New Kids on the Block: Offensive Prospects’ Likely 2016 Impact

Baseball America’s new top prospect list for the Yankees isn’t inspiring, but that’s partly because many 2015 prospects (Severino, Bird, Williams, Heathcott…) no longer qualify as “prospects”; they’ve arrived. While Severino is definitely a rotation starter, a bunch of offensive prospects have less clear 2016 roles. So here’s my take on the likely role, or lack of role, of the Yankees’ ready(ish) offensive prospects. Feel free to disagree in the comments! This is all more art than science, but it’s interesting and fun to think through who’s ready, and who has an actual opening, to be part of the team for the next 5-10 years.

First, an easy one: Gary Sanchez’s strong AAA performance, and the Murphy trade, make his 2016 role obvious. Absent a February 2016 DWI in Tampa that dislocates his throwing shoulder, he’ll back up Brian McCann. McCann’s second-half fade in 2015 (.802 OPS, then .701) may be bad luck, or a sign that it’s not bright to expect more than 120ish games out of a 32 year-old catcher, even if he suffers no DL-stint injury.… Click here to read the rest

MLBTR’s Top 50 Free Agents List And Predictions

With free agents now able to sign with any team and the GM meetings starting up today, the timing couldn’t be better for MLB Trade Rumors to post their annual top 50 free agents list and predictions for where all of those free agents will sign and for how much.

The entire list and write-up on each player can be found here, but for Yankee-centric purposes here’s what you need to know.  MLBTR predicts the Yankees will sign Jason Heyward, Ben Zobrist, and Chris Young (the outfielder).

Heyward is their #2 free agent and MLBTR predicts a 10-year/$200 million deal.  That dollar amount seems a little light to me and the years seems longer than the Yankees would be willing to go, but if that deal comes with an opt-out clause, maybe that would inspire the Yankees to pursue a longer deal if they were OK with the dollars.  Zobrist comes in at #21 and is projected to get a 3-year/$51 million deal.  … Click here to read the rest

Early Steamer Projections For The 2016 Yankees

FanGraphs has the early Steamer600 projections up for next year.  While it’s admittedly way too early to start thinking about 2016 projections, what with rosters set to be shaken up significantly over the course of the upcoming offseason, it is something to talk about if your team has been long eliminated from postseason contention like the Yankees have.

You can comb through the entire batch here.  FG has the whole list tabbed out by team for easy navigation, but here’s the link to the Yankees section.  Some highlights:

– Greg Bird is projected to be the best hitter on the Yankees next year by a wide margin.  .266/.341/.486 with 29 HR, a .356 wOBA, and 125 wRC+.  That would be amazing.

Mark Teixeira‘s projected line: .231/.324/.443 with 29 HR.  Big drop off from the .255/.357/.548 of 2015.

– The player projected to be the 3rd best hitter on the team isn’t even in the organization anymore.  That’d be Ramon Flores at .268/.335/.416, although I’m not sure how he’s going to come close to that coming back from his bad ankle injury in August.… Click here to read the rest

Projecting Chase Headley in the Second Half

Chase

During the Yankees’ off season (after the 2014 season), I did not want the Yankees to get all crazy signing free agents. But the one signing I coveted was Chase Headley. And then time seemed to drag on until December and the Yankees reeled him in at a fairly modest three-year deal. I was very excited. After a very successful Spring Training, I even picked him for my fantasy team. Flash forward to the All Star Break and Chase Headley has been worth -2.9 runs at the plate and -1 run in the field. What the heck happened to Chase Headley!? And what will he offer in the second half?

The reason for being excited about the December signing was that he was solid at the plate in his late stint with the Yankees in 2014 and was spectacular in the field. Headley’s play at third has been disappointing to say the least in 2015 and his offense at the plate is very reminiscent to what he was like for the Padres in 2014 before the trade.… Click here to read the rest

Are the Yankees the Best Team in the American League?

[Please note: This post was written yesterday before Kansas City won and the Yankees, Astros and Twins all lost.]

The Yankees are 33-25, tying them with Houston, Minnesota and Kansas City for the best record on the American League. The Yankees have been on top of the AL East for most of the season, but this is the first time that they are on top of the whole American League.

They’ve scored 271 runs (4.67 per game) and allowed 236 (4.07 per game), giving them a perfectly-matched 33-25 pythagorean record. Despite a killer back end of the bullpen, they are just 8-8 in one-run games. They’ve had key players (Ellsbury, Tanaka), miss a lot of time. Arod and Teixeira might come down to earth, but there is no evidence that the Yankees are just getting lucky to start the season.

Are they the best team in the American League? Let’s compare them to the teams they are tied with:

Houston Astros (34-26, 4.13 RS/G, 3.90 RA/G, 11-8 in 1-run games, 32-28 Expected)

I don’t buy the Astros.… Click here to read the rest

So What’s The Deal With Garrett Jones?

Jones vs COL 2014

Courtesy of Getty Images

I mean honestly, what’s the deal with this guy?  He’s a right fielder who can’t play right field, he’s a first baseman who can’t play first base.  What’s up with that?  He’s got no first names and 2 last names.  He doesn’t know who he is or what he’s doing.  I don’t get it.

That’s funnier if you read it in Jerry Seinfeld’s voice in your head, but in all seriousness, I am somewhat intrigued by Garrett Jones‘ presence on the roster and what his eventual role on this team might become.  A commenter in the ZiPS post pointed out that ZiPS was actually pretty high on him, something I completely glossed over when I first read through the projection numbers, and there’s some truth to that.  ZiPS doesn’t see much in the way of average or OBP for Jones, but it does project a healthy .449 SLG and 21 home runs.

That kind of production would be very welcome from the DH spot, the most likely lineup destination for Jones and one of the areas of biggest offensive weakness for the Yankees over the last 2 seasons.  … Click here to read the rest

Quick Hit: FanGraphs Releases ZiPS Projections For 2015 Yankees

Now that rosters have been mostly set and prospects have been ranked, the next step on the march towards pitchers and catchers reporting is the release of 2015 projections.  Earlier this morning, Dan Szymborski’s ZiPS projections for the Yankees were released over at FanGraphs.  It’s a mixed bag of good and bad if you’re the kind of person who values projections in any way, and I invite everybody to read through the whole post when you have the time.

If you’re just looking for the highlights, here they are.  ZiPS is high on Chase Headley, Jacoby Ellsbury, and Brian McCann, projecting all of them to outperform their 2014 slash lines.  It’s also somewhat optimistic about Mark Teixeira, pegging him for a .332 wOBA, albeit in just 377 plate appearances.  A handful of rookies also got favorable WAR projections, most notably Luis Severino, Jose Pirela, Rob Refsnyder, and Aaron Judge.

The pitching, on the other hand, was mostly lowlights.  … Click here to read the rest

Blood from a Stone, or Just What Can We Expect from Mr. Rodriguez?

The last time we saw Alex Rodriguez playing Major League Baseball, he was performing quite well, batting .244/.348/.423 with 7 HR and a 113 wRC+ across 181 PA. That is, of course, well below the lofty standards set by his career as a whole, and a rather unattractive slash line in the context of the era – but I would also suggest that it was fairly encouraging. At 38-years-old, with two surgically repaired hips and a surgically repaired right knee, Rodriguez managed to be an above-average hitter over what amounts to a quarter of a season. If you cocked your head and squinted a bit, things were looking up for Rodriguez, as he prepared for the upcoming season. But that was 2013, and ‘the upcoming season’ ended up being ‘TBA.’ And … well, you know the rest.

As of this writing, it has been 488 days since Rodriguez played professional baseball. By the time the Yankees suit-up for their first Spring Training game in March, it will have been one year, five months, one week, and three days since the last time Rodriguez donned pinstripes – and that’s assuming he plays some role in that game.… Click here to read the rest

Wednesday Morning Food For Thought: Consider These Options

Player A 2015 Steamer Projection- .274/.326/.402, 2.6 fWAR
Player B 2015 Steamer Projection- .262/.328/.390, 1.7 fWAR
Player C 2015 Steamer Projection- .259/.307/.381, 0.7 fWAR
Player D 2015 Steamer Projection- .262/.349/.400, 3.9 fWAR

Player A is Martin Prado, the originally scheduled programming at second base.  Players B and C are Rob Refsnyder and Jose Pirela, the rookie tandem now tasked with replacing him.  Player D is Ben Zobrist, newly available second baseman/really, really good utility guy.  Just wanted to toss this up here to try to push my pro-Zobrist agenda a little more.

Think about it.  Prado was written into the starting second base job very lightly in pencil when the roster plans for next year starting coming together.  The safe assumption was that he’d play there as much as injuries allowed him to, with third base and right field both looking like they were going to be most in need of his services at some point.  That plan got scaled down by the signing of Chase Headley, but the opportunity was always there for Prado to be the floating everyday utility guy and for the injuries that proceeded his floating to open up a spot in the lineup for Refsnyder.… Click here to read the rest