Career Value v. Peak Value for Hall of Fame: The Mike Mussina Case

mussina

Mike Mussina’s main Hall of Fame argument is his career value: he’s one of the top 20-30 starters of all time, whether by old-school numbers like wins (his 270 is 33rd, but 25th if you exclude folks from the 1800s), or newer stats like WAR (83.0, 23rd among SP). The argument against Mussina is his weaker peak value. He had two excellent, Cy-caliber seasons, 1992 (18-5, 2.54, 8.2 WAR) and 2001 (17-11, 3.15, 7.1 WAR). But those were far apart, and he never had a several-year span of dominance. He amassed career value mainly with (a) ten very-good-not-stellar seasons (4.4-6.6 WAR) plus (b) several average-to-pretty-good seasons (2-3ish WAR) that made him about what we remember: a #1-2 starter at his best; a #2-3 starter many years; almost never one of the league’s top few; and never a guy capable of 9-10 WAR seasons-for-the-ages like his contemporaries Pedro, Roger, Randy, and arguably Curt, who was similar but with a higher peak.

I respect peak value over career value because I don’t see compilers as all-time greats.…

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Yankees Complete Lineup With Headley

After signing Chase Headley to a four-year, $52 million contract, the Yankees have all of their position players set for the 2015 season. Brian Cashman announced that Alex Rodriguez will be the full-time designated hitter. Martin Prado will be able to give new shortstop Didi Gregorius an experienced double play partner to play next to. Jose Pirela should be able to fill the utility role and Rob Refsynder should be able to go back to Triple-A for more seasoning.

The best thing about this Yankees lineup is its depth. You could argue that their is no throw away spot in the order unless Gregorius or Brendan Ryan is in against a lefty. That certainly has not been the case in recent seasons with guys like Brian Roberts, Kelly Johnson, Jayson Nix, Chris Stewart and Vernon Wells in the lineup on a pretty consistent basis. Unfortunately, I could go on and on with that list.

What the Yankees really lack is a true middle of the order hitter, a real power threat who is one of the best hitters in MLB.…

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Considering A-Rod As The Regular DH

A-Rod-HR-Celebration-vs-BOS

Still the best home run celebration ever.

Yesterday was proof that Alex Rodriguez still matters in MLB, even if he is a broken down, disgraced former great who might not even be physically capable of playing anymore.  I actually found it humorous that Cash’s comments about A-Rod’s role next year were such a big deal.  I mean, in Yankee media circles it makes sense.  He still plays for the Yankees.  But to see it mentioned on the ESPN scroll like it was actual news was ridiculous.  Like anybody else was holding out hope that he would be the starter at third even after they signed Chase Headley.

So love him or hate him, people still want to know what’s up with A-Rod and now we know how the Yankees are planning to utilize him next season.  With all the mileage on his body and multiple years remaining on his contract, the best way to get max on-field value out of him is from his bat.  …

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Quick hit: Cashman on A-Rod

Yankees GM Brian Cashman conducted a telephone interview with the Associated Press earlier today and of course, the subject of Alex Rodriguez came up.

Cashman told the AP that he believes Rodriguez’s days as a third baseman are over and he is banking on A-Rod the DH saying, “We look forward to him hopefully solidifying himself as a tremendous DH for us.” Well, yes, we all know that 39 year-old Rodriguez won’t be needed in the field as much, unless new third baseman Chase Headley hurts himself, but the idea that Rodriguez will be the full-time DH with all of the other “old” guys on the roster who will probably need half days from time to time is slightly amusing to me. Does Cashman really believe that Mark Teixeira and Carlos Beltran won’t need a breather? Or even Headley?

Cashman also said, “I can’t expect Alex to be anything.” and added, “Even before the suspension, he wasn’t the same player at third base on the defensive or offensive side.”

Rodriguez, who served a year-long suspension, is hoping to make a comeback.…

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Yankees Re-Sign Chris Capuano To A 1-Year Deal

You wanted some veteran rotation insurance, you got some veteran rotation insurance.  As first reported by Jack Curry, the Yankees have re-signed left-hander Chris Capuano to a 1-year/$5 million deal.

Acquired for cash in late July of this year, Capuano made 12 starts for the Yanks down the stretch and pitched to a more-than-solid 4.25/3.85/3.78 slash line in 65.2 IP.  Last I heard, he was contemplating going over to Japan to pitch next season.  I have to think coming back to New York is a much better option.

Capuano gets penciled in as the #5 starter right now behind Tanaka, Pineda, Sabathia, Phelps.  I’m sure the Yankees would like to have him as their #6 starter/swingman out of the ‘pen, but they’ve been slow to act on any other remaining free agent targets.  Between injuries, current lack of depth, and the eventual return of Ivan Nova, I think the #5 rotation spot is going to be a revolving door next season.  …

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MiL Notes: Campos Re-Signed And Another Util Infield Option

Under the wave of coverage of the Chase Headley re-signing yesterday, the Yankees made a couple more small MiL moves.  Here they are, courtesy of Matt Eddy:

Jose Campos, non-tendered off the 40-man roster 2 weeks ago, was re-signed to a new MiL deal.  He missed all of the 2014 season following TJS and has pitched 111.2 total innings in 3 years since being acquired, but he may have a small sliver of prospect hope left at age 22.

– The catching depth has been thinned out a bit this offseason.  The Yanks have addressed that by signing 25-year-old catcher Juan Graterol.  He’s spent his entire career up to this point in the KC organization and is a .270/.322/.335 hitter in 9 MiL seasons.  Expect him to slot in somewhere at the top of the organization to provide backup insurance.

– Another infielder was signed to boost Triple-A depth as well, this time in the form of 27-year-old Cole Figueroa.  …

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Quick Hit: Cash On Sabathia’s Health And Rotation Status

Sorry to keep going back to Cash’s comments from the other night, but there was another thing he said that I thought was worthwhile and it’s the quote above regarding CC Sabathia.  Cash touches on every key buzzword that relates to the big guy these days: hope, question mark, rehab, velocity, innings.  The last one is the one that stood out to me, particularly this part:

“… I do think that you’re going to see a guy that can pitch in the middle of our rotation… “

Middle of the rotation, eh?  That’d be a new role for Sabathia.  Not in terms of performance or expectations, as everybody knows or should know by now that CC isn’t the pitcher he was from 2009-2011 and never will be again.  But in terms of public statements by the team, this is the first time Sabathia is being talked about as a mid-rotation guy and not the #1 starter on the pitching staff.…

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Yankees Re-Sign Chase Headley To 4-Year Deal (UPDATED)

As first reported by Jon Heyman, the Yankees and Chase Headley have agreed to a 4-year contract.  The deal is worth $52 million with reports of bonus escalators also included.

There was reason to expect this signing would come quickly on the heels of Cash’s very upfront comments last night.  Headley represented the best remaining positional FA and very much fills a position of need.  With him coming back to play third, Martin Prado will presumably move over to second base and A-Rod will be mostly a DH.

More on this story as it develops…

** UPDATE 10:32 AM- Joel Sherman had the confirmation of the $52 million contract value and performance bonuses.  As always, this deal is pending a physical. **

** UPDATE 1:06 PM- The team has made the signing official, so it’s safe to assume there was nothing crazy that came up in the physical.  The 2015 starting infield is set. **

** UPDATE- Tuesday 6:52 AM- Via Sherman, Headley’s new deal does not include a no-trade clause, but does include a $1 million bonus to be paid if he is traded to any other team in MLB.

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Monday Morning Food For Thought: Didi Gregorius Vs. Left-Handed Pitching

Gregorius Spray Chart vs LHP Career

Courtesy of Texas Leaguers

That, ladies and gentlemen, is Didi Gregorius‘ spray chart against left-handed pitching for his MLB career to date.  You’ll recall that Gregorius, a lefty hitter, has been mostly underwhelming with the bat in his 724 career plate appearances.  A big reason for that has been his performance against lefties, which has been very, very bad (.184/.257/.233, 0 HR, 25.0% K rate in 180 PA).

That spray chart shows all the balls he put in play in those 180 PA, and to be honest, it’s not as bad looking as I thought it would be.  There’s not an overwhelming over-distribution of grounders to one side of the infield, there’s balls being hit to all parts of the outfield at a relatively even rate, and there’s balls being hit for hits to all parts of the outfield.  The BIP distribution is very indicative of the type of hitter Gregorius has been in his short MLB career: high contact, not much power, can hit to all fields.  …

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