Sunday, December 27, 2009

2010 off season #7

Let’s analyze the trade:

The Yankees traded Melky Cabrera, Mike Dunn (L) and 19 year old minor league pitching prospect Arodys Vizcaino (and $500k) for Javier Vazques and Boone Logan (L).

I have received a lot of questions about why we would bring a retread back, such as Vazquez, who was part of the biggest collapse we have seen and someone who had an ERA over 4.65 in 2 of his last 3 years in the AL (with the White Sox)? In his one year with us he had an ERA of 4.91. “He is a classic NL pitcher” are the comments I received.

The above is hard to argue with as the numbers do speak for themselves.

I must say that back in 2004, (I didn’t have an official blog back then) I was a fan of getting Javier. He was young and coming off some impressive seasons for the Expos, I thought he would be a nice piece of our puzzle. He had a very good 1st half of the year going 10-5 with an ERA of 3.56! Unfortunately, the wheels came off the bus as he was so bad in the 2nd half that the Yankees didn’t start him in the playoffs. His ERA in the 2nd half was 6.92 as he allowed a ton homers. You may have the bad memory of him making sure the Yankees wouldn’t come back n game 7 against the Red Sox when he allowed a grand slam to Damon in the early innings (I think 2nd?).

Some people said that he was pitching through an arm injury that year as his total innings was below 200 innings for the only time in his career since 2000. This is one of the reasons the Yankees like him…he is an absolute innings eater. Of course, quality innings are important, but as a number 4 starter he is a really good one (or at least we should think he is a really good one).

So what do I think? I have to admit I didn’t see too much of him this last year and I know with the White Sox that we hit him very well. In fact, when I looked it up it was very surprising to see that the Yankees have hit Vazquez MUCH better than any other team. The Yankees OPS against him is a whopping .996 (that is sick) with an ERA of 7.09. Surprisingly, every other team had an OPS below .800. Against Boston his ERA is 4.23.

Back to what I see… I always liked the way he pitched in that he does not give free passes and throws a lot of different pitches. For the most part he was a fastball and 12-6 curveball type pitcher and he worked in his change as well. He always let up a lot of homers and that most likely will not change. However, he obviously made some great changes to his game in Atlanta as he had the best ERA of his career, an impressive 2.87 ERA, was 4th in the CY young award voting and once again threw a lot of innings (219). The other good indicator was that he struck out a career high 238 batters against only 44 walks. Last year he was awesome. Supposedly he threw his slider a lot more last year and worked in more changeups as well and had excellent results.

One could say that Atlanta sold high on Vazquez, although their first choice was to trade away Derek Lowe, but they had no takers. Javier has one year left before he is a free agent and he is making 11 mil.

So what did we give up? Dunn is a decent lefty arm, but I don’t see him as being some great pitcher and was not dominant against lefties so that is something expendable. Those of you know that I think Melky is very expendable as he is a backup player who doesn’t hit well enough for a corner OF spot and doesn’t play defense well enough to be a CF’r. He is still young and could develop, but, while I am in the minority, I believe Gardner is better than he is. We also gave up a good pitching prospect in Arodys Vizcaino. He is ranked in the top 3 of Yankee prospects according to a few sources. He is 19 and has a lot of work to do, but he can throw 94 and has some good ability, although is still raw (these are from what I have read and not my own opinions).

Conclusion: Basically, we gave up some depth and a very good prospect who is years away and may never be anything, or may be very good, for an established innings eater (has started 32 games for 10 straight years) with one year left on his contract, who is coming off an excellent year. I think this was a good trade for the Yanks. The downside of Vazquez should still be decent for a 4th starter and the upside is that he could very well be the 2nd best pitcher on our staff.

I hope this sets us up for Hughes to be in the rotation and Joba to be in the pen. While a starter is worth far more than a reliever and I may be pulling the plug on Joba as a starter too soon, he seems to have the mentality of a closer to me. Maybe as he matures that would change, but I would leave him in the pen.

The Yankees will probably get some more OF depth, but I hope they let Gardner possibly develop into Jacoby Ellsbury as they are similar players. I am not in favor of signing Damon for LF and unless the Yanks decide to break their budget, they most likely won’t get Bay or Holliday either.

One last note, Rivera and Jeter are both in the last years of their contracts. Surprisingly, they both are still going strong. I wonder how this will play out? Cashman has said that winning is all that he cares about and he has let others go (as I think he should), however, certain players get the benefit for me and these two guys would be at the top of the list for paying them as a thanks. Neither should ever wear another uniform.
The Genius Maker tm is a tribute to Mariano Rivera who makes coaches look a like a genius...

Saturday, December 26, 2009

2010 off season #6

This blog will focus on the DH spot and the next will be about the trade of Melky

However, because this blog is a tribute to The Genius Maker, it would be appropriate for me to congratulate our savior, who was named the Sporting News 2009 Pro Athlete of the Year! I have to admit, I have no idea what this award was for, but I am sure it had something to do with being the greatest closer this world has ever seen! Congratulations Mo, you deserve every award out there.

I still miss Matsui and I am convinced the Yankees messed up their negotiations or lack thereof with him. I said it before, he pays for himself with the Japanese income and the cheap contract was well worth it. I know he had his knee drained 3 times last year and it probably won’t get any better, but the guy can still rake.

My belief is that the Yanks focused on getting Lackey and when that fell through, by the time they switched to Matsui he had already taken care of his own business. That is a shame. Boston is a better team this year than last. Even losing Bay, they should pick up a few wins which makes them a mid to high 90 win ball club. That is pretty darn good, although we should be approaching 100 ourselves.

The Yanks signed Nick Johnson and the messages from fellow blog readers I received were clearly not positive. That being said, I do think this was an excellent signing (that was only needed because of the Matsui debacle). Johnson will replace the Damon spot and I would put Granderson in the Matsui spot (5th). Johnson is an on base machine and in front of Texiera and ARod this should be very valuable.

Johnson will give you an OBP over .400 and I think will show more power in the Yankees lineup with more threats behind him. Over his last 2 years (he missed all of 2007) his OBP was .424 and his slug was .410 for a total of .834. I think his OBP will probably drop some to perhaps around .400 but his slug will move up to make up the difference, let’s say .434, although if he can stay healthy I see his slug and OPS moving higher. My feeling is based on Nick playing on weak offenses in the past made walking him more appetizing and having Tex and ARod behind will make it much less attractive. Therefore, less walks and possibly better pitches to hit should increase his slug. The real question is whether or not he can stay healthy. Some of his injuries were fluky types of things, a broken leg after a bad collision and a broken cheek bone after getting hit by the pitch. But, he has also had numerous wrist injuries over the years that have sapped some of his power. The Yankees probably feel that putting him at DH will limit the opportunities for injuries and I hope they are right; because when he is at the plate he is a valuable hitter. He hits both sides identical so he never has to be replaced.

I like Nick Johnson (NJ) and think he will add another guy who works the count to get into the bullpen faster. Texiera and ARod have to love having him in front of them. His contract is only for one year and is reasonable at 5 mil so he was a good signing with the DH spot opened up.

I do want to close with the comments that were made by Girardi and even Cashman. If you remember, after Matsui left or was about to leave they made comments about how they wanted the DH spot to be a rotating one because Girardi likes that to give players a rest once ion awhile. At that time, I said it was baloney and the logic was misguided, especially when you need a deeper bench with guys like Granderson on your team (platoon). Obviously, Girardi's comments were just a "cover up" because they went out and correctly signed NJ. That being said, I dislike the false comments they make. I have no issue with misleading other teams in trying to fill your roster correctly (part of the game), but those comments hit me the wrong way. Hard to explain but I took it as, how stupid do you think we are? That is the fake part of Girardi I don't like. Just shut up rather than blatantly lie to us.
The Genius Maker tm is a tribute to Mariano Rivera who makes coaches look a like a genius...

Friday, December 25, 2009

2010 off season #5

Merry Christmas everyone!

Once again it is good to see the responses I am getting from some of you. It seems we are all pretty excited after last year and more important, we are situated for a very good run if we play this right.

Before I get into the King of Clutch vs. the Kin of Crutches (or Matsui vs. Nick Johnson), I wanted to follow-up my comment I left you with in my last blog about Gardner.

I think Gardner is much better than many of us think…

Gardner had an OPS of .724 last year and was stronger the first half of the year when he had an opportunity to play more regularly. But even if he was able to maintain this .724 OPS, I say he should be our 3dr starting OF’r. Then again I thought he should have started over Melky and after reviewing this in further detail, there is no question he should have been.

Gardner will make 2 plays a week over Melky in CF, I am pretty confident that this number is conservative. While most of those plays would be extra base hits (doubles and triples, of course some would be singles. To be conservative, I will eliminate all triples and say that he would save one double and one single a week over Melky. That is 3 bases a week. Saving 3 bases a week is about 75 bases over the course of a year. In 600 AB’s this would add about 125 points to your OPS. When you add in the SB threat he is, he stole 26 last year getting caught only 5 times in 248 AB’s, this was the equivalent of 16 extra bases (26-10). You count each CS twice to “remove” each SB from a value standpoint. I think it would be very fair to assume that if Gardner played every day he would steal 50 bases and let’s say he would get caught more and use 13 times caught. This would lead to a (50-26) 24 extra bases or based on 600 AB’s or 40 OPS points. So comparing Gardner to Melky:

Melky’s adjusted OPS for his SB’s was .752 + .012 = .764
Gardner’s adjusted OPS is .724 + .040 (SB’s) + .125 (fielding) = .916.

Interestingly, based on last years numbers they were pretty equal offensively and Gardner is worth a ton more defensively per the above. Of course we are not even taking into account any advantage a SB threat gives for the batters on deck by taking some of the pitchers attention away and possibly causing more fastballs to be thrown. But, we are also not taking into account Melky’s stronger arm, although I would argue he takes so long to get rid of the ball that the difference is not worth a lot. Melky had 4 assists last year and his arm should be worth something in the equation, but in less time you may be surprised that Gardner had 3 assists as well. I think me using only 3 bases a week from the fielding standpoint makes up for any arm discrepancy as it is probably more.

OK, so I “proved” Gardner was better than Melky…that doesn’t mean much; we now have Granderson in CF.

Well, I think that Granderson should be platooned, I have said this before and I strongly believe it. Based on how poorly Granderson hits lefties, Gardner hit better against lefties than Granderson did. Whether the Yanks do the right thing or not from a platoon standpoint, I say Gardner deserved to play if his offense is roughly the same as Melky’s and his defense is excellent.

Therefore, Gardner should be our CF’r!

Yes, I would play Granderson is LF. Why wouldn’t we? Don’t we all think that Gardner can cover more ground than Granderson? While Granderson is better than Melky out there, how many guys can cover the ground Gardner can? If he is playing, why would you play Gardner is LF? Especially when Granderson is getting platooned why move Gardner to CF each time?

I am fine with Gardner in CF. We just won a World Series with a weaker CF’r. Granderson will hit righties and field much better than Damon is LF so even with a platoon it is an upgrade (Right handed pitchers represent roughly 2/3 of the starters). Overall while we need to juggle more, our overall production out of LF should be better.

Sure Holliday is a really good player, but I would rather hold my money back for the possible chance at C JoeMauer or the pitcher Cliff Lee and also give us one more year to see what we really have in Gardner. Maybe he is only a great defensive replacement or a great pinch runner, but it makes sense to find out.

Next blog I will move to the DH and then Vazquez.

The Genius Maker tm is a tribute to Mariano Rivera who makes coaches look a like a genius...

Thursday, December 17, 2009

2010 off season #4

Bonus Blog!...Sometimes I just want to throw down what I think. Thank you for all the emails from you folks who sometimes help me crystallize my thoughts better...talking it through sometimes allows me to better understand how I really goes.
I understand we can’t get so many big players every year and what you don’t want to do is spend money on the best that is available. The Yankees did it right last year with CC and Texiera. Burnett was OK, but you can’t have too many like him as they are huge investments for good, not great players. I kind of feel that Jason Bay and Holliday are very good players, but they are not studs. You don’t necessarily want to settle if you are the Yanks because you are paying that player a lot of money for a lot of years.

My point is that I would have been OK with signing just Matsui and make the Granderson trade and hope the Rule 5 kid Jamie Hoffman would handle some of the platoon duties (as he has to stay on our roster or be offered back). I like Lackey and feel is a very solid pitcher, but I am fine with the Yanks giving another year to Melky and Gardner to see what they have. Gardner has struggled at each step of his career but after adapting to each level he has performed well. He is doing the same in the major leagues:
2008 his OPS was .582 and in 2009 it was a not so horrible .724. Surprisingly Gardner had an OPS of .781 against lefties and a .708 against righties. When he was playing more in the first half (when Melky struggled) Gardner had an OPS of .756 before the All Star break. This may fly in the face of what I just said about adapting because his 2nd half numbers were not as good, but he only received 60 AB’s in the 2nd half and 188 in the first half. I also think his defense is worth a lot more than people think. I am actually good with Gardner starting in CF for us. ((I will explain soon))

Supposedly the Yanks are talking to Mark Derosa and Nick Johnson:

Mark Derosa over last 3 years has an OPS of .800 which is .853 against lefties and .780 against righties. Last year he was much better against lefties and struggled against righties. He is much better than Hairston and is mostly a 2nd baseman and 3rd baseman but has played a lot in the corner OF spots as well. The fit might be an inexpensive option, but I surely wouldn’t spend a lot on him.

Nick Johnson – Is an on base machine. All of his wrist injuries have sapped him of most of his 20 HR power and he is more of a line drive hitter who you can count on for .420 OBP and about the same Slug. He would be an excellent number 2 hitter getting on before Tex and ARod, but he is slow. He hits both sides equally so there is no need to platoon, but he is always hurt. I think he is worth kicking the tires on because when healthy he has pretty good value. The Yanks are probably expecting Miranda to DH for them, but if nick would sign a deal that has incentives it may be worth it…

Going back to Matsui, we will be saying over and over again why didn’t we just spend 7 mil on Matsui…$&#T!
The Genius Maker tm is a tribute to Mariano Rivera who makes coaches look a like a genius...

2010 off season #3

Hi folks, I wanted to chime in on some of the latest deals.

I was pleased to see the Yankees rule 5 pick (the player they received for Bruney) was a solid defender who hits lefties very well. From what I gather, he is a big guy who runs well, has a good arm and hits lefties very well. Most likely he doesn’t hit righties well and thus a lower batting average and OPS against 2/3 of the pitchers out there lowered his stock. It looks like Cashman realizes late in the game Granderson is a matchup problem against a lefty specialist…I hope this guy does enough?

I was also pleased with Halladay going out of the AL. I understand the Phillies have a budget, but I don’t get why they wouldn’t go for the win this year and keep lee for one more year to have an amazing 1-2 punch to go along with their offense? It just didn’t make sense to me, but I guess they figure they have enough. Halladay wanted to play there and they signed him for a very reasonable amount of money over the next 4 years (Including this year about 17.5 mil a year as they only signed a 3 year extension)

I was not pleased to see the Red Sox grab the two guys I thought fit the Yankees well. Some people had concerns with lackey’s shoulder as he only logged about 170 innings the last 2 years and if that was a major concern of the Yanks I understand. However, the guy is a very solid pitcher and gives the Red Sox and excellent rotation. Cameron helps their defense and crushes lefties and is not below average against righties. I thought he was a great fit for the Yanks with Granderson.

I am extremely upset that the Yankees let Matsui sign a one year deal for 6.5 mil a year! I don’t get this at all. Supposedly Girardi likes to have the DH spot open to juggle his players around and give them a day off by DH’ng. That is all fine, but I would rather give a guy a full day off so that he can truly rest. If you are the DH you don’t really fully rest. Most important is that Matsui was very solid and a guy you could plug into the lineup and not worry about any platooning etc…With Granderson we will take advantage of what he does extremely well, but you need the flexibility for his shortcoming which means more roster spots. We have now done the same with our DH spot! 6.5 mil for a one year deal is a steal and as I said before Matsui more than pays for himself. This was a very bad decision by the Yanks; it just has no logic to it as far as I can see. I consider Damon a DH and they will end up paying more for Damon and probably for 2 years and the productivity will not be any better, most likely it will be worse. I still don’t want them to sign Damon and this move may make them feel they need him more which makes it even worse. I would be happier if they just decided they didn’t want to sign any 35 year old player, but for one year keeping Matsui (even at 8 mil a year) is a no brainer to me). I am VERY VERY unhappy with this move; I get the feeling barring injury that we will be saying, "wouldn't it be nice if we had Matsui manning the DH spot all year." Anaheim got a steal!

The Genius Maker tm is a tribute to Mariano Rivera who makes coaches look a like a genius...

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

2010 off season #2

Good to see all the responses from people!

I thought I would answer some of the thoughts/questions:

Yes, I will do my end of year in review to see how my predictions went.

Yes, I still like the Granderson trade after sleeping on it J He is only making 5.5 mil next year. It should be noted, even if it is absurd, but Joba and Hughes were who the Tigers asked for at the start…

No, I doubt the Yankees will correctly start Granderson only against righties. What I do hope though is that they use Granderson in all OF spots so that we can have our best defensive team in there, but Gardner should be in CF if he is playing. I get the feeling Melky will be traded.

Some people are concerned about Granderson’s low OBP and how it will work if he is at the top of the order. Yes, it was low last year, but that was mostly because of 180 AB’s against lefties. He has walked over 70 times each of the last 2 seasons with an average of about 60 walks against righties. The 72 walks last year were the same as Damon and Jeter so he does walk; his BA was just very low last year. The 2 previous years his OBP was .363. In fact, if you took his last 3 years, his numbers are basically what Damon’s were last year. I think those numbers would improve with less playing time against lefties and while not playing against lefties decreases his value, having an OPS over the last 3 years of .940 with a .378 OBP against righties is extremely valuable, especially out of CF.

I mentioned I get the feeling Melky gets traded and that is because he is an ok 4th OF, but he really doesn’t stand out anywhere. His defense on the corners is solid, but as a CF’r he lacks range. As a hitter he is OK for CF, but is too weak to be a corner OF’r. So he is a little bit of a tweener and I would trade him if there is a market.

I would let Damon go and be more likely to keep Matsui if the dollars worked, because he will pay for himself in marketing to Japan. Yeah, I know people are always quick to spend the Yankee money, but they do work within a budget and the money saved can always be used for the stretch run or a free agent next year.

Based on trading Melky, I would not be surprised if the Yanks went after Bay or Holliday. The only part is what do they get paid? They are just a notch below Texiera in value so will they get a 4 year deal worth $17-18 mil a year or so? That is probably about right. Not sure I want to invest them at this point in time. However, if the Yanks said they were dropping both Matsui and Damon and then they picked up one of those guys they would still have reduced they payroll slightly when you take into account Pettitte and Granderson…almost a wash. I think I would rather get Matsui for another year and then have the money freed up to grab Halladay as a free agent or whoever else is there. I don’t want to trade for Halladay based on his money and the people to give up.

I also would not shut the door on Lackey. I would definitely test the waters for him as he is a very good pitcher and throwing CC, Burnett, Lackey, Pettitte and Hughes would be a great rotation. If the money was the same, I would rather Lackey than the LF’rs and I would make due with less in other areas. We were able to free up 5 mil for Wang, I would drop Hairston (2mil), drop Molina (2+ mil) Hinske (1+ mil) and you will pickup almost 10 mil (taking away about a mil for Cervelli and Pena.

I don’t know what the Yankees are thinking, but I would keep Joba in the pen and move Hughes to the rotation. As you know, I think there is a lot more value in a starter than a setup guy, but Joba seems much more comfortable in the bullpen and Hughes has stuff that is better suited for the rotation.

Other notes: Pettitte signed for 11.75 mil for a year. I think they paid too much for Pettitte, but maybe it is a 1 year thank you. Not sure why they had to guarantee the money and they would have been much better off doing what they did last year, even if they started the base at 7 mil instead of 5 mil like last year…either way though a thanks you is OK.

Bruney – the player to be named later is the first pick in Thursday’s rule 5 draft that the Nationals had, so that it is actually pretty good.

Keep enjoying the fact we are Champions!

The Genius Maker tm is a tribute to Mariano Rivera who makes coaches look a like a genius...

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

2010 off season #1

It has been awhile since the last blog and I hope everyone has enjoyed the bragging rights and the excitement of the World Series Champion New York Yankees!

Time to move to the off-season which is under way.

The Yanks have paid Damon and Matsui a decent amount of money the last few years (about $13 mil a year) and everyone thinks they must bring them back. I don’t feel that way unless they will sign a Bobby Abreu type of deal where he received only 6 mil or so. I am not questioning whether these guys can be productive, but it is clear that they each were breaking down last year. Damon had a ton of ailments and Matsui’s knees were giving him a lot of trouble. No way am I signing them to a 3 year deal even at a reduced rate. A one year deal is probably all I would give or 2 at $12. I think they have pretty equal value overall, because while Damon could play the field, he doesn’t play it very well.

Moving on, there are rumors that the Yanks have traded for Curtis Granderson. Supposedly they have given up their prized minor leaguer OF Austin Jackson, Phil Coke and Ian Kennedy. Jackson seems like a guy who is developing but slower than the Yanks have hoped and doesn’t seem like a guy who will have great power. The Yanks supposedly love Granderson and I have to say they really didn’t give up too much to get him. Granderson is 28 and while I heard he is a free agent after 2011, ESPN had his contract at 5.5 next year 8.25 in 2011, $10 mil in 2012 and a club option of $13 mil or a $2 mil buy out. These salaries are pretty reasonable. The Yanks took this deal after the Tigers removed one player from the trade.

My take: Granderson is a guy who should platoon. He struggles against lefties but hits righties very well. His best year was 2 years ago and has steadily gone down the last 2 years. Overall, he fits the ball park well and can play CF better than anyone except Gardner. Granderson has an ok OPS of .780 last year but was a very solid .897 against righties and a horrible .484 against lefties. Over the last 3 years his OPS is an excellent .940 against righties and bad .570 against lefties. Truthfully, you normally would not pay this much for a platoon player, but if the Yankees treat him as such, he can be very valuable. I would not start him against lefties and if he is in the lineup and a lefty comes up he should bunt. He runs well, but is not a great base stealer and a solid OF’r. He did hit 30 HR’s last year for the first time but his batting average suffered. Overall, I like the move and this based on the stats I have seen about Austin Jackson and if the yanks platoon Granderson.

Last year I wanted the Yanks to go after Cameron for a 1 or 2 year deal. He had another solid year of being great against lefties and mediocre against righties. He can help us out again this year for the same reasons. He can still play a solid CF and he crushes lefties. Last year after a mediocre 2nd half where his OPS was only .743 (.838 1st half) he finished the year with an OPS of .954 against lefties. (.748 against righties) – his numbers over the previous 2 years were similar as well. I think it is safe to say one of Damon or Matsui will go and maybe both, Cameron would give the team some good punch from the right side and it would be good to offset the lefties teams like to throw at us and would be a fantastic platoon in CF with Granderson. What is interesting is when you look at the cost for the 2 players, it would be about $13 mil this year and probably about 17 mil next year and while next year may seem high to patrol CF you are getting a platoon that should give you a combined OPS of at the minimum of .860 which would be a fantastic CF’r. There is also depth and good defense which can be used at the corner spots as well. If Melky and Gardner are still around they would fill out our OF. The problem I see with this is if the Yanks decide that Granderson should not platoon. Maybe they see some adjustment he can make but if we are lucky his OPS goes up to .700 against lefties and while that would be a great improvement it is still not good.

Other news: The Yanks have sent Bruney to the Washington Nationals for a player to be named later. Hard for me to say whether this was a good move or not without knowing the player, but I think Bruney when healthy was pretty good. The Yankees felt they had enough righties and probably wanted to clear a spot on their 40 man roster, but overall, I would have hoped he could have done more for us or at least garnered more than the player to be named later.

As for Pettitte I would hope they work out a deal similar to last year where the Yanks don’t overpay unless Pettitte has a very good year (and at that point it is worth it).

More to follow, but wanted to get my take on Granderson out there.

Keep enjoying the fact we are Champions.

The Genius Maker tm is a tribute to Mariano Rivera who makes coaches look a like a genius...