Players to Watch: N.L. East

Let’s end our week with an eye towards the Right Coast and the N.L. teams that inhabit it. You know the drill.

NL West
NL Central

Starting, as we so normally do, at the top with the Phillies. Let’s go with t3h 4 @ce$! shall we? No. The obvious choice here is Dominic Brown. He’s the Phillies’ top prospect and is the likely replacement for the departed Jayson Werth. Brown struggled in a brief 70 PA stint in the bigs last year, wOBAing just .259 and striking out 38.7% of the time. Brown will be 23 when the season starts and won’t be 24 until September so time is still on his side. Can he cash in on his big prospect status in 2011 or will fans think he’s not WERTH it?!

Atlanta Braves: No more Bobby Cox. That phrase alone is enough to shake my baseball-self to its core. I haven’t known a time in my baseball-life that doesn’t include Bobby Cox.… Click here to read the rest

Message to Yankee fans: Redirect the vitriol (a preemptive strike at crazy comments)

Earlier today, Larry contemplated the unlikely possibility of a third reunion between Nick Johnson and the Yankees. Now I’m fairly certain that my pal is going to take some flack for this, so I’ve thrown together a quick piece rant imploring our readership to consider musings such as this objectively, before proceeding to tear my fellow writer a new one.

Anyway, the formula is simple:

Nick Johnson at a very discounted rate equates to inexpensive-quality OBP. Inexpensive-quality OBP outweighs both the potentiality of player frailty and feeble production of some of the current alternatives (i.e., Ramiro Pena).

Now, given our site’s emphasis on data-driven analytics, it’s easy to understand why we would endorse guys such as Johnson, or Javier Vazquez, or even, wait for it, Carl Pavano (part deux). If the numbers crunch and an organizational need is met, we typically buy in.

However, much of the New York fanbase is a tad more cynical (to put it kindly).… Click here to read the rest

The Worst Players in Baseball, Part II (pitcher edition)

Last week, Mike wrote an entertaining segment on baseball’s worst position players over the past five seasons. I figured I’d contribute to this de-motivational, anti-productive, albeit slightly hilarious if not fairly whimsical line of thinking by comparing the worst starting pitchers in similar fashion. Before breaking down the contributions of our “champions-of-nothing,” let’s just take a moment to discuss the criteria utilized in assigning this inglorious prestige.

For the sake of comparison, I’ve considered only starting pitchers with at least 100 innings pitched (or approximately 20 or more games started). While this method eliminates historically “ideal” candidates such as the Shawn Chacons or Sidney Ponsons of the world, it keeps spot starters from skewing the otherwise perfectly terrible results of otherwise perfectly terrible contenders.

2006 | Scott Elarton, Kansas City Royals: Elarton posted an atrocious 5.34 ERA, 6.76 FIP, and a 6.24 xFIP. If those numbers weren’t wretched enough, his stat line was also highlighted by so-bad-they-can’t-possibly-be-real-can-they rates stats: 3.85 K/9, 4.08 BB/9, and 2.04 HR/9 (26 HR surrendered, sound familiar?).

Click here to read the rest

On the Arbitration Offers (Or Lack Thereof)

Yesterday, the Yankees declined to offer arbitration to all of their free agents (Derek Jeter, Mariano Rivera, Lance Berkman, and Kerry Wood) except for Javier Vazquez.

We can quite easily say that offering to Vazquez was the riskiest thing the Yankees could have done. He had, by far, the worst year of the five and made a good chunk of change. Had he accepted, the Yankees probably would’ve been on the hook for a good deal of money and a (probably) unproductive player. But, Vazquez and the Yankees had an agreement, and Vazquez turned down arbitration. So, he’ll give the Yankees a sandwich pick when he signs elsewhere. This may be the best thing Javy’s done for the Yankees in 2010 (yes that’s hyperbole).

Not offering to Wood and Berkman makes a bit of sense. Wood made a lot of money and the risk of acceptance was far too big for the reward. Seeing as how Berkman wanted his option to be declined, offering him arbitration would seem less risky, but the Yankees played it safe.… Click here to read the rest

News Day: Pettitte, Arbitration Decisions, MVP, Cashman (Update)

Today was a day loaded with news, so let’s dive right in.

1) Ken Davidoff is reporting that Andy Pettitte is leaning towards a return to the Yankees in 2011. This is fantastic news, as it makes the Yankees a bit less reliant on signing Cliff Lee and means that they are likely to be at least as good in the rotation this coming year as they were last season.

2) The Yankees are going to offer arbitration to Kerry Wood and Javy Vazquez, but not Derek Jeter. The Jeter decision likely stems from a fear that he would accept it and make 18-22 million dollars next year, although it may have just been a good faith effort to show Jeter that they are committed to reaching a long-term agreement with him and do not want to unnecessarily injure his bargaining position. Javy has already agreed to decline arbitration, meaning the club will gain a supplemental draft pick once he signs with another club.… Click here to read the rest

Offer Arbitration to Vazquez?

"...another year in pinstripes?"

The Yanks have until Tuesday, November 23rd to offer arbitration to their free agents. I would expect them to offer it to Derek Jeter and Mariano Rivera, given that the Yanks would absolutely love for them to accept 1 year deals. I’d think they won’t offer to Andy Pettitte, knowing he only wants to play for the Yanks and thinking they can do better by negotiating with Andy than they can with an arbitrator. Most of the rest of their other free agents (Berkman, Wood, Johnson, Kearns) are either too old and/or overpaid to offer arbitration to, fearing they’d accept and do much better in arbitration negotiating from their base salary. As a rule, older players that don’t figure to get multi-year offers elsewhere will typically do better in arbitration than they will as free agents.

But lately the hot stove has been buzzing with interest for Javier Vazquez. First, we heard the Braves would like to bring him back with the strong 2009 campaign he had in Atlanta.… Click here to read the rest

2010 Season in Review: Javier Vazquez

The late ’90s Yankee dynasty was awash in pitching. Whether it was David Cone, David Wells, Orlando Hernandez, Andy Pettitte, or Roger Clemens, from 1996 to 2000 the Yankee rotation was stacked with excellent starting pitchers who excelled in the postseason. Unfortunately, only one of those players was homegrown. The rest were imported, and therefore old. As Larry pointed out on Monday, by the time the 2004 season began the once mighty pitching staff had crumbled away, mostly due to age, and in the case of Pettitte, bad business decisions.

This also exposed the basic risk of importing any players, pitchers or otherwise. Sometimes you sign El Duque for $12 million. Other times you trade Nick Johnson for Javier Vazquez. It may all seem like ancient history to Yankee fans, but back in 2004 Home Run Javy was a 27-year-old stud who had reeled off four consecutive strong seasons in Montreal. Hurt or otherwise, Javy had a terrible second half in pinstripes in his debut Yankee season that culminated in serving up a grand slam to Johnny Damon in Game Seven of the 2004 ALCS, and he was promptly run out of town with a choker label on his forehead.… Click here to read the rest

Defending Brian Cashman’s offseason moves

The Yankees held their end-of-season press conference yesterday. From Cliff Lee to Derek Jeter, most of the conference’s subject matter was to be expected. One thing surprised me, though. Brian Cashman confessed that he felt he had a poor offseason heading into 2010. The results of Cashman’s efforts may have been subpar, but let me state it clearly: Brian Cashman and the Yankees had an excellent offseason between 2009 and 2010. Cashman is confusing inputs with outputs.

At worst, Cashman was too self-deprecating in the press conference, but it was wiser to say he’d had a bad offseason than to get into the nuances of why it was actually a good offseason. Cashman can’t come out and explain that without sounding defensive or petulant. Fortunately, I can.

The 2009 Yankees were a fantastic team, but they had to overcome obvious weaknesses to win the World Series. First and foremost, the team needed pitching. It took a scheduling fluke to allow the team to start only three pitchers throughout October, and even then it was big gamble heading into the World Series.

Click here to read the rest

A busy news day: Lee, Jeter, Rivera, Joba, Montero, Pettitte, Crawford, Werth, Greinke, Dunn and more

Apologies for not being further out in front of all of the news that broke today, but our friends at RAB have already done yeomen’s work in covering everything that came out of the end-of-season press conference held by Brian Cashman and Joe Girardi at the Stadium today, so be sure to check that out (as if you haven’t already).

You’ve likely already heard about Dave Eiland getting the boot and Andy Pettitte pitching through injury in the playoffs, but Cashman also talks about the Yankees’ not having an answer for the Rangers despite steamrolling the Twins; Girardi asserts that Joba Chamberlain is a bullpen guy now and forever (groan); both men say the Yankee are obviously interested in Cliff Lee without actually saying it; Cashman stays coy about Jesus Montero joining the Bigs next season; Cashman essentially confirms that he’ll be way overpaying for Derek Jeter‘s and Mariano Rivera‘s services; and in perhaps the most interesting tidbit, Cash admits last winter wasn’t his best, although I’d beg to differ.… Click here to read the rest