Quick Hit: The Current Rotation Depth

With the Winter Meetings well in the rearview, the new year dead ahead, and pitcher-catcher report dates closer than you might realize, it appears as though the Yankees have made all the major moves they’re going to make this offseason.  Hiroki Kuroda would have made a lot of sense, but his announcement that he will return to Japan to pitch in 2015 ended the possibility of him being brought back as additional rotation depth.  Scott astutely pointed out how that might not be the worst thing in the world earlier this morning, but even without a declining Hirok the need for more starting pitching depth is obvious.  If the organizational rotation depth was ranked 1-10, here’s how it might look right now:

1) Masahiro Tanaka
2) Michael Pineda
3) CC Sabathia
4) Nathan Eovaldi
5) Chris Capuano

6) Bryan Mitchell (made final start of 2014)
7) Ivan Nova (slated to be back from TJS in May; might not be useful until August if at all)
8) Jose De Paula (made 24 starts between Double-A and Triple-A since 2013)
9) Chase Whitley (pitched to a 4.76/3.81 split in 12 Major League starts in 2014)
10) Manny Banuelos (pitched 76.2 innings over 25 starts in Minors in 2014 coming back from TJS)

That’s not very deep at all.  …

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We’ll Miss Hiroki, But Let’s Be Glad We Won’t Suffer His Imminent Decline

Kuroda vs BAL II

Courtesy of the AP

I’ll definitely miss Hiroki Kuroda. Pitchers are notoriously inconsistent, but not Kuroda: in seven MLB years, all his annual ERAs were 3.3-3.7ish, except one 3.07 that seemed lucky (his FIP was a more Kurodalike 3.78). He rang up 12 WAR over his three Yankee years, so his $41m was a real bargain, about half the $6-7m/WAR free agent going rate. And he was fun to watch; I’m a sucker for graceful mechanics like Kuroda’s, and also for the badassness of swings and misses at sinkers barely above the dirt.

But I’m only a little, not a lot, sad he’s leaving. He turns 40 in February; almost no non-juicing/non-superstar pitcher remains any good at 40-41; and Kuroda has already started suffering decline.

Kuroda impressively defied the odds by throwing in the 90s while pushing 40, but his hard sinker has definitely slowed, modestly but steadily: from 92.3-92.4 at ages 33-34, to 91.7-92.0 at 35-37, then to 91.5 at 38, and then, last year, to 91.0 at 39.…

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Sunday Morning News And Notes: 12/28/14

Hidy ho there, boys and girls.  I hope everybody had an enjoyable holiday week.  If you spent any time near a computer, you had some of the best Yankee coverage and analysis in the biz available to you right here again.  But since things have been quiet for the past few days (mainly because I couldn’t/didn’t drag my bloated carcass to my parents’ computer), I figured today would be a good day to catch up on what’s been going on and prepare for a return to blog business as usual.

– The top Yankee-centric story of the past few days was the announcement that Hiroki Kuroda will return to Japan in 2015 to pitch for the Hiroshima Carp.  I was a huge proponent of re-signing Kuroda before and after the Capuano and Eovaldi additions and I still think he would have made a lot of sense for the Yanks.  With the team never making any proactive moves to engage him, however, it’s pretty clear the plan all along was to move on without Kuroda next year.  …

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The Christmas Open Thread

Merry Christmas, to those who celebrate! And if you don’t, happy Thursday!

This is your open thread. Feel free to talk about everything under the sun. Brag about presents, discuss the Yankees’ offseason, tell us your plans for the day, etc.

Enjoy and have a safe holiday!

Oh, and Happy Birthday to Rickey Henderson.

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Fangraphs Projection: Yankees 3rd Best Defense in MLB for 2015

Over at Fangraphs, Jeff Sullivan posted their 2015 UZR projections by team. The Yankees, who were an average defensive team last year, project as the 3rd best team in the majors in 2015 at +29 runs, in large part thanks to the additions of Didi Gregorius and Chase Headley.

Of course, that +29 number is highly regressed. The 3rd best team in 2014 ended up at +49 runs, or just over +6 wins above average. If the Yankees are that good defensively, they could make a lot of contact pitchers look pretty good next year. It might even make the team good enough to be a stealth contender for a wild card spot.

The full rankings:

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Wednesday morning news and notes 12/24/2014

It’s Christmas Eve and all through the Net, not a rumor is stirring whom the Yankees might get…

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays from your gang here at It’s About the Money. While we celebrate the season, we will keep a half an eye on what is going on in the world of baseball. Don’t expect much to happen in the next couple of days at least.

The only news to mention this morning is that the Miami Marlins have claimed Preston Claiborne off waivers from the Yankees according to Joe Frisaro.. We wish Claiborne well as he moves along to Miami.

Claiborne was somewhat useful out of the bullpen the last couple of seasons with a dead-on career FIP of 4.00. He picked up three vulture wins for the Yankees in 2014 and had four holds in 2013. Claiborne pitched a total of 71.1 innings for the Yankees in 62 appearances between 2013 and 2014 and was the designated go-to guy when the Yankees had to dip into the minors to get an arm.…

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Is It Really is 2B Rookie Time? Will No Humdrum Vet Displace Refsnyder’s Shot?

I’m oddly excited to read, “the Yankees are not bidding on free agent infielder Asdrubal Cabrera” (Bryan Hoch tweeting, then Chad Jennings re-reporting), leaving 2B likely a competition between Rob Refsnyder, Jose Pirela, and some journeymen minor-leaguers who won’t really have a shot unless both Ref and Pirela badly tank and/or get hurt.

The lack of an Asdrubal Cabrera era for the Yankees is is good news, as is the lack of news, since the Gregorious acquisition, that Stephen Drew might still be signed for 2B. The kids are not only investments in the future, but better bets for 2015:

  • Refsnyder’s Steamer (Fangraphs) projection is .262/.328/.390 (102 wRC+)
  • Pirela’s is .259/.307/.381 (91 wRC+)
  • Cabrera’s is .251/.316/.397 (100 wRC+)
  • Drew’s is .218/.294/.352 (81 wRC+)
  • That’s offense; on defense, Steamer projects Cabrera as a clearly minus defender, but Ref as a slight plus defender. Reports are mixed on Ref’s defense, probably because 2B is new enough to him that he’s been an inconsistent work in progress in the field.…

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    Monday Morning News And Notes: 12/22/14

    It was a slow weekend around these parts after a furious Friday.  The general feeling now is that the Yankees are done putting their 2015 roster together, but I wouldn’t be surprised if there was another move or 2 still to be made.  There weren’t any over the weekend, and there probably won’t be during this holiday week, but there were a few other noteworthy happenings that we’ll catch up on now.

    Via Bryan Hoch, the Yankees did not put in a bid for Korean shortstop Jung-Ho Kang before Friday’s deadline.  Kang, 27, was a rumored target earlier in the offseason before the Gregorius trade.  With Sir Didi slated to hold down the starting job, Kang was no longer necessary and it made sense to pass on him.

    – The final 2014 team payroll figures came in, and for the first time in 15 years it won’t be the Yankees with the highest payroll.  It also won’t be the Yanks paying the most in luxury tax since its inception in 2003.  …

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    Saturday Afternoon Linkapalooza: 12/20/14

    Everybody’s still buzzing from yesterday’s big Phelps-Prado-Eovaldi-Jones trade, which obviously was a much bigger deal than the weekly links post.  I think EJ and Scott’s posts on the deal were outstanding and I encourage everyone to read those below and comment if you haven’t already.  It’s hands down the best analysis of this deal you’re going to read anywhere.  Now onto the links!

    – On Monday, Greg Corcoran of Bronx Baseball Daily published the list of guys who missed the cut for his annual top 50 prospects list.  Guess it’s time to start thinking about when we do the IIATMS Top 30.

    – On Tuesday, el duque of It Is High… expressed his disappointment with getting Chase Headley instead of other younger options.

    – On Wednesday, Chris Mitchell of Pinstripe Pundits dug into some troubling swing trends from Didi Greogrius in 2014 and what they mean for his development and offensive ceiling going forward.

    – Mike Axisa of RAB profiled lefty relief prospect Tyler Webb.

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