Tuesday, January 3, 2017
For the second straight season, the Yankees are hoping to straddle the line between rebuilders and contenders.
Yankees general manager Brian Cashman said on MLB Network’s “High Heat” recently that he believes the team has a shot at staying tough in 2017.
“I think so,” Cashman said. “What we saw last year in the second half, we were competing. We were able to match up and battle with anybody in any series and fight until—if I recall correctly—until the last week of the season until we were eliminated from postseason contention. That gives us great hope because a lot of the young players we haven’t haven’t even reached their ceiling yet. But at the same time it goes both ways. We’re going to have growing pains but we also have a roster that has enough ceiling that we hope for that’s sooner in the present than in the future that if everything goes right and we stay healthy, yeah, we’re going to be a contending team. That’s our intention. and that’s why we brought the leadership of a Matt Holliday in here to continue to help groom the players the way a (Carlos) Beltran and (Alex Rodriguez) and a (Mark) Teixeira had been doing.”
The Yankees can contend this year, although I wouldn’t bet on them to win the division. The starting rotation is somewhat sketchy, and they will be relying on several young players who will be learning on the job. I’m less concerned about their W/L record this year and more interested in seeing if some of the younger players like Aaron Judge and Tyler Austin and Greg Bird can be productive, where Gary Sanchez’s inevitable regression leaves him, how some of the key minor leaguers perform this year and if the Yankees can find a few pieces for the pitching staff, rotation and bullpen.
It should be a very interesting year to follow the organization, even if the major league team isn’t quite at the level that some of their competition is.
Thursday, December 29, 2016
Sanchez had some numbers that appear somewhat sustainable. His 10.5 percent walk rate and 24.9 percent strikeout rate were both a little higher than his minor league rates, but not outrageously so. Sanchez’s batted ball profile, on the other hand, could point to some significant regression.
Out of the 146 players who received a full season of 502 plate appearances, only 22 had a higher ground ball percentage than Sanchez’s 49.3 percent. This is not good for a power hitter without much speed. Despite a hard-hit percentage of 41.8 percent, a figure that would have been good for fourth behind David Ortiz, Freddie Freeman and Matt Carpenter, Sanchez’s line drive percentage of 16.4 percent would have been fourth lowest. He hit fly balls only 34.2 percent of the time, but those fly balls turned into home runs a mind-boggling 40 percent of the time.
Nobody else in baseball hit home runs on four out of 10 fly balls. Nobody else in baseball even hit home runs on three out of 10 fly balls. Ryan Braun had the best ratio of qualifying players at 28.8 percent. Khris Davis, Nelson Cruz, Chris Davis and Yasmany Tomas joined Braun as the only players even to reach 25 percent.
Gary Sanchez can still be a very good hitter without approaching the unsustainable heights from his rookie season. 550 plate appearances sounds like a reasonable estimate for a catcher who has the ability to spend a couple games at designated hitter. If Sanchez’s HR/FB rate drops from 40 percent to a more realistic but still outstanding 25 percent, he will project to hit 30 home runs in those 550 plate appearances if everything else remains constant. Some of those homers will become doubles, but many will become outs. A .270 batting average suddenly seems more likely than another run at .300.
Steamer projects Sanchez to hit .268/.329/.491 over 481 PA and to be worth 3.6 WAR, which essentially ties him with Jonathan LuCroy’s projection as the second most valuable catcher in baseball behind Buster Posey. Give Sanchez 535 PA at the same projected rate of performance and he gets to about 4 WAR. The last Yankee position player to produce 4 WAR was Brett Gardner in 2014. The last two prior to that were Robinson Cano with 7.8 and Gardner with 4.4 in 2013.
Good offensive teams tend to get more than 4 WAR from a few spots, but the Yankees haven’t really been a good offensive team of late. Hopefully Sanchez can be the start of getting back to a team that can score runs more frequently, even if what he did last year is not repeatable.
Wednesday, December 28, 2016
Jacoby Ellsbury would not fall into the category of most beloved Yankees. He has four years at $89.6 million left, has proven brittle, and in pinstripes, has only shown flashes of game-changing skills. Like Bruce with the Mets, the Yankees will be done with the contracts of Alex Rodriguez and CC Sabathia after this season. Neither will be an issue to the 2018 payroll, which the Yankees hope to drag under the luxury tax threshold. Plus, the Yankees have young outfielders coming whom Ellsbury will soon block.
If only it would have been obvious that the Ellsbury signing was ridiculous on the day it was signed.
Thursday, December 22, 2016
The New York Yankees have reportedly reached an agreement to re-sign one of their more notable minor league free agents of the winter, infielder Cito Culver.
According to Robert Pimpsner of Pinstriped Prospects, the New York Yankees have re-signed longtime farmhand Cito Culver to a minor league pact. The 24-year-old infielder was one of the organization’s 13 MiLB free agents this winter, and the second to be brought back into the fold thus far in the offseason.
Monday, December 19, 2016
The Yankees may not be done making moves.
The Bombers are interested in White Sox lefthander Jose Quintana, Jon Morosi of Fox Sports and MLB TV reported Monday morning.
Over the past four seasons, the 27-year-old Quintana has emerged as one of the most effective and reliable starters in baseball, averaging about 204 innings and pitching to a 3.35 ERA.
In 2016, he made his first All-Star team while setting career marks in wins (13), ERA (3.20), innings pitched (208.0) and strikeouts (181).
The five-year MLB veteran is signed at an extremely affordable rate. He is set to make $6 million next season, $8.35 million in 2018 and has club options for 2019 and 2020 at $10.5 million.
The Yankees previously had Quintana in their farm system for four seasons. He went 10-2 with a 2.91 ERA in 30 appearances (12 starts) for High-A Tampa in 2011, but they elected not to add him to their 40-man roster at the end of the season, and he departed for Chicago as a six-year minor-league free agent.
Oops. I wonder whom they protected over Quintana, it surely must have been someone good, right?
Friday, December 16, 2016
INDIANAPOLIS — Hank Steinbrenner is bullish about the Yankees’ future.
The team’s co-chairman thinks young players who came up late this season such as Gary Sanchez, Aaron Judge and Tyler Austin and others still developing in the farm system can soon become the face of the Yankees’ next dynasty. He hopes for a group much like Derek Jeter, Mariano Rivera, Andy Pettitte and Jorge Posada, who formed a core in the 1990s that won five titles.
When the new group starts winning consistently, Steinbrenner says the Yankees will make the kind of long-term investment that would make his late father proud.
“Once we get it there, we’ll keep it there and we will spend to do so,” Steinbrenner told the Associated Press on Thursday. “We will spend to do so.”
Hank > Hal.
Wednesday, December 14, 2016
So far this offseason, the two largest free-agent contracts have been handed out by the New York teams. Just like a good old days, eh?
The Mets retained Yoenis Cespedes with a four-year contract worth $110 million while the Yankees committed $86 million across five years to Aroldis Chapman. The Yankees also added Matt Holliday on a one-year deal worth $13 million.
Surely both New York clubs want to continue making moves this offseason—the Mets could use bullpen help and the Yankees need a little of everything—but, according to Joel Sherman of the New York Post, they’ll have to clear payroll to do anything else. They’re up against their spending limits. From Sherman:
In the aftermath of signing Cespedes to a four-year, $110 million contract (the largest per annum in franchise history), Mets officials have publicly stated a need to trade a significant salary before adding a needed setup man. They prefer to deal the $13 million owed Jay Bruce in 2017 rather than the $15 million of Curtis Granderson.
The Yankees are in the same situation, according to agents who have spoken to the team about their free-agent clients. This is why the Yankees continue to gauge interest in Chase Headley (two years, $26 million) and Brett Gardner (two years, $25 million) as a way to cut a significant salary.
The Yankees have made it very well known they intend to get under the luxury tax threshold as soon as possible, most likely in 2018. The Mets have set their own payroll limit well below the luxury tax threshold, which stems from ownership’s financial problems. The Wilpons are still reeling from the Bernie Madoff scandal.
If only the Yankees hadn’t made the horrific Ellsbury deal. Luckily, there are only five more years remaining on that. Or is it four? Whatever it is, it’s that many years too many.