Law: Keep An Eye On Jose Ramirez

Each year, Keith Law follows his top 100 prospects list with a list of sleepers not in the top 100 who might take large leaps in the upcoming minor league season. Last year’s list is peppered with prospects that are now highly regarded, with Arodys Vizcaino being the Yankee entrant in 2009. In 2010, the Yankee sleeper is Jose Ramirez:

Right-hander Jose Ramirez is long and loose with room to fill out, but can already run his fastball up to 95-96, locate it to his glove side and turn over a changeup. His main drawback is the lack of an average breaking ball.

Ramirez, the Short Season Pitcher of the Year, was 6th on KLaw’s top 10 Yankee prospects list, behind Montero, Banuelos, McCallister, Romine, and Heathcott. He was only 18th on John Sickels list, but Sickels did tout him as a sleeper for 2010 as well. Greg over at Pending Pinstripes has been high on Ramirez for a while now, and recently profiled the large righty:

After the 2008 season, the Yankee pitching gurus tweaked Jose Ramirez’s delivery.

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Girardi: Winn signed for “depth” and “competition”

According to Joe Girardi, the Yankees signed Randy Winn for “depth” and “competition.”

Here’s the full quote on Winn, which basically casts him as a bench player:

“I think he can be a good player for us,” Girardi said. “I know people have talked about Randy Winn replacing Johnny Damon, and that wasn’t why we signed Randy Winn. We signed Randy Winn so we’d have depth to make sure we have depth and make sure that we have competition. If someone gets hurt, we have enough people to fill the spot. Randy Winn has been an everyday player for a long time. We’re comfortable with him in that spot.”

To me, it seems as though Girardi is demarcating a specific role for Winn, and that role seems limited. I say this because there have been some questions raised as to who will start, Gardner or Winn. He’ll help towards “competition” in the spring, but, with regards to that competition, Winn will be used to motivate Brett Gardner, who appears to be the likelier candidate to start (I believe that the final outfield configuration will be Gardner in center, Granderson in left).… Click here to read the rest

Joba: “Nothing is guaranteed”

Last night, via Newsday‘s Ken Davidoff, we learned from Yankees manager, Joe Girardi, that the final spot in the club’s 2010 starting rotation will be decided by a five-man contest this spring, one that features Phil Hughes, Joba Chamberlain, Alfredo Aceves, Chad Gaudin, and Sergio Mitre. Still, given practical concerns (i.e., Hughes’ innings limit and Chamberlain’s lack thereof) as well as the important matter of a recent starting track record, it appears as though Joba Chamberlain will be in the lead for that role, at least initially, with Phil Hughes serving as the Nebraskan’s foremost competition. Chamberlain, however, does not appear to be overly concerned by the situation.

According to the NY Post‘s Mike Puma, Chamberlain, who will report to Tampa next week in order to effectively prepare for the upcoming season, will be training as a starter, because “[t]eam brass has told him to have that mindset.” When asked about the spring competition, Chamberlain stated, “I’m going to go in and understand a lot of guys are fighting for that spot.… Click here to read the rest

Is Having A Large Platoon Split A Good Thing?

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MGL seems to think so, with the excerpt courtesy of Fangraphs:

In fact, having good overall numbers with a horrible split is a POSITIVE and not a negative! If it turns out that he is truly (true-talent wise after accounting for small sample performance) poor against LHB, then you would be able to platoon him, sit him against tough (high splits) lefties, or pinch hit for him against lefties in high leverage situations, which would provide even MORE value to his team than his overall or historical numbers would suggest!

Basically, MGL (who, for those who do not know, is Mitchel Lichtman, a leading sabermatrician) is suggesting that if you have two players with similar overall numbers, you might prefer the one with the drastic splits because you could then shape his impact through the use of a platoon or pinch hitters. While I believe this does make sense in theory, I have a hard time believing that it holds true in practice.… Click here to read the rest

Olney: Damon Just Kept Saying No

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Buster Olney has an interesting account of the Johnny Damon negotiations that I am inclined to believe. He suggests that Damon was the Yankees’ Plan A in left and at the 2 slot in the lineup, but simply kept rejecting offers that were commensurate to his value at the time. There are a few relevant excerpts here, but I would like to include the caveat that Damon’s camp would likely dispute some of the details, and suggest the Yankees never actually made an offer. Keeping that in mind, here is Buster’s account of the talks:

Well, in the hours after the Granderson trade was completed, they moved to seriously engage Damon in talks, and — as reported on at the time — they were told over and over: If you’re going to offer a contract that represents a decrease in salary, don’t bother to make an offer. Damon, himself, told the Yankees that directly.

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PECOTA: Adjusted Standings

The other day, Baseball Prospectus released its PECOTA projected standings for 2010 and, needless to say, Yankee fans were not pleased to see their beloved Bombers penciled in for third place (despite an impressive 93-69 record). However, as SG at Replacement Level Yankee pointed out upon PECOTA’s release, the numbers involved to construct the standings were off (an issue of human error, it seems, on Baseball Prospectus’ part). Realizing their mistake, BP has issued the according adjustments (h/t to RAB) and, consequently, we now have altered projections.

Here’s the original, for comparison’s sake:

Now, here are PECOTA’s adjusted numbers:

Clearly, there are some dramatic differences here with regards to team placement. The Yankees are still on track to own a 93-69 record, however, that’s good enough to win the AL East (although PECOTA projects a tie with Boston). Notice that the runs scored/allowed numbers are markedly depressed across the board when viewed relative to the earlier projections. The Rays are subsequently in third place now, rather than first, as they seemed to be the biggest beneficiary of BP’s earlier mathematical wrinkles.… Click here to read the rest

A closer look at VORP and WARP

Yankeeist regularly uses a variety of advanced baseball stats. While Larry most frequently uses wOBA to value hitters and FIP to value pitchers, I tend to focus more on the marginal value-based statistics VORP and WARP (called WAR if you prefer Fangraphs to Baseball Prospectus).

For those who don’t know, the names of these stats are acronyms that stand for Value Over Replacement Player and Wins Above Replacement Player, respectively. They attempt to measure the number of runs, or entire wins, any player in baseball can be expected to contribute to his team above the level of production that same team would have gotten from a minor league player called up to fill in for that starter if he were injured. Put another way, Albert Pujols has an enormous VORP because he gives the Cardinals a lot more offense than any player they would have to ask to step in for an injured Albert Pujols.

My fascination with these stats came from their supposed simplicity, their ability to provide a single number describing a player’s total value (at least in the case of WARP; VORP is offense-only).… Click here to read the rest

Some thoughts on the Winn signing

On Wednesday, in a move that will draw the ire of fans well into the regular season, the Yankees signed the 35-year old Randy Winn to a one-year deal worth $2 million. Now, while I do not despise the addition – Winn will rebound (to some degree) after a poor 2009 campaign, in which his .314 BABIP was somewhat lower than his career norm (about .330) despite posting the highest line drive percentage of his career (22.3%) and, to his credit, he did battle some nagging albeit minor lower half injures (to his right knee and right foot) – however, when you think of the Yankees current macro and micro-level needs, and factor in roster space, the signing seems somewhat strange to me.

The Yankees did not need simply another outfielder as they already have Jamie Hoffmann in tow, rather, they needed an outfielder who could hit left-handed pitching well enough to justify pairing he and Brett Gardner together in a semi-platoon of sorts (and one that can also sub in for Curtis Granderson on some days).… Click here to read the rest