Monday, January 16, 2012
How Should The Yankees Replace Jesus Montero at DH?
Upgrading the rotation came at the cost of losing the Yankees’ starting DH and top hitting prospect. As a fan, I’m bummed about losing Montero because of the emotional tie I’ve built up as he’s progressed through the Yankee system. I think the trade was fair and I understand why it was made, but it’s still a disappointment. But press on, we must.
We really don’t know how good Montero is right now and how good he’ll be in the future. Here were the ranges of his CAIRO projections as a Yankee DH heading into 2012.
It wouldn’t have surprised me to see Montero up near that 80% forecast, but for now he doesn’t project that way in his baseline projection.
Here’s how the range of projected wOBA’s would have looked broken down into platoon splits.
|%||wOBA vs L||wOBA vs R|
The in-house solution for DH is probably Andruw Jones. Here’s how he projects over the same number of PA.
And here are his projected wOBA platoon splits.
|%||wOBA vs L||wOBA vs R|
The Yankees would lose about six runs over a full season if Jones replaced Montero at DH. That’s sub-optimal, but it puts them ahead of where they were before making the trade for Michael Pineda and signing Hiroki Kuroda. Maybe two or three wins ahead depending on how the innings for the rotation get allocated. They’d probably project in the 95-96 win range if they do nothing else before spring training.
The Yankees do have options to upgrade DH. Last year, the Yankees faced LHP in 29% of their plate appearances and the DH got 646 PA in total. A similar split would mean 187 PA for DH vs. LHP. The difference between Montero’s and Jones’s baseline wOBA projection vs. LHP would be worth a loss of about two runs over that number of PA.
That’s small enough that I think between Jones, Alex Rodriguez and Derek Jeter (I know, but he’s better against LHP) they have enough for the right-handed portion of a platoon DH.
So what about the other, more important side? Here are the options still in free agency.
|Player||Bats||Projected wOBA||Vs L||Vs R||RAJ|
RAJ: Runs above Andruw Jones (vs RHP over 459 PA)
Assuming the left-handed half of the DH platoon would see 459 PA here are how some of the various options project as Yankees. If you want to replace Montero’s baseline projection, you need eight RAJ, since you’ve lost two runs from the vs LHP part of DH. Then you’re effectively where you were before trading Montero.
Carlos Pena is head and shoulders above the field, and if this number is accurate he’s probably worth something like $8-10M. I don’t know if the Yankees are willing to spend that much, which means someone from the Branyan/Betemit/Ibanez/Drew group would be the next best option. I’d assume Branyan would be the cheapest of the group, but if they want to spend more they should probably go after Betemit since he can play 3B (not well) in the likely scenario that Alex Rodriguez misses some time. The nostalgia of bringing back Damon or Matsui would be kind of cool, but not the optimal way to proceed IMO.
I think they should make a play for Pena first and foremost. If not Betemit is my second choice. Then I don’t really have a preference.
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