Post-Pineda Trade, Yoenis Cespedes Makes More Sense

Yoenis Cespedes is officially a free agent. The hype on Cespedes has started to settle down, and so has the rumored price. Instead of looking at him as a $50-$60 million player, he may sign in a much more reasonable $15-20 million range. At that price, I think the Yankees would be wise to consider him. You probably know the story by now: he’s a 5-tool outfielder whose best tool is making awesome workout videos. And hitting for power too.

I wrote about Cespedes in December,

Add this all up, and I could see the logic behind starting Cespedes at Double-A Trenton, then quickly moving him up to Triple-A. This would set up for a very late 2012 (September?) debut/audition, and possibly 2013 starting job.

That 2013 target date is very important. Nick Swisher will be a free agent after the 2012 season, and Curtis Granderson will be in the final season of his contract. Brett Gardner will be 29 years old, and his own free agency will start to appear on the horizon.

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How To Keep The Russell Martin Revival Tour Going

(The following is being syndicated from An A-Blog for A-Rod)

2011 was an important year for Russell Martin.  After two All Star-caliber seasons for the Dodgers in 2007 and 2008, he was basically cast aside like an old mitt after experiencing serious decline, much of it likely injury-related, in 2009 and 2010.  The Yankees were happy to pick him up off the scrap heap for $4 million and install him as their bridge between the Jorge Posada and Jesus Montero Eras behind the plate in 2011.  A funny thing happened on the way to that plan, though, as Martin bounced back this past season, regaining some of his All Star form and making his way back onto the All Star team.  The Yankees rewarded Martin for his 2011 with a 1-year/$7.5 million deal on Tuesday, in the process implying that they may still not be 100% sold on Martin as a long-term fixture behind the plate, even with Jorge and Jesus out of the picture. … Click here to read the rest

Applying park factors to Pineda

Whenever a pitcher moves from a pitcher’s park to a hitter’s park, there’s a concern about how he’ll adjust. This is definitely the case with Michael Pineda, who’s moving from Seattle’s spacious Safeco to the small confines of the (new incarnation of) the “Big” Ballpark in the Bronx. This post by RLYW helped to allay those fears for Pineda. Still, that doesn’t mean the concerns aren’t legitimate or aren’t there at all. To take a closer look at how park factors may affect the new Yankee right hander, I went over to StatCorner and took a peep at the park factors for Yankee Stadium III. The factors there are set for hitters. Remember that a mark over 100 favors hitters and a mark under 100 favors pitchers. So, what am I doing with these numbers? I’m taking them and applying them to Michael Pineda’s splits to get a rough projection as to how he’ll do against righties and lefties in his new digs.… Click here to read the rest

Prince Fielder Worth His Weight (just not in projected WAR)

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

Every time a player signs a mega-money deal, there seems to be a very common kneejerk reaction, particularly among saber-friendly analysts. The typical response is to run to fangraphs.com for the player’s WAR-based dollar value and then, using projections, conclude that by the end of the contract, the salary commitment will wind up being a financial burden. Unfortunately, this kind of analysis, which, admittedly, I have probably done on many occasions, completely overlooks several relevant points.

Prince Fielder followed is following in his father’s footsteps by signing with the Tigers. (Photo: Getty Images)

The free agent process isn’t about determining a player’s long-term fair value. Rather, it is the means by which a player can use leverage to maximize his earnings in an effort to make up for the six years he was underpaid because of the reserve clause. Of course, many will point out that the team that signs the free agent didn’t benefit from those six underpaid seasons, but chances are they did reap similar rewards with another player.… Click here to read the rest

Revisiting Russell

Back in mid-December, I wrote a piece in which I crowd-sourced a possible Russell Martin contract extension. I think it’s worth revisiting now, considering how the catching circumstances in the Yankee organization have changed.

Obviously, Jesus Montero is no longer an option at catcher for the Yankees. The biggest impact player behind the dish, Gary Sanchez, is still years away. Francisco Cervelli is most definitely not a long term answer, and Austin Romine remains relatively unproven. Romine likely has the highest probability to succeed, but his ceiling may not be as high as we once thought it was. His bat has stagnated a bit, though BA’s latest scouting report (subscription required) still speaks pretty highly of his defense.

With the question of future Yankee catcher a bit less clear now, let’s look ahead to 2013 and beyond. Martin is now under contract for 2012; he and the team avoided arbitration with a $7.5M deal and even discussed a two year contract.… Click here to read the rest

A DH trade that (kind of) makes sense

Dunn, on the other hand, does make a little bit of sense in theory. His 2011 season was awful, but it is just one bad year, so far, and it’s not unreasonable to assume he’ll bounce back from it. He’s only 32 years old, and there’s still something thrilling about the prospect of Dunn playing 81 games a year in Yankee Stadium. And yet, his 2011 season was really awful, (his wRC+ against right-handers was only a 79, and yet it was a whopping 81 points higher than his wRC+ against lefties. Yes, you read that right. How’s that for a platoon split?) and there’s no guarantee it isn’t the beginning of the end for Dunn. Additionally, like Bay and Soriano, his contract is even more problematic than A.J.’s since it runs through the magic year of 2014, guaranteeing Dunn $44 million along the way. I love the Big Donkey as much as anyone, but that’s too much money and too much risk for such a limited role, in my opinion.… Click here to read the rest

For Those Who Dissent, Our Fifth Starter Should Be AJ Burnett

Despite all that I’ve found, all that I’ve read, and all the optimistic data I’ve calculated, there is nothing that will make me like A.J. Burnett. Simply put, I strive for consistency, every baseball fan, manager, player, and general manager does; Burnett is as erratic as a starting pitcher gets. You can see it in his hit by pitch totals, you can see it in his wild pitch totals, you can see it in his walks, and worst of all you can see it in his ERA. Despite the trade rumors, Burnett is likely the Yankees’ die to roll for the next two years, so it’s time we discuss how unlucky his 2011 season was.

First, let’s look at two starting pitchers.

2011 Regular Season
Player K/9 BB/9 HR/9 GB% FB% LD% xFIP
Pitcher A 8.18 3.92 1.47 49.2% 32.3% 18.5% 3.86
Pitcher B 9.12 3.57 0.67 47.9% 33.0% 19.1% 3.36

Pitcher A, A.J. Burnett, has one less strikeout and half a walk more per nine innings than Pitcher B, but that pitcher also plays in the National League, increasing his strikeout rate and decreasing his walk rate on the pitcher hitting ninth.… Click here to read the rest