Farewell to Arms: Despite Being Shutout of Off Season’s Best Pitchers, Greinke Deal No Cause for Panic

(The following is being syndicated from The Captain’s Blog)

Everybody knew that Zack Greinke would be traded before Spring Training, but the suddenness of the deal, not to mention the destination, was somewhat of a surprise. However, despite attempts to suggest the contrary, the Yankees were not caught off guard by the transaction.

As soon as Cliff Lee finally made up his mind, Greinke trade rumors became the new fuel for the hot stove. Because the Yankees and Rangers were both jilted by Lee’s decision, the natural assumption was that both would be the front runners for the Royal’s ace, but once again, a “mystery” team emerged from the pack. Not surprisingly, Greinke’s trade to Milwaukee was portrayed as another blow in the Yankees’ off season of discontent, but in reality, it was really evidence of a firm hand steering the ship.

Without a doubt, Greinke is a very talented pitcher, but some of the recent analysis of the trade seems to be based on the notion that the right hander’s real plateau is his 2009 Cy Young season, in which he had a WAR of 9.4 and ERA+ of 205, and not the more “normal seasons” that have surrounded it.… Click here to read the rest

What the Brewers are getting in Zack Greinke

Late Saturday night word broke that the Brewers and Royals had agreed to a deal that would send Zack Greinke to Milwaukee. The news was initially met with skepticism, as it hadn’t yet been confirmed by a mainstream media source, but it turned out that Jim Breen of Bernie’s Crew did indeed have the goods, leading the blogosphere to erupt in excitement that one of its own managed to break a major offseason story. Given Breen’s affiliation with the Milwaukee-Wisconsin Journal Sentinel I’d imagine Breen has a tad more access to information than, say, your average blogger living in his mother’s basement, but it’s still a nice feather in his cap.

Greinke has of course been linked to the Yankees all offseason, as many expected the team to make a push for the young righthander if they missed out on Cliff Lee, but I personally never expected the Bombers to consummate a trade for the 2009 AL Cy Young Award winner.… Click here to read the rest

Thinking Prospects: The Draft

A grand total of five teams spent more than 10% of their total payroll (information from here) on the draft (information found here). Now, I won’t argue that teams need to spend 10% of their player budget on the draft, but for the price of one over-priced reliever that no one needs but everyone signs, each team could take some more risks on guys who slip down due to bonus demands, sign them, and still have money left to make a significant splash in Latin America (which I’ve left out but will address in a future post). It makes no sense to spend so much money on a reliever (or any other free-agent teams throw money at—Jeff Francoeur, Melky Cabrera, etc.) who won’t even account for one win of production and not spend 20% of that on a draft prospect that could bring much more. I’ll admit the Yankees are awfully low on this list partially due to their ginormous payroll, but I’d also argue they don’t leverage the draft nearly enough.… Click here to read the rest

Patience . . but for who?

..I aint got time for the pain, Andy I need you...ooooohh I need you, this time..

Yankee GM Brian Cashman has been preaching patience these days. Since coming in 3rd in the Cliff Lee sweepstakes (despite having the best offer) with no clear fallback position, he frankly has little choice. We can all dream up scenarios and deals to acquire Felix Hernandez or Josh Johnson, but those pitchers simply aren’t available. So it begs the question, what exactly are we being patient for? For those of you who thought it might be Zack Grienke, the Brewers acquired him last night. Joel Sherman looks at this in his morning piece for the NY Post. He writes:

In other words, there is not a lot of attractive options now. So do the Yankees try to plug with what they have plus add an innings-eating free agent such as Kevin Millwood or a reclamation project such as Brad Penny and wait for the trade deadline.

Click here to read the rest

Projecting key Yankees in 2011

We recently compared the Yankees and Red Sox position players as they stack up right now. Unsurprisingly, the Sox came out ahead. Barring the unexpected, the 2011 Red Sox’s position players will be somewhat better than the 2011 Yankees’ position players. What’s lost in this analysis, though, are the poor seasons so many Yankees had last year. Yes, the Red Sox are a better team if the Yankees get 2010 production from Alex Rodriguez, Mark Teixeira and Derek Jeter. However, the Sox are not a better team if the Yankees get 2009 production from those three players.

The Yankees will compete in the AL East right now, and, despite the Red Sox’s improvements, have the 2nd-best odds of winning the 2011 World Series on Sportsbook.com. It is entirely possible that they will do even better if some of their key players bounce back from their 2010 seasons. How likely is this?

Baseball-Reference’s similarity scores will drive this analysis.… Click here to read the rest

A's trade for Yankeeist favorite Josh Willingham

Billy Beane and I seem to covet a lot of the same players. First Ben Sheets, then David DeJesus and now Josh Willingham. I first pondered the idea of Willingham back in April when I wasn’t yet convinced that Brett Gardner was going to be the full-time solution in left field.

Admittedly I’ve since become a Gardner believer, but that doesn’t mean I still can’t pine over what might’ve been had the Yankees somehow picked Willingham up.

Here’s what the A’s are getting in Willingham:

That’s a pretty OBP trendline. Since becoming a full-time player in 2006, Willingham’s OBP has gone up (or stayed level) every season, topping out at 2010’s stellar .389, which, had he had enough PAs to qualify, would’ve been the sixth-best mark in the National League. Willingham’s SLG took a hit in 2010, actually falling to a five-year low of .459, but he still managed to put up a career-high .378 wOBA, which of course underscores how highly wOBA values OBP.… Click here to read the rest

Addressing the Feliciano complaints

There’s been a bit of bellyaching among some fans and in the blogosphere about the Pedro Feliciano signing. Not much, but enough that it needs to be addressed. Some fans feel Brian Cashman overpaid for a LOOGY when there were better options available, others worry about his workload. I’ll address each of these one by one.

The Yanks overpaid-Not really. While we all know the entire market has been inflated this year, this deal fits in the context of what other Lefty relievers have been receiving this year. Scott Downs, by far the best of the lefty reliever group and a Type A free agent got 15 mil from the Angels. Randy Choate, a pure LOOGY in every sense of the term (.529 OPS against facing Lefties/1.162 OPS against facing Righties) received a 2.5 mil deal from the Marlins. Feliciano fits right between those two, which is what his talent level would suggest.

Feliciano’s not just a pure LOOGY-Unlike Choate, Feliciano can be called upon to get righty and lefty batters out.… Click here to read the rest

Yankees to Add Feliciano

The Yankees are now set to sign LOOGY Pedro Feliciano to a two year deal, worth $8MM.

I’m more or less okay with this deal, since the money isn’t big and a two year deal isn’t awful, especially since he’ll just be facing lefties. With the way Joe Girardi matches up, though, he could be used pretty often. However, it’s hard to envision him being used more than the league-leading 86, 88, and 92 games in which he’s been used by the Mets during the last three seasons.

Feliciano, as the article states, is death to lefties. He didn’t give up a single homer to them in 139 times facing lefties.

Here are his pertinent splits facing lefties in the last three seasons:

2010: .574 OPSA, 25.18 K%, 7.19 BB%
2009: .594 OPSA, 26.28 K%, 3.85 BB%
2008: .575 OPSA, 28.57 K%, 6.72 BB%

So the strikeouts against lefties have dropped a bit, but they’re still coming at a high rate.… Click here to read the rest