What to expect from A-Rod?

The focus in Yankee-land is going to be on left field until the team addresses the last opening on its roster or the season begins. Yankeeist has been as involved as any other site in the left field speculation, but at this point only Brian Cashman and a handful of agents know the direction the Bombers are headed. The rest of us can just wait.

When not discussing the Giants and the Yankees’ completed off season moves with my sports-minded family this holiday a surprising topic came up: Alex Rodriguez. From my mother to many of my friends, everyone wanted to know what was up with him and Kate Hudson, and what I thought he would produce in 2010 (sadly, in that order).

My father and I went so far as to debate whether or not A-Rod would be able to break the all-time home run record. I argued yes, that he doesn’t even need to average his current annual home run pace of about 40 and he’ll do it with time to spare.
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Who’s Our #5 Hitter?

The easy answer is shown above, but as a Catcher who’s turning 38 this year we’ll need a plan B. That’s where it gets to be an interesting debate.

First, let’s establish who our 1-4 hitters are. There shouldn’t be much debate about this:

1-Derek Jeter

2-Nick Johnson

3-Mark Teixeira

4-Alex Rodriguez

Nick Johnson’s the #2 hitter, no matter who you want in the 5 hole. You want his 420 OBP (last year) to get as many ABs as possible, and the stuff about him ‘clogging up the bases’ is silly with the equally slow footed Mark Teixeira hitting behind him. Even if Tex makes out and Alex gets on base, Johnson’s speed still won’t be much of an issue because Alex doesn’t run much anymore since having hip surgery. Johnson will be the #2 no matter who you plug into the #5 spot in the order. You want ducks on the pond (Ugh, I hate that expression) for your big bats to drive in, and he gets on base as well as anyone in Baseball.… Click here to read the rest

Next Year’s Free Agent Class

This off season, we’ve heard the oft-repeated line that ‘next year’s FA class is better’ and that it makes sense to sit back this season, to have money available for the bumper crop of star players available next year. But is that true? Are the players who will become available good fits for the Yanks and/or are they the types of players they’re likely to sign?

MLBTR produces an advanced Free Agent list every year, and has one for the class of 2011. Right off the bat, I’m not going to consider anyone who has a team option of any kind. If the Cards don’t exercise Albert Pujols for 16 mil with a 5 mil buyout, he must be on crutches and of no use to any team.  However, Player options are fair game. If the economy improves at all (which it should) most of those are likely to be exercised.  Let’s also dispose of three Yankees up front. Derek Jeter, Andy Pettitte and Mariano Rivera will all be Yankees as long as they are able to play Baseball, so while their contracts may be expiring, they’re not typical free agents.… Click here to read the rest

Bizarre Moves from Seasons Past: The trading of Ted Lilly

Welcome to the latest installment of Yankeeist’s “Bizarre Moves from Seasons Past” series. We previously covered the trading of Mike Lowell, the non-signing of David Ortiz, the non-signing of Andy Pettitte after the 2003 season, the non-signing of Vladimir Guerrero and the non-signing of Carlos Beltran.

On July 5, 2002, the Yankees were 54-31 and in first place, two games up on Boston. Though the team started the year with a rotation of Mike Mussina, David Wells, Roger Clemens, Andy Pettitte and Orlando Hernandez, injuries to both Pettitte and El Duque pressed 26-year-old lefthander Ted Lilly into starting duty in the 19th game of the season. Lilly stayed in the rotation for nine straight starts, followed by two relief appearances in mid-June, and then two more starts — the first of which was a complete game three-hit shutout of the Padres on June 22 — before being shipped to the A’s (along with Jason Arnold and John-Ford Griffin) in which the the Yankees received Jeff Weaver from Detroit and the A’s sent Franklyn German, Carlos Pena and Jeremy Bonderman to the Tigers.… Click here to read the rest

Dispelling the Rotation Myth

2 year Yankees 341 309 18 6 0 1 1994 8419 1899 916 838 191 660 24 70 61 10 1869 3.56 3.78
2 year Red Sox 248 247 14 5 0 0 1533 6503 1490 695 656 166 507 9 61 44 3 1365 3.82 3.85

These are the aggregate pitching statistics for the Yankees and Red Sox expected rotation (which includes Joba as #5 on the Yankees, and Buchholz as #5 on the Red Sox). As you can see, over the last two years, these numbers favor the Yankees rather heavily. While the bombers have a slight edge in ERA, they have a much larger edge in FIP (which happens to be a lot more useful in projecting future ERA than….well….ERA.

And while it’d be pretty easy to leave it at that, here are the numbers for the two rotations over looks backs of 2-4 years.… Click here to read the rest

Outfield WAR Projections

When the Yankees traded for outfielder Curtis Granderson, we all assumed he would be manning center field every day and Melky Cabrera would be the left fielder, with Brett Gardner and Jamie Hoffmann on the bench as the extra outfielders. Now, with the trade of Melky Cabrera for Javier Vazquez, it would seem that Brett Gardner is the Yankees’ Opening Day left fielder.

On discussion boards across the Yankee blogosphere, some have suggested switching Granderson and Gardner, so the former plays left and the latter plays center. The argument is that Granderson likely has the bat to play left field and that Gardner, who doesn’t have the bat to play left field, is a great center field defender and the Yankees would be better served optimizing the defense in that way.

To take a semi-scientific look at this, I’m going to, based on CAIRO projections for wOBA and UZR and see which would be more valuable to the Yankees. To convert wOBA into runs, I’m going to use the method presented here: wOBA minus league wOBA (which is always the same as the league OBP; for simplicity, I’ll use 2009’s, which was .336), divided by 1.5 times plate appearances.… Click here to read the rest

Jesus Montero Is A Catcher

[image title=”Montero” size=”full” id=”13510″ align=”center” ]I hope everyone is having an excellent holiday season. Mine has  been a bit busy, and I wasn’t planning on writing today. However, some of the comments here and from other bloggers regarding Jesus Montero’s top-5 BA rating  (which is a bigger deal than most people realize) have planted some thoughts in my mind for a few days that I’d like to write about.

I think that Jesus Montero is going to be a major league catcher. I think that the Yankees think so too, and that their 2009 offseason helped reveal their long term plans for the young player. Consider the facts:

  • The Yankees were reluctant to trade Jesus Montero. While some rumors have him offered up, none seemed particularly serious. Pieces that could be immediately useful to the Yankees in 2010 – Austin Jackson, Michael Dunn, Phil Coke, Ian Kennedy, Melky Cabrera – all went away, but Jesus stayed. Now, this could be because the Yankees want to get more value from Montero, but I think that they want him to play a long term position on the New York Yankees.
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Bizarre Moves from Seasons Past: The non-signing of Carlos Beltran

Welcome to the latest installment of Yankeeist’s “Bizarre Moves from Seasons Past” series. We previously covered the trading of Mike Lowell, the non-signing of David Ortiz, the non-signing of Andy Pettitte after the 2003 season and the non-signing of Vladimir Guerrero.

Following the nightmarish manner in which the 2004 season concluded for the Yankees, the organization correctly set out to address the team’s most glaring deficiency: starting pitching. Unfortunately, not only did the Yankees end up going about addressing the problem in a startlingly shortsighted and impatient manner, signing both the injury prone and mostly mediocre Jaret Wright and the soon-to-be injury prone and altogether mediocre Carl Pavano in attempt to bolster a flagging rotation, but the team’s obsession with trading for Randy Johnson resulted in the dismissal of signing a player that would have been a huge acquisition not only for 2005, but for years to come: Carlos Beltran.

At the time, the Yankees had a gaping wound opening up in center field, but unfortunately team loyalty to incumbent Bernie Williams had blinded the Yankees to their problem.… Click here to read the rest

Free Brett Gardner!

Reed Johnson:

Season Team Batting Fielding Replacement Positional RAR WAR Dollars Salary
2003 Blue Jays 3.3 -3.4 15.2 -5.0 10.1 1.0 $2.8
2004 Blue Jays -13.4 4.5 19.4 -4.8 5.6 0.5 $1.7 $0.3
2005 Blue Jays -2.7 6.1 14.6 -6.1 12.0 1.2 $4.1 $0.3
2006 Blue Jays 19.8 15.3 17.2 -5.4 47.1 4.5 $16.8 $1.4
2007 Blue Jays -12.1 -0.3 10.2 -3.7 -5.8 -0.6 ($2.3) $3.1
2008 Cubs 1.2 -0.3 12.5 -0.3 13.1 1.3 $5.9 $1.3
2009 Cubs -1.1 -1.2 6.2 -0.2 3.8 0.4 $1.7 $3.0

Jonny Gomes:

Season Team Batting Fielding Replacement Positional RAR WAR Dollars Salary
2003 Devil Rays -2.0 0.5 -0.9 -2.3 -0.2 ($0.6)
2004 Devil Rays -2.8 0.5 -0.5 -2.9 -0.3 ($0.9)
2005 Devil Rays 20.9 -2.3 13.6 -7.8 24.4 2.5 $8.3
2006 Devil Rays -3.1 -2.2 15.4 -12.1 -2.0 -0.2 ($0.7) $0.4
2007 Devil Rays 3.2 -8.6 13.1 -7.8 -0.2 0.0 ($0.1) $0.4
2008 Rays -3.7 -8.0 5.9 -6.2 -12.0 -1.2 ($5.4) $1.3
2009 Reds 10.2 -9.1 10.5 -5.2 6.3 0.6 $2.8

Xavier Nady:

Season Team Batting Fielding Replacement Positional RAR WAR Dollars Salary
2003 Padres -1.0 5.1 13.5 -5.1 12.5 1.2 $3.4 $0.8
2004 Padres -0.5 -0.4 2.8 -1.4 0.5 0.0 $0.1
2005 Padres 4.7 -3.4 11.9 -5.1 8.2 0.8 $2.8 $0.5
2006 Mets/Pirates 3.2 -8.9 17.1 -7.1 4.3 0.4 $1.5 $0.4
2006 Mets 3.6 -5.0 9.7 -3.5 4.9 0.5 $1.7 $0.4
2006 Pirates -0.4 -4.0 7.3 -3.5 -0.5 0.0 ($0.2) $0.4
2007 Pirates 6.5 -9.3 15.7 -5.3 7.5 0.7 $3.0 $2.2
2008 Pirates/Yankees 23.3 3.8 20.2 -7.4 39.9 4.0 $17.9 $3.4
2008 Pirates 20.6 3.5 12.0 -4.2 31.9 3.2 $14.3 $3.4
2008 Yankees 2.7 0.3 8.2 -3.2 8.0 0.8 $3.6 $3.4
2009 Yankees -0.2 -1.4 1.0 -0.4 -0.9 -0.1 ($0.4) $6.6

So, let’s get this straight.… Click here to read the rest