Fiddling with the 2014 roster and payroll

For a similar breakdown and musing on the payroll and the tough player choices ahead, click through here to Stephen Rhoads’ piece on RAB, which has a complete, editable Google document that you can play around with.

All offseason long, we’ve been talking and thinking about the looming $189M payroll target the Yankees are aiming for in 2014. This will help them get under the luxury tax and potentially net them a lot of money that they can reinvest into the team. The thing we’ve wondered most is how this will affect the team’s spending going forward. With that “budget” in mind, it seems less and less likely that the Yankees will go for big money contracts, as those contracts could hurt them in 2014. I think we can all agree, though, that if someone (Cole Hamels) is out there who can help the team, they’ll break the bank for him. But is it possible for them to break the bank AND stay under that $189M mark in 2014?… Click here to read the rest

Starting Over: Looking at Bullpen Usage from the Other End

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

On Saturday, I posted a follow-up to a recent Fangraphs’ analysis of relief pitchers’ aggregate performance over the last 30 years. Although my findings supported the statistical conclusion of the Fangraphs’ piece (i.e., reliever performance has not changed meaningfully over the period considered), there was a divergence with regard to the implications.  However, because both analyses only looked at the question from the perspective of relief pitchers, each conclusion may have been incomplete .

Prompted by a comment from MikeD, the following analysis examines the question of bullpen usage from the perspective of the starting pitcher. After all, relievers are only needed to the extent that starters are unable to complete games. Therefore, the usage pattern for the rotation must have an impact on how the bullpen is employed.

Percentage of Batter’s Faced by Relievers and Starters, Since 1982


Based on innings pitched and batters faced, it appears as if starters are currently going as deep into games as they were in 1982.… Click here to read the rest

Roy Halladay: What a Bargain

After C.C. Sabathia’s lucrative contract extension and talk of Cole Hamels receiving a similar deal, I have to think back to Roy Halladay. After their 2009 loss to the Yankees, the Phillies traded for Roy Halladay, and promptly signed him to a 3-year, $60 million deal with a vesting option for the 4th year. It’s looking like pretty much the best big-money contract in baseball at this point.

Since the trade, Roy Halladay has been the best pitcher in baseball. He’s pitched over 483 innings with an ERA around 2.40. The Phillies have built an incredibly good rotation around him. Cliff Lee and Cole Hamels are no slouches, but they are somehow eclipsed by Halladay.

It’s easy to forgot that Halladay could have been sent to the Yankees instead of Philadelphia. The Yankees offered Philadelphia Jesus Montero for Halladay, straight up. They opted to pass, instead taking Travis d’Arnaud, Kyle Drabek and Michael Taylor. Taylor was quickly traded to the Athletics, while Kyle Drabek has struggled in the major leagues.… Click here to read the rest

The importance of Mark Teixeira

That's a thing of beauty. Now, if only he could do the same thing from the left side, or hit to the opposite field.

While the trade for Michael Pineda has made the 2012 Yankees a stronger team than they were before, losing Jesus Montero should not be minimized. In the end, the Yankees lost to the Tigers in the ALDS because they couldn’t score runs when they needed to, not because they couldn’t prevent them. Montero was going to bring value to the team. The issue he was supposed to address remains.

At this point, only a fool would rule out Brian Cashman making a trade for a bat. I was certain that the Yankees were going to war with the team they put on the field in 2011. I was wrong. I’m not about to make the same mistake twice in virtual ink. However, in the event that the team is set (and this time, they mean it) the Yankees don’t need to rely on external players to get an offensive boost.… Click here to read the rest

Stats to watch for 2012: Nick Swisher

Nick Swisher had an up and down season in 2011. It ended up fine for him, as he produced a 122 wRC+ on the strength of a .358 wOBA, one point better than his career mark of .357. It was, however, down from 2009 (.375) and 2010 (.377). The biggest difference for Swisher in 2011 was his power. After two straight .200+ IsoP, Swisher’s dropped to a (still very respectable) .188. Why was his power down?

Despite a career high LD% of 21.8%, indicating that he hit the ball pretty hard, Swisher’s Iso was a career low. His HR/FB% (14.3%) was just a bit off his career mark of 14.9%, yet his AB/HR was about 23 (about 20 in 2010; about 17 in 2009). The answer is that Swish was simply hitting fewer fly balls this year. Swisher’s rate of doubles in 2011 (5.7%) was right near his career mark (5.8%) so only Swisher’s home runs were affected by his drop in fly balls (yes, that’s a rather obvious statement, isn’t it?).… Click here to read the rest

Is the Yankees’ bullpen overstocked?

Nevertheless, it did make me wonder if the Yankees aren’t saturated with bullpen talent and, if so, if it might not make some sense to shop some of those bullpen arms for a younger position player. Think about it, the Yankees opening day bullpen will definitely include Mariano Rivera, David Robertson, Rafael Soriano, and Boone Logan as the lefty specialist, will probably include Cory Wade (who makes a heck of a last guy in the bullpen), and could see Phil Hughes added to the unit as well. And oh yeah, at some point next season Joba Chamberlain will returnto be thrown back into that mix too. That’s an abundance of riches to be sure, and even if Cameron is wrong about the value of middle relievers, it’s hard to see where the team will come up with meaningful innings to give to all of those guys.

With that in mind, I’m not sure it wouldn’t behoove Brian Cashman to shop David Robertson around to see what teams might be interested in giving up to acquire the Yankees’ strikeout happy set up man.… Click here to read the rest

The All-Homegrown 2012 Yankees

Chad Jennings of LoHud inspired this piece after reading his Ones That Got Away article on Saturday. On the heels of the Jesus Montero deal, one can’t help but wonder what the Yanks would look like if they never embarked on making bold moves like that, ones where they give up significant talent in order to fill a need on the 25 man roster. This list represents the best players currently playing in the major leagues who came up through the Yankee system. Of course, baseball is a game of adjustments and its difficult to say if a player who found success elsewhere would have done the same here. Someone with the talent level of a Jesus Montero will likely succeed anywhere. But Tyler Clippard? A seemingly small adjustment can make all the difference for someone like him. In a recent segment on MLBN Ian Kennedy credited working with his pitching coach on a small mechanical adjustment to his strong 2011 campaign.… Click here to read the rest

Sunday Morning links

Courtesy of

This is a slow time of the year for roster moves, but there’s always plenty of good baseball related reading material out there.

-Ever heard of Ferris Fain? Me neither, but Troy Patterson of THT explains why fans should know who he was.

Dave Cameron of Fangraphs asks if modern bullpen management is yielding better results.

We’re told that defined roles are supposed to make a reliever’s job easier by giving him a usage pattern he can adapt to. This makes sense from an intuitive standpoint, but the results don’t really show much of an effect. Teams have essentially taken two roster spots away from position players and handed them to the bullpen without seeing a tangible improvement in performance from their relievers overall.

The ROI on the modern bullpen just isn’t there. At some point, someone is going to get back to using relievers the way they were used 30 years. The current paradigm takes up too many roster spots and simply shifts innings from your best arms to your worst ones

This has been studied before and similar results have been found.… Click here to read the rest