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Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Brisbee: Vernon Wells and redoing the Yankees’ offseason

Wells’ Time Machine...

let’s look at the money the Yankees spent in the offseason, and see if hindsight might improve what the Yankees did. There are just a couple of ground rules:

• I’m not going to contemplate what they could have done with the salaries of Mariano Rivera and Robinson Cano, because neither of them were going anywhere.

• I won’t search for a first baseman, as the Mark Teixeira injury came relatively late in the offseason. Same goes with the [Curtis] Granderson injury and looking for another starting outfielder. That’s a little too much hindsight.

Excluding the Rivera/Cano salaries, the Yankees committed $83.5 million this offseason… [Hiroki] Kuroda and [Andy] Pettitte were probably the best options, and there’s no point in seeing what else the Yankees could have done with the money.. [Kevin] Youkilis is an overpay, most likely, but he was just about the only option for a team looking for a starting third baseman… and I think the [Travis] Hafner deal was a decent gamble, too, so he stays…

there are three [offseason acquisitions] left, and they’re all outfielders. Ichiro, [Vernon] Wells, and [Brennan] Boesch will combine to make just under $28 million over the next two years. Let’s look at a couple of combinations that might have been more appealing than that waking nightmare of a potential outfield:

Torii Hunter ($26 million)... Cody Ross, Nate Schierholtz, and Geovany Soto ($29 million)... Scott Hairston, Eric Chavez, Maicer Izturis, and A.J. Pierzynski ($25.5 million)... Russell Martin and Ichiro ($30 million)... Ichiro, Juan Pierre, Yorvit Torrealba, and, hell, I don’t know, Rick Ankiel, with the rest of the money going into a slush fund for one heckuva holiday party ($15 million)... Ichiro, Delmon Young, Cody Ransom, and Miguel Olivo (converted to 3B for the hell of it) ($15 million or so)... Danny Murphy, Donnie Murphy, David Murphy (trade), and Dale Murphy ($7 million and prospects)... Ichiro and a Free Cockapoo Puppy at the Park promotion (first 25,000) ($26 million)

.... here’s the main point: If there was $13 million to spend on an emergency Vernon Wells, how was there not enough money to sign a catcher?... the decision to spend on Wells, even if prompted by injuries, means that they had a little wiggle room in the payroll the whole time. The didn’t spend it on a catcher. They didn’t spend it on an outfielder who was a better bet than Ichiro. They spent it on Vernon Wells…

You can’t blame the Yankees for the fastball that broke Granderson or the unexpected aches of Teixeira. Apart from that spate of bad luck, the offseason was prudent and calculated for the Yanks. Until we found out there was a slush fund for emergencies, that is. Now that we know that—and how they used it—we can wonder openly what the Yankees were thinking.

The District Attorney Posted: March 26, 2013 at 12:02 AM | 36 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: vernon wells, yankees

Reader Comments and Retorts

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   1. Best Regards, President of Comfort, Esq. Posted: March 26, 2013 at 07:39 AM (#4396522)
the decision to spend on Wells, even if prompted by injuries, means that they had a little wiggle room in the payroll the whole time.
This year, yes. But the fact that Wells costs $0 next year changes everything.

None of those players would have cost $0 next year.
   2. Best Regards, President of Comfort, Esq. Posted: March 26, 2013 at 07:40 AM (#4396523)
I'm not a fan of this trade, but I don't think it's anything to get worked up over.
   3. Dan Posted: March 26, 2013 at 07:49 AM (#4396526)
Isn't it likely that the money to pay Wells is mostly coming from the WBC insurance payments on Teixeira's salary while he's out? This whole exercise doesn't really make sense if the argument is that they should've signed Martin instead of paying Wells.
   4. jacksone (AKA It's OK...) Posted: March 26, 2013 at 08:30 AM (#4396538)
This year, yes. But the fact that Wells costs $0 next year changes everything.


Apparently he actually costs -$2 million next year. Doesn't sound like a lot, but say the Yank's sign Cano to a 6 year deal, that could be an extra $12 mill for him. Quite the little loophole the Yankees found.
   5. Dan Posted: March 26, 2013 at 09:09 AM (#4396556)
Didn't theRed Sox use this same "loophole" a few years ago to duck under the cap? I can't recall the specifics, but I remember them structuring some money sent or received to take advantage of the way this works. It's been bothering me that I can't remember the exact details.
   6. Drexl Spivey Posted: March 26, 2013 at 09:14 AM (#4396558)
It really is amusing to see the Yankees with an absolute blackhole at the catcher spot.

Any marginal gain at the position would be so beneficial.
   7. APNY Posted: March 26, 2013 at 09:37 AM (#4396574)
Any marginal gain at the position would be so beneficial.

And they should trade for one with a big, bad contract and structure the trade so that he counts as negative money toward the cap in future years. They should also fill their bench and maybe a pen spot with these types of moves. This loophole should be exploited fully
   8. Yastrzemski in left. Posted: March 26, 2013 at 10:49 AM (#4396655)
So nobody thinks Cervelli is a notch above replacement level?
   9. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: March 26, 2013 at 11:00 AM (#4396668)
The Pierzynski miss is the baffling one.

Gaping hole at C, and a C who hit 27 HRs with a 118 wRC+ signs for 1/7.5. How do the Yankees not offer 1/9 or 1/10?

You'd have to think a LH like Pierzynski would enjoy hitting in DNYS.
   10. PreservedFish Posted: March 26, 2013 at 11:02 AM (#4396674)
Quick, who is the Vernon Wells of catchers?
   11. Jose Is The Most Absurd Thing on the Site Posted: March 26, 2013 at 11:08 AM (#4396681)
The Pierzynski miss is the baffling one.

Gaping hole at C, and a C who hit 27 HRs with a 118 wRC+ signs for 1/7.5. How do the Yankees not offer 1/9 or 1/10?

You'd have to think a LH like Pierzynski would enjoy hitting in DNYS.


I can see the Yankees thinking they simply don't want a guy like AJ around. Maybe he's not a ######### on the highest order but I can see the Bombers thinking he wouldn't be good for the clubhouse.

A.J. signed on December 26 according to BBRef. At that point Granderson and Teixeira were not injured and A-Rod wasn't expected to miss as much time as he is. With those guys in the fold it's defensible for the Yankees to decide "let's see if Cervelli is the answer and bide time on Sanchez."
   12. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: March 26, 2013 at 11:15 AM (#4396690)
I can see the Yankees thinking they simply don't want a guy like AJ around. Maybe he's not a ######### on the highest order but I can see the Bombers thinking he wouldn't be good for the clubhouse.

A.J. signed on December 26 according to BBRef. At that point Granderson and Teixeira were not injured and A-Rod wasn't expected to miss as much time as he is. With those guys in the fold it's defensible for the Yankees to decide "let's see if Cervelli is the answer and bide time on Sanchez."


And that's a huge mistake. Most internet Yankee fans thought so at the time, and now it's glaring.

This is a C projected to 2.4-2.7 WAR, signing for $7.5M. That's a huge bargain. Even if you don't like him, given the Yankees lack of C's, you have to be in on that.
   13. rb's team is hopeful for the new year! Posted: March 26, 2013 at 11:24 AM (#4396706)
I assume the yankees are just waiting to sign Brian Mccann next year.
   14. Shooty Is Disappointed With His Midstream Urine Posted: March 26, 2013 at 11:26 AM (#4396711)
AJ is worse than Vietnam and he bogarts the objective pipe. Screw him!
   15. Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Griffin (Vlad) Posted: March 26, 2013 at 11:42 AM (#4396734)
So nobody thinks Cervelli is a notch above replacement level?


I'm not at all convinced that he won't be better than Martin this year.

That's not because I'm particularly optimistic about Cervelli, though.
   16. Cowboy Popup Posted: March 26, 2013 at 11:58 AM (#4396756)
So nobody thinks Cervelli is a notch above replacement level?

Cervelli's potential value is tied up in whether he can throw out runners the way he did in 2009. If he can throw out 43% of runners again, than yeah, he's above replacement level. If he starts throwing them out at 14%, he's probably below replacement level. IIRC, he's having a very good spring throwing guys out, but I can't find the numbers and it comes with the standard spring training caveat.

I have little faith in his bat, but replacement level is pretty low for a catcher and he is fast (for a catcher) so he might add a run or two on the basepaths. I suppose there's like a 1 in 100 chance that he becomes the unexpected break out Yankee of the year and hits like he did in 2011 and throws like he did in 2009 and then you have a pretty useful player but that's almost certainly not going to happen.

It would be nice if Romine could finally turn into something and earn some playing time this year, but I think that's a pipe dream.
   17. You Know Nothing JT Snow (YR) Posted: March 26, 2013 at 12:08 PM (#4396775)
And that's a huge mistake. Most internet Yankee fans thought so at the time, and now it's glaring.


Maybe we read different blogs but I didn't feel as if "most internet Yankee fans" were eager to sign him at all. My recollection is most internet Yankee fans wanted nothing to do with the guy widely considered a jerk, coming off a career year offensively and notorious for poor defense.
   18. Famous Original Joe C Posted: March 26, 2013 at 12:17 PM (#4396787)
This is a C projected to 2.4-2.7 WAR


He is? He's had 3.6 total (according to BBR) in the last 3 years....0.7, 0.3, and 2.6 last year. He's 36. No way he should project to more than 2, and probably more like 1-1.5.

I mean, I guess Fangraphs has him higher, but....yeah, good luck with getting another season approaching 2012. Not something I would bet on.

I think that contract is fair.
   19. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: March 26, 2013 at 12:20 PM (#4396789)

He is? He's had 3.6 total (according to BBR) in the last 3 years....0.7, 0.3, and 2.6 last year. He's 36. No way he should project to more than 2, and probably more like 1-1.5.

I mean, I guess Fangraphs has him higher, but....yeah, good luck with getting another season approaching 2012. Not something I would bet on.

I think that contract is fair.


I'm looking at the projection systems on FG. ZiPs, Oliver, Steamer, etc.
   20. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: March 26, 2013 at 12:22 PM (#4396792)
Maybe we read different blogs but I didn't feel as if "most internet Yankee fans" were eager to sign him at all. My recollection is most internet Yankee fans wanted nothing to do with the guy widely considered a jerk, coming off a career year offensively and notorious for poor defense.

Why would we suddenly care if a player's a jerk? Reggie was a jerk. O'Neill was a jerk. Clemens was a jerk. ARod's a jerk, Jeter's probably a jerk. Who gives a rat's ass?
   21. You Know Nothing JT Snow (YR) Posted: March 26, 2013 at 12:25 PM (#4396796)
Reggie was, like, a million years ago. I thought the other guys were reasonably well-liked in the clubhouse. And geez, most of them are all-time greats, comparing even their personalities to Pierzynski's is only going to make him look worse.
   22. SoSH U at work Posted: March 26, 2013 at 12:28 PM (#4396798)
Reggie was, like, a million years ago. I thought the other guys were reasonably well-liked in the clubhouse. And geez, most of them are all-time greats, comparing even their personalities to Pierzynski's is only going to make him look worse.


The main difference between Pierzynski and those guys is A.J. is an intentional jerk. OTOH, if the Yankees could put up with O'Neill, then A.J. shouldn't be too difficult to tolerate.
   23. zonk Posted: March 26, 2013 at 01:01 PM (#4396827)
Not that I disagree with AJ being a jerk... but wasn't his jerkiness more generally being confined to being hated in every clubhouse he WASN'T a part of?

I know he's had a few incidents with individuals - but weren't they mostly confined to his short time in SF? I thought he was generally OK in the MIN and CHW clubhouses... at least, he wasn't Zambrano'ing anyone.
   24. SoSH U at work Posted: March 26, 2013 at 01:35 PM (#4396852)
Not that I disagree with AJ being a jerk... but wasn't his jerkiness more generally being confined to being hated in every clubhouse he WASN'T a part of?


To an extent, but my favorite Ozzie quote is instructive here: "If you play against him, you hate him. If you play with him, you hate him a little less."
   25. Shredder Posted: March 26, 2013 at 03:30 PM (#4396969)
So now that this deal is official, what do people know about outfielder Exicardo Cayones and LHP Kramer Sneed?
   26. Swedish Chef Posted: March 26, 2013 at 03:49 PM (#4396992)
what do people know about outfielder Exicardo Cayones and LHP Kramer Sneed?

Those sound like names that are generated after you have been playing a manager sim for a long time.
   27. Halofan Posted: March 26, 2013 at 03:56 PM (#4397000)
I know that by looking at their numbers that neither will sniff AAA this season, next or after next.
   28. Shredder Posted: March 26, 2013 at 03:56 PM (#4397002)
Those sound like names that are generated after you have been playing a manager sim for a long time.
I'm about 15-16 seasons into an MLB'11 The Show career, and so far the absolute best name I've come across is Mohammed McConnel.
   29. Crispix reaches boiling point with lackluster play Posted: March 26, 2013 at 04:03 PM (#4397008)
Those sound like names that are generated after you have been playing a manager sim for a long time.


On a related note, the Yankees apparently have players named "Melky Mesa" and "Zoilo Almonte".
   30. RMc is a fine piece of cheese Posted: March 26, 2013 at 04:27 PM (#4397031)
Zoilo Almonte

Will he be the man to end the tragic lack of Zoilos in the major leagues?
   31. The District Attorney Posted: March 26, 2013 at 04:32 PM (#4397038)
Robothal:
[Russell] Martin... told the Yankees he was willing to accept a one-year contract in the $9 million to $10 million range, according to two major-league sources. When the Yankees balked, he agreed to a two-year, $17 million deal with the Pirates...

Under the terms of the trade, the Yankees will be obligated to pay $13.9 million of [Vernon] Wells’ remaining $42 million obligation over the next two seasons, with the Angels covering the rest, according to reports.

Of that $13.9 million, the Yankees will pay Wells $11.5 million in ’13 and $2.4 million in ‘14, an accounting maneuver enabling them to face a zero tax charge in ’14, sources say.

Here’s how it all works:

The actual cost of Wells to the Yankees this season will be not $11.5 million, but $17.25 million; the Yankees again will be over the luxury-tax threshold, taxed at a rate of 50 percent. But the WBC’s insurance on [Mark] Teixeira will help reduce that burden.

If Teixeira misses at least two months with a torn tendon sheath in his right wrist, as now appears likely, the Yankees will get back about $7.5 million in insurance. For each additional month – and a longer absence by Texeira is possible – the team would receive about $3.75 million.

As for that additional $2.4 million that the Yankees will owe Wells in ’14, it indeed will not count against their luxury-tax payroll, for reasons that are a bit complicated.

Wells’ salary in 2014 will be $21 million, just as it this season. But his luxury-tax charge, calculated from the average annual value of his long-term contract, is about $16.4 million. Most media outlets reported the Jays’ original extension with Wells as seven years, $126 million. But the team, according to a source, actually reported the deal to baseball as eight years, $131.6 million, lowering Wells’ luxury-tax number.

Now, with the Angels covering $18.6 million of Wells’ $21 million in ’14, the Yankees actually will receive a sum greater than his luxury-tax charge. The Yankees then could get a “credit” of more than $2 million on their luxury-tax payroll, though whether the labor agreement allows them to actually receive such a benefit is unclear.

One source said no, that they would simply be charged $0. But the Yankees, other sources say, apparently thought otherwise, and were trying to arrange for a credit in their final discussions with the Angels.

Either way, Wells will not impact the Yankees’ ’14 payroll for luxury-tax purposes.
   32. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: March 26, 2013 at 04:55 PM (#4397067)
Martin... told the Yankees he was willing to accept a one-year contract in the $9 million to $10 million range,

The actual cost of Wells to the Yankees this season will be not $11.5 million, but $17.25 million;

Hahahahahahahahaha!

Cashman is smoking more than just the objective pipe.
   33. Tom Cervo, backup catcher Posted: March 26, 2013 at 07:36 PM (#4397187)
On a related note, the Yankees apparently have players named "Melky Mesa" and "Zoilo Almonte".


And Melky's full name is Melquisedec Mesa, which is even more awesome.
   34. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: March 26, 2013 at 07:59 PM (#4397193)
And Melky's full name is Melquisedec Mesa, which is even more awesome.

Now that's a religious family!
   35. Greg K Posted: March 26, 2013 at 08:09 PM (#4397197)
Those sound like names that are generated after you have been playing a manager sim for a long time.

The best one I've come across is Norbert Prommersberger, in one of the NHL games.
   36. Brian White Posted: March 26, 2013 at 09:07 PM (#4397213)
Martin... told the Yankees he was willing to accept a one-year contract in the $9 million to $10 million range,

The actual cost of Wells to the Yankees this season will be not $11.5 million, but $17.25 million;


Hahahahahahahahaha!

Cashman is smoking more than just the objective pipe.


Yeah, those two statements, taken together? WTF. That makes no sense whatsoever.

The only thing I can think is that the Yanks set aside their cash for a one year deal with some other player, who they thought they would get when they turned down Martin. Then Martin signed with the Pirates, the player they were targeting turned them down for whatever reason, and they were left holding a bunch of cash and a huge hole at catcher. Because, like the linked article, I can't think of any rational thought process that leads to not signing a catcher, yet trading for Vernon Wells.

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