The new CBA is terrible

With details about the new collective bargaining coming out now (just ahead of the National League MVP announcement, by the way, because that’s just how Bud Selig rolls), I’ll be spending the holiday boning up on the changes and, come Monday, you can expect a lot of posts about how the new agreement will affect baseball and the Yankees in general, but for today, the short version is: it sucks. Let’s count the ways:

  • The biggest changes are to the treatment of amateur players, and the top line analysis here is that I felt like vomiting as these details were released. They’re that bad.
  • For all the union’s talk about viewing hard-slotting as a salary cap, they basically just agreed to hard slotting. The so-called tax on over-slot spending appears, at first glance, to be so punitive and kicks in at such a low level that, for all intents and purposes, teams are almost never going to go over slot.
  • Spending on international free agents will be capped at $2.9 million, which is an absurdly low amount.
  • Draft picks will only be allowed to sign minor league deals, and teams will apparently be prohibited from signing them to MLB deals. On the plus side, this is an area where I think draft eligible prospects might actually have grounds to sue MLB, but even then I don’t think it will have much of an affect.
  • In a paean to small markets, the ten lowest revenue teams will get extra draft picks each year. Well, six of them will, and they’ll be selected by a lottery. No really, I’m not making this up, this is the boondoggle Bud Selig has turned the draft into.

There’s some other details, but these are the big ones that stuck out to me. Suffice it to say, this is a truly terrible deal, basically the worst case scenario and then some. It’s a horrible deal for amateur players, and will certainly push a large amount of them to college, and a fairly substantial number of young athletes to other sports altogether. In Latin America, the incentive for MLB teams to invest in developing new talent is gone, and you can expect a noticeable drop off in the talent level coming from that avenue, probably pretty soon.

The MLBPA has sold out amateurs, full stop. The assumption, of course, is that they’ll be able to claw a lot of that bonus money back in the form of increased major league salaries, but they’re in for a rude awakening. Once you get past the money paid out to the biggest prospects, the total amount of draft spending just isn’t very high, and absent a hard salary floor that money simply isn’t going to flow back into major league salaries. Even if a handful of teams do reallocate the money in that direction, most owners will simply pocket the money rather than give it to a utility player or middle reliever.

On a micro level, this deal is a huge win for the Yankees. The new rules will put a premium on being able to acquire quality major league talent, and no one can do that like the Yankees. Amateur spending is an area where smaller market teams can outspend the big boys while, in nominal dollars, still not spending very much, and that lone advantage is gone now. The Rays seem to be particularly screwed, as I just can’t see how they’re going to continue to acquire talent, short of a massive increase in ticket sales in the near term.

As I said, I’ll have much more after the holiday weekend, but for now you’ll have to excuse me. Bud Selig just said “competitive balance” again, and that is officially my stomach’s breaking point. Continue reading The new CBA is terrible

How bad are bunts?

Over at RAB, Moshe Mandel has a post this morning purporting to show that Joe Girardi doesn’t really bunt too much or, at least, that the bunts don’t have that large of an impact. It’s a provocative premise, and Moshe certainly put a lot of research into the post, but ultimately I’m not sure we wind up anywhere other than where we were before.

First, a note about Moshe’s methodology. Moshe takes each successful sacrifice bunt the Yankees managed in 2011, compares the before-and-after run expectancy, and then compares the actual number of runs the Yankees scored after those bunts. There’s a few problems with this, which Moshe acknowledges, the biggest being that you can’t simply credit all subsequent runs scored to the bunt. In a larger sample we might assume that’s not an issue, but in this case we’re dealing with only 27 bunts, which is almost certainly not a large enough sample. To draw meaningful conclusions from this data, we’d probably need to do a much more qualitatively oriented study looking at all of the Yankees’ bunts this season (including attempted bunts which resulted in a failure to put the ball in play via bunt, but also probably excluding pure bunt for hit attempts) and assigning a run value to them based on outcome of the bunt and the means by which runs scored. And even that wouldn’t account for the matter of game situation, or the question of process versus results.

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Stopping the fools

Call me a dreamer, but I expected little argument when the results of the A.L. MVP voting were announced yesterday. With a handful of deserving candidates and little separation between them, I expected an attitude of “I wouldn’t vote for him, but that’s okay” to prevail. And to a large extent it did, at least so far as the results themselves were concerned. What we got instead was a preview of Hall of Fame season, as fans everywhere took to Twitter to train their ire on the most outrageous ballots cast.

Two particularly objectionable ballots stand out. Evan Grant of The Dallas Morning News cast a first place vote for Michael Young of the Rangers, while Jim Ingraham of the News-Herald in Northern Ohio left Justin Verlander off his ballot entirely, because he doesn’t believe pitchers should be eligible for the award. The fact that the voting guidelines explicitly say pitchers are eligible for the award appears to be immaterial to Mr. Ingraham who, in the tradition of all good reactionaries, apparently believes that the rules don’t apply to him if he doesn’t agree with them.

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Continue reading Stopping the fools

Examining Possible Eduardo Nunez Trade Matches With The Braves

(The following is being syndicated from An A-Blog for A-Rod) The biggest story to come out this past weekend was probably the “Braves being interested in Eduardo Nunez” rumors that sprouted up after the infamous “sources” stated that Atlanta was interested in the Yankees’ utility infielder as a replacement for Alex Gonzalez at short.  Personally, I still can’t fathom why so many teams and fans are so high on Nunez, but if this is real then it’s certainly a path the Yankees should consider pursuing.  And with the slow pace that the Hot Stove Season is moving at right now, Continue reading Examining Possible Eduardo Nunez Trade Matches With The Braves

Should the Yankees extend Russell Martin ?

If 2011 was the Year of the Bargain for the Yankees, Russell Martin may stand out as one of the best bargains at all. Plucked from the scrap heap with two years of team control remaining after the Dodgers non-tendered him, Martin entered Spring Training as the nominal starting catcher and, after a hot April, rewarded the Yankees with a 3.1 fWAR season (though bWAR was less bullish, valuing Martin at 1.3 wins). Additionally, new research into catcher defense suggests Martin might have been even more valuable than that based on his receiving skills, and we’ll never really know how much his game calling and pitcher management skills helped the 2011 Bombers. All in all, it may well have been the best addition Brian Cashman made in the 2010-11 offseason.

With that in mind, the question of whether or not Martin should get a contract extension to lock him up past 2012 has come up a bit recently. You can put me down as a firm “no” on that question. While Martin is a nice piece to have on the roster at a cheap rate and with no real commitment, his injury history alone makes me skeptical of the value of locking him up before you have to. And while his offensive contribution was beyond expectation in 2011, consider this:

As you can see, this is the picture of a hitter in a clear, pronounced, somewhat prolonged decline. His batting average and on base percentage has declined every season since 2008, his strikeouts are going up, and the only saving grace is a colossal spike in home runs in the final year. That’s not the sort of profile that reaches out and screams “extend me!” in my opinion.

Now obviously Martin’s primary value comes from his work behind the plate, but he still has to be reasonably productive at the plate to be a starting catcher. I’m not suggesting the Yankees non-tender Martin by any means, but considering his injury history, his consistently declining offensive performance, and the Yankees’ financial resources, I simply don’t see the logic in signing him to a multi-year now. Let’s see if he can remain healthy and productive in 2012, after which the Yankees will be able to negotiate a new deal with Martin secure in the knowledge that no other team can outbid them for Martin’s services without wildly overvaluing him. Continue reading Should the Yankees extend Russell Martin ?

Stats to Watch: Rafael Soriano

I was not a fan of the Rafael Soriano signing. It didn’t seem necessary and it was for too much money. Sure, it made the 2011 Yankees better (before the season started), but it was still a short sighted move. Regardless of my misgivings, the Yankees are “stuck” with Soriano (oh how awful). 2011 wasn’t a failure for Soriano, but it definitely didn’t live up to his career standards. There are three areas in particular that I think we’ll have to pay attention to in 2012 to see if they revert back to his career numbers. First, let’s start with Continue reading Stats to Watch: Rafael Soriano

An Ugly Rumor Better Left Forgotten

(The following is being syndicated from The Captain’s Blog). Ellsworth Tenney “Babe” Dahlgren would be an anonymous figure in Yankees’ history if he hadn’t been penciled in as the starting first baseman on May 2, 1939, the day Lou Gehrig’s then record streak of 2,130 consecutive games came to an end.  In that game, the Yankees didn’t miss a beat without their legendary captain as Dahlgren went 2-5 with a home run, but the rest of his career hardly met the standard established by the Iron Horse. Following in Gehrig’s footsteps couldn’t have been easy for Dahlgren, but at least it gave him a bit Continue reading An Ugly Rumor Better Left Forgotten

Too many homers!

It’s been awhile since I had a run at the old “the Yankees hit too many home runs meme,” in part because it’s been awhile since I’ve seen a good rendition of it. Well in yesterday’s Star-Ledger, Jed Bradley saw fit to rectify that oversight, and rectify it he did! Here’s his truly awesome lede:

Analyzing the Yankees is never easy.

They win 97 games but leave you searching for reasons why they fell in a best-of-five American League Division Series to the Detroit Tigers. They go to the postseason 15 of the past 16 years, but send you into the offseason scouring for flaws to explain why they’ve only won one World Series since 2001. It’s nitpicking of the highest order, but it’s also a part of what it means to be the Yankees, who never shy away from saying anything less than a title is a failure.

So, we go off in search of something — anything — that might be able shed light on the Yankees’ postseason shortcomings in the last decade, and what do we come up with?

Well, there’s a word for that, but I’m pretty sure Jason would be very upset if I wrote it here.

The Case for the RBI Single.

Well, it’s not exactly the way I would have put it, but it’s a close enough approximation I suppose.

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Finally Caving: Seriously, Don't Overcommit to Yoenis Cespedes

I’ve been resisting writing about Yoenis Cespedes for some time now. His workout video was a truly epic undertaking, and his name started to receive a lot of buzz. The Yankees were rumored to be interested in him. And now, MLB teams appear to be ready to make offers to the soon-to-be free agent. From MLB Trade Rumors: MONDAY, 10:28am: The $35-50MM estimate for Cespedes may be light, a GM tells Gammons.  Cespedes’ people told one club they already have an offer with $10MM up front and eight years. FRIDAY, 3:46pm: Cespedes may be looking to obtain more than $60MM on Continue reading Finally Caving: Seriously, Don't Overcommit to Yoenis Cespedes