Monday, January 10, 2011
Having struck out everywhere in his quest to land a frontline starter, Cashman has since sought to strengthen the staff from the back end, only to run into another stonewall with Kansas City Royals GM Dayton Moore’s refusal to consider offers for his closer Joakim Soria. Moore’s “no way” stance on Soria - who recently said he would waive his no-trade clause and approve a deal to the Yankees - is puzzling.
If the Yankees do want to shore up the bullpen, signing Rafael Soriano and/or trading for Joakim Soria would inarguably help. However, in order to determine how much of an upgrade they’d be, it would probably help to do a comparison of the Yankee bullpen without either of them first.
Assume the following five pitchers are locks for the bullpen
Joba Chamberlain (yeah, I know)
Here are the pitchers on the 40 man roster who may be candidates for the bullpen.
For now, let’s assume Marte’s going to spend the season throwing from flat ground with the occasional setback. Let’s also assume that the Yankees aren’t going to add a starter for now and that Ivan Nova and Sergio Mitre are penciled in for the fourth and fifth spots in the rotation. I’m also going to assume that for now none of Betances, Brackman or Noesi would start the year in the bullpen, since they’d probably be better served getting regular work in the minors.
Last year’s bullpen pitched 469.1 innings, but let’s figure that this year’s rotation is weaker and so they’ll be needed to pitch more than that. The 2008 Yankees got a little less than 900 innings from their starters, and had Darrell Rasner and Sidney Ponson in the rotation as the third and fifth-most used starters, neither of whom was any better than how Nova and Mitre project, so that seems like a reasonable number of innings to allocate to the rotation in 2011. So that leaves around 550 innings for the bullpen.
Let’s assume the following allocation of innings for the starting rotation and the five locks in the bullpen.
IP: Projected innings pitched
R: Total runs allowed
RA/9: Projected runs allowed per nine innings
RSAR: Runs saved above replacement level
As should be abundantly clear at this point, I’m being deliberately pessimistic in order to amplify the possible gain from adding Soriano or Soria. Also, Kei Igawa is not necessarily the actual Kei Igawa, but a proxy for some replacement level pitcher who ends up pitching some innings.
This means we need to add about 255 innings from the rest of the bullpen to get to the normal 1440 innings in a season. Let’s assume the Yankees fill those 255 innings with Turpen, Garrison, Fish and Schlitter. Here’s what that looks like.
If CAIRO’s projected 835 runs scored for the 2011 Yankees is accurate right now, that’s about an 87 win team.
Here are how Soria and Soriano would projected as Yankees in 2011.
Soriano’s projection looks a bit high to me, but it shouldn’t matter that much. We can even just assume he’ll be as good as Soria would be to simplify things.
So the obvious upgrade here is that you remove something like 65 of the worst projected innings here with Soria/Soriano. So replacing Schlitter and five innings of Fish with Soria looks like this.
It’s about a 19 run upgrade on a spreadsheet. If you want to include leverage for that, assuming Soria pitches in the same spots that Robertson, Chamberlain and Kerry Wood pitched in last year, you can multiply that by about 1.27 (their weighted average leverage index in 2010). That makes it about a 24 run upgrade.
So that’s probably about the theoretical ceiling of how much Soria or Soriano would be worth, and it’s based on what I think are some pessimistic assumptions. In reality I’d expect an upgrade of slightly less than two wins.
If Soriano didn’t cost you a draft pick and was about as good as Soria projects to be, he’d probably be worth a 1 year/$10M or 2 year/$20M deal for the Yankees. I don’t think I’d want to commit to him for a third year, especially if the market for him isn’t particularly strong.
If the alternative is trading for Soria, then it’d have to be a trade that cost the Yankees less than however much they think their first round pick in 2011 is worth. Otherwise you’re overpaying for what might be a three run difference. So in absolutely no way should they consider trading Jesus Montero or the three B’s. At least that’s what I think.
Unfortunately, I doubt the Royals would accept anything less than at least one of those players.
So if I had to choose one, give me Soriano and the lost draft pick over Soria and the lost top five prospect(s).
But I just don’t see a two win upgrade being worth either one. It still doesn’t make the Yankees better than Boston on a spreadsheet.
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