Sheehan: Yanks’ arb decisions a big mistake

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Joe Sheehan dissents. I quote at length:

The choice for the club is pretty simple. If the player is valuable enough to warrant a one-year contract, offer him arbitration. You will get draft-pick compensation if he signs elsewhere, and if he does not, you will have a good player signed to a one-year deal…

The Yankees made a mistake by not offering arbitration to either [Bobby Abreu or Andy Pettitte], the biggest mistakes any team made in this round of decisions. For a team with the Yankees’ revenues, especially as they move into an ATM with foul poles, to decline the services of above-average players or draft picks in the event of their departure is a stunning waste of resources. Bobby Abreu projects as a five- or six-win player, Pettitte a bit below that…

Certainly there’s no baseball reason to not want either player. In Abreu’s absence, the Yankees nomnally have an outfield of Xavier Nady, Johnny Damon, Melky Cabrera and Hideki Matsui, with Nick Swisher at first base. Abreu is better than all of those players, and if having him would create a logjam, it does so by forcing inferior talent to the bench, the waiver wire or the trade market. Pettitte was the team’s #3 starter last year, and would project as the #4 even if the Yankees were to sign multiple starters in the free-agent market.

All of that assumes, of course, that the players accept arbitration, foregoing multi-year contracts at market salaries to take a one-year contract with the Yankees. The more likely scenario is that both players would sign elsewhere (or in Pettitte’s case, retire), allowing the Yankees to collect two draft picks for each, either a #1 and a sandwich pick or a #2 and a sandwich pick. Even with the Yankees’…mixed…record in the draft of late, forfeiting the right to those picks is an enormous waste

Two days ago, the Yankees had assets in Abreu and Pettitte that could have been considered short-term investments with minimal risk and fairly certain benefit (were they to rejoin the club), or long-term investments with more risk and uncertain benefit, but higher upside (were they to become draft picks). Now, they have nothing. How a team with the cash reserves of the Yankees can make a choice like that is inexplicable, and recalls the decision to forego the services of Carlos Beltran three years ago, a decision also motivated by short-term cash concerns.

I think Sheehan is underestimating roster flexibility and the economic impact the market conditions have on baseball. I see that Abreu may be above average even in decline, but if he accepts arbitration and earns $18 million, that’s a hefty payday and money the Yanks could be using elsewhere.

I also think he’s overvaluing Abreu. PECOTA ’08 pegged Abreu at a 14.7 maximum VORP and a comparable salary of $7,300,000. Granted, Abreu in 2008 reached his 75 percentile in PECOTA. So we’d probably have to adjust upward by a bit for 2009. He’ll probably end up with more than that stingy salary projection, but should the Yanks risk paying him more than double his relative worth just for the chance of some draft picks?

In the end, we’ll never know if the Yanks made a mistake. By declining arbitration to Abreu, they made him a more attractive free agent. I still think it’s likely that Abreu would have accepted the Yanks’ offer. Pettitte is a tougher argument, but I expect him back in the Bronx in the end. Just something to think about right now though.

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  • whozat

    The thing about Pettitte is that I think they’re very serious about getting him back, but not willing to make 16MM the floor for negotiations. If offered arby, WHY would Pettitte’s camp take anything less than 1/16? They could push for 2/26 pretty reasonably at that point, and I don’t think the Yanks want that.

    So, I kind of don’t care that they didn’t offer him arby. I figure he’ll be back on a 1-year deal between 12 and 14 mil. So who cares?

    As for Bobby, I think Sheehan doesn’t really realize how glutted the market is with corner OF/DH types. Looking at things now…Bobby could wind up on a 3/30 deal if he’s lucky. Even after not getting arbitration, STILL no one is talking about him. Giving him 1/18 doesn’t make sense, especially if they could spend 4/50 on Dunn instead.

    • Chris C.

      “The thing about Pettitte is that I think they’re very serious about getting him back, but not willing to make 16MM the floor for negotiations”

      Right…….so this writer thinks it’s worth risking having to tremendously overpaying for Pettitte because a draft pick that may or may not help you 5 years down the road is at stake? Please! This isn’t the NBA. The Yankees will draft about 60 players in June, and also be plenty active in looking into international prospects.

      I love how some of these writers think the Yankees are operating with monopoly money. Yeah, they should risk having to overpay Pettitte and Abreu about 10 mill combined, just to grab a few draft picks.
      Would any other team in baseball pay that kind of money to BUY additional draft picks?

      • RustyJohn

        Exactly- the Yankees are in a situation where, by next year, they will have Matsui, Damon, Nady leaving and, if Abreu was offered and accepted arbitration, Abreu too. So they’d be looking at having to find four outfielders after next season. Swisher gives them some flexibility there, but why not see about getting any one of the corner outfielders out there that are younger and/or cheaper than Abreu locked up for a couple of years to avoid the issue of having to find four outfielders next year.

        Also, how much does 6 or 7 million a year buy you on the international market? Probably more than what a potential draft pick would, assuming Abreu would decline arbitration and that draft pick isn’t named Strasburg.

  • Steve S

    I dont think Pettitte was an issue at all. Subject to these Dodger rumors the Yankees know he wants to come back and its most likely for one year (the guy seems to want to retire every year). He was definitely going to take arbitration because he may not want to pitch for multiple years and he wasnt going to exceed the arb offer on a one year deal and may have not exceeded it on a two year deal especially considering he was limiting his choices to probably Houston or New York and maybe LA.

  • Steve S

    Now Abreu, I understand it but I just don’t agree with it.

  • jsbrendog

    Abreu is better than all of those players, and if having him would create a logjam, it does so by forcing inferior talent to the bench, the waiver wire or the trade market.

    this is where i stopped reading

    • Steve S

      You shouldnt, his argument as to Abreu belonging on the roster is poor but the third IP actually goes into the likelihood that Abreu would have declined arb and signed elsewhere.

      • Steve S

        scratch that 4th para

      • Chris C.

        And if he didn’t, the Yankees would be paying him about 18 mill in 2009.

        That’s obscene for Bobby Abreu. When you know ahead of time that that’s what Bobby Abreu will be making should he accept arbitration, it’s pretty difficult to offer it.

        And don’t hand me this nonsense about how the Yankees just love tossing money away. Those are just expensive mistakes.
        In this case, you already KNOW what you have in Abreu, and you know what he will get from you in arbitration, so you try to avoid a chance of that happening.

    • http://www.riveraveblues.com Mike A.

      I know, I hate it when my favorite has to put inferior players on the bench in deference to good players.

  • JeffG

    I love these guys blathering on about the state of the Yankees revenues without a single reference, hard number, or even any context.

    If Abreu is worth 5 or 6 wins above a replacement player, than you’re paying about $3 million a win for his services if he takes the arb and wins a $18million salary. Now this is actually LESS than the 5.2 million dollars per marginal win that FanGraphs calculated for the Yankees the other day. But that calculation assumes a payroll 5% HIGHER than this year’s. Is that a realistic assumption? I say no.

    The “lost” draft picks are a rediculous argument as well. The Yankees couldn’t even sign two of their first draft picks this year. So we’re really gonna nail Cashman to the wall for skipping the opportunity to have the chance to pick some guys who may or may not sign with the team and may or (likely) may not develop into serviceable major leaguers? Seems like a stretch to me.

    • Old Ranger

      One thing to take into consideration is; “The pool this year is not very deep with quality players.”, as per Cashman. If getting 4 or so picks gives you nothing but bodies (not good projection-able bodies)…why take the chance, save the money for those we can use, CC, Tex etc. 27/09.

      • JeffG

        Very good point. Bemoaning the loss of draft picks if it’s a weak draft class makes Sheehan’s point doubly-daft.

    • Chris C.

      Exactly. I agree with you 100%.

      • Jay CT

        I never thought I would see this. Usually, you argue EVERYTHING on this site.

  • Old Ranger

    Andy will more then likely be back…if not, so be it.
    Bobby is superfluous as far as I’m concerned. High cost and little return (playing the OF), as a DH he may be better. The problem is, as long as we have Matsui for DH duties there is no where to put Bobby. He plays OF like a girl (no offence girls) and it is a fact that his bat is slower…so the argument, his bat makes up for his liabilities on defence is just rhetoric, with no facts to back it up.
    Even Johnny is a better OF (not in CF) then Bobby, bad arm and all. So Bobby can look elsewhere for a contract, with our blessing…good luck Bobby! 27/09.

  • dan l

    For less then half the cost of Abreu you could trade for Cody Ross and platoon him with Jody Gerut if you could get them both and the prodution would be better both offense and defense. The Yankees should start looking for a platoon situation or two going forward.

  • Chris C.

    “still think it’s likely that Abreu would have accepted the Yanks’ offer. Pettitte is a tougher argument, but I expect him back in the Bronx in the end. Just something to think about right now though.”

    I think the opposite is true. I think Pettitte would have accepted, and Abreu would have declined.

  • Chris

    The basic assumption here is that the Yankees have unlimited money. While it’s possible that’s true it’s more likely that there is a budget, which makes these decisons much more reasonable.

    • Old Ranger

      Not in the loop but, I am sure Hal and Cash worked out a budget of some kind. One must remember, the sharing of revenew has a time limit on it.

      Signing 3-4 long term high priced contracts will effect the out lay sooner then later. Also, it ties Cashmans’ hands on flexibility as has been the case the last few years. This is one of the reasons I have advocated signing only CC and Tex or their equivalent. 27/09.

    • Chris C.

      It’s easy to think the Yankees have unlimited funds because of the often dopey ways they choose to spend them.
      But impressions aside, the Yankees do have limits.
      And they certainly didn’t earmark the 80 million coming off of last year’s payroll to go back into raises for two players they already felt were overpaid to begin with!

  • Miles Roche

    “especially as they move into an ATM with foul poles”

    Ha Haaaaaaaaaa, LMAO!!!

  • Rob

    Couldn’t agree more with Sheehan. He NAILS it. The Yanks gave up something valuable, players better than what they have, for nothing in return. And they can absolutely afford it – do the math:

    4 million in attendance x $50/average ticket price = $200 million.

    Now maybe they don’t reach that attendance threshold because the new stadium is a bit smaller. But they’ll come close. Then again, I’m pretty sure that average ticket price is a bit higher. And of course, none of that factors in TV revenue nor concessions or parking.

    I could understand if the Yanks were planning to cut ticket prices. They’re not.

    Big mistake.

    And I disagree with Ben on never knowing. We’ll see what Abreu and Pettitte gets. If they get multiyear deals one draft pick wasn’t going to change that.

    • Rob

      Futhermore, if they don’t sign Pettitte they’ll look that much more foolish especially if then they’re forced to spend significantly more money on a guy like Lowe or Burnett and while giving up a pick or two.

      • Mike P

        Don’t you just love reporters who talk about anything as black & white and take pleasure casting doubt on everything? Maybe they should become RAB commentators so people like Rob have company. You’re not a reporter by any chance Rob?

        • Rob

          Don’t you love fanboys that never see their favorite team critically? You’re not a fanboy, are you Mike P?

      • Chris C.

        Question: How many teams out there have offered Andy Pettitte ANY kind of contract, muchless a 1 year, 16-18 mill deal?

        They’re not “forced” to spend money on anyone. They may land Sabathia, they have Wang and Chamberlain, and can take a stab at signing Pettitte to a deal more in line with what he should be making. There’s no crime in heading into the future while giving your prospects a chance. It certainly worked out well for the last 4 baseball teams playing this season.

        This notion of NOT having a rotation spot for any of their rookies to earn is certainly NOT the type of strategy employed by the top teams in the AL (Red Sox, Rays, Angels). Go check out their staffs. They’re excellent because they had the patience to let their pitchers come into their own.

    • pat

      Unfortunately these decisions cannot be judged in a vacuum. If abreu signs a multi-year deal you cannot possibly know if he would have signed the same deal if he cost a first round pick.

      • http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/CRsmithT1.jpg tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Mr. Snarky Irrelevant Non Sequitur Jones

        This is very true right. Sadly, you and I both know that the every-Cashman-move-is-bad camp already plans on ignoring this factoid.

        • Rob

          And every Cashman-felatiano will have ready-made excuse for why Cashman is not at fault. Hell, that strategy has only worked for the last ten years. Have fun trying to explain why Lowe and a trade for Cameron were really excellent moves.

          • Rob

            I would just like to take credit for inventing a new word: fellatianado – the bastard child of fellatio and aficionado. It only took me two tries at spelling it right. It means a fan of such magnitude of an male individual that they spend most of their time on their knees in, um, gratitude. The female form is cunnilingusto. Since the latter was not created with the same verve as the male form, I leave it to others to hone. The male version, fully born from my mind, is now, and forever more, timeless.

            And google has already has it indexed!

            http://www.google.com/search?h.....tnG=Search

            Any one who would like to use the word in the future, please credit tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Mr. Snarky Irrelevant Non Sequitur Jones since it was with him in mind that I created such wonder.

            • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=15305165&ref=profile Doug

              FAIL

              “Fellationado” implies an “aficionado of fellatio”, or an enthusiastic connoisseur of oral sex in general.

              Are you going to submit it to Urban Dictionary, too? Try harder.

          • Chris C.

            “Have fun trying to explain why Lowe and a trade for Cameron were really excellent moves.”

            I would never defend those moves.

    • Chris C.

      “Couldn’t agree more with Sheehan. He NAILS it. The Yanks gave up something valuable, players better than what they have, for nothing in return.”

      They can still have those players if they want, at more affordable rates.
      Nothing in return? How about a savings of about 35 million bucks, Mr. Gates?
      I know it’s not your money, but try and pretend it is when your putting yourself in their shoes.
      And it’s not Cashman’s money either. He has people to answer to.

      • Rob

        They have plenty of money to go around (see math above). If you believe otherwise, then have fun spending $200 next year for you and your girl to go see a ballgame at the ATM in the former public park.

  • Scott of 3 Kids Tickets

    Are you guys going to be talking “cost and paying” when it’s midseason and we need a pitcher or a big stick? When it’s going to take 10-25 mil more to get Sabathia, are you going to be screaming about cost?

    This is the Yankees in their most “cash available” year (Money off the payroll PLUS new stadium revenue). Saving 5 or 8 mil should not be an issue for them.

    -Scott

    • Chris C.

      “This is the Yankees in their most “cash available” year (Money off the payroll PLUS new stadium revenue). Saving 5 or 8 mil should not be an issue for them.”

      Maybe not, but continuing to make the roster inflexible should be.
      If you sign people to big money, you have to play them, or have them on your roster. That makes the Yankees potentially a worse baseball team than they should be, because they’re stuck giving roster spots to players they may no longer want.

      Don’t you friggen understand this???

      • http://incumbentgm.wordpress.com Joltin’ Joe

        Wow, I think you are the first person to make this point. Thank you for bringing it to light man.

      • http://incumbentgm.wordpress.com Joltin’ Joe

        No sarcasm intended.

      • Old Ranger

        Chris C, yes, many of us understand your point.
        As pointed out above…very good point. 27/09.

    • http://www.riveraveblues.com Ben K.

      Saving 5 or 8 mil should not be an issue for them.

      You also can’t discount that we’re in the midst of the worst economic downturn since the 1930s. It matters.

      • Scott of 3 Kids Tickets

        A valid point Ben & others – but the fact that you can’t have it both ways was my point. Don’t be screaming (as I glance up at the Knicks minor league team…ugggg) that we need to spend more on ____________ (Sabathia, other free agent, mid year/trding deadline player,etc… ) if it matters.

        -Scott

    • Old Ranger

      Respectfully, if it would take an extra$5mm to sign one or two very good players (CC and Tex), as you and others have stated, we have the money to spend. I believe it is the number of players more then the money.
      Example; we spend $150mm for CC and $130mm for Tex, that’s $280mm over 5years (just example). One ties up two spots, with $280mm, which wouldn’t hurt the flexibility of the team. One ties up the same money with four or five guys and we are in the same crunch as before…no flexibility, can’t move anyone without eating a big part of the remaining contracts, etc.
      Does any of this make sense? Damn I hope so, it sounds better then it looks. As having been a CEO (small company) more for less is better, unless the less is much better then the more…for capitol returns. Hows that, a head spinner for sure? 27/09.

  • http://incumbentgm.wordpress.com Joltin’ Joe

    I was angry, as most were when the lack of arbitration offers came through, but now I am not as concerned. We are going to do one of two things: sign Abreu and/or Pettitte to better contracts than we would have gotten through arbitration compromises or hearings, or, we are going to pick up other free agents that will certainly cost more, but give the Yankees better production (i.e. Ramirez, Dunn, etc.) If the Yanks pick up Adam Dunn, plug him in RF and pay him $18MM or less per season (a solid bet), then it doesn’t really make any difference. Besides, even for the cash cow that is the Yankees, a few million saved from draft picks can be put towards Major League players, which is a much better investment in my opinion.

  • ko

    Sheehan’s right on. The losses of Abreu and Pettitte will be felt and not getting compensation for them is a serious lapse in judgement by Cashman. It’s becoming more obvious every day that while the Yankees are in serious decline, Cashman’s focus is on cutting payroll rather than re-building a winner. There’s comic relief in reading the absurd lengths that some of the bloggers on this site go to defending the absurd path Yankee management appears to be taking. The rotations and lineups I see proposed would be hard pressed to beat out the Orioles for last place rather than competing with Tampa and Boston for first. Guys like Gardner, Swisher and Dunn won’t get it done. Guys like Matsui, Posada and Damon have serious physical issues compounded by their age. This team is in trouble. On the mound, all we’re left with in the rotation are two guys who spent a good part of last year hurt. Only the bullpen looks decent. Meanwhile, all you hear out of the Yankee camp is this guy or that guy wants too many years on their contracts. The absurdity is that that should play into the Yankees’ hands – if they truly wanted to sign these guys. Instead, amazingly, the Yankees are using contract demands as excuses not to sign people.

    • Mike P

      What’s absurd? Brian Cashman’s decisions? Certainly not even if you disagree with them.

      You predicting a last place finish and the non-performance of players not even signed yet, before a single important FA has changed teams? I’m pretty sure that would be a good definition of absurd.

      Hope you never enjoy the Yanks’ next world series wins because of “absurd” personnel decisions. Or will you magically hop on to the bandwagon?

    • http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/CRsmithT1.jpg tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Mr. Snarky Irrelevant Non Sequitur Jones

      Guys like Gardner, Swisher and Dunn won’t get it done.

      Why not? There’s numerous valid reasons to think they will.

      In Dunn’s case in particular, he’s been “getting it done” his whole career… the burden of proof is on you to show why he wouldn’t “get it done”

    • Old Ranger

      Guys like Gardner, Swisher and Dunn won’t get it done. Guys like Matsui, Posada and Damon have serious physical issues compounded by their age. This team is in trouble.

      Why do you think that is? Maybe, because we spent money on long contracts for guys 28 and over that had to be played and used up space on the 25 roster. They where to old and expensive to trade, so what do you do? You suck, loose a lot of winnable games because a player says,”I don’t bunt”. What the hell is that?
      Guys like Dunn, Manny even Tex and CC want too many years for big bucks. There is a limit to the productive years of players, why pay for their life style when they are not producing wins? We have a player or two that will be ready to step it up in the next few years, with a few FAs ready for us to pick-up (in their mid 20s) for 2010. 27/09.

    • pat

      If you cannot see the big picture that is nobody’s fault but your own. I dont have the time or energy to dissect that ridiculous rant. Chances are when the general manager of a professional baseball team makes certain decisions and the consensus throughout the media and blogsphere (for what its worth) all agree, then YOU my friend are wrong. If market value and roster flexibility are over your head then you probably should not be criticizing those who do.

      • pat

        Refer to the post directly below mine for said dissection. Tommie handles my easy work.

  • http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/CRsmithT1.jpg tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Mr. Snarky Irrelevant Non Sequitur Jones

    First of all, Abreu and Pettitte are two vastly different animals, and treating them as identical blunders muddles the argument.

    IMO, the team is interested in bringing back Pettitte, on a one year deal, and doesn’t think he will go anywhere else. So, factoring potential picks into his arb decision is immaterial, as he’s likely Yankees or bust, and a multi-year contract (either here or elsewhere) is also unlikely. The only factor that matters here is price. Andy wants to get as much as possible, we want to give as little as possible. Offering arb would be a poor decision for the team, as it gives Andy the chance to move the one-year contract negotiation from a two-party talk (between him and us) to an arbitration arena, where he’s much less likely to face a paycut. Calling the Yankees foolish for not offering him a potential one year deal at $16-$18M is erroneous, because the Yankees can and likely will still sign him to a one year deal at less than that rate. And calling the Yankees foolish for not securing two picks for him when he leaves is disingenuous, because the chances of him leaving are slim and they further decrease if compensatory picks are attached.

    As for Abreu, I think the team is not interested in bringing him back, and always wanted for him to leave, sign a multiyear deal, and recoup two picks. Two months ago, I suspect Cashman was already telling Oppenheimer to start scouting players they’d be drafting with the two Abreu picks. What happened was, the market collapsed and the likelihood of Abreu finding a team that would give him a multiyear deal this winter more lucrative than the 1yr/16M-18M + whatever deal he’d find next season decreased dramatically, to the point where the team feared Abreu would accept arbitration. And while Sheehan is correct that the team can afford Abreu on a 1/18M, having him back on a 1/18M is very bad from a roster flexibility standpoint, as the team is attempting to replace Abreu’s roster spot and lineup spot for 2009 with a new player who would be better for 2009, 2010, 2011, etc., and Abreu at a 1/18M would be all but unmoveable. Getting two draft picks for Abreu seems like a no-brainer, unless it’s a slim chance that Abreu declines arb, and while you can say that the Yankees can spend whatever they want, they simply can’t have a limitless number of players under contract.

    You can’t be mad at the team for failing to get something it was likely never going to have anyway.

    • Old Ranger

      Good show.

    • Reggie C.

      i agree that not offering Andy arbitration was the right way to go. He’s going to be a yankee in ’09, or retire. I honestly think that hasn’t changed. At the end, Andy signs.

      Abreu is where the debate lies. Imo, best case scenario for Abreu would’ve been a 3 year deal at 15 ML AAS. And then the economy collapsed. I’d be shocked to see Abreu get that. He’s a good bet at 2/25 for a team like the Mets. Good luck Abreu!

    • Reggie C.

      Lets not forget that a 1/18 ML probable win at arbitration looks really good when you look at a growing crowd of very good OFs available: DYE, Ibanez, Manny, and Dunn.

  • A.D.

    This article can make sense if the team was only about 2009, but the ramifications of having guys you don’t want on the payroll for 2009 will effect moves for beyond 2009 for the yankees

    • http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/CRsmithT1.jpg tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Mr. Snarky Irrelevant Non Sequitur Jones

      Exactly. Bringing back all our departing players on one year deals would be a bad thing, because it prevents us from adding in new, better replacements for now and the future.

      Again, not a money thing, a numbers thing.

      Let’s count, first one to 25 is a rotten egg:
      1. ARod
      2. Jeter
      3. Cano
      4. Posada
      5. Joba
      6. Mo
      7. Wang
      8. Marte
      9. Bruney
      10. Nady
      11. Swisher
      12. Damon
      13. Matsui
      14. Gardner
      15. Albaladejo
      16. Molina
      17. Veras
      18. Edwar
      19. Albaladejo
      20. Aceves
      21. Hughes
      22. Gardner
      23. Ransom
      24. CC Sabathia
      25. Texiera/Dunn/Manny/Burrell
      ———————
      26. Sheets/Lowe/Burnett
      27. Andy Pettitte?
      28. Bobby Abreu?
      29. Ivan Rodriguez?
      30. Mike Mussina?
      31. Coke
      32. Robertson
      etc. etc.

      Before we even get to what youngsters we’re going to have to drop off the 40 man to give arbitration offers out to people who may accept, how are we even going to find room on the 25 man roster?

  • steve (different one)

    Bobby Abreu projects as a five- or six-win player, Pettitte a bit below that…

    pump your brakes, Sherman.

    CC Sabathia is a 5 or 6 win player. A-Rod is a 5 or 6 win player.

    right now, defense included, Abreu is a 1 or 2 win player. Pettitte maybe 3 wins.

    if Abreu were a 5 or 6 win player, he’d have gotten arbitration, simple as that.

    • steve (different one)

      wait, this was Joe Sheehan, not Joel Sherman??

      wow.

      i’m speechless. Sheehan, after predicting Melky as a future 80 XBH talent, is really stretching his credibility here.

  • steve (different one)

    Joe Sheehan:

    I’m reminded of Alex Rios, who doesn’t look a thing like Cabrera. Rios was largely disappointing in 2004 and 2005, hitting just 11 homers in more than 900 at-bats, with an isolated power of 117. The problem: Rios was hitting the ball on the ground too much, a 1.82 G/F in those two seasons. Starting in ’06, Rios put the ball in the air more than half the time, and became a star. When you look at Cabrera’s body, his established control of the strike zone, and his ability to hold his own at a young age, you recognize that all it’s going to take is for him to start elevating the ball. Cabrera may not get there in 2008, but he’s going to pop 80 extra-base hits and slug .500 in a season very, very soon.

    • Reggie C.

      Don’t remind me of this that Sheehan gem. Talk about being off. Sheehan later said during ’08 in a BP chat that he was genuinely puzzled at the extent of Melky’s regression. Sheehan admitted he was “off” on Melky. Still, i remember the above words all too well b/c i do read BP chats regularly, and i like Sheehan’s material.

      • steve (different one)

        yeah, but it was insane the minute he said it.

        he was basically saying that Melky Cabrera >= Grady Sizemore.

        • Old Ranger

          Wouldn’t that be nice! See it now…Melky, comeback player of the year2009. We have all seen things like that happen, the light comes on and …all star in the making. Oh well…..! 27/09.

          • http://www.riveraveblues.com Ben K.

            Can he be a “comeback” player of the year if there is nothing to which he can comeback?

  • Dave

    Pettitte is a tougher argument? I would think it is the other way around. Pettitte is likely coming back anyway most likely and highly unlikely to be payed close to 16 million. There was no way pettitte was turning down 16 million for one year since he wants a one year contract anyway and he wouldnt get that kind of money from the yanks outside of arb or from any other team.

    Abreu on the other hand, was most likely not going to come back and if anyone else on the market offered him a comparable yearly salary in a multiyear deal, no question abreu would have declined arbitration and we would have gotten draft picks. Worst case scenario, abreu is back for one year at an expensive rate but not much more than some teams would have payed abreu if he was a FA last season. Abreu is above average offensively and a good three hitter in most lineups. His defense destroys his value but he still is an above average player at his position overall considering both defense and offense i would think. i AM Very surprised to hear you say at this point that pettitte should have been offered arbitration or that it is a more difficult decision considering the fact that he was soo likely to accept the deal and become the most overpayed fourth starter in baseball.

  • Lanny

    Sheehan is right on. These decisions were what small market teams do.

    Is there really a difference in paying Pettitte 16 or 12 mill? The more this goes on with him the more it’s obvious they don’t want him back next year.

    • http://www.riveraveblues.com Ben K.

      $16 million is 33 percent more than $12 million. That’s a pretty sizable difference.

    • Jack

      Seriously, can we all just stop this “small market” shit? As long as the team is improved (or in this case, not hampered), does it matter what size market we act like?

    • DonnieBaseballHallofFame

      16 and 12 is a crazy difference. But if its all just somebody elses money I understand why to you it is nothing.

      Andy is going to come back here I would bet and I think he gets less than 16.

      Andy is not worth a one year 16 deal after last year. I would not have even given him as much last year.

      People need to wake up and smell the roses. We might have to act like a small market team for half of our roster now because the other half will be 15 to 30 million a year players (dont get in a tizzy stat guys I know its not exactly half)

    • steve (different one)

      basically you are arguing that they should just pay him whatever he wants.

      that’s your argument.

      that the Yankees are somehow wrong to try to pay a player what they are actually worth.

      b/c Pettitte is not worth $16M.

    • Ed

      Yeah, it does matter. When they go to sign their next free agent pitcher, he’ll use it as a comparison point.

      Take the negotiations for Mussina’s final contract. Cashman started by offering something like $8 or $9 million a year. Mussina’s response was “I’m worth more than Pavano.” Cashman couldn’t argue with that, and had to give Mussina $11 million a year to top Pavano’s $10 million.

      Any (realistic) potential Pettitte contract won’t affect signing CC, but it could certainly come into play if they try to sign Burnett. The Yankees could offer $15 million a year, and Burnett would come back with “I’m younger and had a better season than Pettitte. I want more than him.”

  • LeftyLarry

    Cashman finally does something right!
    Abreu is the softest big time hitter in baseball, looks like Tarzan, plays like Jane, is a liability in the outfield, though he can throw and isn’t worth more than 8-10 mill a year and would have jumped at arbitration.
    We’ll resign him for a lot less, guaranteed and if he goes, no great loss with Nadi out there.
    I’d like to resign Andy but he’d have grabbed arbitration also and he isn’t getting any younger.
    I think he’ll bounce back next season and win 16-17 games. Last season with the Steroids deal in the winter, he just wasn’t in top shape when he hit spring training and admitted it.That’s why he floundered late but I think we get him back for 12 Million anyway.
    I could make a case that if we let Abreu walk and save 16 mill and save 4 more on Andy, we’re in great shape.

  • DonnieBaseballHallofFame

    “Abreu is the softest big time hitter in baseball, looks like Tarzan, plays like Jane, is a liability in the outfield”

    Agreed.

  • Hitman

    The very idea that Abreu would take a one year deal from the yankees is ridiculous. There is absolutely no risk of either him, pettitte or pudge accepting offers from the yankees. Cashman you idiot.

  • http://oferrer Omar Ferrer

    To all, great post and comments. I do really like this blog. My 2 (long) cents on Yank’s arb decisions (just on Abreu).

    I read one comment about VORP (PECOTA) and Abreu. I agree that Abreu (as well as many other players in baseball) is “probably” overpaid. However, VORP and some of these stats are INDIVIDUAL stats that does not measure a player’s contribution to the team’s chances of winning games. This is in my opinion what makes a player valuable, a true “money player” and the influence these make on a team (Rays with Longoria or the BSox with Pedroia).

    I have been researching some sites and blogs and found this site: http://www.fangrapghs.com/

    On Fangraphs, please check these two interesting stats: CLUTCH and WPA. Clutch speaks for itself while WPA measures a player’s contribution (please read below for a proper explanation) to the team’s chances of winning a game. In 2008, only two Yankee batters were among the TOP 35 batters in baseball with positive WPA and Clutch numbers. Nady, for the first time on his career, posted a 3.13 and 1.23 respectively while Abreu, 2.68 and 0.79.

    This indeed makes a good case for Nady who had a great year in 2008 but whom historically has had WAP and Clutch numbers below 1 and 1 respectively. If we can make a case here and assume Nady can get close to his 2008 numbers in 2009 then GREAT DEAL for the Yankees and Cashman.

    Now, Abreu has been a very consistent player with an average WPA of 3.07 and Clutch of 0.14. Nady has an average of 0.56 and 0.12 respectively. There is a huge difference between the two at least in regards to WPA (wining games). If you also add the fact that Abreu has a slightly better career average WPA than A-Rod (3.05) and a bit behind Manny Ramirez (3.26), you can rest assure that whatever you end up paying him you’ll always get a player whose numbers will greatly increase the team’s chances of winning games.

    However, I do believe that pitching is and will always be much more important than hitting and honestly speaking, Yankees are in a desperate need of good/quality pitchers and can live and win games without Abreu.

    Thanks…

    —————————————————————–
    “Win Probability Added statistics are tools that have been created by a number of sabermetricians including the Mills Brothers (Eldon and Harlan), Doug Drinen, and most recently Tom Tango. These statistics generally look at the game context at the start and the end of the play and compare the batting team’s probability of winning the game in both situations.

    For example, in the top of the eighth, the visiting team might be down five with one out and runners on first and second. The batter then hits a home run to bring the visiting team to within two runs, still with one out, but now with no runners on base. Prior to the home run, the batting team had about a 3% chance of winning which improved to 10% following the home run. This change of 7% is credited to the batter and debited to the pitcher. Compute these for every play and every game from 1956 on and you have win probability added stats.

    This stat does something that a lot of people criticize many advanced stats for not doing. It considers the context of the game. A home run with the score tied is worth much, much more than a home run with a ten-run lead. In fact, a walk or run scoring ground out in a tie game is worth more than a home run in a blowout.
    —————————————————————–