in December, averaged 10.3 strikeouts per nine innings, but also walked 3.88 per nine.
If the Yankees are going to give up on the $189M payroll, then I’d be ok with them looking at adding a closer type on a short-term contract, like Balfour, who I thought would have been a better value signing than Rafael Soriano way back when. But if they aren’t giving up on tying their own hands and costing themselves hundreds of millions of dollars to save thirty million or so, it makes zero sense.
In other words, I’d expect them to keep their goal of a $189M payroll while blowing way more money than they should on a proven closer.
It’s time for the first set of my 2014 CAIRO MLB projections.
They can be downloaded via this link.
I expect there to be some errors in here so let me know if you see anything that looks off.
Things like pitcher wins, losses and saves and hitter runs and RBI are based on a weighted average of the last four years and will change as roles and teams change so keep that in mind. At some point I’ll add projected platoon splits as well. I’ll also be adjusting playing time and rosters as the offseason unfolds so expect several updates as we move towards spring training.
Thursday, November 7, 2013
2014 CAIRO Projections for Current MLB Free Agent Position Players
I’ll probably release the 2014 CAIRO v0.1 projections tomorrow, so here’s a taste, looking at just the current free agent position players.
wOBA: Weighted on-base average.
BR: Linear weights batting runs.
oWAR: Offensive wins above replacement (adjusted for park and position).
def: Projected runs saved compared to an average defender using an average of DRS, UZR and zone rating with regression and aging factored in.
WAR: oWAR plus def divided by 10.
You may now play GM.
Wednesday, November 6, 2013
The Yankees, looking to set themselves up in case star second baseman Robinson Cano signs elsewhere, have checked in with the Reds regarding Brandon Phillips and also asked about free-agent second baseman Omar Infante.
Phillips is said to be available in the right trade, but word is, the initial price is way too steep. Of course, that’s the way the Yankees look at Cano’s $300 million asking price, as well.
Phillips batted .261 with 103 RBI for the Reds, but is on the market after a couple incidents—one where he complained in a Cincinnati magazine article about how ownership handled his negoitations and another where he went ballistic on a Cincinnati Enquirer reporter after the reporter, Trent Rosecrans, formerly of CBSSports.com, tweeted about Phillips’ low on-base percentage.
Phillips has $50 million and four years on that $72.5 million, six-year contract he signed despite what he suggested were rocky negotiations.
In my opinion, Phillips is one of the most overrated players in baseball. The fact that something like this was made public makes me think the Yankees understand that to some extent and it’s more of a negotiating ploy with Cano than actual interest.
Here is how CAIRO projects Phillips and Cano as Yankees in 2014.
I still haven’t done defensive projections for 2014 but eyeballing it I’m guessing Phillips would project as 2-4 runs better defensively.
CAIRO says the four remaining years of Phillips’s contract would have him hitting .258/.309/.390 over 2476 PA and being worth about six WAR offensively. Maybe you can give him another win for defense although given the fact that he’ll be 36 by the end of his contract we can assume decline from his current level. Is seven wins or so worth $50M? Not if you have a self-imposed budget, it’s not. And if you actually have to give up something of value on top of an already bad contract, does it really make any sense at all?
Now, would I rather have Phillips for four years and $50M than Cano for 10 years and $310M? Probably. But those aren’t the only two alternatives, so let’s hope we don’t see either one come to fruition.
Tuesday, November 5, 2013
In total, 13 Major League players were given a qualifying offer.
The World Series champion Red Sox made offers to Jacoby Ellsbury, Mike Napoli and Stephen Drew, while choosing not to make an offer to catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia.
“In a vacuum, we’d like to have all of [our free agents] back,” said Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington. “We’ll just have to see how it goes, and we’ll continue to talk to all of them and see how the market shapes out.”
The Yankees made offers to Robinson Cano, Curtis Granderson and Hiroki Kuroda.
Cano and Ellsbury are expected to shape the free-agent market this offseason, with each likely to land a lucrative long-term contract. Neither is expected to accept Monday’s qualifying offer.
Carlos Beltran, Shin-Soo Choo, Nelson Cruz, Ubaldo Jimenez, Brian McCann, Kendrys Morales and Ervin Santana were also presented with qualifying offers by their respective teams.
The Yankees have been linked to Beltran, Choo and McCann and you can certainly make a case that other players from this group would fill some of the many gaping holes on the current roster. My guess is the Yankees will end up signing someone like Beltran and losing the 18th pick in the draft. Because a 70 win team could really use a 38 year old outfielder who they should have signed nine years ago.
The only Yankee I could see accepting the qualifying offer is Granderson, and I’d be fine with that.
Monday, November 4, 2013
The Yankees made qualifying offers to Robinson Cano, Curtis Granderson, and Hiroki Kuroda, according to a team press release.
This makes so much sense, I’m convinced that someone has kidnapped the Yankee braintrust and is acting on their behalf.
Mr. Reyes, in a phone interview with The Times, said the investigators pressured him to answer their questions by telling him that others who had not been forthcoming had faced “federal cases” and by threatening to limit his future opportunities to work with M.L.B. players.
A few weeks later, M.L.B. flew Mr. Reyes, 37, to New York, where he spent about nine hours meeting with baseball officials. Mr. Reyes said he was given paperwork indicating he had witnessed Mr. Rodriguez being injected with performance-enhancing drugs.
“I told them I knew nothing about that,” Mr. Reyes said in the interview, which was arranged by his lawyer, Roberto Cuan.
Mr. Reyes said that even though he denied seeing Mr. Rodriguez being injected, he was asked to sign two documents, provided in English and Spanish. He said he signed them without fully reading them.
MLB has pretty much done the impossible and turned Rodriguez into a sympathetic figure. Some of the stuff they’ve done, if true, seems like it is highly illegal. And if it is, let’s hope they pay for it.
Sunday, November 3, 2013
Bryan Mitchell’s Season in Review
So earlier this year I wrote a little article on Bryan Mitchell, and how this was a big year for him. Fortunately for him he hugely succeeded this season. Except for the fact he completely failed. His season – like Bryan Mitchell – is a complete enigma.
So which is it, fail or succeed? In 2012 the supremely talented righty threw 120IP in Charleston, with a nice (9.1/9, 22.8%) k-rate, but an abysmal (5.4 and 13.6%) walk rates. His HR rate was fine at .53/9IP. This led to a poor 4.58 ERA, but an acceptable 3.94 FIP. How did he do in 2013? He mainly pitched in Tampa, so we’ll concentrate on those numbers but I’ll touch on his time at Trenton later.
A year later and level higher, he upped his IP to 126.2 (good). His K-rate declined to 7.4 and 18.3% (NOTE: we expect rates to get worse as you go up a level, but a quick search did not reveal what league averages are). Bad. But his walk rate improved drastically, to 3.8/9 and 9.3%. Overall that meant his K:BB rate went from 1.68:1 to 1.96:1. That’s acceptable. His HR also improved, to .36/9IP. Put another way, he let up as many HR on the season as Hughes does during each pre-game bullpen. But…his WHIP went up from 1.49 to 1.56, and his ERA went up to an awful 5.12! How could I suggest success? His FIP declined to 3.47. 3.47 isn’t quite ace level. But it’s #2 level. In fact, though his ERA’s have generally been poor, his FIP has usually been in the 3.9-4.0 range before the big improvement this season.
So, why the discrepancy? Well our usual culprits of course,
Hal Steinbrenner and Randy Levine BABIP and LOB%. In 2012 his BABIP was a bit elevated at .311, but that’s still within normal range. In 2013 it jumped up to .346. Additionally, his LOB% was already a poor 63.8% in 2012, but it got worse at 61.2% last year. Traditionalist would normally tell you that’s all on Mitchell. He has trouble pitching out of the stretch. He lets up more hard hit balls than normal. He gets rattled in tough situations. Etc. Followers of FIP (I think that would make a great band name), would tell you that’s bull. There may be issues with his ballpark that aren’t being accounted for, or he could have poor defenses behind him, or the fact that in each year his IP sample (and more importantly, BIP sample) are fairly small.
Now, us who believe in FIP also admit that there are players who do exhibit the traits traditionalists say. We just believe that the process of getting to the pros weeds these players out. But…where? Do they get weeded out in low-A? High-A? Double-A? That’s a good question, and one I’m not sure I can answer. So sure, maybe Mitchell has issues that will cause him to always underperform based on his peripherals. Me personally, I don’t believe that. And it’s possible the Yankees don’t either, as Mitchell was promoted to AA at the end of the year (though that could have just been a numbers game). And while there he did fine, albeit in a small sample. 18.2 IP, improved K and BB rates (7.7, 21.6% and 2.4, 6.8% respectively) and a great K:BB ratio (3.2:1). He didn’t allow a HR. His BABIP dropped to .269, and LOB% up to 75% (both of those probably will regress the other way). Leading to an ERA of 1.93 and a FIP of 2.45.
Now, Mitchell is a bit old. He turns 23 in April. I think this may be his last year as a starter in the minors, unless either a) the Yankees truly believe his FIP is a better indicator of future success than ERA or b) his ERA starts to match his FIP. Of course, I hope both happen. Counting the playoffs, he threw almost 160IP last year and finished strongly at AA. His peripherals are fine, very good even. And though he’s a bit old for his league, not too old. Hopefully, he can keep the good peripherals and ALSO get some BABIP/LOB luck and be in AAA at some point next year, putting himself on the Yankee radar for 2015. If not, I think he’s got plenty to be an above average, multi-inning reliever.
You’ve won this round Snuggles, but I live to fight another day!
Mike, j and I are working to put together some content for the doldrums of the winter, but we may have a few things to throw up in the next 2 months.
Friday, November 1, 2013
NEW YORK (WABC)—The New York Yankees on Friday announced they have re-signed shortstop Derek Jeter to a one-year, $12 million contract for the 2014 season.
Although this is more than the $9.5M player option Jeter had, I assume it was done because of the way it impacts the payroll as calculated for luxury tax purposes. Whether Jeter was to earn $9.5M or $12M next season, he’s not likely to be worth it anyway, but at least Hal gets to put a few more bucks in his pocket.
Update: Per Joel Sherman via Twitter, there is no savings by doing the contract this way. In fact, it costs the team more.
$12M deal actually will cost #Yankees more toward ‘14 luxury tax than if let Jeter just pick up his $9.5 million player option (cont)
Way luxury tax salaries, computed Jeter would have cost $10.75M on payroll if option picked up will cost $12.8M now #Yankees
So this Jeter deal is really an emeritus favor to him as opposed to good for #Yankees, in my view
Someone should explain to Sherman the whole point of the 140 character limit thing, no? Maybe after they explain to the Yankees that paying 40 year olds more than they are worth while striving to lower your payroll is not sound business.
After missing the playoffs for only the second time since 1993, the Yankees can only hope to match the feat of the Red Sox, who went from 69 victories to a title. The Yankees won 85 games in 2013, but they still face multiple holes in their lineup and starting rotation. Plus, they are still tasked with trying to reduce the payroll beneath the $189 million luxury-tax threshold.
Yet the team intends to be quite active this winter. In addition to talented, 25-year-old Japanese right-hander Masahiro Tanaka, the Yankees are expected to pursue high-profile additions like outfielder Carlos Beltran, catcher Brian McCann and outfielder Shin-Soo Choo. In addition, the team intends to retain second baseman Robinson Cano, who figures to cash in for a nine-figure payday as a free agent.
Resolutions on these fronts will come with time. Free agency is a gradual process, and November is only the beginning. But a few answers should come shortly, including the status of shortstop Derek Jeter. He has until Monday to decide whether he will accept his $9.5 million player option for 2014, or elect free agency. Coming off the worst season of his career, a 17-game campaign marred by leg injuries, he is expected to take the option.
Thirteen Yankees will become free agents next Tuesday. The team is expected to tender qualifying offers to Cano, starter Hiroki Kuroda and outfielder Curtis Granderson. The team must decide to deliver those offers by Monday.
The qualifying offer is a one-year, $14.1 million contract, and none of these three are expected to accept. If the player signs elsewhere, as Rafael Soriano and Nick Swisher did last winter, the Yankees receive a compensatory draft pick.
I’ll believe it when I see it.