Archive for the ‘Baseball general’ category

A Ballpark Review: Yankee Stadium

April 5, 2015

Being a baseball fan, it’s pretty much a life goal of mine to visit every ML stadium. At the time being, I haven’t even hit double digits. But hopefully I’ve got quite a few mores years to make the rounds.

To accomplish this goal, I’ve decided to visit a new stadium each summer to cross a park off the list, and take in the culture of that city on a weekend getaway. Last year was glitzy LA. This year is dreary Cleveland, Ohio!

However, when choosing parks to visit, I haven’t come across many reliable sites for information on the experience of each park. Some are outdated. Others have terrible opinions (so you’re telling me Minute Maid Park is the 24th best stadium, behind the likes of Globe Life and US Cellular?). So I figured I’d share my current experiences and future experiences so that more people like me have a good idea of what they’re getting themselves into with each destination.

For my criteria, I’ve chosen ten categories, yet I have rated each category differently, based on what I value the most. For example, how beautiful a park is #1 for me, so I will value it at 25% of my total valuations. In fact, my Big Four factors are aesthetics, seats/view, atmosphere, and attractions. I like a beautiful stadium, with great seating options, a fun atmosphere, and things to do before the game such as visit the team museum or look at unique attractions on the concourse. My overall factors are

1) Aesthetics- 25

Exterior- 5

Interior- 10

Backdrop- 10

2) Seats & View- 20

Sight lines- 10

Proximity- 5

Comfort- 5

3) Atmosphere- 15

Fan Participation- 5

Attendance- 5

Fan Knowledge- 5

4) Attractions- 15

Museums & Team History- 10

Stuff to See and Do- 5

5) Food & Drink- 10

Hot Dog- 5

Best of the Rest- 5
6) Game Entertainment/Presentation- 5
7) Cleanliness- 5
8) Local Scene & Location- 5
9) Access & Cost- 5
10) Misc- Bonus Points

11) Personal Opinion- 5

Franchise: New York Yankees

Year Opened: 2009

Capacity: 49,642

Games Attended: Too many to list

So…here is the review for Yankee Stadium, a stadium I’ve been to about about 10 or so times now.

1) Aesthetics- 18/25

Exterior- 5/5

Yankee Stadium has a magnificent exterior design which excludes elegance and royalty, which is what you should expect when you enter New Yankee Stadium. The smooth brick design replicates the original Yankee Stadium (1923-mid 1970’s) and it is a perfect tribute.

Interior- 8/10

The new Yankee Stadium is a beautiful ballpark and I say so because I love how they pay tribute to the original, pre-1970’s Yankee Stadium. The Grand Hall is a wonderful addition, with banners of past players hanging up and allowing for an open walkway before you get to the main concourse. I also really like the video board and advertisement structure in center field. Some people aren’t a fan of the big ads in stadiums, but it’s a part of the industry and the Yankees did as good a job as they can do making the advertisements fit into the feel and look of the stadium. And the facade is arguably the best interior design feature of any ballpark.

Backdrop- 5/10

The only negative points here is the lack of backdrop- but what do you expect when you build a park in the Bronx? Another mistake was hiding Monument Park in center. That should have been apart of the stadium dynamic, much like it was in the old stadium.

2) Seat & View-  16/20

Sight line- 8/10

Yankee Stadium has some of the best seats and sight lines of any park I’ve been to. I’ve sat in the upper deck several times and it still feels like you’re right on top of the action. Moreover, there is an open concourse so you can still catch the action going to grab a bite or use the restroom. The second and third levels are also great spots that give you a fantastic vantage point of the park while still feeling really close to the field. The bleachers, however, are the one downside. The closer you get to the Mohegan Sun Bar in center, the worse your view is. On the right field side, you can’t left field and vice a versa. The upshot is that these are cheap seats and you’ll get to mingle with the most passionate, die-hard fans at the park so you will still have a fun time while saving some money.

Proximity- 4/5

As mentioned above, you feel close to the action here whether on the first, second, third, or fourth level.

Comfort- 4/5

I have never had a problem at Yankee stadium. The seats allow for sample space between seats and offer good leg room.

Recommended seats:

Section 428/414: Sit in the first few rows and this is the biggest bang for you buck. Cheap(er) seats and it feels like you are right on top of the action, with a view of the whole field.

Bleachers 203: Home of the Bleacher Creatures

Section 206: Catch a home run in the overhang on the second level in right field.

Sec. 414

Sec. 414

3) Atmosphere- 13.5/15

Fan Participation- 5/5

It should come as no surprise that the Yankee Stadium atmosphere is one of the top few in baseball. The fans care and know a lot about the game. The Bleacher Creatures are the most famous fan section in MLB, but the majority of people in attendance are just as devout. The only knock comes from the fact it’s not the old stadium. That stadium would rock it was so loud. Now with all the corporate suites and luxury boxes, the field level is quieter with suits occupying those sections (if they even show up) and many of the passionate fans have been priced out of attending games. But on weekends and against good teams the place will still sell out and remind you why attending baseball in the Bronx is a pilgrimage all fans need to make.

Attendance- 4/5

As alluded to above, this place doesn’t fill up like it used to, especially on week nights. But they still sell out or come close to it quite often and will be among the league leaders in attendance.

Fan Knowledge- 4.5/5

The little knock is that there are some jack off fans. But people know the game, know the latest baseball news, and ready to cheer from the first pitch.

4) Attractions- 13.5/15

Museums & Team History- 10/10

With the rich history of the Yankees, it’s no surprise that the Yankees do it big when it comes to honoring the team. Monument Park is the coolest tribute of a team’s past in all of baseball. However, if you want to visit you need to get there right when gates open otherwise you won’t get in because of the long line. In addition to Monument Park, the Yankees also have a team museum for people to get their Yankee history fix.

Stuff to See & Do- 3.5/5

A cool thing the Yankees do is hang posters and quotes of famous players throughout the park. To a non-Yankees fan this may seem excessive, but to me it’s awesome. My favorite concourse item the Yankees have is the retired numbers fixed to the wall behind the bleachers.

As for team stores, with the Yankees being the big money franchise they are, have numerous store locations throughout the ballpark.

Retired numbers on the bleachers concourse

Retired numbers on the bleachers concourse

5) Food & Drink- 5.5/10

Hot Dog- 3/5

A Yankee dog (Hebrew National) is one of my least favorite in baseball- I’d give it a 5/10 rating. They also have Nathan’s foot long dogs, which people love, but I am not Nathan’s fan.

Best of the Rest- 2.5/5

The chicken fingers are simply okay and everything else is out of budget. As for the drink selection- it’s Bud or Michelob Ultra for way too much water and it tastes like water. The only redeeming quality is that there are a lot of different food choices- from pulled pork to steak sandwiches to a fruit market- but it’s just expensive and usually not worth the money.

6) Game Presentation & Entertainment- 4/5

The Yankees have a reputation for being a no-thrills organization, but they still have a solid game entertainment package. Before the game, their video board shows highlights of famous players and famous moments in Yankees history. During the game they will still do the same “find the ball in the cap” and “pick the winner of the race” videos which fans of all ages always enjoy. In addition, the Yankees still employ an organist which is really cool for something as “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” and regularly play “God Bless America” in the 7th. And of course- win or lose they still play Sinatra’s “New York, New York”, something Yankee and non-Yankee fans alike can take comfort in after a fun day at the park.

7) Cleanliness- 5/5

This should get a high rating because the park is still pretty new, but this might be the cleanest stadium I have ever been to. It might be the one thing that stands out the most to me. The concourse is clean, the seats are clean, and everything is still in mint condition. The old stadium was gross, cramped, and foul smelling. The new stadium is much, much improved and makes for a better game experience.

8) Local Scene & Location- 2/5

At the old stadium, this might have gotten a 1. But where the old stadium once stood is now a beautiful athletic park with ball fields for the local community. However, the stadium is still in the Bronx so outside some local pizza joints and unofficial team stores there isn’t anything to do other than hop on a D or 4 train back to Manhattan.

9) Access & Cost- 2/5

As we all know, Yankee Stadium is the most expensive ticket in baseball. It also has the most expensive food and it costs money to get to the stadium (train or exorbitant parking fees). However, there are ways to enjoy Yankee Stadium without draining your bank account. Find an upper deck or bleacher seat and come stuffed so you don’t find yourself needing to eat at the game. And while transportation can be expensive, all you need to do is take the subway right to 161st St and River Avenue. No need to drive and spend a fortune on limited parking.

10) Misc- 3

Stats & Info- 1

Yankee Stadium does a great job showing the stats real fans like to process during the game. It is not only easy to spot on the mega-video board, but it is on the LED panels lining the different levels of the park.

Concourse- 1

Yankee Stadium is an open concourse, so it earns the bonus points.

Traditions- 1

Very few other parks have traditions like Yankee Stadium. The Bleacher Creatures’ “Role Call” might be the best tradition in baseball, and playing Sinatra’s “New York, New York” win or lose is something all fans look forward to.

11) Personal Opinion-4/5

I love Yankee Stadium. I also hate it. But the good outweighs the bad by a mile. This stadium is cleaner, nicer, has better seats, and looks beautiful. Yet it’s not as loud and more corporate. Despite that, it can still be a rocking stadium and the beauty of it has sold me enough to enjoy it more than the old stadium.

Final Score: 85.5/115

A must see stadium for any baseball fan.

Hasty 2015 MLB Predictions

April 4, 2015

Between work and life the beginning of the 2015 MLB season has snuck up on me. So here are my (not entirely thought out) predictions for the upcoming season!

AL East

1) Boston Red Sox (92-70)- Despite what could be a poor rotation, I am all in on Boston their offense/defense.

2) Toronto Blue Jays (88-74)- Finally start to win some games with all their acquisitions. Donaldson is a big grab.

3) New York Yankees (84-78)- I had them in last place all season. But with their defense and pitching, they could pull a 2014 Royals. Although they are an injury away from a 70-75 win season.

4) Baltimore Orioles (82-80)- I just don’t see the overall offense/pitching/defense needed to win. Going to be a very average year in Baltimore.

4) Tampa Bay Rays (77-85)- I really wanted to pick them as a sleeper team and I love their outfield potential, but they are the weakest team in the division.

AL Central

1) Cleveland Indians (91-71)- I am jumping on the bandwagon.

2) Detroit Tigers (89-73)- On paper you can make argument for them beating out the Indians.

3) Kansas City Royals (84-78)- Still love the bullpen and defense, but rotation doesn’t have depth and offensive is mediocre.

4) Chicago White Sox (81-81)- Jose Abreu is an MVP candidate and their pitching is underrated, but elsewhere is lacking.

5) Minnesota Twins (70-92)- Will fight for the first pick in the draft.

AL West

1) Seattle Mariners (90-72)- Going into this I thought they would be really overrated this season. But rotation has the potential to the best in the AL.

2) Los Angeles Angels (88-74)- Mike Trout is their hope of winning the division.

3) Oakland Athletics (85-77)- Will be better than expected.

4) Texas Rangers (80-82)- Might surprise people. But probably not.

5) Houston Astros (74-88)- That defense looks…non-existent.

NL East

1) Washington Nationals (93-69)- Offense might but weak but every SP could be an All-Star this season.

2 New York Mets (84-78)- Harvey could be make or break piece for them.

3) Miami Marlins (83-79)- I could see them being pretty good. But odds are they’ll just be okay.

4) Atlanta Braves (72-90)- This is going to be ugly.

5) Philadelphia Phillies (60-102)- I think giving them 60 wins is generous. Utley and Hamels are still there (for now) but if either is traded we can be looking at 110+ losses.

NL Central

1) St. Louis Cardinals (91-71)- Year in and year out you can pencil them at the Central favorites

2) Pittsburgh Pirates (88-74)- I love their depth, they have an MVP candidate in McCutchen, a potential star in Blanco, and an ace in Cole. But I think the rest of their rotation is too unreliable to help pull off a 90 win season. As a baseball fan, I hope I’m wrong and the Bucs can finally raise a division flag.

3) Chicago Cubs (85-77)- Really wanted to pick Cincinnati above Chicago, but Chicago has more upside.

4) Cincinnati Reds (82-80)- I expect a big year from Votto.

5) Milwaukee Brewers (80-82)- Could be a sleeper team but probably not.

NL West

1) Los Angeles Dodgers (100-62)- They are the best team in baseball. They have a superstars, every bench player is a legitimate backup, and the rotation goes five deep.

2) San Diego Padres (86-76)- I am not on the bandwagon whatsoever and was expecting to place San Fran ahead of the Padres, but the Padres just pack a little more punch on paper as I expect a big year from Myers.

3) San Francisco Giants (85-77)- It’s going to be their pitching that carries them.

4) Colorado Rockies (73-89)- The offense and defense isn’t bad. But their pitching (in Coors) might be the worst in baseball.

5) Arizona Diamondbacks (69-93)- They have Paul Goldschmidt and little of much else.

AL Playoffs

Wild Card Tie-Breaker: Toronto Blue Jays over Los Angeles Angeles

Wild Card Game: Detroit Tigers over Toronto Blue Jays

ALDS: Boston Red Sox over Detroit Tigers (3-2); Seattle Mariners over Cleveland Indians (3-2)

ALCS: Boston Red Sox over Seattle Mariners (4-2)

NL Playoffs

Wild Card Game: Pittsburgh Pirates over San Diego Padres

NLDS: Los Angeles Dodgers over Pittsburgh Pirates (3-0); Washington Nationals over St. Louis Cardinals (3-1)

NLCS: Los Angeles Dodgers over Washington Nationals (4-2)

World Series: Los Angeles Dodgers over Boston Red Sox (4-3)

AL MVP: Mike Trout

NL MVP: Yasiel Puig

AL Cy Young: Sonny Gray

NL Cy Young: Steven Strasburg

AL ROY: Francisco Lindor

NL ROY: Jorge Soler

AL Comeback Player: Chin-s00 Choo

NL Comeback Player: Joey Votto

AL Hank Aaron: Mike Trout

NL Hank Aaron: Paul Goldschmidt

AL Platinum Glove: Josh Donaldson

NL Platinum Glove: Juan Lagares

Don Mattingly: Best Player At His Peak?

January 5, 2014

When looking at Don Mattingly’s Hall of Fame case many journalists mention how Mattingly was the best player in baseball during his peak and before his back was a problem. So that got me thinking- was Don Mattingly truly the best player in baseball during his peak?

Mattingly’s peak was four years- 1984 to 1987. He accumulated a 24.7 fWAR which was good for 6.2 WAR per season or 5.8 WAR/650 PA. So Mattingly was an MVP level player for four seasons- pretty dang good. Mattingly played another eight seasons after 1987 but only had a 3+ WAR season twice and only had 600+ PA a season four times in that span. His average wRC+ was 152 so the man could hit. This was achieved with a high .300’s OBP and mid .500’s SLG.

As the numbers show Mattingly does have a good case for the being the best player in baseball during his peak. But was he really “the best”?

Candidates:

Rickey Henderson- 2392 PA, .289/.397/.484/.391/145+; 274 SB, 26.7 fWAR, 7.3 WAR/650PA

Tim Raines- 2674 PA, .323/.409/.477/.388/146+; 265 SB, 26.6 fWAR, 6.5 WAR/650PA

Wade Boggs- 2844 PA, .353/.442/.489/.411/152+; 31.4 fWAR, 7.2 WAR/650PA

Cal Ripken- 2858 PA, .280/.352/.469/.362/124+; 25.6 fWAR, 5.8 WAR/650PA

Mike Schmidt- 2547 PA, .284/.384/.541/.395/148+; 24.3 fWAR, 6.2 WAR/650PA

Tony Gwynn- 2727 PA, .341/.400/.457/.376/139+; 24.2 fWAR, 5.8 WAR/650PA

After looking at it, I do not think Mattingly was the best player in baseball during his peak. Of the candidates, I would take Henderson, Raines, Boggs, Ripken, and Schmidt over him. Why? When it comes to Henderson and Raines I think both were simply better players. Mattingly certainly had more power, but Rickey and Raines were better OBP who could field, hit, and run. Mattingly was simply a hitter who played first base. That is partly why I would also take Mike Schmidt and Cal Ripken as well. Third and short are more valuable positions- and both Schmidt and Ripken were exceptional fielders who are also all-time hitters at their respective positions. As for Boggs, I think he may be the best player between 1984 and 1987, if not Rickey or Raines.

In the end though, it’s super close and still being a top five player at your peak is still impressive.

 

Adios Robinson Cano

December 6, 2013

This morning Robinson Cano signed a reported 10/$240mil contract with the Seattle Mariners. With all the speculation in the past day I can’t say this is a surprise but I did not think he would sign with Seattle so fast- but I also didn’t think they would go to 10/$240mil so fast.

A month or so ago I wrote about what a potential Robinson Cano contract would look like. In it I surmised that a contract could be worth up to $198mil over ten years but also could be worth up to $240mil depending on the team. I do think Robinson Cano for ten years is worth $240mil- for the New York Yankees. For the Seattle Mariners he is worth closer to $198mil than $240mil so I have to say this a overpay. Not only is it an overpay but it’s an overreach in terms of years. Even if Robinson ages well, one has to imagine that the contract will be dead weight come 2021 and beyond.

If Seattle figures to be a possible playoff team in the near future and Cano is the piece that puts them over the hump then one can see why they would make this deal. As it stands, Seattle won 75 games in 2012. Nick Franklin, who was the expected starter at second for Seattle, is projected to have a 1.5 fWAR by Steamer and 2.6 fWAR by Oliver. Let’s split the difference at 2.0 fWAR. Cano is projected by each at 5.4 and 4.6 so let’s call it 5.0. That is a three win upgrade at the price of $24mil or $8mil per win. And it only jumps Seattle up to a nearly .500 baseball team.

Going forward Seattle could be a playoff team down the road. But by the time this happens, Cano will be in his decline and not as valuable as he currently is. Yet he will still be owed a lot of money could prevent the Mariners from signing players they could sign down the line to contend.

While a large contract made sense for the Yankees, especially in the short run, they did not want to go past seven years- and I can’t blame them for that. Long term contracts of that magnitude rarely turn out well and New York has learned that first hand with contracts they have handed out to Jason Giambi, Mark Teixeira, and Alex Rodriguez. With the money “saved” they can try to make up for the lost value in others- possibly by signing Masahiro Tanaka, Omar Infante, and Carlos Beltran or Shin-soo Choo. Granted, this will eat up more roster spots than the one spot Cano would have taken, but it could save them money and years.

As for Robinson, I can’t blame him. Yes, I wish he stayed. I wish he chose a plaque at Monument Park over $240mil. I wish he chose to be a Yankee legend over $240mil. But he earned a big payday and he took it as he and other players have every right to. Hopefully when he returns to the Bronx he isn’t greeted with a chorus of boos.

I think it’s also interesting that a Yankee star at the height of his career LEFT the Yankees. For Seattle of all places. Imagine this scenario playing out five years ago? Ten years ago? Even with the signings of Brian McCann and Jacoby Ellsbury, it appears as if the Empire is dead.

Finally, Robinson Cano is the one player I can’t help but partial to. Not seeing him in the Yankee lineup everyday is going to hurt. Yet life goes on. Adios Robbie, and good luck in Seattle.

Hopefully this weekend I will put up a post outline what the Yankees should do now.

 

 

 

Tigers Trade Doug Fister to Nationals

December 3, 2013

This evening the Detroit Tigers traded starter Doug Fister to the Washington Nationals for Steve Lombardozzi, Robbie Ray, and Ian Krol. The Tigers continue their busy off-season but I’m not so sure I’m a fan of this deal.

Doug Fister is a very sold #2-#3 pitcher. From 2010 through 2013 he has posted fWAR’s of 2.6, 5.2, 3.5, and 4.6. He has consistently posted a mid 3’s FIP and has excellent control. While he may not strike a lot of batters out, he has a great walk rate and ground ball rate, so he doesn’t give up many home runs. The result of walking few batters and allowing few long balls means he’s effective at not giving up runs. He will be turning 30 in 2014 and is cost-controlled through the 2015 season.

Steam projects Fister to have a 3.3 fWAR in 2014. At $5mil a win, that’s $16.5mil in value. If he is a 3 WAR pitcher in 2015 at $5.25mil a win, that’s $15.75mil in value for a two year total of $32.25mil. Fister made $4mil in 2013 after his season arbitration eligible season. Using the 40/60/80 rule we can expect Fister to make $9.9mil in 2014 and $12.6mil in 2015. However, I don’t think that’s realistic. One reason being that his salary increase from 2013 to 2014 would be over a 100% increase. I think we can more reasonably look at a $6.5mil contract for 2014 and a $9-$11mil contract in 2015. As a result, his net value for 2014-2015 is an estimated $16mil.

Steve Lombardozzi will be cost-controlled for the next four years. He is a second baseman but can be used in the utility role for Detroit between second, short, third, and the corner outfield. While he has a great minor league track record, he has struggled mightily in his first two seasons at Washington. His above average BB rate in the minors has fallen to 3.7% through 700+ PA leading to a career wOBA of .281. Ouch. Now, he may still have potential yet because he is young and has a minor league track record. But starting in 2015 he will have to be paid a few million dollars to produce at replacement level production.

The Tigers will also be getting relievers Ian Krol and Robbie Ray. Now, Ray still is a starting pitcher. But through three minor league seasons he has struggled with walks and home runs, which points to a career as a future reliever if he can’t fix his problems. Ian Krol is a former starter himself before the Nationals converted him to a reliever. He is a lefty which is valuable out of the pen and had a decent rookie season. The Tigers have been trying to fix their pen for a couple seasons now so one can see where they are coming from in this trade.

I just don’t think you trade a great starting pitcher for your utility guy and a couple relievers. The Tigers don’t have any ready replacement for Fister in the rotation and his production at the ML level over the next two seasons will be greater than anyone they are getting back in the trade. As a team that is looking to win it all NOW I don’t see how the team helps them NOW.

As for Washington, they get a solid starter for their backup second baseman and utility player and some relievers. I like it from their perspective. They have a good rotation as it is and the addition of Fister will help separate them in a relatively weak division (outside of Atlanta). I don’t think the package Washington is giving up is worth the $16mil of value they will be getting from Fister.

 

The 2014 Hall of Fame Ballot is STACKED

November 26, 2013

With newcomers such as Greg Maddux and Mike Mussina, in addition to returning players such Jeff Bagwell and Edgar Martinez, the 2014 HOF ballot is ridiculous. I don’t know how less than ten people could get elected this time around.

Returning players who should be in:

Larry Walker

Alan Trammell

Curt Schilling

Tim Raines

Mike Piazza

Edgar Martinez

Roger Clemens

Barry Bonds

Craig Biggio

Jeff Bagwell

That’s ten people right there! Too bad writers can only vote for up to ten people. Here are the newcomers who are sure fire HOF’ers as well:

Frank Thomas

Mike Mussina

Greg Maddux

And two more potentials on my standards: Tom Glavine and Jeff Kent.

If most of these players don’t make it then imagine the backlog come 2015 with the addition of Randy Johnson, Pedro Martinez, John Smoltz, Gary Sheffield, and Nomar Garciaparra.

 

Jhonny Peralta’s New Contract and its Implactions on the Next CBA

November 25, 2013

Last night the St. Louis Cardinals signed Jhonny Peralta to a 4/$52mil contract. And the baseball world is furious about it.

Many people are upset that someone can be suspended because of PEDs for fifty games and still get a $52mil payday. The suspensions are supposed to be deterrents to using steroids. But if suspended players can still have the potential of earning millions of dollars then the suspensions will not stop players from using steroids.

If one really wants to tackle this issue they would look at why players use in the first place. At the top of the list is financial reasons. Maybe not to go from making $10mil to $20mil but to go from poor to rich. Most users are minor league players who make $10k or players who come from very, very poor areas and are willing on taking the 1% chance of going pro so they can provide for their family. If you do the risk-reward analysis- 50 games suspension or huge payday- the payday will win almost every time.

Players as well as fans are upset. One disgruntled player is Brad Zeigler who took his complaints to Twitter. A lot of players do want to clean up the sport because they are tired of the mess PEDs have created. After 2016 the current CBA will expire. And one can be sure that PEDs will be a major sticking point this time around.

Although it seems that both parties want to get rid of steroids I think there will be contentious debate. Although the MLBPA represents players who want to abolish steroids it still has to protect those players that do use. So increasing suspensions or penalties may be off the table for them. MLB will probably want to increase first time user suspensions or even have a one strike and your out rule. No way will MLBPA agree to that. Again, they need to protect its players so it won’t allow MLB to throw players out for one failed test.

The next labor negotiations will certainly be interesting and for everyone’s sake let’s hope they can resolve the issue peacefully.

Yankees Sign Brian McCann

November 24, 2013

Late this evening the New York Yankees signed catcher Brian McCann to a 5/$85mil contract with a vesting option that would bring the deal to 6/$100. I was concerned the Yankees would overvalue Brian McCann with a $100mil+ contract for five years, and they did overpay, but I’m more indifferent than upset with this signing. It has good qualities and bad qualities.

Year

Age

xWAR

$/WAR

Value

Salary

2014

30

3.6

5

18

17

2015

31

3.1

5.25

16.23

17

2016

32

2.6

5.51

14.33

17

2017

33

2.1

5.79

12.16

17

2018

34

1.6

6.08

9.73

17

2019 (Option)

35

1.1

6.38

7.02

15

Total

13/14.1

70.45/77.47

85/100

I based my WAR predictions on his Steamer forecast for 2014. They have Brian McCann putting up an fWAR of 3.6. From there I decreased it by 0.5 each season. I think his Steamer forecast looks right on and I think as he ages he will decline similar to a 0.5 per season decline. However, one could feel differently. If you think he will be a full-time DH by year three or four and want to decrease his WAR because of that (losing the positional value) then go ahead.

If McCann stays for five years then according to the value I have him accumulating he will reach 83% of his salary. If his option vests he will reach 77% of his salary in value produced.

So while it IS an overpay, I like that the deal in the short run when his production and value will be in line with his salary. Although the Yankees still have a lot of work to do to contend in 2014 and the near future, it’s better for their bottom line to try and stay a contender than tank for a few years. While they need better player development and to produce some in-house stars, a better strategy for their business is to refuel and reload. They can do that with this contract. In three years Gary Sanchez may be ready to take over full-time catching duties. McCann can catch part-time and DH for two years and focus on his offense.

On the flip side, could this money be better spent elsewhere to improve this team? To be honest, I’m not sure. Chris Stewart is slated to be the starter for 2014 while Francisco Cervelli is suspended for 50 games. McCann is a three win upgrade over Stewart and will be paid like it. After that, the Yankees can ease in their catching prospects while McCann gets the majority of starts and gets some time at 1b and/or DH to keep his bat in the lineup.

One downside is losing a draft pick. But the Yankees are probably figuring to they will gain some if they lose Curtis Granderson and Hiroki Kuroda. Although with a reinvigorated focus on growing farm one wonders if this McCann contract is worth losing a first round pick- a pick which could always be franchise changing.

As for the rest of the Yankees off-season I would like them to re-sign Robinson Cano (but not to anything above $250mil), sign Tanaka if he is posted, sign re-sign Kuroda (depending on years and/or price), and sign Omar Infante to play third base.

Angels and Cardinals trade Bourjos, Freese

November 22, 2013

Today the Los Angeles Angels traded outfielder Peter Bourjos to the St. Louis Cardinals for past World Series MVP David Freese.  Through the deal the Angels are able to fill their hole at third base while the Cardinals pick up some outfield depth with the expected loss of Carlos Beltran.

When you look at why both teams made the deal I think it’s a fine trade for each team. I believe Peter Bourjos has more value but it’s still fine trade for LA. They needed a third baseman and Peter Bourjos was just a fourth outfielder in LA. St. Louis had depth in the infield so Freese was expendable while they pick up some needed outfield depth.

Peter Bourjos is a 27 year old outfielder with great defensive skills who has proven to a valuable player in the Brett Gardner mold when given a chance. In his only full season, 2011, he posted a 4.2 fWAR. He has posted less than 600 PA in each of his other three seasons combined. He has accumulated an impressive amount of fWAR over that time. Granted, WAR is just a framework and not an be-all end-all type of metric- but it is useful. In fact, his career WAR/650PA is 5.15. Now, that’s over four seasons with three of them as a backup outfielder so his rate WAR is inflated a little bit. But it still shows he is a good player and can be a valuable member of any team as a starting outfielder. With the trade St. Louis can shift Matt Carpenter to third, put Kolten Wong at second, and have an outfield of Bourjos, Craig, and Jay/Taveras.

As for LA, they needed a third baseman. Freese isn’t as valuable as Bourjos in general, but for the Angels he might be. LA already have Josh Hamilton and Mike Trout in the outfield, with a couple other youngsters in the mix. However, their third baseman was Chris Nelson. Freese, according to Steamer projections, expects to a be two win upgrade over Nelson. Moreover, while Steamer projects Bourjos to be worth over two wins, that’s with nearly 500 PA. If LA was only going to give him only 200 PA again, then Freese would project to be more valuable in LA than Bourjos.

Freese is entering is age 31 season and has more two years arbitration years. Bourjos will be 27 and has three more arbitration years. So again, I do think Bourjos is more valuable in a neutral context. In the perspective of each team though, the trade makes sense.

Tigers, Rangers Swap Fielder, Kinsler

November 21, 2013

In shocking news (to me) that came out of left field (to me) the Detroit Tigers have traded Prince Fielder to the Texas Rangers for Ian Kinsler. Wow.

This happened so fast that my head is still spinning as I try to make sense of it and evaluate the trade. All we know right know is that it is a straight-up trade with the possibility of some money being exchanged. For now I will analyze it as a straight-up trade and can edit in some opinion if more information is revealed.

After the 2011 season the Tigers signed Prince Fielder to a 9/$214mil contract. This is not only the highest contract on the Tigers, but one of the highest in baseball history. From 2011-2013 he put up fWAR’s of 4.9, 4.8, and 2.2. His wRC+ over that span is 160, 153, 125 and his defense has been rather poor, as one would imagine.

After the 2012 season Ian Kinsler signed an extension with the Rangers to the tune of 5/$75mil with a $10mil club option in 2018. From 2011-2013 his fWAR was 7.3, 3.0, 2.5. His wRC+ has ranged from 123 to 100 to 105 while playing above average defense.

In this trade the Rangers will be trading four years and $62mil of Kinsler for seven years and $168mil of Fielder.

Taken on face value this seems like an unfair trade. The Tigers will be reducing payroll while getting a good second baseman. Moreover, they will be on the hook for less years in a long term contract. However, we know the analysis doesn’t end right there.

Why did the Tigers make this trade? Prince Fielder was a star athlete and hit in the heart of the lineup. He made the All-Star team both seasons in Detroit and was the best hitter on the team, outside Miguel Cabrera, both seasons. Moreover, he has led baseball in games played the past few seasons. However, he is a big, power hitting first baseman who will be thirty in 2014 and be paid $24mil a season through 2020, his age 36 season. His B-R similar players list is scattered with players who saw a steep decline in production after age thirty.

Here are two graphs from a FanGraphs article written by Eno Sarris.

What these graphs are trying to say is that hitters decline around age thirty. The graphs show BB%, K%, GB%, and ISO- all components of a power hitter like Prince Fielder. From 2009-2012 Fielder had an OBP above .400 and BB% in the 15% range. However, it has dipped the past two seasons to 10.5%. His K% went from about 12% in 2012 to 16% in 2013 (although his career average is about 17%). His GB% has actually lowered the past two seasons, but his ISO has shown the expected dip that the above graph expects.

By most estimates we should expect a less dangerous Prince Fielder going forward. He won’t be bad, but between poor defense and declining offensive skills, $24mil for Prince Fielder is a steep price to pay for Detroit, Texas, or any team.

At the same time, Ian Kinsler is going through a similar decline phase. He will be 32 in 2014. His offense and defense have taken a hit from his peak season in 2011. However, Kinsler’s decline won’t be as bad as Fielder’s. First off, the Tigers won’t be on the hook for as many years and as much money as the Rangers will be with Fielder. Moreover, Kinsler holds a lot more positional value at second base. Going further, while he has probably peaked defensively, Kinsler is still an above average fielder. And while we won’t see anymore .364 wOBA seasons out of him, he has a good BB% and superb K% rate and GB% still. While we should expect all those to decline, he will still be an average offensive contributor for the remaining years on his contract. So at an average of about $15mil over the next four seasons, we can expect Kinsler to match those expectations more so than Fielder and his $24mil AAV contract.

So, after that roundabout analysis, let’s get back to the question- why did the Tigers make this trade after giving Fielder a nine year contract just two seasons ago? Well, Fielder is entering the decline phase of his career, but still was owed $168mil over seven seasons. All that for a future DH. Meanwhile, Kinsler would be on the Detroit payroll for three less years and for over $100mil less in payroll money.

When it comes to the ball field it makes sense as well. Without Omar Infante the Tigers needed a second baseman. Kinsler not only gives the Tigers a second baseman, but it gives them a quality second baseman. To fill the hole at first, the Tigers can move Miguel Cabrera there (a defensive liability at third) and then fill third base with top prospect Nick Castellanos. The $100mil in savings can go towards re-signing players such as Max Scherzer and Miguel Cabrera. And the end of the day the Tigers really shouldn’t project to lose any projected wins for the 2014 season.

As for the Rangers, I think the trade still makes sense despite what I said about Prince Fielder before. In 2013 the Rangers got a combined 0.4 fWAR from first base. Prince Fielder is an immediate upgrade, albeit at the cost of $24mil. The trade also opens up a position for top prospect, Jurickson Profar. Instead of paying $16mil for Kinsler in 2014 they can play Profar for the league minimum and get similar on-field production and/or value. In a sense, the Rangers are paying just an extra $8mil over the next couple seasons to upgrade at first base and allow Jurickson Profar to start full time at the league minimum.

My only qualm is the long term impact this deal will have for Texas. Fielder’s contract will be a heel in a few seasons and by that time Profar will no longer be a league minimum player. However, Texas is built to win now and after being so close to winning a title the past few seasons, Texas realizes their window is closing and wants to capitalize.

Essentially, I think this a win-win trade for two AL pennant contenders. While I like the deal more for Detroit, I can see where Texas is coming from in making this deal. Although I do think Fielder will continue to decline, playing in Arlington opposed to Comerica will surely slow that decline.

EDIT: Detroit is sending $30mil to Texas, so Texas is effectively paying $138mil over years for Fielder. That is much better value for Fielder, but it will still be a tough contract on the payroll come 2016 or 2017 and beyond. However, it makes the deal that much better for Texas in the short run, the trade still makes a lot of sense for Detroit.