Sunday, October 26, 2008

What does the Arizona Fall League Statistics Tell us?

Phil Hughes has struggle and panic has set in. So what does it mean?

Absolutely nothing;

Gavin Floyd 2006 (age 23)- 5.59 era 1.40 whip

Dustin McGowan 2006(Age24) - 5.59 era 1.40 whip

TJ Beam 2006(age 25 ) - .60 era 1.13 whip

Kyle Kendrick 2006 (age 21) - 6.75 era 2.06 whip

Jared Weaver 2005 (Age 22) - 5.47 era 1.42 whip

There are others as well as a whole slew of top performers who became non-prospects shortly after. The point is the Arizona fall league is about players working on things like a third pitch or to extend their innings in preparation for next year.

So when the panic sets in on Phil Hughes performance in AZ simply ignore them. We all know Phil can dominate minor leaguers as is obvious by his sub 1 career whip. What we found out about Phil is he needs another pitch to do it in the majors. His performance is nothing to even pay attention to. He is feeling out a new pitch and hopefully it clicks.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Texiera is a More Important Signing Than Even CC

While CC gets most of the press, I believe that signing Mark Texiera is just as (if not more)  important as signing CC. We are (by choice) going to lose Abreu (280, 20,100) and Giambi (250,30,90,~390 obp) this offseason, and signing Tex (280, 35, 110, ~390 obp) for 1B replaces only a part of that production. NOT signing Texiera puts out offense in a lot of trouble. Many people have called Tex a 'luxury' for the Yanks - I vehemently disagree. 

This is very much like when Carlos Beltran was a free agent. I was screaming to anyone who would listen that it was extremely important that we sign him, and that there was no better fit for the team than Beltran at the time. Bernie was winding down, our offense was starting to get old, and his numbers would make a great fit for our line-up. Unfortunately, Cash didn't agree and we now have a hole in one of the most important positions on the field. 

Based on the Yanks' anemic offense in '08, the question becomes, does the combination of Tex and Matsui provide an upgrade over Abreu and Giambi? Assuming a healthy, productive Matsui, this is a debatable question. What is NOT debatable, however, is that if we fail to sign Tex it will be a huge offensive downgrade and therefore a huge problem. 


Sunday, October 19, 2008

Not a good Day

Hughes gets pounded by A level players.

Chamberlain gets busted for a DUI

The Red Sox appear on their way to another freakin' comeback.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Yankees to Sign Everyone

I found it a little curious when Buster Olney mentioned the Yankees were looking to cut payroll by about 30 million next year. Consider that with the new stadium and the Yankees underachieving ways the checkbook was sure to get a major workout. Take the follow excerpt from Crains earlier this year;

The team's revenues—already the highest in the sport, at an estimated $327 million last year—are poised to double almost immediately. This quantum leap will be driven by factors ranging from higher prices for tickets and hot dogs to increased revenues from the YES Network for game telecasts. There will also be new revenue sources, such as leasing out the new stadium for concerts.

Reading the particulars of the article the Yankees could easily reach 300 million in payroll and make a profit. So the Olney comment was a little odd. Yesterday John Heyman comes out saying the Yankees will look to spend and spend big;

Determined not miss the playoffs for a second straight season in 2009, the Yankees' top executives have decided to pursue many of the game's premier free agents, chief among them starting pitchers CC Sabathia, A.J. Burnett and Derek Lowe, and first baseman Mark Teixeira, among others, this winter.

Now that sounds like the Yankees with a sudden windfall of new revenues and a third place finish to help motivate. I think the two difference makers are CC and Tex so go Cash-man and rebuild!

Friday, October 17, 2008

A Couple of Predictions

As the free agent period is about to heat up, I thought I'd share my thoughts as to where I see a couple of players going

Jake Peavy - Atlanta. This is the kind of move the Braves always make, and it will be a good one.

CC Sabathia - Yanks. Cash will overpay, but CC will ultimately be enticed by the slimming nature of Pinstripes.

Mark Texiera - Angels. As much as I want him manning 1B for the next 8 years in The Stadium, Arte Moreno has some cash to spend and a bunch will go Tex' way.

Ben Sheets - Cardinals. They need an Ace and (when healthy) Sheets fills the need.

These are just some initial thoughts on where I feel some of the bigger names will go once the Phillies win the World Series. I will be back with a full slate of Yankee predictions a little later in the Hot Stove season.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Guest Post from Joe

Hey Brian - Congrats on your new contract!!! Thanks God for that. 

Too bad we had a injury–filled year. But I know things will get better. 

Good pitching will beat good hitting, but I wonder why we did not play more small ball to win games? Tampa has won like 13-14 one run games because they bunt and move runners into scoring position. When was the last time our big hitters have bunted to move runners? They always hit into double plays or strike out at the end of games, and the runners always die there and it ends up as another loss. I hope that when Joe goes into Spring Training, he puts aside a day just for All the players to practice on their  bunting so that they can be ready when called upon during the regular season. 

Can you imagine Alex bunting with runners on 1st and 2nd and nobody out instead of striking out? Home Runs don’t always win ball game, but team work does.  The Yanks could have won 15 more games if they had bunted in situations to win games. Small ball in June and July will get you into October playoff. Joe should be more aggressive in his strategy to win. 

The Captain, Jeter should have jumped into Ian Kennedy face when he said no big deal to losing a game!!  Send them back to the minors until they change their attitude. The rest of the staff will get the message. Where is the leadership on that team? Get someone else to be the captain. I hope you send this to Joe G. so that he can get an idea what he must do next year. I love the yanks, but with a new Stadium, we have to do two new things -

Nobody beats us in our new Stadium!! The new Stadium should be Death Valley for teams coming to play there. Look at Tampa home records. Our record should be twice as good as that and even better. That should be the Yankees new attitude for next year. 

Each player should try and help the other player on the team to be the hero instead of himself. That’s team work. 

Thanks for listening. 

Joe

 

Front Loading Contracts Continued

A few comments on my last post very appropriately pointed out that the time value of money makes a dollar received today worth more than a dollar received in the future. I avoided the conversation about the time value of money because it only serves to further my argument. Paying more dollars upfront (as I said) is a real benefit to the player; not only is this an additional enticement, but may also serve to reduce the average annual value of the contract needed to sign that player. In most business situations the financially correct practice would be to back-load deals; the only problem with this is that baseball is different from most businesses. The money spent on players' salaries is going toward a diminishing asset; as players age their production declines. Each and every year a baseball team needs to receive a certain number of hits, runs, home runs, RBI, strikeouts etc... from their roster in order to win. Therefore, the most sound baseball practice would be to pay the players based on their years of biggest contributions to those needs. 

If we structure free agent contracts this way, and are fairly accurate in forecasting production, there should always be money available to sign new, more productive players to compensate for the reduced output from our aging players.

Keeping in mind that a certain amount of production is necessary each and every year, and keeping in mind that each free agent's performance is going to most likely decline during those years, the typical sound monetary business practice needs to take a back seat to sound business-specific baseball practice.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Front Load FA Contracts

Unfortunately for us Yankees fans the hot stove season is in full effect early this year. Talk about who and how much is dominating our Yankee thoughts.

The main peril of the long-term contract is evidenced by the deal Giambi got from the Yanks. & years and a bucketful of money made Jason an immovable object the last couple of years of his contract and essentially made the Yankees try and extract a return from their massive investment.

Giambi's contract from MLB4U.com - 

7-Year worth 120M- + he receives a 17M Signing bonus that is paid 3M in 2002, 4M in '03 and '04, 4.5M in '05, 1M in '06 and 0.5M in '07- he will make in 2002-8M, in 2003-9M, in 2004- 10M, in 2005- 11M, i 2006- 18M and in 2007 and 08- 21M and in 2009- Team Option 22M or 5M buyout

Of the $103mm not part of the signing bonus, Jason received $65mm in the last 3 years of the contract and just $38mm in the 1st 4 years. This makes NO sense. Every free agent signs a contract based on their past performance; the scary part of a free agent signing for a team, however, is can the player maintain that level of performance until the end of the contract. As the answer to that question is pretty much always NO, why in the world do teams always pay these players more in the tail end of the contract, when their numbers and skills are declining?

A smarter move would be to front-load the contracts so that their pay is more representative of their performance as they age.

If you take Giambi's contract and turn it around, he would have been making $9mm in '07, and $8mm in '08; $17 mm total instead of $42mm. Not only is it a lot easier to bench a player making $8 or $9 million, but it's a lot easier to trade them if the team should choose. 

Let's take the pending Texiera deal. Boris is asking for 10 years and $200mm; a more reasonable ending point will be something like 8 years $160mm. Let's assume a $17mm signing bonus comes off the top, so the Yanks would have $143mm to pay over 8 years ($17.875mm/yr average). I propose a schedule of - 2009 - $25mm, 2010 - $25mm, 2011 - $20mm, 2012 - $17mm, 2013 - $15mm, 2014 - $15mm, 2015 - $13mm, 2016 - $13mm. 

Assuming some drop in Tex's numbers, in 8 years a still productive player making $13mm should be pretty easy to move if the Yanks should want. In addition, we would be paying the most money for the most productive years. This also serves to insure that we are not paying a bunch of old players ridiculous sums of money for playing out the string of their huge deals thereby leaving room to sign younger, more productive players as the older players' production drops.

I can't imagine that the agents or the Player's Assoc would have any issue with this as the player makes out better by getting more money earlier. It also helps the team as I evidenced above. Hopefully Hal will see this and structure Tex', CC's and AJ's contract in this fashion.


The Dirty Sanchez Blogs

Hard throwing Yankee prospect Humberto (The Dirty) Sanchez has started a blog about his days in the AzFL. The site is aflyankees.mlblogs.com.

Let's hope The Dirty can avoid the 'curse of the blogging pitchers!'

What Makes a Bad FA Deal?

Pinstripe Mike made a comment in regards to Mark Texiera and 5+ year contracts should be avoided. It got me thinking - What elements make up a bad long term FA deal? Specifically,what warning signs should the Yankees look for when signing a big name FA? Baseball Analysts did a great piece in 2006 looking back at all the long term deals of significance. I want to focus on two pieces of the article in particular. First;

Hitters have historically been a better investment than their counterparts on the mound for teams looking to spend big money in free agency. There's not much risk in signing an under-30 superstar hitter to a long-term deal.

Good news for those Texiera fans, bad news for those Burnett and Sabathia fans. The basic point though is an important one - under 30 positional stars have been worth what the get. Now the second part I want to focus on, the bad deals. I only want to focus on positional players;

David Segui, Todd Hundley, Edgardo Alfonzo, Charles Johnson, Edgar Renteria, Roger Cedeno, David Bell, Kaz Matsui.

You can add to this list Gary Mathews Jr, JD Drew, Adrian Beltre, Richie Sexson and Juan Pierre. So let's assume 30 is the magic age for long term deals for positional players and anyone over 30 is a bad investment. How about the players under 30, what went wrong with these players? I think they fall into three categories; one skill players, steroid users or coming off career years.

The One-Trick Ponies
Theses players don't seem to age well. Juan Pierre, Roger Cedeno, and Richie Sexson fall into this category. That should make the Yankee hesitant about an Adam Dunn or Pat Burrell.

The Flukies
Teams have nobody to blame but themselves for these signings. Gary Mathews Jr, Adrian Beltre, Edgar Reteria ( a year before his walk year!) and Charles Johnson are a couple of the flukies.

The Juicers
Juicers don't seem to age well, Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens excluded. David Segui, Egardo Alfonso, Todd Hundley and even Jason Giambi are prime examples of this. It seems that players who need to juice to become stars break down but those who use it after establishing themselves can prolong their careers.

So who is out there to avoid and would want a long term deal? Milton Bradley (over 30 and a flukie), Pat Burrell(over 30 and a one-trick pony), Adam Dunn(one-trick pony) and Manny Ramirez(way over 30) all would require long term deals and should avoided.

But what about Texieria? He is under 30(28), does not appear to be a juicer(always has had power), has a well rounded game, and has a consistent track record of performance. He is by far the safest bet on the free agent market and the more you examine it the more it makes sense.

The Yankees have said they are going to try and add 2 pitchers to their pitching staff and postional players are secondary. I agree that the Yankees should add a pitcher or two but they might be missing out on the surest bet in the FA class in Mark Texiera. Cashman and gang need to realize this and move Tex to the top of the FA to do list.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Jake a Mistake

Jake Peavy is a great pitcher. He is a great pitcher in the national league. He is a great pitcher in the national league west pitching in such ballparks as Chavez Ravine, SBC (PacBell?) Park, and calling the incredibly spacious Jack Murphy Stadium his home. Jake Peavy is a great pitcher in the relative obscurity of one of the smallest media markets in all of baseball and in arguably the most laid-back atmosphere of any MLB team.

Going from the NL to the AL is worth a half a run per game on a pitcher's ERA.

Going from the NL West to the AL East is worth at least another half a run per game.

Being a star (which Peavy definately is) in San Diego is a whole different planet than being a star in NY. The pressure and attention is bound to effect his performance at least for the short term, if not longer.

Assuming an otherworldly 2.50 ERA as a Padre, and adjust for the inevitable increases for league change and division change, it would be smart to assume a 4.00 ERA if not higher. Adjust the ERA from a simply great 3.50 and Peavy would be another disaster for Cashman.

I think Jake Peavy is a great pitcher. Do we really want, however, to trade a huge bounty of prospects for a guy that we hope will have a 4.00 ERA?

When you weigh the cost in terms of talent that the Padres would (rightfully) be asking in return, I think the Peavy trade is one that the Yanks should absolutely avoid.

Sherman: Yanks will Continue to Hold Open Tryouts at First

Joel Sherman has an article today where he sums up the Yankees plans for the offseason. Once of the more frustrating points he makes is the Yankees plans at first base. According to Sherman the Yankees do not intend to pursue Mark Texiera. This is equal to choosing not to sign Beltran when he was available. There are a very limited number of teams to compete with ( maybe just Anaheim and Baltimore) he is an obvious match and young enough to make the long contract acceptable (28). Despite this and the fact that the Yankees revenues should go up significantly next year the Yankees want to cut payroll and will avoid non-pitching spending.

Instead of using what the Yankees have an almost unlimited supply of , money, they will attempt to pull from their limited minor league system to fill the need. Sherman lists what the Yankees desire from a potential target;

1) under 30; 2) athletic and sound defensively; 3) controllable into the future; 4) a well-rounded offensive game that preferably includes plate patience.

Looking at the first baseman from around the league I count only three that fall into that category; Votto, Adrian Gonzalez and Texiera. There is no way Votto or Gonzalez are coming here without Phil Hughes. So we pass up the best pitcher in baseball to keep hughes and then trade him for a first baseman? Explain how this makes sense.

If the Yankees fail to sign Texiera I find it much more likely they will continue to do open first base tryouts with players who can't stay healthy like Nick Johnson and players who have major holes in their game like Juan Miranda.

Texiera is THE solution and the last two plus years have made it clear that finding a first baseman is not as easy as it used to be. Not signing him will come back to haunt the Yankees.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Another 1B Option?

All signs point to the Yankees getting int he Mark Texiera sweepstakes but I came a cross an interesting plan B, Adrian Gonzalez. The Padres are reportedly going to look at unloading their more valuable veteran pieces. Now he is signed through 2011 at a very reasonable rate so it might not be an area the Padres want to explore. However, if they are looking to rebuild he is a chip they could move.

So now the case for Gonzalez. He is 2 years younger then Texiera and is his equal on the defensive front. His offense numbers are not quite up to Mark Texiera but he does play in a park heavily weighted towards pitchers. His home/road splits are stark -

2008 Home-.247/.355/.433
2008 Road-.308/.368/.578
2007 Home-.266/.335/.424
2007 Road - .302/.356/.538

So you take him out of Petco and you can expect a .900 ops, not too far off from Texiera( career .919 OPS). So the question is at what cost? Would the Yankees be better off "spending" their prospects for pitching? Maybe Jake Peavy?

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