Calculating 2012 Offensive Consistency By Team

On Monday, E.J. discussed recent work published by Bill Petti at FanGraphs. For over a decade, we’ve tried to best objectify a part of baseball that Bill James‘ failed to address with his Pythagorean Expectation. Using his method, we use runs scored and run allowed to estimate the amount of games a team should have won and lost. With a big enough sample size, the Pythagorean Expectation has been wildly successful, but that doesn’t mean it’s perfect. Earlier this year, Petti posted an article on FanGraphs to help inspire quantifying  consistency. How would this affect Pythagorean win-loss records? The idea is that, a Continue reading Calculating 2012 Offensive Consistency By Team

Swisher’s tour continues

After visting Cleveland this morning where he was greeted by his image on the Progressive Field scoreboard and where he was also greeted with a standing offer from the Indians, Nick Swisher, bid adieu and headed off to another mystery city.

Where do you think Swish could be heading? Could he be heading south and west of Cleveland? The Texas Rangers need an outfielder. Or maybe he’s heading way out west and visiting Seattle. The Mariners have been in the mix for other outfielders and Swisher is the best one left in the market.

It certainly will be interesting to see how the other teams choose to court Swisher.

Maybe Seattle will fly a “SWISH” banner from the top of the Space Needle. Or they’ll take him on a tour of the city and out for a nice seafood dinner.

I’m also interested in seeing what the offer from Cleveland is.

(I hope it’s interesting beacuse I’m bored out of my mind by what constitutes as baseball news these days.) Continue reading Swisher’s tour continues

Tigers listening to offers for Porcello, Smyly

With Anibal Sanchez re-signed, the Tigers have a deep starting rotation to say the least. That, predictably, has led to other teams calling them to inquire about taking some of that pitching off of their hands, and Danny Knobler tweets that that interest the Tigers are “taking calls” on both Rick Porcello and Drew Smyly.

Porcello has been around since 2009 and hasn’t really stood out in terms of performance yet, with an ERA/FIP of 4.55/4.26. That said, he’s actually nine days shy of turning 24 years old, so there’s still probably upside here, and he’s made 31 starts in three of the past four seasons, so he’s already pretty durable, especially for his age. As far as the Yankees go, it’s Smyly who really intrigues me. The 23 year old made his big league debut against the Bombers in 2012, and went on to pitch to a 3.99/3.83/3.97 ERA/FIP/xFIP line over 99.1 innings. His peripherals are also quite strong, though he is a bit of a fly ball pitcher.

The top four guys in the Yankees’ rotation forms a very solid core for that unit on paper, but once you get past that, things get pretty dodgy. Ivan Nova is looking for a bounce back performance in 2013 and needs to figure out what kind of pitcher he’s going to be in the future, while David Phelps only has a handful of starts to his name. After that, Adam Warren is the only viable starter (so excluding Dellin Betances) in the system with experience at the Triple-A level right now, so things could get ugly pretty quickly if anyone gets hurt. Given that reality, picking up another viable option for the back end of the rotation could be a good move for the Yankees before this winter ends, and a guy like Smyly, who won’t be eligible for arbitration until after the 2014 season, would be a big pick-me-up for Plan 189.

Could the Yankees swing a deal for either of these guys? I wouldn’t count on it. For one thing, there’s no indication what the Tigers want, and I don’t think the Yankees necessarily have a ton of chips to put on the table. For another, working out trades between two contenders in the same league is just a tough thing to do, since both are presumably looking for moves that improve their big league roster in the near term. It’s not impossible by any means, but it’s pretty close to it in practice. Continue reading Tigers listening to offers for Porcello, Smyly

Report: Yankees not interested in Bourn

On Sunday, Nick Cafardo reported that the Yankees were “quietly interested” in free agent outfielder Michael Bourn. Today, ESPN New York’s Wallace Matthews reports that that most certainly is not the case, and that there is “no chance” the Yankees even pursue the speedy center fielder. As Matthews relays, the Yankees don’t like Bourn’s price tag, the fact that he hits left-handed, and feel that they already have a full starting outfield.

We talked kind of a lot about Bourn last night, and while I’m not sure I’m wild about it, there is a pretty interesting case to be made for signing Bourn (for the right price, naturally) and then trading Curtis Granderson, but that’s the sort of thing we can talk ourselves into when we’re starved for baseball action, and not generally the kind of thing that actually happens in real life. So as interesting as it may be to consider the potential machinations, or what the Yankees would look like with three elite defensive/no-power outfielders, my strong inclination is to think that this report is accurate, and the Yankees will not even really consider such a move.

Matthews does, however, reiterate that the Yankees are still looking for a right-handed hitting outfielder, and that Scott Hairston remains their preference. Hairston is looking for a two year deal, however, and he seems to prefer a return to the Mets as well. Continue reading Report: Yankees not interested in Bourn

The Rangers are interested in Ibanez

Raul Ibanez delivered a disproportionate amount of the Yankees’ biggest home runs in 2012, and now a team that could have used a few of those shots themselves is apparently showing interest in acquiring the 40 year old “outfielder.” Via The Dallas Morning News, the Rangers are apparently interested in Ibanez’s services for the coming season, presumably as a platoon DH/reserve outfielder. The Rangers have a lineup that’s heavily tilted to the right, and obviously lost their best left-handed hitter in Josh Hamilton, so Ibanez would be a reasonably good fit if they can find a place to play him.

In addition to the clutchitude, Ibanez hit .248/.319/.492 against right-handed pitchers, and even filled in surprisingly well in the outfield as a bridge between Brett Gardner and Ichiro Suzuki. The Yankees still need a DH, particularly one who can handle right handed pitchers, so a reunion with Ibanez certainly makes sense if all parties are amicable, though I would be surprised if Ibanez didn’t have his fair share of suitors after remaining productive this past year. Continue reading The Rangers are interested in Ibanez

Trade Musing: Rick Porcello And Drew Smyly

The Yankees may have six starting pitchers for five rotation spots, and potentially seven when Michael Pineda returns, but it hasn’t stopped them from looking for other options. In regards to pitching, the Yankees actually finished seventh in pitching fWAR in 2012, and the rotation will largely be the same come 2013, but when you’re relying on a 41 year old Andy Pettitte and a 38 year old Hiroki Kuroda to man the middle of your rotation, along with the young Ivan Nova and David Phelps, there are enough factors to worry about. Whether it’s inexperience or old age, the Continue reading Trade Musing: Rick Porcello And Drew Smyly

The luxury tax non-issue

If you haven’t listened to last night’s podcast yet, you should totally do that. In the meantime, I’d like to pull out a point that was made by Rob Abruzzese of Bronx Baseball Daily about the luxury tax that I think deserves a special level of recognition. In case you haven’t heard, the Yankees were just hit with an $18.9 million luxury tax bill this season, with a taxable payroll of $222.5 million. That means that the combined expenditure was a pretty daunting $241.4 million. So considering that, it’s no surprise that the Yankees want to avoid paying a punitive 50% luxury tax rate, right? Well there’s just one problem with that: the Yankees tax bill would actually be lower under the system they’re so desperately trying to avoid.

How is that possible? It’s simple: While the rate the Yankees will be taxed at will go up, the luxury tax threshold is also increasing from the $178 million mark it currently sits at. Since the luxury tax is applied marginally (which means that it only applies to spending above the threshold, not the entire payroll), that higher tax rate will be applied to a smaller amount of spending. Assuming the same $222.5 million taxable payroll, the new tax structure would have left the Yankees with a bill of $16.75 million, or $2.15 million less than what they paid under the current, lower, rate. That’s still a lot of money in the grand scheme of things, but it’s a number they’ve proved to be willing to spend in the past, and it also assumes no gradual reductions in payroll at all.

Of course, that $2.15 million savings is also a much smaller number than the $40-50 million they could stand to make through a combination of payroll cutting, tax savings, and revenue sharing rebates, so it’s still easy to see why ownership is hell bent on cutting spending. But they aren’t selling this as a money making opportunity they can’t pass up, but as an attempt to avoid a supposedly punitive new tax structure, a contention that’s pure bunk even in nominal terms. Continue reading The luxury tax non-issue

Will R.A. Dickey’s Knuckleball Succeed In A Domed Stadium?

The Blue Jays just got better. This is now a common weekly theme for the team. First it was Josh Johnson, Mark Buehrle, and Jose Reyes, then it was Melky Cabrera, and now R.A. Dickey is headed to Canada. They’ve lost a number of prospects to get to this point, but the organization is still full of young high-upside talent. I could go on about how the Blue Jays have rebuilt their team, but this post is about their newest knuckleballer. If you’ve ever heard a baseball announcer talk about the knuckleball, you’ve probably heard that it’s random. They say Continue reading Will R.A. Dickey’s Knuckleball Succeed In A Domed Stadium?

On the Money 12/17/2012

Rob Abruzzese joined Stacey and I this evening, and we found quite a bit to talk about, covering everything from the R.A. Dickey trade to the unusual offseason the entire A.L. East is having, and finally covering quite a bit of what’s going on with the Yankees before the Hot Stove season takes its traditional lull during the Christmas holiday. Enjoy!

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Continue reading On the Money 12/17/2012