Thursday, December 5, 2013
Should Hiroki Kuroda’s End of Season Fade Prevent the Yankees from Bringing Him Back?
After carrying the Yankee rotation for most of the season, Hiroki Kuroda struggled over the last six weeks. After August 12 his ERA stood at 2.33. From August 17 on it was 6.56.
There’s no secret the Yankees are hoping to bring Kuroda back in 2014. The question is whether it’s a good idea. Let’s look at some selective endpoints from Kuroda’s two seasons as a Yankee.
FIP: Fielding independent pitching
xFIP: Expected FIP
BB/BF: Walks and hit batters per batters faced
K/BF: Strikeouts per batters faced
K/BB: Strikeout to walk ratio
GB%: Percentage of batted balls that were ground balls
FB%: Percentage of batted balls that were fly balls
LD%: Percentage of batted balls that were line drives
IFFB: Percentage of batted balls that were infield flies
BABIP: Batting average on balls in play
FBv: Average fastball velocity
Kuroda’s problem was not velocity, as it was actually higher over the last 5-6 weeks of the season in both 2012 and 2013. In 2013 his control got worse, and he gave up twice as many home runs per fly ball. His BABIP against went from a unrealistically low .251 to .355. He saw a similar issue with HR/FB and BABIP against in 2012, although not to the same extreme in either one.
Kuroda will be 39 in 2014. Because of that alone he carries a fair amount of risk. But I don’t think his late season performance in 2013 is of particular concern as far as what it means for next year. Most of his peripherals were still pretty good, and his velocity was fine. I don’t know if skipping a few starts during the year or managing his innings a bit more judiciously would help him pitch a little better at the end of the year.
For whatever it’s worth Kuroda gave the team two good postseason starts in 2012 so I don’t think we can assume he’ll be useless after mid-August.
The fact that Kuroda will probably only want one year still makes him the best free agent starting pitcher option in my mind, because I don’t really like any of the other available options (unless Masahiro Tanaka ends up as a free agent of sorts). I’d certainly rather have Kuroda for one year and $16M than someone like Ervin Santana or Matt Garza for the same annual salary for 4-5 years.
The Yankees need starting pitching badly, and Kuroda might add four wins to them.
So I will say, no. The Yankees should not be particularly worried about Kuroda’s last eight starts.
If Cano leaves — and Yankees officials believe the Seattle Mariners could offer an eight-year, $200 million contract that they would not match — then there is plenty of money left to spend on free agents, or on the Japanese pitcher Masahiro Tanaka. The Yankees had hopes of signing Tanaka this off-season, but that was complicated by the Ellsbury signing and by developments that were out of their hands.
Major League Baseball has been negotiating a new posting system with its counterparts in Japan, and it sent over its latest proposal Wednesday. Under the proposed system, teams would be allowed to make a maximum bid of $20 million, according to two people who have been briefed on the negotiations. If more than one team bids the maximum, the player will be free to negotiate with all of them.
A team making the highest bid would have exclusive rights to negotiate with the player.
Under the recently expired system, teams could submit bids of any amount, and the team with the highest bid got exclusive rights to negotiate with the player. With a player as highly regarded as Tanaka, several teams could make a $20 million bid, leaving Tanaka free to negotiate with any of them if the new system is adopted.
That system could hurt the Yankees, especially if they hold to their goal of keeping their payroll below $189 million. Under both the old system and the proposed one, the posting fee does not count against a team’s luxury-tax figure. But Tanaka’s salary would, and the lower posting fee means that M.L.B. teams are more likely to give Japanese players higher contracts, which could have an impact on teams that are close to the luxury-tax threshold — like the Yankees.
Dear Yankees. Give up on the $189M payroll, or stop pretending you are committed to fielding a “championship-caliber” team. Maybe you should read this article in the Wall Street Journal, if you can read.
“The financial payoff at this juncture, coming off a missed postseason, is way more than any other team stands to gain by improving themselves by three, four, five, six wins—whatever the number might be,” Gennaro said. “Some people will say, ‘Well, is it an overpay?’ With the Yankees, that’s the wrong question. The second-biggest problem the Yankees could have is overpaying for a free agent. The biggest problem is not getting the free agent they need to get back to the postseason and make a deep run into it.”
Wednesday, December 4, 2013
The Yankees may not be done yet.
Following the high-profile signing of outfielder Jacoby Ellsbury, the Yankees are reportedly nearing a deal with infielder Kelly Johnson, according to Joel Sherman. Sherman reports the deal would be for one year at around $3 million.
Johnson, 31, has played for the Braves, Diamondbacks, Blue Jays and Rays during an eight-year career. He hit .235 with a .305 on-base percentage and 16 home runs for the Rays in 2013.
Johnson’s primary selling points are his power and his versatility. He’s hit at least 16 home runs in five seasons, including each of the last four, and has extensive experience at both second base and in left field. He’s also played 16 games at third base. Sherman reports that the Yankees plan is to deploy Johnson around the infield, though he could serve as a fallback option if the Yankees come up short in their pursuit of Robinson Cano.
As opposed to the dumb Jacoby Ellsbury overpay, I really like this potential signing.
CAIRO likes Johnson more than I would have expected, projecting him to hit .239/.320/.410 with 20 HRs in 536 PA as a Yankee. He projects as around average defensively at 2B (+2 in DRS, average in UZR and -2 in zone rating), He isn’t in Robinson Cano’s league, but he would project to be worth about 2.1 wins above a replacement level 2B given that playing time.
He hasn’t played a ton of 3B as the excerpt notes, but he’s an option to play there if needed. He projects as a below average LF, but he hopefully shouldn’t see much time out there anyway.
With Johnson and Ellsbury added to the mix, the Yankees now project to win about 78 games. If they add Hiroki Kuroda and Robinson Cano, they can probably get to about 87 wins.. But they probably can’t do that if they stick to their $189M payroll.
Tuesday, December 3, 2013
CAIRO hates the Jacoby Ellsbury Contract
My first thought when I saw that the Yankees signed Jacoby Ellsbury was that it was almost certain to be a bad move. But I’ve felt for a while that whomever signed Ellsbury would regret it, because he has had problems staying healthy, and teams will be wish-casting on his MVP level performance in 2011. Of course, we have 2400+ other PA where he’s never approached anything close to that.
Anyway, after looking at his CAIRO projection for this year and for the next seven years, I’m even more convinced this contract is bad one. But don’t take my word for it, here are the numbers.
Strictly going by hitting and stolen bases, Ellsbury projects to be worth about 2.5 wins above a replacement level CF in 2014. He projects to be somewhere around a +4 defender, and we can maybe give him another run or two for non-SB base running.
Now obviously, if he could hit that 65% or 80% forecast we’d love this contract, but that’s not the baseline for a reason, because it’s just not that likely.
So if you have a player who’s 30 and he’s signed for 7 years and you’re paying him an average of $22M per year, how much does he have to be worth to justify it? Only the team really knows that, but let’s look at how CAIRO projects his next seven season.
Yeah. Even if you want to assume he will continue to provide +5 defense for all seven seasons, he’s doesn’t project to be worth more than 17 wins or so. So the Yankees would be paying about $9M per win in a league that pays between $5M-$6M on the free agent market.
The key number in all these projections is plate appearances. Because he has missed significant parts of the season over the time that is in his projection, he only projects to have 526 PA in 2014 and it only goes down from there. If he can give the Yankees 650 PA in 2014, we can up his overall projected oWAR to 16.5. It’s still a crappy deal, but a bit less so. 650 PA at his 65% forecast in 2014 and now we’re looking at 22.2 WAR and yeah, it’s still a crappy deal.
This deal has all the earmarks of a deal that was not made by a baseball person, rather by a person who thinks signing a big name and making a splash will put asses in the seats. Guess what, you do that by putting a better team on the field than you put out there last year.
Ellsbury is not a bad player, and he should be an asset on the field. But he’s not nearly the player that Robinson Cano is, and won’t make nearly the difference to this team’s fortunes that Cano would. How do you tell Cano you won’t give him 8 years and $200M when you are willing to give a player that’s half as valuable as he is 7 years and $153M? And if signing Ellsbury means Cano is playing elsewhere in 2014, this team will be lucky to finish .500.
You also have to think this means the end of Brett Gardner’s days in pinstripes is close, if not before this season then almost surely after it, and I’m bummed about that.
Just like with the McCann signing, I’m reserving judgement on this move until I see what else they do. But unlike the McCann move which I liked in a vacuum, in a different vacuum I think this move was stupid.
Alternate Universe Where Bad Ideas Work Out: Yankees Sign Jacoby Ellsbury for 7 Years/$153 Million
From Mark Feinsand:
Yankees deal with Ellsbury is seven years and $153 million. That’s $12 million more than Crawford’s contract.
Yeah, so that just happened.
Hole. E. Shit.
I am stunned.
Jeff Passan claims that the Yankees are not officially out on Cano, but sure as heck seems like it.
Perhaps there’s a slim chance that they just decided to skip $189 all together? Maybe? Please be that!
Since there may be a couple of you who don’t read Japanese(including me) the Google translation for that is…
As the new system of posting system (bidding system), the 2nd, and the upper limit set of bidding money, that the preferred plan has been proposed in the major league season lower side team was found. If you did on an upper limit on the bid, there is a plurality of team that bid the maximum amount, as the lower winning percentage of obtaining the right to negotiate in season performance for the year in particular. At an extraordinary meeting of representatives from the 3rd, Nippon Professional Baseball (NPB) to consult with 12 teams the proposed system of multiple, including this new proposal.
So MLB wants to implement a maximum bid, and in the event of a tie the winning bid will be the team with the lowest winning percentage.
Well, that makes it much less likely the Yankees will be adding Masahiro Tanaka. Too bad he wasn’t getting posted after 2014, when the Yankees will likely be one of the worst teams in baseball…
WARNING: Link plays a video
NEW YORK—The Seattle Mariners have emerged as a major player in the sweepstakes for free agent Robinson Cano, according to several sources who spoke to ESPNNewYork.com on Tuesday on the condition of anonymity.
With the New York Yankees not wanting to offer Cano more than a seven-year contract or as much as $200 million, an industry source with knowledge of the negotiations put the Yankees chances of retaining their five-time All-Star second baseman at “less than 50-50.”
“It doesn’t look too good right now,” said the source.
Hope you like rain, weed and coffee Robinson.
If Robinson Cano wants a contract for more than $200 million, he’s not going to be wearing pinstripes next season.
Long baseball’s spending leviathan, the New York Yankees are adamant their stance in negotiations with the star second baseman is not pure posturing, sources told Yahoo Sports. Despite Cano’s request for a nine-year, $252 million deal in the parties’ last meeting, the Yankees do not believe Cano is worth the highest average annual value in the game and are sticking hard by a seven-year, $160 million offer that they tell executives and agents may have $15 million of wiggle room.
“They are not going to go to $200 million,” one executive familiar with the Yankees’ plans said. “Period.”
It’s tough to see a contract over $200M as being a good one unless Cano defies the normal aging pattern of just about every MLB player in history, so I understand this stance. The question then becomes if any other team decides they will go where the Yankees aren’t willing to go.
Cano is the single most important piece in determining how good the Yankees will be in 2014. No other player that is available to them without giving up anything but money can add more wins than he can. But you aren’t just signing him for 2014, and you don’t want to find yourself in the same position you are in right now in three or four years waiting for more bad contracts to get off the books.
My guess, someone is going to give him more than $200M. No idea who though.
Monday, December 2, 2013
The Yankees non-tendered three players today: Third baseman David Adams, utility infielder Jayson Nix and reliever Matt Daley. Nix and Daley hardly came as surprises, with Nix basically crowded out by Brendan Ryan and Daley having no realistic chance of sticking on the roster through the winter. The decision to non-tender Adams — rather than wait to DFA him if a 40-man spot needs to open — is a bit of a surprise.
I will miss Nix, but it was pretty much a no-brainer to dump him with the fact that he was bound to make over a million dollars, which is a luxury the Yankees certainly could not afford (and it is not even a given that he would be the best option on the team for a utility man). One thing I will not miss is Sterling and Waldman waxing poetic about how great of a hitter Nix is.
Adams being non-tendered is pretty shocking, really. Seems to be a real vote of no-confidence in the guy. Or perhaps a sign that the Yankees plan to be very active on the fringes of the 40-man roster and figured that if they were bound to cut him eventually that it was more honorable to cut him now when he could stand a better chance of being picked up by another team.
NEW YORK—The Yankees have extended an offer to starter Hiroki Kuroda in an attempt to entice the right-hander to pitch one more season in the Bronx instead of retiring or returning to Japan to play, a source with knowledge of the discussions told ESPNNewYork.com.
The exact figure of the one-year offer is unknown, but it is expected to be in the $15 million to $16 million range. Kuroda, 38, made $15 million in 2013. Prior to free agency, he turned down the Yankees’ qualifying offer of $14.1 million.
Kuroda probably adds 3-4 wins to the Yankees, pushing them close to .500, so let’s hope he goes for it. But if they are going to sign Kuroda while trying to keep their payroll under $189M, it is pointless.
The Pirates are on the verge of acquiring catcher Chris Stewart from the Yankees, according to ESPN’s Buster Olney.
Great trade! Who will they get?
Katron: Phil Hughes 2013 DNYS Homers superimposed onto Target Field
Yes, according to this image from Katron.org there wasn’t a single homer that Phil Hughes allowed in 2013 in DNYS that would not have been a homer in Target Field. Of course, this only looks at dimensions of the park and does not account for the other factors that can affect a fly ball’s distance, like altititude, humidity, wind and temperature.
The end of the Hughes era is bittersweet. I didn’t want him back, but it’s still disappointing that he didn’t turn out the way we had hoped when he was one of the top pitching prospects in baseball. I do think he has a pretty good chance to pitch well for Minnesota because he’ll be getting out of DNYS and he’ll be facing the AL Central more than any other division.
I wish him well.
Sunday, December 1, 2013
When it comes to asking prices and counteroffers, Robinson Cano still is shopping in Alex Rodriguez’s neighborhood, an industry source told The Post. The Yankees would like him more in Albert Pujols’ territory, only with a shorter lease.
Cano’s most recent offer to the Yankees, in a meeting last week, was a nine-year contract for between $250 and $260 million, the source said. The Yankees have countered with a seven-year deal for between $160 million and $175 million, a figure that would put Cano among the top five or six compensated position players in the game.
A second source said Cano’s representation, led by Jay Z and Brodie Van Wagenen, hasn’t asked anyone for the now infamous 10-year, $310-million package — or anything starting with a “3” — since he became a free agent. The request for those years and dollars came in May, attached with the premium of Cano foregoing his free agency, and the player and team shut down talks shortly after that. So those terms haven’t been relevant for six months.
The two sides are scheduled to speak again on Monday.
So, essentially, Cano wants $28 million a year over nine years.
The Yankees are offering $24 million a year over seven years.
Just get this done at $25 million a year over eight years and be done with it. The other day I was thinking they could get it done at $24 million for eight years, but then I thought, if they’re already offering $24 million, then going to $25 likely isn’t going to break them. And a $25 million AAV is really something that Cano (and Jay-Z) can sell himself on. That’s the highest AAV of anyone in baseball not named Alex Rodriguez. Just get it done. Hell, make it 8 years/$201 million so Cano can say he’s literally the second-highest paid player in baseball, AAV-wise.
And Robbie, dude, just four times in Major League history has a free agent received a $200 million contract. One was when the player signing was 25 (you’re 31). One was when the player signing was 27 (you’re 31). The other two were when the players in question were three-time MVPs with at least ten straight seasons of 30 homers and 100 RBI. And in all four examples, the team who signed the player regretted the contract within two seasons of the signing (although obviously the 25-year-old’s contract actually turned out to be a fair contract). Just be happy to be in their company.
The Twins are expected to announce the signing of free-agent righthander Phil Hughes to a three-year, $24 million deal this week, according to a person with knowledge of negotiations.
Hughes could be in the Twin Cities as early as this weekend for a physical, the person said. A physical usually is the final step before a deal is formally announced.
Proof positive that the money in baseball is kind of nuts right now.
Don’t get me wrong, Hughes could easily make that deal look good, but it is more that the Twins are spending money on free agents that is interesting than anything else. Hughes’ deal would be the second-highest that the Twins ever spent on an outside free agent (the highest was also this offseason - Ricky Nolasco’s 4 years/$49 million pact).
Good for Hughes. I will miss his promise. Not necessarily his actual game, but the promise he had for so many years.
Tip of the hat to bebop.
Wednesday, November 27, 2013
NEW YORK—The Yankees love Carlos Beltran. They would love to see him patrolling rightfield for them next season, and the season after that. As Andrew Marchand wrote last night Beltran is their No. 1 outfield target this winter.
But they’re only willing to go so far. A source I spoke with this morning, who is involved in the negotiations but requested anonymity because he is not authorized to speak publicly, said that while the Yankees might be willing to go as high as $14 million a year for Beltran, they are unlikely to offer him three years. It has been reported that Beltran and his agent, Dan Lozano, are seeking a three-year deal.
Let’s hope someone somewhere is willing to give him that third year.
Tuesday, November 26, 2013
According to a source, the Yankees met Tuesday with Cano’s representatives – no, Jay Z was not there – and while that’s certainly a step forward in the negotiations, the Bombers and their long-time second baseman appear to still be on different pages when it comes to his new contract.
“The gap is still very substantial,” said a baseball official familiar with the talks.
Yankees president Randy Levine and general manager Brian Cashman took part in the meeting with Cano’s team, led by agent Brodie Van Wagenen.
Compromise has to start somewhere, so Tuesday’s meeting must be viewed a positive sign as the two sides had not had a face-to-face sit down meeting since their midseason talks broke down. The two sides are hoping to meet again Wednesday.
Cano was seeking a 10-year deal worth more than $300 million during the season, though it is believed that his demands have come down in recent weeks.
The Yankees appear to still be sitting at 7 years/$168 million, which seems to be based on the principle of “We’ll give you a little more AAV than we gave Teix but one less year since you’re nearly two years old than what Teix was when he signed his deal.”
I think they eventually get this done at 8 years/$192 million. That’s a higher AAV than Prince Fielder got ($24 million versus $23.8) at just one year less, with Cano being nearly four years older than Fielder was when Fielder signed his deal two seasons ago.
I know Cano wants to get past $200 million, but seriously, what other team is going to beat 8 years at $24 million a year?
To be sure, many writers express opinions about teams having a winning “core.” But these opinions tend to be ad hoc, and they also tend to focus on individual players without fairly considering the strength of any roster as a whole. Most importantly, since they’re not based on objective criteria, they do not allow apples-to-apples comparisons of the overall core strength between teams.
It is past time that we devised a way to summarize mathematically the extent to which each team, in a given season, is deriving its success from “core” players.
My solution is called “Core Wins,” and it answers what I think is a three-part question. First, we have to decide what it means to make a “core contribution” to a roster, and how to measure, objectively, the contributions made by different types of players. Second, using the recent achievements of the Tampa Bay Rays as a reference, we’ll decide what levels of core player contributions are significant. Finally, we’ll rank all 30 major league clubs by the strength of their player cores as they proceed through this offseason.
You’ll never guess where the Yankees rank…
The Yankees have secured free-agent deals with big-hitting catcher Brian McCann ($85 million) and slick-fielding backup infielder Brendan Ryan (about $2 million), but the Bronx Bombers are hardly stopping there.
They are currently engaged with free agents Carlos Beltran, Jacoby Ellsbury, Shin-Soo Choo, Stephen Drew and Hiroki Kuroda while eying Joe Nathan and top pitching target Masahiro Tanaka. They are also pressing their own star, Robinson Cano, for a meeting soon to figure out whether there’s something to talk about.
The Yankees still suggest they believe they can meet their goal come in under the $189-million threshold after giving McCann the biggest annual salary ever for a free-agent catcher ($17 million), and are starting to wonder whether they can add three more free agents if they can’t work it out with Cano. It’s long been thought Cano was likely to remain in pinstripes, and the Yankees still seem like the logical favorite, but word at this point is there is no official narrowing of the $150-milliuon gap that has long existed (Cano’s been seeking $310 million for 10 years with the Yankees offering about $160 million for seven).
According to this blog post with McCann the Yankees have about $39.5M left to spend if they don’t want to spend Alex Rodriguez’s salary while they wait for his appeal of his suspension to end in 2016. I’d be surprised if Cano will sign for anything less than $25M, which means they can really only afford one other player. Will that be an outfielder, or will they wait to see what happens with Tanaka? Although the Yankee bullpen seems suspect right now, I’d trust Joe Girardi to cobble a good one together before I’d allocate $10M+ to Joe Nathan.
I think the point made by a couple of posters yesterday was a good one. The Yankees could decide that they will sign players up to the $189M limit ignoring Rodriguez’s salary. If his suspension is upheld, they’re under the cap. If not, at least they may have some semblance of a competitive team.
Monday, November 25, 2013
The New York Yankees plan on talking to the agents for Robinson Cano on Monday to reiterate that they will only be able to keep their best offer on the table for so long, a baseball official told ESPN New York.
While the Yankees want Cano to stay, they have already agreed with Brian McCann on an $85 million contract and are engaged in talks with a number of other free agents, which is chipping away at their goal of lowering the 2014 payroll to under $189 million to cut their luxury tax burden.
If some of the Yankees’ targets agreed to deals before Cano decides, then Cano—who most believe wants to remain in the Bronx—runs the risk that the Yankees could lower their offer or move on.
I think this is smart negotiating, which makes it really surprising coming from the Yankees. Shouldn’t they be bidding against themselves like they normally do?
One down, one to go.
When the general managers’ meetings broke up less than two weeks ago, the Yankees planned on “moving fast” to secure free agents Brian McCann and Carlos Beltran.
McCann agreed to a five-year, $85 million deal on Saturday to complete the first part of that plan. Is Beltran next?
According to sources, the Yankees have set Beltran as their No. 1 target while they wait to reignite talks with Robinson Cano, for Hiroki Kuroda to decide whether he wants to return next season and for the Japanese posting system to be hammered out so righthander Masahiro Tanaka can be made available.
Signing Beltran is a no-brainer. And NASA’s Mars rover should be touching down at any minute now.
It’s not 2004 anymore, which is when the Yankees should have signed Beltran. If the Yankees sign Beltran without punting their pretend salary cap, it’s going to go down as one of the stupidest signings of this offseason.
If they instead decide they are going to try and cobble together a championship caliber team (which they can’t) and just sign everyone they can, I will be less annoyed by this.
So, expect them to sign him for three years and then not sign anyone else, and win 77 games in 2014.
So, Brian McCann…
When the rumors began about the Yankees being interested in Brian McCann I posted his CAIRO projections but now that it’s official let’s go through them again. First up, his 2014 percentile forecasts.
McCann projects to be a couple of runs below average in throwing out baserunners but he’s typically rated well in pitch-framing in the studies I’ve seen so he should be an asset defensively. As far as the impact of that, we can probably assume somewhere between 5-10 runs.
McCann is on a guaranteed five year contract with a vesting option for the sixth season. Here’s how CAIRO sees him projecting over the next six years.
This doesn’t really account much for injury risk and McCann is a year removed from shoulder surgery which could be a pretty big concern.
As a lefty pull hitter, McCann should be able to take great advantage of playing half his games at DNYS. He projects to have a pretty big platoon split.
Francisco Cervelli projects to hit .246/.371/.357 vs. LHP, which is actually a .310 wOBA that is worse than McCann’s projected .318, but platooning McCann with Cervelli at least some of the time would be a good way to rest McCann without losing too much value.
McCann projects well enough vs. RHP to probably be their best DH candidate against RHP, so that would be a way to get him more PA which would probably increase his value to the team further.
For whatever it’s worth, CAIRO only sees about 16 runs of difference between McCann and Cervelli given the same playing time, but the Yankees should also get a few runs of improvement by having a better backup catcher now too.
If McCann really can give them 17.6 wins above replacement over six years, this seems like a fair contract. And the likely improvement from what the Yankees got out of catcher last season is pretty big.
In a vacuum, this is a good move. In the context of the Yankees as presently constituted, it barely moves the needle. They still have a lot of holes to plug, and if they are going to try and do that while sticking to their $189M payroll limit this year, they probably aren’t going to be a contender in 2014.
But they are better now than they were before they signed McCann, and he’s young enough to be an asset past 2014 provided he can stay healthy. The Yankees lose the 18th pick in the MLB entry draft with this signing, but I’m ok with that, more so than I would have been if they had lost it signing someone like Carlos Beltran who is not likely to be a part of a contending Yankee team.
I’ve seen McCann play quite a bit when I lived in Atlanta, and he’s got a lot of pop. He was beloved at Turner Field, getting more cheers than anyone except Chipper Jones. I think he can be a pretty good player for the Yankees over the next few years. Despite all that, I’m just not enthused about this move. McCann is the kind of player who could push a 90 win Yankee team into favorite status in the AL East. As it is now, they still look like the worst team in the AL East and now they have $17 million fewer per year to change that. Does moving from 71 wins to 75 wins really matter that much?
Bottom line, I like this move in isolation, but I need to see the rest of the offseason unfold before I really get excited about it.
Saturday, November 23, 2013
Fox Sports’ Ken Rosenthal has the details…
Source: McCann deal with #Yankees is 5/85 with sixth-year vesting option that could bring it to 6/100..
That makes a huge difference. Earlier today it was a four year deal for the same money. So that is a whooooole lot better. Still a ton of money, though.
The deal is waiting for a physical before it becomes official.
I’ll let SG inform you whether this is a good deal or not. Seems like a BIT too much money, but not awful.
In addition, you have to figure that at least one of the Yankees’ catching prospects will be dealt soon, right? So maybe they can plug another hole with that player and help keep their team salary down.
Friday, November 22, 2013
The Alex Rodriguez arbitration hearing has concluded, a source with knowledge of the private proceedings told ESPN New York. The arbitrator Fredric Horowitz will now decide if Rodriguez’s 211-game for violating the CBA and Joint Drug Agreement will stand.
While it was expected that a decision would come 25 days after the end of the hearing, a source said that Horowitz’s verdict may not be known until early January.
Since A-Rod has made it apparent that he will challenge any ruling against him in federal court, this updated information doesn’t really impact the Yankees offseason. Even if Horowitz decides A-Rod should be held out of the entire 2014 season, the Yankees still won’t be able to utilize the $33 million they need to budget, because A-Rod is going to seek an injunction. Thus, they won’t shell out that money until they are totally certain it will not end up hurting their goal of being under $189 million for the entire season to take advantage of the luxury tax and revenue sharing savings.
The bolded section is probably what we need to be concerned with. The Yankees may choose to freeze themselves out of the free agent market with their self-imposed salary cap if they can’t allocate the money they’d get from a potential Rodriguez suspension.
71 wins, here we come.
Thursday, November 21, 2013
j teaches us all some cool stuff: Former (and potential Future) Yankee Robinson Cano
Clay and Mike K. are planning to review the development of the Yankees minor league players, and asked if I would be interested in providing some swing analysis to compliment their discussions. I said yes. I wanted to get things started with a primer using Robinson Cano’s swing.
The first step is where Cano, and other good hitters, gather their weight into their back leg.
Note that I said *into* and not *over*. Cano isn’t drifting over his back foot with his weight. Instead, he’s rotating in the angular direction opposite to the direction that he’ll swing in, loading the revolute ball and socket joint in his back hip. This also serves to close, or what Ted Williams refers to as ‘cocking’, his front hip.
The next stage of his swing is where Cano accomplishes the stretch shortening cycle, a well documented phenomenon whereby an eccentric contraction of a muscle precedes concentric contraction and results in a greater output. You can think of it like stretching a rubber band and releasing it. Players have a few ways of accomplishing this, and Cano’s approach is to stride slightly forward – maybe just a few inches – as part of the action of shifting his weight from his back side to his front side while simultaneously loading his shoulders into the opposite angular direction. Finally,
There are a few important things to note here. First, these actions must happen at the same time, otherwise a hitter is not going to achieve the stretch-shortening cycle. Also, Cano isn’t pushing off his back foot towards the pitcher. Instead, he’s pinned his back foot into the ground (using his cleats) and rotating his (revolute) ankle joint in the opposite angular direction of his swing. Because that joint is pinned, a force in the opposite angular direction of his swing is going to create movement of his hips in the angular direction of his swing. Finally, you’ll notice that the simultaneous loading of the hands and shifting of his weight stops as soon as Cano’s foot hits the ground. At this point, Cano’s about as leveraged as he can get and is ready to use his hips and core muscles to pull his hands through the hitting zone. Once Cano’s front foot lands, the potential energy that he’s stored in the muscles that connect his front hip and back shoulder starts to decrease. So, once that front foot goes down, ideally Cano should start the rotation portion of his swing. We’ll see in the next image that this is exactly what he does.
Now we see Cano rotating, using his hips and core muscles. This phase really starts a little before Cano’s front foot lands – as you can see, the front foot landing coincides with a little bit of hip rotation. This isn’t a flaw – in fact, it’s an important triggering mechanism for the rotation phase of the swing. His front leg is stiff, which provides a pivot for rotation. His back elbow is now tucked into his back hip, making his hips, torso, shoulders, elbow, and wrists a rigidly coupled system, so that they are all moving together. The rotation of his hips have created a moving angular reference frame, inside of which the stretch-shortening cycle has created a system with potential energy that is becoming kinetic energy, with velocity that’s added to the angular velocity created by his hips. Also notice how compact Cano is. By keeping his arms close to his body, he’s not only created a very rigid couple between his hips and his bat, but he’s also decreased his moment of inertia. By decreasing his moment of inertia as much as possible, Cano is minimizing losses in the transfer of angular momentum at his hips/core to angular momentum at his shoulders/arms/wrists/bat. We see the same effect with ice skaters – they spin more slowly (so, with less momentum) when their arms are extended, and then tuck their arms in to speed up their spin.
Strength through this motion is basically the most important part of the swing. Cano’s using his hips to pull his hands through the hitting zone.
He’s keeping his hands back and the bat on the outside of his back shoulder. It’s important to understand the role of the hands here. The hips are doing all the work, and the hands just need to keep the bat in position to make contact with the ball. The best way to do that is to travel on a plane that matches the trajectory of the pitch. Based on the height of the mound, the trajectory of a pitch makes about a 6-8° angle with the ground. So, the bat needs to travel on a plane that matches that angle.
Here’s another good example of what happens as a result of strong rotation from the Home Run derby in 2011. Notice how the extreme rotation of his hips literally pulls his back foot off the ground.
There’s not much to discuss with the finish. A good swing has the bat accelerating through the point of contact and creates a bat with a lot of angular momentum. A good indication that the bat is on the correct plane is that it the finish will be at the opposite shoulder.
There are a lot of subtleties and intricacies that I glossed over here, but I wanted to give everyone a sense of what are the pieces that make up a good swing. We’ll likely get into them when we look at some of them minor league guys and discuss problems that they’re having and what the root cause might be.
So, what concerns me about Cano’s swing? Well, there’s not much, but there are a few things:
- When Cano gathers/unweights his front foot, he does seem to drift back a little bit. It’s not a lot, but it’s there. Drifting or swaying backwards creates a balance issue. Because Cano sways back a little, he needs to drift back forward to regain his balance. He seems to incorporate this into his stride and uses it to get separation between his back shoulder and front hip. A hitter who incorporates this sway back/sway forward approach is potentially vulnerable to pitchers with large velocity differences between their fastball and offspeed pitches.
- Cano’s unweighting mechanism is a leg lift. This is fairly common, but it is, in my opinion, a concern as any players physical abilities start to decline and will reduce their ability to maintain their contact rates. A better option is a toe touch, where you unweight your front foot but stay in contact with the ground, so you can drop your foot and start the rotation phase quickly. Of course, it’s not an easy thing to change, especially if there’s no problem with it now.
Thanks a ton to j for doing this. He’ll be providing us with more great stuff as Mike and I work on our pieces this winter. Hopefully we’ll do some in-depth prospect profiles at some point as well. - Snuggles
NEW YORK—The Yankees acquired infielder Dean Anna from the Padres on Wednesday in exchange for right-handed pitcher Ben Paullus, adding him to the club’s Major League roster along with five other players.
New York also added right-handers Jose Campos, Shane Greene and Bryan Mitchell to the 40-man roster, along with outfielder Slade Heathcott and catcher Gary Sanchez.
Infielder Corban Joseph was also outrighted to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, leaving the Yankees’ roster standing at 39 players.
Anna, 26, spent the 2013 season with Triple-A Tucson, where he batted .331 (165-for-498) with nine home runs and 73 RBIs in 132 games.
It should be mind-boggling to me that the Yankees outrighted Corban Joseph but kept Chris Stewart on the roster. Joseph is probably the best candidate to get most of the playing time at 2B should Robinson Cano leave.
But it’s completely in line with the way this team does things.
Wednesday, November 20, 2013
Embattled Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez unexpectedly showed up in Mike Francesa’s studio in New York, hours after angrily walking out of his appeals hearing, and blasted MLB and Bud Selig on Francesa’s show on WFAN, a CBS Sports Radio station:
The linked article has the audio of the interview. I haven’t listened yet, but I’d imagine Rodriguez put his hoof in his mouth a time or two.
CAIRO 2014 v0.2’s Extremely Early and Completely Useless 2013 Projected MLB Standings
I figured I had a long offseason ahead of me if I was going to do everything in my power to make the Yankees look better than they are. The thing that needed to be done first was put the Yankees in the context of the rest of MLB. So I’ve been working on building my CAIRO season simulation disk and gave it a trial run last night. This was current through rosters as of yesterday morning.
As the title says, this is extremely early and completely useless so think of it more as a goof than anything too serious. So using CAIRO v0.2 which I’ll probably post tomorrow and the depth charts from MLB Depth Charts and Rotochamp as a rough gauge of playing time, here’s how the 2014 MLB season looks as of November 20.
W: Projected final 2014 wins
L: Projected final 2014 losses
RS: Projected final 2014 runs scored
RA: Projected final 2014 runs allowed
Div: Division win percentage
WC1: Wild card win percentage
WC2: Wild card win percentage
PS: Postseason percentage (Div + WC1 + WC2)
W+/-: Projected wins within one standard deviation
Let me reiterate, these are extremely early and completely useless. There are literally hundreds of free agents still out there to be signed, and trades to be made, and players to be injured. There’s also the traditional error bars that projections have, which means you should probably look at this with a 10 game swing on either side of a team’s average projected win total, particularly right now with so much roster churn to come.
But if you are a Yankee fan, like I used to be, this is pretty disheartening. It’s not surprising, and if you put the lineup and pitching staff together based on how they project in 2014 you will see they are about as far from championship caliber as any team in the American League. Maybe moreso considering the relative strength of their division.
No, the Astros are not an AL team, even if they use a DH.
Don’t worry though, the Yankees will sign Carlos Beltran and he’ll make them a 95 win team.
Tuesday, November 19, 2013
Unlike examples like Collins, I don’t think Sabathia is a candidate to thrive with weight gain. You see, pitching is a combination of absolute and relative strength and power. From an absolute standpoint, more body weight equates to more force to push off the mound, and more momentum moving downhill; that’s why gaining weight can have such a profound impact on pitching velocity.
On the other hand, from a relative strength and power standpoint, you eventually have to “accept” all the force you create. We know that there are substantial ground reaction forces taken on by the front leg, and research has demonstrated that they are (not surprisingly) directly impacted by body weight. Additionally, according to 1998 research on professional pitchers from Werner et al., at ball release, the distraction forces on the shoulder are approximately 108% of body weight.
You could also make the argument that these forces are even higher now, as average fastball velocity has crept up significantly since 1998, and the subjects in that study averaged only 89mph. As is the case with body weight increases, as arm speed rises, so do shoulder distraction. With this research in mind, there should be no question that carrying extra body weight at this critical instant in the delivery wasn’t helping his cause:
Tnanks to j. And I agree with the idea that the Yankees should hire Cressey.
DON’T YA KNOW: Robinson Cano has not budged off his request of a 10-year, $310 million contract, a source with knowledge of the asking price told ESPN New York on Monday.
The Yankees remain very interested in keeping Cano, but not at that money or length. If the Yankees keep consistent with their current plans, Cano is going to need to drop about $100M-$120M off the sticker price. Since Cano is the best player on the market, there is expected to be a pretty good sized market. Texas has led speculation for awhile, but other clubs are sure to emerge.
Here’s the list of players I’d consider giving a 10-year, $310 million contract too.
If Cano can get something close to that, more power to him. But I’d be surprised if he got anywhere close to that.
In other “news”, As Cano stands firm, Yankees mull Ibanez reunion.
The Post has also learned the Yankees have an interest in bringing back the popular and productive Raul Ibanez to be the DH against right-handed pitching.
Some voices within the organization believe it was a mistake to let Ibanez leave following the 2012 season, when Ibanez grew impatient waiting and signed for a second stint with the Mariners.
I was thinking how much this team could really use a 42 year old platoon DH. The Shockmaster™ would be the cherry on top of their championship caliber sundae.
At least he won’t cost a draft pick…
Monday, November 18, 2013
Brendan Ryan, who will provide insurance for shortstop Derek Jeter, has a deal with the Yankees, sources say.
Ryan hit .197 for the Mariners and Yankees last year but won a place with the Yankees for his exceptional defense.
Buried in this article comes this tidbit that I found encouraging.
The Yankees, according to rival international scouts, are planning to splurge on foreign amateurs during the 2013-14 signing period. They already have surpassed their bonus pool allotment of $1,877,000, and rival clubs expect them to possibly incur the maximum penalties for exceeding the spending limit.
The Yankees’ strategy should not come as a surprise, considering the depleted state of their farm system. The Cubs and Rangers went over the limit in 2012-13, knowing the penalties would not be as severe as they will be if baseball ever adopts an international draft.
As it stands, the Yankees already have signed Dominican center fielder Leonardo Molina for $1.4 million and Dominican shortstop Yonauris Rodriguez for $550,000, according to reports. The signing period began last July 2, and will continue into next summer.
The penalties kick in once a team goes 5 percent over its limit; the Yankees’ two signings put them at 3.8 percent. A team that exceeds it by 15 percent or more pays a 100-percent tax and cannot spend more than $250,000 on a player in the next signing period.
Apparently the Yankees believe this class of international players is stronger than the next one. Or, they are simply eager to amass talent as quickly as possible.
If the Yankees like this class and are already at the penalty limit, they may as well go nuts and deal with being handcuffed next year.
Theories about C. C. Sabathia’s declining performance the last two seasons include the effect of his heavy workload — an average of 227 innings over 16 seasons — and his operation for bone chips in his pitching elbow after the 2012 season.
But then there is the theory, maybe not that far-fetched, that there is less life on Sabathia’s pitches because there is less of Sabathia these days.
A 6-foot-7 pitcher with a wide girth and a longtime fondness for Cap’n Crunch cereal, Sabathia said he lost 25 pounds after the 2011 season to help take pressure off his knees after arthroscopic surgery.
Then, Sabathia said, he lost about 20 pounds after the 2012 season.
He indeed looked thinner on the mound in 2013, down to perhaps 270 pounds after weighing more than 300 in his first seasons in New York, which included a World Series championship in 2009.
But coincidence or not, and maybe that is all it is, Sabathia’s pitches have lost velocity and crispness over the last two seasons. According to Fangraphs, the hefty version of Sabathia threw a fastball that averaged 93.9 miles per hour in 2011. Two years later, that velocity dropped to 91.2 m.p.h.
Sabathia, 33, gave up a career-high 28 home runs. He also allowed more hits (224) than innings pitched (211) for the first time.
Dr. Orr Limpisvasti, a sports medicine surgeon at the Kerlan-Jobe Orthopaedic Clinic in Los Angeles and an orthopedic consultant for the Los Angeles Angels, said that Sabathia’s weight loss should not be dismissed as a possible reason for his struggles.
I don’t buy this theory. My guess is Sabathia’s workload over his 13 year MLB career is the reason he’s lost velocity, just like just about every pitcher does as he enters his 30s. And I don’t feel comfortable that Sabathia should put weight back on at the expense of his long-term health on the off chance that it makes him a better pitcher.
Part of the reason I’m so pessimistic about the 2014 Yankees is the morphing of CC from ace to a #3 or #4 starter. CAIRO has 50 pitchers projected to throw at least 165 innings with a better RA than CC’s projected 4.33.
Now CAIRO has no idea if Sabathia is going to be able to make adjustments to his pitching style and be more effective than that. And I suppose it’s possible that including his performance prior to 2013 in his projections is overrating him and he’s even worse than a 4.33 RA. We just don’t know.
On the plus side, Sabathia’s peripherals in 2013 were better than his actual performance would indicate. His FIP of 4.10 and xFIP of 3.76 both paint a rosier picture than his 4.78 ERA. But I’m not ready to say that his BABIP against was flukishly high because of bad luck alone. There wasn’t a ton of change in opposing hitters’ batted ball profiles against him in 2013 (22.3% line drives vs. 23.1% in 2011 and 21.1% in 2012) but that doesn’t mean he wasn’t getting hit harder. His runners stranded percentage of 67.4% was a fair bit worse than his career rate of 72.7% but again we don’t know if that was just bad fortune or bad pitching.
Steamer has CC projected for 192 innings of 4.22 RA. CAIRO has him at 207 innings of 4.33. For every 0.40 points of RA at those innings total, you can add a win or so this projection. If Sabathia can replicate his RA of 3.62 from 2009-2012, then he’d be about 1.5 wins better than projected. And that goes up if he can pitch more innings as well.
I don’t think I’ve hidden the fact that I’m skeptical about the Yankees adding enough in the way of outside talent this offseason to make themselves into legitimate contenders, but if they can get better than expected performances from some of the holdovers it becomes a bit more feasible. Sabathis is one of those holdovers that I think has a legitimate chance to better his projections, if he can adjust to life at 91 mph.
Saturday, November 16, 2013
Ever since the Yankees won the 2009 World Series, they have been in a decline. In 2010, they lost in the American League Championship Series; in 2011, they lost in the American League Division Series; and in 2012, they lost in the American League Championship Series to the Detroit Tigers, who were then swept by the San Francisco Giants in the World Series. This past year, of course, they had a respectable 85-77 record—but the team allowed 21 more runs than it scored: 671-650. This was the first time since 1992 that the Yankees had a negative run differential.
Attendance at Yankee Stadium has been declining, along with the team’s record. In 2010, total attendance at Yankee Stadium was 3,765,807, an average of 46,491 per game. In 2013, attendance was just 3,279,589, a loss of almost half a million, and the average attendance was 40,489 per game.
Television ratings for Yankee games are also in decline. Just six years ago, in 2007, the television audience for the average Yankee game reached 454,000. Last year, the television audience for a Yankee game was just 244,000, a decline of more than 100,000 from the 2012 season and of more than 200,000 viewers, well over 40 percent, in only a half-dozen years. Lower ratings and lower attendance have real consequences for the team’s overall revenues.
More important, fewer fans means fewer paying customers on the Metro North trains that now take fans to Yankee Stadium from the northern suburbs. The new Metro North station at Yankee Stadium has been a striking success, well worth the public investment of $91 million; suburban fans can drink their beer without worrying about driving home after baseball games or finding their way to the parking lots surrounding the stadium or driving home tipsy after a game.
How can this be true if Hal Steinbrenner has committed to fielding a championship-caliber team?
The Yankees are going to save some money by getting under the salary cap. They’re going to lose much more money than that in revenue and in the value of the franchise when they put a 70 win team on the field to get under the salary cap. But fret not, because they have made procedural changes that will turn their fallow farm system into a player development machine that will lead them to the promised land.
Friday, November 15, 2013
“We’ve just got to start fixing the problems,” Steinbrenner said. “We’ve got to start filling the holes, one by one, and we’ll cross each bridge as they come.”
He added: “We will have a fair amount of money to spend to try to fill the holes, and that’s what we’re going to do.”
Steinbrenner admitted his dual pursuits — rebuilding an 85-win disappointment into a playoff contender while lowering the payroll beneath the $189 million luxury-tax threshold — was “difficult,” but they will press on. The organization intends to open negotiations with the representatives for second baseman Robinson Cano, their highest-priority target and the priciest player available.
In the process, Steinbrenner refused to elevate Cano’s status as higher than his other issues. The Yankees hope to bolster their starting rotation, upgrade their catching situation, fortify the left side of their infield and possibly find a high-profile right fielder like Carlos Beltran or Shin-Soo Choo.
Thursday, November 14, 2013
ORLANDO, FLA. – Major League Baseball is withdrawing its proposal for a new bidding system with Japan, making it uncertain whether prized pitcher Masahiro Tanaka will be on the market this offseason.
MLB Chief Operating Officer Rob Manfred said Japanese officials had not acted quickly enough on MLB’s proposal for a new agreement and that a new proposal will be forwarded.
From what I’ve read, the new proposal was stupid anyway. But for those of us that were hoping to see Tanaka in pinstripes, don’t count on it now.
Gammons: Yankees and Brendan Ryan Have a Deal Set Pending a Physical
We all figured that bringing Brendan Ryan back made a whole lot of sense (he is relatively cheap and it was awesome to see such an amazing defender at shortstop, making him excellent Jeter insurance at short) and Peter Gammons is now reporting that the Yankees have had a deal set in place with Ryan for a while now and it is only pending a physical for Ryan since he had minor surgery recently.
Here is Gammons’ tweet on the topic (where he somehow managed to spell both Ryan’s first and last name wrong).
ORLANDO — Baseball’s offseason tends to move at a slow, deliberate pace, but the Yankees are hoping to speed things up in a major way.
The Yankees are “moving fast” in an attempt to sign both Brian McCann and Carlos Beltran, according to a source, hoping to make a preemptive strike with a “full-court press” to get both players secured before a major market develops for the pair of free agents.
In Beltran’s case, they may already be too late.
At least six teams have already expressed serious interest in Beltran, who turns 37 in April. The Yankees, Rangers and Red Sox appear to be the frontrunners, although the Royals, Indians and Mariners are also making a push for the eight-time All-Star.
According to a Texas source, the Rangers are in the process of scheduling a trip for Beltran to visit Dallas, though two other teams are believed to be doing the same for the outfielder.
Beltran is the Yankees’ top outfield target as they look to upgrade from the Ichiro Suzuki/Vernon Wells combination that would currently play right field. A source said the Yankees have “no interest” in either Shin-Soo Choo or Jacoby Ellsbury — both Scott Boras clients — as each is seeking a deal of at least five years.
The Yankees would like to sign Beltran to a two-year deal, but they might be forced to give him a third year based on the number of interested teams.
This is shaping up to be the best offseason since the 2003-2004 version!
Wednesday, November 13, 2013
ORLANDO — Robinson Cano has shown his true stripes to Brian Cashman, and they’re not pinstripes.
As the Yankees attempt to bring back the free agent second baseman, the GM knows loyalty to the team he has played for his entire career won’t be a major factor in his decision.
“He loves the money,” Cashman said at the general managers’ meetings. “I think we’ll have a substantial offer. Somebody might come in and have a much more substantial offer. It’s just the way it works.”
Cashman expects Cano to choose the highest bidder, without giving the Yankees any home team discount. Of course, the highest bidder very well could be the Bombers.
I don’t begrudge Cano going for his payday. I hope he remains a Yankee, but not if it’s going to be an obscene overpay. If he’s able to get something better than 7 years or so from some other team, best of luck to him. I don’t think I’d go past that.
If Cano does leave, I don’t think the Yankees can realistically contend in 2014. Unfortunately, they’ll probably have signed Carlos Beltran for five years with five player options for his ages 42-46 seasons by the time Cano signs with the Dodgers…
Tuesday, November 12, 2013
ORLANDO—The Yankees breathed a collective sigh of relief when outfielder Curtis Granderson rejected their $14.1 million qualifying offer, and will now commence with their plan to sign an even bigger big-time outfielder to replace him.
Shin-Soo Choo and Carlos Beltran are the top two stars they seek, targets 1 and 1A, according to a person familiar with their thinking, with Jacoby Ellsbury a hair behind the other two stars.
Choo and Beltran appear very popular on a market with fairly limited power. The Yankees also like top power-hitting catcher Brian McCann, on whom they are bidding.
The Yankees already have moved on from Granderson, who they believe struck out too much. The crosstown Mets have said they may be interested in Granderson, who is believed to have some interest in playing in his hometown of Chicago.
I’ve been racking my brain trying to figure out what the Yankees could do this offseason to get back into the division title picture and it came to me. They should sign a 37 year old outfielder with bad knees and give up the highest draft pick they would have had since 2005 while doing it.
In an off-season filled with uncertainty, the Yankees passed the first phase with no surprises as three players turned down qualifying offers from the team. The Yankees had made the offers — set by Major League Baseball at $14.1 million — to Robinson Cano, Curtis Granderson and Hiroki Kuroda.
The 10 other Major League free agents who were given offers by their teams also declined them, and they are free to sign elsewhere.
“No surprises,” General Manager Brian Cashman said at the general managers’ meetings in Orlando, Fla. “When we made the qualifying offers, we did not expect anyone to accept.”
Any of the three could still re-sign with the Yankees, but if they sign with other teams, the Yankees would receive a draft pick as compensation. And if the Yankees sign any of the other 10 who declined offers, they must surrender a draft pick to the player’s former team.
No surprise, although I thought there was an outside chance Granderson would accept. Of the three, the only one I think is likely to be back next year is Cano. Granderson probably ends up with the White Sox, and Kuroda is probably going to want to go to either a contender (ie, not the Yankees) or back to Japan. If the latter happens, the Yankees do not get a pick for him.
Cano is probably the first order of business, but I don’t see any urgency to sign on his part. If the Yankees have given up on their self-imposed payroll limit for 2014, they could start poking around at other players to fill some of their holes, but I don’t think they have, which means their hands are going to be constrained by Cano as well as the Alex Rodriguez situation which should eventually be settled by 2015.
In other words, I’m not expecting much noise over the next few weeks. But I’m sure they’ll be leaking about how interested they are in all the good players that are out there to appease a fan base that is rapidly losing interest in the team.
Monday, November 11, 2013
TERMINAL C, Newark International Airport – The versatility of Stephen Drew makes him appealing to the Yankees. A life-long shortstop, he also possesses the ability to play third base. The Yankees desire fortification at both positions.
The fate of Alex Rodriguez will not be decided until December, if not later, and the team must develop contingency plans for his potential season-long absence. The team also seeks a more dependable backup for Derek Jeter, in addition to a long-term successor. Their attempt to fulfill these obligations for 2013 backfired when Kevin Youkilis received $12 million to play 28 games and Eduardo Nunez missed months with a lingering oblique strain.
On Monday afternoon, Drew is expected to reject the one-year, $14.1 million qualifying offer from the Red Sox. So he could, in theory, sign with the Yankees as a hybrid, both the stop-gap and the successor: Drew would spend 2014 as the team’s third baseman. If Rodriguez returns in 2015 and Jeter segues into the role of designated hitter (or retires), the team would be set with a shortstop solution.
It is an idyllic scenario. It is also far-fetched, based on conversations with people around the game. Drew does not intend to shape his free agency based on the whims of one organization, marketing himself as a Swiss Army Knife able to fill multiple roles on a roster. Instead, his agent Scott Boras will promote him as the best shortstop in a seller’s market.
I’m not crazy about the idea of signing Drew anyway, so yeah, let’s hope it’s far-fetched. Is Drew likely better than what the Yankees are going to get out of SS/3B right now? Yeah. Is he worth what he’ll likely command on the open market? Probably not.
Friday, November 8, 2013
While David Robertson is clearly the top incumbent candidate to replace the retired Mariano Rivera, Yankees GM Brian Cashman isn’t just handing him the job this winter.
“We haven’t anointed anybody the closer, so I don’t know,” Cashman said. “I know Robertson wants it. But we’ll see how the winter shakes out and how the competition in spring training takes place.
“We’re going to look at everybody and anything and see where the winter takes us. The bottom line is, we have to get a collection of talent to bring to spring training. The cream rises to the top, and we have to find as much cream as possible.”
With all of the questions the Yankees have to address Robinson Cano, the rotation, catching, to name a few closer might not be at the top of the list with a potentially effective option in Robertson already in house.
Still, the uncertainty is all part of the messy business of replacing an icon once all the emotional farewells are over. The Yanks, in fact, have already made inquiries about elite relievers.
The San Francisco Chronicle reported Wednesday that the Yankees were one of five teams to express interest in Grant Balfour, the demonstrative Oakland closer who had a 2.59 ERA last season and was 38-for-41 in save opportunities. Balfour, who will be 36 in December, averaged 10.3 strikeouts per nine innings, but also walked 3.88 per nine.
If the Yankees are going to give up on the $189M payroll, then I’d be ok with them looking at adding a closer type on a short-term contract, like Balfour, who I thought would have been a better value signing than Rafael Soriano way back when. But if they aren’t giving up on tying their own hands and costing themselves hundreds of millions of dollars to save thirty million or so, it makes zero sense.
In other words, I’d expect them to keep their goal of a $189M payroll while blowing way more money than they should on a proven closer.
It’s time for the first set of my 2014 CAIRO MLB projections.
They can be downloaded via this link.
I expect there to be some errors in here so let me know if you see anything that looks off.
Things like pitcher wins, losses and saves and hitter runs and RBI are based on a weighted average of the last four years and will change as roles and teams change so keep that in mind. At some point I’ll add projected platoon splits as well. I’ll also be adjusting playing time and rosters as the offseason unfolds so expect several updates as we move towards spring training.
Thursday, November 7, 2013
2014 CAIRO Projections for Current MLB Free Agent Position Players
I’ll probably release the 2014 CAIRO v0.1 projections tomorrow, so here’s a taste, looking at just the current free agent position players.
wOBA: Weighted on-base average.
BR: Linear weights batting runs.
oWAR: Offensive wins above replacement (adjusted for park and position).
def: Projected runs saved compared to an average defender using an average of DRS, UZR and zone rating with regression and aging factored in.
WAR: oWAR plus def divided by 10.
You may now play GM.
Wednesday, November 6, 2013
The Yankees, looking to set themselves up in case star second baseman Robinson Cano signs elsewhere, have checked in with the Reds regarding Brandon Phillips and also asked about free-agent second baseman Omar Infante.
Phillips is said to be available in the right trade, but word is, the initial price is way too steep. Of course, that’s the way the Yankees look at Cano’s $300 million asking price, as well.
Phillips batted .261 with 103 RBI for the Reds, but is on the market after a couple incidents—one where he complained in a Cincinnati magazine article about how ownership handled his negoitations and another where he went ballistic on a Cincinnati Enquirer reporter after the reporter, Trent Rosecrans, formerly of CBSSports.com, tweeted about Phillips’ low on-base percentage.
Phillips has $50 million and four years on that $72.5 million, six-year contract he signed despite what he suggested were rocky negotiations.
In my opinion, Phillips is one of the most overrated players in baseball. The fact that something like this was made public makes me think the Yankees understand that to some extent and it’s more of a negotiating ploy with Cano than actual interest.
Here is how CAIRO projects Phillips and Cano as Yankees in 2014.
I still haven’t done defensive projections for 2014 but eyeballing it I’m guessing Phillips would project as 2-4 runs better defensively.
CAIRO says the four remaining years of Phillips’s contract would have him hitting .258/.309/.390 over 2476 PA and being worth about six WAR offensively. Maybe you can give him another win for defense although given the fact that he’ll be 36 by the end of his contract we can assume decline from his current level. Is seven wins or so worth $50M? Not if you have a self-imposed budget, it’s not. And if you actually have to give up something of value on top of an already bad contract, does it really make any sense at all?
Now, would I rather have Phillips for four years and $50M than Cano for 10 years and $310M? Probably. But those aren’t the only two alternatives, so let’s hope we don’t see either one come to fruition.
Tuesday, November 5, 2013
In total, 13 Major League players were given a qualifying offer.
The World Series champion Red Sox made offers to Jacoby Ellsbury, Mike Napoli and Stephen Drew, while choosing not to make an offer to catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia.
“In a vacuum, we’d like to have all of [our free agents] back,” said Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington. “We’ll just have to see how it goes, and we’ll continue to talk to all of them and see how the market shapes out.”
The Yankees made offers to Robinson Cano, Curtis Granderson and Hiroki Kuroda.
Cano and Ellsbury are expected to shape the free-agent market this offseason, with each likely to land a lucrative long-term contract. Neither is expected to accept Monday’s qualifying offer.
Carlos Beltran, Shin-Soo Choo, Nelson Cruz, Ubaldo Jimenez, Brian McCann, Kendrys Morales and Ervin Santana were also presented with qualifying offers by their respective teams.
The Yankees have been linked to Beltran, Choo and McCann and you can certainly make a case that other players from this group would fill some of the many gaping holes on the current roster. My guess is the Yankees will end up signing someone like Beltran and losing the 18th pick in the draft. Because a 70 win team could really use a 38 year old outfielder who they should have signed nine years ago.
The only Yankee I could see accepting the qualifying offer is Granderson, and I’d be fine with that.
Monday, November 4, 2013
The Yankees made qualifying offers to Robinson Cano, Curtis Granderson, and Hiroki Kuroda, according to a team press release.
This makes so much sense, I’m convinced that someone has kidnapped the Yankee braintrust and is acting on their behalf.
Mr. Reyes, in a phone interview with The Times, said the investigators pressured him to answer their questions by telling him that others who had not been forthcoming had faced “federal cases” and by threatening to limit his future opportunities to work with M.L.B. players.
A few weeks later, M.L.B. flew Mr. Reyes, 37, to New York, where he spent about nine hours meeting with baseball officials. Mr. Reyes said he was given paperwork indicating he had witnessed Mr. Rodriguez being injected with performance-enhancing drugs.
“I told them I knew nothing about that,” Mr. Reyes said in the interview, which was arranged by his lawyer, Roberto Cuan.
Mr. Reyes said that even though he denied seeing Mr. Rodriguez being injected, he was asked to sign two documents, provided in English and Spanish. He said he signed them without fully reading them.
MLB has pretty much done the impossible and turned Rodriguez into a sympathetic figure. Some of the stuff they’ve done, if true, seems like it is highly illegal. And if it is, let’s hope they pay for it.
Sunday, November 3, 2013
Bryan Mitchell’s Season in Review
So earlier this year I wrote a little article on Bryan Mitchell, and how this was a big year for him. Fortunately for him he hugely succeeded this season. Except for the fact he completely failed. His season – like Bryan Mitchell – is a complete enigma.
So which is it, fail or succeed? In 2012 the supremely talented righty threw 120IP in Charleston, with a nice (9.1/9, 22.8%) k-rate, but an abysmal (5.4 and 13.6%) walk rates. His HR rate was fine at .53/9IP. This led to a poor 4.58 ERA, but an acceptable 3.94 FIP. How did he do in 2013? He mainly pitched in Tampa, so we’ll concentrate on those numbers but I’ll touch on his time at Trenton later.
A year later and level higher, he upped his IP to 126.2 (good). His K-rate declined to 7.4 and 18.3% (NOTE: we expect rates to get worse as you go up a level, but a quick search did not reveal what league averages are). Bad. But his walk rate improved drastically, to 3.8/9 and 9.3%. Overall that meant his K:BB rate went from 1.68:1 to 1.96:1. That’s acceptable. His HR also improved, to .36/9IP. Put another way, he let up as many HR on the season as Hughes does during each pre-game bullpen. But…his WHIP went up from 1.49 to 1.56, and his ERA went up to an awful 5.12! How could I suggest success? His FIP declined to 3.47. 3.47 isn’t quite ace level. But it’s #2 level. In fact, though his ERA’s have generally been poor, his FIP has usually been in the 3.9-4.0 range before the big improvement this season.
So, why the discrepancy? Well our usual culprits of course,
Hal Steinbrenner and Randy Levine BABIP and LOB%. In 2012 his BABIP was a bit elevated at .311, but that’s still within normal range. In 2013 it jumped up to .346. Additionally, his LOB% was already a poor 63.8% in 2012, but it got worse at 61.2% last year. Traditionalist would normally tell you that’s all on Mitchell. He has trouble pitching out of the stretch. He lets up more hard hit balls than normal. He gets rattled in tough situations. Etc. Followers of FIP (I think that would make a great band name), would tell you that’s bull. There may be issues with his ballpark that aren’t being accounted for, or he could have poor defenses behind him, or the fact that in each year his IP sample (and more importantly, BIP sample) are fairly small.
Now, us who believe in FIP also admit that there are players who do exhibit the traits traditionalists say. We just believe that the process of getting to the pros weeds these players out. But…where? Do they get weeded out in low-A? High-A? Double-A? That’s a good question, and one I’m not sure I can answer. So sure, maybe Mitchell has issues that will cause him to always underperform based on his peripherals. Me personally, I don’t believe that. And it’s possible the Yankees don’t either, as Mitchell was promoted to AA at the end of the year (though that could have just been a numbers game). And while there he did fine, albeit in a small sample. 18.2 IP, improved K and BB rates (7.7, 21.6% and 2.4, 6.8% respectively) and a great K:BB ratio (3.2:1). He didn’t allow a HR. His BABIP dropped to .269, and LOB% up to 75% (both of those probably will regress the other way). Leading to an ERA of 1.93 and a FIP of 2.45.
Now, Mitchell is a bit old. He turns 23 in April. I think this may be his last year as a starter in the minors, unless either a) the Yankees truly believe his FIP is a better indicator of future success than ERA or b) his ERA starts to match his FIP. Of course, I hope both happen. Counting the playoffs, he threw almost 160IP last year and finished strongly at AA. His peripherals are fine, very good even. And though he’s a bit old for his league, not too old. Hopefully, he can keep the good peripherals and ALSO get some BABIP/LOB luck and be in AAA at some point next year, putting himself on the Yankee radar for 2015. If not, I think he’s got plenty to be an above average, multi-inning reliever.
You’ve won this round Snuggles, but I live to fight another day!
Mike, j and I are working to put together some content for the doldrums of the winter, but we may have a few things to throw up in the next 2 months.
Friday, November 1, 2013
NEW YORK (WABC)—The New York Yankees on Friday announced they have re-signed shortstop Derek Jeter to a one-year, $12 million contract for the 2014 season.
Although this is more than the $9.5M player option Jeter had, I assume it was done because of the way it impacts the payroll as calculated for luxury tax purposes. Whether Jeter was to earn $9.5M or $12M next season, he’s not likely to be worth it anyway, but at least Hal gets to put a few more bucks in his pocket.
Update: Per Joel Sherman via Twitter, there is no savings by doing the contract this way. In fact, it costs the team more.
$12M deal actually will cost #Yankees more toward ‘14 luxury tax than if let Jeter just pick up his $9.5 million player option (cont)
Way luxury tax salaries, computed Jeter would have cost $10.75M on payroll if option picked up will cost $12.8M now #Yankees
So this Jeter deal is really an emeritus favor to him as opposed to good for #Yankees, in my view
Someone should explain to Sherman the whole point of the 140 character limit thing, no? Maybe after they explain to the Yankees that paying 40 year olds more than they are worth while striving to lower your payroll is not sound business.
After missing the playoffs for only the second time since 1993, the Yankees can only hope to match the feat of the Red Sox, who went from 69 victories to a title. The Yankees won 85 games in 2013, but they still face multiple holes in their lineup and starting rotation. Plus, they are still tasked with trying to reduce the payroll beneath the $189 million luxury-tax threshold.
Yet the team intends to be quite active this winter. In addition to talented, 25-year-old Japanese right-hander Masahiro Tanaka, the Yankees are expected to pursue high-profile additions like outfielder Carlos Beltran, catcher Brian McCann and outfielder Shin-Soo Choo. In addition, the team intends to retain second baseman Robinson Cano, who figures to cash in for a nine-figure payday as a free agent.
Resolutions on these fronts will come with time. Free agency is a gradual process, and November is only the beginning. But a few answers should come shortly, including the status of shortstop Derek Jeter. He has until Monday to decide whether he will accept his $9.5 million player option for 2014, or elect free agency. Coming off the worst season of his career, a 17-game campaign marred by leg injuries, he is expected to take the option.
Thirteen Yankees will become free agents next Tuesday. The team is expected to tender qualifying offers to Cano, starter Hiroki Kuroda and outfielder Curtis Granderson. The team must decide to deliver those offers by Monday.
The qualifying offer is a one-year, $14.1 million contract, and none of these three are expected to accept. If the player signs elsewhere, as Rafael Soriano and Nick Swisher did last winter, the Yankees receive a compensatory draft pick.
I’ll believe it when I see it.
Thursday, October 31, 2013
BOSTON—All the way to the end, this Red Sox championship continued to be a testament to perhaps the wisest free-agent shopping spree in baseball history, and thus to GM Ben Cherington and his front office.
Whether it was David Ross, Mike Napoli, Jonny Gomes or, on this night, Shane Victorino and even Stephen Drew as the Red Sox finished off the Cardinals, the same grinders who turned a 2012 team of crybabies into bulldogs this season just kept delivering when it counted most.
And so with a 6-1 victory in Game 6, the Red Sox won their third World Series in the last 10 seasons, making them clearly superior to the Yankees, who have won only once during that time.
If that’s the bad news in the Bronx, perhaps worse news is that these Red Sox appear to be better-equipped to win another one before the Yankees do.
Unlike the Yankees, they have a farm system with some highly touted, major-league ready prospects, starting with Xander Bogaerts, and they have financial flexibility as well.
They also have a pretty sharp GM and, in John Farrell, a manager who is proof that presence and persona can matter more than making every right move in the dugout.
This is easy to say right now, but we’ll see if Harper’s singing the same tune when the Yankees sign Paul Maholm.
Wednesday, October 30, 2013
Should The Yankees Make Phil Hughes a Qualifying Offer?
Tuesday, October 29, 2013
The switch-hitting Headley, 29, is eligible for free agency after next season, so the thought is that the Padres might be willing to move him for the right price. And indeed, the Post reports, San Diego will listen to offers.
But the Yankees and other suitors probably shouldn’t get their hopes up.
“San Diego believes it is more in a win-now mode and will deal him only for cost-effective players ready for the majors now or close to the majors,” the Post reports. “Padres officials feel, because of that, the Yanks are not a match. This is one of the problems of having an unproductive farm system — not only are you not feeding the big league team useful parts, but those parts do not exist for trades.”
In other words, nothing to see here.
Monday, October 28, 2013
Shut Up, McCarver
Early in last night’s World Series game (yes, folks, there’s still baseball played even though the Yankees are out of it), there was, of course, discussion of the obstruction call that ended Game 3. In discussing the rule, Tim McCarver said something that *many* other have said—that the rule should be revisited in the offseason to add an element of “intent”.
It’s understandable that many Red Sox fans were upset about the way the game ended—it’s unusual, and it’s odd to see the winning, game-ended run scoring on a play where the runner didn’t—and didn’t *have* to—touch home plate. Fandom is emotional, and the emotional reaction is that it seems somehow wrong, and that it should be fixed. However, it wasn’t just correct by the rules, the rule is *exactly* the way it should be, and modifying the rule is going to create problems and solve no problems (and, in fact, the problem is not something that exists).
Part of the misunderstanding, I feel, is that fans are making an unconscious equivalence between what happened at the end of Game 3 and penalties/fouls in football and basketball. I’ll use football as an example.
In football, if a defensive player interferes with an offensive player attempting to catch a forward pass, then the referees call “pass interference” and two things happen: first, the play continues to completion—if the receiver makes the catch anyway and scores a touchdown, the offense can decline the penalty and take the result of the play, and second, the offense is essentially given a free play. If the pass is intercepted and returned for a touchdown, or falls incomplete, it doesn’t matter, the offense gets a first down at the spot of the foul. The defense did something they’re not allowed to do, and they are penalized for it, even if the “catchable ball” would still have been tough to catch without the interference. And further, if the interference was completely unintentional, such as the defensive player’s legs getting tangled with the receiver’s legs while they both went for the ball, then there is no penalty. Even further, the *offensive* player can be guilty of pass interference, since the defensive player has rights, too. And at the end of the play, there’s a defined penalty, either way, regardless of what probably would have happened.
So seeing the play on Saturday night through that perspective, it makes sense to conclude that since Will Middlebrooks almost certainly didn’t *intend* to trip Allen Craig, that the obstruction should be “waved off” and that the “players should be allowed to play”. I’ve even seen some people argue that Craig *intentionally* tripped, that he went out of his way to trip over Middlebrooks so that obstruction would be called. Further, because of the way Middlebrooks was laid out on the field, there wasn’t anything he could have done to avoid obstruction, so it’s not fair to penalize the Red Sox for that. Again, seeing it through the eyes of football penalties, it makes sense. But there’s a problem with this viewpoint:
A call of obstruction is not a penalty on the defense.
Baseball is not football, there is no “incidental contact”. The defensive player is not allowed to touch the offensive player unless he is making a play on the offensive player or attempting to field a batted or thrown ball. At the instant the ball went past Middlebrooks’ glove, he no longer had a “right” to be anywhere on the field. He was not allowed to make any contact with the runner, period. If he did, that was obstruction.
And what does that mean? Well, it merely means that something that’s not allowed to happen has happened, and at the end of the play, the umpire must use his judgment to determine what *would* have happened had the obstruction not occurred. You will notice on the replay that Dana DeMuth signaled obstruction at third base as Craig came home, but he did not signal safe until after he was tagged out. That’s because Craig was *not* automatically safe. Had the ball gotten to Saltalamacchia while Craig was 20 feet from home plate, Craig would have been called out, regardless of the obstruction call. The decision is merely, “what would have happened if Craig had not tripped over Middlebrooks?”
It doesn’t matter if you think Craig *intentionally* tripped over Middlebrooks—he had taken the same path he did, and not tripped over Middlebrooks, he would have been safe. It doesn’t matter if you think he went out of his way to be obstructed by Middlebrooks. The direct line between where he was and home plate *did* have Middlebrooks sprawled across it, but even if Craig had gone a couple of feet out of his way in order to trip, the fact is that had he taken that out-of-the-way route and not tripped, he *still* would have been safe. The call should not be described as “Craig was safe because he obstructed by Middlebrooks” but rather “Craig was tagged out *only* because he was obstructed by Middlebrooks”. There’s nowhere Middlebrooks could have gone to avoid obstruction, because *he’s doesn’t have the “right” to be anywhere*. If he had bounced up and run three feet into foul territory, and Craig had run right at him and they both fell down in a pile, *that would have been obstruction*.
Further, discussion of “the baseline” is irrelevant, because the baseline doesn’t exist. The baseline only comes into existence when a defensive player with the ball is attempting to tag a runner. At the moment that attempt begins, the baseline is created—a line directly front the runner to the next base, no matter where that runner currently is. If a runner is rounding third, and is five feet in foul territory halfway up the line, and when the catcher gets the ball and tries to tag him, the runner runs towards the third base line and then runs directly home, the runner has left the baseline and is out. The foul line is not the baseline, and further *the baseline did not exist until Saltalamacchia got the ball*. No baseline existed when the obstruction occurred.
Really, the call on Saturday was as uncontroversial as it gets. Craig was clearly obstructed, and the play at home was so close that he *clearly* would have been safe had he not been obstructed. DeMuth immediately saw Joyce call obstruction, and immediately called Craig safe after the tag. Had DeMuth *not* noticed the call by Joyce, and made the safe call after a conference when both teams had left the field (perhaps while FOX was in commercial?) THAT would have been controversial (though still correct). Had Craig been tagged out 10 feet from home plate, it might still have been the correct call, but it certainly would have been controversial.
Really, what people who have a problem with the call are arguing is that defensive player should have the right to trip offensive players sometimes. If you change the rule to make the umpire determine “intent”, then you’re encouraging defensive players to commit obstruction, because as I said earlier—*obstruction is not a penalty on the defense*. If a player is rounding third and heading for home, the third baseman should get in his way. If the umpire decides that it was unintentional and the runner is thrown out at home, then you’ve prevented a run. If the umpire determines it was intentional, *the runner isn’t automatically safe*. The umpire, already having had to make a judgment call about intent, still has to make the same judgment call about whether the runner would be safe or out without obstruction. If you are judged to have intentionally obstructed the runner, there is no penalty. If you’re judged to have unintentionally obstructed him, then there’s a huge reward. So go ahead and tackle the guy!
Okay, but what if they also change the rule to automatically award the next base to a guy who’s obstructed with? Well, then you’re going to have runners trying to run into fielders more often, to hopefully get that intentional obstruction call and get a free base.
So the rule is perfect as it is. Something happens that’s not allowed to happen, and the result of the play is not to give anyone anything for free, but to determine what would have happened if the obstruction had not occurred. The Red Sox didn’t lose because of an obstruction call, they lost because the catcher threw the ball into left field. Had no obstruction occurred, Craig would have scored and won the game. They were not screwed because of the obstruction—the *lack* of an obstruction call would have been screwing the Cardinals over.
One last thing: I saw some Red Sox fans say that because Craig never touched the plate, the game wasn’t over, and Craig could be put out on appeal. Well, first of all, no (as Dan Szymborski pointed out, that would mean that the 1976 ALCS is still going on, and everything from 1977 onward hasn’t happened), but more importantly… how exactly would that appeal go down? Do the Red Sox tag Craig? THEY ALREADY TAGGED HIM. No, he was tagged out, and the umpire ruled that he was only tagged out because of the obstruction, and declared him safe at home. If he needed to touch home plate, the umpire wouldn’t have signaled safe. Once the safe signal was made, the game was over.
The Yankees are expected to make some changes in the upper levels of their baseball operations department this winter, but it appears that Damon Oppenheimer won’t be one of them.
According to a source, Oppenheimer will continue in his position as the team’s amateur scouting director. The 50-year-old has one year remaining on his contract.
The Yankees’ recent draft history had caused plenty of speculation that Oppenheimer could be reassigned or let go entirely, but it appears that his most recent draft may have given him a reprieve. Baseball America ranked the Yankees’ 2013 draft class as the third-best in the majors behind only the Pirates and Diamondbacks.
Sure. Because when you aren’t producing any prospects from your farm system, why would you change anything?
Honestly, I have no idea if Oppenheimer is the problem. It’s possible that his drafts are good and the problem lies more in the development of the players he’s picking. And Oppenheimer’s ability to draft is hamstrung by the Yankees’ typical draft position, be it late in the first round or even at times not having a first round pick at all. The good news for Oppenheimer is that as the Yankees descend into 70 win territory, he’ll get better picks. The bad news is that the team will foolishly still think they are a 37 year old outfielder away from contention and piss those picks away for nothing.
Friday, October 25, 2013
The New York Yankees are worth $3.3 billion, making them the sport’s most-valuable enterprise. The Los Angeles Dodgers rank second with a value of $2.1 billion.
“Major League Baseball is catching up to valuations of the National Football League,” Anthony Di Santi, the managing director of the sports finance advisory division of New York-based Citigroup Inc.’s private bank, said at the Bloomberg Sports Business Summit on Sept. 10. “It’s because they’ve been exploiting the media opportunities that are available to them on a national level.”
Don’t worry. When Hal Steinbrenner’s done with them they’ll be worth half that.
Thursday, October 24, 2013
BOSTON — With all the emphasis on Japanese pitcher Masahiro Tanaka and which team he signs with, Oh Seung-Hwan, a Korean right-hander, is also drawing attention.
The Yankees are among the MLB clubs that have scouted the 31-year-old reliever who is a seven-time All Star in the Korean Baseball Organization and has spent nine years with the Samsung Lions.
Like Tanaka, Oh has to go through the posting process which won’t begin until Nov. 1.
According to reports, Oh’s fastball is between 94 and 96 mph and he has a splitter that disappears. The 5-foot-10, 208-pound right-hander was 4-1 with a 1.74 ERA and saved 28 games.
Seems like an interesting guy to look at.
Wednesday, October 23, 2013
BOSTON - The top-to-bottom evaluation managing general partner Hal Steinbrenner promised in the wake of the Yankees missing the postseason for the second time in 19 years has claimed another victim.
Strength and conditioning coach Dana Cavalea, a Long Island native who graduated from Mount Sinai High School, was recently informed by the team he would not be brought back in 2014. Cavalea, who was in that position since 2007 and with the organization nine years overall, called the news “disappointing.”
Although he hoped to be brought back in 2014, Cavalea said he harbored no bitterness. “I know it’s a business,” Cavalea said by phone late Tuesday afternoon. “Sometimes things happen.”
Cavalea, 31, said he wasn’t given a specific reason for his contract’s non-renewal, just that he was told the team “wanted to go in a different direction.”
The Yankees were beset by injuries all season, though it would be difficult to blame Mark Teixeira’s wrist, Curtis Granderson’s forearm or Derek Jeter’s ankle and calf—to name a few of them—on Cavalea, or anyone else.
The first scapegoat has been chosen. More to come, I’m sure.
Tuesday, October 22, 2013
Yankees brass convenes this week for organizational meetings. Clouding the issue of what the Yankees can do in the free-agent market this offseason are what free agent Robinson Cano will do and how long Alex Rodriguez will be suspended.
But here are five players who emerged from recent scouting meetings as among the Yankees targets, as reported by George A. King III:
If they’re going to piss away their draft pick, I guess Choo is a decent enough player to do it for.
I’m lukewarm on McCann unless he can be signed short-term.
Whatever. CAIRO is not a fan of Maholm, projecting him to put up an RA of 5.25 and a WAR of -0.2 if he were to don a Yankee uniform. May as well just bring back Phil Hughes if that’s what they are looking for.
Drew had a strong year in 2013, but he missed essentially a full season between 2011 and 2012 while putting up an OPS+ of 87. His 111 OPS+ in 2013 was significantly higher than his career mark of 98. He hit .283/.367/.491 in Fenway compared to .222/.295/.392 on the road, so he may have taken particular advantage of playing half his games in a disgraceful bandbox. As a lefty hitter, you’d assume he could take similar advantage of DNYS, but if he’s an opposite field hitter and that’s partly to blame for his home stats, that may not necessarily be the case.
Then again, Yankee shortstops were worth something like -10 WAR this season, so Drew might be a 12 win upgrade if he’s league average.
If these are the players the Yankees are targeting (Choo, McCann and Drew are all likely to get qualifying offers) I think we can assume they don’t care about their first round pick. While I’m not crazy about that, at least they’ll all be between 30-31 in 2014 and could be useful for more than just next season when the Yankees probably aren’t going to be a contender whether they delude themselves into thinking they will be or not.
Monday, October 21, 2013
To spend or not to spend?
That will be the primary question when the Yankees’ front office convenes Monday at the Stadium for the first of three days of organizational meetings. Hal and Hank Steinbrenner will be in attendance along with team president Randy Levine, COO Lonn Trost and general manager Brian Cashman among others.
With the $189 million luxury tax threshold and the massive benefits it potentially offers hanging over their heads, the Bombers must decide between fiscal responsibility and contending next season.
Or do they?
This much we know: Cashman has a lot of work to do this winter. With holes at second base and catcher, at least two open spots in the rotation, a weak platoon in right field and uncertainty at both shortstop and third base, the Yankees are faced with a number of areas to address between now and February.
But with roughly $90 million coming off the books, Cashman and Co. will have some money to spend.
The more I think about the 2014 Yankees, the more I think that they can’t spend enough to be contenders in 2014. That doesn’t mean they shouldn’t try and add some players to their roster, but they should eschew signing people like Carlos Beltran and Brian McCann who are not likely to be part of a Yankee team that could be a contender down the road. If I were the Yankees, I’d focus on adding players who are young enough to be useful from 2015 on, and I’d probably avoid signing any players that would cost the team their first round draft pick in 2014.
I’d bring back Robinson Cano if he can be signed for six years or less, I’d extend qualifying offers to Hiroki Kuroda and Curtis Granderson and be fine if they accepted but wouldn’t go to multiple years on either one. I’d make a serious bid for Masahiro Tanaka, and I’d use 2014 to try and see what they can get out of players like Francisco Cervelli, J.R. Murphy, Austin Romine, Delin Betances, Cesar Cabral, Michael Pineda, David Phelps and Adam Warren. I’d hope that Slade Heathcott and/or Tyler Austin can finish the year in AAA with an eye towards the majors in 2015.
I’m not sure what the Yankees are going to do with David Robertson and Brett Gardner, both of whom can be free agents after 2014. I don’t anticipate Robertson having major issues as the closer should he earn the job, but I can’t see the Yankees extending him until they see what he does next year, and I’m not sure what kind of financial commitment they want to make to him going forward. Similarly, I wonder if Brett Gardner will be a Yankee after 2014 if they are concerned about his ability to stay healthy and his likelihood of maintaining his value as his speed declines.
What I don’t want to watch is another attempt to force a mid 80s win team into the postseason with a bunch of retreads and 35+ year olds. It’s boring and it’s predictable, and it’s just not entertaining. And at the end of the day, baseball is supposed to be entertaining.
The Yankees could contend even if they don’t make significant additions this offseason if they get better than expected returns from Derek Jeter, Mark Teixeira and CC Sabathia, and if Alex Rodriguez’s suspension is cut to say 50 games and he exceeds his projections, and if they get positive contributions from some of their younger players. But expecting all that to happen would be foolish.
If it happens, then maybe you explore adding some pieces during the season, but it shouldn’t be the basis of their offseason plan.
Friday, October 18, 2013
NEW YORK—While all the talk to begin the offseason is about the New York Yankees’ desire to cut the team’s yearly payroll to $189 million, the front office is devising a plan that could have them going on a $300 million shopping spree, sources have told ESPNNewYork.com.
The Yankees will begin their organization meetings Monday where they will settle on a strategy that they believe can cut payroll to $189 million while spending big on free agents.
The Yankees’ initial main targets are expected to include their own Robinson Cano, Japanese starter Masahiro Tanaka, Atlanta Braves catcher Brian McCann and St. Louis Cardinals outfielder Carlos Beltran, according to sources.
The possible outlay of $300 million or more in total salary is similar to the number commonly associated with the winter of 2008-9 when the Yankees spent $423 million on CC Sabathia, Mark Teixeira and A.J. Burnett over the life of their multi-year contracts.
This is fantastic news! This means they could win 70 games instead of 63!
Lipstick on a pig.
Thursday, October 17, 2013
Jake Cave: American Hero
As I started doing my wrap-up of the Yankees MiL season, I ran into two problems. 1) I kept drinking myself to sleep and 2) I didn’t have much to say that Mike hadn’t already covered. So instead, I’d like to move onto doing a bit of a more in depth recap of the selected players Mike and I profiled earlier this year (spoiler: I kicked Mike’s ass).
Jake Cave: A Yankee “Success“ Story
When I left you with my ebullient profile of Cave, he had played 12 games and posted a decent line of .283/.339/.377. 103 games later, Cave ended his first full professional season (at the age of 21 and at A-) with a really solid .282/.347/.401 good for a .347 wOBA and 117 wRC+. Most importantly, he improved as the season went on (mostly). It makes you wonder a bit where he would be if he hadn’t lost 2 full seasons to injury.
Cave may have started the season on fire crushing the ball to a .976 OPS for 7 games in April, but his performance tumbled in May to a disappointing .644. Fortunately, unlike most Yankees prospects this year, Cave made significant strides in is development this year. He peaked in June with a power spike driving him to a .791 OPS, and while we hasn’t able to match his June power spike, his OBP and average did improve in both July and August. From a guy who missed his first 2 potential pro seasons due to injury, his ability to perform and improve so quickly is impressive.
Overall this year, Cave tallied some solid numbers, racking up 37 doubles and 6 triples. Clearly his speed is still playing up despite his knee injuries, and he didn’t just display it while hitting, he also stole 18 bases. But, not everything was rosy, his line was buoyed by a pretty high .362 BABiP, although with his speed, it is reasonable to expect a consistently above average BABiP.
Strike outs are a bit of an issue as he posted a 21% K rate as a 21 year old in A-. Since he has limited experience, there is some hope for the future. The strike out issue plays into his other rather obvious issue, his complete lack of power. Yeah, the guy smacked 40+ non HR XBH this year, but only 2 HRs and only barely broke 400 points of slugging. That’s not good.
Cave basically performed as advertised, aside from his power, and it came a year late due to injury. Overall, you have to be pretty happy with his year. The Yankees challenged him with a full year in low A for his first minor league assignment and he made contact, got on base, played good defense and stole a bunch of bases. The nice thing about power is that it can take some time to manifest itself in-game, so there is still hope.
I want to compare Cave to Gardner, because the numbers are similar, but the comparison isn’t really apt aside from the lack of power. Gardner had a mediocre hit tool and nonexistent power, but good discipline and elite level speed. Cave displayed an average to above average hit tool, average discipline, below average power and good but not great speed. I also want to compare him to Ramon Flores, except that Cave can hit, run and field, none of which Flores can do.
I don’t think that Cave will ever really crush the ball, but I do think he can show more power than he did this year. I was happy to see him play the rest of the game well, and while I’m not banking on his discipline improving as much as his power might, I do think there is a chance that with more experience he can display improved plate control as well.
Without further ado, I’ll post my tool ratings.
|Tool||Current Grade||Future Grade|
Also, Cave has a twitter: https://twitter.com/JakeCave8
Mike’s year in review of Bryan Mitchell will be up soon. He’s putting the final touches on it.
Also, Mike may not have been told that there was a competition
So while the Yankees have many pressing needs, they are no closer to finding answers for 2014.
One of those answers could be Braves catcher Brian McCann, who is set to become a free agent. The Yankees’ lack of power was an issue throughout the season and the absence of offensive production from behind the plate was particularly damaging.
McCann, who will turn 30 in February, would help in both areas, but he might be too expensive to end up in the Bronx. He has hit at least 20 homers in each of the past six seasons and was selected to his seventh All-Star Game last year.
Let’s see how CAIRO projects McCann as a Yankee in 2014.
The Yankees got about 0.5 WAR out of catcher in 2013. So McCann plus a good backup could be a 3-4 win upgrade. McCann’s missed a fair amount of time over the last two years which is why CAIRO has him around 497 PA but if he can get to 550 or so he’d be worth about 3.6 WAR offensively.
This doesn’t include defense, but McCann’s been a hair below average over the last two seasons so it shouldn’t affect his value much.
Unfortunately, you can’t sign McCann for just 2014, so here’s how he projects over the next four seasons.
That totals up to about 13 WAR. Maybe subtract one from that assuming a slow decline in defense over four seasons. So a fair deal over four seasons is probably in the $60M-$70M range. If you get him for 3 years he’s probably worth about 10 WAR and something like $50M would be fair.
McCann doesn’t come without risk, considering he had shoulder surgery prior to the season and although he’s only 30 he’s more likely to decline than maintain at this point. But he’d be a big upgrade for the Yankees. Unfortunately, he’d be a big upgrade for roughly 25 other teams as he trails only Buster Posey, Carlos Santana, Joe Mauer and Yadier Molina in CAIRO’s projected offensive WAR (among catchers). So it may be difficult to sign him to a contract that makes sense. He’s also almost certain to cost a draft pick since I can’t see the Braves not extending him a qualifying offer.
If the Yankees do pursue McCann, it helps, but it’s not enough by itself to turn them into contenders. Especially if they sign him while still trying to get their payroll under $189M.
Incidentally, I found a pretty major issue with the Yankee CAIRO projections I posted on Tuesday. The good news is it means that all the pitcher projections were overly pessimistic. The bad news is it means the offensive projections were optimistic. It doesn’t change the big picture all that much, just the shape of it.
Wednesday, October 16, 2013
If Masahiro Tanaka translates like Yu Darvish
I haven’t run a real 2014 projection yet for Masahiro Tanaka because I generally wait until I have a more comprehensive list of players who could be moving over from Japan to MLB, but that doesn’t mean we can’t start playing around with some crude ways to estimate how his performance in Japan would translate to the majors. So for this first quick and dirty iteration, I just took a 3/2/1 weighted average of what Yu Darvish did in his last three seasons in Japan and compared it to his average over his first two MLB seasons, pro-rated to match his MLB innings.
Here are the main things to look at.
These are the ratios of his MLB stats to his Japanese stats over the same number of innings. For example, he allowed home runs at a rate four times greater than he did in Japan. What’s interesting is his strikeout rate went up pretty significantly, but as you’d expect everything else was worse.
So here are four sets of stat lines to peruse.
|Darvish (3/2/1 2011/2010/2009)||200||141||40||35||5||39||225||1.81||1.59||1.87|
|Darvish (avg MLB)||200||151||79||75||20||85||249||3.52||3.34||3.31|
|Tanaka (3/2/1 2013/2012/2011)||174||143||33||28||5||23||163||1.69||1.44||2.07|
|If Tanaka translates like Darvish||174||153||64||59||20||50||181||3.28||3.04||3.45|
As nice as Tanaka’s statistical performance appears to translate, I’d have concerns about a few things. First of all is that I don’t think there’s any question that Darvish has a better fastball than Tanaka. Tanaka supposedly sits in the low 90s and his fastball is straight. He’s been successful thanks to his secondary pitches, primarily his splitter and his slider. If he can’t use his fastball to set those pitches up, then they’re likely to be less effective against the best hitters on the planet. Second of all, most pitchers who’ve come over from Japan have not had the same level of success in making the transition that Darvish has had thus far. It’s also worth noting that Tanaka’s FIP is a bit higher than Darvish’s even though his R/ER translate better.
On the plus side, Tanaka exhibited better control than Darvish.
The last time I ran my translations for a larger population of pitchers, I found that MLB strikeout rate was 0.82 of Japan’s. If we assume that’s a more realistic scenario for Tanaka, then you’re probably looking at 148 strikeouts instead of 181 and a FIP of 3.75.
It’s probably worth noting that both pitchers pitched in Japan’s Pacific League, which does use a designated hitter. So at the very least we don’t have to worry about a hidden advantage in Tanaka’s line. I guess it’s also worth nothing that Darvish’s increase in home run rate is anomalously high relative to other pitchers who’ve crossed over.
The Yankees need to add talent to the organization, and ideally they should do it in a way that doesn’t cost them other avenues of doing so. Winning a posting for Tanaka and signing him would not cost them a draft pick and would have less impact on their payroll for luxury tax purposes. But he also carries the risk of not being worth the total cost he will command. But if he’s a bust, he just costs them money and a few wins.
I was kind of meh on the Yankees trying for Tanaka, but the more I think about the more I think it makes sense. I’ll be interested to see where other projection systems have him and if his CAIRO projection ends up differing significantly from his translated line above.
Tuesday, October 15, 2013
How Bad are the 2014 Yankees on October 15, 2013
One of the hardest things about doing my CAIRO projections is finagling the numbers to make the Yankees look better than they are. And that was hard when the Yankees were actually good. Now that they are not so good, it makes it even harder.
Anyway, I finally figured it was time to put some empirical evidence together to see what the Yankees look like right now. So I ran my first set of 2014 CAIRO projections, which I’m sure have bugs and will change as we move further into the offseason.
I’ll warn you now, it’s not pretty at all.
The assumptions here are that Alex Rodriguez remains suspended for the entire 2014 season and the Yankees don’t sign anyone or trade for anyone. Basically, this is what the Yankees have under contract right now for 2014. First up, the position players.
I haven’t done the defensive projections for 2014 yet so these are 2013 projections. Adjust them down a bit since there’s no one young enough on the Yankees to be improving defensively.
If you think that’s bad, get a load of the pitching staff.
WAR: Wins above replacement level (using RA)
FIP: Fielding-independent pitching
Now obviously the error bars around some of these projections are huge. Maybe CC Sabathia makes the adjustments to get closer to his past numbers and maybe converting Michael Pineda’s rehab numbers to an MLE and using it as part of his projections for 2014 ignores that rehab games are approached differently than competitive games and that he’ll be stronger as he moves further away from his injury. Maybe Ivan Nova scrapping his slider will let him pitch more like he did over the second half of 2013 than his projection.
That’s an awful lot of maybes.
The bottom line is this. If these projections and playing time assumptions are reasonably close, and they may not be, this is what the overall picture looks like.
The Yankees need to add 27 wins to get to 90. I can’t see them doing it without going past their self-imposed payroll limit of $189M, and I’m not sure the market is there to do it even if they decide to.
Maybe they can lobby Bud Selig to add five more wild cards. Then they can pretend they’re still contenders.
Monday, October 14, 2013
It is easy to see why there’s this “Back to 1965” doomsday scenario enveloping the Yankees right now considering their extensive offseason shopping list that includes, in no particular order, a third baseman, a shortstop, a catcher, at least two frontline starting pitchers, a couple of set-up relievers and a partridge in a pear tree. All this and Robbie (Tippi) Cano too — and, by the way, let’s not forget that $189 million luxury tax threshold they want to get under.
But in the minds of the Yankee high command, it’s not nearly so daunting, at least not when you look around at the state of the rest of the American League East. Put aside the Red Sox who, granted, had everything go right this year, but still seem well fortified with a mother lode of near-ready prospects in their player development system to play the commanding role in the division for the foreseeable future. It is the Rays, Orioles and Blue Jays with whom the Yankees are currently comparing themselves — and the grass is far from greener on the other side.
I’m sorry, but building a team with an eye on second place and a wild card berth does not really feel like fielding a contender to me.
Can someone please make Hal Steinbrenner an offer he can’t refuse and buy the team? Don Corleone? Anyone?
Friday, October 11, 2013
Mike’s MiLB recap
The minor league regular season is complete. As of this writing, Trenton is still in the playoffs and a few of the prospects below are with the New York team. However, by and large the season is done for the Yankees’s farm system. So I thought I take some time to put down some thoughts I have on several players. This isn’t meant to be comprehensive, and I’m sure Clay will have a lot of his own to say about these players and others. But I tried grouping players by the season they had. So the players are more ranked by the kind of year they had, not necessarily how good of a prospect they are. This is of course subjective, and open for lots of critique. So without further ado…
J.R. Murphy – Murphy is a 22 year old catcher who started the year in AA. In 211 PA there, he put up a wRC+ of 116, with excellent BB and K rates, and good power for a catcher (11.4%, 15.2%, and .153 isoP). That earned him a promotion to AAA, where in 257 PA he put up a virtually identical 117 wRC+, with similar rates (8.9, 16.0, .161). Essentially at age appropriate levels he hit well enough to play 1B. Of course, he’s a catcher who also threw out 37% of steal attempts (48% at AA, 30% at AAA). He could still use some work behind the plate (13PB), but he’s a catcher, and should be in New York’s plans for next year, potentially battling for the starting spot out of Spring Training.
Greg Bird – Bird is only 20, and put up a wRC+ of 170 at A-ball. He does this with a great combination of power and patience (.223 isoP, 18.7% BB). Sure he strikes out a lot, but that comes with the territory. Converting to 1B robbed him of some prospect shine, but boy that bat…Yankees probably should have promoted him to A+ at the end of July, but may have wanted to leave him where he was comfortable to work on his defense. Next year he’ll see Tampa, and hopefully can build on a solid season and get a promotion to AA before the year is out.
Eric Jagielo – wRC+ of 153 in 218 PA of A-. Showed good power and patience (.185 isoP, 11.9% BB rate), even if he K’s a bit too much. You always have to take first seasons in A- with a grain of salt (see Dante Bichette). But Jagielo did everything he had to do, to give the Yankees a reason to start him in A+ next year. Really couldn’t do much better, and one of the few bright spots on the system.
Preston Claiborne – I can certainly understand if some would want to give Claiborne an A, but I don’t think he’s done quite enough for that. Claiborne started the year pitching in AAA, but was called up in May. Since then, he’s pitched very well in almost 47 innings, holding solid K (18.7%) and BB (6.1%) rates, while keeping the ball on the ground. FIP- and ERA- agree (91 and 93 respectively) that he’s been above average. However, even with that he’s been worth 3 runs above a replacement reliever, and he’s already 25. Definitely counts as a success story, and will be a useful cog next year.
Mark Montgomery – This is partly against expectations, but the biggest knock on Montgomery this year has been staying healthy. After almost 75IP last year, injuries limited him to 43.1 this year. At the same time, his control – which had never been great – evaporated, and he walked 5.6 batters per 9IP. His ERA was still solid thanks to his high K rate, and he’s still young (22). He’ll have a chance to compete for a spot in the bullpen next year, but he was supposed to be further along.
Gary Sanchez – A lot of people would like to give Sanchez a C, or even lower. I think that’s kind of silly. Sanchez was still only 20 in A+ for most of the year, and put up a wRC+ of 108 in 399 PA. That was including a late-season slump. After being promoted to AA, he put up a 113 wRC+ in 110 PA. This included throwing out 44% of would-be base stealers on the year. He’s going to start AA at 21, and still has a chance at appearing for the Yankees at some point next year. It certainly wasn’t a great season, and we had higher hopes. But it WAS a good season.
Rob Refsnyder – Really, really tempting to give him an A. After destroying Charleston (wRC+ of 173 in 62PA), he got an early promotion to A+. He had more ups and downs there, but finished strong and put up a wRC+ of 140 in 507 PA, with more walks than strikeouts. In addition, he showed some speed on the basepaths (7/7 in A, 16/22 in A+), and he’s a second baseman. However…he was old for both leagues at 22. And his defense appears to be a work in progress, as he made 25 errors with a 3.92 RF. Would like a better metric. I think he’ll be promoted to AA next year. If he continues to hit and cleans up his defense, he’ll get a promotion to AAA at some point, and become a legit prospect. Definitely a good first full season though.
Peter O’Brien – Like Refsnyder, wanted to give him an A but couldn’t. He’s 22, and though he destroyed A ball (wRC+ of 181 in 226PA), he was only good in A+ (wRC+ of 123). What O’Brien has that Refsnyder lacks is power, and lots of it, putting up a .294 isoP in A and .221 in A+. If he looked to stay at catcher he would be an A. But an uncertain transition to 3B leaves him a B. I think he’ll probably start next year in A+ again – though a promotion is possible – to work on his defense. Still has a shot as a big-league starter in the future, but for now I see him more as a bench player, with some RH power, and the ability to play first, third, or catch in a pinch.
Jose Ramirez – Originally I thought to make Ramirez a B before looking at his numbers further. He put up a fine 2.76 ERA in 42.1 AA innings, but his FIP was 4.26 as the ERA was built on an unsustainably low BABIP of .233, and an amazing 85.6% LOB. These numbers unsurprisingly regressed in AAA, and in 31.1 IP he had a 4.88 ERA/5.05 FIP. He still misses bats (8.04 k/9), but walks a ton (6.03), though this was only a minor problem until now. He still has talent and is young (23), and he’ll start next year in AAA trying to prove he belongs in a big league rotation. Solid, but unspectacular season.
Zach Nuding, Nik Turley, Mikey O’Brien – I’ll lump all three here. All three starting pitchers logged over 100IP in Trenton, all are currently in their age 23 season, and all had FIP’s between 3.94 and 4.18. All three will be in line for promotions to AAA next year, but the numbers game may leave one or two of them in AA, or with another team next year. These guys did what they had to do to keep themselves on the team’s radar, but didn’t do anything to distinguish themselves. All will have to do more next season to be a part of the Yankees’ long term plans.
Tyler Austin, Ramon Flores, Slade Heathcott – Like the pitchers, these three seem tied together. Their wRC+ were 103, 104, and 104 (in order). Two of the three (Flores, Austin) were young for their league. Two of the three (Austin, Heathcott) missed significant time due to injury. All three have probably done enough to be promoted, but none of the three have done enough to force a promotion. Depending on what the Yankees do with the likes of Almonte and Mesa, will depend on which of these get promoted. My bet is Heathcott and Flores are promoted, Austin stays down in AA and earns a promotion early next season.
Jose Pirela – Does a lot well, nothing great. Gets on base and doesn’t strike out. Has a little bit of pop, and adds value on the bases. Can play SS, though he seems more suited to 2B. However, as well as he did last year (wRC+ of 118 w/ 18SB in 530 AA PA), Yankees barely gave him a sniff of AAA even though he was in AA for the third time. Could be Yankees royally screwing up, could be Pirela is a AAAA player. He’ll be in AAA next year, with a chance to make the Yankees as a UIF at some point.
Cito Culver – Yes, Culver had a good season. Age 20 is appropriate for A ball, though he was repeating the season. However, giving up hitting left-handed was (reportedly) a challenge for him, and yet he put up a wRC+ of 92, in 466PA. Doesn’t sound great, but he’s a SS. That earned him a promotion to A+, where he responded with a wRC+ of 153 in 66PA. He’ll start next year at A+, and we’ll find out if the first half was a result of getting used to hitting righty against RH pitchers. Big year for Culver, as if he can put up a wRC+ in the 100 range in the first half, his defense will get him promoted to Trenton. He’s got a chance to shoot up – or completely fall off – the team prospect list.
Bryan Mitchell – Mitchell doesn’t get a failing grade because his peripherals weren’t that bad. In fact, they were actually pretty good, which made it tempting to give him a C. His FIP actually improved to a career best 3.47 in 126.2 A+ IP, and then in 18.2IP in AA at the end of the year he improved that to 2.45. However at the same time, a 5.12 ERA in A+ didn’t help him, and he didn’t do anything to advance his cause. I think he’ll start the year in AA, but I think he did just enough to pass, as opposed to higher graded guys that improved their stock, if only a little.
Dante Bichette – Like Culver Bichette repeated A ball as a 20 year old after a disappointing season as a 19 year old. Unlike Culver, Bichette went backwards. He improved his HR rate from 3 to 11, but at the cost of 8 doubles. His K-rate also went from an acceptable 18.0% to 24.5%. His wRC+ degraded from 84 to 82. There is really no positive to be taken from this. He’ll likely be in A ball for the third straight season next year, as Jagielo will likely start at 3rd in A+. Best Bichette can hope for is to hit well enough to deserve a promotion after Jagielo moves up the ladder, but at this point, Bichette is a non-prospect.
Snuggles: I’d like to apologize to everyone (mostly Mike) for taking so long to get this up. My life has been in a bit of flux as I’ve moved 1/2 way across the US twice in 4 months. I am relatively settled in the Madison area of Wisconsin now. I hope to have my recap up later this weekend. Thanks for being patient.
According to industry sources, the Yankees are going to be serious players in the Masahiro Tanaka bidding battle next month, hoping to fill crater-sized holes in their rotation with a Japanese pitcher who wowed scouts this year.
A person familiar with the Yankees’ offseason strategy said Tanaka is a priority in the wake of Andy Pettitte retiring, the uncertain future of Hiroki Kuroda and the physical question marks smothering Michael Pineda and Manuel Banuelos.
Since I think Tanaka might be about 20% as valuable as Yu Darvish at about 80% of the price, I should of course expect that the Yankees are going to “bid big” for him.
Saddled with the twin burdens of bulging expectations and a newfound frugality, Hal Steinbrenner is at a crossroads. His next few moves could decide the next decade for the New York Yankees.
Steinbrenner spoke with WFAN’s Mike Francesa this week. Without parsing the particulars, he kept his typically corporate cadence, leaving those of us reared on the Bronx Zoo wondering if that rabid, conqueror’s gene skipped a generation.
A self-styled numbers geek, the younger Steinbrenner feels far more comfortable talking about contracts and other financial algorithms than the more visceral mantras about winning at all costs.
I hope Hal understands that if you cut costs up front at the expense of the product on the field, you lose revenue. We started seeing strong evidence of that this year.
The average broadcast of a Yankees game on the YES Network drew 244,000 viewers this season, down from 355,000 viewers per game a year ago.
In addition to the television ratings, attendance at Yankee Stadium fell for the third straight season. The average attendance of 40,488 is down 7.4% from 2012 and down 12.9% from 2010 when the team averaged 46,491, the best attendance mark at the current stadium. This season’s attendance was also the team’s lowest since 2000 (38,193).
The Yankees do need to get smarter about how they spend money. The channels to acquire talent have changed pretty significantly. League-wide team revenue is increasing at a higher rate than labor cost, which makes it easier for teams to keep their best players through their prime. That means unless you are developing your own players or taking risks on unproven international free agents you are left signing players whose best days are likely behind them. That doesn’t mean you can’t get good players through free agency, but it makes it that much harder to build the bulk of your team that way.
Unfortunately, I can pretty much predict exactly what’s going to happen this offseason. They’re going to talk about getting Mark Teixiera and Derek Jeter back, pretending it’s not just adding maybe four wins to a 79 win team. They’ll probably overpay to bring back Robinson Cano, which they have to do if they don’t want to be a 75 win team. Then they’ll try and patch together the rest of the roster and go for it again.
And they’ll probably fall short again.
Wednesday, October 9, 2013
Joe Girardi, who kept the New York Yankees in playoff contention well into September despite a rash of injuries and the incessant distraction of the Alex Rodriguez saga, agreed to a four-year contract with the club, the Yankees announced Wednesday.
No mention if Binder™ has also been retained.
I can’t say I care about this one way or the other. I think the list of better managers than Girardi is shorter than the list of managers he’s better than.
Girardi’s fine, but can he make chicken salad out of chicken shit? Because that’s what he’s going to have to do for the foreseeable future. Say, the next four years.
However, no current issue brings out George-channeling psychics quite like the organizational plans to drop under the $189 million luxury tax threshold in 2014. No way The Boss would do that. He would do whatever was necessary to win a title — damn financial common sense.
Hal is not quite so sure. He wonders what his father would do faced with having to pay annually $75 million-$100 million in revenue sharing, $20 million-plus in luxury tax and about $75 million in debt service on the Stadium while supporting some $230 million payrolls and having secondary ticket services cutting into the team’s bottom line. Hal never exactly answers what his father would do in such a situation.
But because he has to honor the legacy he walks the tightrope, saying the $189 million is “a goal I am taking seriously” while saying he will not honor the goal at the cost of fielding a title contender next year.
He goes as far as to state “that is correct” when asked if he would exceed the $189 million plans if Brian Cashman presents him with a 2014 strategy that Hal does not believe is championship capable. But there is no chance Cashman will present such a thing.
Even at $189 million — as long as Alex Rodriguez remains suspended next year — there will be about $80 million to spend. And they certainly believe they can squeeze into that Cano, Masahiro Tanaka (the posting fee for the Japanese ace does not count toward the tax), Brian McCann and a left side of the infield insurance policy such as Jhonny Peralta or Stephen Drew — and maybe retain Curtis Granderson or Hiroki Kuroda, too.
I honestly can’t see any way that the Yankees can field a title contender next year with a payroll under $189M. And really, if they are determined to get under the $189M limit, I’d just as soon see them punt 2014.
Tuesday, October 8, 2013
After feeling being burned by Alex Rodriguez’s current 10-year deal, New York Yankees owner Hal Steinbrenner vowed he wouldn’t give free agent Robinson Cano a contract that runs a decade.
In initial talks with the Yankees, sources said Cano asked for a 10-year deal in excess of $300 million.
“I don’t feel this organization is ready to do something like that,” Steinbrenner said Tuesday on “The Michael Kay Show” on ESPN New York 98.7 FM. “No, I do not.
“We’ll see. I know that is a number that is out there now. We’ll see if he gets it, how much he wants to be in New York. But, again, I can promise it is going to be a very, very solid offer that we do make because we are going to try. We are going to try the best we can to keep him.”
I’ve long held that 8-years/$200 million should be the top end of the Yankees’ offer to Cano (and likely too much money) and Steinbrenner certainly seems to be leaving that possibility open. I love the headline, though, “Yanks wary of 10-year deal.” Oh, really? They’re wary of giving a player 10 years? Whyever so?
Monday, October 7, 2013
CHICAGO — The Cubs haven’t won a World Series since 1908, so they’re content to wait as long as possible until Joe Girardi decides whether to accept an offer to stay with the Yankees or pursue other opportunities.
There’s plenty of guarded optimism because the Cubs have made it clear through channels that they are willing to top whatever offer the Yankees tender, according to a source familiar with the negotiations.
Girardi, who is completing a three-year contract that paid him about $3 million in 2013, could be in line for a new contract that is longer than three years and could be more than $5 million annually, the source added.
“We’re going to give him a real good reason to stay,” Yankees general manager Brian Cashman said.
I’m assuming the real good reason to stay isn’t a contending team, so it must be money.
Friday, October 4, 2013
1. Major League Baseball (“MLB”), Commissioner Allan H. “Bud” Selig (“Commissioner Selig” or “Selig”) and other officials at MLB (collectively, the “Defendants”) have - throughout at least all of 2013 - been engaged in tortious and egregious conduct with one, and only one, goal: to improperly marshal evidence that they hope to use to destroy the reputation and career of Alex Rodriguez, one of the most accomplished Major League Baseball players of all time. Commissioner Selig and MLB persistently have employed powers not available to them under the collectively-bargained agreements between MLB and its union in order to make an example of Mr. Rodriguez, so as to gloss over Commissioner Selig’s past inaction and tacit approval of the use of performance enhancing substances (“PES”) in baseball (not to mention his multiple acts of collusion), and in an attempt to secure his legacy as the “savior” of America’s pastime.
Well, this should be interesting.
ATLANTA — Magic Johnson, one of the Dodgers’ owners, thinks Robinson Cano will get mega-bucks in free agency this winter. But the former basketball great says it’s not coming from the Dodgers.
“You know that guy in New York is going to get paid,” Johnson said, referring to Cano. “Probably not by us, but he’s going to get paid. Hey, when you’re a superstar, you get paid.”
Probably not by us = not suitors? Given the Daily News’s stellar track record with the whole Alex Rodriguez thing going on this year, I would give this report a 0 on a scale of 1 to 10 in terms of credibility.
You do wonder who would be potential suitors for Cano. Here are what teams got out of 2B in 2013 sorted in descending order by runs created.
Some of the lower teams on the list probably don’t have the finances to do it, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see the Chicago teams making a play for him. They both need more than Cano to get into contention, but he’s a start. The Royals could probably use him as much as anyone. Maybe they shouldn’t have booed him at the home run derby last year. If they signed Cano and replace Ervin Santana they could be a legitimate 90 win team.
You do wonder if teams will get smarter about signing 30+ year olds to mega-contracts. They just don’t turn out well most of the time. That, more so than the specific suitors will drive Cano’s market.
I would have been ok with something like 8 years and $200M earlier this year, but honestly, I’m not so sure now. I don’t think I’d go past six years. If he gets a better offer than that, best of luck to him.
Thursday, October 3, 2013
Robinson Cano isn’t the only free-agent slugger the Yankees will try to bring back in 2014.
Curtis Granderson, coming off an injury-marred season, is set to hit the market and his agent made it clear Granderson wants to remain in The Bronx.
“That’s his first choice,” agent Matt Brown said Wednesday. “He absolutely wants to stay there.”
I’m not sure I’d sign Granderson for multiple years at this point, but I’d definitely give him a qualifying offer in the hopes that he doesn’t find a big market for his services and tries to rebuild his value for another run at free agency in 2014.
Wednesday, October 2, 2013
Alex Rodriguez’s case before his Major League Baseball arbitration grievance hearing is partly based on his claim that he thought the substances he used from the Biogenesis clinic were legal supplements, according to a New York Daily News report.
Rodriguez and his attorneys are presenting his defense to a three-person panel that will rule on the 211-game suspension given by Major League Baseball. That defense goes against testimony given on Monday and Tuesday by the clinic’s founder, Anthony Bosch.
The report says that Bosch, a MLB collaborator and main witness, has attempted to validate Biogenesis documents and his own electronic communications with Rodriguez in a dealer-source relationship that challenges his claim of innocence:
If the Biogenesis products were legitimate, MLB argues, why were they so expensive and why were the transactions so secretive?
Too many episodes of Law and Order tells me this is an “affirmative defense.” Whether it will work? WTF knows.
NEW YORK—With the assurance from Joe Girardi that he would like to return as New York Yankees manager, general manager Brian Cashman plans on offering him a raise when the time comes to negotiate with Girardi’s agent over lunch Wednesday.
. Girardi, 48, could have other opportunities in managing and broadcasting. Cashman declined to say if he would grant Girardi permission to speak to the Chicago Cubs, who fired Dale Sveum on Monday. Because Girardi is under contract until Oct. 31, a source told TGS NY that the Yankees are hesitant to give him permission to speak with the Cubs.
From the Yankees’ point of view, it would only give Girardi more leverage in negotiations. If talks were to break down, then the Yankees might let him talk to the Cubs, if Chicago has interest. On Sunday, Girardi said he would like the situation to be cleared up shortly.
When asked specifically about letting Girardi talk to the Cubs, Cashman declined to answer if he would or would not.
I don’t have a problem with bringing Girardi back.
Tuesday, October 1, 2013
1. Make a decision on Joe Girardi
2. Know what you have a third base next season
3. Think about how much Robinson Cano is worth to you
4. Adjust to life without Mo
5. Begin planning for the post-Jeter era
6. Come up with three big league ready starting pitchers
7. Upgrade behind the plate
8. Persuade Hal that a $189 million salary cap is foolish
Is that all they have to do? Seems simple.
Monday, September 30, 2013
TBR:David Price (#14, 27, LHP, 9-8, 3.39) vs. TEX:Martin Perez (#33, 22, LHP, 10-5, 3.55)
HOUSTON – Mariano Rivera and Andy Pettitte had their emotional farewells this past week. Was it Joe Girardi’s turn on Sunday?
The Yankees’ organizational meetings will likely begin later this week, but before the Yankees manager speaks to the team about a new contract, Girardi must first sit down with his wife and their three children to discuss his future.
“We’ve talked about it, but we’ll sit down and actually have a real pow-wow around the dinner table,” Girardi said before the Yankees ended the season with a 5-1 win in 14 innings over the Astros. “It comes down to family. They are first, and whatever is best for group of us – not one individual, not me or just my wife or just one of my children – whatever is best for us as a group, that’s what we’ll decide to do.”
I think Girardi did the best he could given the roster he had this season. If anything, the Yankees overachieved their underlying performance by winning 85 games despite scoring 650 runs and allowing 671, which points to a Pythagorean record of 79-83.
79 wins should be the baseline they need to improve on, not 85. They don’t need to add five wins to get to 90 wins, they need to add 11. We’ll see how they go about it.
My two favorite moments of the 2013 season were Mo-related. Mo at the All Star game was fantastic, and it was topped with his final appearance. If the Yankees made the postseason, the second one of those would not have happened. In a lot of ways, it wasn’t just Mo’s farewell, it was a real farewell to a period of excellence from 1995. We’ve been spoiled rotten by what the Yankees have done over the last 18 years, and Rivera was front and center in it all. You can replace a closer, even one as good as Mo. But the Yankees have to do a lot more than that.
Pettitte’s last game was also a treat. Sure, Houston stinks, but it was an awesome way for a very good career to end. Unlike Rivera, I don’t think Pettitte belongs in the Hall of Fame, but he could get in there and it wouldn’t be the worst outrage ever.
So now the focus turns to 2014, and how the Yankees will fill the gaping holes all over the roster. The first order of business is going to be deciding what to do with Robinson Cano. I’d like to see him back obviously, but not for the 10 years and $300 million he’s supposedly seeking. Alex Rodriguez’s appeal of his suspension should be finalized within the next month or two which will dictate how much money the Yankees may be willing to spend in the offseason. My guess is he’ll end up getting something like 100 games, but WTF knows? Odds are pretty good Derek Jeter will exercise his player option for 2014 but they still probably need a viable SS option in case he can’t take the field regularly or if his play just isn’g good enough to be out there every day.
The Yankees can conceivably sign enough free agents to make themselves legitimate contenders next year, although the free agent market isn’t great. But I don’t know if that’s the best course of action right now. If someone like Hunter Pence is getting five years and $90M before he even hits free agency, how much is someone like Brian McCann or Shin-Soo Choo going to get?
No matter what the Yankees do as far as player acquisition, their fortunes are going to be heavily tied into how some of their returning players perform. Can CC Sabathia return to being a good MLB starter? Can Mark Teixeira come back from his wrist injury and be a 3 WAR 1B? Can Michael Pineda give them a good season in the rotation? These things are impossible to project and they’re going to make projecting the 2014 Yankees damn near impossible. But you can bet I’ll be doing all I can to change the underlying assumptions to make the Yankees look better than they are.
Sunday, September 29, 2013
NYY:David Huff (#60, 28, LHP, 3-1, 6.06) vs. HOU:Erik Bedard (#45, 34, LHP, 4-12, 4.81)
It just doesn’t feel right to not be worrying about the postseason roster right now…
Saturday, September 28, 2013
The era keeps ending, this time with Andy Pettitte’s final start. If Mo is going to pitch again, tonight’s probably the game he’d do it in.
Other than that. Whatever.
Friday, September 27, 2013
There were times, not so long ago, when the Yankees played important games. Tonight is not one of those times. Tonight is not one of those games.
You didn’t have to be a fan of the Yankees to appreciate Rivera these past 19 seasons. You merely had to be a fan of greatness. Of a man who pursued perfection and nearly found it.
And of a man who didn’t simply define his position. He elevated it to a level of brilliance and dignity that we rarely witness in modern-day sporting life.
So how can we comprehend Life After Mariano? By taking the time to truly measure, and appreciate, what we’ve been watching all these years.
And on that note, while I couldn’t come up with my 42 favorite Mariano Rivera stats of all time, I got halfway there. So here they come—my 21 favorite Mariano stats ever:
I pulled three of my favorites.
21 THE LEADING MAN: Finally, for all these years, Joe Torre and Joe Girardi have pretty much run every game they’ve managed with one thought: Hand a lead to Rivera, kick back and start loving life. It’s worked out kind of well, I’d say. Over these last 19 seasons, the Yankees have handed Rivera a lead in 914 different regular-season games. Their record in those games? How about 868-46, the Elias Sports Bureau tells us. That’s a .950 winning percentage. They’ve placed 68 more leads in his hands in the postseason — and gone 64-4. That’s a .941 winning percentage. You realize, right, that pretty much nothing in life or baseball is 95 percent certain to happen? But winning a game when you hand Mariano Rivera a lead to protect?
10 IT TAKES 2.00: ERAs can be misleading when we apply them to relief pitchers—but not with this guy. He has spun a ridiculous 11 seasons off his domination assembly line with an ERA under 2.00 and at least 20 saves. No other closer in history has more than four seasons like that. Fun nugget alert: Rivera has more seasons like that than Billy Wagner, Trevor Hoffman, Lee Smith, Dan Quisenberry, K-Rod and John Smoltz combined (11-10).
16 WELL ADJUSTED: If you’re not familiar with one of best new-age pitching stats in existence—Adjusted ERA-Plus—it essentially takes a pitcher’s ERA, adjusts it for ballpark factors and the era in which he pitches, and then compares him to the “average” pitcher of his time. And the verdict is in. Rivera hasn’t been merely the greatest relief pitcher ever. If we go by Adjusted ERA, he’s been the single most dominant pitcher ever, starter or reliever. On a scale in which the average pitcher rates 100, Rivera’s Adjusted ERA, over a 19-season career, is an unreal 205. Not only is that the very best Adjusted ERA in history among pitchers with at least 1,000 career innings, but nobody else is within 50 points of him. Right, 50! Your runner-up: Pedro Martinez—at 154. Holy schmoly.
The thing that’s really amazing about Mo’s ERA+ is this. There are only two pitchers who’ve thrown 75 innings in their career with a better ERA+ than Mo’s 205. Craig Kimbrel at 279 over his first 225.1 innings and Luis Avilan with his 229 over 100 innings.
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This was really emotional.
Thursday, September 26, 2013
NEW YORK—The chants had started before the eighth inning, as Mariano Rivera removed his jacket and began to limber up beyond the center-field fence. By the time the bullpen door finally opened later in the same frame, the sound had grown to a thunderous roar.
There was no save to record, not even a lead to protect, as Rivera jogged to the mound at Yankee Stadium for the final time in a 4-0 loss to the Rays. This was still the moment they had all come to witness, Rivera’s last appearance in pinstripes.
Accepting the ball in front of a sellout crowd of 48,675, Rivera floated in on Bob Sheppard’s recorded introduction and to the strains of Metallica’s “Enter Sandman.” The Rays came out of the third-base dugout to applaud the 43-year-old’s entrance, and Rivera tipped his cap in appreciation.
Rivera retired Delmon Young on a one-pitch flyout, then got Sam Fuld to bounce a ball back to the mound. Rivera speared the ball and tossed fluidly to first base, ending the inning.
Rivera recorded the first two outs of the ninth with ease on a tapper to the mound and a popup to second base. Derek Jeter and Andy Pettitte then emerged from the dugout and Pettitte tapped his right arm, signaling to the bullpen that Rivera’s work was complete.
Rivera hugged both, buried his face in Pettitte’s shoulder and wept on the mound, then walked off alone to an incredible ovation. He hugged his teammates in the dugout, then was led back to the field for a curtain call, doffing his cap in the first-base coaches’ box.
I admit it, I teared up a bit. Although he’ll probably pitch at least one more time in Houston, this really felt like goodbye. Thanks for everything Mo.
Ben Zobrist(S), 2B: .271/.353/.396, 4.7 bWAR
Wil Myers(R), RF: .292/.352/.476, 1.7 bWAR
James Loney(L), 1B: .299/.348/.430, 2.5 bWAR
Evan Longoria(R), 3B: .266/.342/.495, 6.2 bWAR
David DeJesus(L), CF: .257/.334/.411, 1.9 bWAR
Delmon Young(R), DH: .259/.305/.394, -1.1 bWAR
Matthew Joyce(L), LF: .241/.334/.429, 1.4 bWAR
Jose Lobaton(S), C: .256/.329/.402, 1.4 bWAR
Yunel Escobar(R), SS: .258/.333/.370, 3.3 bWAR
Lineup Total: .267/.339/.424, 22 bWAR
A Championship Caliber Team
Ichiro Suzuki(L), RF: .262/.298/.344, 1.5 bWAR
Eduardo Nunez(R), 3B: .260/.310/.372, -1.7 bWAR
Robinson Cano(L), 2B: .315/.384/.519, 7.7 bWAR
Alfonso Soriano(R), DH: .255/.299/.490, 2.2 bWAR
Curtis Granderson(L), CF: .234/.321/.416, 1.2 bWAR
Lyle Overbay(L), 1B: .241/.296/.396, 0.2 bWAR
Zoilo Almonte(S), LF: .258/.302/.337, 0 bWAR
Brendan Ryan(R), SS: .201/.261/.280, 0.5 bWAR
J.R. Murphy(R), C: .154/.214/.154, -0.1 bWAR
Lineup Total: .259/.314/.414, 11.5 bWAR
Tune in to see Mo’s last game in Yankee pinstripes.
This is the end
This is the end
My only friend, the end
It hurts to set you free
But you’ll never follow me
The end of laughter and soft lies
The end of nights we tried to die
This is the end
Technically, the Yankees’ season won’t end until Sunday but for all intents and purposes it ended last night. That it came with what was likely Phil Hughes’s last start as a Yankee feels appropriate in a lot of ways.
The Yankees’ record with first round picks since drafting Derek Jeter with the sixth pick of the 1992 draft has been abysmal. But don’t take my word for it, just read through this list.
|1991||Brien Taylor||Left-handed pitcher|
|1993||Matt Drews||Right-handed pitcher|
|1994||Brian Buchanan||First baseman|
|1996||Eric Milton||Left-handed pitcher|
|1997||Ryan Bradley||Right-handed pitcher|
|1998||Mark Prior*||Right-handed pitcher|
|1999||David Walling||Right-handed pitcher|
|2001||Jon Skaggs||Right-handed pitcher|
|2003||Eric Duncan||Third baseman|
|2004||Phil Hughes||Right-handed pitcher|
|2004||Jeffrey Marquez||Right-handed pitcher|
|2006||Ian Kennedy||Right-handed pitcher|
|2006||Joba Chamberlain||Right-handed pitcher|
|2007||Andrew Brackman||Right-handed pitcher|
|2008||Gerrit Cole*||Right-handed pitcher|
|2008||Jeremy Bleich||Left-handed pitcher|
|2011||Dante Bichette, Jr.||Third Baseman|
|2012||Ty Hensley||Right-handed pitcher|
|2013||Eric Jagielo||Third Baseman|
|2013||Ian Clarkin||Left Handed pitcher|
Players with an asterisk did not sign.
Hughes was different. In 2006 he was rated the 39th best prospect in baseball by Baseball America. In 2007 he was rated the 4th best. He put up a 2.37 ERA over his first 330 minor league innings while striking out 367 and walking 80 and allowing just 10 home runs. He was in the majors at age 21 and then in the second start of his big league career he took a no-hitter into the seventh inning before severely injuring his hamstring and missing three months. He made it back that year and ended the season with 72.2 league average innings and seemed to be poised to be a solid member of the rotation in 2008.
2008 was a disaster. After a solid first start, Hughes allowed an opposing line of .417/.494/.583 over his next five starts before getting injured again and missing the bulk of the year. Back to the minors to start 2009, he was called back up when Chien-Ming Wang was unable to pitch effectively. He alternated some good starts with some terrible ones and when Wang was supposedly ready to return the rotation the Yankees had the choice of optioning him back to the minors or putting him in the bullpen. He went to the bullpen and ended up out-pitching every single reliever in the American League.
The Yankees wisely did not decide that he should stay in the bullpen and put him back in the rotation to start 2010 and he rewarded them with a strong start to the season and even made the All Star team. He appeared to be well on his way to becoming the pitcher we hoped he’d be. But he fell off in the second half of the season and over the past three seasons he’s put up a 4.85 ERA over 411.2 innings and has allowed 68 homers.
Along the way, he added pitches and subtracted pitches. He had good stretches and bad stretches. Unfortunately every time it seemed like he was going to carry his gains forward, it just didn’t happen for long.
Hughes seems like a hard worker, and he was always accountable. He was constantly trying to make adjustments and maybe that was counter-productive at times.
He’s still only going to be 28 in 2014 and you can’t help but think he’s an adjustment or two away from becoming a consistently good starting pitcher. But it’s tough to see the Yankees bringing him back to see if it will happen here.
We shouldn’t remember Hughes’s time as a Yankee as a pure disappointment, because along the way he had his moments. 2009 was amazing. The first half of 2010 was great.
I’ll wish him well wherever he goes, unless it’s the AL East. Or the Angels.
Wednesday, September 25, 2013
NEW YORK—The Yankees have officially been eliminated from postseason contention.
New York needed to win all five of its remaining games—and have Cleveland lose all five—to have a chance at earning the final American League Wild Card spot. But the Indians defeated the White Sox and the Yankees lost to the Rays, 8-3, not long after on Wednesday, ending their slim hopes of earning a playoff berth.
The inevitable has arrived. We’ve probably seen the last game Phil Hughes will pitch for the Yankees and it wasn’t pretty, just like far too many of his games this year.
I guess we just celebrate Mo for the rest of the year.
Does it really matter?
Eduardo Nunez(R), 3B: .257/.308/.357, -2 bWAR
Alex Rodriguez(R), DH: .248/.354/.431, 0.4 bWAR
Robinson Cano(L), 2B: .314/.383/.517, 7.5 bWAR
Alfonso Soriano(R), LF: .257/.301/.494, 2.3 bWAR
Vernon Wells(R), RF: .239/.286/.357, 0.4 bWAR
Mark Reynolds(R), 1B: .218/.306/.390, -0.4 bWAR
Curtis Granderson(L), CF: .233/.323/.420, 1.2 bWAR
Brendan Ryan(R), SS: .200/.261/.280, 0.5 bWAR
Chris Stewart(R), C: .210/.294/.273, 0.4 bWAR
Lineup Total: .248/.316/.408, 10.3 bWAR
There have been four Yankee pitchers who’ve made at least 20 starts in a season and won fewer than 23% of their decisions. If he gets the loss tonight, Phil Hughes can be the fifth.
It is not for the Yankees to do the math. Theirs is to hit and pitch, to do or die, at least until the moment that the post-season ship sails without them. And it’s almost ready to leave.
They really are a light brigade, virtually every marquee name having been bled from the roster through a season of injuries. They could muster no dangerous charge at the Rays Tuesday night, losing to the AL’s leading wild-card contender, 7-0.
Hiroki Kuroda, his April-through-July bite gone to rubber teeth, got a high-and-far welcome from leadoff man Matt Joyce to kindle a three-run first inning, and the Yankees never recovered.
So on a classic fall evening, the chances that Yankee Stadium will be dolled up in the familiar October bunting all but disappeared. With five games left, they are one loss, or one Indians victory, from postseason elimination.
The problem with all those scenarios about how if the Yankees just win their remaining games they need x, y and z to happen is that whole “if the Yankees win.”
Obviously Kuroda wasn’t good yesterday but it didn’t matter. Over his last eight starts Kuroda has put up an ERA of 6.45 (FIP of 4.46) and the Yankees have gone 2-6 in those games. His ERA of 2.33 over his first 24 starts was about a run better than his FIP of 3.31 so he was likely due for a correction but not one of this magnitude.
It looks like the people going to the game tomorrow will get to see Mo in CF after all.
Tuesday night’s Mariano Rivera bobblehead fiasco was perfectly symbolic of this current soon-to-be-officially-eliminated Yankees team. Something went wrong and the organization was completely unprepared for it, so they slapped together a quick fix devoid of any real planning and hoped for the best. The Yankees in a nutshell.
I spent the fourth through ninth innings in line for the bobblehead — after waiting about an hour to get in the door in the first place — so I can’t really talk about the game all that much. I did see Hiroki Kuroda get knocked around in the first inning (again), and, from what I understand, a bunch of guys hitting in the middle of New York’s lineup after being released by real contenders because they weren’t good enough made outs in big spots with men on base. The Yankees in a nutshell.
Tuesday, September 24, 2013
Matthew Joyce(L), DH: .239/.334/.422, 1.3 bWAR
Ben Zobrist(S), 2B: .271/.353/.398, 4.7 bWAR
David DeJesus(L), LF: .251/.330/.392, 1.6 bWAR
Evan Longoria(R), 3B: .262/.340/.482, 5.6 bWAR
Wil Myers(R), RF: .294/.354/.481, 1.7 bWAR
James Loney(L), 1B: .296/.344/.424, 2.2 bWAR
Jose Lobaton(S), C: .258/.331/.405, 1.5 bWAR
Sam Fuld(L), CF: .193/.265/.265, -0.6 bWAR
Yunel Escobar(R), SS: .258/.333/.371, 3.3 bWAR
Lineup Total: .263/.337/.415, 21.3 bWAR
Ichiro Suzuki(L), CF: .260/.297/.343, 1.4 bWAR
Alex Rodriguez(R), DH: .253/.353/.440, 0.4 bWAR
Robinson Cano(L), 2B: .314/.384/.517, 7.4 bWAR
Alfonso Soriano(R), LF: .256/.298/.494, 2.3 bWAR
Mark Reynolds(R), 1B: .220/.308/.393, -0.3 bWAR
Eduardo Nunez(R), 3B: .257/.309/.359, -2 bWAR
Vernon Wells(R), RF: .241/.289/.361, 0.6 bWAR
Brendan Ryan(R), SS: .202/.261/.283, 0.6 bWAR
Chris Stewart(R), C: .211/.293/.274, 0.3 bWAR
Lineup Total: .252/.313/.399, 10.7 bWAR
I can’t think of a single reason to bother watching this game.
NEW YORK—Even though the Yankees are four games out of the AL wild card with six games to play, their team president refuses to raise any white flags.
“It is going to be very hard,” Randy Levine told ESPN New York on Monday. “We are not eliminated. As Yogi says, ‘It ain’t over ‘til it’s over.’”
If the Yankees were to win all six games, our own Dan Szymborski says there is a 15 percent chance the team would make the post-season.
I hate to break it to you Randy, but yeah, it’s over.
Monday, September 23, 2013
Gifts surrounded Mariano Rivera’s locker, besieging his little alcove in the clubhouse. Framed posters and plaques, bags of T-shirts, bats, trophies, bins of mail, all of it piled like presents around a Christmas tree.
Rivera, a model of neatness and simplicity, the master of the cutter, needed help controlling the clutter.
“The boxes, too, Mariano?” a clubhouse attendant said.
Rivera nodded, and several cardboard boxes were loaded into a laundry cart and wheeled away. Rivera tried to dress quickly and quietly before his big day, Mariano Rivera Day at Yankee Stadium, but visitors kept interrupting to offer congratulations or thanks. The outpouring of affection was only beginning Sunday.
It carried on for hours, a daylong jubilee of recognition and remembrance for Rivera and Andy Pettitte, but the San Francisco Giants ultimately turned the lights out on the party with a 2-1 win. The Yankees’ already slim postseason hopes were left in deeper jeopardy. An afternoon to savor quickly turned bittersweet.
“How it finished wasn’t what I was looking for,” Rivera said.
I don’t know that yesterday’s loss was more costly than the other 10 losses the Yankees have suffered in September. Realistically, the Yankees had very little chance of qualifying for the postseason even before this game and now they pretty much have no chance. If they win their remaining six games this year they’ll end up at 88 wins. To reach 88 wins, Tampa Bay has to go 2-5, Cleveland has to go 2-4, Texas has to go 4-3, Kansas City has to go 6-1 and Baltimore has to go 7-0.
Of course if the Yankees do go 6-0, that means the best Tampa Bay can do is 4-3 which puts them at 90 wins. So they’d still need them to lose two other games just to tie. I am having a tough time seeing Cleveland go 2-4 with two home games against a White Sox team that they’ve beaten 15 times in 17 games and four road games against a Minnesota team that they’ve beaten nine times in 15 games. Meanwhile, Texas get three home games against the Astros and four home games against the Angels. It’s a little more feasible to see them going no better than 4-3 there but it’s still somewhat unlikely.
We’re probably looking at odds of around 1% at best for getting the second wild card.
I enjoyed the ceremonies for Mo for the most part but I’m having a tough time accepting the fact that we may only see him pitch another two or three times ever again. And Andy Pettitte was outstanding in his last home start and deserved better than he got, but unfortunately the Yankee offense came up small like it has for just about the entire season.
The number to watch now for the Yankees is their elimination number, which sits at 3. Depending on how tonight’s games for Cleveland and Tampa Bay go they could be eliminated by the end of the day tomorrow.
Sunday, September 22, 2013
Angel Pagan(S), CF: .279/.336/.407, 0.8 bWAR
Juan Perez(R), LF: .261/.316/.319, 0 bWAR
Brandon Belt(L), 1B: .291/.363/.479, 4.3 bWAR
Buster Posey(R), DH: .297/.370/.457, 4.9 bWAR
Hunter pence(R), RF: .288/.342/.487, 4.1 bWAR
Pablo Sandoval(S), 3B: .274/.335/.408, 2.4 bWAR
Hector Sanchez(S), C: .267/.321/.375, 0.6 bWAR
Tony Abreu(S), 2B: .236/.280/.364, -0.5 bWAR
Ehire Adrianza(S), SS: .286/.286/.429, 0.1 bWAR
Lineup Total: .283/.345/.442, 16.7 bWAR
Ichiro Suzuki(L), RF: .262/.297/.345, 1.5 bWAR
Alex Rodriguez(R), DH: .253/.355/.445, 0.4 bWAR
Robinson Cano(L), 2B: .311/.382/.514, 7.2 bWAR
Alfonso Soriano(R), LF: .257/.299/.496, 2.3 bWAR
Curtis Granderson(L), CF: .239/.327/.431, 1.2 bWAR
Eduardo Nunez(R), 3B: .254/.307/.357, -2.1 bWAR
Mark Reynolds(R), 1B: .219/.308/.387, -0.4 bWAR
Brendan Ryan(R), SS: .198/.258/.276, 0.3 bWAR
Chris Stewart(R), C: .212/.295/.276, 0.4 bWAR
Lineup Total: .252/.316/.405, 10.8 bWAR
It’s the end of an era, as Andy Pettitte makes his final start in Yankee Stadium on the day the Yankees will honor Mariano Rivera for being awesome. It stinks for both that they won’t get one last chance at the postseason, but that shouldn’t take away from what they’ve meant to this organization since 1995. Maybe their teammates will pull off a miracle and score some runs.
I’m just praying the Yankees’ Rivera ceremony isn’t cheesy and kitschy, but I have little faith that it won’t be.
Saturday, September 21, 2013
Ivan Nova tossed a six-hit shutout while Eduardo Nunez and Alfonso Soriano homered, powering the Yankees to a 6-0 victory over the Giants on Saturday at Yankee Stadium.
Nova was in complete command of San Francisco’s lineup, as he logged his first victory since Aug. 31, a span of four starts. That gave the Yankees their third win in four games, keeping alive their scant hopes of securing a postseason slot.
Their hopes are less than scant. That said, I thought it’d be nice to give a little nod to Ivan Nova and Alfonso Soriano, two of the few major bright spots in the 2013 Yankee season. 17 homers for Soriano. Damn, that’s a lot.
SFG:Ryan Vogelsong (#32, 35, RHP, 3-5, 5.73) vs.
NYY:Ivan Nova (#47, 26, RHP, 8-5, 3.36)
Alex Rodriguez rewrote the record books with his 24th career grand slam, passing Lou Gehrig with a tie-breaking blast that could not have come at a more crucial time for his team.
Rodriguez’s shot boosted CC Sabathia—who turned in his best effort in months—to a win and led the Yankees to a 5-1 victory over the Giants on Friday at Yankee Stadium.
“You just want to come up in a big spot and get a big hit,” said Rodriguez, who has hit seven homers this season to swell his career total to 654. “Hopefully, that hit gets your offense going.”
Rodriguez’s shot came off right-handed reliever George Kontos, a former Yankee, though three of the four runs were charged to Giants starter Tim Lincecum after the former National League Cy Young Award winner loaded the bases.
The victory kept playoff hopes alive for another day, as the Yankees believe they have entered “must win” territory for all of the remaining games. They have won just two of their last seven contests.
The Yankees are not actually “in the chase,” so the headline is misleading, but at the same time, I figured it was only fair to pay a bit of attention to A-Rod for setting a very cool record. The most grand slams ever. Very cool. I would imagine that that is going to be a hard record to break.
The win also means that the Yankees have officially avoided having a losing season this year. They have been .500 or better every season since 1992. Pretty impressive.