The Curse of Jerry Hairston, Jr./Eric Hinske:
 

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

CAIRO hates the Jacoby Ellsbury Contract

My first thought when I saw that the Yankees signed Jacoby Ellsbury was that it was almost certain to be a bad move.  But I’ve felt for a while that whomever signed Ellsbury would regret it, because he has had problems staying healthy, and teams will be wish-casting on his MVP level performance in 2011.  Of course, we have 2400+ other PA where he’s never approached anything close to that.

Anyway, after looking at his CAIRO projection for this year and for the next seven years, I’m even more convinced this contract is bad one.  But don’t take my word for it, here are the numbers.

% PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB CS BB SO GDP HBP AVG OBP SLG wOBA BR BRAR
80% 658 596 100 181 35 5 23 74 42 4 58 87 7 8 .303 .374 .492 .378 101 52
65% 579 525 83 153 28 3 18 61 34 4 47 82 8 6 .291 .355 .460 .356 80 37
Baseline 526 477 71 133 23 2 14 52 29 5 40 79 9 4 .279 .336 .427 .334 65 25
35% 421 382 54 102 16 1 10 39 21 5 29 66 8 2 .267 .317 .395 .313 45 13
20% 368 334 44 85 13 1 7 31 16 5 23 61 8 1 .255 .299 .363 .291 34 6

BR: Linear weights batting runs
BRAR: BR above replacement level, adjusted for position
wOBA: Weighted on-base average

Strictly going by hitting and stolen bases, Ellsbury projects to be worth about 2.5 wins above a replacement level CF in 2014.  He projects to be somewhere around a +4 defender, and we can maybe give him another run or two for non-SB base running.

Now obviously, if he could hit that 65% or 80% forecast we’d love this contract, but that’s not the baseline for a reason, because it’s just not that likely.

So if you have a player who’s 30 and he’s signed for 7 years and you’re paying him an average of $22M per year, how much does he have to be worth to justify it?  Only the team really knows that, but let’s look at how CAIRO projects his next seven season.

Year Age PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB CS BB SO GDP HBP AVG OBP SLG wOBA BR BRAR oWAR
2014 31 526 477 71 133 23 2 14 52 29 5 40 79 9 4 .279 .336 .427 .334 65 25 2.5
2015 32 505 458 65 126 22 2 13 47 27 5 38 75 8 4 .275 .333 .418 .330 60 22 2.2
2016 33 485 440 60 118 20 2 12 44 23 5 37 74 8 4 .269 .328 .405 .323 55 18 1.8
2017 34 465 422 57 111 19 2 11 41 20 5 36 73 8 4 .262 .322 .395 .317 50 15 1.5
2018 35 447 405 52 102 18 1 11 38 17 4 34 73 7 4 .253 .313 .382 .307 45 11 1.1
2019 36 424 385 49 96 17 1 10 35 15 4 32 70 7 3 .249 .310 .377 .305 42 10 1.0
2020 37 403 366 42 90 16 1 8 30 12 4 32 65 7 3 .246 .310 .366 .301 38 8 0.8
Start 18 3255 2953 2953 776 135 11 80 288 142 32 248 509 54 26 .263 .323 .397 .318 383 134 13.4

Yeah.  Even if you want to assume he will continue to provide +5 defense for all seven seasons, he’s doesn’t project to be worth more than 17 wins or so.  So the Yankees would be paying about $9M per win in a league that pays between $5M-$6M on the free agent market.

The key number in all these projections is plate appearances.  Because he has missed significant parts of the season over the time that is in his projection, he only projects to have 526 PA in 2014 and it only goes down from there.  If he can give the Yankees 650 PA in 2014, we can up his overall projected oWAR to 16.5.  It’s still a crappy deal, but a bit less so.  650 PA at his 65% forecast in 2014 and now we’re looking at 22.2 WAR and yeah, it’s still a crappy deal.

This deal has all the earmarks of a deal that was not made by a baseball person, rather by a person who thinks signing a big name and making a splash will put asses in the seats.  Guess what, you do that by putting a better team on the field than you put out there last year.

Ellsbury is not a bad player, and he should be an asset on the field.  But he’s not nearly the player that Robinson Cano is, and won’t make nearly the difference to this team’s fortunes that Cano would.  How do you tell Cano you won’t give him 8 years and $200M when you are willing to give a player that’s half as valuable as he is 7 years and $153M?  And if signing Ellsbury means Cano is playing elsewhere in 2014, this team will be lucky to finish .500. 

You also have to think this means the end of Brett Gardner’s days in pinstripes is close, if not before this season then almost surely after it, and I’m bummed about that. 

Just like with the McCann signing, I’m reserving judgement on this move until I see what else they do.  But unlike the McCann move which I liked in a vacuum, in a different vacuum I think this move was stupid.

--Posted at 10:44 pm by SG / 87 Comments | - (0)

Comments

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Keith Law surprisingly likes the deal. Here’s a snippet (it’s an Insider article, so just a snippet):

[I]f Ellsbury can stay healthy even for most of the deal, it’s actually quite reasonable, especially for a team on the verge of playoff status with the game’s biggest revenue base.

Ellsbury has been good when he’s been able to get and stay on the field, with an 8-WAR season in 2011 when he should have won the AL MVP award and a 5.8 WAR season (per both versions of the stat) in 2013. The former figure came in his insane power spike season, when he made a visible adjustment at the plate, dropping the bat head to drive the ball out to right and right-center fields and producing what is thus far the only double-digit home run season of his career.

What 2013 demonstrated is that he can be worth $22 million to a team like the Yankees even if he only hits nine homers in a season: He’s a plus-plus defender in center who hits for average and adds a ton of value on the bases. I wish he walked more, although at 30 years old he’s not likely to improve significantly in that department. Even at his current level it’s realistic to assume a 5-WAR baseline for him with a lot of variance on the positive side if he has another power spike. In Yankee Stadium, where a pop-up to right field can go over the fence if the hitter times his exhale properly, he might have a few of those.

One thing about these projections which is unfair: Ellsbury’s two injury plagued drag down his projection, especially 2012, where he managed to grab quite a few ab’s despite the shoulder injury leaving him pretty offensively ineffective. One thing about these projections that is far: Ellsbury can’t be called durable at this point of his career, and the projection should account for that in his dossier. Obviously, whoever pulled the trigger on this move hopes the healthy Ellsbury is the Ellsbury we see going forward, with added power. I just typed Ellsbury a lot. Ellsbury.

Yanks sign Kelly Johnson. I think that’s actually a great move. Not as a Cano replacement, but possible starting 3B should the latter resign. Versatile pull hitter should like the porch. Resign Reynolds, could be a quality platoon.

Strange days.  One day they add an extra catcher to the 40 man.  The next day, they sign a free agent catcher.  Another day, they non-tender all of their spare infielders, the next day they sign an outfielder.  Its like the front office personnel are competing against each other.  Upper management isn’t doing a very good job of herding their cats.

Its not a surprise that they always seem to be negotiating against themselves.

If they are still going on the assumption of 189 without counting ARod, they have $37M left to spend with holes at 2B, 3B, and SP. Might as well cave and give Cano 8 years $200M, hope Kuroda takes the one year $16M offer, trade Ichiro to save $6.5M, and sign Kelly Johnson for $3M. Puts them right at HalCap if you ignore ARod.


That or they are hard lining HalCap at 189 and counting all of ARod’s salary until they know otherwise. Meaning they have $3M to spend after signing KJ and they just going to trade Gardner and Murphy to the A’s for Anderson and call it an off-season pending Arod’s case. Meaning the Mariners will get Cano for LESS than the Yankees gave Ellsbury.

In each case, what’s their WAR situation?

[4] I’m hoping the first scenario is what they’re going for.  It seems like a sound approach, and one could assume that if they can’t sign Cano, then they might try to patch together his value with some combination of Choo, Beltran, Tanaka, Garza, Infante, etc.

I hate this deal but I wouldn’t say this is clearly an upper management move.  Cashman loved/loves Gardner.  However with him becoming a free agent next year maybe he decided he would rather give Ellsbury the long term deal than Gardner and made this move now.

[8] Well, simplistically speaking, Ellsbury is basically a less durable Gardner with a bit more power, and slightly better overall offensive stats

The only way this makes a smidgen of sense is if the Yankees knew they couldn’t get Cano at the right number.  But even then it doesn’t make sense.

1: Dispassionately speaking, I’m about there—it’s probably not a terrible risk for the Yankees, but it would be for pretty much everyone else, particularly the Sox, who have a replacement (we hope) waiting in the wings.

5: Wow, Deadspin found nearly a dozen people in a state of 6 million who can’t spell. Shocking!

Incidentally, I don’t know that Ellsbury’s power will increase much; that’ll be interesting to watch. When he hit them out in Fenway, they were bombs. I don’t recall too many near-misses, except in G6 of the WS. Sad day for us (ex)Townies, but I’d guess most people were resigned to losing him, and replacing him with Bradley. Which had damn well better work out. Oh wait, Gardner will be available after this year, so I guess there’s our plan B.

Also, most of the Cano analysis seems to be about what this means for his potential contract offer with the Yankees. How about the messaging side, which went from “don’t let our ship sink!” to “come back, we might be onto something!” Surely his temptation to leave was greater when looking over the wretched 2013 roster than it is now. I bet he stays.

This deal looks so awful that I’m straining to make sense of it.  Perhaps one way to look at it is that in signing McCann and Ellsbury, the Yanks got 2 of the top free agents. That’s good in the short run, even though they’ll probably rue at least one of these deals as the players age.

But, look at the remaining holes for 2014.  The Yanks need a second baseman and a 3rd baseman.  They might need a SS, if Jeter can’t field adequately. They might need a first baseman if Teix’s wrist doesn’t regain its full strength.  Given CC’s decline last year, they might need three or four good SP’s.  It’s unrealistically pessimistic to think that all of these bad things will happen.  However, some will. Also, injuries are always possible. The Yanks will need a extra salary money to fill whatever holes appear during the season. In measuring how the payroll compares to $189 million, these intra-season needs should be kept in mind.

[14] They just got Ryan and Kelly Johnson.  Wait, it’s Jacoby Ellsbury with two “y"s?  I guess that’s the plan.  “Johnson” has two “n"s.  “Brendan” has two “n"s as well.  Now it all makes sense.  Clearly TSBG’s days are numbered.  And now we understand “Nuney”.

[12]  You know very well that they are a representative sample.

[12] Well over a dozen if we’re looking cumulatively.

trader.jpg

To be unfairly reasonable about the Townie fans, he DID just trade his limited value for far more than it’s worth.

Cashman loved/loves Gardner.  However with him becoming a free agent next year maybe he decided he would rather give Ellsbury the long term deal than Gardner and made this move now.

As much as it shows in his projections and people worry about Ellsbury remaining healthy, hasn’t Gardner shown to be even less durable? TSBG has lost large chunks of 2 seasons to injuries and in two other seasons he played through injuries and it clearly affected him at the plate. Not to mention, TSBG relies on defense/base ruining to prop up his WAR even more than Ellsbury. Ellsbury at least has two seasons of MVP level production at the plate and a swing that seems trader made for DNYS. It’s still a huge overpay and the backend of the contract with likely be awful, but let’s see where the rest of the chips fall this off-season so we can complain correctly about the Yankeetanic. I don’t think anyone anticipated they’d sign McCann AND Ellsbury, so maybe Cano and Kuroda are next.

It’s a bad signing, but it gives me hope they have re-discovered their identity as the Evil Empire and a self-limiting budget was dumb all along.

But, look at the remaining holes for 2014.  The Yanks need a second baseman and a 3rd baseman.  They might need a SS, if Jeter can’t field adequately. They might need a first baseman if Teix’s wrist doesn’t regain its full strength.  Given CC’s decline last year, they might need three or four good SP’s.

It would seem Kelly Johnson would be the plan to cover a potential ARod suspension. They still might sign Cano. As already mentioned, Rtan is Jeter insurance. They have to assume Teix is good to go as his wrist is as healed as it’s ever going to be at this point.

They do need one more SP as the rotation is currently - Nova, CC, Pineda, Phelps, Warren. If they can add a #2/#3 type that looks to be a pretty solid rotation. They have a one year $15M-$16M offer on the table for Kuroda, of course sounded like they would go balls deep on Tanaka but the MLB isn’t exactly being their wingman on that, and have been linked to trade talks for Brett Anderson (he’s due $8M this year with a $12M option for 2015 and $1.5M buyout.)

They do need one more SP as the rotation is currently - Nova, CC, Pineda, Phelps, Warren. If they can add a #2/#3 type that looks to be a pretty solid rotation.

If we agree with this evaluation, then - good God, we really need to reexamine our disdain for the Yankees’ farm system. Pineda comes from a trade from the farm, 3 of the remaining 4 right out of the farm… that would be ridiculous.

[21] The problem with that is that Phelps is OKish and Warren is not very good.

On the plus side, Banuelos will probably be ready to go at some point this year and he can be very good.

[22] Kuroda, Nova, CC, Pineda, Phelps with Warren as a longman and Banuelos waiting in the wings would seem to be pretty solid, no?

Agreed on Phelps, but as a #5 starter, that’s perfectly acceptable and they’ll definitely acquire one more SP as they won’t go into the season banking on getting more than one rotation spot filled out of Phelps/Warren/Banuelos. Lots of upside in that rotation but questions too (Can CC bounce back at all? Can Nova maintain his performance for a full season? Can Pineda give them anything resembling his first half season with the Mariners? Can Banuelos live up to any of the hype from years gone by?)

Even if they are going crazy with the spending, I’d doubt they add more than Kuroda and maybe one more SP. People asking them to add 3-4 SP’s is ridiculous. CC has a spot in the rotation. Nova has a spot in the rotation. They need to find out what they have in Pineda. That leaves two open spots if they just want to bank on Phelps/Warren/Banuelos for depth to start the season. There is no way they are signing more than two SP and if there is any sort of budget they will only sign one.

[23] Yeah, if Kuroda comes back that’s not a bad rotation.

I still really like Banuelos. Especially if his elbow issue was impacting him for a while. If that’s the case we could see him turn back into a guy with good command and solid control. Unfortunately, since the Yankees mishandled his injuries so badly, he will have some serious innings limitations and will likely take some time to get back into pitching again.

They NEED to add one 2ish level pitcher, but it would be nice if they could pick up a second reliable guy as wel.

Is Ellsbury an importer or an exporter?

Full no trade clause too.

Can Pineda even throw 200 IP next year? I think no but I haven’t looked into it too much. Probably need to compare players with the same surgery, though most were probably limited by ineffectiveness.

[26] - Who cares?  That contract is a no trade clause in itself.

[27] He may be limited, but it will likely be a pretty high limit.

(28) Right, because big contract trades with money changing hands never happen.

It was a joke.  I just really hate this contract.

I don’t mind this deal.  Ellsbury was a ~6 win player last year, and an legit MVP two years before that.  IRRC, his injuries have been fulky; collisions and the like, and his profile of player tends to age well.

By the way, why did Ellsbury go from a 3.9 WAR player in 2014 in the Free Agent position players projection thread to a 2.9 WAR player here?  Is Yankee Stadium really that bad for him?

[22] Kuroda, Nova, CC, Pineda, Phelps with Warren as a longman and Banuelos waiting in the wings would seem to be pretty solid, no?

I think they need someone better than Phelps as the fifth starter, because you can pretty much guarantee that some of the first four starters will miss time.

Can Pineda even throw 200 IP next year?

Probably not, but for whatever it’s worth Chris Carpenter threw 182 innings two years after the same surgery.  I would pencil Pineda in for about 150 innings at most.

[32] I like the player a lot, just don’t love the 7 years part when speed is such a big part of his game. But maybe his swing is perfect for DNYS, he handles CF or LF for the first 3 or 4 years then transitions to RF and shows 20+ HR power each season.

I just hope they now trade Ichiro, DFA Wells, and let Zolio be the 4th OFer (Kelly Johnson can also play the OF so no reason to carry 5 on the 25 man.) Ichiro would probably be a really solid 4th OFer if only used for defense and late game speed, but you know Binder would be too tempted to DH Soriano and play Ichiro every day.

[35] - Well the good news from yesterday is that Kelly Johnson might spell the end of Nunez’ Yankee career.

[35] Fangraphs just had an article up about the decline phase of speed-based players. It was encouraging. That being said, this is still an overpay. here

[34] I was thinking 170, but 150 it probably more realistic.

I rather have Cano for 8/220 than Ellsbury for 7/150 by far. But can’t say I am disappointed, my expectations for this FO can’t be any lower.

McCann and Ellsbury most likely means the end of Gardner, Cervelli and one from Williams/Heathcott/Austin. Could that package get a #3/#4 SP AND a mid-tier upper level INF prospect? Rangers and Rockies have been shut out of the C FA market. There could be a match there.

[34] I can see the argument for signing 2 SP for the depth so they can use Phelps for an inevitable injury fill-in, but I just can’t see the argument that’s been made to sign 3 or 4 SP. Even if Pineda is limited to 150 innings, they have to let him have a spot in the rotation out of ST to see what they have in him.

[39] Why not build a package around Murphy for the Rangers or Rockies? Or if they need someone to catch this year, then Cervelli + Murphy + ??? Gives them someone to catch this year and a young, near ready catcher with larger upside. Yankees can use Romine as their BUC this season.

If the Yankees are planning on even being in contention for the 2nd WC in 2014 they need Gardner. Sure, trading Gardner was a good idea for a rebuild but that is out the window with the McCann and Ellsbury contracts. Keep Gardner. Go with Ellsbury/Gardner/Soriano in the OF next year.

[39] I think Gardner stays and goes back to LF, with Soriano moving to RF/DH.

[42] Gardner is probably the better defender than Ellsbury, but I think you’re right about who they’ll move. That said with DNYS having a really good defensive LFer isn’t a bad thing. In fact, it will be refreshing to not see Vernon Wells running through cement out there as every ball drops in.

[42]  True, but with the big contract, and the fact that Gardner has been much better in LF than CF (even with the position adjustment) I think Ellsbury plays CF.

[43] - Gardner was a neutral defensive CF last year and only projects to be 1.4 oWAR according to the CAIRO spreadsheet.  He has more value as a CFer so if they can move him to a team that needs a CFer, they should.

[39] Williams and Austin are down in value after a poor season and injury marred season respectively.  Heathcott is still a year away. I don’t think the Yankees will move any of them now.

Both RF and LF will be open after this year, the Yankees will probably be counting on one of Austin, Zoilo or Heathcott to be able to take over one of the corner spots.

[45] But if they move Gardner, Wells or Ichiro is getting a starting job. I’d prefer they avoid that.

But if they move Gardner, Wells or Ichiro is getting a starting job. I’d prefer they avoid that.

Yeah, keep Gardner, put him in LF, move Soriano to RF and make Ichiro the fourth OF.  Send Wells to Siberia.

[46] Yep. They are paying Wells, Ichiro, Gardner, and Soriano ~$17M this season. They should be able to find someone reliable for the OF for that amount or less starting in 2015 and be able to find one internal option to cover the other spot.

[42] [46] I don’t believe Gardner/Cervelli should be traded but if 189 is still the goal then there will have to be some additional subtractions from the 40-man.  Between them they will earn $6-7 MM. That’s a significant amount when you currently have ~$40 MM left to spend with need for a 2B and 2 SPs.

Gardner is duplicative of Ellsbury and Cervelli is more expensive than Romine hence they become trade candidates in order for the team to attempt to limbo in under 189.

[42] [46] I don’t believe Gardner/Cervelli should be traded but if 189 is still the goal then there will have to be some additional subtractions from the 40-man.  Between them they will earn $6-7 MM. That’s a significant amount when you currently have ~$40 MM left to spend with need for a 2B and 2 SPs.

Gardner is duplicative of Ellsbury and Cervelli is more expensive than Romine hence they become trade candidates in order for the team to attempt to limbo in under 189.

[45] But, Gardner has been fantastic in LF (+36 UZR/150, vs. +10/150 in CF).  He may just be better in left.

Getting rid of Gardner replaces a ~3 WAR OF with a 0-1 WAR OF (Suzuki or Wells.  It doesn’t really make sense.

[51] He’s not duplicative. You need 3 OF.  They only have 3 (Ellsbury, Gardner and Soriano).  Suzuki and Wells are just not starting OF at this point.

This article (Dave Cameron, I know) looks at the historical comparisons for Ellsbury and estimate he’ll be worth between 17 and 18 WAR over his contract (SG roughly estimated 20) which is around 8.7MM/win (only about 7.5MM/win for 20 wins). Yeah, this is a terrible, terrible deal.

If the idea is move Gardner to save money, why not just dump Ichiro for nothing and save $6.5M?

[52] - I’m not sure I really buy into the “he plays LF better than CF” argument.  I think either his defensive value went down last year with age or it was just a blip over a small sample size (for defense one year is a SSS).  Either way, I still think he has more value as a CFer than a LFer.  So since you can’t use him as a CFer, you trade him to someone who can utilize his full value and get full value for him in return.  Maybe even a Chase Headley.

When I went to bed last night, I thought I might wake up feeling slightly better about this deal. Nope, I feel far worse. In all likelihood the Yankees are going to be paying 7-9 million dollars per win for Ellsbury. That’s assuming he doesn’t sustain a major injury again. That’s hilariously bad.

I think either his defensive value went down last year with age or it was just a blip over a small sample size (for defense one year is a SSS).

Could also be an adjustment issue after playing primarily LF for so long.

I finally thought of one good thing about this deal.  If it really was spearheaded by Levine and turns out as disastrous as it looks like it will, maybe he finally gets canned.

[58] Wishful thinking.

[57] - Could be.  Either way, I’m not convinced he is more valuable as a LFer than CFer.

By the way, do you know the reason why did Ellsbury lose 10 BR from the CAIRO spreadsheet to yesterdays thread?

And why did Gardner lose a similar amount from the October 15th thread to the CAIRO spreadsheet?

[59] - Well if you think that is wishfull thinking, I’m still holding out hope that the comments to A-Rod’s doctor that will come out in his law suite will get him fired.

I had to re-work my WAR formulas because they were not right so that may explain discrepancies in WAR.  I have posted the latest version of CAIRO, which you can grab here:

http://www.rlyw.net/stuff/sg/cairo_2014_v0.2.xls

I should also mention that Ellsbury projects to lose some doubles off the Green Monster by moving to DNYS and that could make his projection worse than it would be above and beyond the standard park adjustment.

[26]
No, no no, oh, just stop now, will you?

Oh, thanks for the updated link.

And the WAR formula might be part of it, but Ellsbury goes from a .300/.352/.455 to a .279/.337/.427 so his projection itself seems different.

Artcile on FG last Monday talking about Ellsbury’s lost power, and doing some in-depth swing analysis.  J can probably expand on this more than me.  The article concludes with:

If he can get a few months of clear-minded at bats where he’s not worried about pain, I think he settles down enough to get his front foot down and let his hands work, bringing with it the home run power.  That said, it’s not reasonable to expect perfect health based on his recent history, and because of that I would bet money on not seeing 30 home runs again.  If he is able to get a few full seasons of plate appearances, I feel comfortable betting on a 20+ home run season or two, with the floor of a high AVG guy who plays great defense and steals a bunch of bags.  Sign me up.

So if he has good health and the power can rebound (with some optimism from this article), he could be more like his 80% projection, potentially a 6 win player after defense and non-SB baserunning.  Or, basically, Cano.

[65] That’s interesting. The .279/.337/.427 matches up closer to the Steamer projection. Obviously we can hope for the .300/.352/.455 projection.

let his hands work

I can already tell that j is going to have some serious quibbles with this analysis.

And the WAR formula might be part of it, but Ellsbury goes from a .300/.352/.455 to a .279/.337/.427 so his projection itself seems different.

Park factor.  DNYS boosts homers but hurts average/doubles/triples, Fenway pretty much boosts everything on offense except homers.

So if he has good health and the power can rebound (with some optimism from this article), he could be more like his 80% projection, potentially a 6 win player after defense and non-SB baserunning.  Or, basically, Cano.

Sure, it’s possible.  Or it could be that he’s the player he’s been in 2400 some PA and not the player he was in one flukish (albeit excellent) season.

[69] - OK so the free agent projections had him still as a Red Sox.  Makes sense.  Thanks.

[66, 68] It’s a long article, so I haven’t read through all the details, but my first impression of this analysis is:

- In some cases, I agree with him about the stiffness and firmness of his front leg. This guy call it his ‘anchor’, which makes no sense. It’s the pivot that allows his hips to rotate against.  His hips don’t move ‘towards’ the pitcher - they rotate.

- I don’t know what any of this nonsense about his hands across his body is. The hips pull the hands on a circular (not direct) path through the hitting zone.

- He doesn’t mention timing at all, which I believe is the biggest factor.  Hitting for power is certainly about strength, but not at the major league level. All major league baseball players likely have enough power to hit homeruns. What distinguishes them is the ability to execute an efficient, powerful swing consistently. That typically means including some sort of delay mechanism that allows them to adjust between offspeed and breaking pitches. Guys like Adam Dunn just unweight, shift their weight and swing through. When they are thrown fastballs, they crush them. But they strike out 20% of the time. Guys like Albert Pujols have the ability to make adjustments and can hit any type of pitch, and hit them hard.

- The batted ball data as presented doesn’t make sense or at least is very confusing. Is it a distribution of his batted balls, or a distribution of the batted balls inside the subset of batted balls for those 1/3 regions? Either way, I’m not seeing how he’s drawing the conclusions he’s drawing from 2011 to 2013 about the frequency and type of batted balls.

I can do a write up on Ellsbury, but at first blush, here’s what I see:

- In both 2011 and 2013, the swing path is messed up, at least from the videos that were chosen here. The ideal swing bath is from the back shoulder to the front shoulder. Alignment to the pitch is made by tilting at the waist and not moving the hands up or down, as the article’s author suggest (he mentions preferring he drop his hands to get more ‘loft’.) That could lend itself to ‘luck’ in 2011 being responsible for the HR surge in 2011. You’re gambling with the contact point when your swing path is messed up.  If you look at all of Ellsbury’s swing, he doesn’t tilt well. You can see the line of his belt basically parallel to the ground in all of the swings. Ideally, he’s tilted about 45 degrees as he comes through on a pitch at the thights/waist, he’s more upright on high pitches, and he’s very tilted on low pitches. He doesn’t do that well.

- The hip rotation in 2011 seems much better than 2013.  That could be due to lingering injures. If I had to guess, he’s pulling with his front hip in 2013 whereas in 2011 his driving with that counter-rotation of his planted back foot (not linear driving towards the pitcher) in 2013.

[70]  He was a 6 WAR player last year in only 135 games.

1.3 of that WAR came from defense, and he’s never put up a number even half that good in any prior season.  What’s more likely, that he had a fluky good defensive season or he’s suddenly become a better defender at age 30?

[72] - Summary… he was lucky and now he’s getting worse.


Still joking but still hating this contract.

IMO, all this discussion of LF/CF switches in pie in the sky. I don’t know why no one is talking about how there are absoultely no CFers on the market for 2015 and beyond. They would have been forced to go with Gardner, and maybe they end up overpaying for a truly flawed player.

Ellsbury will be the CF in 2015, so there’s little to chance he plays LF in 2014 and moves back to CF in 2015.

[75] Well, possibly. I would probably put it another way. He has great swing mechanics with a very fixable flaw. When the flaw is fixed (or if he gets lucky without the flaw being fixed), he’s a 9-10 WAR player. Makes me not hate this contract.

[70] Whether 2011 was a breakout that was stalled by injuries in 2012/2013 we’ll only know in hindsight.

[77] 9-10 WAR is higher than what I would be thinking.  But 7-8 seems reasonable still.  And 6-7 seems more reasonable.  Potentially he has the type of swing that lends itself better to Kevin Long being able to work with than say a Mark Teixeira type?  That could - or could not - be a factor in why the Yankees signed him.

Bottom line is Yankees are (probably) using information that we have (his numbers, some video on his swing), and some we don’t (observational metrics, more/better video, more professional scouting) and placing a bet.  We’ll see if it pays off in the end.

Jeez, the more I look at this fangraphs analysis of Ellsbury, the more I cringe.

Does this guy get paid? I’m in the wrong line of work.

I hate it.

The Yankees paid a shit ton of money and years to a 31 yo OFer that probably won’t be better than a 3 WAR player after year one.

[76] Heathcott and Williams are both CF, and supposedly very good defensively.

[81] I know, but I wouldn’t call that a plan. Those guys are far from sure things.

[81] Signing Ellsbury to an over-market contract seems like a decent referendum on the potential value of those two guys as CFers or it means that the Yankees will let Gardner walk, shift Ellsbury to LF when either/or is ready for fulltime duty.

Axisa thinks that the 189 cap is out the window, which makes the penny pinching of the last two offseasons pointless or the Yankees believe that ARod is going to be suspended all of 2014.

All told, I still hate this contract regardless of whatever else happens this offseason.

I happened to hear Joel Sherman on the radio at lunch time and he thinks they still want to hit $189M.

[84] It sort of makes sense to plan to stick to 189, but if Cano comes down to their price, to punt it and sign him.

[85] I think the plan may still be, get to $189MM with the assumption that ARod is suspended for the majority of the season (150+ games).  I’d imagine the Yankees’ lawyers are better able to guess how likely that is than we are.  And then if they are surprised and ARod DOESN’T get suspeneded for the majority of the season, oh well, they’re just better stocked to handle injury but $189MM is out the window.

All this deal needs is for Ellsbury to become obsessed with the short porch and spiral downwards over the years. That would be the cherry-on-top.

Page 1 of 1 pages:

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