Report: White Sox looking to trade Matt Thornton

Beyond starting pitching, one area we’ve consistently heard that the Yankees may be looking to upgrade at is in the area of left-handed relievers. Unfortunately, the market for those guys is downright atrocious this year, so it seemed unlikely that any moves would be made on this front.

Not so fast my friend! Buster Olney is now reporting that the White Sox are looking to trade Matt Thornton and the $12 million they owe him over the next two seasons. Thornton is one of the better relievers in the game, an All-Star in 2010 who posted double digit strikeout rates every year from 2008-10, a run that was broken with a mere 9.5 K/9 in 2011. Thornton has been tough on lefties in his career, holding them a mere .229/.297/.349 slash line, but he’s far from a LOOGY, as right-handers also hit just .231/.317/.353 off the hard-throwing southpaw.

The biggest downside to Thornton is probably his age (he’ll turn 36 years old next September), but for now he’s still one of the top left-handed relievers in the game. The White Sox are currently seeking some salary relief, so unless there’s a lot of serious interest in Thornton, a team shouldn’t have to give up a top prospect if they’re willing to pick up most, if not all, of the money Thornton is owed.

I don’t know what their level of interest will be, obviously, but this could be a match made in heaven for the Yankees.
Continue reading Report: White Sox looking to trade Matt Thornton

Fun with WAR projections: Pitcher edition

It’s projection season around the baseball blogosphere. So, why not look at some of the projections out there and see what that gives us in terms of WAR. For this exercise, I’ll be using the Bill James projections, which some guy we know compiled here. To attempt to get the WARs, I’ll use this spreadhseet CC Sabathia: CC’s projected for 235 innings of 3.30 FIP ball. That, per the spreadsheet, would give us a WAR of 6.5. Shocking. Ivan Nova: James pegs Nova for a 4.11 FIP in 183 innings, leading to a projected WAR of 3.1. I’d be beyond Continue reading Fun with WAR projections: Pitcher edition

Is Matt Garza the Yankees answer?

Commenter John asks: “Hey Brien. Wanted to know your thoughts on Garza being floated as potential trade from the Cubs. Yes/no and what would you give up for him?”

I’m actually pretty high on Garza. Having just turned 28 years old this past Saturday, Garza is in the early part of his prime years, and he’s already established himself as a consistent and dependable big league pitcher, hurling at least 184 innings in every season since 2008, and pitching 203, 204, and 198 innings in 2009, 2010, and 2011 respectively. He’s coming off of the best season of his career, with a 3.32 ERA that actually under-performed his 2.95 FIP, and he put up career best numbers in strikeout rate, home run rate, and ground ball rate. Yes, he did all of that in the National League’s Central division, but we all know he’s got that all important A.L. East experience. According to FIP- he was largely an average pitcher from 2008-10, but that’s nothing to complain about from a pitcher in his age 24-26 seasons.

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Tal Smith’s Ouster Ends Era in Houston Baseball; Was Part of Link Between Yanks and Astros

(The following is being syndicated from The Captain’s Blog). Jim Crane has begun his tenure as Houston Astros’ owner, and the franchise’s 50th year, by firing Tal Smith, a long-time baseball executive who had been with the team off and on since its inception. Although the more significant move was the dismissal of general manager Ed Wade, whose four years in Houston were punctuated by losing, Smith’s pink slip symbolically represents a new era in Houston baseball. Older Yankees’ fans might recall that Tal Smith served as the team’s executive vice president and right hand man to de facto GM Gabe Paul Continue reading Tal Smith’s Ouster Ends Era in Houston Baseball; Was Part of Link Between Yanks and Astros

Part 2: A New Yankee Strategy Post-CBA

Last week, I voiced my complaints about the new CBA. It’s a horrible document that will harm baseball, but it’s a document that is now baseball reality. The Yankees have to learn to live with it, and need to readjust their strategy to win in the new environment. The Yankees have a pretty difficult goal: perennial contention. They want to make the playoffs 90% of the time, and have a shot at the World Series. They do not go into rebuilding mode, and will almost never be sellers at the trade deadline. I think we have a pretty good handle on Brian Continue reading Part 2: A New Yankee Strategy Post-CBA

If the Yankees make a deal this offseason, who is most likely to go?

On Sunday I wrote a post arguing that the Yankees have a complete, competitive team ready to go right now, with ample slack in the farm system. The point of the post was to draw attention to the fact that the Yankees don’t have to make a move. They’re currently competitive. My colleague here at TYA, Steve S., disagreed in the comments section. He supported his disagreement with Brian Cashman’s quote that he would “sacrifice offense to improve pitching“. For my part, this quote doesn’t convince me as much as it did Steve. My hunch is that the Yankees are Continue reading If the Yankees make a deal this offseason, who is most likely to go?

Are the Yankees done shopping?

As I said when news broke that the Yankees were close to getting a new deal done with Freddy Garcia, the one potential concern I had was that the Yankees now have five nominal starting pitchers on what figures to be the 25 man roster coming out of Spring Training, and that makes me a little bit worried about what their plans for the rotation are as of today. And now, along those lines, Andrew Marchand is openly wondering if the Yankees are not, in fact, going to be deep in the market for more pitching, with the flat out assertion that he simply doesn’t think there’s any way the Yankees sign C.J. Wilson, the best pitcher on the market.

For the most part, I don’t think that silence to this point in the Hot Stove season really means much. General managers can deny it all they want, but I think you’d have to be pretty naive to actually believe teams weren’t waiting to see what the new CBA would bring (especially with both sides pushing some major changes) before making too many commitments this winter. Now, with the CBA done, Thanksgiving past, and the Winter Meetings right around the corner, I expect things to start moving pretty quickly, at which point the market for available players will really start to take shape.

So to that end, I can’t say I’d be totally surprised if the Yankees don’t make anymore moves. They’re certainly not likely to drastically overpay for one of the available starters, especially with some big raises for Robinson Cano, Curtis Granderson, Brett Gardner, and David Robertson potentially on the horizon. But they do have some money to spend, and are once again in a situation where their projected starting rotation is C.C. Sabathia followed by four question marks. Given that context, I really can’t envision them standing pat unless the market goes well beyond what they’re willing to invest. Continue reading Are the Yankees done shopping?

Baseball is not football part XXVI

One theme I’ve heard the commissioner’s office trot out in defense of the new cap on amateur playing spending is that the semi-slotting system will create a draft in which players are selected “in order of talent,” rather than having some of the top prospects in the draft dropping out of the top half of the first round due to signability issues. There’s some conceptual logic here, to be sure. Under a true hard-slotting system, talented high school players would have little incentive to spurn the drafting team for college, as the potential future returns on waiting would be much lower. And to be honest, the current system will probably do a reasonably good job of approximating that effect. Beyond that narrow exception, however, the logic here seems deeply flawed to me.

First of all, I don’t see much of a case that this phenomenon of talented players routinely dropping to deep pocketed teams because of outrageous signing demands is actually happening anymore. The last two most notable cases are Zach Lee and Josh Bell, who were viewed as tough signs for different reasons. Bell had what was thought to be a firm commitment to play college ball at Texas, and told teams prior to the draft that he intended to go to college no matter what, causing him to fall into the second round. Lee had a commitment to play quarterback at LSU, and teams let him fall to the Dodgers and the 28th overall pick in 2010. But a funny thing happened along the way; both of these players signed with the team that drafted them, for amounts of money that wouldn’t have been particularly outrageous if they’d been picked at the top of the first round.

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Life After Mo

While I was eating a leftover lunch yesterday, MLB Network was airing the highlights of the 2009 World Series. Mariano Rivera was talking and a depressing thought that I’d rather ignore dawned on me: at this time next year, it’s possible (probable) that Mo will have announced his retirement (hopefully after another World Series victory). It’s a thought we don’t like to have and luckily, Joe Girardi sort of dispelled it: As for his own team, Girardi didn’t put much stock into the rumblings that this may Mariano Rivera’s last season. The Yankees’ closer turns 42 on Nov. 29. “No, Continue reading Life After Mo