Monday, November 25, 2013
The New York Yankees plan on talking to the agents for Robinson Cano on Monday to reiterate that they will only be able to keep their best offer on the table for so long, a baseball official told ESPN New York.
While the Yankees want Cano to stay, they have already agreed with Brian McCann on an $85 million contract and are engaged in talks with a number of other free agents, which is chipping away at their goal of lowering the 2014 payroll to under $189 million to cut their luxury tax burden.
If some of the Yankees’ targets agreed to deals before Cano decides, then Cano—who most believe wants to remain in the Bronx—runs the risk that the Yankees could lower their offer or move on.
I think this is smart negotiating, which makes it really surprising coming from the Yankees. Shouldn’t they be bidding against themselves like they normally do?
One down, one to go.
When the general managers’ meetings broke up less than two weeks ago, the Yankees planned on “moving fast” to secure free agents Brian McCann and Carlos Beltran.
McCann agreed to a five-year, $85 million deal on Saturday to complete the first part of that plan. Is Beltran next?
According to sources, the Yankees have set Beltran as their No. 1 target while they wait to reignite talks with Robinson Cano, for Hiroki Kuroda to decide whether he wants to return next season and for the Japanese posting system to be hammered out so righthander Masahiro Tanaka can be made available.
Signing Beltran is a no-brainer. And NASA’s Mars rover should be touching down at any minute now.
It’s not 2004 anymore, which is when the Yankees should have signed Beltran. If the Yankees sign Beltran without punting their pretend salary cap, it’s going to go down as one of the stupidest signings of this offseason.
If they instead decide they are going to try and cobble together a championship caliber team (which they can’t) and just sign everyone they can, I will be less annoyed by this.
So, expect them to sign him for three years and then not sign anyone else, and win 77 games in 2014.
So, Brian McCann…
When the rumors began about the Yankees being interested in Brian McCann I posted his CAIRO projections but now that it’s official let’s go through them again. First up, his 2014 percentile forecasts.
McCann projects to be a couple of runs below average in throwing out baserunners but he’s typically rated well in pitch-framing in the studies I’ve seen so he should be an asset defensively. As far as the impact of that, we can probably assume somewhere between 5-10 runs.
McCann is on a guaranteed five year contract with a vesting option for the sixth season. Here’s how CAIRO sees him projecting over the next six years.
This doesn’t really account much for injury risk and McCann is a year removed from shoulder surgery which could be a pretty big concern.
As a lefty pull hitter, McCann should be able to take great advantage of playing half his games at DNYS. He projects to have a pretty big platoon split.
Francisco Cervelli projects to hit .246/.371/.357 vs. LHP, which is actually a .310 wOBA that is worse than McCann’s projected .318, but platooning McCann with Cervelli at least some of the time would be a good way to rest McCann without losing too much value.
McCann projects well enough vs. RHP to probably be their best DH candidate against RHP, so that would be a way to get him more PA which would probably increase his value to the team further.
For whatever it’s worth, CAIRO only sees about 16 runs of difference between McCann and Cervelli given the same playing time, but the Yankees should also get a few runs of improvement by having a better backup catcher now too.
If McCann really can give them 17.6 wins above replacement over six years, this seems like a fair contract. And the likely improvement from what the Yankees got out of catcher last season is pretty big.
In a vacuum, this is a good move. In the context of the Yankees as presently constituted, it barely moves the needle. They still have a lot of holes to plug, and if they are going to try and do that while sticking to their $189M payroll limit this year, they probably aren’t going to be a contender in 2014.
But they are better now than they were before they signed McCann, and he’s young enough to be an asset past 2014 provided he can stay healthy. The Yankees lose the 18th pick in the MLB entry draft with this signing, but I’m ok with that, more so than I would have been if they had lost it signing someone like Carlos Beltran who is not likely to be a part of a contending Yankee team.
I’ve seen McCann play quite a bit when I lived in Atlanta, and he’s got a lot of pop. He was beloved at Turner Field, getting more cheers than anyone except Chipper Jones. I think he can be a pretty good player for the Yankees over the next few years. Despite all that, I’m just not enthused about this move. McCann is the kind of player who could push a 90 win Yankee team into favorite status in the AL East. As it is now, they still look like the worst team in the AL East and now they have $17 million fewer per year to change that. Does moving from 71 wins to 75 wins really matter that much?
Bottom line, I like this move in isolation, but I need to see the rest of the offseason unfold before I really get excited about it.
Saturday, November 23, 2013
Fox Sports’ Ken Rosenthal has the details…
Source: McCann deal with #Yankees is 5/85 with sixth-year vesting option that could bring it to 6/100..
That makes a huge difference. Earlier today it was a four year deal for the same money. So that is a whooooole lot better. Still a ton of money, though.
The deal is waiting for a physical before it becomes official.
I’ll let SG inform you whether this is a good deal or not. Seems like a BIT too much money, but not awful.
In addition, you have to figure that at least one of the Yankees’ catching prospects will be dealt soon, right? So maybe they can plug another hole with that player and help keep their team salary down.
Friday, November 22, 2013
The Alex Rodriguez arbitration hearing has concluded, a source with knowledge of the private proceedings told ESPN New York. The arbitrator Fredric Horowitz will now decide if Rodriguez’s 211-game for violating the CBA and Joint Drug Agreement will stand.
While it was expected that a decision would come 25 days after the end of the hearing, a source said that Horowitz’s verdict may not be known until early January.
Since A-Rod has made it apparent that he will challenge any ruling against him in federal court, this updated information doesn’t really impact the Yankees offseason. Even if Horowitz decides A-Rod should be held out of the entire 2014 season, the Yankees still won’t be able to utilize the $33 million they need to budget, because A-Rod is going to seek an injunction. Thus, they won’t shell out that money until they are totally certain it will not end up hurting their goal of being under $189 million for the entire season to take advantage of the luxury tax and revenue sharing savings.
The bolded section is probably what we need to be concerned with. The Yankees may choose to freeze themselves out of the free agent market with their self-imposed salary cap if they can’t allocate the money they’d get from a potential Rodriguez suspension.
71 wins, here we come.
Thursday, November 21, 2013
j teaches us all some cool stuff: Former (and potential Future) Yankee Robinson Cano
Clay and Mike K. are planning to review the development of the Yankees minor league players, and asked if I would be interested in providing some swing analysis to compliment their discussions. I said yes. I wanted to get things started with a primer using Robinson Cano’s swing.
The first step is where Cano, and other good hitters, gather their weight into their back leg.
Note that I said *into* and not *over*. Cano isn’t drifting over his back foot with his weight. Instead, he’s rotating in the angular direction opposite to the direction that he’ll swing in, loading the revolute ball and socket joint in his back hip. This also serves to close, or what Ted Williams refers to as ‘cocking’, his front hip.
The next stage of his swing is where Cano accomplishes the stretch shortening cycle, a well documented phenomenon whereby an eccentric contraction of a muscle precedes concentric contraction and results in a greater output. You can think of it like stretching a rubber band and releasing it. Players have a few ways of accomplishing this, and Cano’s approach is to stride slightly forward – maybe just a few inches – as part of the action of shifting his weight from his back side to his front side while simultaneously loading his shoulders into the opposite angular direction. Finally,
There are a few important things to note here. First, these actions must happen at the same time, otherwise a hitter is not going to achieve the stretch-shortening cycle. Also, Cano isn’t pushing off his back foot towards the pitcher. Instead, he’s pinned his back foot into the ground (using his cleats) and rotating his (revolute) ankle joint in the opposite angular direction of his swing. Because that joint is pinned, a force in the opposite angular direction of his swing is going to create movement of his hips in the angular direction of his swing. Finally, you’ll notice that the simultaneous loading of the hands and shifting of his weight stops as soon as Cano’s foot hits the ground. At this point, Cano’s about as leveraged as he can get and is ready to use his hips and core muscles to pull his hands through the hitting zone. Once Cano’s front foot lands, the potential energy that he’s stored in the muscles that connect his front hip and back shoulder starts to decrease. So, once that front foot goes down, ideally Cano should start the rotation portion of his swing. We’ll see in the next image that this is exactly what he does.
Now we see Cano rotating, using his hips and core muscles. This phase really starts a little before Cano’s front foot lands – as you can see, the front foot landing coincides with a little bit of hip rotation. This isn’t a flaw – in fact, it’s an important triggering mechanism for the rotation phase of the swing. His front leg is stiff, which provides a pivot for rotation. His back elbow is now tucked into his back hip, making his hips, torso, shoulders, elbow, and wrists a rigidly coupled system, so that they are all moving together. The rotation of his hips have created a moving angular reference frame, inside of which the stretch-shortening cycle has created a system with potential energy that is becoming kinetic energy, with velocity that’s added to the angular velocity created by his hips. Also notice how compact Cano is. By keeping his arms close to his body, he’s not only created a very rigid couple between his hips and his bat, but he’s also decreased his moment of inertia. By decreasing his moment of inertia as much as possible, Cano is minimizing losses in the transfer of angular momentum at his hips/core to angular momentum at his shoulders/arms/wrists/bat. We see the same effect with ice skaters – they spin more slowly (so, with less momentum) when their arms are extended, and then tuck their arms in to speed up their spin.
Strength through this motion is basically the most important part of the swing. Cano’s using his hips to pull his hands through the hitting zone.
He’s keeping his hands back and the bat on the outside of his back shoulder. It’s important to understand the role of the hands here. The hips are doing all the work, and the hands just need to keep the bat in position to make contact with the ball. The best way to do that is to travel on a plane that matches the trajectory of the pitch. Based on the height of the mound, the trajectory of a pitch makes about a 6-8° angle with the ground. So, the bat needs to travel on a plane that matches that angle.
Here’s another good example of what happens as a result of strong rotation from the Home Run derby in 2011. Notice how the extreme rotation of his hips literally pulls his back foot off the ground.
There’s not much to discuss with the finish. A good swing has the bat accelerating through the point of contact and creates a bat with a lot of angular momentum. A good indication that the bat is on the correct plane is that it the finish will be at the opposite shoulder.
There are a lot of subtleties and intricacies that I glossed over here, but I wanted to give everyone a sense of what are the pieces that make up a good swing. We’ll likely get into them when we look at some of them minor league guys and discuss problems that they’re having and what the root cause might be.
So, what concerns me about Cano’s swing? Well, there’s not much, but there are a few things:
- When Cano gathers/unweights his front foot, he does seem to drift back a little bit. It’s not a lot, but it’s there. Drifting or swaying backwards creates a balance issue. Because Cano sways back a little, he needs to drift back forward to regain his balance. He seems to incorporate this into his stride and uses it to get separation between his back shoulder and front hip. A hitter who incorporates this sway back/sway forward approach is potentially vulnerable to pitchers with large velocity differences between their fastball and offspeed pitches.
- Cano’s unweighting mechanism is a leg lift. This is fairly common, but it is, in my opinion, a concern as any players physical abilities start to decline and will reduce their ability to maintain their contact rates. A better option is a toe touch, where you unweight your front foot but stay in contact with the ground, so you can drop your foot and start the rotation phase quickly. Of course, it’s not an easy thing to change, especially if there’s no problem with it now.
Thanks a ton to j for doing this. He’ll be providing us with more great stuff as Mike and I work on our pieces this winter. Hopefully we’ll do some in-depth prospect profiles at some point as well. - Snuggles
NEW YORK—The Yankees acquired infielder Dean Anna from the Padres on Wednesday in exchange for right-handed pitcher Ben Paullus, adding him to the club’s Major League roster along with five other players.
New York also added right-handers Jose Campos, Shane Greene and Bryan Mitchell to the 40-man roster, along with outfielder Slade Heathcott and catcher Gary Sanchez.
Infielder Corban Joseph was also outrighted to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, leaving the Yankees’ roster standing at 39 players.
Anna, 26, spent the 2013 season with Triple-A Tucson, where he batted .331 (165-for-498) with nine home runs and 73 RBIs in 132 games.
It should be mind-boggling to me that the Yankees outrighted Corban Joseph but kept Chris Stewart on the roster. Joseph is probably the best candidate to get most of the playing time at 2B should Robinson Cano leave.
But it’s completely in line with the way this team does things.
Wednesday, November 20, 2013
Embattled Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez unexpectedly showed up in Mike Francesa’s studio in New York, hours after angrily walking out of his appeals hearing, and blasted MLB and Bud Selig on Francesa’s show on WFAN, a CBS Sports Radio station:
The linked article has the audio of the interview. I haven’t listened yet, but I’d imagine Rodriguez put his hoof in his mouth a time or two.
CAIRO 2014 v0.2’s Extremely Early and Completely Useless 2013 Projected MLB Standings
I figured I had a long offseason ahead of me if I was going to do everything in my power to make the Yankees look better than they are. The thing that needed to be done first was put the Yankees in the context of the rest of MLB. So I’ve been working on building my CAIRO season simulation disk and gave it a trial run last night. This was current through rosters as of yesterday morning.
As the title says, this is extremely early and completely useless so think of it more as a goof than anything too serious. So using CAIRO v0.2 which I’ll probably post tomorrow and the depth charts from MLB Depth Charts and Rotochamp as a rough gauge of playing time, here’s how the 2014 MLB season looks as of November 20.
W: Projected final 2014 wins
L: Projected final 2014 losses
RS: Projected final 2014 runs scored
RA: Projected final 2014 runs allowed
Div: Division win percentage
WC1: Wild card win percentage
WC2: Wild card win percentage
PS: Postseason percentage (Div + WC1 + WC2)
W+/-: Projected wins within one standard deviation
Let me reiterate, these are extremely early and completely useless. There are literally hundreds of free agents still out there to be signed, and trades to be made, and players to be injured. There’s also the traditional error bars that projections have, which means you should probably look at this with a 10 game swing on either side of a team’s average projected win total, particularly right now with so much roster churn to come.
But if you are a Yankee fan, like I used to be, this is pretty disheartening. It’s not surprising, and if you put the lineup and pitching staff together based on how they project in 2014 you will see they are about as far from championship caliber as any team in the American League. Maybe moreso considering the relative strength of their division.
No, the Astros are not an AL team, even if they use a DH.
Don’t worry though, the Yankees will sign Carlos Beltran and he’ll make them a 95 win team.
Tuesday, November 19, 2013
Unlike examples like Collins, I don’t think Sabathia is a candidate to thrive with weight gain. You see, pitching is a combination of absolute and relative strength and power. From an absolute standpoint, more body weight equates to more force to push off the mound, and more momentum moving downhill; that’s why gaining weight can have such a profound impact on pitching velocity.
On the other hand, from a relative strength and power standpoint, you eventually have to “accept” all the force you create. We know that there are substantial ground reaction forces taken on by the front leg, and research has demonstrated that they are (not surprisingly) directly impacted by body weight. Additionally, according to 1998 research on professional pitchers from Werner et al., at ball release, the distraction forces on the shoulder are approximately 108% of body weight.
You could also make the argument that these forces are even higher now, as average fastball velocity has crept up significantly since 1998, and the subjects in that study averaged only 89mph. As is the case with body weight increases, as arm speed rises, so do shoulder distraction. With this research in mind, there should be no question that carrying extra body weight at this critical instant in the delivery wasn’t helping his cause:
Tnanks to j. And I agree with the idea that the Yankees should hire Cressey.
DON’T YA KNOW: Robinson Cano has not budged off his request of a 10-year, $310 million contract, a source with knowledge of the asking price told ESPN New York on Monday.
The Yankees remain very interested in keeping Cano, but not at that money or length. If the Yankees keep consistent with their current plans, Cano is going to need to drop about $100M-$120M off the sticker price. Since Cano is the best player on the market, there is expected to be a pretty good sized market. Texas has led speculation for awhile, but other clubs are sure to emerge.
Here’s the list of players I’d consider giving a 10-year, $310 million contract too.
If Cano can get something close to that, more power to him. But I’d be surprised if he got anywhere close to that.
In other “news”, As Cano stands firm, Yankees mull Ibanez reunion.
The Post has also learned the Yankees have an interest in bringing back the popular and productive Raul Ibanez to be the DH against right-handed pitching.
Some voices within the organization believe it was a mistake to let Ibanez leave following the 2012 season, when Ibanez grew impatient waiting and signed for a second stint with the Mariners.
I was thinking how much this team could really use a 42 year old platoon DH. The Shockmaster™ would be the cherry on top of their championship caliber sundae.
At least he won’t cost a draft pick…
Monday, November 18, 2013
Brendan Ryan, who will provide insurance for shortstop Derek Jeter, has a deal with the Yankees, sources say.
Ryan hit .197 for the Mariners and Yankees last year but won a place with the Yankees for his exceptional defense.
Buried in this article comes this tidbit that I found encouraging.
The Yankees, according to rival international scouts, are planning to splurge on foreign amateurs during the 2013-14 signing period. They already have surpassed their bonus pool allotment of $1,877,000, and rival clubs expect them to possibly incur the maximum penalties for exceeding the spending limit.
The Yankees’ strategy should not come as a surprise, considering the depleted state of their farm system. The Cubs and Rangers went over the limit in 2012-13, knowing the penalties would not be as severe as they will be if baseball ever adopts an international draft.
As it stands, the Yankees already have signed Dominican center fielder Leonardo Molina for $1.4 million and Dominican shortstop Yonauris Rodriguez for $550,000, according to reports. The signing period began last July 2, and will continue into next summer.
The penalties kick in once a team goes 5 percent over its limit; the Yankees’ two signings put them at 3.8 percent. A team that exceeds it by 15 percent or more pays a 100-percent tax and cannot spend more than $250,000 on a player in the next signing period.
Apparently the Yankees believe this class of international players is stronger than the next one. Or, they are simply eager to amass talent as quickly as possible.
If the Yankees like this class and are already at the penalty limit, they may as well go nuts and deal with being handcuffed next year.
Theories about C. C. Sabathia’s declining performance the last two seasons include the effect of his heavy workload — an average of 227 innings over 16 seasons — and his operation for bone chips in his pitching elbow after the 2012 season.
But then there is the theory, maybe not that far-fetched, that there is less life on Sabathia’s pitches because there is less of Sabathia these days.
A 6-foot-7 pitcher with a wide girth and a longtime fondness for Cap’n Crunch cereal, Sabathia said he lost 25 pounds after the 2011 season to help take pressure off his knees after arthroscopic surgery.
Then, Sabathia said, he lost about 20 pounds after the 2012 season.
He indeed looked thinner on the mound in 2013, down to perhaps 270 pounds after weighing more than 300 in his first seasons in New York, which included a World Series championship in 2009.
But coincidence or not, and maybe that is all it is, Sabathia’s pitches have lost velocity and crispness over the last two seasons. According to Fangraphs, the hefty version of Sabathia threw a fastball that averaged 93.9 miles per hour in 2011. Two years later, that velocity dropped to 91.2 m.p.h.
Sabathia, 33, gave up a career-high 28 home runs. He also allowed more hits (224) than innings pitched (211) for the first time.
Dr. Orr Limpisvasti, a sports medicine surgeon at the Kerlan-Jobe Orthopaedic Clinic in Los Angeles and an orthopedic consultant for the Los Angeles Angels, said that Sabathia’s weight loss should not be dismissed as a possible reason for his struggles.
I don’t buy this theory. My guess is Sabathia’s workload over his 13 year MLB career is the reason he’s lost velocity, just like just about every pitcher does as he enters his 30s. And I don’t feel comfortable that Sabathia should put weight back on at the expense of his long-term health on the off chance that it makes him a better pitcher.
Part of the reason I’m so pessimistic about the 2014 Yankees is the morphing of CC from ace to a #3 or #4 starter. CAIRO has 50 pitchers projected to throw at least 165 innings with a better RA than CC’s projected 4.33.
Now CAIRO has no idea if Sabathia is going to be able to make adjustments to his pitching style and be more effective than that. And I suppose it’s possible that including his performance prior to 2013 in his projections is overrating him and he’s even worse than a 4.33 RA. We just don’t know.
On the plus side, Sabathia’s peripherals in 2013 were better than his actual performance would indicate. His FIP of 4.10 and xFIP of 3.76 both paint a rosier picture than his 4.78 ERA. But I’m not ready to say that his BABIP against was flukishly high because of bad luck alone. There wasn’t a ton of change in opposing hitters’ batted ball profiles against him in 2013 (22.3% line drives vs. 23.1% in 2011 and 21.1% in 2012) but that doesn’t mean he wasn’t getting hit harder. His runners stranded percentage of 67.4% was a fair bit worse than his career rate of 72.7% but again we don’t know if that was just bad fortune or bad pitching.
Steamer has CC projected for 192 innings of 4.22 RA. CAIRO has him at 207 innings of 4.33. For every 0.40 points of RA at those innings total, you can add a win or so this projection. If Sabathia can replicate his RA of 3.62 from 2009-2012, then he’d be about 1.5 wins better than projected. And that goes up if he can pitch more innings as well.
I don’t think I’ve hidden the fact that I’m skeptical about the Yankees adding enough in the way of outside talent this offseason to make themselves into legitimate contenders, but if they can get better than expected performances from some of the holdovers it becomes a bit more feasible. Sabathis is one of those holdovers that I think has a legitimate chance to better his projections, if he can adjust to life at 91 mph.