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

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Fangraphs Q&A: David Cone, Stat-head All-Star

“We didn’t have nearly as much data when I pitched. I think it would have helped me. I would have loved to have seen the hitters’ tendencies, as well as data on my own pitches. I’d have liked data on which hitters were more selective, and which hitters chased out of the zone more. And if they did, which pitches did they chase?

“Earlier this year I looked up some data on Ben Zobrist. This was back when he was struggling, but was still getting his share of walks. His on-base percentage was still decent. I broke down the individual counts, like how many 2-0 and 3-1 counts he saw. He’d seen more than anybody else in the league at that point, but he also swung less than anybody else on those counts. Knowing that type of tendency would have been helpful to me when I pitched.

This is a pretty interesting interview with David Cone talking about using advanced metrics.  Certainly more interesting than the Yankees’ rumor mill.

--Posted at 9:21 am by SG / 29 Comments | - (0)


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From the interview:

I know that the Yankees have an extensive database. Brian Cashman and Billy Eppler — his right-hand man — are into all kinds of data. Joe Girardi is as well.

I read a lot of complaints that (act like) the Yankees aren’t making decisions based on data.  But a lot of what I read (outside of NY Post) is that the Yankees are one of the more data-driven organizations out there.

Of course, potentially their interpretation of the data is wrong.  Or maybe b/c they’re trying to find an edge they are relying too much on untested models that over time may prove less efficient than the publicly available models.  Or just maybe they’re data is more right than we want to give it credit for.

[1] Given their recent success of picking up veterans and scrap heap guys, I think it’s reasonable to have a certain amount of faith the Yankees ML scouting/data analysts.

However, the way the Yankees take risks seems very strange. They seem to overreact to past experiences (Igawa/Darvish or the short lived youth movement) and ignore a lot of the long term contract downsides. And it does not appear that they did a very good job of planning the 2013/14 payroll squeeze.

My concerns about the Yankees are more about their general decision making/planning than their use of advanced metrics/numbers.

Everyone taking the week off for Thanksgiving?

RAB talking about Victorino for corner OF.  Mike A. is talking about Victorino as a “great 4th OF/platoon bat”.  I think Victorino is great on a short-term deal for a corner starter.  I’d be more willing to give him a 2 year deal than Hunter.  If he took the same deal as Melky I think I’d do it; not the upside, but easily worth the money.  And w/o the baggage. 

SG, any CAIRO projections?

[3] Victorino is much better than a 4th OF, I’d be a bit worried about his aging on a longer term deal but on a short term deal, absolutely.

CAIRO: .259/.324/.406 1.5 oWAR (as a LF)

Cairo has in neutral in CF and RF but +4 on in LF defensively.

So maybe not much better than a 4th OF.

And it does not appear that they did a very good job of planning the 2013/14 payroll squeeze.

How so?  They didn’t pass the new CBA until about 1 year ago.  I’m sure they had an idea what would be in it at the start of last off-season but the only thing they did that would make any impact on 2014 was to resign C.C.

[2] I don’t think we have any evidence that they reacted to Igawa by not signing Darvish.  IMHO, that was a narrative that got started somewhere, and everyone ran with it.  The Yankees put in a good sized bid for Darvish - something in the $25M range I believe - and in the long run that may have been the correct amount.  We of course won’t know for a while.  It’s entirely possible that this is one of the cases where the Yankees data is better than our data.

I’m also not sure where the short-lived youth movement is.  They traded Montero and Noesi, but for a high-upside pitcher who would have been 23 last year, and a super-high upside minor league pitcher.  They traded IPK/Jackson, but both had legitimate questions - since answered in a way that makes the Yankees look bad - and Granderson was under 30.  They’ve given youth on the team LOTS of opportunity.  But (so far) Nova has been two steps forward, one step back.  Pineda had a #2 starter spot handed to him and got hurt.  Phelps got opportunity but it’s only one year.  Nunez hasn’t been able to overcome defensive issues.  Banuelos got hurt, Betances keeps taking steps back, Romine got hurt, Adams got hurt, etc.

Honestly, most of the complaints against the Yankees (to me) seem perceived more than actual.  Not all complaints, not like they do everything perfectly.  But a lot of it feels like the, “Free Colter Bean!” or, “Play Andy Phillips!”.  Where it seems like there are perfectly viable minor-league candidates to fill spots in the majors and the Yankees aren’t promoting them either b/c they don’t trust youngsters, or just don’t know how to evaluate talent.  But then when those players DO get a chance, they at best show they belong in the majors as bench players, at worst show they don’t belong in the majors.

[4] Duh, I could have just looked it up myself.  I forgot he already posted it.  Of course, I was also thinking specifically for Victorino as a Yankee.  Sometimes, it does make a difference how a player projects in a particular stadium vs. neutral.

IDK, looks to me like a 2 win player.  FG has him as not worse than 2.6 WAR, and that was his first full season.  Over 3 wins every year since.  A 2 year deal, maybe with a 3rd year option, yeah if it is under $10M per, I’m all over that.  If it is more years or more money, I’m thinking too much.  Seems a pretty good bet to me to be at least worth $8M a year, with some upside to be more, and the fallback is he’s versatile enough to be a 4th OF (as opposed to like Ibanez).

CAIRO: .259/.324/.406 1.5 oWAR (as a LF)

Raw numbers would get a slight boost, something like .265/.335/.425 as a Yankee or so.  Projected value shouldn’t change much.

Kind of meh to me.  I’d still rather they go for Hairston if he can be had on a one year deal.

[7] I agree he would most liekly be worth more than 2 WAR, at 8MM he seems like a solid deal.

[5] Right, most of the long-term deals were signed before the 2009 season.  I still contend that if George Steinbrenner weren’t alive at the time, ARod wouldn’t have been given this ridiculous contract.  They may still have signed him, but probably for less years and $$‘s.  I don’t think that reflects at all on the current organization.  The only other contracts they have on the books past 2013 - other than players under team control - are Teix and CC.  CC I think still appears to be clearly worth it.  Teix…at the time of the deal if he aged more like expected he’d probably be providing the offense to allow them to throw some inexpensive youth out in RF/LF and see what happens.  He didn’t age well.  Jeter is the only other one, and I think Cashman deserves credit for keeping contract to only what it is, though rest of FO deserves some blame.

Everything else…IDK they’ve tried to work young, cheap players into the mix.  The only minor-league or other youth prospects they’ve traded - Whelan doesn’t exactly count as a prospect - they’ve traded for other young, high-upside players.  Maybe the FO is at fault for players like Banuelos getting hurt - and they’ve recently overhauled the minor-league pitching staff.  Maybe stuff like that just happens.  Other long-term issues for getting budget under control, I think 2013 will help us.  Some players that (IMHO) have the upside of contributing league-averagish production in 2014 who have minimal ML time…Romine, Adams, Joseph, Marshall, Whitley, Montgomery.  Not to mention Phelps, Pineda and Nova.  Sure, there’s a great chance that none of those guys has any value for 2014.  Or that all of them could be playing regularly and helping the team be competitive.

[10] While I think that there has been some mishandling of the MiL players (Banuelos missing most of 2012 leading to surgery and missing all of 2013 is possible the most egregious), I think it’s fair to say taht a lot of the issues are “imagined.” I think perhaps it is frustration over many of us looking at ways improve/maintain the Yankees qaulity of play while reducing payroll to a reasonable level for years. Then when the Yankees actually decide to reduce payroll, they don’t seem to have a clear plan to do so.

[8] Doing a little more looking…he was worth something like 4-5 runs more than that on offense alone - trying to account for PT differences - last year with a considerably worse wOBA (though more steals).  I wouldn’t think the stadiums he was playing in would depress his offense enough that he would park adjust to be worth less runs in a neutral park, but with a wOBA .11 higher.  I’m sure I’m seeing something wrong.

IDK, Hairston to me is a platoon bat.  He’s good at that, but severly limited, especially as a righty.  Victorino is still an every day player.  They’re both essentially the same age - Victorino is 6 months younger.  Hairston’s upside is pretty much last year, as it was his highest wRC+ of his career at age 32, and only his second 2 WAR season (last was at age 28 4 years ago).  Victorino’s downside is more like last year, when his wRC+ was the lowest of his career, and first year since 2007 that he was below 100.  Victorino also has a higher career wRC+ than Hairston, despite not being deployed mostly against pitchers he excels against.

Basically, Victorino is (slightly) younger, better at baserunning, fielding, and probably even hitting.  At the least, he’s better that you don’t need to platoon him, even if you selectively play Dickerson against certain right-handers.  I’d rather have Victorino on a 2/16 than Hairston on a 1/7.  I’d rather have Hairston on a 1/8 than Victorino on a 3/36 though.

One thing I find very interesting about Victorino is how few DPs he hits into.  15 DP total over the last three seasons.

The only reason I like Hairston over Victorino is he can probably be had for one year and he won’t expect to play all the time.  In a vacuum, Victorino is a better player, but I don’t know that he’s a good enough player that you want him signed for multiple years when you are trying to reduce your payroll and when three of your top four prospects are outfielders.

[13] A 2 year deal is very unlikely to impact any of the MiL guys aside from maybe Austin. But in all likelyhood the Yankees will hav him spend 2013 at AA and 2014 at AAA, and assuming he continues to hit will at those levels be penciled in the OF for 2015.

While I think that there has been some mishandling of the MiL players (Banuelos missing most of 2012 leading to surgery and missing all of 2013 is possible the most egregious)

I seem to have read an article detailing the timeline of Banuelos’s injury not long ago.  And it really wasn’t nearly as bad as made out to be.  I’ll see if I can dig it up.  But I *do* seem to think that he was sent to Dr. James Andrews fairly early in the injury, and Dr. Andrews recommended rest/rehab, but the condition deterioated.  After it became obvious he needed surgery, he got it.

The Yankees have often been getting a bad rap here for the way their medical staff treats injuries, but most of the time they are sending their players out to see the most respected doctors in the field, that the rest of MLB sends their players to.  It’s just that there is a lot of grey area with some of these injuries; not all of them are as clear as, “there is a tear, let’s do surgery”.  Sometimes the team has a choice between surgery which may not be 100% necessary, and guarantees the player will miss a year.  Or no-surgery and try rest and rehab and miss 2-3 months.  If they don’t do surgery and the player recovers, we figure it wasn’t that bad.  If they don’t do surgery and he needs it later, well, the team/doctors were incompetent.  If they do surgery, we never know how the player would have done otherwise.

Then when the Yankees actually decide to reduce payroll, they don’t seem to have a clear plan to do so.

Not fair.  I think the Yankees were clearly looking at reducting payroll after the 2011 season.  Part of the plan was for players like Pineda and Nova to build off of strong 2011 seasons, and for Banuelos and Romine to fully develop in AAA (with a little time in MLB) and look to be ready to take over serious workloads in 2013 and beyond.  And then of course also gain some value - through playing time or trade value - from Phelps, Warren, and others.  While you can argue they shouldn’t expect all of those to pan out, I also think it’s fair to say they shouldn’t have expected *none* (other than Phelps) working out!

Pineda missed the entire season to injury and will miss part of 2013, and may never pitch again.  Banuelos missed most of a year of development, and will miss most - if not all - of 2013 as well.  Romine missed a lot of development time, and now isn’t likely to even be ready for backup duty in 2013.  Nova both regressed AND had injury issues.  Phelps is the only one who did anything positive, and that was SSS and not overwhelming enough to guarantee him anything beyond being a favorite to win a spot on the team in ST.  If all those things go right, we’re praising the Yankees.  If some of them go right, we’re probably still feeling pretty good about 2013 and beyond.  But since none went right, it’s like the Yankees don’t have a plan…

Also, how many times has Cashman telegraphed his plans?  I think he’s been a master of setting low expectations, and working very quietly.  But then making some big moves, and series of small moves.  Off the top of my head, trading for ARod, signing Damon, signing Teix (and to a lesser extent Burnett), signing Kuroda/trading for Pineda same day.  Perhaps less satisfying in October/November than The Boss’s MO of announcing loud and early that they’re going to get the best players available, and then signing them early to bloated contracts.  But potentially better for the team in the long term.

[13 & 14] I’m not a big fan of Victorino on a 3 year deal, at least not guaranteed.  Hairston on a 1-year deal is almost definitely preferable to Victorino on a 3-year deal.  But on a 2 year deal, I think it generally makes more sense to have Victorino than Hairston.  Victorino helps the team more in 2013.  In 2014, I don’t think $8M - and yes they should have signed Melky for that but we don’t know all the circumstances yet - should hurt the budget that much.  Also, as Snuggles says, the only player he could potentially be blocking is Austin.  But even then, they’ll need 2 OF, so Austin in one corner, Victorino in the other.  And on the off-off chance that both Austin and Heathcott prove they’re ready to start in 2014, Victorino can probably come close to earning his contract as a 4th OF.

FWIW, FanGraphs crowdsourcing has Victorino at 3/30, and doesn’t show Hairston.  Hairston one year or Victorino 3/30 go Hairston.  Victorino on 2 years I think almost definitely him.  Victorino at 3/30 or Hairston 2+ years?  Mmm…probably pass on both.  Depending on when it is in the off-season and what other options are left.

[16] I think, Ideally the Yankees sign someone for 2 years (so they don’t need to find someone in 2014 willing to sign for 1 year too).

I don’t know why this worries me so much.  I’m not going to pretend I can know the full impact of the move, but I always assumed it was a big cash cow for the team.  So selling off pieces of YES, as much as 80%, seems like a really bad sign.

[17] Absolutely.  I guess the issue is that most of the players who are willing to take 2 years, there’s probably a reason why the Yankees would be leary to sign them for that second year (e.g. Hunter).  The players who they’d be happy to sign for 2 years, probably will take a contract for 3 years or longer.  One of the many reasons I expect them to not do much until Jan/Feb, when maybe a player like Victorino falls through the cracks and they can get him for 2 years.

[18] a comment on the article, and as we know comments are always well researched, says that the Yankees weren’t sole owners of YES. Notably, investment banks were involved, so various parties are probably cashing out.

[18] Well 40% of it comes directly from Goldman-Sachs I believe.  So that doesn’t affect the Yankees at all.  The other 19% that Newscorp will receive initially, I believe it is still unknown where that will come from.  If it comes from other minority owners, that may also not affect the Yankees.

So the issue is long term, where does that other 21% come from?  When all is said and done, the Yankees could have as much as 20% stake in YES.  Maybe a little less, maybe even a little more.  If they do indeed sell 13% it may still in fact be a good long-term deal for the Yankees, depending on several factors.  For example, maybe the Yankees know that MLB is planning on calculating revenues differently to hurt the Yankees (and other owners of regional sports networks) and they’re trying to minimize their exposure early.

Wallace Matthews wrote earlier that he believes this is the beginning of the Steinbrenner’s plan to eventually sell their entire stake in the Yankees to Rupert Murdoch.  FWIW.

[20] Yankees currently own 33% of YES.  Other owners are Goldman-Sachs (40%), and I think the rest is owned by former owners of the (then) NJ Nets.

Fox did such a good job owning the Dodgers, I can’t wait for the sequel.

[22] - Yeah, that’s what I knew from the initial investment but I wasn’t sure how much it changed over the years.  I don’t know how much (if any) the Yankees are kicking in of the initial 49%, but if they exercise their right to 80%, then there is no way the Yankees aren’t selling a significant piece. 

And yeah, the Stein kids aren’t great owners but I’m not sure I’m not sure I’m ready to take my chances with Fox.

Bill O’Reilly? Dick foot fetish Morris? No thanks.

The Yankees have resigned Hiroki Kuroda to a one year contract. Huge.

Yanks re-sign Kuroda. 1 year/15 MM, plus 1 MM or less in incentives.

Not a bad deal, a well-deserved raise for last year’s performance and they kept him off the books for 2014.

Now let’s go get Pettitte and an Upton brother.

I don’t think we have any evidence that they reacted to Igawa by not signing Darvish.  IMHO, that was a narrative that got started somewhere, and everyone ran with it.

That sounds stupid enough to have been me. Snuggles might have picked it up off a drunk post I made of fb.

Matsuzaka probably scared them as much as Igawa; he was supposed to be the success story of the two of them.

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