How Far Behind Are The Yankees?

The 2012 Blue Jays finished with a 73-89 record, and a 74-88 Pythagorean Expectation. Offensively, they ranked 24th in baseball with a 15.8 fWAR, and 28th in pitching behind a 7.6 fWAR. Theoretically, a team like this would need to add at least 22 additional wins to start thinking about a playoff run, and that’s exactly what GM Alex Anthopoulos did.

They’ve arguably had the biggest offseason, thus far. They’ve lost Yunel Escobar (1.8 fWARin 2012), Jeff Mathis (0.8), Kelly Johnson (0.7), Carlos Villanueva (0.6), Henderson Alvarez (0.5), Brandon Lyon (0.4), Jason Frasor (0.2), Adeiny Hechavarria (-0.2), Yan Gomes (-0.2), and Omar Vizquel (-0.6). In total, it’s only a loss of 4 fWAR, leaving the team at a 70-92 record for 2013. This is, of course, before we factor in all the additions they made in free agency and trades.

In free agency, they signed both Melky Cabrera (4.6 fWAR in 2012) and Maicer Izturis (0.7). They did their real damage in trades, and acquired R.A.Click here to read the rest

Derek Jeter's Player Option and $189 Million

Update: William did this issue a much better service on his own blog earlier this month. Definitely take a look. It appears that some of my assumptions are wrong, particularly about how a Jeter opt-out would affect the 2014 cap hit. It looks like the better scenario is to take my same logic, but extend Jeter right now, before the season starts.

An interesting thought came to my mind during an otherwise slow baseball week this morning. After the 2010 season, Derek Jeter signed a 3-year, $51 million contract with a player option or buyout for the 4th year. That player option can get bigger if Derek Jeter satisfies some criteria in 2013, but for now let’s call it a $9.5 million player option.

If Derek Jeter exercises that option, the Yankees will pay him $9.5 million in 2014. However, because the option is a continuation of the contract he previously signed, and assuming I’m not reading the luxury tax rules wrong, his AAV/Cap hit would be $15.125 million.… Click here to read the rest

Hideki Matsui to retire

Hideki Matsui has announced his retirement from Major League Baseball. He will be holding a press conference in New York to make it official.

Matsui, who signed a deal in 2002 to join the Yankees, played in New York for seven seasons, winning one World Series in 2009 and earning the World Series MVP with an 8-13 performance against the Phillies. He hit three home runs and led the Yankees to their first title in nine years.

He batted .282/.360/.462 with 175 homers and 760 RBI in his MLB career.

After leaving New York, Matsui played with the Angels, A’s and he was released by the Rays last season after a disappointing 34 games.

Personally, I always liked Matsui. He was a solid player, his teammates loved him and he provided Yankee fans with a lot of great moments. From the aforementioned World Series MVP to his double in Game Seven of the 2003 ALCS to his grand slam against the Twins in his Yankee Stadium debut, Matsui thrived in the spotlight.… Click here to read the rest

Punt to Win?

As we all collectively awake from our holiday-induced food stupors (or our Airings of Grievances or Feats of Strength), the baseball world marches (painfully) slowly towards Opening Day. And as baseball marches, so do the Yankees and their sometimes confusing construction of the 2013 roster. While the Yankees brought back Hiroki Kuroda, Andy Pettitte, and Mariano Rivera, they also let Nick Swisher and Russell Martin go and appear willing to do the same with Rafael Soriano (though I don’t really have a problem with this). The team also brought in Kevin Youkilis in light of Alex Rodriguez‘s hip injury and upcoming surgery. While the four they brought back are unmistakably important, we could argue that because of the alternatives–or the distinct lack thereof–bringing back the likes of Swisher and Martin was just as important.

Right now, some combination of Chris Stewart, Francisco Cervelli, and Austin Romine will be the catcher(s) for the Yankees this year.… Click here to read the rest

Are sign and trades coming to baseball?

On Monday, Buster Olney devoted his column to wondering if the qualifying offer had proved to be a big disaster for free agents who declined the offer sheet from their teams. Olney starts by noting that the market for Nick Swisher was apparently a bit thin, as teams other than Cleveland were hesitant to forfeit a first round pick to sign Swish (the Indians have a protected first rounder, so they’re giving up a mere second round pick), and also points out that Michael Bourn, Kyle Lohse, and Rafael Soriano are all also seeing their markets come together slowly after declining qualifying offers from their teams.

I’m a little bit skeptical of that take, only because of the three players involved. On the one hand, each is the sort of player that seems to always seems to get more money than they’re worth as one or two GMs significantly over-values them, so perhaps we’re merely seeing a sort of market correction whereby no one really wants to meet their asking price(s).… Click here to read the rest

What To Expect With The Matt Diaz Signing

Yesterday, the Yankees agreed to a minor league deal with 34 year old Matt Diaz. The right-handed outfielder spent six of his last seven seasons with the Braves, and hit .294/.341/.433, while averaging around 270 plate appearances a year. He now has an invitation to Spring Training with the Yankees, and will compete for the fourth outfield position against Melky Mesa and Zoilo Almonte.

(Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

Though Diaz is an average defensive corner outfielder, he provides an interesting bat to a lefty dominated position. Over his career, Diaz has mashed left handed hitters for a .324/.364/.498 slash, and a 127 wRC+. He hasn’t shown the same platoon splits in recent years though, and last season, he was held to just a 100 wRC+ against lefties. Part of the reason for his decline has been an ongoing battle with thumb issues. In August, Diaz had surgery on the digit, and is now believed to be healthy again.… Click here to read the rest

Matt Diaz signed to a minor league deal

Matt Diaz, a right-handed outfielder the Yankees have been searching for, has apparently agreed to a minor league deal with the Yankees with a Spring Training invite. The news was reported by Marc Carig and Mark Feinsand as sourced by this Major League Trade Rumors post. Diaz fits the Yankees’ needs in several ways. He is old (35 in March). He is cheap and he will only be around for a season.

Seriously, Diaz has a career .770 OPS in parts of ten seasons, but more importantly, has a career .863 OPS against left-handed pitching. He can play left or right field and isn’t a total disaster at either but has not shown the ability to throw out runners over the course of his career.

Diaz could be useful in small doses against left-handed starters and to face those tough lefties out of the bullpen late in the game. But this is hardly heady news.

In other news, the Mariners DFA’s old friend, D.J.Click here to read the rest

Don’t Move Tyler Austin To Third Base

Courtesy of Mark LoMoglio

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

Give the Yankees credit for leaving no stone unturned in their search to find a long-term replacement for Alex Rodriguez at third base.  Earlier this last week, Chad Jennings of LoHud had some Minor League news bits, and one of them mentioned Yankee brass giving thought to moving top prospect Tyler Austin back to third.  By the sounds of Chad’s report, we aren’t going to be seeing Austin back at the hot corner next season, but it also didn’t sound like the idea of was ruled out completely.

“’He’s a better defender in right,’ vice president of baseball operations Mark Newman said. ‘But (putting him back at third) is something we’ve thought about. It’s a possibility.’”

Austin was originally drafted as a catcher, quickly moved to third base last season, and then moved to right field almost as quickly.  Far be it for me to tell the Yankees where he’s best suited in the field, but I think if it was already decided that he might not be able to handle third base, then he and the Yankees are better off not moving him to third base and keeping him right where he is in right.… Click here to read the rest

Yankees Believe In Austin Romine’s Defense

Not the next Jorge Posada, but maybe the next Russell Martin

Up until last week, the best offensive free agent catcher was begging for a contract from someone. If considering A.J. Pierzysnki, teams saw his 2012 offensive production, but also had to consider his defensive metrics, his  age, and his character issues. Personally, I was completely against the idea of  the Yankees signing him, but now that he’ll be a Ranger on a modest one-year deal, Yankee fans are free to second guess the club’s non-interest.

The organization has already signed four major league players to one year deals, and A.J. Pierzysnki would have been a similar low risk signing. At the age of 35, the catcher put together his best offensive season of his career, and was good for a 3.4 fWAR. In comparison, Martin received a three year deal after posting a 2.2 fWAR the same season. But age makes all the difference here, as Pierzysnki’s 2012 season was, and will likely remain, an outlier in his career.… Click here to read the rest