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Transaction Oracle
— A Timely Look at Transactions as They Happen

Monday, February 16, 2004

New York Yankees

Acquired SS Alex Rodriguez from the New York Yankees for 2B Alfonso Soriano and a player to be named.

Hell with it - if I wait for an announcement, everyone will be tired of it by then.

Highway robbery by the Yankees even considering that Team Captain’s apparent unwillingness to do what’s best for the team is preventing the Yanks from getting the full benefits of the trade.

The current plan seems to be to move A-Rod to 3B but that can always change.  And should, too, since the Yankees acquired a bunch of 3B options that won’t be able to be moved to 2B.  Houston or Lamb can fill a 3B hole without being too wretched, but neither will do the same at 2B.  The best thing for the Yanks to do now is to leave A-Rod at short, tell Derek Jeter that being a leader isn’t just a pretty label, and move him to 2nd and eventually center.

What the Rangers get out of this?  A much bleaker future than before the A-Rod trade.  They pay the Yankees roughly a *third* of what A-Rod’s owed for the privilege of making the team significantly worse.  Soriano’s a much better player than a lot of people, including myself, thought he would be, but he’s not A-Rod. 

If the Rangers are able to keep Soriano long-term, they’ll have to give him a deal not too far from the 12-18 a year the Yanks are paying A-Rod, which’ll eat into any savings and payroll flexibility.

If the Rangers are not able to keep Soriano long-term, then they’ve lost 10 wins a year.  They had enough problems *with* the wins A-Rod brought and would be that much further from making a dent in the West.

Mike Young returns to short and should handle it pretty nicely.

Really, there’s not much of a way the Rangers get any advantage in this.  This wasn’t a world-class offense - it was a mediocre offense in 2003 *with* the 2nd-best SS in history.

2004 ZiPS Projections
———————————————————————————————————
Player     AB   R   H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB   BA   OBP   SLG
———————————————————————————————————
Soriano     701 125 223 45 3 39 135 35 140 37 .318 .361 .558
Rodriguez   628 118 184 29 3 50 140 91 124 14 .293 .394 .588

Dan Szymborski Posted: February 16, 2004 at 12:55 AM | 38 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
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   201. Rich Posted: December 21, 2002 at 04:30 AM (#561452)
Bill,

Good post. I used the word "overpay" with regard to Contreras's baseball ability relative to the current market. I would rather see the Yanks overpay in terms of dollars for Contreras, than in players (e.g., Nick Johnson, Juan Rivera, etc.) for Colon.

I agree that Steinbrenner is wise to conceptualize his consumer base as extending beyond traditionally established boundaries.

My point, however, was that the Contreras signing may open opportunities for other teams who would otherwise have to compete with the Yanks to acquire players from the Expos.
   202. Bill Posted: December 21, 2002 at 05:22 AM (#561453)
You may be right, Rich, though I suspect that whichever of the Yanks or Red Sox doesn't get Contreras will end up with Colon. Omar's only alternative may be another awful dump like today's Millwood fiasco. He might have overplayed his hand.
   203. Bill Posted: December 22, 2002 at 05:15 PM (#561455)
Thanks Bill B. You may also want to look at some of Jim Albright's articles at baseballguru.com. Here is his look at Japanese MLE's for some of the Japanese players (including Matsui) who have been rumored to be interested in coming to the US. His conclusions on Matsui are pretty much in line with Davenport's.

http://baseballguru.com/jalbright/analysisjalbright19.html
   204. Bill Posted: December 23, 2002 at 04:24 PM (#561457)
Could you excuse us, "The guy."? We were having an adult conversation here.
   205. Bill Posted: December 24, 2002 at 08:09 PM (#561281)
Considering that TZ was as good or better than several cornermen who were starters on division winners (see the Braves, Cardinals and Giants) it's a big stretch to label him as "barely above replacement value." Who among the potential minimum-wage earners who are right-handed hitters and can play both corners can you say with confidence is as good as TZ? For a contender with money to spare and who will use him appropriately (i.e., mostly against LHP's) this makes sense. It's not the same "proven veteran" territory as Royce Clayton.
   206. Mr. Crowley Posted: December 26, 2002 at 04:33 AM (#561830)
it's a trap!

it seems to me that the yankees only got this dude so the red sox wouldn't, you know? which begs the question, is that an effective way to run a team? Is it worth it to take a risk on a player like this just to AVOID the risk of having him go someplace else and be a stud. On the other hand, this just makes it all the more likely that the Red Sox will get Colon, a proven commodity, and the yankees have more pitchers than they know what to do with.
   207. Gold Star for Robothal Posted: December 26, 2002 at 04:36 AM (#561831)
The thing that gets me the most is there still talking to Clemens. How many Starting Pitchers do the Yankees need? Lets see the Rotation is going to be Clemens, Mussina, Pettite, Contreras Wells, Weaver, Hernandez, Hitchcok.

Me thinks there is going to be a trade soon. Possibly Involving Andy Pettite.
   208. Snowboy Posted: December 26, 2002 at 04:58 AM (#561832)
At some point, doesn't the Yankees "we'll buy anything that moves" philosophy make for a AAA team with higher payroll than five or six MLB teams?

I would assume that the following 12 position players will make opening day: Posada, Widger, Giambi, Soriano, Jeter, Ventura, R.White, B.Williams, Mondesi, Hideki Matsui, Nick Johnson, and Enrique Wilson to backup the infield.
   209. Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Griffin (Vlad) Posted: December 26, 2002 at 05:07 AM (#561833)
Yankees' first-rounders (fairly recent only, i.e. since they started picking in the mid-20s).

1994: Brian Buchanan, OF (#24). Reserve outfielder with San Diego, former part-time starter in Minnesota.

1995: Shea Morenz, OF (#27). Never made the majors, and to the best of my knowledge out of baseball.

1996: Eric Milton, LHP (#20). Solid lefty starter with Minnesota.

1997: Tyrell Godwin, OF (#24). [Did not sign.] Spent last year at Low-A Charleston, WV (Toronto), amassing ~200 PA due to injury. Might turn into something useful, if he can stay healthy.

1998: Andy Brown, OF (#24). Sucked it up at High-A last year, so not a real prospect at this point.

1999: Danny Walling, RHP (#27). Left baseball temporarily for treatment of mental problems (!), not sure exactly what's going on here. Might be retired, or might just have taken last year off. Did pitch in 2001. There was a Dave Walling who pitched for Tampa last year, but I don't know whether it's the same guy or not.

2001: David Parrish, C (#28). Played at Norwich last year. Good defense, poor bat, especially for a college pick. Looks like a defense-first backup at best.

2002: John-Ford Griffin, "3B" (#23). Currently with Oakland's system., though possibly headed to Toronto. Your guess is as good as mine as to what his future holds.

That doesn't look like an especially impressive record, though I've seen worse. It'd look better if they hadn't traded the three best players of the eight, and losing Godwin should count against their scouts, as his refusal had more to do with a desire to play football than with pure financial reasons.
   210. Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Griffin (Vlad) Posted: December 26, 2002 at 05:10 AM (#561834)
Crap. Make that Parrish in 2000, and Griffin in 2001.
   211. Bill Posted: December 26, 2002 at 05:24 AM (#561835)
I won't repeat my unnecessarily long post in the Matsui thread as to why the Contreras signing makes a lot of business sense. Does it make baseball sense? I don't know. And you don't know either. Unless you've been spending long summer vacations in Havana.
   212. Mikαεl Posted: December 26, 2002 at 06:11 AM (#561836)
I don't think 4 years, 32 million is as good a deal as I did at first, but I don't think Contreras is unproven.

I'd take as given that there are a reasonable number of major league caliber players in the Cuban League. Thus, the best of them must be star-quality by MLB standards. Contreras is the best Cuban pitcher by acclamation, used as such in international play. (I wasn't following baseball quite so much when Prieto and Arocha came over. Were they hailed as Contreras has been?)

I don't really understand the marketing argument. It seems to be that the Yankees are paying a premium to gain a foothold in Cuba when (maybe if) Castro dies. Cuba is not a huge market - about 10 million people, and most of them are way too poor to buy a "Jeter's Better" t-shirt. It is unknown when Castro will die, and it is unknown how long the period of interregnum turmoil will last before some US-friendly leader gets the embargo dropped. With that much uncertainty, even uncertainty as to the size of the payoff, what business sense is there in signing a popular Cuban pitcher? I buy it in the case of Matsui, but not here.
   213. Curtis Posted: December 26, 2002 at 06:52 AM (#561839)
For all the talk the Yanks make about cutting payroll, it won't come through trades, but a gradual process as people's contracts end, because no one will touch most of those contracts [Mondesi.] Hell, the Yankees were the last resort for those contracts.
   214. Fog City Blues Posted: December 26, 2002 at 08:32 AM (#561844)
Heywood,

What about Nick Johnson? Also, I don't think it will be easy to dump RonDL White, Raul Mondesi, and Sterling Hitchcock (unless of course the Yankees pay part of/most of their salaries or take another bad contract in return). Then again, I thought Mike Hampton's contract was about as moveable as a three ton pile of bricks.

Also, there was a blurb in the SF Chronicle saying that the Mondesi to the Giants rumors were "baseless."
   215. Michael Posted: December 26, 2002 at 10:18 AM (#561846)
First I think the Yanks outspend everyone in the international market so that is all that matter is bogus for the guys they had on the 2002 roster.

J Rivera Signed for less than 25K

Williams signed for I believe 15K

M Rivera for 10K

R Mendoza signed for less than 10K

Soriano Signed a ML deal for 3.1 million over 4 seasons. in 1998 or for less than the Phillies paid Pat Burrell and the small market A's paid Mark Mulder. Actually if you look at what it cost the Yankees in the first season of the deal he made 775K. Every first round pick in 98 made more

Pettitte was drafted in the 22nd round
   216. Dan Szymborski Posted: December 26, 2002 at 01:40 PM (#561848)
Yes, I realize the scouts love Contreras, but I still believe $32 million is still a huge amount to risk on a player that has no track record in a league anywhere close to the level of play that MLB offers.

There are certainly players that Contreras has played against that are MLB-caliber, but no league can match MLB's depth of talent.

Don't forget, Andy Morales was a star and the 3B for the national team and while pushing 30, barely could put up a .600 OPS in AA.

A contract similar to Baez is about as high as I would find reasonable for a player with no dependable track record to support a scouting report.
   217. Darren Posted: December 26, 2002 at 04:23 PM (#561850)
<I>Mondesi, 2002 -- .262 EQA Santiago, 2002 -- .279 EQA And for good measure ... Kent, 2002 -- .319 EQA

My point was that as far as starting outfielders go, Mondesi was a step up above Shinjo and Sanders last year, and will probably be a step up from Grissom, Bernard, or whoever else. Kents offensive numbers are great and Satiagos are ok...but neither are outfielders.
   218. Bill Posted: December 26, 2002 at 04:41 PM (#561851)
Dan, I don't see your argument. The risk profile on Baez and Contreras seems to be similar while the potential upside, both on-field and off-field, greatly favors Contreras. If he is even a 14-12 sort of pitcher he will generate the revenues to pay his tab. Although he had better get to work on a cool nickname.
   219. Mikαεl Posted: December 26, 2002 at 05:03 PM (#561852)
Bill,

I disagree that Contreras will pay for himself in revenue streams. I realize that my first post only addressed half the problem. My point above was that I don't believe the possible gains in Cuba are worth very much at all.

Further, I don't see the Yankees building extra revenue in the US. The only demographic that might be drawn to the Yankees because of Contreras are Cuban-Americans - a rather small group, most of whom live a thousand miles from the Bronx. They certainly won't add significantly to attendance. I have to believe that seeing a countryman throw on tv has become pretty commonplace after years of Livan and El Duque. At the least, I don't see what revenue streams Contreras might tap that El Duque hasn't already.

I don't believe it's a bad signing, although Dan is right to point out that the error bars - and thus the risks - are much larger than with a normal free agent acquisition. I don't see the Contreras adding much extra revenue, so I do believe the contract ought to be evaluated purely on its baseball merits.
   220. Darren Posted: December 26, 2002 at 06:48 PM (#561855)
Then why didn't you say that in the first place? Instead of saying that he was a step above those guys which EQA fan didn't mention?

I can't imagine why you'd rather have Mondesi over Sanders, unless it's for durability reasons. When their salaries are considered (and isn't that the whole point of not wanting Mondesi?), Sanders is a much better choice. Admittedly, I don't know much about Sanders's defense, but I think Mondesi gets a good reputation based entirely on his arm. He doesn't appear to be very good at getting to balls.
   221. Darren Posted: December 26, 2002 at 06:48 PM (#561856)
Then why didn't you say that in the first place? Instead of saying that he was a step above those guys which EQA fan didn't mention?

I can't imagine why you'd rather have Mondesi over Sanders, unless it's for durability reasons. When their salaries are considered (and isn't that the whole point of not wanting Mondesi?), Sanders is a much better choice. Admittedly, I don't know much about Sanders's defense, but I think Mondesi gets a good reputation based entirely on his arm. He doesn't appear to be very good at getting to balls.
   222. Darren Posted: December 26, 2002 at 06:48 PM (#561857)
Then why didn't you say that in the first place? Instead of saying that he was a step above those guys which EQA fan didn't mention?

I can't imagine why you'd rather have Mondesi over Sanders, unless it's for durability reasons. When their salaries are considered (and isn't that the whole point of not wanting Mondesi?), Sanders is a much better choice. Admittedly, I don't know much about Sanders's defense, but I think Mondesi gets a good reputation based entirely on his arm. He doesn't appear to be very good at getting to balls.
   223. Old Matt Posted: December 26, 2002 at 06:56 PM (#561859)
so what does this make the evil empire's estimated total payroll?
   224. Mr. Crowley Posted: December 26, 2002 at 08:34 PM (#561863)
It's a trap!
   225. Bill Posted: December 26, 2002 at 08:48 PM (#561864)
Mikael: A couple of points to consider. (1) There is tremendous operating leverage for the Yanks because of their ownership of their own network. Even relatively small increases in TV audiences (whether from Cubans or the merely curious) leads to a nice pop to the bottom line. Most clubs are getting fixed payment for their games and all they get from more viewers is some leverage when the TV contract is up for renegotiation. (2) Again there is tremendous leverage in expanding the brand via the TV network. If the team can get a cable system in Florida to carry YES, that is pure profit, and the payments from a single decent sized cable system can pay Contreras' entire salary. (I should note that I don't know if the Yanks have to make any special payments above the usual revenue sharing on TV revenue generated outside of their home market. Perhaps someone else knows.) (3) The potential in the Cuban market post-Castro may be hard to quantify but it's real. And it's not just in terms of new Yankees fans. The better Cuban players will have a preference for the Yanks if Contreras has a successful experience in New York. (4) Yes, there have been Cuban players before. But there were Japanese players before Ichiro and Mexicans before Valenzuela. The first Cuban to really break through as a star in a major market will impact attendance and TV ratings.
   226. Bill Posted: December 26, 2002 at 09:00 PM (#561866)
If the Braves had offered Kevin Millwood to the Yanks for Chris Widger or to the Bosox for Doug Mirabelli, he'd be a Yank or Sock today. Go ask the Braves GM why he's a Philly.
   227. Jimbo Jones Posted: December 26, 2002 at 09:06 PM (#561867)
Semi-hijack: Everyone happily lists "RonDL White" as one of the bad signings the Yanks can't shed, which now seems quite accurate. But no one ever seems to talk about how weird his collapse was. I think the signing (9 mil/2 years, IIRC) was semi-defensible at the time, at least for a rich team.

WHITE OPS+
   228. Bill Posted: December 26, 2002 at 09:23 PM (#561868)
We have been wondering the same thing Jimbo. Our only theory is really pure speculation. He looked so totally lost at the plate so much of time one wonders if the problem was "loss of confidence" or some other unprovable psychological condition. He missed all of spring training and perhaps, in rushing back for the start of the season (being determined to shed the "injury-prone" label), he just lost his stroke and got mentally lost. But your guess is as good as mine.
   229. Mikαεl Posted: December 26, 2002 at 09:34 PM (#561870)
Bill,

I see your points. I think I'm just a lot less sanguine about the prospects.

Regarding (1), I'd expect a small bump in television interest in Contreras. But I bet they'd get that from any big name free agent - say Tom Glavine. Of course, Contreras came cheaper and is (allegedly) younger, but I don't believe Contreras has much special advantage over other well-publicized additions.

Regarding (2), I'll be very surprised if an entire cable system in Florida picks up YES for the benefit of a small number of Cubans who became interested in the Yankees because of Contreras, having been uninterested in El Duque.

Regarding (3) and (4), I think I have a different picture of the Cuban market. The Contreras signing could help the Yankees if (1) he becomes a major star, (2) Castro dies soon and the market is opened peacefully, (3) there is significant money in that market in the first few years of openness and (4) no one else makes inroads into Cuba between the time of the Contreras signing and these events. If Maels Rodriguez defects soon, goes to, say, Seattle and becomes a major star, much of the market the Yankees won with Contreras may be moot. If Castro dies seven, ten years down the line, or if the transition period after his death is long and messy, there would be way too many variables involved to expect much business gain.

I'd say that Valenzuela and Ichiro are not good analogues for Contreras. There are about twenty million Mexican-Americans, and over one hundred million Mexicans living nearby, the richest of whom are free to take in American sports and buy merchandise. There are about as many Japanese-Americans as Cuban-Americans (~1 million), but there are, again, over one hundred million people living in Japan, many with the money to travel to the US or pay for American goods and television programming. The Cuban market is not only embargoed, it is smaller and poorer by orders of magnitude.

I see your points regarding the market value of Contreras - he will produce some revenue. Perhaps the slight chance of a Florida cable provider picking up Yes ought to be taken into account. My point is that I do not see much reason for optimism as to the degree of value Contreras could have to the business of the Yankees. I don't think there is much difference between Contreras and some another touted free agent.
   230. Josh Posted: December 26, 2002 at 09:53 PM (#561872)
I think we're overlooking the most obvious factor - the Steinbrenner factor. George has always been obsessed with big and hot names - remember the fascinations he developed with Knoblauch, Clemens, Irabu, Henson, etc.? He had to have them at all a costs. Why bring back Clemens when you've got better, younger, cheaper pitchers? Why bring back Wells when you've got, again, better, younger, cheaper pitchers? Steinbrenner told his people to get Contreras no matter what, so they probably topped his Boston offer by $1 million a year or something like that. Contreras was the biggest name out there. I'm not sure that Steinbrenner would have wanted Millwood over him regardless. Keep in mind the guy's not a statistician. He knows the Yankees are going to kick ass next year any way.
   231. Darren Posted: December 26, 2002 at 10:08 PM (#561873)
And why do you post stuff 3 times? That doesnt make you points or moxy any more valid.

Probably true, but it does add to the snippiness. Sorry about that.

In my defense: It seemed to me that your post was saying "Yeah, you're right, those EQAs show that those guys are better, but they're not outfielders." So I thought mentioning the EQAs of those other outfielders might convince you that they were better choices than Mondesi.

To sum up, hopefully in a much less snippy way, I think Sanders is a far better hitter than Mondesi and that Grissom was far better last year, and is probably going to be better in 2002 for less $ (what was he signed for).

Peace.
   232. Eric Posted: December 26, 2002 at 10:19 PM (#561874)
Regarding Rondell, here's another theory- He wasn't on the DL all season- a first(?) for him- Maybe he was injured, but felt the pressure to stay off the dl and in the lineup, so he played hurt and had an accordingly awful season
   233. Bill Posted: December 26, 2002 at 10:26 PM (#561875)
You may well be right, Mikael. But it will be fun to watch and find out. Which, when you come down to it, is really the point. The Yanks are entertaining the customers, even the customers who hate them.
   234. Bill Posted: December 26, 2002 at 10:37 PM (#561876)
Vlad: I'd be interested in knowing how the Yanks first round draft record compares to the expected success rate for teams drafting on pick 24 and higher. My general impression (wholly unsupported by any research) is that there is a very significant dropoff in the success rate by that point in the draft. Perhaps the Yankee record is really better than it appears at first glance?
   235. Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Griffin (Vlad) Posted: December 27, 2002 at 05:43 AM (#561878)
Well, here's the breakdown for first-rounders in the 20+ range (not including supplementals) for the same time frame:

1990: 5 of the 7 players made the majors in some capacity. Three received a substantial amount of playing time: Mike Mussina (20), Steve Karsay (22), and Rondell White (24). Mussina is the best player in this group, though White would be worthy of mention in almost any other year.

1991: 6 of the 7 players made the majors in some capacity. All six received a substantial amount of playing time: Calvin "Pokey" Reese (20), Allen Watson (21), Brian Barber (22), Aaron Sele (23), Scott Ruffcorn (25), and Brent Gates (26). Reese and Sele are the best players from this group.

1992: 6 of the 9 players made the majors in some capacity. Five received a substantial amount of playing time: Rick Helling (22), Jason Kendall (23), Dan Serafini (26), John Burke (27), and Charles Johnson (28). As a Pirates fan, I think that Kendall is the best player from this group, although you could certainly make a case for Helling or Johnson.

1993: 8 of the 9 players made the majors in some capacity. Seven received a substantial amount of playing time: Torii Hunter (20), Jason Varitek (21), Jeff D'Amico (23), John Wasdin (25), Kelly Wunsch (26), Marc Valdes (27), and Jamey Wright (28). Hunter is the best player from this group.

1994: 8 of the 9 players made the majors in some capacity. Six received a substantial amount of playing time: Terrence Long (20), Hiram Bocachica (21), Carlton Loewer (23), Buchanan, Scott Elarton (25), and Mark L. Johnson (26). Elarton had the best single season of any of those guys, and Long has probably had the best career so far.

1995: 3 of the 9 players made the majors in some capacity. All three received a substantial amount of playing time: Tony McKnight (22), Jeff Liefer (25), and Michael Barrett (28). Barrett is the best of the group.

1996: 5 of the 11 players made the majors in some capacity. All five received a substantial amount of playing time: Milton, Jake Westbrook (21), Gil Meche (22), Damian Rolls (23), Nick Bierbrodt (30). Milton is the best of the group.

1997: 7 of the 12 players made the majors in some capacity. Four received a substantial amount of playing time: Adam Kennedy (20), Jayson Werth (22), Kevin Nicholson (27), and Tim Drew (28). Additionally, Donnie Bridges (23) and Darnell McDonald (26) will likely make the majors at some point in the future, and players such as Jack Cust (30) and Jason Standridge (31) will likely receive more playing time this season. The best of the group so far is Werth, though Kennedy has also done well.

Most players from subsequent drafts are developing normally, and for this reason are still in the minor leagues. For the years considered, 48 of the 73 players made it to the majors (66%), and 39 played a substantial role in at least one season (53%). The expected return on the Yankees' drafts from 1994-1997 would be 2.5 major leaguers, which meets the actual return pretty well. On the other hand, only Griffin looks good from the 1998-2001 group, so that number might drop slightly if we look at it again in a few years.

Conclusion: The Yankees have underperformed their draft slot slightly, but not by an amount that is definitely significant. It does appear certain, though, that their scouting does NOT give them an edge in the first round of the draft, as they are definitely not exceeding expectations.
   236. PanRains Posted: December 27, 2002 at 05:47 AM (#561879)
An interesting point about the Yanks' recent first rounders - according to sources like Baseball America they seem to overdrafting; that is, taking guys at pick 25 who weren't generally thought of that highly. They do take chances later on in the draft, and often throw money at later picks who may have slipped due to signability (Jeter was probably a little higher thought of than his draft postion; Mattingly, Henson), but of late their first pick has often not been that well regarded by sources like Baseball America.
   237. Matt Garza smells it deep (Mr. Tapeworm) Posted: December 27, 2002 at 05:59 AM (#561880)
Mikael -- First, there is a sizable Cuban-American population in the New York City area; they're not just concentrated in Florida. That said, I don't think the Yanks get much extra revenue from marketing deals from the Contreras signing, but they do keep the Red Sox from signing him, and Steinbrenner doesn't like to lose to them.

Personally, as a Yankee fan, I would rather have had Millwood and would gladly given up Widger and a Jolly Rancher for him, but I'm sure Steinbrenner overruled Cashman on this one, or perhaps John Schuerholz is going senile. Fortunately, Steinbrenner's hare-brained signings haven't hurt the Yankees that much (Rick Rhoden, anyone? Steve "I Just Won You The Pennant, Pinella" Trout? Dave Collins?), and I don't think this one prevents them from another playoff run in 2003.

As far as getting rid of RonDL, Mondesi and Hitchcock, I know I wouldn't trade for them, but there are plenty of clueless GMs out there. Three dumb signings, especially when you have Juan Rivera, who is at least not horrible and costs very little.
   238. Bill Posted: December 27, 2002 at 06:21 AM (#561881)
You're digging up some oldies there Tapeworm. Those signings were what? 20 years ago? Anyway, no one has a monopoly on bad free agent signings.

A lot of people are postive about Juan Rivera but I don't see it. He doesn't have on-base skills, seems to hit to the opposite field a lot and isn't particularly fast or skilled defensively. He could improve of course, but I'm not high on him as a regular corner outfielder.
   239. Bill Posted: December 27, 2002 at 06:24 AM (#561882)
Thanks for the analysis Vlad. I think you're stretching a bit there characterizing some cannon fodder as having had "substantial" playing time but I agree that the Yankee record looks so-so in comparison. It is odd that the three names you note from the 1990 draft are all current Yanks.
   240. Best Regards, President of Comfort, Esq. Posted: December 27, 2002 at 08:11 AM (#561883)
Jimbo--

I think White may have been injured most of the year, and kept quiet about it to prevent going on the DL. He seemed very sensitive about the RonDL label. He started out hot, remember, and he was playing a bit better going into the playoffs, and then got hurt. Of the three dead weight contracts, I would be the most willing to stick with White. I think he could be a useful player next season, probably bounce back closer to his earlier numbers, an OPS+ just over 100. I could see the Yankees sticking him in the DH slot every now and then against lefties, maybe putting Matsui in right and White in left if Rivera struggles.

Of course, he still wouldn't be worth his contract, but he would be helping the team.
   241. Bruce Markusen Posted: December 27, 2002 at 05:03 PM (#561886)
Bill, most scouts would disagree with you about your assessment of Juan Rivera defensively. He has an excellent arm, certainly good enough to play in right field, and is regarded as a good defensive corner outfielder. Ideally, the Yankees would like to play him in right because of his arm, but they also liked the way he played left field so much last year that they put him on the post-season roster and started him in at least two of the games against the Angels. (He might have played in all four games, but I can only remember him making starts in the first and fourth games.)

As far as Rivera's offense, the Yankees won't need too much because of how strong they figure to be at the other eight spots. Rivera would probably bat ninth, certainly against right-handers and possibly against left-handers.
   242. Bill Posted: December 27, 2002 at 05:46 PM (#561888)
I don't believe Rondell was secretly hurt. His primary problem was a total befuddlement on breaking pitches out of the strike zone which doesn't strike me as injury-related problem.
   243. Bill Posted: December 27, 2002 at 05:47 PM (#561889)
That last one on Rivera was from me, not Bruce. I meant to address the comment to Bruce, but I started drinking too early today.
   244. Bill Posted: December 27, 2002 at 08:56 PM (#561893)
You thought it was easy being Joe Torre. What a bunch of crybabies!
   245. Matt Garza smells it deep (Mr. Tapeworm) Posted: December 27, 2002 at 09:26 PM (#561894)
Bill -- I merely said Juan Rivera is "not horrible" -- hardly an endorsement. Like you, I worry about his on-base skills. I see him as a .260-.270/25HR/.320 OBP kind of guy. Not horrible, but nothing special for an OF.
   246. Bill Posted: December 27, 2002 at 10:21 PM (#561895)
You think he can hit 25 hr's? The Yanks would be delighted with that but he had 8 in about 240 AB's at Columbus and 1 in 95 AB's (including post season)in the majors. I know he had a decent number of doubles at Columbus, but still it would be a leap for him to break 20. Of course 25 hr's and a .320 OBP sounds a lot like Raul Mondesi when you think about it.
   247. Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Griffin (Vlad) Posted: December 27, 2002 at 10:35 PM (#561896)
The "best player" portion of things was entirely subjective, and was meant to be a gague of the 'best case scenario' for a team picking in the 20+ range. If you disagree with a particular pick, that's fine; I was more trying to make a point about the caliber of players than about the merits of any specific player.

As for the cutoff line for 'substantial' amounts of PT, well, that's pretty much a subjective judgement call as well. If a guy got a couple of hundred PAs or a couple of dozen IP, he's had a measurable impact on the course of his team's season, even if that impact was mostly negative. I was mostly trying to establish a difference between guys who got a legitimate shot at a contributing role and guys who got a cup of coffee in September to keep the scouting department from looking bad; it's a rough measure of an organization's expectations for the player after he's completed a few years of minor league service.
   248. Bill Posted: December 27, 2002 at 10:57 PM (#561897)
Vlad, here's a completely random observation from eyeballing the first rounds of the 90's. The number 18 pick seems to be the black hole of the round. Check it out: Aaron Holbert, Al Shirley, Chris Roberts, Chris Schwab, Cade Gaspar, Ryan Jaroncyk, R. A. Dickey, Mark Magnum, Seth Etherton, Richard Stahl. Meaningless but amusing.
   249. Robert Dudek Posted: December 29, 2002 at 12:05 AM (#561900)
Bring on the Worldwide Draft... and hurry!
   250. Bruce Markusen Posted: December 29, 2002 at 06:27 AM (#561901)
This has nothing to do with the merits or faults of the Contreras signing, but I've noticed that most of the pictures of Contreras show him in that all-red Cuban uniform. Is there any uniform that looks worse (except of course for the brown and yellow combinations preferred by the Padres in the early 1970s)? The all-red Cuban uniform reminds of the uniform the Indians wore in 1975, which was also all-red and looked more like a pair of pajamas than a baseball uniform. It's a shame that Frank Robinson had to wear that jersey and pants combination.
   251. Bill Posted: December 29, 2002 at 06:51 AM (#561902)
Speaking of his photos, Jose is one mean looking son-of-a-gun. He may be the most mild mannered guy around for all I know, but I wouldn't be tempted to dig in against him.
   252. Dan Szymborski Posted: December 29, 2002 at 05:10 PM (#561903)
The White Sox Leisure Suit is worse.
   253. Bill Posted: December 29, 2002 at 11:18 PM (#561904)
Likewise those uniforms the Pads used to wear. The ones that made Steve Garvey look like a big taco.
   254. Bill Posted: December 30, 2002 at 08:38 PM (#562070)
I suspect it will just sort itself out. The odds are that one of the seven will be hurt coming out of spring training. Another will go the bullpen in the Mendoza role. As Dan says, I don't see the Yanks getting much in trade for Weaver or El Duque, except perhaps as a sweetener in a dump of one of the Mondesi/Hitchcock/White group.
   255. Gold Star for Robothal Posted: December 30, 2002 at 10:04 PM (#562076)
Wells is un-movable. He has a no trade clause and since he loves playing for the Yankees I don't believe he can be bought out. It would also be ridiculous for the Yankees to send Weaver to the pen considering what they gave up for him.

If Steinbrenner is serious about cost cutting moves I can see Pettite maybe being moved. He is set to make $11 Million this year and there are some arm concerns. Though he is the youngest lefty in the Bronx and we know how important lefties are to New York.

I still think El Duque will be moved though I think he would be good in the pen albeit, he would be expensive for a middle reliever.

Hithcock will also be gone. I don't know why the Yankees didn't take the Texas offer for Jay Powell just to get not so Sterling of the books.

So this leaves a rotation of Clemens, Mussina, Contreras, Weaver, Wells.

Torre by the way I believe promised Weaver a rotation slot. Hopefully that's a good sign.

Incidentally, The 1939 Yankees had I believe 8 pitchers who made at least 20 starts. I don't know if that could be done these days with the difference with how bullpens are used but maybe with the older Pitchers <Wells and Clemens> Weaver and El Duque will switch between the pen and the rotation to give them a little more rest. Very doubtful that this is the case but I thought I'd just throw it out there.
   256. Rich Posted: December 30, 2002 at 10:06 PM (#562077)
"Who is older - Clemens or Contreras?"

From yesterday's The Boston Globe:

...Is Contreras really 31, as he claims? People who saw him last week came away less skeptical than they were before they met him. ''There's something very youthful about him,'' one official said, ''and he's a very likable guy.''...

I still think Petitte gets traded, especially if he doesn't sign a reasonable long term deal, and Weaver is part of the rotation.
   257. fracas' hope springs eternal Posted: December 30, 2002 at 10:25 PM (#562079)
Starts by 1939 Yankees pitchers:

28 Red Ruffing
   258. Gold Star for Robothal Posted: December 30, 2002 at 10:36 PM (#562081)
Sorry, I didn't realize I said 20 starts. I meant 10. Me bad. I am sure thats not the Yankees plan but I was throwing it out there.
   259. Bruce Markusen Posted: December 30, 2002 at 10:37 PM (#562082)
The Yankees would probably be smart to wait until spring training to trade one of their extra pitchers. The trade value of good pitchers almost always goes up in the spring, when teams start to realize that their pitching is poorer than originally thought or when a key starter or two comes down with an injury. Of course, there's always the gamble that one of the players the Yankees might trade--Hernandez, Pettitte, whomever--could get hurt, too.

Neither Hernandez or Pettitte or Weaver are throw-ins. These are all talented pitchers who have enjoyed regular season success (if we include Weaver's work with the Tigers). And in the case of Hernandez, he is a guy with a great post-season resume.
   260. Bill Posted: December 30, 2002 at 10:40 PM (#562083)
I assume that was the only rotation ever to feature men named Atley, Monte, Bump, Oral and Marius.

More seriously, I got the distinct impression that Weaver's performance (and general behavior and demeanor) caused Torre some concern last year. I'm not sure they are at all comfortable with him.

As for things like flipping guys between the rotation and the pen and having more than five starters, Torre has always highly valued stability. I don't see that happening. Again, health issues may fort it out for him.
   261. Dan Szymborski Posted: December 30, 2002 at 10:43 PM (#562084)
- Let's see how much value Wells assigns to a no-trade clause if he's the 7th starter and spending time throwing middle relief and mopup innings.

- While using 7 primary starters would be interesting as long as the Yankees are willing to do the necessary off-day relief stints, I don't see the Yankees trying something that, to modern eyes, looks so drastic. It would be a fun experiment, though.
   262. Bill Posted: December 30, 2002 at 10:46 PM (#562085)
George Steinbrenner's favorite player is not going to be throwing middle relief. Things do not work that way in Yankee land.
   263. Rich Posted: December 30, 2002 at 10:46 PM (#562086)
Bill,

Take this with a large grain of salt, but:

According to WFAN's Mike Francesa, Torre told him he is extremely high on Weaver, and wants him in the rotation this season.
   264. Bill Posted: December 30, 2002 at 11:49 PM (#562089)
Rich, thanks for passing that along, but as you know, Joe (as opposed to Bobby Valentine for example) makes it a habit to speak highly of his players in public. Good for team morale, I'm sure, but not very enlightening on what he's actually thinking.
   265. Rich Posted: December 31, 2002 at 03:03 AM (#562091)
Bill,

For what it's worth, Francesa passed it along as inside information from Torre, but you may be right in any event.
   266. Dennis Posted: December 31, 2002 at 03:57 AM (#562094)
The idea of a 6-man rotation is certainly interesting, but I wonder about, especially with older pitchers, the "routine" their bodies/arms are conditioned for, once they're in shape for the season. Is that extra day of rest better, worse, or neither? I always thought that "number of days rest" was overrated, particularly when anything other than 4 days only occured once or twice during the year with a given pitcher. However, habitual 5-days rest would be an issue IMO.
   267. Bill Posted: December 31, 2002 at 04:16 AM (#562095)
Six-man rotations? Ohmigod, just when there was some intelligent buzz around about going back to the four-man! To say nothing of Bill James's proposal for three-man rotations with tight pitch counts.

But, hey, sure, why not? In fact, let's go the seven-man. That way you could have a designated pitcher for every day of the week. Think of the convenience. You want to buy tickets now for that August Yank-Bosox series? You'll know to get the Tuesday game (Pedro-Clemens) not the Wednesday (Castillo-Weaver) matchup.
   268. Gold Star for Robothal Posted: December 31, 2002 at 04:36 AM (#562097)
If I was rebuilding with young Pitchers I'd be more inclined to go with a a four man rotation then a six man. Here is my reasoning.

1. I think it's easier to find 4 good pitchers then 5.

2. Since they are younger I would think they that could adapt easier to less rest between starts.

3. They would have better arm strength though I would watch there pitch counts carefully.

If I was a team like KC I'd especially look at the option of a 4 man rotation. A 4 man rotation would be cheaper to keep intact then a 5 man.
   269. Bill Posted: December 31, 2002 at 05:28 PM (#562101)
The $10.1 million number turns out to be a phony of the sort usually promoted by the lottery commercials. Apparently, Roger receives no money in 2003 and then gets annual payments from 2004 through 2014 (!) which range from $600K at the outset to $1.1M at the backend. Anyone who cares can run the PV on this, but it certainly helps explain how, on the same day, one major paper can state that the Yankee payroll is $140M and a second major paper can state that it is $158M.
   270. Bill Posted: January 03, 2003 at 04:46 PM (#562104)
I understand that, pkt. But the papers fail to explain it to those (including, unfortunately, most sports newspeople) who don't spend the sort of time we do worrying about this. The higher number will be trumpeted by baseball's Chicken Little's even though it is an accounting construct.
   271. Darren Posted: January 03, 2003 at 05:36 PM (#562105)
I've seen it reported in a few places that MLB has valued the contract at $8.1 mil., present value.
   272. Bill Posted: January 03, 2003 at 09:27 PM (#562107)
This is exactly my point. No one ever explains what methodology they are using or applies it consistently. Even in Baseball Prospectus yesterday, Derek Zumstag got all bolluxed up in trying to dissect the Yankee payroll. Though I suppose, for purposes of our discussions, it doesn't much matter. We are not, after all, being invited to make an investment in the Yankees or to do their accounting work. Nonetheless, it still annoys me to see the Clemens contract being reported as a $10 million deal.
   273. Bill Posted: January 06, 2003 at 01:07 AM (#562109)
It figures baseball would be the first business to employ a discount rate below the rate on Tresuries of corresponding length. You wonder how the union agreed to a 3% discount rate for luxury tax calculations but I suppose anything can happen in complex negotiations.
   274. Mike Piazza Posted: January 13, 2003 at 06:19 PM (#551493)
I'd sure like Estalella to bomb ME.
   275. Dan Szymborski Posted: January 23, 2003 at 01:14 AM (#563985)
Could does not necessarily mean will.

In any case, I don't see how it becomes any better if it's primarily for 2004. That makes it a de facto 1 year, $4 million contract which is completely out of sync with the market even before considering Lieber's injury.
   276. Curtis Posted: January 23, 2003 at 01:27 AM (#563988)
They always waste a few rosters spots a year [see: Canseco, Jose, and Sojo, Luis.
   277. Michael Posted: January 23, 2003 at 01:31 AM (#563989)
Lieber will not be on the Yankee 40 man roster unless he pitches in 2003. They will stick him on the 60 day DL till the end of the season and not have to worry about it until late August at the earliest. Next off season the Yankees will have a few players off their rosters and holding a space wont be an issue there either. A good low cost move for the Yankees.
   278. Shredder Posted: January 23, 2003 at 03:54 AM (#563993)
Dan's funnier, too. And I like the forum aspect better.
   279. damn okies Posted: January 23, 2003 at 04:01 AM (#563994)
Attn. B. Cashman & G. Stienbrenner;

yeah, i read on baseballthingy.com that the sox were willing to dump nomar and resign offerman at any cost. They are DESPERATE to have him back.
   280. Darren Posted: January 23, 2003 at 04:21 AM (#563995)
Jeez, you'd think Leiber was having his arm reattached after it was blown off. It's a freaking common procedure that pitcher come back from all the time. The only real problem is when they try to come back to fast (ie within a year instead of 18 months).

This is a low-risk move, with a possible great reward.

And as far as the Yanks/Red Sox conspiracy, I remember hearing about the Yankees's interest long before the Gammons article.

BTW, did you realize that we're all speaking in the parenthesis that Curtis opened but never closed, so none of what we've said here really counts. Zowie in your mother's underpants. ]
   281. Darren Posted: January 23, 2003 at 04:30 AM (#563998)
BTW, just looked at the article on ESPN and it has Leiber making $300 K this year and $3.2M next year, with an $8 mil. team option.

That's even better.
   282. Dan Szymborski Posted: January 23, 2003 at 05:37 AM (#564000)
Don't say I'm here every day. Someone will remember that I didn't do an entry for Eric Owens, after all!
   283. Matt Garza smells it deep (Mr. Tapeworm) Posted: January 23, 2003 at 07:18 AM (#564003)
Lieber is an expensive gamble that the Yankees can afford. I see Lieber as a not-horrible fifth starter on the Yankees. A real problem will arise if Lieber blocks a guy like Brandon Claussen or Alex Graman from logging innings, or some of the good pitching prospects the Yankees have in the low minors. Frankly, they should have kept prospect Jason Arnold and Ted Lilly, who would be a better, cheaper fifth starter option than Lieber and who could be a little better than Weaver down the road.
   284. jwb Posted: January 23, 2003 at 08:36 PM (#564011)
Did anyone really think that Matt Clement just had an epiphany and threw WAY better than he ever had before?

No, Matt Clement just needed to pitch where Abraham Lincolnesque facial hair is revered.
   285. Dan Szymborski Posted: January 24, 2003 at 06:10 PM (#564023)
I'd like to point out that the reference to Alfonseca and his contract was not my fault this time!
   286. Bill Posted: January 28, 2003 at 01:29 AM (#564367)
Acevedo is no world-beater but he's been reasonably successful for a number of years and I'd like to ask his agent why he comes so much cheaper than Albie Lopez or Brian Boehringer or whoever your favorite "middling" reliever is.
   287. Scott Posted: January 28, 2003 at 02:48 AM (#564370)
Why is everyone so down on him? He's put up good numbers -- last year, great numbers -- ever since he was made a reliever. I'm not saying he's phenomenal, but at about $1m, he seems like a better bet than most of the relievers getting 2-3x as much.
   288. Bill Posted: January 28, 2003 at 02:50 AM (#564371)
Hammond may be overpaid but there was no way you were going to get him for this sort of contract. Several teams were rumored to be interested in the $1.5-2M range.
   289. Bill Posted: January 28, 2003 at 05:00 AM (#564378)
Actually, Albie Lopez got ten times 150K. We won't talk about Antonio Alfonseca (26 times 150K) because Dan has banned further mention of his name. Jay Witasik seems to be regarded as closer material off of one decent season in a pitcher's park. (I forget how many times 150K he got.)

I agree completely that Acevedo is more or less fungible, but his agent let him down.
   290. Scott Posted: January 28, 2003 at 05:42 AM (#564379)
Point taken about the home/road splits -- but that's not the whole story. Here are his ERA+ stats -- which do account for park effects -- since he was made a full-time reliever:

2000: 118

2001: 114

2002: 158

Granted, relievers may have lower ERAs, and therefore lower ERA+ stats... But Acevedo still compares favorably to other relivers who've gotten deals for 2-3x more money -- most notably, the guy he replaced:

Ramiro Mendoza's ERA+ stats from 2000-02: 119, 119, 127
   291. Eli Hungerford: Cityboy Crypto-Elitist for hire Posted: January 28, 2003 at 07:03 PM (#564381)
Also, when keeping in mind the not so spectacular contract, keep this in mind (in addition to the wretched home / road splits):

Last year's 2.65 ERA looks nice at first. Then you see that in addition to the 22 earned runs he allowed in 74 2/3 innings, he allowed an additional 11 runs. Keeping in mind the already deflated nature of reliever ERA, last season's ERA looks more like lucky a statistical fluke than a real departure from his lifetime of mediocrity.
   292. Bill Posted: January 28, 2003 at 10:14 PM (#564383)
Acevedo's Adjusted Runs Prevented in 2002 was a decent 7.8. This metric ignores whether runs are "earned" or "unearned" and accounts for handling inherited runners and runners left for someone else to clean up. This is considerably worse than you would expect from a "closer" with a 2.65 ERA and 28 saves and supports the view that the latter numbers are smoke and mirrors. But it is a respectable middle-relief sort of total and on a quick scan of the listings I can't see anyone with a similar total who doesn't have a major league contract except for Mike Jackson. And yes, his total was better than Ramiro Mendoze who clocked in at 5.1 on more innings. (All stats from Mike Wolverton's Reliever Evaluation Report at Baseball Prospectus.)
   293. Scott Posted: January 28, 2003 at 10:20 PM (#564384)
Is there that much difference between Osuna and Acevedo? Acevedo's apparently freely available talent this year; if he's not much better than Osuma, then who did Osuna cost Duque plus $2m???
   294. NTNgod Posted: February 18, 2003 at 02:57 AM (#564403)
Umm, if memory serves, TimD is a Tigers fan....
   295. blue Posted: February 19, 2003 at 07:05 PM (#564405)
Ok, YankeeHater, how would you define a major league "team"? You say that George "bought" the Yankees; how did your team of choice get put together? Is the roster comprised entirely of humble youngsters who play for nothing because they love the game? Please. If anything, you're the one who needs to get a life. Troll.
   296. Dan Walls Posted: March 19, 2003 at 11:55 PM (#565390)
I think that this signals that the Padres are serious about Xavier Nady starting off this year in San Diego. Nevin was supposed to play in left, with Trammel in right. Now, White plays left and Nady starts in right, where he presumably will be next year in the new stadium as well. Next year you replace White with a temporarily healthy Nevin and pare a huge chunk off of the pay roll. I am of two minds on Phillips, hard throwing lefty - good. No control - bad. He is, of course, a good prospect, but I have seen much more success recently with prospects that have good control (Lawrence) versus the ones that may someday learn control (Howard).

The Burnitz rumors never made a lot of sense in that the Padres don't need any more lefties in their lineup. White provides some right handed pop and on-base skills (when he is healthy) that the Padres are missing without Nevin.
   297. Ephus Posted: March 20, 2003 at 12:05 AM (#565392)
The Ken Phelps trap, as you call it, seems to be a product of the human relationships that exist when you manage flesh and blood players, rather than statistical abstractions. I do not mean to say that it is not a trap (hi, Akbar), but rather it is easier to say don't keep players who have met expectations in theory than in practice.

Example - At the begining of year one, the manager tells player x, who is in his last year before becoming arbitration eligible, "our goals for you are: ba .280+, obp .360+, slug .450+, steal 7 - 12 bases and play a decent corner outfield (or first base)." This seems to be the rough level of "free talent". Player x meets each of these goals and then becomes arbiration eligible. He reasonably would expect to get between $2 - $3 million, a big improvement over his prior salary (probably less than 500k.)

It takes a mentally tough GM to say, "I know that you met all of our goals for you, and you have a reasonable prospect to do it again, but we just don't think it makes sense for us to sign you to an arbitration market rate contract." It also requires that the GM feel very confident in his ability to identify free talent each year, because the GM knows that if the new player does poorly and player x goes on to perform at his old level for someone else, he will be repeatedly second-guessed in the mainstream/beat press.
   298. Cris E Posted: March 20, 2003 at 12:07 AM (#565393)
According to another thread around here somewhere Phillips is due a $2.2m bonus that will become the Yankees problem.
   299. Mike Piazza Posted: March 20, 2003 at 12:11 AM (#565394)
Trade for me. I'll fill Phil Nevin's hole.
   300. fracas' hope springs eternal Posted: March 20, 2003 at 12:54 AM (#565400)
According to another thread around here somewhere Phillips is due a $2.2m bonus that will become the Yankees problem.

I'm still looking for confirmation on this. The article being quoted was undated, so I'm not sure if the bonus has already been paid. Anybody know?

Players don't get healthier when they go to the Padres.

I'm worried you're right.
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