Posts Tagged ‘yankees’

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Rafael Soriano or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Three Year Reliever Deals

January 17, 2011

In my place of work (“Work!” you might say? Yes, I do indeed have a regular job to fill the days I don’t update this blog, which is basically all of them) the climate of the economy has forced pay cuts across the board for employees. Now, percentage wise it is the same for everyone. But 15% of the pay for some of the higher ups making, say, $300k a year adds up to a lot steeper pay cut than what I have taken. Still, it comes across as very disingenuous for someone so wealthy to try and complain side by side with me about how bad we all have it with the pay cuts. They might be losing out on $45k a year, but that’s probably double what the low tier employees make total, before the pay cut. They’re also still left with $255k a year, enough, I would presume, to get by.

By the time Soriano's contract is up the Rays will probably have turned the Yankee's draft picks into a 4 star OF prospect.

The Yankees are the rich executives of the sports world (let’s ignore the fact that basically everyone in the professional sports world is rich). When they blow over 30 million dollars on a soon to be 31 year old reliever in Rafael Soriano it stings as a fan, because it is clearly a waste of money. However, I have trouble convincing myself that this will in any way hamstring them in the near future. It won’t impact the draft, it won’t impact international free-agency, and it most likely won’t affect how they go after other free agents, this year or next. The Yankees don’t have infinite revenue, and they don’t have an unlimited salary, but they do have the closest thing to it in modern sports. So even when they give away stupid money to a reliever (already a bad idea) who is over 30 (worse idea) and has an injury history (see where this is going) for three years (worst idea), I can’t get too angry without feeling entirely hypocritical. This isn’t the same as the Reds blowing more than 16 percent of their payroll on a closer.

Now on the other hand, let’s remove the money from the equation. If Soriano sucks, he can be demoted to the back of the pen and someone can be paid to replace him. If he gets hurt, the Yankees can eat the money. Soriano was a Type A free agent, and the Yankees were nowhere near protected pick status. For the most part, it is just fine to give up a draft pick to acquire a player of need. This particular transaction hurts in more than one way. The Yankees are now one first round draft pick poorer, and the Rays (who do fantastic job of drafting) are one richer (not to mention the supplemental pick they also gain from losing Soriano). So the final cost of our 70 innings middle reliever comes to:

$35mm

1 first round lost

1 first round pick gained by division rival

I also have to mention here that Grant Balfour, while not quite the reliever Soriano was, was had for 2 years and $8 million by the A’s.

A much finer bargain.

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Yankees Will Miss Wang (in 2011, Anyway)

February 28, 2010

On February 19th the Nationals made one of the more underrated moves of the off-season when they signed Chien-Ming Wang to a one year, $2 million deal (potentially worth $5 million with incentive bonuses). The Yankees reasoning for cutting ties with Wang seemed to be that they hit their monetary threshold for this off-season, and their other needs were more pressing than a guy who would likely be 7th on the starting rotation’s depth chart. The latter can’t be argued, it was definitely more beneficial to the team to bring in Curtis Granderson and to add depth with Randy Winn. This does support an argument that, as ludicrous as the Yankees payroll is, even they have limits. But what was even stranger than the fact that the Yankees couldn’t go slightly over their payroll to bring Wang back is that he received (at least publicly) so little attention and pursuit.

Wang had one of the worst 40 inning stretches in baseball history last year. 2009 was a mix of awful results and injuries. I wrote last April about what I thought was wrong with Wang, and I still think that the foot injury he suffered in ’08 was the cause of his issues last year and ultimately his shoulder injury. I will never approve of Dave Eiland after everything that went on with Wang last year. He was clearly favoring the foot on the mound, whether because it was still injured or because he was afraid of re-injuring it. Either way that is something that should have been addressed and corrected.

My point with that is that I don’t think Wang simply fell apart because he lost the ability to pitch. He just needs to get back into pitching shape and re-establish the mechanics and ground ball ability he had shown since the Yankees called him up to the majors. $2 million dollars is a paltry investment when the potential is there to receive 3-4 months and possibly 100+ innings of above average pitching. Wang is throwing off of flat ground, and should be moving on to a mound rather soon with the hope that he will be back in the majors by sometime in May.

Someone like Wang would have been a perfect investment for a team like the Mets, who lack quality pitching and have the money to spend. As bad as they were last year, most of their issues are injury related and with good health they could make a serious wild card run. Half a season of league average pitching, a reasonable expectation, could potentially put them over the other wild card contenders. However, my gripe with the Yankees not signing Wang has more to do with the fact that Andy Pettitte will (probably) retire after this season. There is of course plenty of time and resources to be acquired between now and the 2011 season, but bringing Wang back on a test run for 2010 could have been a perfect set up to round out the rotation next season.

Wang is only 29 years old (he’ll be 30 March 31st), so his age as of next season is no concern. Bringing him back and finding him to be healthy could have left the Yankees with a guarantee of at least five quality starters:

1. C.C. Sabathia

2. A.J. Burnett

3. Phil Hughes

4. Joba Chamberlain

5. Wang

2010’s ballclub of course has the newly acquired Javier Vazquez, but he is a free agent after the season and it remains to be seen if he will want to stay a Yankee past that time (and if the Yankees will want him back). Retaining both Wang and Vazquez also could have made Hughes or Chamberlain expendable in a  trade. That’s not to say that I favor trading either of them, but the more options the better.

DNE wishes Chien-Ming Wang success and good health in Washington. The Nats are definitely on their way up and have made a ton of great moves the past two off-seasons (just look at how their outfield was put together with the steal of a signing in Adam Dunn and the steal of a trade for Elijah Dukes). Losing Wang most likely won’t result in any major set backs for the Yankees but any time you can retain talent (especially homegrown, popular talent) for a minimal price it probably should be done.

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That’s a Wrap

November 5, 2009

I think I am obligated to at least mention that THE YANKEES WON THE WORLD SERIES tonight.

Hopefully my fellow Yankee fans will not be unbearably smug about everything, because the Phillies definitely played a good series. It was an A-rod 9th inning hit away from a 7 game series, and anything could have happened in a game 7.

I’ll save more for when I have more time to do a proper write up, but the playoffs were a thrill to watch (A-rod turning into a crunch-time superstar, some great come back wins) and the World Series was great. Matsui is absolutely the MVP, even as a DH in a series with 3 games in an NL park where he still managed to do damage as a pinch hitter.

Congratulations to the Yankees and my fellow fans. It seems strange that when they won the last of their string of championships I was 14. Here’s hoping to the beginning of a new run!

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Yankees Clinch Division and Home-Field Advantage

September 28, 2009
Hopefuly we'll be seeing this a few more times.

Hopefuly we'll be seeing this a few more times.

After missing out on the postseason for the first time since baseball went on strike, the Yankees started anew by clinching the AL East and homefield advantage in the playoffs. On top of that, thanks to the arbitrary all star game rule (AL won, receives home field in the world series), the Yankees have home field for the entire playoffs.

It’s been a foregone conclusion that they’d make the playoffs this season, but it is still an exciting day to be a Yankee fan, if only for the glorious hive of sexually awkward photos that come from the clubhouse.

I also heard some rumblings in the past week about players celebrating clinching playoff berths. Apparently they didn’t have celebrations “back in the day.” On top of this being not true (players were just as big dicks 40 or 50 years ago as they were today), it’s also terrible logic. Or maybe I’m one of those sassy gen-Xers who doesn’t respect his elders and listens to music too loud. Perhaps we should go back to the days when racism was more prevalent, polio was a legitimate concern, TV was in black and white, and leadoff hitters ran the bases with all the discretion of Kanye West on crank.

That’s a pretty stupid thing to even argue about though since anyone who shares that idea is old, fat, or retarded.

Coming tomorrow: Playoff previews! Enjoy these select photos of Yankees in awkward and semi-disturbing poses.

Not pictured: CC's bitches.

Not pictured: CC's bitches.

No, I don't know who that dude on the right is either.

No, I don't know who that dude on the right is either.

You won't see Mariano smile this big again until Jesus returns.

You won't see Mariano smile this big again until Jesus returns.

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David Robertson and Jonathan Papelbon Are Not As Different As You Think

August 19, 2009

Jonathan Papelbon is in the midst of his fourth full season in the majors, and has made the All-Star team in each of those years. He is generally regarded as being one of the top closers in baseball, boasts intimidating velocity, and seems like he’s a pretty big douche. Now before I get any further, I agree with the consensus that he is a fine reliever (though I still think it’s dumb that the Red Sox didn’t give him more of a chance to start instead of shoe horning him into the closers role, minimizing his potential right off the bat). He has a great strikeout rate (10 per 9 inings) and a good opponent’s batting average (.231 this year, which is actually a career worst).

You earned it Pap, you save the game about as often as Eddie Guardado.

You earned it Pap, you save the game about as often as Eddie Guardado.

But, whether it is because he is plays the most over hyped role in sports or because he is over the top on the mound and plays for the Red Sox, Papelbon has evolved into a very over-valued player.

Papelbon has a career number of 141 saves, against 18 blown saves. That comes to 88.6% of the time that he saves the game, which is only slightly ahead of Eddie Guardado’s career rate, and pretty near Matt Capps (sicne he has been closing). Now, the point here isn’t to put Paps down, it’s to compare him to a guy on the Yankees who’s getting his first extended look in the majors, David Robertson.
Let’s compare a few key numbers between the two this season:

Robertson Papelbon

D-Rob: Just as valuable as Papelbon?

D-Rob: Just as valuable as Papelbon?

ERA+        142                    216

FIP            2.98                  3.47

WHIP        1.34                   1.24

k/9            13.11 (!!!)         9.95

k/bb          2.63                  2.80

hr/9          .79                    .89

babip        .339                  .304

A lot more similar than I expected. The two of them seem to pitch with the same ulcer inducing style of putting men on base more often than they should via walk before finishing innings with strikeouts or weak contact. Oddly enough Robertson has an OAV of .218 even with the high babip. I think both are great relievers, and of course Papelbon has been at this a lot longer than Robertson. It’s still amusing to see how closely they compare this season (and there’s no reason to think Robertson can not continue to succeed after the way he’s pitched his minor league career). Papelbon will be making $6.3 million this season (and will be getting a raise before next year in arbitration), while Robertson is pitching on a league minimum deal. Papelbon will also continue to get the bulk of the fan fare (nationally, anyway), while Robertson quietly pitches in increasingly important games for the Yankees (setting up for the best relief pitcher in history of course).

If I were Theo Epstein I would be cashing in on the inflated value Papelbon has, there are a lot of teams that would pay a pretty penny for a closer with as big a name as he has. He might be a fan favorite at the moment but it isn’t like the Sox can’t alter that at their will (Nomar and Manny were two of the most popular Red Sox ever, and they got the the boot as the team saw fit).

Stay tuned for some in depth coverage from the Yankees/Athletics game tomorrow. I will be in attendance and I will try and steal an interview with the man I just wrote about. Read the rest of this entry ?

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One Hell of a Start

April 9, 2009

Early season projections are great. Emilio Bonifacio is on pace for 162 steals; six guys have hit a homer in each of their games; Ubaldo Jimenez will not give up a run all season, and Joe Girardi will be fired by Tuesday. Yes indeed, the Yankees are 0-2. We should probably all start panicking now, because starting 0-2 is a harbinger of bad things.

More amusing than the Yankees struggles to hit the Orioles questionable starting pitching is that I wrote last week about how great Bruney, Coke and the Yankees bullpen would be. My, oh my! I don’t think it is anything to fret over, as Coke was on his third inning of work and the homerun was of the shady variety, headed probably inches over the wall. It likely would have been caught by Damon as well, if not for the quick hands of the O’s fans in left field. Boy, I hate it when that happens.

There are way more positives to look at than negatives. My favorite thing to take away from the first two games is how good Cano looks. He’s going to have a monstrous rebound year. Jeter homered today, so the weak wrist/hand that plagued him last year should be no more, and hopefully he has learned his lesson about playing through injuries when they actually impair your capabilities. And even though Wang got knocked around earlier today, he still got on the mound for the first time since last July. It’s been a lot longer than it seems since he started a game.

Essentially, stay away from the New York papers. Any hype drawn from these first two games is just as valid as the red scare. I guess that would make Mike Lupica Joe McCarthy.

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Late Spring Yankee News

April 2, 2009

A quick rundown of what went on the last day or two:

Not exactly Earth shattering news but Jeter did have 24 GIDP last year, 4th in the A.L. and 7th most in baseball, so this should cut down on those a bit as long as Damon doesn’t turn into a groundout machine, too. Being lefthanded and faster doesn’t hurt in those situations, either. Jeter has a better bat, and the better hitter should ideally hit second, but I’m fine with this move.

Gardner demonstrated a much better eye and more patience in the minors than Melky Cabrera ever did. Both are superior defenders, though Gardners excellent range is offset by a Damon-esque throwing arm while Melky’s is on par with any centerfielder in baseball. Neither exhibits a lot of power (Gardner did finally show improved drive this spring with a new batting stance). Gardner is actually a year older than Cabrera, but for the time being he has more potential, and his base running alone will make him a better option if he can get on base at even an average clip.

Jonathan Albaladejo nabbed the final spot. He was swapped for Tyler Clippard at the end of 2007, so if he turns out to even be an average arm in the pen it’s a win for the Yankees. Brett Tomko was (thankfully) cut, in spite of a very good spring which had me suspecting he would make the team. The final roster is essentially set; the only move left is deciding who will have the last bench spot for the duration of A-rod’s time on the DL. That will be one of Angel Berroa and Ramiro Pena, a pretty inconsequential decision unless you own one of these and are still hoping for a return to his rookie of the year form.

One last note looking over that roster: the Yankees bullpen is going to be outrageous this season. Phil Coke is very good; his debut last year (while only 14 innings) was as good as Joba Chamberlain‘s, only with out all of the fan fare.

Coke, Brian Bruney, and Edwar Ramirez were a 26th round draft pick, waiver pickup, and independant league free agent signing, repsectively.That is the reason big money is better spent on offense and starting pitching, my friends. And, they all make a very fine pen, especially combined with Mariano and Damaso Marte. As a bonus, if the bullpen shines then perhaps the immortal pining for Joba to return to the pen will come to an end.

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