Wednesday, December 17, 2014
After signing free agent third baseman Chase Headley to a four-year deal, Yankees GM Brian Cashman suggested that returning slugger Alex Rodriguez will become a full-time designated hitter for the rest of his tenure in pinstripes.
“I can’t expect Alex to be anything,” Cashman told the Associated Press. “Even before the suspension, he wasn’t the same player at third base on the defensive or offensive side.
“We look forward to him hopefully solidifying himself as a tremendous DH for us.”
I’m not all that optimistic that Rodriguez is going to hit enough to be a tremendous DH, but Yankee DHs hit .230/.290/.372 last season. Their only positions that had a lower OPS than that were right field (only two more years!) and shortstop.
Because of that, Rodriguez doesn’t necessarily have to be a tremendous DH to be an upgrade on last season. CAIRO projects him at around .252/.333/.399, which is barely above replacement level at DH. But over 500 PA, the difference between Rodriguez’s projection and the Yankee D"H"s last season would be about 14 runs. That’s like a month’s worth of runs for the Yankees these days.
Anyway, I am not expecting a damn thing from Rodriguez this year, but I would absolutely love it if he has a decent season. Not just because it would help the Yankees, who need a lot of help, but because it would annoy a lot of people. And what’s better than annoying people, really?
Tuesday, December 16, 2014
Jack Curry is reporting that the Yankees have re-signed Chris Capuano for 1 year/$5 million.
I like Capuano as a back of the rotation arm, but the Yankees still need at least one more starter for me to be sanguine about their rotation next year. Hiroki Kuroda would do it, honestly. But Scherzer (at a more reasonable, sub $200 million, contract) would be better.
Perhaps no transaction better illustrates where the Yankees are right now than signing Chase Headley to a four-year, $52 million contract.
The business model that has mainly enriched the Yankees for nearly four decades — see problem, throw wallet at problem — has ebbed toward being obsolete to them.
The number of elite position players in the game is at an historic low. The subset of those that ever become available to the Yankees is minuscule. The number of teams that could battle the Yankees for that minuscule group is larger than ever, both in free agency and trade.
I agree with Joel Sherman’s point here. It’s a lot harder to bring elite players to your team from elsewhere now. This is why the Yankees will be mediocre until they start producing their own talent again.
Monday, December 15, 2014
Per Jon Heyman’s Twitter:
headley signing with yanks. 4 yrs, a little north of $50M
A year longer than I’d have preferred, but the terms seem fair overall.
Yankee fans hoping to see Max Scherzer in pinstripes probably won’t like what GM Brian Cashman said in a television appearance late Sunday night.
Asked by NBC’s Bruce Beck about Scherzer, the best free agent starter available this winter, Cashman said, “I think that’s a lot higher level than we’re willing to play in right now.
“I don’t think Yankee fans will be looking at Max Scherzer.”
Of course, Cashman could be posturing and the Yankees’ wants and needs could evolve over the off-season. But the club has been saying that it is unlikely to pursue a long-term contract for a pitcher that probably soars toward $200 million.
Friday, December 12, 2014
Projecting the 2015 Yankees on December 12, 2014
In yesterday’s thread, there was some discussion about FanGraphs’ depth charts pegging the Yankees at around 82 wins. Quickly eyeballing their depth charts told me that their playing time estimates are way off. So I figured I’d take a shot at my own version of this and see how good the 2015 Yankees appear to be as of today, using the latest version of CAIRO which I just uploaded.
Fair warning before I start, it’s not pretty.
Let’s start with the position players.
|John Ryan Murphy||C||250||.224/.277/.356||.269||187||22||5||0||0.5|
BR: Linear weights batting runs
BRAR: BR above replacement level, adjusted for position
wOBA: Weighted on-base average
Outs: Estimated outs made at bat (including DPs)
Def: Estimated runs saved compared to average at position, pro-rated for playing time
WAR: BRAR + Def divided by 9.5
Although I have WAR listed for comparative purposes, we only really care about runs. With this depth chart and these projections and based on the league average of about 4100 outs made at the plate in a typical season, the Yankees do figure to have a slightly better offense than last year according to linear weights, although they only pick up about 16 runs over last year’s meager 633. Obviously, there are some assumptions here that may have a big impact on what they actually end up doing. Robert Refsnyder may not make the team at all if they end up signing Chase Headley. Or he could hit so well in spring training that he breaks camp as the starter and gets 600 or more PA and exceeds his projection while doing it. But based on injury history and ages, I think these depth charts are realistic as of right now, although I am always open to suggestions. We could even do a community playing time forecast if people are so inclined.
So that’s half of the team. What about the other half?
|SP9||Jose De Paula||40||47||29||5||15||26||6.04||5.00||4.51||-0.2|
FIP: Fielding-independent pitching
RAR: Runs saved above replacement level using RA
WAR: Wins above replacement level (RAR divided by 9.5)
Again, even though WAR is listed here, we only care about runs. In an ideal world, the Yankees get 200 innings out of Tanaka and Pineda and Sabathia can stay healthy and pitch to that projection and give them another 180-200 innings. In the world I live in, it’s not a question of if Tanaka’s elbow will go, it’s a question of when. I’m also not sanguine on a full and healthy season out of Pineda. I can’t imagine Sabathia’s knee will ever allow him to make 30 starts again in a season, and I’m also not sure that projection is not a pipe dream and his days of being a better than replacement level pitcher are gone. Phelps should be a fairly reliable back of the rotation guy. You can flip Warren and Mitchell if you like, but Warren doesn’t project much better as a starter. And Nova may not be able to pitch at all, or may not be any good if he does.
CAIRO LOVES Luis Severino and Jaron Long, but that’s just minor league translations and I’m not sure either is a good bet to reach their projections. It doesn’t particularly like anyone of the other potential starters. It has never like Manny Banuelos and I’m not sure why.
The bullpen looks a little better, particularly if you think Betances is better than his projection. I think most of the lower depth relievers can exceed their projections if used appropriately by Joe Girardi, but adding another strong reliever would be a big help.
But the most glaring weakness on this team right now looks like the rotation. And as much as I didn’t want the Yankees to get involved in the Max Scherzer sweepstakes, I can’t see how they can go into the season even pretending to be “A Championship Caliber Team™” without him.
If the Yankees don’t make any other moves, here’s the net.
I figure out estimated winning percentage using PythagenPat, and remove the estimated defensive runs saved from the projected pitcher runs allowed. Even with all that, the Yankees look like a 75 win team. Maybe you can pretend they will exceed their run differential again like they have the last two seasons and get to 77 or 78 wins.
Adding Scherzer and Headly might give them 6-7 more wins. That might make them a fringy contender. And if I’m pessimistic on the health of Tanaka/Pineda, they can obviously be better than that. But a middle of the road guess without lots of hopeful assumptions pegs them as a bad team right now.
Imagine what they would look like if CAIRO wasn’t designed to make the Yankees look super-awesome!
Thursday, December 11, 2014
Ken Rosenthal reports that the Dodgers signed Brandon McCarthy for 4 years/$48 million. That’s a lot, but not unreasonable.
It’s getting late early this offseason. They could really use Headley a lot, but they really need two starting pitchers. I like Brandon McCarthy for 4 years/$48 million a heck of a lot better than Max Scherzer for whatever it is he is asking for (I think 50% of the moon) or Edinson Volquez for any sort of deal. Hiroki Kuroda, please don’t retire!
If the Yankees have budgetary problems, why in the world did they give Andrew Miller 4 years/$36 million?
The Yankees seem to excel the last few years at having confusing offseasons.
Wednesday, December 10, 2014
SAN DIEGO — While the likelihood of the Yankees seducing Max Scherzer or James Shields remains small, general maanger Brian Cashman failed to shut the door on the possibility the club will sign one of the free-agent starters.
“It’s not in my best interest to say,’’ Cashman said when asked if the Yankees were going to get in on the high-end starters after not spending money to retain closer David Robertson, to whom they didn’t make an offer.
So one day after watching Robertson sign a four-year deal for $46 million with the White Sox and leave the Yankees’ closer job vacant, the Bombers continue their search for a third baseman, a starter and bullpen help.
The hardest part of projecting what the Yankees could do this year is figuring out their mess of a rotation. While a front three of Masahiro Tanaka, Michael Pineda and CC Sabathia could be very good, they could also be hurt and/or ineffective. And who the hell is the fifth starter now after David Phelps, Adam Warren? Waiting for Ivan Nova to come back from ligament replacement surgery is probably not going to be a panacea as it takes time to get back to full strength, and we don’t necessarily even know exactly what a full-strength Ivan Nova actually is.
The Yankees probably need at least two starting pitchers, because their organization depth in the rotation is pretty crappy. Where will they find them? Who knows…
Tuesday, December 9, 2014
The White Sox have agreed to sign David Robertson to a four-year deal worth more than $40MM, according to Bob Nightengale of USA Today (via Twitter). Robertson has been zeroed in on landing a four-year deal this winter and he found a team happy to give him one with a solid average annual value.
I guess the Yankees’ leverage wasn’t as good as they thought (by the way, when they say “in excess of $40 million,” they better mean close to $50, but I think it might very well be that the Yankees felt that Miller and Robertson were interchangeable and Miller didn’t cost a draft pick).
I get the logic behind this move, I really do, but man, it still is not a fun feeling.
It also sort of kills me that the White Sox are going for it so big right now (this signing, trading for Shark, signing LaRoche) in large part due to the fact that they have three star players signed to super affordable contracts, allowing them a lot of room to expand payroll - Chris Sale is one.
The other two, though, are 1. Jose Abreu, who the Yankees didn’t go after because, what? They wanted to keep DH open to rest guys? I seriously don’t know their motivation in not at least giving Abreu a look to drive his price up at the very least. The dude ended up signing for less than $12 million a year and the Yankees paid Carlos Beltran $45 million over 3 years at the same time and
2. Jose Quintana, who the Yankees cut (to be fair, unlike Abreu, no one here was saying, “No, not Jose Quintana!” And we complain about, like, David Adams being DFAed, so I’m not really saying that the Yankees screwed up so much as it was just an annoyingly bad break). .
Robertson always had trouble for some reason with the White Sox, so it is kind of funny to see him go pitch for them.
The Yankees are now down to just four players still on the team from the 2009 World Series Champions.
Thanks for a good Yankee career, David! I wish they had extended you before it got to this!