Archive for January 2011

A’s sign Grant Balfour

January 14, 2011

It’s a 2/$8.1mil deal.

Good deal. How can the Yankees be so stoopid? Yes, Rafael Soriano is better than Grant Balfour, but not by much. You can argue that if you’re going to give up a pick go for the better guy, Soriano is not 3x better.

Buster Olney is suggesting that the Soriano deal was ownership driven and not baseball operations, aka Brian Cashman, driven. That’s good and bad. Good that apparently Cashman is not losing his mind. Bad because it means he’s seemingly losing the power he had gained in 2006.

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Yankees sign Rafael Soriano

January 14, 2011

Ugh. It’s a 3/$35mil deal. For a relief pitcher.

I do not like this deal at all. $35mil for a relief pitcher? Are you kidding me?

The deal is also tricky. Soriano has the chance to opt out after 2011 and 2012. So in his 2011 he will make $11.5mil. If he stays he will make $10mil in 2012. If he stays again he will make $13.5mil in 2013.

So basically Soriano controls his own destiny, instead of the team, and he could potentially screw us over.

Don’t get me wrong, Rafael Soriano is a nice pitcher. His K/9, BB/9, and HR/9 are all fantastic. His FIP and xFIP are great as well. But look at it this way…if $ per WAR in 2011 is $4.5mil, Soriano would need to post a 2.6 WAR to justify his contract. Only thing is, he’s posted a WAR above 2 in his career. Moreover, I have a tough time saying he is worth more to the Yankees so even if Soriano doesn’t produce 2.5 WAR he is still worth it. For one, on paper we are more than 2 wins worse than Boston. So even if Soriano is a 1.5-2 win upgrade over our worst bullpen member (like a Sergio Mitre), he doesn’t provide enough of an upgrade to make the large signing worth it. It might help us in the Wild Card, but I would say the goal is to build a roster that will win the division (and as a result, the World Series as well).

Moreover, one can’t argue he’s worth more since he’d be pitching high leverage situations. He will be our SET UP MAN. $35MIL FOR A SET UP MAN. Yes, sometimes the eight can be a high leverage situation. Yes, sometimes the eighth might be the most important part of the game. But that’s not the case as much as it is the case in the ninth. I will say it is nice because now Mo can become a one and done ninth inning pitcher, which could prolong his career, improve his health/endurance over the season, and thus make him more effective later in the season. But is that benefit worth $35mil? I can’t see it.

The opt outs have potential to be good, and the potential to be. If Soriano has a great 2011 and opts out, the Yankees will probably get two drafts. Considering we are losing a first rounder in a loaded 2011 to sign Soriano, it would be good compensation to receive a year of Soriano+2 future draft picks. If he is good and stays, I wouldn’t complain since his contract in 2012 is lower and would be more likely to be worth the money in that season. BUT, what if he sucks in 2011? He will opt to comeback and again we will overpay for a reliever and NOT receive any draft picks. The same theory can be applied for the second opt-out.

So yeah, I hate the deal. I will root for him obviously and he DOES make the Yankees better so I am glad in that sense he is a Yankee. But it’s bad business and a bad contract. $10-$13mil a year may not be a lot for the Yankees to play a person per season, but that make it okay to throw it out the window. That’s money that could go to the draft, international signings, a potential trade, or future FA signing. Moreover, in 2013 we already have $122mil on the books for SIX PLAYERS. Add in Soriano and that’s $135.5mil tied up in SEVEN PLAYERS. WoW.

 

Hopefully, this means Joba Chamberlain to the rotation. I didn’t want to, because his mind is just being toyed with at this point. I figure it will be best to let him reliever another year or two, let him become established, and then bring him back to the rotation. But the signing opens up the door for a Joba return to the rotation. His career high in innings is 157, from 2009, so using Cashman’s +40 innings rule, Joba would be good to go for 200 innings in the rotation. He is a better option than anyone else on the market or in-house and while staying in the pen would give us a NASTY pen, he holds more value and will help the team win more pitching innings 1-6 rather than just inning seven.

 

 

 

Andy Pettitte partially retires

January 13, 2011

Which opens the door to Andy announcing his comeback sometime in May from the Yankees front office brass suite, causing Suzyn Waldman to blow her load live on-air.

I will wait to talk about Andy’s career until he officially retires. But I will talk about the Yankees current rotation.

So far the definites are CC Sabathia, AJ Burnett, and Phil Hughes. Obviously I would love to see Joba Chamberlain return to the rotation, but I doubt that happens this season so I will assume that is not a possibility.

So the Yankees have two spots to fill. On Opening Day, possible in-house options are Sergio Mitre, Ivan Nova, Hector Noesi, and David Phelps. Come opening day, we will not see Andrew Brackman or Dellin Betances in the rotation short-running. I do not think Phelps is ready and the same goes for Hector (although I love Hector). Mitre is trash as a starter, which leaves Ivan Nova. I am willing to give Nova a shot and come May if he sucks, try out Phelps or Noesi. Nova could be a pretty good reliever, but if he can pitch similarly to his end of season stint from 2010, then I think he will be a capable 5th starter.

Now, onto the FA market. Players that interest me are Jeff Francis, Justin Duchscherer, and Kevin Milwood. Honestly, I would sign all three. Depth is going to be HUGE for the Yankees. In a typical season, the Yankees will use an about eleven different starting pitchers. Even with our minor league depth, we could use those three FA pitchers. Neither of them are great, but at a cheap price they have the potential to be some of the better 4 or 5 pitchers around.

Jeff Francis would be #1 on my list. He is a lefty, which is useful for Yankee Stadium and useful since they will be competing with lefty heavy lineups in Boston, Texas, and Minnesota (especially if Jim Thome re-signs there). Francis isn’t great, but he should be good for about a 4-ish FIP. He doesn’t walk many batters, which is good since he is a hittable pitcher.Francis is also 29 and could parlay a nice season into a draft pick or a worthy extension.

Next, I would go after Milwood. I know he made $10mil plus on his last contract, but there is no way he sniffs that. Considering his type B status, I can’t imagine him signing for more than $5mil. Milwood is not the pitcher he once was. But he eats innings. That is going to be vital for the rotation. Outside CC, there is no reliable pitcher in the rotation. Milwood is good for 30+ start. He was hit hard last season and gives up his share of walks, but like Francis, he is a 4-4.5 FIP pitcher. As the last guy in the rotation, that’s not bad if he can throw 180+ innings. A team like the Yankees would prefer more production, but given their options Milwood is one of the best options still available.

As for Justin Duchscherer, I like him. I think he can be a good starter. But I don’t trust him. He is always hurt. We will sign him and he will get hurt and we’re back to square one. I think signing him to relieve will help and reduce his injury potential. For a low, $1mil or $2mil deal I would sign him. For depth and to see what he could possibly do in the pen.

Pettitte walking away- for now- hurts. The Yankees can manage if they follow any of the aforementioned strategies. It’s not ideal, but it’s making the best of a bad situation.

Trevor Hoffman retires

January 11, 2011

And he retires the all-time saves leader (stoopid stat) with 601 career saves.

While I don’t like reliever all that well, it is a role and position of the game that isn’t going away anytime soon. Although Hoffman may be quite overrated, he still had a fantastic career. Will he be a Hall of Famer? No doubt about it. Should he be a Hall of Famer? Let’s take a look.

For obvious reasons, closers compile low WAR numbers. For that reason, most people are probably against their inclusion into the HOF. I disagree. It IS a position and their scale for getting into the HOF should be different than starting pitchers. While a HOF pitcher will generally have a 60+ WAR, I like to look at a reliever’s WAR/200. By scaling their WAR to 200 innings, you can put them on the “same level” as starters. Hoffman’s 22.9 fWAR is clearly not HOF worthy if you treat it the same as you would a starting pitcher. But you shouldn’t do that. His WAR/200 is 4.2. That’s pretty good. Tom Glavine’s WAR/200 is 3.1. John Smoltz is 4.8.

Granted, starting pitcher’s ARE more valuable than reliever’s and typically more talented. But when you put up the numbers of a Trevor Hoffman, it’s clear you have HOF skill and talent. The only reason you’re not seeing success as a starter is because 1) You lack the stamina 2) You lack multiple pitches 3) You dominant in the pen and your team refuses to move you from the position. Those factors should not be held against a dominant reliever.

So yes, Trevor Hoffman should be in the HOF. His numbers are better than current RP in the HOF, including Bruce Sutter and Goose Gossage. Hoffman is retiring with more than a K per inning and a 3.08 FIP. For starters and position players, anything above 3 WAR is considered Wins Above Excellent and anything above 6 WAR is considered Wins Above MVP. For a RP I would estimate WAE would be either 1.5 or 2 and WAM would be 2 or 2.5. I could do further analysis on that, but estimating right now, that would give Hoffman three seasons of WAE and a whopping six seasons of WAM.

From 1996-2000 he had a dominant run, posting five consecutive WAM seasons, posting FIP’s between 2.04 and 2.70, accumunlating 12.5 fWAR (or 6.6 WAR/200!) and a K/9 of 11.0. Impressive.

So Trevor Hoffman is a HOF pitcher. I also want to take the time to talk about Lee Smith.

He has been on the ballot for a long while. He is better than Trevor Hoffman. So if Hoffman gets in, which I assume he will, then it is a shame Smith will probably not be. He threw about 200 more career innings, yet his fWAR/200 is 4.5. Remember, Hoffman’s is 4.2. Smith also finished with a better career FIP, which is 2.93. Smith had EIGHT seasons of WAM and another two seasons of WAE.

Lee Smith and Trevor Hoffman for Hall of Fame.

 

Tampa Bay Rays reportedly trade Matt Garza to Chicago Cubs

January 7, 2011

That is the breaking news this morning/afternoon. Along with Matt Garza, the Rays will be sending a minor league pitcher and out fielder. In return, the Rays will receive Cubs top prospect Chris Archer, Hak-Ju Lee, Brandon Guyer, Robinson Chirinos, and Sam Fulds. This might not be the biggest blockbuster, but it’s a big time deal. And I like how Tampa makes out.

Personally, I think Matt Garza is overrated at the moment. He is a nice pitcher, but I believe his annual high 3 ERA overrates him, and as a result the MSM talks him up like he is a top of the rotation pitcher. Right now, he is not that good. His BB/9 is okay, as he tends to sit around 3 walks per nine. But his HR/9 is not that good. He gives up lots of fly balls and lots of home runs. He will be headed to Chicago and their infamous wind, where the ball can fly out of the park. Moreover, the division he will pitch in is home to other notorious bandboxes in Cincinnati, Houston, and Milwaukee. The only saving grace is the weaker lineups of the NL and NL Central specifically compared to the AL East.

Granted, he is just 27. I don’t think he’s been great, but I do think he is a solid, good #3ish pitcher. His FIP has been in the low 4’s the past three seasons, and he is good for 30 starts and 200 innings a year. That consistency and dependability merits some value. But he isn’t an ace pitcher- yet. I don’t think he will achieve that status with his HR tendency, but he can emerge as an All-Star caliber pitcher for a few seasons if everything goes right. So the Cubs still are getting a good pitcher. It’s just a matter of if they paid the right price.

Garza will be under team control for three more seasons. But he was paid over $3mil last season, so the 40/60/80 won’t quite work, because he was a Super 2. So I will use a 60/80/100 scale. I have him pegged at 2 WAR or a total of 6 WAR over the next three seasons. Why 2 WAR and not 2.5 or a favorable 3? Well, looking at park factors from the past three seasons, Wrigley is prone to more walks, more runs, and more homers. Garza already had an average walk rate in the Trop and a bad HR in the trop. Going to Wrigley won’t help things unless his skill in those areas improves on its own. So I have his value in 2011 at $9mil, 10$mil in 2012, and $11mil in 2013 for a total of $30. Using the 60/80/10 scale he should be paid and will probably be paid around $24mil for $30mil worth of value. So yeah, the Cubs get a good net value there. BUT, there is something to consider…

…the prospects they are giving up.

Chris Archer is the Cubs number prospect according to BA. He has put up some real good numbers in the minors so far, outside a bad walk rate, and figures to be a pretty good closer or reliever in the future. The Rays will also be getting Hak-Ju Lee, the Cubs #4 rated prospect. He is a twenty year old prospect with speed and lots and lots of potential. After trading Jason Bartlett, it appears that Tampa just got their shortstop of the future. Brandon Guyer is a defense guy. He was the Cubs #10 rated prospect, and his offense is okay. But he was the Cubs best defensive outfielder in the minors. We know Tampa loves defense. Depending on his upcoming season, Guyer could make BJ Upton even more expendable. Robinson Chirinos is a player I like. He has an AMAZING walk rate and owned the upper minors last season. Yes, he is 27. Very old for the minors and that is why he is not ranked as a top Cubs prospect. But he was converted to catcher just two years ago. Yet he is already the Cubs best defensive catcher in the minors. If he can provide sound defense and get on base, he could very be the Rays starting catcher at some point this season and contribute. They also get Sam Fulds but who cares?

So, for three years of an okay pitcher (who they won’t miss- David Price, James Shields, and Jeremy Hellickson are better for sure. Jeff Niemann and Wade Davis are good as well and Matt Moore is still in the minors…) the Rays get a team’s #1 prospect and possible future closer, future shortstop, future outfielder, and future/current catcher. That’s a good pitching prospect, two up the middle position players, and another good prospect. I am not going to call this a heist, especially since we don’t know the PTBNL, but I like this deal for Tampa- a lot. They can sell an over-hyped Garza for a lot of prospects who they can use to cover the value Garza provides and then some. I mean, lets call Chris Archer a top 50 or so pitching prospect. That’s $15mil of value right there. Garza only provides $5mil, remember? Then you have to factor in the other prospects…

However, this trade doesn’t totally stink for Chicago. They already have a dominant closer in Carlos Marmol. Lee is blocked at short because of Starlin Castro, so Lee is not as valuable to Chicago as he is to Tampa. But still, you’d think they would have drawn the line somewhere.

 

UPDATE: Fernando Perez is the outfielder going to Chicago. This doesn’t change my opinion much. A couple years ago I thought he might have been a decent player, but that ship has sailed.

BBWAA screws up again

January 6, 2011

Another ballot, another mediots post. I am making this post separate from the previous one since I don’t want to ruin my congratulatory post with BBWAA nonsense.

This has to be one of the worse ballots in recent BBWAA history.

1) I will NOT give them credit for Alomar and Blyleven. Both were just a couple votes away from making it. Both were shoe-ins.

2) How does Kevin Brown fall off the ballot? Whether you believe he is a HOF’er or not, he has a case and thus is deserving of more time on the ballot. Juan Gonzalez will live to see another ballot but not K-Brown? Pathetic.

3) Edgar Martinez dropped in percentage points. How does that happen? You would think over time he would get support as people realize he put up godly numbers and they would relax on the DH thing. Guess not.

4) Larry Walker at 20%? Unlike some other deserving people on the ballot, I think Walker will get in at some point. But 20% is awfully. His % practically confirms my belief the majority of voters don’t care and don’t look at the numbers.

5) I give up. Trammell will never get 😦

6) No words need to be said on Bagwell. He clearly is one of the best first baseman EVER. But made up rumors are keeping him out. The BBWAA makes a mockery of professional journalism yet again.

 

At least Tim Raines gained support. I never thought I’d say this, but he might have a chance going forward. Today on MLBN, even someone like Mitch Williams gave him support- and even said he was the Rickey Henderson of the NL. Finally some mediot understands!

Also, I can almost guarantee Barry Larkin gets in next ballot. He jumped into the 60% range and the newcomers to the next ballot are weak. Larkin can jump 13% in support. I will not blame them for Mark McGwire. It’s a touchy subject and I can understand why he still gets no support.

Congratulations Roberto Alomar and Bert Blyleven

January 6, 2011

Congratulations to Roberto Alomar and Bert Blyleven on their selection to the Baseball Hall of Fame! Their inductions are well deserved and I am looking forward to this summer to see them join the company of some of baseballs best players ever.