Brandon Laird: Forgotten Infielder

Courtesy of The AP

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

A little over a year ago things were looking sunny for Brandon Laird.  He was fresh off an MVP season in the Double-A Eastern League thanks to a .291/.355/.523 line (.383 wOBA), 47 XBH, 23 HR, 90 RBI in 454 PA, and got a late-season bump to Triple-A (.270 wOBA in 127 PA).  He had elevated himself to the top half of most Yankee top prospects lists, and heading into 2011 Spring Training he had an outside shot at nudging his way into the discussion for the utility infielder role with a good performance.  Since then, however, things have taken a downturn for Laird and he finds himself heading into Spring Training this year dangerously close to falling off the prospect radar and the Yankees’ radar as a legit 25-man roster candidate.  How did this happen so quickly and should it even be happening?

The simple explanation for Laird’s prospect status decline is his poor 2011 showing. … Click here to read the rest

Projecting Brett Gardner

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Let’s get to the projections. What follows is a list of those culled from various sites. The Bill James projection and the RotoChamp projections come from Gardner’s Fangraphs player page. The Baseball Prospectus projection will be linked, but keep in mind that BP is a pay site:

  • Baseball Prospectus: .265/.353/.368 with a WARP of 2.4, a drop of 1.1 wins above average the site gave him for 2011.
  • ZiPS: .260/.352/.370
  • Bill James: .273/.369/.372
  • RotoChamp: .268/.360/.376

Only Bill James is optimistic that Gardner can improve his batting average to near to Gardner’s 2009 and 2010 level. But all the projections agree that Gardner’s on-base percentage (the number we really care about) will be higher in 2012. That would mean that they all expect Gardner to go back  near to his walk rate from 2010.

Batting average is a statistic that analysts have little use for these days. But as it is one part of the on-base equation, it does have some value.… Click here to read the rest

Forecasting Ibanez with park factors

Yesterday, the Yankees announced that they are going to sign Raul Ibanez to a deal worth $1.1M in base salary that can be worth around $4M with incentives. This is a low-risk signing that could have a decent pay off for the Yankees. Ibanez has proven himself to be effective against righties in his career, and even last year he had a 101 wRC+ and a .184 Iso against RHP. This deal will be a success for the Yankees if two things happen: 1. He bats exclusively against right handers. 2. He doesn’t touch the field as a defensive player unless there is an extreme emergency. Since we can (sort of) hint at how the former will be, let’s take a look at that.

The CAIRO projection system from forecasts a .349 wOBA against right handers and that was the highest of the potential DH candidates. I’d sign up for that in a heartbeat, but it could be better as Ibanez has a .363 wOBA against righties in his career.… Click here to read the rest

Nightly Links: Ibanez, Chaves, Rivera

  • Now that the Burnett trade is completed, the Yankees have restarted discussions with Eric Chavez. Another lefty infield bat is really a necessity in my opinion, I would be shocked if the talks fell through.
  • Mariano Rivera hinted at retirement plans today. Marc Carig quoted him saying, “This one is different. This is it.” With words like that, it looks like 2012 will be Rivera’s last season.
Click here to read the rest

Price Is Right, but Raul Ibanez Signing Comes With Opportunity Cost

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

The other shoe has dropped. As expected, the Yankees followed up the official announcement of the A.J. Burnett trade by signing Raul Ibanez to a one-year deal worth just over $1 million.

Is price what made Ibanez the right choice for the Yankees? (Photo: AP)

Now matter how Brian Cashman tries to sugar coat the acquisition, the selection of Ibanez as the Yankees’ left handed DH was a fallback position. Among free agents, Johnny Damon would have been the superior choice, but the veteran’s salary demands were too rich for the Yankees’ new budget conscious approach. In addition, the Yankees also pursued left handed bats like Garrett Jones and Bobby Abreu while shopping around Burnett, so Ibanez wasn’t even a plan B. What made the former Phillies’ left fielder attractive, however, was his price tag, so now he will be wearing pinstripes in 2012.

Just because Ibanez wasn’t the Yankees first choice doesn’t mean he is a bad signing.… Click here to read the rest

Russell Martin’s surprising success

This was a pleasant surprise 18 times in 2011.

The Yankees picked up Russell Martin last year after the Dodgers failed to offer him a contract. Martin had put forward two consecutive seasons of decline in L.A. In 2007 and 2008 he was among the best all around catchers in baseball, posting wOBA’s of .368 and then .351. After that his body gave way to injury. He put up back to back seasons of .306 and .307 wOBA’s through 2010. It was realistic to assume that Martin was a supremely talented player whose best days were behind him courtesy of injury. With Jorge Posada‘s catching days behind him, the Yankees rolled the dice on Martin, making him one more of the team’s reclamation projects in 2011. And, like those other reclamation projects, Martin paid off.

Russell burst out of the gate in pinstripes. He put up a .420 wOBA in April and hit six home runs. He slowed to a crawl offensively for three months after that, but put up big numbers once again in August.… Click here to read the rest