Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Andy Was the Better Choice

During the millennium-long negotiation between Andy Pettitte and the Yanks, all of us Yankees fans were looking at the availability of Ben Sheets and salivating at the prospect of adding him to our rotation. ERAs of 2.70, 3.33, 3.82, 3.82 and 3.09 over the past 5 years, 2 straight impressive all-star game appearances, and 'tools' and 'stuff' up the yin yang made the majority of us want to bid farewell to Andy and replace him with the flamethrower from Milwaukee.

I admit that I too was mesmerized by Sheets' potential. Signing him, however, would have definitely been the wrong move.

We already signed an injury question mark (AJ Burnett) this year. We signed an ace who lead both the AL and NL in complete games last year, and leads the universe in innings pitched the last 3 years (CC). We have a young pitcher who has never thrown more than 100 innings before in the majors already slotted into our rotation (Joba). We are counting on another starter who made only 15 starts last year (Wang). 

We NEED someone who we can count on to throw 200 innings, and who knows what pitching and winning for the Yankees is all about. Pettitte will be the guy that ALL of these pitchers can go to and that Joe G (and we as fans) can count on to take the ball and compete every start.

While Sheets was sexier, signing Pettitte was the right move.

Hip Hip - HOF

When asked about having concern for the health of Jorge Posada and Mariano Rivera in 2009, GM Brian Cashman responded to the effect that a potential Hall of Fame catcher like Posada is impossible to replace. That got me thinking...is Jorge HOF worthy?

Let's compare Jorge with 4 catchers already in the Hall of Fame - Yogi Berra, Johnnie Bench, Gary Carter and Carlton Fisk.

Yogi Berra - over 19 seasons posted 285/348/482
Gary Carter - 19 seasons 262/335/439
Johnnie Bench - 17 seasons 267/342/476
Carlton Fisk - 24 seasons 269/341/457
Jorge Posada - 14 seasons 277/380/477

Over their respective careers, Jorge has posted a higher batting average, a higher on base percentage and a higher slugging percentage then Carter, Bench and Fisk, has a higher career OBP then Yogi, and compares very well with Yogi in BA and slugging.

Yogi - 9 times 90+ RBI 
Bench - 7 times 90+ RBI
Carter - 5 times 90+
Fisk - 2 times 90+ RBI
Posada - 5 times 90+ RBI

Assuming health and considering the Yanks' strong lineup, I see no reason Jorge won't equal Bench's 7 years of 90+ RBI, and currently is equal to Carter and beyond Fisk in this category.

Yogi - 358 HR (18.84/season)
Bench - 389 HR (22.88/season)
Carter - 324 HR (17.05/season)
Fisk - 376 HR (15.66/season)
Jorge - 221 HR (15.78/season)

While Jorge has plus power for a catcher, his HR numbers are not quite as good as Yogi, Gary Carter or Johnnie Bench. 

All things considered, Jorge either compares extremely well or surpasses the credentials posted by the 4 other Hall of Fame catchers listed here. Jorge is certainly no Yogi Berra, but his numbers are certainly every bit as good (better!) as Carlton Fisk and Gary Carter. Considering that Jorge currently owns 4 (and will shortly be fitted for his 5th!) World Championship rings, his induction 5 years after retirement should pretty much be a no-brainer.

Monday, January 12, 2009

GAK!

A quick question...

Why the hell is George King a panelist on the Yes Hot Stove show?

The guy is dour, dumb, and makes absolutely no contribution to the show. He is as dynamic as a houseplant and basically has no clue. 

Jay Mohr Knows Red Sox Fans


(h/t to Sliding Into Home)

Friday, January 9, 2009

100+

Thanks to RLYW for backing up my expectations of a 100+ win season with more nuts and bolts then I provided!

See the info here

How the Yanks Could Sign Manny

The potential problem with signing Manny to a 3 or 4 year deal is that you never know if he will pull another stunt like he did with the Red Sox and leave the signing team holding the bag for $50-$80 million. I have a fix for that-

Sign Manny to a 2 year deal for a guaranteed $40 million. Add an incentives clause based on top 15 MVP for an additional $5mm per year bring him to the $25mm per he desires. Then, add 2 vesting years based on 120 games played structured the same way as the 1st 2 years ($20mm guaranteed with $5mm per for top 15 MVP). This contract would allow Manny to attain the 4 year $100mm contract he desires, so long as he plays in more than 120 games per year, and is among the top 15 in MVP voting each year. Any player making $25mm per year had BETTER be in the top 15 in MVP voting! 

Manny has been in the top 15 in MVP voting in 9 of the last 10 years.

Manny has played in 120 or more games every year but 1 since 1995.

This contract would allow the signing team some degree of comfort that Manny would be motivated every year, and allow Manny to attain the contract he wants so long as he is as productive as he has been for his whole career.

What do you think?

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Expectations

In my previous post I wrote that I expect the Yanks to push the 100 win mark in 2009. A reader very fairly commented that there are a number of potential pitfalls that could keep that number a good 5-10 wins below that 100 win mark. In response to that comment I thought I'd write about what I expect to happen in '09-

I expect:

Damon and Jeter to hit 300 and score 100 runs.

Tex to hit at least 285 with more than 30 hr and 100 RBI

Arod to hit at least 300 with more than 35 HR and 110 RBI

Matsui to be healthy and post in the area of 285/385/485

Posada to post numbers in-line with his career norms and catch 100+ games (270/380/485)

Nady to hit 275/20/85

Cano to hit +/-300/20/85

Melky/Gardner to stay above the mendoza line and play plus defense.

This is what I EXPECT- I hope for more. If all we get is the expected numbers, we should be comfortably above 900 runs scored for the year.

As for the starters, I expect:

Pettitte will have no problem at worst duplicating his 2008 numbers. Andy pitched the second half with a mild shoulder strain that kept him from properly finishing his pitches and he therefore was up in the zone from August on. While a 3.75 ERA might be too optimistic for a guy on the wrong side of 35, I believe he will do better than 4.54 he posted in '08.

I expect CC to get off to a slow start. Everyone knows Carsten leads the universe in innings pitched the last 2 years, and if you look at his splits he is a consistently slow starter. As the Yanks have said they plan to bring him along cautiously in spring training, I think that slow start is a given for '09. After May 15th, however, I expect he'll be the best pitcher in the AL.

I expect AJ to make 25 starts and post a 4.00 ERA.

I expect Wang to be Wang; the best #3 in the game, challenge for 20 wins and have a sub 4 ERA.

I expect Joba to make 20-25 starts and have an ERA under 4.

I expect Phil Hughes to make 20+ starts and have a 4-ish ERA.

I expect the Yankee pen to be very solid and build off of last year's success.

I don't feel that any of my expectations for '09 are unrealistic; they are pretty much based on the back of the baseball cards for each player. I don't expect 35 starts from AJ (though he could surprise), I don't expect a 2.50 ERA from Joba (though, again, it could happen)- everything above should happen, and might be too conservative.
Granted (as evidenced last year!) injuries are the potential fly in the ointment, but short of limiting Joba and AJ's starts there is no way to forecast them.

Therefore, and based on the above expectations, I see 100 wins.

What do you think? Are any of my expectations unrealistic?

Monday, January 5, 2009

Many Moves....But Are we Any Better?

Let's assume that the Yanks are pretty much done for the off season and we'll be going to war with the currently situated roster (including Andy as I still think that is a foregone conclusion). There is no doubt that we are a different team, but are we a truly better team? Many pundits and posts have forecasted that while the Yanks will be better, it will only be marginally so. Let's take a look at the new roster when compared with 2008 and see if we agree - 

2008 Line up-

Damon LF/DH
Jeter SS
Abreu RF
Arod 3B
Giambi 1B
Nady LF/DH
Cano 2B
Molina C
Melky/Gardner CF

Our 2009 version features the following substitutions-

Posada for Molina
Teixeira for Giambi
Matsui for Abreu

The worst swap here is Matsui for Abreu, which is likely a wash. The other 2 swaps are significant upgrades.

The 2008 rotation saw the following (# starts/ERA)-

Mussina (34/3.37)
Pettitte (33/4.54)
Rasner (20/5.40) 
Ponson (15/5.85)
Wang (15/4.07)
Kennedy (9/8.17)
Hughes (8/6.62)
Pavano (7/5.77)
Joba (12/2.60*)
Geise (3/3.53*)
Aceves (4/2.40*)
Igawa (1/13.50)
(*combined starting/relieving ERA)

Of the 161 starts in 2008, 50 (31%) were made by either Rasner, Ponson, Pavano, Geise, Aceves or Igawa; OUCH!

For the rotation in 2009, if we assume that CC provides only the same season that Moose gave us last year (though he should provide more), and that Pettitte is exactly the same (though I expect better without the shoulder strain), we would be replacing all of the non-Moose/Pettitte starts with an additional 15-20 from Wang and Joba each, and 30+ from Burnett/Hughes. 

I might be dumb, but it sure seems that this is a massive upgrade to me!

We won 89 games last year and have made significant upgrades to both our lineup and our rotation - anyone who is looking for less then 100 wins in 2009 is not paying attention!

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Sign or Get Off the Pot

Let me start by saying I love Andy Pettitte. I think that by him coming back we would have the one thing we are currently missing form our rotation - someone who has won (and won big) as a Yankee before. Don't underestimate the importance of Pettitte's ability to play the 'been there...won that' card.

I also have developed a serious man-crush on Phil Hughes. I am expecting that by the 3rd year of CC and AJ's new contract they will both be slotted in behind Phil Phranchize on the depth chart.

That being said, we have to resolve our last rotation spot. Our offer to Andy has been gathering dust for a couple of months now and I think it's time to shake things up a bit.

Kernan of the Post suggests Oliver Perez - nah. If we wanted a young, immensely frustrating kid with huge potential we could have signed Daniel Cabrera for a relative bucket of balls.

No; there is only one direction to move in - Ben Sheets.

Take the same offer made to Andy, add a team option for 2010 and put it on the table as well to Sheets; the first to sign wins.

If we land Sheets we get a guy who has the 'stuff' and ability to be an ace. A guy who is every bit as good as the Boston god (he's a god according to the Gammonites, anyway) Josh Becket.

If it forces Andy to sign then we have the guy we wanted to begin with.

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