Whither Nick the Stick?

Last offseason the statistically-obsessed among the Yankee faithful rejoiced upon the news that Brian Cashman had brought former Yankee farmhand, OBP machine and Yankeeist favorite Nick Johnson back into the fold. The Stick was supposed to fit seamlessly into Johnny Damon‘s recently vacated #2 slot, right where his .402 career on-base percentage belonged.

The injury-plagued Johnson muddled through an exceptionally poor April, though his .138/.383/.224 line was made significantly less miserable by (what else?) a stellar OBP, not to mention the fact that he also fell victim to some terribly bad luck on balls in play (.194 BABIP, 6th-worst in the AL that month). Just when it looked like the Stick was about to break out and assume his rightful role as an offensive force to be reckoned with (.286/.412/.643 in five May contests), he (surprise, surprise) was pulled from the lineup on May 7 against Boston, eventually had to have surgery that was initially expected to keep him out until the end of July, and of course, ultimately never made it back to the playing field in 2010.… Click here to read the rest

Yankees sign Freddy Garcia, [insert joke here]

In another low-risk move that undoubtedly has the Yankee beat corps in stitches, the Yankees have agreed to terms with Freddy Garcia on a minor league deal worth a guaranteed $1.5 million. I don’t have much of a reaction to this transaction, other than that I have no problem with stockpiling arms for Spring Training to put pressure on everyone currently in contention for a rotation slot.

Basically everything we said about the Bartolo Colon signing applies here, except that Garcia actually pitched in 2010, and while he wasn’t exactly good, he still somehow managed 1.3 fWAR. If I feel so inspired at some point perhaps I’ll dig a little deeper into Garcia’s numbers to see if there are any curiosities in his recent poor performance that might suggest a turnaround, but my guess is probably not.

If you like insane projections, Bill James thinks Garcia will pitch to a 4.20 ERA (albeit a 4.52 FIP) in 148 innings next season.… Click here to read the rest

J-Dusch joins the AL East … with the O’s

I’m slightly disappointed to announce that another potential rotation solution (not named Sergio Mitre) has been taken off the table. ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick reported last night that Justin Duchscherer has reached an agreement with the Orioles. The one year pact is worth as much as $4.5M in salary and incentives; however, only $700k is guaranteed. Apparently, the two finalists in the Duchscherer sweepstakes were the O’s and Nationals despite a plethora of teams showing interest early on. The general consensus among us here at Yankeeist was that he’d be a worthwhile investment so long as the price was cheap.

Over the course of his career, he’s pitched to a 3.13 ERA, 3.86 FIP, and a 4.01 xFIP (9 K/9, 2.4 BB/9, 0.93 HR/9, .265 BABIP). With that being said, he’s only managed twenty or more starts once in his career (2008), and managed to pitch only 28 innings in 2010. During that time he pitched to a 2.89 ERA (although his 4.58 FIP and 4.65 xFIP certainly left something to be desired).… Click here to read the rest

The 2011 Yankee pitching staff in terms of aERA and IPGS

Recently I introduced the concept of Adjusted ERA here at Yankeeist, or aERA. The statistic takes a pitcher’s actual ERA, and adjusts it to show how many runs he has given up, on average, when he is pulled from a game in the regular season. If a pitcher typically leaves the game having allowed 3 runs his aERA is 3.00.

This stat alone, however, doesn’t tell the whole story. Just as BA needs OBP or it risks obscuring what the batter is really doing, aERA requires an additional statistic that must always be presented with it if it is to accurately measure the pitcher’s performance. In the case of a starting pitcher that statistic is the number of innings he pitches on average per start, or IPGS. (I did not explain this relationship as clearly as I should have in the first post.) Now, using IPGS as well as aERA, we can better analyze the pitcher with the aERA of 3.00.… Click here to read the rest

Dear Brian Cashman: From a concerned Joba Chamberlain fan

This past Friday I decided to send an e-mail to Brian Cashman. I’m not 100% certain that I have the correct e-mail address, but I think I’m close — if nothing else, I didn’t receive a bounceback.

If he does in fact receive it, whether he actually reads and/or responds to it is an entirely different story — needless to say if he does respond, there will be multiple spontaneous parades breaking out.

While we wait for Cash to write back, I thought I’d share my e-mail with you.

“Mr. Cashman,

By way of introduction, my name is Larry Koestler, and in addition to being a lifelong Yankee fan I also run a sabermetrically-obsessed Yankee blog called Yankeeist, which has grown into a fairly well-known entity among Internet-savvy Yankee fans since its launch in September of 2009.

I’ve always been a staunch advocate of yours, and have defended all of your moves throughout this offseason in spite of growing fan unrest — I admit, even I was ready to criticize when the Rafael Soriano news came through, but then it turned out that it wasn’t your move, which was satisfying (albeit somewhat troubling that ownership went ahead with it anyway despite your protests).… Click here to read the rest

Jays jettison Yankee Killer Vernon Wells while Tampa Bay goes all 2004 Red Sox and signs both Manny Ramirez and Johnny Damon

I step away from the Internet for two hours only to come back and find that two of the Yankees’ AL East rivals have made a handful of notable moves.

First up, the Toronto Blue Jays apparently traded Vernon Wells to the Angels for Mike Napoli and Juan Rivera. I’m having a hard time figuring this deal out from the Angels’ perspective — the Jays are undoubtedly thrilled to be free of Wells’ contract, and they’re getting not one but two pretty serviceable players in return. Wells started last season out on fire before cooling off some and finishing with a .362 wOBA — his highest mark since 2006. Bill James has Wells falling to a .345 wOBA in 2011 (as do the Fans). Despite occasionally showing flashes of brilliance, Wells has had a fairly disappointing MLB career, with a .346 wOBA and 108 OPS+ — basically slightly above above-average.

Napoli’s one of the better-hitting catchers in the league, although his .340 wOBA was the lowest of his five-year career and has been trending downward the last three seasons.… Click here to read the rest

A different way to look at the performance of starting pitchers

When baseball analysts talk about pitchers they cite a number of familiar statistics: ERA, FIP, WHIP and ERA+, for example. These are all valuable metrics, but they don’t accurately portray the modern game. With the exception of WHIP, these stats are scaled to nine innings. This made sense when pitchers were often called upon to pitch entire games, but today pitchers seldom pitch the full nine frames. As a result, a statistic such as ERA, probably the statistic in baseball cited to describe the quality of a pitcher more frequently than anything else, doesn’t entirely capture a starting pitcher’s effectiveness.

Let’s take two hypothetical pitchers as an example. Pitcher A, the good pitcher, averages exactly six innings each start, and has an ERA of 3.00. If he starts 34 games in a season he’ll accumulate 204 total innings and figures to be somewhere in the Cy Young conversation (although he won’t win it). This is about the level Cole Hamels performed at in 2010.… Click here to read the rest

Yankees finally sign Andruw Jones

After getting rejected two offseasons ago, the Yankees finally signed Andruw Jones to a one-year deal worth $2 million with a potential $1.2 million in incentives.

I like this deal quite a bit — as we’ve discussed several times, though Jones has started out on fire in each of the last two seasons before tailing off, he can still rake against lefties (.402 wOBA last season, albeit in only 102 PAs), and as a fourth outfielder that’s probably what he’ll primarily be called on to do. Given that Marcus Thames was unlikely to repeat his 2010, I like Jones’ chances of filling the Thames role in 2011.

SG has Jones projected as a .342 wOBA hitter against lefties, which’ll do just fine for your fourth outfielder, and has the team offense at .360 with Jones in the lineup against lefties, Brett Gardner in center and Curtis Granderson on the bench. However, if Grandy shows that the progress he made against lefties at the end of the season was indeed real, I might consider benching Gardner in favor of Granderson from time to time.… Click here to read the rest

News and notes on a Wednesday: Soriano, Pettitte, Jones, Damon, Pavano and Joba

Though nothing official has happened outside of the Rafael Soriano signing, there has been a flurry of Yankee-related information and rumors in the aftermath of the Soriano presser, so here’s a quick rundown:

– This seems to have flown relatively under the radar, but Andy Pettitte has apparently started working out again. This has to be considered good news — while we’d obviously all much prefer Pettitte start the season from the beginning, even if Andy ends up deciding he doesn’t want to pitch the full year, if the Yankees can get him on a pro-rated deal that starts sometime in May or June it will still be better than no Andy at all.

– Multiple reports suggest the Yankees are close to agreeing to a deal with Andruw Jones as a bench piece/fourth outfielder. With the way this offseason has gone I wouldn’t be surprised if the Yankees wound up vastly overpaying, but as previously noted, I do approve of a Jones deal.… Click here to read the rest