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

Thursday, January 31, 2013

Index Universe: Yankees GM: Quant Analysis Key To Winning

IU: So you have essentially an analytic process, right?

Cashman: Big time. I’ve been with the team here about 15 years now, and going on my 16th year, and I have changed over time as a department head. One of the changes I’ve made is to take the Yankees into the 21st century. When you see things in the industry improve and change, you’ve got to keep up with the challenges. We have created a quantitative analysis department and hired a director of quantitative analysis. That department has grown to some 14 people who manage a number of different information streams. Not only do they pool that information, but then it is dissected and produced in a meaningful way about what is truly taking place on the field in present performance and then future predictable performance. That has certainly allowed us to make safer, more informed decisions.

Brian Cashman talks about some of the ways Yankees use quantitative analysis in this interview.  He doesn’t say if quantitative analysis was the impetus behind signing Tony Womack and Jaret Wright and Chan Ho Park, but he does get into why they didn’t bid aggressively on Yu Darvish, indirectly.

--Posted at 9:12 am by SG / 32 Comments | - (0)


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Thread jack..

Can anyone tell if this article is telling us anything new? The headline says he’s unlikely to return - which basically means the hip is so bad that he has to retire or he just voluntarily retires, neither of which I thought were likely.

[1] I do not see new substantive content in the article.  What may be new, however, is that through leaks to the press the Yankees FO has begun a campaign to pressure and shame ARod into retirement/settlement.

[1] what my distinguished colleague said [2].

Reads like idle speculation to me, prettied up by ‘a source.’

I mean really, it’s “sources familiar with the Yankees’ situation with their troubled third baseman.”

That is probably Mike Lupica or Wally Matthews or something.  It’s not even a source with the Yankees FFS.

[1] I think it’s a junk article.  I haven’t read Maddon in years and I think with good reason.  Until a few days ago most of the articles about ARod’s hip were about how the doctor thought he could recover and play better than he had in recent years, and how positive everyone was.  But suddenly it’s likely that at best he’s limited to being a role player and having constant issues?

I mean, anything is possible of course.  But the turnaround in attitude is too quick.  It’s certainly possible that what Mel says in [2] is true.  Or that the News is just trying to whip people into a frenzy to get revenue, and the “source in the Yankees’s system” is an elevator operator.

Yeah, I think we need a warning that it was a Madden article.  The guy is simply not someone I care to read, ever.

I’m more accustomed to George-Kinglike baseless speculation in the Post than the NY Daily News, but SG and Mike K could be right.  Who knows at this point, really?

He doesn’t say if quantitative analysis was the impetus behind signing Tony Womack and Jaret Wright and Chan Ho Park

Not fair at all.  Well documented that Steinbrenner’s cronies in Tampa were behind Womack, and was one of the reasons Cashman pulled for full control after 2005.  I’m still not sure why people look at the Park signing and point to it as poor planning.  He signed for peanuts at the end of February when the Yankees had a need.  Cashman has been taking those flyers for years on veterans, b/c if they work he has a cheap player that fills the need, and if they don’t the contract doesn’t stop them from jettisoning the player and getting a replacement.  Wright…I don’t remember who the force was that insisted on still signing him after he failed the physical.  That feels like a Steinbrenner move, but could have been Cashman; it was the off-season before Cashman got full control.

Reads like idle speculation to me, prettied up by ‘a source.’

Way to piss in my cheerios.

[10] You have to stop taking your breakfast at the urinals.

lol, a bad joke worthy of Mel Hall himself!

Very interesting article.

You want to be strong up the middle

I’m can’t help being dismayed by the “you want to be strong up the middle” idea (where Cashman’s talking about looking for young talent).  What does that even mean?  You’re not going to ignore talent you find that projects for other positions.  Aren’t you going to look at what’s there and try to get any potentially valuable future ML talent?  It’s just an odd thing to say.  Perhaps it means that they place a higher value on players who project better at particular positions, but that’s both (i) obvious, and (ii) depends on the particular position.  “Up the middle” sounds like an “old-school” phrase out of place in this article.

Strong up the middle is one of those conventional baseball wisdom things that makes a lot of sense to baseball fans, but I think you have to read the cliche-spouting as Cashman speaking to a non-baseball audience.  This is an interview in a website catering to exchange traded funds.

Plus, he’s setting us up for another contract extension to Gold Glover Derek Jeter.

Who are the players he said he held on to for too long? The “Killer B’s”?

[2, 3, 4] I agree - that’s what I got from reading it. But I sure as hell remember quite a few times where I read an article from some hack and thought “there is no basis for this and this guy is taking some long leaps from the facts that are out there” and then sure enough, what he said would happen, happened. I just wonder if that’s what may be happening here.

Raise your hand if you’ve gone to Cot’s and checked out what an ARod-less Yankees future obligations look like.

[13] That doesn’t bother me, because it is exactly what I would do too. Prioritize the positions with built in scarcity - C, SS, 2B, CF. It’s much easier to convert a player to a lesser defensive position than to a more difficult one. Obviously the Yankees aren’t ignoring corner talent since one of their top prospects is a COF and their 2011 top pick was a 3B.

I doubt they would ignore a high upside hitting talent limited to 1B or LF, but they might value a slightly lower offensive upside player who they believe could stick at SS.

[17] I haven’t gone to Cot’s but I’ve been daydreaming a little about how much better the Yankees could be if they could free up most of the ARod money and spend it more effectively.

I’d be for ARod retiring except for how happy it would make Lombardi et al.

Have you seen the recent post about banning him from baseball?

I actually feel the same way…I think the ideal situation would be Arod comes back, hits a few clutch postseason HR, and then retires after this season. But that is probably the least likely outcome of them all.

[20]  We’re into like fifth-order fandom there.

Okay, here’s the game.  Assume A-Rod makes a deal to retire and take half the money.  I don’t know how it would technically affect AAV, so let’s assume it’s 57/5.  What do the Yankees do this year and after to stay competitive?  You must stay under 189 for 2014 and after.

All this stuff about A-Rod retiring or getting his contract voided is wishful thinking of the highest order. Potentially influenced by the Yanks PR machine.

I’m not at all convinced he’ll play out his contract (to the degree that his health allows for it) but the likeliest scenario in my imagination is that they have to buy him out. Eat the poop sandwich and move on.

[18] Definitely, and another good recent example is Greg Bird.  True he was technically a catcher when they drafted him, but his first full season of pro-ball he played almost exclusively 1B (when he wasn’t DHing).  He was drafted purely for his hitting ability. 

Part of it too, in HS the best players usually play SS or CF (catcher is always a unique position).  So if you’re drafting high-upside prep players, you draft SS or CF (or C).

Re: ARod…if you want him to retire I think the best case scenario is he comes back in 2013 and plays so-so, has a poor 2013 (think Jeter 2010, but as a 3B/DH), and after a horrible start to 2015 (ARod’s ego is too big to just call it quits), quits part way through 2015.  That would actually be similar to Mike Schmidt, who I believe ARod admires.  Schmidt’s age 37 season (ARod this year) was actually excellent, but age 38 wasn’t that good (1.6 bWAR), and age 39 was poor (-.4 bWAR) when he quit.  That’s best case for Yankees getting out of his contract…but also really hurts their 2014 and 2015 (since they have to assume is AAV is on books until he retires).

The real, best case scenario for the Yankees however probably involves ARod playing out his contract.  That is, the hip surgery was as wildly successful as can be.  ARod comes back in July, and gets about 300 PA this year and was a wRC+ back up in the 135 range, being worth around 3 WAR.  2014 he is around 130, 2015 125, etc.  For the next four years, he starts losing playing time but puts up like 4, 3.5, 3, 2 WAR.

That’s best b/c the most likely case, is he comes back and plays OK (wRC+ around 120, 1.5-2 WAR) in 2013, 2014 he’s decent (3-4 WAR, similar hitting), 2015 he slides (wRC+ around 110, misses time/DH more, 2 WAR), 2016 he’s a shell (350PA, 100wRC+, ~1 WAR), and 2017 he’s a mess (200PA, wRC+ 90, 0 WAR).

[25] The best case scenario for the Yankees is Arod retiring becasue of injury and saving 85% of his remaining salary. That way the Yankees will have 25 million a year to spend. That’s so much better than Arod having 2.5-3 WAR seasons, which is highly unlikely.

I hope the Yankees learn on their mistakes and pass on Cano because he will definately not worth his contract and there’s a decent chance he will end up like Arod.

[26] Personally, I think that’s wishcasting, just like wishcasting that ARod can come back and be a 5-6 win player for the next several years.  I just don’t see any way he retires and leaves $114MM on the table.

I think there are right contracts for Cano, and wrong contracts.  6/150 I think is fine.  IDK if he’ll be “worth” it, but I think it will be close enough to make it worth it since they’ll need him to be competitive in 2014/15.  Especially if ARod isn’t there but his salary still is, as Joseph *might* be able to be an impact 2B, but then they’d need Cano (and his bat) at 3rd.  10/250 is the wrong contract, and the last 4/100 will likely be brutal.  What figure in between is acceptable?  IDK…

One of the other ideas I’m starting to read is that the Yankees won’t want ARod back no matter what, so they’ll just release him and deal with the salary consequences.  In theory, that could be better for the budget if he doesn’t get to 660 this year, since it will cost them $27.5 against threshold instead of $33.5 (since he’ll certainly pass 660 in 2014).  But that also means that they’re paying $27.5MM for the next 4 years (2013 doesn’t really matter at this point) for 0 production. 

Personally I think that would be stupid, unless Hal’s just blowing smoke about $189MM (which I doubt).  Just having him as a 2 win player at 3rd will allow them to let Cano leave if he’s too expensive, or if Cano stays at least they don’t need to fill 3B for a year or three.

On another note (what are you guys working or something?), from RAB:

Thursday: The Yankees are on the verge of a deal with Hafner according to Chad Jennings. They two sides are finalizing some contract language and the agreement could be announced as soon as later today. The deal is believed to be along the lines of the one-year, $1.1M contract Raul Ibanez signed last year.

That’s even better than I thought they’d do, if it ends up being the case.

Phew, that was what I was hoping for. I don’t see how Pronk can ask for much more. The guy hasn’t been healthy since Bush was President. And he’s made his money (even this year, Cleveland is paying him close to $3 million in a buyout). This is great. I’ve always been a Pronk fan.

Pronk for a cool million? Though it’s unlikely, that could be the best deal in baseball next season (non-league minimum salary division)

[31] I imagine there are incentives for PT, similar to Raul.  I think Ibanez ended up making closer to $4MM.  Still, especially as this season they aren’t that worried about getting under a certain threshold, it’s a great contract.  You’d have to believe if he’s healthy enough to get 400PA or whatever the max incentive is, he’d be easily worth $4MM or more.  Next season deals like this could be a bit dicier…

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