Friday, May 24, 2013
The two men are twinned in Yankees lore: Jesus Montero, the hulking catcher once thought to be a formidable slugger in pinstripes, and Michael Pineda, the promising young starter thought to one day headline the team’s rotation.
The link between the two became indelible when the Yankees traded Montero to Seattle in exchange for Pineda before the 2012 season. At the time, both were considered potential superstars. Now each is a reclamation project. On the day the Mariners demoted Montero to Triple-A Tacoma, Pineda took another halting step toward his much-anticipated debut for the Yankees.
Pineda, a 24-year-old righty, threw five innings in an extended-spring game at the team’s minor-league complex in Tampa, Fla. His fastball velocity sat at 93 mph, general manager Brian Cashman said. After one more game at the complex, Pineda could begin a rehabilitation assignment, a 30-day jaunt that could lead him to the majors.
“I’m happy so far that he’s healthy,” Cashman said. “But he’s obviously got a ways to go. We’ll see. But so far so good.”
Pineda averaged around 94 mph with his fastball in his only season in MLB in 2011 so seeing that he’s sitting at 93 is pretty encouraging. Of course, he can’t hit so he doesn’t really help the Yankees in their biggest area of weakness, but I’m starting to get excited about his potential return.
I don’t know that Jesus Montero would have failed to develop the way he has if he was in the Bronx instead of Seattle, and I think it’s still too soon to label him a bust, but at this point it seems like the Yankees have a reasonably good chance to end up “winning” the trade that a lot of us were less than enthused about.
Monday, January 14, 2013
It was one year ago yesterday that the Yankees traded Jesus Montero and Hector Noesi for Michael Pineda and Jose Campos in a stunning move that came out of nowhere. I didn’t like the move at the time, but by the time spring training came around I had accepted it. As it turned out, Montero was pretty bad and Noesi was awful, but the Yankees probably still regret making the trade given the fact that Pineda went down with a shoulder injury and his prognosis is uncertain.
It’s tough to judge Montero’s season given the way Safeco suppresses offense and you can’t help but wonder if he’d have hit better in DNYS in a better lineup. His .260/.298/.386 line was pretty close to league average once you adjust for park (95 OPS+). What does that mean? Here’s a list of the players who had at least 500 PA with an OPS+ between 90 and 100 in their age 22 season.
There are some very good players on this list like Adrian Beltre and Carlos Beltran, but honestly it’s kind of underwhelming.
The jury is also still out on his defense, but he didn’t really seem to convince most observers that he’ll be capable of being a full-time catcher at the MLB level. Still, he’ll be 23 in 2013 and it’s not hard to imagine him hitting much better with a year of adjustment and additional experience.
Of course, given the fact that Pineda may never be an MLB pitcher again it’s kind of hard to spin this trade in the Yankees’ favor. The simple question I’d ask is this, if the Yankees could make this trade again today given what they know now would they? I think the obvious answer is no.
Pineda could come back healthy and Montero may not be able to catch or improve enough offensively that the Yankees could still end up coming out ahead in this trade. I don’t like the odds of all that coming to pass, but it’s possible. But I suppose we’ll have a bit more data to judge on after 2013.
Wednesday, September 19, 2012
SEATTLE (AP) The Baltimore Orioles weren’t going to be denied a victory - or making history - even if it took 5 hours and 44 minutes to do it.
Taylor Teagarden stroked a pinch-hit RBI single to right in the 18th inning to help give the Baltimore Orioles a 4-2 comeback victory over the Seattle Mariners on Tuesday night.
The win allowed the Orioles (84-64) to pull within a percentage point of the Yankees (83-63) for the lead in the AL East. The Yankees were rained out Tuesday and will play a split double-header with Toronto on Wednesday.
Baltimore maintained a three-game lead in the wild-card race over the Los Angeles Angels, who beat Texas 11-3 in Anaheim.
Congratulations to the Orioles and their fans on their 2012 AL East Championship.
And a special shout out to former Yankee Jesus Montero for going 0 for 8 in this game and stranding 7 men on the bases. He’d have fit right in on the Yankees, especially since I assume his .259/.297/392 line this year would be in the .359/.397/.592 area if he was playing half his games in DNYS..
Wednesday, April 25, 2012
Michael Pineda is headed for another exam on his ailing right shoulder, as per his agent’s request for a second opinion. The Yankees were awaiting results on Pineda’s initial New York exam Tuesday by club physician Chris Ahmad. Today, Pineda is scheduled to be examined by David Altchek, the Mets’ team physician.
Really? The METS’ team physician? Ugh.
Did you know that Jesus Montero’s .254/.270/.373 line playing half his games in Safeco would be .328/.406/.590 if he played half his games in DNYS instead?
Wednesday, March 28, 2012
Looking Ahead to 2012 - Michael Pineda
In a move that came out of nowhere, the Yankees traded Jesus Montero, their top prospect, for Michael Pineda. Pineda had a very good rookie year for Seattle in 2011, but getting him came at a heavy price. It’ll probably take at least five years to see if the trade was worth it, but it’s already been analyzed and judged heavily and will surely continue to be.
Pineda wasn’t a lock to make the Mariners’ rotation out of spring training last year, but he made the team thanks to a good spring training. His first half/second half splits have been beaten to death, but I’ll re-post this table that I posted right after the trade.
fb% Percentage of batted balls that were fly balls
gb% Percentage of batted balls that were ground balls
ld% Percentage of batted balls that were line drives
bb/bf: walks per batters faced
k/bf: strikeouts per batters faced
babip: batting average on balls in play
fip: Fielding independent pitching
xfip: Expected fip (uses league average hr/fb rate instead of actual hr)
A is Pineda through July 4, and B is Pineda afterwards.
If you go by ERA, Pineda was much worse in the second half (2.58 through July 4, 5.71 after). However, there’s a lot of noise in ERA that isn’t necessarily related to the pitcher’s performance. Every peripheral stat of Pineda’s except for his HR/FB rate and his BABIP was better in the second half, and those are probably the two most volatile stats a pitcher can have.
Stats are only part of the story, but what about his stuff? Here are Pineda’s average velocities by pitch type for each month in 2011.
FFv: Four-seam fastball velocity
SLv: Slider velocity
CHv: Changeup velocity
Here are Pineda’s average four-seam fastball velocities for each game in 2011.
There was a gradual decrease as the season wore on, and the big drop between 9/10 and 9/21 is a little alarming, but he only threw 44 fastballs in that 9/21 game(out of 81 total pitches) and I don’t know if it’s anything more than a blip. His average fastball velocity through the end of June was 95 mph, and it was 94.1 mph over the rest of the season.
Velocity’s an important part of being a good MLB pitcher, but it’s not the only part. Much has been made about Pineda’s underwhelming velocity so far this spring, where’s he’s topping out below where he averaged last year. He’s also throwing with less velocity than he did last spring. However, he’s not trying to make the team like he was last year, and he’s probably focusing more on developing his changeup which has lagged behind his fastball and slider. Because of that, I think the obsession with his velocity in exhibition games is a little misguided, although I suppose controversy sells and there’s not a whole lot else that’s controversial for this year’s version of the Yankees so far.
Pineda’s moving from a pitcher’s park to a disgraceful bandbox. Although Seattle has a better defensive reputation than the Yankees, the Yankees’ defensive OF is a good one and as a flyball pitcher he shouldn’t see that much of an impact from any decline in the defense behind him.
RA: Runs allowed per nine innings
FIP: Fielding-independent pitching
RAR: Runs above replacement level (using RA adjusted for park)
WAR: Wins above replacement level (RAR divided by 10)
For more information on the projections above you can look at the first post in this series.
I’ve included his 2011 and the league average as frames of reference. League average is based on role (starters vs. relievers), and is not adjusted for park so unlike with hitters mentally adjust that down a bit.
Pineda’s professional innings progression looks like this.
2006: 20.1 IP in Rookie ball
2007: 59.0 IP in Rookie ball
2008: 138.1 IP in Class A
2009: 47.1 IP in Rookie and A+
2010: 139.1 IP in AA and AAA
2011: 171.0 IP in MLB
Pineda missed a large chunk of 2009 with an elbow injury, but returned from that having put on about 25 pounds and a few MPH of velocity. Last year was his career high in innings pitched, and it came in the majors where innings are more stressful due to the greater caliber of competition. That may or may not explain some of his lower velocity, which means he may be able to get it back as his stamina increases. It’s probably worth noting that velocity peaks pretty early in most pitchers’ career, and Pineda may never throw as hard as he did last year. That doesn’t mean he can’t be a good pitcher without it, of course.
Pineda’s projections are reasonably consistent across the board. They’re low on innings since he has never pitched as many innings as he did last year, and ZiPS is probably seeing a rougher transition to the AL East and DNYS than the others. According to Baseball Reference there were 28 AL pitchers that had at least 3.0 WAR last year.
Pineda himself just missed the cut off with 2.8. Pineda’s average projection would qualify for the most basic definition of a #2 starter in the AL (one of the top 28 pitchers in the league). Obviously, we hope for more than that.
CAIRO Percentile Forecasts
The 65% forecast seems like the bare minimum for what Pineda can do to justify being traded for Jesus Montero, who’s going to win the AL MVP and Cy Young. For whatever it’s worth, since 2000 there have been 21 Yankee pitchers who put up a season of 3.9 WAR or more.
I hated seeing Jesus Montero get traded, but Mariners fans also hated seeing Pineda get traded. That probably means that the trade was a fair one. Getting Pineda for Montero made a lot more sense than trading him for a half season of Cliff Lee or for Felix Hernandez being paid at market rate. Pineda’s not as good as either pitcher right now, and may never be, but he’ll be under team control for the next five seasons and he’ll probably be getting paid less than he’s worth and it wouldn’t surprise anyone to see him elevate himself into the upper echelon of MLB pitchers if he can refine his changeup and get that fastball back.
Put it this way, if Dellin Betances had done in AAA what Pineda did last year in the majors we’d all be convinced he was on the precipice of being a very good MLB pitcher. Also, throw in the fact that Pineda did this while being a year younger than Betances.
With a pitcher, you assume more risk than you do with a position player. But while Montero had a nice MLB debut, he really hasn’t hit all that well in AAA the last two years and it’s still uncertain he’ll be anything more than a DH. I hope he goes on to have a solid career, while Pineda develops into the best pitcher in baseball and/or pitches them to a few World Series wins. If that happens and Jose Campos develops into an eighth inning guy, the Yankees will have probably won the trade.
Thursday, March 22, 2012
While Pineda is struggling to prove he belongs in the Yankees rotation while tipping the scales at a surprising 20 pounds to start spring, Montero basically has been given an everday job as the No. 5 hitter in the Mariners’ mostly young lineup. He will catch games here or there in a three-catcher set where veteran Miguel Olivo will be the starter, but mostly, he’ll hit. “He’ll get a ton of at-bats,’’ Zduriencik promised.
The knock on Montero is that he can’t catch, and the Mariners shied away from the Cliff Lee trade two summers ago because they had a top scout or two suggesting he couldn’t do it. But now at least one of those scouts says he can, and Mariners people believe he will, if not immediately then eventually. “He’s an intelligent kid, but it just takes time at that position to adjust,’’ Zduriencik said. “So far I’m pleased.’’
Struggling to prove he belongs in the rotation, eh? I think what Heyman’s doing here is commonly referred to as “trolling.”
Thursday, March 15, 2012
Looking Ahead to 2012 - Andruw Jones and Raul Ibanez
With the loss of Jesus Montero and with Russell Branyan not having made an appearance yet due to a back injury, the 2012 DH for the Yankees is probably going to be some combination of Andruw Jones, Raul Ibanez, and starters that are getting a half day of rest. No, it’s not quite as exciting as it would have been to watch Montero developing, but it is what it is.
From 2007-2009 Jones hit .207/.304/.393 over 1228 PA and effectively appeared to be done as an MLB player. Over the last two seasons he’s hit .237/.347/.489 with 32 HRs in 550 PA and appears to have recovered some of that lost ability. Is that true though?
|vs. LHP (2010-2011)||45%||248||212||58||10||0||16||33||3||58||.274||.379||.547||13.3%||23.4%||.304|
|vs. RHP (2010-2011)||55%||302||256||53||10||1||16||41||3||77||.207||.321||.441||13.6%||25.5%||.224|
|vs. LHP (2007-2009)||37%||454||374||80||20||2||16||70||5||97||.214||.341||.406||15.4%||21.4%||.241|
|vs. RHP (2007-2009)||63%||774||688||140||33||1||30||72||6||189||.203||.282||.385||9.3%||24.4%||.231|
He’s walked and struck out a bit more over the last two seasons when compared to his 2007-2009 stretch, but other that the primary change appears to be in his deployment (a higher percentage of PA vs. LHP) and in his batting average on balls in play (BABIP of .261 vs. .234). It’s easy to forget now that the calls for Jones to be DFA’d last season were pretty frequent early on, as he hit .195.278/.356 through July 10. Jones surged after that and ended the year by hitting .291/.416/.612 over his final 125 PA.
Jones faced LHP in 79.7% of his 2011 PA, and that may help explain some of his better than expected performance. However, he did face a higher percentage of RHP over the second half of the year.
|vs. LHP(through 7/10/2011)||75%||73||65||15||2||0||4||8||0||22||.231||.315||.446||11.0%||30.1%||.282|
|vs. RHP(through 7/10/2011)||25%||24||22||2||0||0||0||2||0||8||.091||.167||.091||8.3%||33.3%||.143|
|Total (through 7/10/2011)||97||87||17||2||0||4||10||0||30||.195||.278||.356||10.3%||30.9%||.245|
|vs. LHP(7/14/2011 on)||58%||73||61||21||6||0||4||10||2||17||.344||.452||.639||13.7%||23.3%||.425|
|vs. RHP (7/14/2011 on)||42%||52||42||9||0||0||5||9||1||15||.214||.365||.571||17.3%||28.8%||.182|
|Total (through 7/14/2011 on)||125||103||30||6||0||9||19||3||32||.291||.416||.612||15.2%||25.6%||.339|
The BABIP was low but he hit for good power against them.
Raul Ibanez did stuff last year too, but it was in a weaker league for a weaker team and I don’t really feel like getting into it.
Can some combination of Jones and Ibanez provide a useful primary DH? Here are Jones’s projections.
For more information about the projections above, you can read the first post in this series.
I’ve included his 2011 and the league average line for his 2011 PA as frames of reference. I haven’t adjusted league average for DNYS.
And for Ibanez.
I’ll just say I think CAIRO is way, way off on Ibanez. BRAR for both players are being calculated as DHs. If they are able to play the OF they would pick a bit more relative value, although Ibanez surely gives that all away with his defense.
CAIRO Percentiles Forecast - Jones
Jones had knee surgery in the offseason and came into camp in great shape (just like every other player but Phil Hughes circa 2011). I think his baseline forecast is a bit pessimistic and wouldn’t be surprised to see him in the 65% area. I do think it’s wishful thinking to think he’s going to suddenly re-establish himself as an everyday player after five straight seasons of not being one, but I don’t think anyone here really thinks that.
CAIRO Percentiles Forecast - Ibanez
I’ll go the opposite direction here. I think Ibanez’s baseline projection is way optimistic. I think his 35% projection is optimistic too. I would be shocked if he’s a Yankee at the All Star Break.
Neither guy is probably worthy of being the full-time DH. However, a platoon of the two would look something like this.
|Jones vs. LHP||166||139||33||7||0||6||24||39||1||4||.234||.352||.413||.343||90|
|Ibanez vs. RHP||447||401||109||26||2||18||41||73||1||11||.272||.336||.470||.348||90|
That’s probably worth about a win over a replacement level DH.
Both players are physically capable of running the bases.
Defense - Jones
Jones can still probably play average defense in the corners. He can probably play some CF too, although he should be behind Brett Gardner on the depth chart.
Defense - Ibanez
I thought Ibanez would show up as -20 or so, so this surprises me some. I don’t think he’s a good OF, but hopefully he won’t be needed much out there.
Value - Jones
Rep: Replacement level adjustment (22 runs per 700 PA pro-rated to projected PA)
RAR: Runs above replacement (Rep + Pos)
BRR: Base running runs (does not include SB)
Def: Projected runs saved defensively
WAR: Wins above replacement (RAR + BRR + Def) divided by 10
Offense replacement level is compared to DH, so give him a few more runs depending on how much outfield he plays.
Value - Ibanez
Again I’ll mention that I think CAIRO is insane with its Ibanez projection. Thankfully the Yankees don’t have that much invested in him, and if he does start to drag them down he can be released fairly easily. I think Russell Branyan would out-produce Ibanez vs. RHP, but I don’t know how long he’ll be in the organization if he doesn’t break camp with the team.
DH doesn’t seem like it’s going to be much of an asset this year, and it’s certainly not going to be as enjoyable as it would have been with Montero around. And for some reason my hands want to type Iganez every time I try to type Ibanez, which makes these posts take several seconds longer to write. Despite all that, it could be worse.
We could be watching pitchers “hit.”
Sunday, March 11, 2012
But I spoke to one AL scout a few days ago who got out his notes from last spring training, when he watched Pineda in Arizona, and said he had clocked him from 93-96 mph in early March outings.
That’s quite a difference from 89-92.
And don’t think the Yankees aren’t at least somewhat concerned about it. Cashman said he looked back on the research the Yankees did before acquiring him, and found evidence on Fangraphs.com that Pineda’s velocity would increase significantly after the first couple of innings.
“They talked on Fangraphs about how in his first inning or two of his starts last year, that’s not unusual, him being that level,” said Cashman. “Those same games he ended up averaging 94 and change.’’
I’ll preface this by saying I’m not concerned about Pineda’s velocity. What I am concerned about is that the GM of the Yankees is making major decisions and consulting Fangraphs to do it.
Don’t get me wrong, I think Fangraphs is a great resource. But I would think the richest team in baseball should have first-hand knowledge of something as critical as how Pineda’s velocity works, particularly if they’re going to trade their best prospect for him. If they’re using a free website as critical input into a decision like the one they made trading Jesus Montero for Pineda, it doesn’t exactly fill me up with confidence that this team knew what it was doing when they made the trade.
Maybe it’s subterfuge. If it’s not, let’s at least hope Cashman never finds Bleacher Report.
Monday, January 30, 2012
The Yankees have sent personnel to see Hughes in California this winter and, while they didn’t ask Hughes to strip down to check out what type of shape he is in, the reports are that he looks “great.”
Whew. I was afraid the Yankees were going to cut into our Naked Phil Hughes traffic…
On one hand, if Hughes comes into camp in great shape and has a great year, I’ll be ecstatic. On the other hand, I’ll wonder if the only reason he did so poorly last year was because he didn’t bother conditioning himself? If that’s the case, you could make the case that Hughes cost the Yankees Jesus Montero, right?
Thursday, January 26, 2012
Yankees GM Brian Cashman has traded Alfonso Soriano, Nick Johnson, David Wells and Mike Lowell, but said believes Jesus Montero could be better than all of them.
“He may very well be the best player I’ve traded,” Cashman said of Montero, whom he sent to Seattle in a deal to get right-hander Michael Pineda that was finalized yesterday. “He’s that good. He’s a middle-of-the-lineup type bat.”
That means Cashman expects a lot out of Pineda, the 6-foot-7, 23-year-old who went 9-10 as a rookie last year. Cashman and Mariners GM Jack Zduriencik first discussed Pineda at the Winter Meetings last month.
Let’s hope not.
Monday, January 23, 2012
For Pineda, who is an imposing 6-7 and who can fire mid-90s heat, the change of address came as a shock (the deal will be officially finalized when the players pass their physicals and when visa paperwork is completed). But once the news sank in, Pineda started to envision the galaxy of stars that will play behind him.
“It’s a tremendous team, with good pitching. It’s very exciting for me — for the first time in my life, I’ll have the pleasure of playing with Alex Rodriguez, a huge star, and Derek Jeter, one of the most well-known players ever. And Mariano Rivera, (Robinson) Cano, (Mark) Teixeira, Rafael Soriano,” Pineda says in Spanish, his voice trailing off as he sifts through the Yankees’ roster. “I never thought in my life that I would be in this situation.”
I am still sad about losing Jesus Montero, but Pineda should be a lot of fun to watch.
Monday, January 16, 2012
How Should The Yankees Replace Jesus Montero at DH?
Upgrading the rotation came at the cost of losing the Yankees’ starting DH and top hitting prospect. As a fan, I’m bummed about losing Montero because of the emotional tie I’ve built up as he’s progressed through the Yankee system. I think the trade was fair and I understand why it was made, but it’s still a disappointment. But press on, we must.
We really don’t know how good Montero is right now and how good he’ll be in the future. Here were the ranges of his CAIRO projections as a Yankee DH heading into 2012.
It wouldn’t have surprised me to see Montero up near that 80% forecast, but for now he doesn’t project that way in his baseline projection.
Here’s how the range of projected wOBA’s would have looked broken down into platoon splits.
|%||wOBA vs L||wOBA vs R|
The in-house solution for DH is probably Andruw Jones. Here’s how he projects over the same number of PA.
And here are his projected wOBA platoon splits.
|%||wOBA vs L||wOBA vs R|
The Yankees would lose about six runs over a full season if Jones replaced Montero at DH. That’s sub-optimal, but it puts them ahead of where they were before making the trade for Michael Pineda and signing Hiroki Kuroda. Maybe two or three wins ahead depending on how the innings for the rotation get allocated. They’d probably project in the 95-96 win range if they do nothing else before spring training.
The Yankees do have options to upgrade DH. Last year, the Yankees faced LHP in 29% of their plate appearances and the DH got 646 PA in total. A similar split would mean 187 PA for DH vs. LHP. The difference between Montero’s and Jones’s baseline wOBA projection vs. LHP would be worth a loss of about two runs over that number of PA.
That’s small enough that I think between Jones, Alex Rodriguez and Derek Jeter (I know, but he’s better against LHP) they have enough for the right-handed portion of a platoon DH.
So what about the other, more important side? Here are the options still in free agency.
|Player||Bats||Projected wOBA||Vs L||Vs R||RAJ|
RAJ: Runs above Andruw Jones (vs RHP over 459 PA)
Assuming the left-handed half of the DH platoon would see 459 PA here are how some of the various options project as Yankees. If you want to replace Montero’s baseline projection, you need eight RAJ, since you’ve lost two runs from the vs LHP part of DH. Then you’re effectively where you were before trading Montero.
Carlos Pena is head and shoulders above the field, and if this number is accurate he’s probably worth something like $8-10M. I don’t know if the Yankees are willing to spend that much, which means someone from the Branyan/Betemit/Ibanez/Drew group would be the next best option. I’d assume Branyan would be the cheapest of the group, but if they want to spend more they should probably go after Betemit since he can play 3B (not well) in the likely scenario that Alex Rodriguez misses some time. The nostalgia of bringing back Damon or Matsui would be kind of cool, but not the optimal way to proceed IMO.
I think they should make a play for Pena first and foremost. If not Betemit is my second choice. Then I don’t really have a preference.
Friday, January 13, 2012
@GregJohnsMLB Greg Johns
No confirmation from team, but source says Mariners sending Pineda and Jose Campos to Yankees for Jesus Montero/Hector Noesi.
First thought is that I don’t like this. But I’ll do an analysis on it tomorrow.
Update: I like this better.
The Yankees will have the best 7 man rotation in baseball. Who needs a DH, really?
Update v2: Projections for Pineda and Kuroda as Yankees
FIP: Fielding-independent pitching
RAR: Runs saved above replacement level using RA
WAR: Wins above replacement level (RAR divided by 10)
The Yankees added two pitchers that project to be better than their second starter a few hours ago. I hate losing Jesus Montero’s long-term potential, but truthfully, his CAIRO projection as a DH was barely above replacement level. The Yankees may regret this trade at some point, but it makes them stronger in 2012 and at least they traded Montero for a 23 year old with five years of team control left and with a big-time arm.
Back of envelope projection says that as long as they add a league average bat to serve as either the primary DH or to play all over the field while they DH the regulars, they went from something like:
CC Sabathia, 220 IP, 5.5 WAR
Ivan Nova, 190 IP, 2.0 WAR
Phil Hughes, 175 IP, 1.9 WAR
A.J. Burnett, 175 IP, 1.2 WAR
Freddy Garcia, 150 IP, 2.2 WAR
Hector Noesi, 50 IP, 0.0 WAR
Adam Warren, 25 IP, 0.0 WAR
David Phelps, 15 IP, 0.0 WAR
Starters, 1000 IP, 12.8 WAR
to something more like:
CC Sabathia, 220 IP, 5.5 WAR
Hiroki Kuroda, 180 IP, 2.3 WAR
Michael Pineda, 175 IP, 2.3 WAR
Ivan Nova, 175 IP, 1.8 WAR
Phil Hughes, 100 IP, 1.1 WAR
A.J. Burnett, 100 IP, 0.7 WAR
Freddy Garcia, 100 IP, 1.4 WAR
Starters, 1050 IP, 15.2 WAR
I am being somewhat conservative on innings with Pineda and Nova by design, and if the Yankees would dump Burnett I’d give his innings to Hughes and Garcia and it would make them look even better.
They’ve probably added about three wins tonight, which if added to the last batch of still early and mostly useless projections makes them the best team in baseball. Yay.
Monday, January 2, 2012
1) Jesus Montero, C-DH, Grade A: What he did in the majors last year was not a fluke. It was at the high end of expectation, yes, and I wouldn’t expect him to hit like that over 500 plate appearances at age 22. He may need some adjustment time, but his bat is truly outstanding and he wasn’t just getting lucky. His glove isn’t very good and while he’s not a complete player in terms of contributing speed or defense, his hitting is so strong he still gets a Grade A from me.
2) Gary Sanchez, C, Grade B+: Excellent power production in full-season ball at age 18; that is rare. His glove needs work and he needs to take his career more seriously, but he has time to outgrow emotional immaturity.
3) Manny Banuelos, LHP, Grade B: Borderline B+. He got a B last year and I can’t bump his grade up a notch given the command difficulties he had in Double-A. He’s still a fine prospect, however, projecting as a number three starter if all goes well.
4) Dellin Betances, RHP, Grade B: Borderline B+. He’s got plenty of stuff but command wobbles prevent the B+ at this time. Ceiling is a tad higher than Banuelos, but I’m less confident that he’ll reach it. Depending on what happens with his command, he could develop into anything from a number two starter to a disappointing mop-up man.
5) Mason Williams, OF, Grade B: We need to see him higher than the New York-Penn League, but he showed progress with both the bat and the glove. Main question is how much power he’ll develop. Grade may be a bit aggressive.
Overall, there were a few glitches last year but the farm system is in good shape. They have a mixture of tools upside and players with polish. The pitching at the lower levels could use a boost and it will be interesting to see what their draft strategy is under the new CBA.
Williams looks very interesting to me. CAIRO loves him, considering how it generally treats prospects.
BR: Linear weights batting runs
BRAR: BR above replacement level, adjusted for position
Is he possibly Nick Swisher’s replacement in RF in 2013? That seems like wishful thinking but if he can get to AA, who knows?
Monday, December 12, 2011
As news of Albert Pujols’s $254 million deal with the Los Angeles Angels circulated the winter meetings Thursday, Cashman’s initial reaction was: “Wow, that’s all. Wow.”
“I don’t know him personally,” Cashman added with a wry smile, “but I see what he does with that bat, and it’s Montero-like.”
Maybe Cashman should sign Montero long-term before making that statement.
Monday, November 28, 2011
Depending on which sources and rumors you believe, the Yankees have discussed internally what kind of trade package it would take to bring a talent like Matt Cain, Gio Gonzalez, Dan Haren or Matt Garza to the Bronx.
Ideally, Cashman would prefer to give up Jesus Montero and two or three B-level prospects to acquire Garza or Gonzalez and proceed with the plan to groom Nunez as Derek Jeter’s eventual replacement.
Really? That sounds like an awful plan.
I don’t get the Gio Gonzalez love. His walk rate stinks, and I think he’d be exposed away from the AL West and his home park that suppresses offense. I’m convinced he’d be a major disappointment if he’s acquired.
Tuesday, November 22, 2011
Here’s the latest version of the 2012 CAIRO projections, which can be downloaded here: cairo_2012_v0.2.xls.
- Added more minor leaguers
- Added defensive projections for catchers and added Totalzone and Zone Rating projections for the other positions
- Added W-L for the pitchers, based on their current team and that team’s runs scored in 2011. This will change as teams’ offensive projections change, so keep that in mind.
- Took the Marcels and changed the underlying assumptions and components in a bunch of ways that make the Yankees look better.
So, what does CAIRO 2012 v0.2 think about how good the Yankees are right now?
The Yankees are not likely to add a position player who will significantly improve these projections, so I think the critical number here is 450. If they can get more than 450 PA out of Alex Rodriguez they’ll project a bit better. They can also probably shore up the bench by adding an outfielder who projects better than Chris Dickerson, or who can at least be platooned with Dickerson. That could be accomplished by bringing back Andruw Jones or signing Cody Ross perhaps. Ross would project to hit .261/.328/.444 as a Yankee, and is capable of playing all three OF spots. Plus he’s a clutch postseason monster. Until he isn’t.
We do know the Yankees are going to try and improve their pitching.
|SP8||D. J. Mitchell||25||28||17||3||13||14||6.29||5.81||5.26||-0.1|
Basically, the Yankees can add a win for every WAR they add to the rotation, since their rotation projects as replacement level after A.J. Burnett. That doesn’t mean none of the kids are better than their projections and would do the job in 2012, it just means they shouldn’t plan for that as what’s going to happen. The bullpen is fine, although they could probably benefit from adding a lefty reliever. An intriguing name that I’ve seen mentioned here and on Fangraphs is Dontrelle Willis. I’ll do a detailed post about him later.
Here’s what the overall picture looks like.
So we’re looking at around a 90 win team right now. I think 95 wins is the sweet spot for projecting as the favorite in the AL East. Adding C.J. Wilson probably gets them there. Adding Yu Darvish might. Other than that it’s tough to see a single move that would accomplish it.
Sunday, November 13, 2011
Jesus Montero was overcome with emotion when he learned that Washington Nationals catcher Wilson Ramos had been kidnapped in Venezuela. The Yankees’ top prospect grew up 10 minutes from Ramos, played with him there and considers him a good friend.
“He is my friend,” Montero said Saturday before an appearance at the Last Licks ice cream parlor in Scarsdale. “I felt sad because I’ve known him for a long time. I was really worried when I saw the news. I was crying a little bit. It’s not an easy situation he was living.
“Thank God everything is fine and the police, they took care of it.”
A dramatic rescue operation Friday night that included gunfire between Ramos’ captors and police in the remote mountainous region where Ramos was being held was successful. The rookie backstop was freed unharmed.
It was really great news that Ramos was freed unharmed, as situations like that can easily end very badly.
Also, this from this article:
Montero has been working with a personal trainer since the end of the season to trim down and build muscle. He will continue the training for a month in Venezuela and then return in January to join a handful of players whom Alex Rodriguez will host for workouts in Miami. Montero said he, Eduardo Nunez, Robinson Cano and possibly ex-Yank and current Giant Melky Cabrera could attend. They will be able to work with hitting coach Kevin Long there.
Wednesday, October 26, 2011
CAIRO 2012 v0.1
I’m heading on vacation for about three weeks, and will probably not be online at all, so I’m releasing my 2012 CAIRO v0.1 now, even though they still need a bit of work. If you have any players you want projected that aren’t in here or see anything that looks off let me know in this thread and I’ll check it when I get back. In the meantime Jonathan will keep you covered on the major happenings in Yankee-land. I hope to return with the news that the Yankees have re-signed CC and won the posting for Yu Darvish, but we’ll see what happens.
Here are some of the key Yankees’ projections.
WAR for position players does NOT include defense yet.
You can download the full spreadsheet here. I still need to add catcher defense and zone rating/total zone to the other fielders, and playing times are likely to be somewhat off. I need to double-check my MLEs since I usually find a mistake or two so don’t get too hung up on the minor leaguers’ projections just yet.
If I was to build a preliminary depth chart for the 2012 Yankees right now using the players currently under contract, it’d look something like this.
|Jeter, Derek||SS||580||64||Sabathia, CC||SP1||220||87|
|Granderson, Curtis||CF||640||91||Nova, Ivan||SP2||200||109|
|Cano, Robinson||2B||670||95||Hughes, Phil||SP3||175||94|
|Rodriguez, Alex||3B||459||63||Burnett, A.J.||SP4||185||107|
|Teixeira, Mark||1B||675||95||Noesi, Hector||SP5||140||91|
|Swisher, Nick||RF||625||81||Betances, Dellin||SP6||50||38|
|Montero, Jesus||DH||550||69||Banuelos, Manny||SP7||50||36|
|Martin, Russell||C||500||55||Brackman, Andrew||SP8||0||0|
|Gardner, Brett||LF||550||63||Rivera, Mariano||CL||60||16|
|Nunez, Eduardo||IF||340||36||Robertson, David||SU||80||26|
|Cervelli, Francisco||C||250||25||Soriano, Rafael||SU||65||27|
|Pena, Ramiro||IF||50||4||Logan, Boone||MR||60||29|
|Dickerson, Chris||OF||300||31||Wade, Cory||MR||70||33|
|Golson, Greg||OF||50||4||Chamberlain, Joba||MR||60||30|
|Laird, Brandon||IF||50||5||Laffey, Aaron||LR||25||15|
|Russo, Kevin||UT||25||2||Warren, Adam||LR||0||0|
|Romine, Austin||C||0||0||Phelps, David||LR||0||0|
That’s about an 86 win team, before considering defense. If we assume the 2012 Yankees would be about the same as the 2011 Yankees defensively (around +20) then you’re closer to an 88 win team. It’s not impossible to think some of the young pitchers will be better than CAIRO projects, but the offense looks like it could use a bit more oomph, particularly if we assume we’re only going to get about 450 PA of Alex Rodriguez. They probably need someone who can play 3B and outhit/outglove Eduardo Nunez for at least 40 games.
As far as the pitching staff, the Yankees probably should at least consider bringing Freddy Garcia and/or Bartolo Colon back. Garcia projects better than everyone but CC in the rotation, so I’d like to see the Yankees at least offer him arbitration. If he goes elsewhere, they should get a supplemental first round pick. If he can’t find another team he comes back on a one-year deal, which would be great. 150 innings of Garcia instead of Noesi as a starter makes the Yankees about two wins better.
So the Yankees have some work to do this offseason, IMO.
Monday, October 24, 2011
While we wait for me to take the Marcels and change the underlying assumptions and components in a bunch of ways that make the Yankees look better, the first set of 2012 Yankee projections are out. With CHONE now being gobbled up by some MLB team, these are probably the best projections available now, and I know Dan Szymborski puts a ton of work into making it so.
I’ll just show the starters here..
Batting Projections Player B PO Age BA OBP SLG G AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB CS OPS+ Robinson Cano L 2B 29 .299 .347 .506 156 609 92 182 41 5 25 103 40 76 6 3 121 Mark Teixeira B 1B 32 .263 .359 .495 147 562 88 148 32 1 32 109 76 112 2 1 122 Curtis Granderson L CF 31 .256 .346 .495 147 547 104 140 22 8 31 92 71 143 16 7 118 Alex Rodriguez R 3B 36 .264 .350 .474 108 405 62 107 20 1 21 82 51 89 7 2 115 Jesus Montero R C 22 .271 .333 .486 156 576 79 156 37 3 27 93 55 116 0 0 112 Nick Swisher B RF 31 .253 .358 .456 142 498 76 126 27 1 24 82 80 129 1 2 113 Andruw Jones R LF 35 .234 .335 .455 80 222 31 52 10 0 13 38 32 65 3 1 106 Brett Gardner L LF 28 .260 .352 .370 149 462 80 120 17 8 6 39 61 91 43 10 91 Russell Martin R C 29 .249 .346 .382 123 422 60 105 17 0 13 58 58 76 10 4 92 Jorge Posada B 1B 40 .238 .329 .414 105 324 35 77 15 0 14 47 41 80 1 1 94 Eduardo Nunez R SS 25 .273 .312 .379 141 480 57 131 23 2 8 48 26 64 21 7 81 Derek Jeter R SS 38 .268 .329 .362 129 542 78 145 22 4 7 58 46 84 14 5 82
And some selected pitchers.
Pitching Projections - Starters Player T Age ERA W L G GS IP H ER HR BB K ERA+ CC Sabathia L 31 3.55 17 8 31 31 218.0 211 86 19 63 189 126 Ivan Nova R 25 4.44 13 10 31 30 178.3 189 88 20 60 111 100 LEAGUE AVERAGE - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - 96 Bartolo Colon R 39 4.77 7 6 20 19 111.3 121 59 17 32 78 93 Phil Hughes R 26 4.84 9 8 25 22 122.7 127 66 18 44 96 92 Freddy Garcia R 35 4.85 9 8 23 22 128.0 143 69 18 40 75 92 Hector Noesi R 25 5.24 6 6 32 14 103.0 120 60 14 35 68 85 A.J. Burnett R 35 5.31 9 10 28 27 159.3 170 94 25 70 128 84 David Phelps R 25 5.40 6 7 23 22 121.7 148 73 18 39 73 83 Manny Banuelos L 21 5.45 7 8 25 25 115.7 128 70 15 65 85 82 Dellin Betances R 24 5.66 5 7 24 24 105.0 111 66 15 72 85 79 Player T Age ERA W L G GS IP H ER HR BB K ERA+ David Robertson R 27 3.06 4 2 69 0 64.7 50 22 5 34 87 146 Mariano Rivera R 42 3.12 3 1 53 0 49.0 44 17 4 10 43 143 Rafael Soriano R 32 3.14 4 2 67 0 63.0 50 22 6 21 74 142 Joba Chamberlain R 26 3.88 3 2 46 0 46.3 43 20 5 14 45 115 Boone Logan L 27 3.91 4 2 62 0 48.3 46 21 5 17 48 114 LEAGUE AVERAGE - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - 108 Pedro Feliciano L 35 4.30 2 1 33 0 23.0 24 11 2 10 18 104 Cory Wade R 29 4.61 4 4 47 0 56.7 62 29 8 13 37 97 Luis Ayala R 34 4.62 4 3 44 0 50.7 56 26 6 19 32 96 Sergio Mitre R 31 5.08 1 1 26 2 44.3 49 25 6 17 22 88
Go to the link to see whatever players I didn’t include here.
Projections are inherently limited, so remember to take these for what they are. They are rough estimates of a player’s current talent level. They are not predictions for what a player is going to do in 2012, and they are not playing time predictions either.
Monday, October 10, 2011
The Yankees must lean more left-handed in their pitching staff and be more diverse in their lineup.
This is the starting point for their offseason. That is right after they take a deep breath to regain their equilibrium following a five-game Division Series loss to the Tigers. In the days under George Steinbrenner, the Yankees tended to make decisions with the raw pain of season-ending frustration still fresh. Heck, when the Yankees last lost to Detroit in the first round in 2006, The Boss wanted then-manager Joe Torre fired instantly.
The Yankees remain championship-or-failure under Hal Steinbrenner. But the son tends to be more analytical than the father; less rash. So the Yankees will proceed in orderly fashion, which means getting general manager Brian Cashman re-signed (very likely) and then doing the same with CC Sabathia (also likely, but not as certain as Cashman’s return).
Beltran’s probably better than Swisher in terms of talent, but I’d be wary of thinking he’ll be healthy enough to out-value him over a full season. I’d have no problem with the Yankees signing Beltran depending on the terms. If they do, they could explore picking up Swisher’s option and trading him. If they do that, they’re going to need a fourth outfielder good enough to be a full-time outfielder, because there’s a very good chance Beltran will miss a non-trivial amount of time.
Or sign Beltran, keep Swisher, rotate everyone through DH, and make Jesus Montero the primary catcher.
Which will never happen.
Wednesday, October 5, 2011
2011 Postseason Batting Average Leaders through October 4
Minimum of 1 PA
Friday, September 30, 2011
2011 ALDS Preview: Tigers vs. Yankees
The first obstacle in the quest to end the dreaded curse of The Curse of Jerry Hairston, Jr./Eric Hinske is the Detroit Tigers.
Seriously, it has been 694 days, 11 hours, 15 minutes, and 45 seconds since the New York Yankees have won a World Series. We have suffered long enough, haven’t we? When will this infernal madness end?
So how big of an obstacle are the Tigers? Let’s take a look.
First, I’ll acknowledge the obvious fact that the Tigers played in and won the AL Central which is probably the weakest division in the AL.
I’ll then say that it doesn’t matter. This is a very good team, and it’s not a stretch to envision them representing the AL in the World Series.
If you read the Rays/Rangers preview you can skip the next paragraph.
I don’t particularly find any series previews that focus on what a team did in the preceding full season of much use. It doesn’t really matter if a team scored 5.2 runs per game and allowed 4.2 runs per game over the preceding six months. Rosters change, injuries happen, players come and go, talent changes, and player and team performance is often subject to fluctuations that are not predictive. What I want to know is how many runs will the team and roster as currently configured score and allow. Because of that, for these previews I’ll be using projections in lieu of 2011 stats. Despite having my own system in CAIRO, I’m going to use the Hardball Times’s Oliver forecasts since I haven’t had the time to re-run CAIRO for this year. Oliver is updated weekly during the season and includes 2011 MLEs for players who saw time in the minors.
The biggest consideration in trying to see how any series may shape up is allocating playing time. So here are depth charts for the two teams, based on the assumption that each team will make 25 outs at the plate over 5 games and that pitchers will combine for 45 innings. Since I didn’t have official postseason rosters while writing parts of these, some of it is guesswork and is subject to change.
Here are the Oliver projections for the Tigers’ postseason position players.
|Name||Pos||PA||AVG/OBP/SLG||Outs||BR||wOBA||vs. L||vs. R|
|Bench||Pos||PA||AVG/OBP/SLG||Outs||BR||wOBA||vs. L||vs. R|
Outs: Outs at the plate (assumes 25 outs per 9 innings, calculated as (1 - OBP) times PA + GDP per PA
BR: Linear weights batting runs
wOBA: Weighted on-base average
vs. L/R: Projected wOBA splits vs. LHP/RHP using regressed platoon splits
Rather than guess about how the Tigers may allocate playing time, I just gave the expected starting lineup all 125 outs.
The biggest problem here is Miguel Cabrera. Cabrera’s pretty much the best hitter in the AL. In fact, only one player has been a better hitter than him over the last three years, and that’s Albert Pujols. That projected wOBA of .455 vs. LHP is terrifying for Game 1. The Yankees probably don’t have much room for error facing Verlander, so the Cabrera/Sabathia matchup is probably going to be the one to watch. You can see by the OBP of the rest of the team that keeping people like Austin Jackson, Don Kelly and Delmon Young off the bases in front of Cabrera is going to be imperative.
The Tigers overall don’t have much of a projected platoon split, so the Yankees’ lack of left-handed pitching shouldn’t be a big deal.
I don’t think any Tigers fans would disagree that the Yankees’ lineup is better. Their hopes are going to lay on their pitching staff, and that’s not a bad position to be in.
RA: Runs allowed per 9, calculated as 1.08*ERA
ERA: Earned runs allowed per 9
FIP: Fielding independent pitching
Justin Verlander’s obviously the man here. He’s been the best pitcher in baseball this year and is a worthy MVP candidate. He’s backed up by mid-season acquisition Doug Fister, who’s been sublime for the Tigers. The Tigers are 9-2 in his 11 starts, and he’s pitched 70.1 innings and allowed just 19 runs. He’s faced 273 batters and walked 5 of them. Seriously. He’s probably not quite that good, but he’d project as the second-best starter on the Yankees.
Jim Leyland has said that he will not pitch Verlander on three days rest, so I’m giving Rick Porcello five innings. I don’t know if things would change if the Tigers go down 2-1. If they did that, they could throw Fister in Game 5 and not use Porcello in the rotation at all.
The Tigers’ defense has been about average overall, not much different than the Yankees. So I’m not going to bother with talking about that.
So, how about the Yankees’ projections?
|Name||Pos||PA||AVG/OBP/SLG||Outs||BR||wOBA||vs. L||vs. R|
|Bench||Pos||PA||AVG/OBP/SLG||Outs||BR||wOBA||vs. L||vs. R|
I’ve relegated Jesus Montero to pinch-hitting status, since DH vs. LHP is effectively a non-position vs. Detroit. I suppose we may see him pinch-hit for Posada if a one of Phil Coke/Daniel Schlereth is on the mound. Or he could get a start if Posada doesn’t look so good. Statistically, Posada’s projection vs. RHP is better than Montero’s so I suppose it’s the logical approach. I’m also not sanguine on A-Rod playing every inning so I’ve given Chavez four PA, and I’m assuming we may see Andruw Jones pinch-hit for TSBG in a late situation vs. a LHP where an XBH would be of additional benefit.
Oliver thinks the Yankees have the best offense in the postseason, and I’d agree with that. Unfortunately, the Yankees have to pitch too.
The assumption here is CC on three days rest. I’m assuming that Burnett and Hughes won’t pitch even though they’re on the roster, but if they do pitch their innings would probably just replace Ayala or Wade’s and it shouldn’t make a big difference.
The Yankees probably have the worst projected rotation in the postseason. CC’s as good as anyone, but after that there’s some concern about Nova and Garcia. I do think that projection is a little bearish on Nova since we have evidence that his new slider has made a meaningful improvement that wouldn’t be captured in a projection system.
Nova pre-slider: 226 BF, 9.3% BB/BF, 11.5% K/BF, 5.19 RA, 4.29 ERA, 4.32 FIP, 4.92 xFIP
Nova post-slider: 278 BF, 7.5% BB/BF, 15.1% K/BF, 3.52 RA, 3.44 ERA, 3.77 FIP, 4.03 xFIP
The Yankee bullpen has been one of the best in baseball this year, and although the projections think most of them pitched above their head they’re probably still better than Detroit’s from top to bottom. So the Yankees should be able to mitigate their slight disadvantage in the rotation by using the relievers aggressively. I can imagine that any David Robertson/Miguel Cabrera battles are going to be must-see baseball.
These depth charts say this.
If I play the series out 10,000 times in my Monte Carlo simulator I get these odds.
If the Tigers do decide to use Verlander in Game 4 and Fister in Game 5 they improve to about a .612 wpct/99 win team. Basically, those two teams are equivalent. The Yankees get the slight edge of one extra home game if necessary. In that case the odds look like this.
Jack Curry’s Projected Postseason 2011 ALDS Yankee Roster
We still don’t have official ALDS rosters, but Jack Curry used the information that’s been released to try and project them. Here’s who Curry sees on the roster.
Position players (14)
I like the roster, for the most part. Nunez shouldn’t be playing at all over Cano and Jeter, and if Rodriguez is unable to play they have a better option in Chavez. I’m happy to not see Austin Romine or Raul Valdes on there, as I don’t think either really helps the team that much right now.
Thursday, September 29, 2011
Even with the season ending Wednesday, the Yankee postseason roster is still not set—as a number of decisions could come down to whether the Yankees play Texas or Detroit in the first round.
A few things are set in stone: CC Sabathia will start Game 1 on Friday, and Ivan Nova will start the second game on Saturday. Freddy Garcia looks like the most likely option for Game 3 on Monday, but manager Joe Girardi wouldn’t commit. Meanwhile, it seems likely that Bartolo Colon would not make the roster for the first round.
It’s probably much ado about nothing to think about what the best postseason roster might be since the Yankees are going to do whatever they’re going to do. Then again, blogging by nature is much ado about nothing, so why not?
As the excerpt says, we know CC and Nova are going in 1 and 2. We also know that Girardi intends to start CC on short rest in Game 4, if necessary. That would allow Nova to pitch Game 5 on normal rest. So they probably only need one more starter. It sounds like that will be Freddy Garcia.
Catcher is one area where things get interesting. We know Russell Martin is a lock. Francisco Cervelli is out for the postseason. The only true backup catcher in the organization right now (according to their thought process) is Austin Romine. Romine is not a major league caliber offensive player right now, and may never be one. In an ideal series, he’d never play. So I think I’d rather see the Yankees take just Martin, with Jorge Posada and Jesus Montero available in an emergency. Should Martin get hurt, the Yankees would have the option to add Romine to the roster. They would also have the option to add him to the roster in the ALCS if they made it there by some miracle.
The thing with Posada and Montero is that they’re likely to be DH’ing if they’re in the lineup. So if one of them has to switch to catcher while already in the lineup as DH, the Yankees will lose the DH. For that reason I think you need both of them on the roster.
On the infield, the question is what combination of Eric Chavez, Eduardo Nunez and Ramiro Pena the Yankees will use to backup Robinson Cano, Derek Jeter, Alex Rodriguez and Mark Teixeira.
For the outfield, I think you’ll see Curtis Granderson, Nick Swisher, Brett Gardner, and Andruw Jones. Chris Dickerson’s probably a long-shot.
In my mind, these are the locks.
Starting Pitchers (3)
That’s 18 players, which leaves seven spots which can be filled by some of the following players.
I think/hope the Yankees will take Posada/Montero in lieu of Romine. I hope that they’re not going to employ a strict platoon at DH, since it basically means Montero will sit on the bench for the entire series with Detroit. I was hoping they could get by with one backup IF, but given A-Rod’s health issues I’d imagine they’ll take both Chavez and Nunez.That would leave them three more spots for pitchers, but I don’t see carrying 12 pitchers in a 5 game series. So that opens up a spot for someone like Dickerson or Pena or Romine I suppose.
Saturday, September 24, 2011
NEW YORK—Jesus Montero’s powerful bat has had the Yankees buzzing for years, and now the Red Sox can consider themselves introduced to the young slugger’s potential.
The 21-year-old Montero homered and drove in four runs in a three-hit performance as the Yankees trounced the Red Sox, 9-1, on Saturday at Yankee Stadium.
New York pounded left-hander Jon Lester for eight runs in 2 2/3 innings, with Derek Jeter’s three-run homer highlighting a six-run second inning as Boston continues its September swoon.
Yankees right-hander Freddy Garcia completed a convincing outing as he lobbies for a start in the American League Division Series, limiting the Red Sox to six hits over six scoreless innings.
If you’d asked me before the game what I would have wanted ot see, it’d have been six good innings by Freddy Garcia and the Yankees pounding Jon Lester. Pretty much the perfect script, with Montero’s day a nice little bonus.
You have to think that this was the game in this series that Boston had the best chance to win, although I suppose one of the double-header games tomorrow will feature the House Money squad.
Sunday, September 11, 2011
ANAHEIM—A little sunshine helped the Yankees to a desperately needed victory, as Mark Teixeira saw a key fly ball misplayed by Peter Bourjos en route to a 6-5 victory over the Angels at Angel Stadium on Sunday.
Batting in the seventh inning with New York down by a run, Teixeira sent a drive to center field that popped in and out of Bourjos’ glove as the outfielder squinted into a high blue sky, allowing Brett Gardner and Derek Jeter to charge home with the tying and go-ahead runs.
The miscue helped the Yankees finally get back into their winning mode after having lost four consecutive games in three different cities as they play out a taxing September stretch.
I suppose this means I can watch the replay.
So, in order for the Yankees to win this game they needed:
1) An error on a fairly routine fly ball by one of the best defensive outfielders in baseball. It would have been a game-tying sacrifice fly instead of a go-ahead two-run error.
2) Freddy Garcia pitching out of a bases-loaded, one-out jam in the fifth without allowing a run. That the last out of the inning was a routine grounder to Nun-E that actually got converted into an out makes it all the more remarkable.
3) Rafael Soriano pitching out of a first-and-third, one-out jam to preserve a one-run lead. Yeah, that Rafael Soriano.
4) Six defensive innings at catcher by the worst defensive catcher in the history of pro baseball.
Seems about right to me. I don’t know if the odds of all those things happening are worse than the odds of A.J. Burnett beating the Red Sox, but it’s got to be in the ballpark.
We also saw the debut of the catcher closer. I always knew it took a special pitcher to pitch the 7th, or 8th, or 9th. I had no idea that it took a special catcher to catch those innings. It was a cool deal for Austin Romine though, as he got to make his MLB debut against his brother’s team with his parents in the stands. As far as I can tell from reading accounts of the game, Jesus Montero didn’t embarrass himself behind the plate, so that was good too. The decision to pull Montero after six innings was a curious one, but given the family circumstances for Romine it makes a bit more sense in hindsight.
And I would never have believed it, but as oscar gamble’s afro (the poster, not his actual afro) noted, by winning today the Yankees won the season series with the Angels 5-4. I would never have guessed that.
I still hope we don’t see them again in 2011, or see them laying down for Boston in the ALDS.
Speaking of Boston, the Yankees have finally picked up a game on a team that’s lost something like ten games in a row. Yay!
Manager Joe Girardi doesn’t expect Cervelli to return on the Yankees’ road trip, perhaps a sign of the severity of the injury.
“He was fine yesterday,” Girardi said. “For whatever reasons, the symptoms came today.”
Meanwhile, the Yankees are so short on catchers that they may call-up prospect Austin Romine to add depth. Starter Russell Martin left last night’s 6-0 loss to the Angels after he took a foul ball off his right hand. Veteran Jorge Posada caught for the first time all season, picking up for Martin in the third inning, but Girardi said he will likely not catch tomorrow.
Instead, rookie Jesus Montero catch in the big leagues for the first time, even though Girardi has said repeatedly that he didn’t intend to start him at catcher. Montero put on his gear just in case he was summoned to replace Martin.
“I don’t know,” said Montero, who has waited for an opportunity to catch. “I haven’t heard any decisions. I don’t know anything yet. I might catch. I might not.”
Since I am done watching the Yankees vs. the Angels, let me know how it goes.
Saturday, September 10, 2011
ANAHEIM—Maicer Izturis’ game-winning drive landed in Curtis Granderson’s glove, too deep in center field to attempt a throw, and all Derek Jeter thought about was the toss he should have made.
Izturis connected for a bases-loaded sacrifice fly facing Luis Ayala in the ninth inning on Friday night, lifting the Angels to a 2-1 victory over the Yankees that made Jeter’s hurried fifth-inning throwing error loom even larger.
“It boils down to giving them extra outs,” Jeter said. “I gave them an extra out throwing that ball away.”
More importantly, Jeter added, the Yankees couldn’t afford to cough up runs facing a stellar Jered Weaver, who limited the Bombers to just Jesus Montero’s homer over eight innings, striking out 11.
I’ll give Jeter a pass, since it was Jeff Mathis busting it down the line. It’s pretty hard to throw out a backup catcher on a routine grounder.
I didn’t get to see the game, but reading the recap and the game chatter here’s what I have to say about it.
1) Jered Weaver is a good pitcher, and from what I can glean he pitched well. Sometimes you face a good pitcher and he shuts you down.
2) As I’ve gotten older, I’ve lost the ability to “hate” players. Frankly, if I was the absolute worst player in MLB history, I’d bat or pitch every time a team kept giving me a chance to do it. So I don’t hate players who aren’t particularly good. If their team puts them in a position to fail, that’s the team’s fault, not theirs. So with regards to using Aaron Laffey last night (or Scott Proctor the day before) in the absolute highest leverage a team can be in at the start of an inning, I won’t blame Laffey (Proctor) for that. I’ll blame Joe Girardi. If you think this game is unimportant enough to use Laffey in that spot, you shouldn’t have wasted David Robertson in the eighth, since now you probably won’t be able to use him in a game you may actually try to win tonight. If you think these games are unimportant, why not audition some of the people who have upside and may have a meaningful role with this team in the years to come? Perhaps they’ll surprise you and show that they’re ready now? Does anyone think Buck Showalter would have used Jack McDowell to replace Mariano Rivera in the 9th inning of the fifth game of the 1995 ALDS if he knew how good Rivera was? If Hector Noesi didn’t get a shot against Baltimore in extra innings in his MLB debut, would the Yankees ever have made him a useful part of their bullpen?
3) As I said, the Yankees always find a way to lose to the Angels, and it’s really infuriating. Your pitcher’s pitching brilliantly against them? Make an error that gives them the run that ends up costing you the win.
4) The Yankees are probably exhausted right now given the way their last three games have unfolded. A four hour rain delay in New York resulting in a game that ended around 2:00 am followed by a trip for a day game to Baltimore followed by a flight to the West Coast to play a game at 10:00 pm Eastern time. So maybe we’re seeing some effect from that.
5) Any schadenfreude from the Red Sox’s recent tailspin is pretty much gone with the fact that the Yankees haven’t been able to gain even one iota from it, aside from shortening the amount of time the Red Sox might have to catch them.
It’s still really unlikely that the Yankees miss the playoffs, and with Detroit and Texas in a near dead heat record-wise there’s not necessarily going to be a huge advantage from winning the division. So I can at least be happy that Bartolo Colon pitched well, something he hasn’t done as much of since his return from the DL. I can also appreciate the fact that Jesus Montero pulled a HR off one of the best pitchers in the league and helped make his case for full-time play. Also, the Angels are just two games back of Texas in the loss column and it wouldn’t necessarily be the worst thing in the world if they forced Texas to go all out down the stretch. It can only benefit whomever faces the AL West winner if the race goes down to the wire.
I seriously expect the Yankees to lose every game they play against the Angels. Because of that, I just can’t get that worked up about it anymore. As a card-carrying stat-nerd, I really have a tough time reconciling the fact that what’s happened in the past has no bearing on what happens now when these two teams play and that the talent on the field that given day should be the primary factor in who wins or loses with the way the Yankees constantly roll over for Anaheim.
Monday, September 5, 2011
NEW YORK—Four games into his big league career, Jesus Montero has already displayed why the Yankees consider him their top prospect.
Montero, 21, hit his first two Major League homers—and got his first curtain calls from 45,069 fans—as the Yankees outlasted the Orioles, 11-10, in a Labor Day matinee in the Bronx on Monday.
Both of Montero’s homers came off Orioles reliever Jim Johnson and landed in the right-field seats. The first broke an 8-8 tie in the fifth, and the second gave the Yankees some insurance in the seventh.
That doesn’t work…
Saturday, September 3, 2011
NEW YORK—After seeing a total of four pitches in his first three plate appearances—and going 0-for-3 in the process—Robinson Cano tried for a more patient approach in at-bat No. 4. His change in strategy paid off.
On the sixth pitch he saw from Casey Janssen, Cano ripped a two-run double in the bottom of the seventh to erase a one-run deficit and lift the Yankees to a 6-4 win over the Blue Jays on Saturday at Yankee Stadium. With the win, the Yankees (84-53) maintained their position ahead of the Red Sox in the American League East.
The double, Cano’s 40th of the season, prevented a loss for Bartolo Colon, who allowed four runs in 6 1/3 innings and is winless since July 30. It also earned Cano his 100th and 101st RBIs this season to put him over the century mark for the second time in his career.
Cano now leads the AL in extra-base hits. And congratulations to Jesus Montero for getting his first MLB hit!
Thursday, September 1, 2011
BOSTON—Russell Martin’s two-run double off Daniel Bard highlighted a three-run seventh inning as the Yankees came from behind to defeat the Red Sox, 4-2, on Thursday at Fenway Park.
The victory gave New York its first series victory of the year against Boston, winning for the fourth time in 15 head-to-head meetings and moving within a half-game of the lead in the American League East.
Andruw Jones started the surge by working a one-out, 14-pitch walk from Alfredo Aceves, and top prospect Jesus Montero reached base for the first time as a pitch brushed the front of his jersey.
Martin then connected with a full-count fastball from Bard, belting it up the gap in right-center. He slid into third base on the throw, clapping his hands as the Yankees bench spilled out of the dugout in celebration.
Great AB by Jones to get the rally started against former Yankee Aceves. I guess we can forgive Cashman for letting him go for one night.
A.J. Burnett exceeded all my expectations tonight, but I have little hope that he’s turned a corner. The bullpen had to work hard to get the last 11 outs, but they did it and the Yankees FINALLY win a series against Boston.
I think I need about 15 hours of sleep after that series though.
One Yankees official acknowledged Montero is coming with a chance to win a significant job and another member of the organization said definitively, “By the playoffs, he will be our best DH option.”
Montero hit .328 against lefties in Triple-A this year with 18 extra-base hits, including nine homers, in 116 at- bats.
As Yankees hitting coach Kevin Long said, “His numbers vs. lefties are unbelievable (1.039 OPS). If that translates up here, you have to highly consider him for a role.”
After Lester, the Yankees will face two lefties (Ricky Romero and Brett Cecil) in a three-game series over the weekend against Toronto before getting at least two southpaws (Jo-Jo Reyes and Zach Britton) in four games against the Orioles.
So, the Yankees’ best hitting prospect is going to get a shot and it will be among the fascinating subplots of September what he does with it.
Let’s hope he does get a shot and takes full advantage of it.
Wednesday, August 31, 2011
The Yankees were still working through some issues involving who to call up tomorrow when rosters expand on Sept. 1. But there were three players not in dispute: Jesus Montero is going to be promoted while Manuel Banuelos and Dellin Betances will not be, The Post has learned.
The Yanks simply feel that Banuelos and Betances, their top two pitching prospects, have met their objectives this year, which were to progress from Double-A to Triple-A and log enough innings to become factors to pitch in the majors next year.
Monday, August 8, 2011
BOSTON—A proud Yankees career may be coming to a very quiet end, on the bench.
Jorge Posada, who has been a substantial part of five World Series championship teams, was dropped from the Yankees’ starting lineup on Sunday night. It is unclear when, or if, he might return to his primary 2011 role as the club’s designated hitter.
Yankees manager Joe Girardi spoke with Posada on Sunday and told the veteran that he would no longer serve as the regular DH. Girardi said he could not promise when Posada will next start.
I’ve got mixed feelings on this. Posada’s been such an important Yankee for such a long time that it’s rough to see him struggling the way he has almost all season. I had hoped he’d have a strong year at DH freed from the rigors of catching and augment a career that should be Hall of Fame worthy. As bad as he’s looked at times this season, I am still not sure he doesn’t have something left in him.
That’s the fan in me. The realist in me understands that the Yankees have essentially gotten replacement level production out of DH, and that a player on the roster who cannot play any position, is a bad baserunner and hasn’t hit much really should be on the roster. The Yankees are effectively using a 24 man roster, and that’s compounded by having 13 pitchers. So that limits their flexibility by quite a bit.
For now they can probably rotate their starters through DH and/or use a platoon of Andruw Jones and Eric Chavez. While the prospect of calling up Jesus Montero seems intriguing, I don’t think he fits with the current roster. They could demote Francisco Cervelli to make room for him, but I don’t know how comfortable the Yankees would be with DHing their backup catcher on a regular basis. When things will start getting hairy is when Alex Rodriguez returns from the DL. I suppose the easy move at that time would be to option one of their spare pitchers down to the minors. I get the sense the Yankees won’t release Posada even if it’s the best move they can make.
To be honest, I’m fine with that. I don’t want to see Posada released. The Yankees just need to hold serve for three weeks, at which point rosters can expand and they won’t suffer from the lack of options carrying Posada on the roster may cause. They can give him spot duty and give the fans a chance to say goodbye. And who knows? Maybe he’ll surprise us by rebounding a bit and make himself a viable option again for some DH time.
If the Yankees fail to make the postseason at this point it won’t be because of Posada or the opportunity cost of carrying Posada.
Tuesday, August 2, 2011
CHICAGO—Phil Hughes made what seemed like his most important start of the season on Tuesday night and wound up with by far his best pitching effort of 2011.
In the end, the only thing that got in his way was the weather.
By the time a second rain delay hit in the middle of the seventh inning at U.S. Cellular Field, the Yankees held a 6-0 lead, and Hughes had hurled six stellar innings.
That’s the Hughes we’ve been waiting to see all year. Granted, the White Sox lineup isn’t exactly fearsome, but Hughes had better stuff than he’s had at any point this year and looked every bit as impressive as his final line did (6 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 4 K). If Hughes was indeed pitching for his job, he probably saved it tonight.
Couple Hughes’s performance with a nice debut by Manny Banuelos in his first AAA start and a Jesus Montero HR with Brian Cashman in attendance and tonight was a good night to be a Yankee fan.
Sunday, July 24, 2011
The three year trend line is headed straight down in OBP, SLG, wOBA and wRC+. As the competition he’s faced has improved, the concerns about plate discipline and pitchers exploiting his aggressiveness have come to pass. Since peaking in High-A in 2009 his results have gone down annually when you look at his advanced numbers. This is not one bad season, its a manifestation of an underlying trend that’s becoming more evident as the sample gets larger. If anything, Jesus has been lucky with the bat this year. His .346 BABIP is higher than it was in AA or last year in AAA, though it has to be noted that 09 was a split season between two levels and it’s very tough to come up with a reliable xBABIP for a player in the minor leagues.
The Yankee Analysts is a great blog, but I found this article to be somewhat sketchy.
First of all, trends aren’t predictive in baseball. Especially if the trend is happening at least partially due to the competition improving.
Second, BABIP is a skill for hitters. You should expect a good minor league hitter to have a high BABIP. It likely means he’s hitting the ball hard.
That being said, the premise of the article is probably accurate. Jesus Montero’s stock has fallen this year. His MLE in AAA last season was around .254/.309/.441 and this year it’s about .245/.296/.352 and we’re no closer to knowing the answer of whether or not he’ll be able to stick at catcher.
Of course, it’d be crazy to think a player of Montero’s age is anywhere close to a finished product, and perhaps he is frustrated by the fact that he was on the verge of breaking camp with the team this spring and didn’t seize the opportunity. It’d also be crazy to assume that because of what’s happened this year we can ignore everything else he’d done prior. But there’s little evidence that he’d be more valuable than either Russell Martin or Jorge Posada right now.
If you want to see Montero in Yankee pinstripes, the fact that his value has dropped probably has a silver lining. If other teams aren’t going to give the Yankees anything valuable enough for them to part with him, maybe the Yankees will be forced to keep him.
Wednesday, July 20, 2011
What Do The Yankees Really Need At the Trade Deadline?
This table just compares the linear weights batting runs the Yankees have gotten out of each position compared to league average pro-rated over the same number of outs.
While I don’t think Jorge Posada’s as bad as he’s shown this year, the fact is DH has been the biggest issue on the Yankees and with less than half the season remaining I don’t think we can expect that to change much unless the personnel changes. I don’t know if the Yankees will do anything given the politics of the situation, but I’d hope they’re at least considering it. Carlos Beltran seems like the obvious fit there, but the price may be steep given the number of suitors.
The only other area that’s been below average is catcher, thanks to Russell Martin’s free fall into horrendousness. Martin hit .333/.410/.722 over his first 16 games and 61 PA, and has hit .188/.297/.279 over his last 229. The scary thing about that is that Martin’s entire value on the season was concentrated in those first 61 PA. He’s been worth somewhere in the area of three runs more than an average catcher on offense, but it breaks down as 11 runs better over the first 61 PA and eight runs worse over the last 229.
I don’t know if Jesus Montero would be a net improvement because he really hasn’t hit all that well at AAA and his defense is very suspect, but I’d imagine that should the trade deadline pass without Montero moving he’ll probably be called up to see some time behind Martin and/or some DH time.
They could also obviously use a starting pitcher better than anyone they currently have aside from CC Sabathia, but those guys don’t grow on trees. We keep hearing about Ubaldo Jimenez but I am guessing he ends up staying in Colorado. They don’t need to trade him, and will probably only do so if they receive an offer they can’t refuse.
Although we keep seeing rumors about them looking for bullpen help, I think that’s dumb. The Yankee pen has the second best ERA and FIP in the AL, behind only Oakland who play in a pitchers’ park instead of a disgraceful bandbox. With the potential return of Rafael Soriano and with J.C. Romero around if they need another lefty, I don’t see the need there. Maybe instead of trading some of their prospects for a relief arm they could try them out in the pen themselves. Seems to have worked out well with Hector Noesi.
This team will look better when Alex Rodriguez comes back, so hopefully they can just stay close until then.
Tuesday, July 19, 2011
I’ve written my thoughts about this here before, but let’s say the Rockies come to the Yankees at some point in the next two weeks and ask for Jesus Montero, Dellin Betances and, say, Triple-A right-hander Adam Warren. Cashman may not want to make that trade, but that doesn’t mean the Yankees won’t make it.
As we saw last winter, just because Cashman doesn’t think something is the right thing to do doesn’t mean the Yankees won’t do it. The next two weeks should be awfully interesting.
Two weeks of hoping the Yankees don’t do something stupid? Sounds like fun.
Monday, July 18, 2011
It’s obvious why Jimenez is in such demand, and why so many teams should be in play for him. Contenders with strong farm systems and/or who can take on that relative pittance of a salary are bound to be interested.
The Yankees fit both criteria, and Jon Heyman of SI.com reported that O’Dowd is asking for Ivan Nova and the top pitching prospects Dellin Betances and Manny Banuelos – and the catching prospect Jesus Montero. That is a lot to ask for, and the Yankees would not agree to that 4-for-1 deal. But at this relatively early stage, O’Dowd can afford to snoop around and gauge the market.
I don’t think I’d trade that package of four players for any single player in MLB. As far as what I’d be willing to trade for Jimenez, I’d probably do one of Banuelos/Betances + Nova and a few other lesser prospects, but I’m guessing that wouldn’t get it done.
Jimenez is an interesting player, because you wonder if getting him out of Coors field might help him get to a new level, and he’s relatively young and signed to a team-friendly contract. That being said, I’d be more enthused about signing him if he hadn’t lost 3 mph from his average fastball velocity since last year.
Tuesday, June 28, 2011
There just is not a lot available right now as teams have turned their attention fully from the draft to the trade deadline. The initial read is that there are not going to be a lot of attractive pitching pieces in the market.
Cashman’s early read, in fact, is “I don’t think I can trade for any starter that is better than Bartolo Colon or Phil Hughes, or a reliever better than Rafael Soriano.”
Cashman believes the Yankees could have Colon, Hughes and Eric Chavez off the disabled list by a week from today and Soriano later in July. Cashman is more dubious that he will get either of his lefty relievers — Feliciano or Damaso Marte — back and said he is proceeding on the market as if he will not.
“Do the Yankees really have significant needs? I don’t think so,” one AL executive said. “They are not doing better in this market than Colon coming off the DL. I know Colon is old and risky, but the risk in the market is just as great. I think the Yanks end up doing something because they are the Yankees and can’t help themselves.”
Pitching is not the biggest need on this team. If the Yankees want to make a realistic upgrade that would be worth giving up prospects, they should go get a better shortstop. Since that’s not happening, I’d rather not see them make any move that costs them anything of value.
But what starter? There are no obvious aces, and Cashman has indicated to other organizations that the prospects needed to land an ace — Manuel Banuelos, Dellin Betances, Jesus Montero and Austin Romine — are close to untouchable. That could just be brinksmanship, especially since Montero has been available previously, including for Cliff Lee last year.
As the AL executive said, “[Montero] is struggling offensively [at Triple-A], and we think he is non-athlete who cannot catch, so you might be getting a DH. He may be losing value.”
I wonder if this AL executive’s initials are TE?
Wednesday, April 13, 2011
With the big league club having the night off, I took the opportunity to watch the Scranton game. Observations after the jump.
Andrew Brackman-Brackman did not look good. The tall righty walked 3 in 5 innings (he threw 80 pitches, 46 for strikes) and while he never looked wild, he also failed to consistently throw strikes. In particular, Brackman’s curveball, which is supposed to be a big weapon for him, gave him a lot of trouble. Brackman left his curve up in the zone a lot and, on one memorable occasion, threw it all the way to the backstop. Fastball control was also a struggle as Brackman would hit the mitt on one pitch and then miss badly on the next. Finally, in the last bit of bad news, Brackman sat at about 87-90 according to the stadium gun. Despite the subpar velocity, hitters still did not have an easy time squaring up the pitch, which is a plus. As was stated in many publications this past winter, Brackman is a guy who you see one day and you think he’s a future ace and the next time out he looks like crap, so I wouldn’t get too worried about a bad season debut in less than ideal playing conditions.
Brandon Laird-I’m no scout, but Laird looked overly aggressive at the plate. He swung at everything and didn’t look good doing so. In the field, he was fine. There was maybe one play I can remember thinking he probably should have had, but he did not make, and it was on the first play of the game. He charged a weak grounder near the SS hole and cleanly fielded the ball but was not able to get the runner. However, the runner was Ben Revere and it was close, so…yeah.
Jesus Montero-This game was pretty much Jesus Montero in a nutshell. Fantastic hitter, but a ways to go on the defensive end. At the plate, Montero, did not show much patience as he swung at just about everything. I’m ok with this, and it makes sense in his case, because he was hitting the ball hard. His first AB produced a hard grounder up the middle that resulted in a ROE, which I thought could have been scored an IF single depending on the official scorer. In his second at bat, Montero had a funky swing where he chopped at a ball well above and outside the strike zone and just drove it into RF for a double. The third at bat featured Montero ripping one down the LF line for a double. Fourth at bat was a hard groundout to SS. In his final at bat, Montero hit the ball to SS again, but this time placed it better and was able to pick up a clean single through the hole. All in all, he had a very productive day at the plate.
Now for the defense…it was pretty bad. As I said in my previous post, Montero looked ok whenever I saw him during ST, so I’m going to assume this is what he looked like during ST games I missed. Montero gave up 3 stolen bases, each in a different way. To his credit, Brandon Roberts (2 SB) and Ben Revere (1 SB) are two of the better base stealers you will find at the AAA level. For Revere’s SB, Montero popped out of the crouch, but lost the ball on the transfer. On Roberts’ 1st SB, Montero threw an absolute no chance floater to 2B. On Roberts’ 2nd SB Montero was able to successfully transfer the ball and get some zip on it…but it bounced short of 3B. How much of this was due to working with the 6’11” Brackman, not known for holding runners, I’m not sure. However, as a big league C, you’re not always going to get to throw to a base after receiving a chest high fastball with the runner only a couple feet off the base. What I did like was that Montero did not let his troubles turn him gun shy as he kept a couple runners honest by throwing behind them. On those occasions, the arm strength was evident.
Montero was also involved in a few other noteworthy defensive plays. In the first inning, Trevor Plouffe attempted to bunt and hit a low pop up a few feet up the first base line. Montero got out of the crouch in a hurry and made a sliding, bobbling catch. One out later, Montero would be forced to go up the line towards the foul side of the 3B line to receive a throw home from Justin Maxwell. The throw was low and Montero just whiffed on it as it went between his legs, but Brackman backed him up nicely. Finally, Montero made a nice catch and swipe tag on a close play to end the 7th inning.
Tuesday, March 29, 2011
Looking Ahead To 2011 - Position Player Wrap-Up
With the bench looking settled now, I’ll buzz through the projections for Eric Chavez, Andruw Jones, Eduardo Nunez, Chris Dickerson, Francisco Cervelli and Gustavo Molina and summarize the team’s position players.
wOBA: Weighted on-base average (does not include SB/CS)
BR: Linear weights batting runs
BR/650: BR pro-rated to 650 PA
BRAA: BR above an average player in projected playing time (adjusted for park, but not for position)
BRAR: BR above a replacement level player (adjusted for park and position)
2010: Un-adjusted 2010 performance
None of those projections inspires much confidence, except maybe Dickerson’s. In the context of a backup catcher there’s also nothing wrong with that Cervelli projection either I guess.
I suppose you can hope that better health lets Chavez exceed his projection, and that platooning lets Jones be a bit better on a rate basis, and that Nunez’s tools mean he can beat that projection, but really, the Yankees need their starters to stay reasonably healthy, which I think we already knew.
CAIRO has the Yankees projected as scoring around 821 runs, using this basic depth chart.
br are linear weights batting runs, and rs are estimated defensive runs saved compared to average. I’ve purposely set the bench to average because I don’t know that projecting defense for part-time players who may play multiple positions makes any sense. We can probably figure that Jesus Montero will be below average and that Eric Chavez should be decent.
The same depth chart with the other projection systems plus CAIRO average out to about 812 runs scored. That’s the second highest total projected runs scored in baseball behind Boston, and it’s the best total if you account for park. So barring major injury, the offense should do its part, which I think we already knew. I’ll include the defense with the pitching wrap-up.
Monday, March 28, 2011
Meet Your 2011 Opening Day Yankee Bench
By way of Chad Jennings at Lohud
Justin Maxwell and Ramiro Pena optioned to Triple-A.
Jesus Montero and Doug Bernier assigned to Triple-A.
Austin Romine assigned to Double-A.
Ronnie Belliard released.
Romulo Sanchez’s contract sold to a team in Japan.
Eric Chavez added to the 40-man.
So it looks like Gustavo Molina will back up Russell Martin until Francisco Cervelli returns. Molina doesn’t look like he’ll be any better than awful, but if the Yankees didn’t see enough out of Montero to justify him starting the year in the majors, I am not going to get that upset about it.
So you’re looking at a bench of Andruw Jones, Eric Chavez, Molina, and Eduardo Nunez to start the year, with Chris Dickerson (if healthy) waiting in the wings should Curtis Granderson need to be DL’ed to start the year I guess.
I suppose this means I can’t put off my position player wrap-up any more, so look for that tomorrow.
Friday, March 4, 2011
TAMPA, Fla. – The backup catching competition was blown open Friday when the Yankees announced that Francisco Cervelli will miss six to eight weeks because of a broken left foot. His injury increases the likelihood that Jesus Montero, the touted 21-year-old prospect, will make the opening day roster, although Joe Girardi said that Austin Romine and the veteran Gustavo Molina also remain in the mix. The Yankees still plan to use Jorge Posada at designated hitter.
“We still have plenty of guys here that can earn that spot,” Girardi said.
I wonder if the Yankees can bring Chad Moeller back from Colorado. I think Romine + one of the Killer B’s would do it.
Monday, February 28, 2011
Looking Ahead To 2011 - Jesus Montero
On a team loaded with players who are past their peak, there may not be a more intriguing player than Jesus Montero. He’s listed as one of the top 10 prospects in baseball in just about every list I’ve seen.
At the tender age of 20, Montero has stomped through the minors, hitting a collective .314/.371/.511 in his first four professional seasons and now sits on the cusp of making his MLB debut after a strong season in AAA in 2010, where he hit .289/.353/.517 in 504 PA.
That’s an impressive overall line, especially for someone who may be able to play catcher at the MLB level, but hidden in the line is the way Montero finished the year. Here are Montero’s 2010 splits by month.
babip: Batting average on balls in play
gb%: Percentage of batted balls that were ground balls
ld% Percentage of batted balls that were line drives
fb%: Percentage of batted balls that were fly balls
pop%: Percentage of batted balls that were infield pop ups
hr/fb: Percentage of fly balls that were home runs
Over the last four months of the season, Montero hit .323/.380/.605 in 326 PA. The peripherals in his underlying stats point to some bad luck in April/May and some better luck from June through September, but regardless, Montero was a beast after a slow start.
You can use selective endpoints to pretend someone is better or worse than they are, but as I’ve mentioned before I’m more inclined to see them as genuine signs of development for a minor league player, particularly one at Montero’s age.
Here’s how Montero projects in 2011.
wOBA: Weighted on-base average (does not include SB/CS)
BR: Linear weights batting runs
BR/650: BR pro-rated to 650 PA
BRAA: BR above an average player in projected playing time (adjusted for park, but not for position)
BRAR: BR above a replacement level player (adjusted for park and position)
2010: Un-adjusted 2010 performance
*average does not include bill_james or fans
There’s very little question about Montero’s bat playing in MLB right now. CAIRO is actually the least optimistic system about Montero on a rate basis, although that’s because it doesn’t realize he’s a Yankee since he hasn’t played for them yet. Once you account for that, a more realistic CAIRO projection would be something like .500/.600/.800.
Seriously though, that is a tremendous set of offensive projections, particularly for a catcher. According to ZiPS creator Dan Szymborski:
I have 4 catchers offensively in the last 40 years (including minor league translations) at the level of Montero at his age: Bench, Simmons, Carter, and Montero (they show up pretty soon in his comp list).
A full-time Montero would project to be worth almost four wins above a replacement level catcher offensively. Oh, and he’s 21. If the average projection is a true gauge of his current offensive level and he makes the standard gains a player makes in their early to mid-20s, he’d have a realistic chance at being a five wins above replacement level catcher offensively.
Here are Montero’s CAIRO percentile forecasts.
Anything less than that 80% projection is unacceptable IMO.
I’m going to imagine that Montero’s not much of a base runner, although hopefully he won’t be Posada-level horrific.
And this is really the biggest question with Montero. Before he wound up on the side of a milk carton, Kyle took a look at Montero’s defense, comparing Montero to his teammates while looking at just about every area that the catcher could possibly impact. His conclusion?
To state the obvious, Montero does an awful job blocking balls in the dirt. His PB rate is nearly three times that of his teammates, and Scranton pitchers are charged with more WP when he’s the catcher, too. Over 130 games, Montero would be expected to give up 14 PB and 28 more WP than his teammates, which would be about 11 runs (7.5 runs below IL average rates).
Montero’s arm, however, has not been quite as poor as expected/advertised. His CS% is a bit below average, but far better than his teammates’ – runners have also run more often on his teammates, though they do run against Montero at a rate far higher than the league average. I don’t doubt that he has a poor arm, but I suspect Scranton pitchers aren’t doing a very good job with baserunners either.
I think I could live with the passed balls and stolen bases assuming Montero improves even a tiny bit, but the biggest concern I have after collecting this data is Montero’s receiving. Pitchers simply don’t throw as many strikes with him catching, and their BB/9 is 0.94 higher while their SO/9 is 0.56 lower. Scranton pitchers have an ERA over half a run worse with Montero behind the dish (and the FIP difference is 0.40 runs, or about 52 runs over 130 games). However bad Montero may be, I don’t believe he’s truly responsible for the whole difference, but the difference is far greater than I expected when I started the process.
Kyle noted that there is the dreaded small sample size issue with his analysis, and also made the point that none of what he founds means Montero can’t improve. I also wonder if some of the limitations in Montero’s game are more apparent when receiving minor league pitchers who may not have the command that MLB pitchers will have. Of course, MLB pitchers throw harder and have nastier pitches which will present a whole new set of challenges.
But frankly, we just don’t know. With Joe Girardi, Tony Pena and Jorge Posada around, the Yankees have close to 5000 MLB games caught worth of potential mentors to Montero, although hopefully he pays less attention to Posada and more to Pena.
Russell Martin is likely to be the primary starter behind the plate at the start of 2011. However, if he underperforms or Montero shows enough offensively and defensively to be a clear upgrade on Martin, Montero will almost certainly get some significant playing time. If he’s the backup to Martin, he will also probably see some time at DH. I’m not sure if they’d consider him playing some first base, and the Yankees may want to avoid overloading him with things to learn right now so it’s probably not something we’ll see in 2011.
This season has a chance to be a very interesting one if Montero and some of the pitching prospects get to show what they can do at the MLB level. There may be some bumps in the road along the way, but it’ll be fun to watch, even if the Yankees fail to make it into the postseason.
Montero wasn’t the big story out of yesterday’s game though.
And if it is true that you never get a second chance to make a first impression, at least Betances can rest his head tonight knowing that he made a good one. The 22-year-old struck out the side around a walk, firing a fastball that had the Yankees asking questions.
“Hey,” Curtis Granderson asked a reporter, looking up from his locker and nodding toward Betances. “How fast did they get him?”
The answer, at least according to the YES Network, was up to 97 mph. Pitching the fifth inning of the Yankees’ 7-3 win, the 6-foot-8 Betances struck out Domonic Brown and Ben Francisco before he lost Carlos Ruiz to a walk. Betances came back to fan Wilson Valdez for the third out.
“Pretty good for the first time being out there,” Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. “You kind of want to see how the kids react the first time out and what they do the next couple after that. I’m sure there are some emotions that go in there, some butterflies. There have got to be.”
Betances is probably still a very long shot to make the Opening Day MLB roster, but a few more outings like yesterday’s and he may force himself onto the team.
Wednesday, February 23, 2011
Looking Ahead To 2011 - Russell Martin
For the first time since I’ve been doing these, I’m not starting with Jorge Posada. It’s the end of an era, but hopefully the start of a new one.
If you had to name the four most valuable catchers from 2006-2008, what would your list look like? Here’s what Fangraphs’s list looks like.
Name / WAR
Joe Mauer / 14.9
Brian McCann / 13.4
Russell Martin / 13.1
Jorge Posada / 11.7
Since then Martin’s performance has fallen off considerably, which is the only reason he’s a Yankee now.
Without knowing the reasons for this fall off, it’s tough to know how good he might be in 2011. It could be fatigue, it could be injury-related, it could be a case of a player who overplayed his talent level for a few years, or a player who’s has underplayed his talent level for a couple of years, or it could be a player who has some flaws in his game that the league has caught up to, but we just don’t know.
The projection systems don’t know any of that either. They are just going to use the data they have on Martin and whatever adjustments they make for league, park, age, regression, etc., and spit out a line for what he might do in 2011. This year I’m looking at the following projections:
The Bill James Projections from Baseball Info Solutions.
CAIRO, my own projection system.
FANS (from Fangraphs), which take a wisdom of the crowd approach.
Marcel from Tango Tiger, of The Book fame.
Oliver, from the Hardball Times Forecasts.
PECOTA from Baseball Prospectus.
ZiPS, courtesy of Dan Szymborski at Baseball Think Factory.
I added the James projections and the Fans to make up for the loss of CHONE in 2011. While I’ve frequently made the point that the James projections are too optimistic, the truth is if they’re optimistic for everyone then it’s all relative. It’s just a case of understanding whatever the run environment is and mentally adjusting them in that context. For hitters, I’ve estimated that the James projections are based on a league with an average wOBA of around .343, so if you look at them with that in mind they will seem a bit more realistic. I’m not going to manipulate them as presented though.
CAIRO is my own in-house system, which was designed solely because I wanted to pretend the Yankees are better than they really are. Well, not really, although there are some people of limited intelligence who want to believe that. Anyway, I go into the way CAIRO works here if you are curious.
If the Bill James projections are too optimistic, then the Fans are even morseo. Since the Yankees are about 20 games worse than Boston on paper right now, I figured we better get as optimistic as possible if we want to con ourselves into thinking the Yankees have a chance at making the postseason, so I’ve included them here. These are going to be changing right up until ballots close, so keep that in mind. Also, if the consensus here is that they should not be included in the averages I can display them but ignore them in the averages so let me know if you care one way or the other.
Marcel should be the basis of any good projection system, and should be pretty familiar to everyone so I won’t go into them in too much detail.
Oliver is from the Hardball Times and has tested pretty well in comparison to other projections.
PECOTA was once considered the premier projection system, but a few rough years after Nate Silver moved on in combination with the fact that we’ve seen that it wasn’t really any better than any other system has knocked it down a peg. However, with Colin Wyers (who I consider one of the best baseball analysts around) now in charge, I’d expect it to be very good in 2011.
I don’t know if anyone has done more work on projections than Dan Szymborski with ZiPS and it’s rightfully considered one of the best projection systems around.
So, yeah, Russell Martin. Here are his projections for 2011.
wOBA: Weighted on-base average (does not include SB/CS)
BR: Linear weights batting runs
BR/650: BR pro-rated to 650 PA
BRAA: BR above an average player in projected playing time (adjusted for park, but not for position)
BRAR: BR above a replacement level player (adjusted for park and position)
2010: Un-adjusted 2010 performance
The projections effectively say the same thing, that Martin’s 2010 was an aberration and he should be better in 2011. It’s also important to note that as poor as Martin’s 2010 line was, in the context of a catcher it was not a horrible year, although we’d obviously like to see him do better than that.
Each projection listed here is an estimate of a player’s talent level using different assumptions and algorithms. Implicit in them are the error bars that any projection has. For CAIRO, I calculate a range of projections based on standard deviations of the component stats, so for Martin here’s how that looks.
I know that yfinBrazil has raised some concern about the validity of this type of range in a projection, so I did some testing and found that my original ranges were a bit too large. It varies based on how MLB data we have for a player, so the ranges will be higher for say Jesus Montero than they would be for Martin.
Basically, Martin seems to be a pretty good bet to be solidly above a replacment level catcher, even if he replicates his 2010, which we obviously hope doesn’t happen.
As far as non-SB baserunning, Martin’s a catcher, so he doesn’t add any value there.
ga_opps: opportunities to advance on grounders
ga_r: run value of advances on grounders
aa_opps: opportunites to advance on air outs
aa_r: run value of advances on air outs
ha_opps: opportunites to advance on hits
ha_r: run value of advances on hits
oa_opps: opportunites to adance on other (wild pitches, passed balls, etc.,)
oa_r: run value of advances on other
total_opps: ga + aa + ha + ao opportunities
total_r: total run value of non-SB baserunning, compared to average
He’s about average, but he does project to add some value with SB which is reflected in his primary projections at the top.
Catcher defense is still a great unknown. Here is how Martin has rated in John Dewan’s DRS, which only looks at CS% and how he projects for 2011.
Martin was generally considered a good defensive catcher when he came up, although the reports on him of late have been mixed. We’ll have to see if his MMA training will help him out there. At the very least, maybe he can go Brock Lesnar on Josh Beckett.
2011 will determine if Martin’s just a placeholder for Jesus Montero or someone the Yankees can rely on as perhaps their primary catcher going forward. The Yankees do hold his rights past 2011, so a bounceback year by Martin gives them some flexibility with how they handle Montero going forward. If Montero can play passable defense, a Martin/Montero tandem with Montero getting some time at DH could give the Yankees one of the best catching tandems in baseball if Martin can get back to where he was in 2006-2008. Even if he just hits his average projection, he should be a useful piece in the Yankees’ quest for the wild card in 2011.
Tuesday, February 22, 2011
Some Spring Training Links
I’ll probably start my player projections this week whenever ZiPS comes out, but until then here are some spring training puff pieces to delude us that the Yankees have a chance at hanging with Boston.
It marked the third straight year—since he won his third AL MVP in 2007—that A-Rod’s batting average and slugging percentage fell. His homers have gone from 54 to 35 to 30 (he missed a quarter of the season after hip surgery) and 30 again. Yes, 30-125 is a dream for most players—it was 21 more RBIs than any other third baseman. But even Rodriguez called the past few seasons “not acceptable.”
“My team needs me to play at a high level to get to our ultimate goal, which is to win the World Series,” Rodriguez said yesterday from the party tent behind the third-base stands at George M. Steinbrenner Field.
General manager Brian Cashman and director of pro scouting Billy Eppler watched from behind the batting cage. Manager Joe Girardi and pitching coach Larry Rothschild watched from behind screens in the infield. Brackman’s mother and father watched from the stands.
But Brackman, 25, pitched as if none of them were watching, displaying a much-refined delivery and improved command. The highly touted prospect, who is considered a longshot in the competition for a spot in the Yankees rotation, may have improved his odds with his well-timed performance.
“I’m really happy the Yankees gave me the opportunity again, and I’m looking forward to being on the team this year, working hard every single day with the manager and coaches,” Montero said. “I’m trying to do the best every single day I’m here and see if I can make the team this year.”
Montero has already impressed coaches this spring with his improvement behind the plate, having worked last year at Triple-A with former Major Leaguer Butch Wynegar and this spring with Yankees catching coach Tony Pena.
“I think he sits more comfortable, I think his hands work better,” Girardi said. “He’s in outstanding shape. We’ll see as Spring Training goes on, he just looks more comfortable.”
Friday, February 11, 2011
The Minnesota Twins might be open to the possibility of trading lefty starter Francisco Liriano, according to a report by the Minneapolis Star-Tribune. Liriano, 27, is under contract for the next two seasons, and the report suggested the Twins are unwilling to sign him long term.
Liriano’s availability would intrigue the Yankees, who have two vacancies in their rotation. With pitchers and catchers due to report Monday, a primary concern is repairing A.J. Burnett’s mechanics and his confidence.
Given his past health issues and the fact that he’s eligible for free agency after 2012, I don’t think Liriano is going to come at a low enough cost that the Yankees should pursue him. He had a strong 2010, but looking at what appears to be an unsustainably low HR/FB rate would give me pause. I wouldn’t trade any of the the Killer B’s or Montero for him. I’d probably do Romine plus a non-killer B arm, but I doubt the Twins would go for it.
Wednesday, February 9, 2011
NEW YORK (WFAN) – With Russell Martin projected to be New York’s primary catcher, top prospect Jesus Montero is ready to show the Yankees what he’s made of.
“I want to be behind the plate,” Montero said on Tuesday. “I want to show everybody that I can catch with the Yankees.”
Yankees general manager Brian Cashman wants to prepare Montero for the majors in a “proper way rather than in a rushed way.”
“I think being in the majors would be better,” Montero said about starting the season in Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes Barre. “Everybody wants to be there. I’m going to try to do the best to be with the team, learn real quick and help them.”
Montero, 21, has been working out at the Yankees’ minor-league complex since late January, and is noticeably slimmer than last year.
I’d love to see Montero break camp in MLB pinstripes if he shows during the spring that he’s ready. Of course, I’d also like to see a healthy and productive Russell Martin as well. Having two very good catchers would be about two more than half of MLB. If you can’t collected 16 aces, maybe collecting #1 catchers can be the new market inefficiency?
Monday, December 20, 2010
Jon Heyman tweets that the Royals asked the Yankees for Jesus Montero and Eduardo Nunez in exchange for Zack Greinke and told the Yankees that Greinke would drop his no-trade clause. The Yankees rejected the offer, however, because they did not believe that Greinke was a good fit for New York.
Hmm. My firt thought is that they should have been all over this, but then again they are looking at Freddy Garcia so the rotation may be fine anyway.
Wednesday, December 15, 2010
I’ve had the pleasure of scouting Montero at each level of the minor-league ladder during his development, and the worries about his defense aren’t unwarranted. But, they were much more warranted two years ago, and even more so the year before. As he’s matured, especially physically, his defense has improved, not declined as some predicted. With Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre in 2010, I still saw a lot of inconsistencies in Montero’s game behind the plate, but it was nothing that I don’t see from time to time from mediocre defensive catchers at the major league level.
The bottom line is that there is a big difference between having defensive deficiencies and not being able to play the position at all. Montero is ready to play catcher in 2011, and the more I’ve seen from him, the more confident I’ve become of that fact. He’ll have his moments that frustrate you back there, but there are no deficiencies that are glaring enough to warrant moving him off the position. His potential to hit 35 home runs a year should more than make up for that.
But can he pitch the eighth?
Thanks to the fine folks at Yankeeist.com for the heads up on this article.
Tuesday, December 14, 2010
The Yankees have been told they are out of the Cliff Lee sweepstakes, and signs are pointing that the 2008 AL Cy Young Award winner will sign with the Philadelphia Phillies.
The Phillies suddenly entered the picture on Monday when they were revealed Monday to be the “mystery team” that has been pursuing Lee for the past few days.
The Yankees chances at winning the AL East and the World Series just took a big hit in 2011, but I’m not so sure that this isn’t going to end up as the best thing long-term.
It’s tough to criticize a player who’s obviously leaving money on the table for some other considerations. That won’t stop some Yankee fans, but I won’t be one of them.
It won’t take much to make the Yankees a legitimate playoff contender even without Lee, although Boston’s the clear favorite in the AL East right now. I’ll look at potential moves they can make to shore up the team tomorrow.
Just don’t trade Jesus Montero, please. His development will be fun to watch even if the Yankees now face a more difficult hill to climb in 2011.
Saturday, December 11, 2010
The Yankees plan on giving Jesus Montero a shot to win the starting catching job this spring, but the phenom may have to beat out a veteran other than Jorge Posada for the gig.
That’s because the Yankees have expressed serious interest in former Dodgers backstop Russell Martin. A source said the Bombers have made a one-year offer to the 27-year-old.
Brian Cashman declined to comment on Martin, but a Yankees official confirmed the team’s interest, adding that the Bombers’ GM is extremely high on the two-time All-Star and former National League Rookie of the Year.
With the uncertainty surrounding where Cliff Lee will sign, inking Martin makes a lot of sense. It would allow the Yankees to keep Montero in AAA if he still needs work on his defense, and it would also allow them to explore trading some of their catching depth in the minors as part of a package for a starter, although I’m not sure who they’d target.
Monday, November 15, 2010
How Good Might the 2011 Yankees Be on November 15, 2010?
So now that we have projections to look at, what do they tell us?
First, let’s consider the primary starters who played in 2010 and are still under contract for 2011.
Here are their performances in 2010:
And here’s their CAIRO projected performance in 2011:
BRAR: Linear weights batting runs above replacement level (park and position-adjusted)
wOBA: Weighted on-base average
Def: Projected runs saved defensively compared to average
WAR: Wins above replacement level (BRAR plus Def divided by 10)
The whole replacement level thing gets a little fuzzy here since Posada’s being treated as primarily a catcher in 2010 but as a DH in 2011. So if we ignore position and just look at the seven players, we see that 2010’s collective put up a wOBA of .361 and an OBP of .360 in 4483 PA, and that the 2011 version of those same seven players would project to put up a wOBA of .359 and an OBP of .356. The 2011 version would be about 15 runs worse over a full season, which is a non-trivial, but not a massive down grade.
You may not be aware of this since it’s gone strangely unreported by the media, but Derek Jeter is a free agent. Shocking, huh? Apparently, he has yet to resign with the Yankees and no one is talking about it. This has the potential to be MAJOR.
|2010 Derek Jeter||SS||738||179||30||3||10||18||5||63||106||.270||.340||.370||.319||22||-14||0.8|
|2011 CAIRO Jeter||SS||699||181||29||2||13||15||5||63||96||.290||.360||.406||.342||32||-7||2.4|
Jeter had a bad year by his standards last year, but his offense was fine for a shortstop, somewhere around 22 runs better than replacement level. The bigger issue with Jeter was how you assessed his defense. UZR thought he was slightly below average, around -5. However, a combination of UZR, zone rating and John DeWan’s plus/minus were much harsher, putting Jeter around -14 defensively and making him effectively only about one win better than replacement level.
I have no idea which is closer to the truth, so even though my spreadsheet says Jeter was less than one win better than replacement level last year, I’m going to say that that was not necessarily true.
Either way, CAIRO expects Jeter to bounce back a bit in 2011 on a rate basis, but it also expects him to play a bit less. Overall it likes his chance for a reasonable rebound.
But what if? What if the Yankee decide that Jeter is asking for too much and decide to let him walk? It won’t happen, but if it did, here’s who they have on hand to replace him.
So yeah, replacing Jeter with Nunez or Pena looks like a two win down grade in CAIRO.
I suppose we could look at possible free agent SS but there’s really no sense. Jeter will be a Yankee in 2011 and we just have to hope CAIRO knows what it’s doing.
So we’ve effectively covered everything except DH and catcher. Last year’s Yankee DH’s combined for a line of .256/.338/.440, which isn’t really all that good for a position that has no defensive value. CAIRO thinks Jorge Posada will exceed that line, but betting on a 40 year old who’s caught over 1600 games in his career to hit well and stay healthy is probably risky. The Yankees will probably use DH to rest their older regulars a bit as well, so if Posada’s reasonably healthy they should get decent production out of DH.
That leaves catcher. If Posada’s not catching, then it means some combination of Francisco Cervelli, Jesus Montero and Austin Romine may be, unless the Yankees surprise us by going after someone like John Buck.
Montero’s almost certainly the best offensive player of the bunch, and he should probably be the favorite to being the year as the starting catcher, but his defense may end up being bad enough that he can’t stick there.
Cervelli’s not a horrible catcher, and he profiles as a pretty good backup, but he’s also not someone you want to see starting half the games.
CAIRO doesn’t think Romine’s ready, but who knows with young players?
On the position player side, the Yankees’ only real questions are shortstop and catcher. There isn’t a free agent SS available even comparable to Jeter, so unless they make a bold trade he’ll be back in 2011. John Buck is sort of interesting on the catching side, but if you think Montero is going to be the catcher of the future, you probably don’t commit to him for as long as some other potential suitors might. I guess they can shore up the bench with a RH outfielder too, or bring back Marcus Thames.
So at least as of right now, I get the sense we’re not going to see anything particularly interesting happening on the position player side with this team heading into 2011.
Come on Cliff Lee I guess…
Sunday, November 14, 2010
2011 Yankee Position Player CAIRO Projections v0.1
Here are the first set of my 2011 CAIRO projections for the Yankees’ position players. I’m still eyeballing the overall projections to make sure there are no egregious errors and double-checking all my aging/park factor/regression formula so these may change slightly, but they appear pretty close to what I’d have expected.
BRAR: Linear weights batting runs above replacement level (park and position-adjusted)
wOBA: Weighted on-base average
Def: Projected runs saved defensively compared to average
WAR: Wins above replacement level (BRAR plus Def divided by 10)
Defense is projected using an average of Chris Dial’s Zone Rating Runs Saved from Baseball Think Factory, Ultimate Zone Rating and John Dewan’s plus/minus runs saved, both from Fangraphs. Since Sean Smith does his own TotalZone projections as part of his CHONE projections I’ll just wait for those and then add them in as well.
If a player has not played in the majors yet, I didn’t project their defense so they are rated as average. I’m not saying I think Jesus Montero is going to play average defense, I’m saying I have no idea how good or bad his defense will be and I’m not going to try and fudge it.
I do have most of the minor leaguers projected but didn’t include all of them in this table since I’m still looking over the MLEs. Pitchers should be done this week as well, and hopefully the first set of projections for everyone will be out next week.
Anyway, now that we have this we can start to think about where the Yankees’ lineup could use some improvement and what the options are for said improvement, which I’ll start tomorrow.
Wednesday, November 10, 2010
1. Jesus Montero, c
2. Gary Sanchez, c
3. Dellin Betances, rhp
4. Manny Banuelos, lhp
5. Andrew Brackman, rhp
6. Austin Romine, c
7. Hector Noesi, rhp
8. Eduardo Nunez, ss/3b
9. Slade Heathcott, of
10. Brandon Laird, 3b
New York had breakthrough after breakthrough in the minors, with power-armed righthanders Dellin Betances and Andrew Brackman having their best seasons and second-tier prospects such as third baseman Brandon Laird, righty Ivan Nova and infielder Eduardo Nunez turning in strong performances at upper levels. The top three affiliates reached the playoffs, with high Class A Tampa winning the Florida State League title.
Prospects? Are those the things that get traded for Javier Vazquez and Damaso Marte?
ace to face Brian Cashman informed Jorge Posada that he will be the Yankees designated hitter next season, The Post has learned.
Cashman met with Posada in Manhattan this week to tell the veteran to, as usual, prepare to catch, but the team’s first option is to have youngsters Jesus Montero, Francisco Cervelli and Austin Romine compete in spring training for the two primary jobs.
It is quite a risk to team an expensive, mostly veteran staff with such inexperienced catchers. But it is indicative of how much the Yankees believe Posada’s defensive game has slipped in all areas.
It is possible that plans could change if the Yankees use one of the catchers in a trade and/or they feel there is enough budget left to secure a free agent such as John Buck. For now, though, the Yankees are going to hope that Montero, in particular, is advanced enough to handle a significant portion of the catching as a way to begin working the top prospect’s ultra-promising bat into the lineup.
Not sure Posada’s going to hit enough as a DH to make him particularly valuable, but this move makes sense looking out past 2011. It’s sink or swim time for Montero as a catcher with several other interesting options behind him, so throw him in the water and see what happens.
Friday, October 29, 2010
Jorge Posada, benched for an ALCS game this postseason, should get used to it.
In an exclusive online poll conducted by nypost.com, Yankees fans overwhelmingly endorsed hot-shot catching prospect Jesus Montero over Posada behind the plate next season.
Given a choice between the two, fans preferred Montero 68 percent to 32 percent for Posada.
It’s nice to know that NY Post readers are running the Yankees.
Tuesday, October 26, 2010
The Yankees’ winter hopes of signing free-agent-to-be Cliff Lee might have taken a hit during the playoffs because of his wife’s experience in the visiting family section at Yankee Stadium.
“The fans did not do good things in my heart,” Kristen Lee told USA Today in Tuesday’s editions. “When people are staring at you and saying horrible things, it’s hard not to take it personal.”
Am I a bad person for hoping that Lee gets lit up like a Christmas tree tomorrow? I mean, I know I’m a bad person for other things, but would that in and of itself make me a bad person if I were not one already?
If the Yankees somehow wind up with Lee, I would bet copious amounts of money that he will lose games in the postseason.
Consider the following:
Split 1: 56.3 IP, 2.88 RA, 2.56 ERA, 3.87 FIP
Split 2: 37 IP, 9.84 RA, 8.33 ERA, 6.99 FIP
If you based any of your expectations for Split 2 on what happened in Split 1, you’d feel awfully disappointed, wouldn’t you?
Small sample size performances do not tell us more than everything a player has done, even if they happen on a larger stage.
So I’d like to thank the cretins who were mean to Mrs. Lee for saving the Yankees a lot of money.
I will leave it as an exercise for the readers to determine what Splits 1 and 2 are.
In an article I found slightly more interesting, Brian Cashman not afraid of tough calls, won’t be emotional with Derek Jeter, Jorge Posada decision
He essentially shrugged at the implied question Monday when asked about the difficulty of dealing with aging stars like Derek Jeter and Jorge Posada.
“We will do what we think is right,” Cashman said. “We’re not afraid to make tough decisions.”
What exactly does that mean? Well, let’s dispel the notion that Jeter will be moved to another position next season, something which got a lot of play on the radio Monday.
“If you earn the right to hit in a certain spot in the lineup, you earn it,” Cashman said. “If you earn less, you get less. Everybody has to be honest with each other. The game doesn’t lie. When something becomes pretty self-evident, you can be blind to it or you can deal with it.”
This comment was in reference to Jeter remaining the leadoff hitter, but it’s a good approach for a lot of the issues facing the Yankees.
As for Posada, indications from within the organization are that Cashman sees him as mostly a DH at age 40 next season in the final year of his career, with the hope that power-hitting prospect Jesus Montero will be ready to step in to handle much of the catching.
When Cashman was asked if he believes Montero is major-league ready, he said, “I have people who believe he is. He’s going to have to prove that.”
I’m not sure Posada’s enough of a hitter at this point to be an asset as a DH, but I suppose if he can catch once or twice a week he’s still useful.
If Montero provided the exact same offensive value as a catcher that he would as a DH, he’d have to be about 35 runs below average defensively to be better off at DH. Of course, he’d likely hit better and play more often as a DH, so the gap is probably closer to 20-25 runs. So the question with Montero is going to be if he can be 20 runs below average or better defensively.
There have been two seasons where a player who played at least 50 games at catcher was that bad defensively according to Baseball Reference, although obviously a player who was bad enough to be 20 runs below average likely didn’t stay behind the plate long enough to get there.
Jeter and Posada are not likely to embrace any such changes, yet Cashman gave every indication that he won’t let that dictate his decision-making.
“It’s not about not hurting people’s feelings,” was the way he put it.
This is the money quote. But until we see the Yankees actually approach the offseason this way, it’s just talk.
Saturday, October 23, 2010
Rangers Beat Yankees, Win ALCS 4 - 2
It’s our first reaction as fans to say “our team lost” rather than the other team won. No one should be able to beat our team, they can only beat themselves.
The Rangers beat the Yankees. They outplayed them this series. We can talk about why it happened, but that’s the bottom line, and that’s why they’re going to the World Series and the Yankees are going home. The Rangers outscored the Yankees 39-18 over the six games of the ALCS.
Joe Girardi did not manage a good series IMO. While his biggest flaw prior to this series was a love for the sacrifice bunt which is actually probably not nearly the issue we made it out to be, I refuse to think his strategy of IBB half the Rangers lineup was anything but asinine. Of course, a proper analysis of each situtation when it came up would tell us more, and I’d guess it probably won’t be as bad on paper as it ended up turning out. But that doesn’t make it any less aggravating right now.
As poorly as I thought Girardi managed, to the point where I really don’t care if he is not back next year, the Yankees lost because the Rangers out-hit them and out-pitched them. Although they won CC Sabathia’s two starts, he really didn’t pitch that well. Phil Hughes didn’t pitch well either, obviously, and Andy Pettitte’s gem came in a game where Cliff Lee pitched one of the best games you’ll ever see.
Is it Dave Eiland’s fault that some of the key Yankees didn’t pitch well in 2010 after pitching well in 2009? Or is it the fact that pitching is unpredictable and volatile? Do we blame Eiland for Hughes and Joba Chamberlain having “disappointing” seasons, or do we blame ourselves for setting unrealistic expectations for young pitchers and ignoring the historical fact that the majority of pitching prospects don’t become elite pitchers?
To be honest, I think calling Hughes’s season disappointing is a stretch too, even though it didn’t end well, but that’s a post for another day.
The bullpen didn’t distinguish themselves much in this series either, but most of the damage done came in games the Yankees were already well on their way to losing. Sure, Girardi could have used Mo in games earlier and kept them closer, but I saw nothing from the offense that indicated they would have come back from a 7-3 deficit rather than a 10-3 deficit.
Of course, the offense is as much to blame as the pitching. Give some credit to the Rangers for pitching well, but that doesn’t make the performances by anyone not named Robinson Cano any less frustrating.
I try not to think of any Yankee season where the Yankees don’t win a World Series as a failure, because the odds are against even the best team in baseball in any given year winning the World Series. But when you don’t win your division and have to back into the postseason as the wild card, getting your asses handed to you in the ALCS doesn’t feel like much of an accomplishment to me. I wouldn’t call this season a failure, but I wouldn’t call it an achievement either.
As far as where the Yankees go from here, emotion would tell us to get rid of all the chokers and bring in new blood, Working off emotion is probably stupid though.
The Yankees shouldn’t need to make drastic moves to be in a position to be back in the hunt for the World Series, but they do need to be smart about this offseason, because many of the key players on this team aren’t going to be any better than they are now and some will almost certainly be worse, and adding a few veteran band aids to try and coax another World Series out of them may be as fruitless as it was this year.
I haven’t really thought about who the Yankees should go after in 2011. Obviously most of the talk will be about Cliff Lee, but my first impulse is he alone wouldn’t make this team a clear World Series favorite. I’m also not sure the Yankees will be able to just outbid everyone for him. If Texas decides to try and keep him, they’ll have the advantage of no state income tax in any bid they make for him, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see a team like the White Sox go after him hard as well.
You also have the questions about who to bring back in 2011. While the idea of letting Girardi and Eiland go seems tempting, it would depend on who would replace them, wouldn’t it? I’m certain no matter who the manager ends up being, he’ll have flaws that we fixate on anyway. Jeter and Mo will obviously be back, but the terms of their returns will be the subject of much conjecture. Do the Yankees eschew Carl Crawford and stick with Brett Gardner, or do they try and trade Gardner for something they can’t get through free agency? Do they promote Jesus Montero to the majors, and if so is it as a catcher or a DH? Does that mean the end of Francisco Cervelli’s reign of terror, or does it mean more Jorge Posada at DH?
Anyway, I don’t feel like thinking about 2011 yet. I’m just going to get very inebriated at this wedding I have to serve in today and forget about baseball for a few days.
Wednesday, August 11, 2010
ARLINGTON, Tex.—With one away in the eighth inning and the go-ahead run for the Yankees standing just 90 feet away on third base, manager Joe Girardi allowed backup catcher Francisco Cervelli to hit, leaving Jorge Posada and his much more imposing bat on the bench.
The result? Cervelli lined out softly to first and Brett Gardner grounded out to end the late threat against the Rangers, a key development in a 4-3 Yankees’ loss in which Posada was only available in an emergency.
After the game, Girardi said Posada experienced discomfort in his right shoulder while making a throw on Monday afternoon against the Red Sox, prompting Yankees manager Joe Girardi to keep the veteran on the bench.
Right-hander Javier Vazquez pitches for the Yankees tomorrow. If the Yankees stick with catching rotation they’ve established this season, Cervelli would be in line to make another start, giving Posada another day off.
- Let’s assume the idea behind the “catching rotation” is that Jorge Posada is healthy enough to catch three of every five games
- Let’s assume that A.J. Burnett and Javier Vazquez are the worst two starters in the Yankee rotation (non-Moseley edition)
- Let’s assume that on the days Burnett and Vazquez pitch, you need more offense than you do on the days that Sabathia, Hughes or Pettitte pitch
This catching rotation stinks.
Of course, it’s certainly possible that the first idea is simply wrong, and Posada’s just not healthy enough to play as much. That’s a major problem, because at this point Francisco Cervelli’s just not a viable major league hitter. Over his last 50 games, he’s hit .197/.269/.237. But his BABIP is only .234 you may say. BABIP is a SKILL, especially for a hitter. There’s a very good chance this low BABIP is predictive, and not a function of random variance.
That being said, I don’t think calling up Jesus Montero is going to happen. I have yet to read anything saying he now looks like he’ll clearly be able to handle catcher defensively in the majors, and as nice as it is that he’s been hitting well lately, his 2010 MLE(major league equivalency) is still only around .240/.300/.400. Of course, that’s Ruthian compared to the recent vintage of Cervelli, and MLEs are a blunt tool that don’t necessarily capture all the nuances of how a player’s game may translate at the highest level.
If there were trade options out there, you’d think the team with the best farm system in baseball could have done better than Kevin Cash when they lost their catchers, although perhaps that was a function of how much they were willing to pay.
The Yankees don’t NEED Cervelli to hit like he did in April and the first half of May to win, if people like Derek Jeter, Alex Rodriguez and Curtis Granderson hit closer to how they projected to. But since that’s not happening, it magnifies the impact of Cervelli’s struggles.
CAIRO has Posada projected at a wOBA of .357 over the rest of the season, and Cervelli at a wOBA of .296. So, over the 50 remaining games, there’s about an 11 run difference on offense. That’s a bit more than one win, which isn’t huge in a vacuum, but in the context of this year’s AL East could be the difference between playing baseball or golf in October.
Tuesday, August 10, 2010
The pitch came on a 1-0 count from ace Pawtucket reliever Robert Manuel, an all-star who took the mound with nine saves and a 1.22 ERA on his season resume. It was a well-located pitch that Montero clubbed to deep center field, and by the time it had sliced to the right of the 408-foot sign, it was clear it was going to strike the blue batter’s eye.
“I talked to him earlier this year, and he told me it was the first time he had really struggled,” Golson said of Montero. “I told him, ‘You’ll get it. You’ll get it.’ And you can tell now that he’s coming into his own. Look at the pitch he hit. Another guy can hit that pitch and it doesn’t get to the track.”
This one went much further, deep into the night and into the win column.
Montero’s 2010 by month:
April: 80 PA, .247/.313/.384
May: 89 PA, .190/.278/.316
June: 105 PA, .283/.324/.505
July: 91 PA, .342/.441/.632
August: 30 PA, .423/.500/.731
Tuesday, July 27, 2010
The New York Yankees added Chan Ho Park(notes) last offseason after being impressed when he faced them in the World Series last season as a member of the Philadelphia Phillies. Now the team is looking to unload him, according to ESPN.
I know that Jayson Stark reported the Royals turned down an offer of Jesus Montero for Joakim Soria, but I think a package of Montero and Park could get it done.
Monday, July 19, 2010
So now it’s only natural that Yankees fans will expect, and probably demand, that the team pluck someone, anyone, from the list of starting pitchers expected to be available between now and the July 31 non-waiver trading deadline. Kevin Millwood, anyone?
But general manager Brian Cashman said on Sunday that this year, the Yankees are going to have to make it through October the old-fashioned way: with the roster of players they have, not the roster of players their fans would like them to have.
“Right now, I’m not inclined to make a move,’’ Cashman said. “I always prefer to fix things from within.’‘
I still think a bat would be good depending on the price, but I’d rather see them do nothing than possibly trade Jesus Montero again.
Friday, July 9, 2010
If Cliff Lee is changing teams, he may merely be moving from the home to the visitors’ dugout at Safeco Field this weekend.
The Yankees, who are in Seattle for their final series of the first half, were on the verge of trading for the Mariners’ Lee, according to a New York Post report published early Friday. Catcher Jesus Montero, one of the Bronx Bombers’ top prospects, would be going to Seattle as part of the swap.
SI.com and ESPN.com also reported on talks regarding Lee involving the Mariners and Yankees. SI.com said that sources confirmed that the discussions have intensified, and that New York’s offer includes two prospects in addition to Montero.
I don’t like the idea of giving up Montero for a two month rental who can be signed in the offseason anyway. Is the upgrade from whomever the Yankees think is their worst starter to Lee worth a potentially great hitting catcher who’s in AAA at 20?
Lee’s good, but this notion that he’s 1999-2000 Pedro Martinez is silly. If they’re going to give up Montero now, they should have done it in the offseason and gotten the better Roy Halladay.
Yeah, I’m annoyed, so hopefully this is just a horseshit made up rumor.
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