Tuesday Morning Food For Thought: A World Without Brendan Ryan

With the Braves claiming Eury Perez off waivers last Friday, the loop was finally closed on the Stephen Drew roster addition. Perez was the most logical choice to be sacrificed, as the Yankees have plenty of 40-man outfield depth in the form of their own young players. Now that he’s gone though, the clock may and should be ticking on Brendan Ryan.

What does he bring to the table at this point? He can’t hit. At all. Statistical metrics have his defense on a major decline from where it was 2-3 years ago.  The money owed to him is a little more than half of the already minuscule number the Yanks are paying to Drew this year.  Drew’s presence on the roster gives the Yankees another solid shortstop option to back up Didi, and the presence of guys like Jose Pirela and Rob Refsnyder who can play second base makes Ryan expendable there as well.  Ryan serves no purpose on this roster anymore.  …

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Quick Hit: A Window Of Opportunity For 2 Outfield Prospects

The Yankee outfield is pretty well set for the 2015 season.  Well, to be more accurate, it’s set for the start of the 2015 season.  Brett Gardner and Jacoby Ellsbury are going to be back doing their thing atop the batting order, Carlos Beltran is going to be back, presumably healthy and hopefully able to rebound from 2014’s horrific numbers, and Chris Young is going to be his caddy on the bench as the 4th outfielder.

To a certain degree, the outfield is pretty well set for the foreseeable future as well.  Gardner and Ellsbury are under contract for years to come, Aaron Judge is the new “next big thing” prospect who can take over right field long-term after Beltran’s contract is up, and there are another few years of hot stove seasons and trade deadlines before then to plug holes as needed.

In a perfect world, the 4 guys already on the projected Opening Day roster would handle all or close to all of the outfield at-bats this season.  …

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Chart: Where the Yankees Position Players Stack Up

The Yankees have made a lot of moves to improve their hitting and defense during this offseason. You know about all of those. But what cumulative effect have these moves produced?

The following chart shows three different numbers by position: the fWAR produced by Yankees playing that position in 2014, the fWAR produced by the average major league team, and the Steamer projections for the Yankees at the position in 2015:

YankeesWARPositionsThe Yankees project to add about 7 WAR over last year. And that’s assuming they get 0 WAR out of designated hitter, which I think they can beat.

You can see that the Yankees project to improve in right field, shortstop, designated hitter and second base, stand pat at catcher, 1st base, center and left, and decline at third base. That all sounds reasonable to me.

You can really see how Derek Jeter and Brendan Ryan at short and Carlos Beltran, Alfonso Soriano and Ichiro in right and DH killed the Yankees last year.…

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Quick Hit: Olney On The Yankee Lineup And Bullpen

Bit of a slow start to the day, so I thought I’d point out what Buster Olney is up to this week.  If you haven’t been following, he’s been listing his top 10 MLB team roster groups.  Started with rotations on Monday, bullpens yesterday, and today it’s lineups.

All the posts are Insider-only, but here’s what you need to know from a Yankee perspective.  Olney had the Yanks’ bullpen ranked #2 behind Kansas City, mainly on the strength of the Andrew Miller-Dellin Betances late-inning tandem but also due to the “stacked” depth of left and right-handed middle relief.  He ranked the projected Yankee lineup 10th today, which came as a bit of a surprise to me, and summed them up with this statement:

“The lack of a rock-solid, MVP-type middle-of-the-order hitter will probably prevent the Yankees from climbing among the leaders in run production, but improvement seems inevitable.”

That sounds about right, as does his evaluation of the bullpen depth.  …

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Resetting The Organizational Catching Depth

As usual, the Yankees are experiencing the pains of a 40-man roster crunch.  They have yet to make a move to open up a spot for the recently-signed Stephen Drew, and when they do they will have to deal with a possible surplus of infielders on the roster.  That’s not the worst problem to have when you’re coming off a year in which your infield was as bad as the Yankees’ was in 2014, and it should work itself out by the time Spring Training comes and goes.

It wasn’t that long ago that the Bombers were going through a similar crunch with their catching depth.  They opened the offseason with 5 catchers on the 40-man and not enough spots for all those catchers.  Francisco Cervelli was traded to Pittsburgh for Justin Wilson, which opened up the backup MLB job for John Ryan Murphy and eased the playing time concerns at the rest of the upper levels.  With that issue cleared up, let’s do a quick review of the team’s current catching depth.…

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Thursday Afternoon Food For Thought: The Importance Of All These Marginal Upgrades

This was originally supposed to be a longer series of posts after the regular season ended, but I figured some of the wounds were still too fresh and I didn’t want to be too big of a downer.  We all know there were a ton of bad losses last season.  Listed below are the 5 games I believe the Yankees should have won the most:

  • 5/11/14- Brewers 6, Yankees 5.  Yanks blew an early lead after scoring 3 off Matt Garza in the top of the 1st.  Bullpen coughed up the lead late, then gave up the walk-off loss in the bottom of the 9th after a Teix HR to tie the game in the top half.
  • 7/5/14- Twins 2, Yankees 1.  Yanks lost on a walk-off error in the 11th inning after managing to score only 1 run against Minnesota starter Yohan Pino.  They didn’t have a single extra-base hit in the game.
  • 7/21/14- Rangers 4, Yankees 2.  The team made 5 defensive errors and scored 2 runs on 4 hits in 7.1 innings against Miles Mikolas.  
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A-Rod’s Role Continues To Shrink

A-Rod Workout

Possibly the last time we see A-Rod play third base. Courtesy of his Instagram page

 

Despite the team’s unspoken desires and Cash’s public statements to the contrary, there was a time not very long ago when Alex Rodriguez would have been the starting third baseman for the Yankees next year.  That most likely wouldn’t have meant good things for A-Rod’s health or the team’s chances of winning, another example of how flawed their decision making and roster building strategy had become.

Thankfully Cash and the rest of the front office recognized the importance in not allowing that to happen as part of their offseason infield makeover.  Chase Headley was brought back to be the starting third baseman, a handful of Quad-A utility guys have been invited to ST, rookies like Jose Pirela and Rob Refsnyder are going to get a crack at an Opening Day roster spot, and Stephen Drew was signed on Tuesday as the last bit of depth insurance.…

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Stephen Drew: A $5 Million Bridge, Insurance Policy, Lottery Ticket, and Potential Trade Chip

Drew vs BAL

Courtesy of Getty Images

And the offseason of surprise moves keeps chugging along!  He was arguably the least wanted by the fanbase of all the Yankee free agents when last season ended and the least likely to return when the Gregorius trade went down, but somehow we woke up this morning in a world where Stephen Drew will be a Yankee again in 2015.  Actually it wasn’t somehow, it was the team agreeing to a 1-year/$5 million deal with him last night, but you get the idea.

The response to this move from readers of this site and the Yankosphere in general seems to be mostly negative, and that’s understandable considering how horrible Drew was after the Yankees traded for him last year.  But when you really look at this signing from all angles and remember the roster landscape that Drew will be fitting into, this move may end up being the best one the Yankees made this offseason.

The biggest point of contention among folks who are against this deal is the apparent blocking of the kids at second base.  …

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Offseason Roster Update: 1/2/15

The Yankees kept on wheeling and dealing yesterday, trading former top prospect Manny Banuelos to the Atlanta Braves for a pair of Major League relievers.  Now it feels like they really might be done putting next year’s team together, but never write off the Yanks on anything.  The last time we looked at the projected 25-man roster, I thought the team needed more starting depth, another relief arm, and some more beef on the bench.  They’ve hit on 2 of 3 there, and that’s not too shabby.

C)- Brian McCann
1B- Mark Teixeira
2B- Jose Pirela (or Rob Refsnyder)
SS- Didi Gregorius
3B- Chase Headley
LF- Brett Gardner
CF- Jacoby Ellsbury
RF- Carlos Beltran
DH- Alex Rodriguez

SP) Masahiro Tanaka
SP) Michael Pineda
SP) CC Sabathia
SP) Nathan Eovaldi
SP) Chris Capuano

Bullpen- Dellin Betances, Andrew Miller, Adam Warren, Justin Wilson, David Carpenter, Chasen Shreve, Esmil Rogers

Bench- Brendan Ryan, Garrett Jones, Chris Young, John Ryan Murphy

Hard to say right now whether this team will be a little better or a little worse than the low-80s win projections from a few weeks ago.  …

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