Where are they now? Yankees offseason targets


If the byline looks a bit unfamiliar, that’s because we’ve brought aboard a couple of guys to help out on weekends. Welcome Steve H from Mystique and Aura and also the RAB comments.

How are the offseason targets of the Yankees faring so far in 2010?  Every offseason all big name and big money free agents are tied to the Yankees.  Obviously this is often posturing by the agents to drive up the bidding elsewhere (if the Yankees truly have no interest).  I’m going to look at a few of the players they likely had at least a passing interest in and how they are faring so far in 2010.  It’s truly too early to judge any of these contracts any differently than I would have when they were first signed, but it’s interesting nonetheless to see how these players are faring so far.  Today I will roll out the hitters, with the pitchers soon to follow.

Matt Holliday

0.275 0.331 0.450 4 0.338 0.310

The big fish from this offseason is off to a poor start after resigning with the Cardinals who negotiated (admittedly) against themselves and gave Holliday a 7 year/$120 million deal.  So far, not so good.  Holliday hasn’t been terrible, but as you can see in his line above, he’s been pretty pedestrian.  Of note, his BABIP is at .310 which is solid but well below his career BABIP of .350.  That of course needs to be taken with a grain of salt as the majority of his career came at Coors Field, which has more room for hits to fall in than any other park in baseball.  I certainly wouldn’t expect his BABIP to be at .350 going forward, so his .310 doesn’t portray too much bad luck.

Jason Bay

0.238 0.345 0.376 1 0.324 0.338

Bay was likely never a true target for the Yankees, but with an unsettled LF situation, he was certainly mentioned as a possibility in the Bronx.  Bay was seen as Holliday-lite, a little older, a little worse in the field and less accomplished as a hitter.  While his 4 year/$66 million seemed like an overpay at the time, it won’t hurt down the road as much as Holliday’s deal might.  Bay is off to a very slow start for the Mets.  In what has to be a frightening thought for the Mets, Bay’s .338 BABIP is above his career average of .327.  Oof.  He’s simply not providing any power at the plate, but Bay is historically streaky and is due to heat up soon.

Chone Figgins

0.204 0.336 0.265 0 0.293 0.278

Figgins was also rumored as a potential landing spot for the Yankees left field.  Considering he hasn’t played the OF regularly since 2006 and doesn’t figure to age well, I’m glad the Yankees stayed away from Figgins.  Figgins signed on with the Mariners for 4 years/$36 million.  A little steep for my liking, but not a terrible contract.  Figgins is off to a terrible start with a .293 wOBA and amazingly he’s carrying a .265 SLG.  Figgins has been very unlucky, as his .278 BABIP is well below his career average of .340.  Expect Figgins’ numbers to pick up soon.

Mark Derosa

0.205 0.298 0.277 1 0.259 0.239

Many people thought that the New Jersey born DeRosa would be a great fit for the Yankees as either the starting LF, or a utility player who could rotate around giving some of the regulars time off at DH.  Derosa signed with the Giants for 2 years/$12 million, which would have been too rich for the utility role, but as a starter not a bad contract at all.  It’s short term, and the money is moveable in a trade should the need come necessary.  DeRosa has primarily played LF, but to truly get some value out of him, his versatility should be taken advantage of.  DeRosa is off to a terrible start, but much of that can be attributed to poor luck.  His BABIP of .239 pales in comparison to his career of .309, so he is bound to pick it up at the plate.  If his BABIP was at his career norm, the career .273 hitter would be batting .265.

Johnny Damon

0.308 0.402 0.452 1 0.382 0.356

I had to save the two ex-Yankees for last.  Thousands of words have been written about Johnny Damon and Hideki Matsui’s departures from the Yankees after their 2009 postseason heroics. After spurning the Yankees early offers, Damon signed with the Tigers for 1 year/$8 million.  Considering when he signed, and the other bats on the market, Damon did pretty well for himself, but left a lot of money on the table by not signing sooner.  Damon is off to a strong start, but his current .356 BABIP would be a career high(what is it with Detroit OF’s and luck?), and in his 16th season, he’s very unlikely to maintain that level.  At his career .308 BABIP, Damon would be hitting just .269.  As expected, leaving Yankee Stadium has sapped him of his HR power, as Damon has just 1 on the season after having 4 last April and another 6 in May.  Damon’s numbers are solid so far, but he is due for regression going forward.

Hideki Matsui

0.236 0.309 0.400 4 0.311 0.262

While the Yankees showed genuine interest in bringing back Damon, they seemed to have no plans to bring back Matsui.  They were happy to get a healthy season out of Matsui in 2009, but weren’t ready to rely on him for another year.  Add to that Matsui’s (crazy) notion that he wanted to play in the field, and Matsui was on his way.  If they use him strictly as a DH, the 1 year/$6.5 million contract the Angels signed him to could pay off.  After a very fast start, Matsui has been slumping of late.  Luck is partly the blame as his .262 BABIP is 40 points off his career average.  Of note however is that his BABIP was just .273 last year, so expecting a .302 BABIP at this point may be wishful thinking.  The 4 HR’s Matsui has hit so far are decent, but that’s about it.  Matsui is a very solid hitter and will get it going as we get deeper into the season, provided his knees don’t explode lumbering after a flyball.  Matsui’s two worst months in his career using OPS are April and May, so the Angels haven’t seen the best of Matsui’s bat yet.

Categories : Hot Stove League
  • Matt Imbrogno

    I hadn’t realized Matsui’s bat slowed down that much over the last few weeks.

    • Nostra-Artist

      This. Wow, I need to do a “Keeping up” post again soon.

  • Matt :: Section 105

    Another target:

    Reed Johnson
    .241 avg/.255 obp/.370slug/.625ops…0hrs, 4rbi

  • Reggie C.

    Damn Citi Field. I really thought Jason Bay’s power would translate well in any ball park. It hasn’t. Bay was signed to hit 30 homers each year out. If he can’t do that, then the signing looks really bad.

    David Wright may have 7 homers, but 6 of ‘em were mashed on the road. Its shocking to see Rod Barajas at 9 homers this early into the season. The Mets can’t bank on Barajas having a Posada-like year at the plate however, so unless Bay and Wright start providing more instantaneous run production the Mets will fall short.

    /angry at Bay killing fantasy team rant’d
    /sympathetic Yankees fan rant’d

    • bexarama

      Barajas hits dingers but IIRC has an OBP UNDER .300. So no, he’s not Posada.

  • pete

    also worthy of note: Brett Gardner

    .348/.431/.427 with a .415 wOBA and a 162 wRC+. While that won’t hold up all season, chances are his -.2 UZR will go up as well. He’s already at 1 WAR – could we have a $100,000/WAR player on our hands?

    • Matt Imbrogno

      If Gardner can put up a .340 wOBA and a +5 UZR, I’ll be thrilled.

      • pete

        I’m bullish, but I think he can do better than that. I could see him amassing a .355 wOBA and a +10 UZR, which would be close to 5 WAR I believe (depending on how much of that UZR comes from center and how much comes from left). Either way, I think by season’s end Gardner could have one of the lowest costs per WAR in all of baseball.

        • Matt Imbrogno

          Doing some quick calculations, and assuming a .336 league wOBA and 500 PAs for Gardner, a .355 wOBA and +10 UZR in CF gives 3.9772 WAR, so, basically 4.0. That’d be incredible.

          But, yeah, no matter what, Gardner’s gonna bring back a good amount of value.

          • pete

            oh you’re right. I was thinking of Morgan’s mark last year, but forgot that he had something ridiculous for his UZR/150 – like +38 or something, which boosted his WAR. Nevertheless, 4 WAR from a $450,000 player would be supa-dupa awesome

          • poster

            Gardner, along with Hughes, has been one of the best surprises of the year. I honestly didn’t think he would be this valuable.

          • Matt Imbrogno

            Oh it’s worth noting that these PAs are all out of CF. Obviously, when Granderson gets back, Gardner is likely to shift back to LF so that could hurt his position adjustment.

  • YankeeScribe

    “what is it with Detroit OF’s and luck?”

    Probably the large gaps in Comerica Park. It’s certainly not a homerun hitter’s park but it provides a lot of room for line drive and slap hitters

    • Steve H

      The ironic thing is that Damon’s career low BABIP came in his one year in Oakland, which definitely has more room for a hitter like him.

      Both Damon and A-Jax actually have higher BABIP’s on the road this year, though Damon’s is much closer to where he’ll end up.

      Damon Home BABIP .333, Away .373
      A-Jax Home BABIP .487, Away .529

      • pete

        wowzah’s on AJax’s BABIP. When your BA is more than a hundred points lower than your insanely unsustainable BABIP, its not a great sign. What do people here see as a reasonable final line for A-Jax? I’m thinking .265/.335/.375 with 8 HRs and a +2 UZR.

        • andrew

          The longer Jackson can continue at his pace, the less likely he is to finish with that line. For him to finish at .265/.335/.375, he’d have to hit so badly the rest of the way, there’s no way the Tigers would keep playing him. More realistically, it’s possible he hits .265/.335/.375 the rest of the way making his final line a bit better

          • pete

            that’s probably true – that’d probably result in something along the lines of a .275/.345/.380 line, or something like that? Which would actually be pretty solid for a rookie CF.

            • andrew

              Yea, he’s already accumulated 20% of the season at bats hitting .370, so if he continues the rest of the way at .265, he’s still going to finish the season hitting around .300.

              • Zack

                Through 29 games (missed 1) and 127 ABs (4.37831 AB/game), he has 47 hits for a .370 AVG

                If he plays the next 132 games at the same AB/game, he’ll have 578 more ABs. If he hits .265 in those ABs, he will collect 153 more hits.

                At the end he’ll have 705 ABs with 200 hits, good for a .284 AVG on the season.

                That math has a lot of assumptions (plays every game, same AB/game, etc). Oh and I didnt factor in today’s game.

                • YankeeScribe

                  Based on his minor league performances and his hot start this year, a realistic prediction is that he will hit .290-.310 for the season. Which is good for him and good for the Tigers.

                  I don’t think he would have started this season in CF for the Yankees if he wasn’t traded but he was a great prospect who should have been traded for someone better than Curtis Granderson.

                  • Zack

                    “Based on his minor league performances and his hot start this year, a realistic prediction is that he will hit .290-.310 for the season.”

                    And you can say based on his high K rate (with no power) and .500 BABIP, a realistic prediction will have him starting hitting .200 for along period of time when his BABIP drops roughly 200 points.

                    I wouldnt label him a “great prospect” either, great prospects are top 10-20 in the game. He was just a good prospect, with some flaws (power hasnt developed, high K rate)

                    • YankeeScribe

                      Nearly every prospect has flaws. The Yanks tried to develop him into a power-hitting outfielder but the Tigers are happy with him being a table-setter and playing stellar defense.

                      AJax didn’t have a role with the current Yankees lineup. The role he would’ve most likely played is being filled by Brett Gardner. Austin is younger than Gardner and Granderson and he has the tools to be better than those guys in a few years. If and when he puts it all together and brings down his strikeout rate, he will be an all-star(although he’s making a very strong case for being an all-star in his rookie season)

                    • Zack

                      Right, because power hitting CFs are better prospects than non-powering hitting CFs.

                      And you can say once he improves and cuts down on his Ks he’ll be better, then I can say, once his BABIP comes back to normal it’s questionable to see how good he’ll be.

                    • YankeeScribe

                      You’re forgetting that he had an unusually high BABIP throughout his minor league career. When he comes down to Earth, he won’t come down as hard as some people think. It’s a pretty good possibility that he finishes the season batting above .300.

        • bexarama

          I think AJax can hit .300 or at least close to it. It’ll be a fairly empty .300, but he’ll do it.

    • Jon

      Austin Jackson is certainly loving Comerica for those very reasons right now.

      That strikeout rate will bring him down to earth by season’s end, of course.

  • paul

    2 names I am keeping an eye are clippard and Ajax…curious to see how long their big starts can last.

    • http://deleted RollingWave

      Clippard’s K/BB suggest a legitimately good reliever, though the records have bene a bit fluky, since out of his 5 wins 3 have been total vultures (he blew the save then got the win)

  • http://deleted Richard Deegan

    Holliday is right where he should be historically for on-Coors performance, discounting his Hurricane Hazle stats for the last two months in St. L last year.
    Let’s see where Damon is when the hot weather comes.
    And Noodle-arm’s one assist was gunning a “Knees” Hideki attempt to score from third.

    • mike c

      Noodle-arm or “knees” would be better than the designated DLer we’re stuck with now.

      • Steve H

        Yeah, as you can see above, Matsui is tearing it up.

        • mike c

          At least matsui has a chance to play baseball and get out of a slump. You going to still be saying this when Johnson’s on the 60 day? And the lack of respect shown here for great players who helped the Yankees win a championship is pathetic. You people would rather fawn over a walking injury that doesn’t swing the bat than say a good word over last year’s heroes

          • bexarama

            And the lack of respect shown here for great players who helped the Yankees win a championship is pathetic. You people would rather fawn over a walking injury that doesn’t swing the bat than say a good word over last year’s heroes

            Holy strawman, Batman. I think a lot of people show a lot of respect for Matsui and Damon. Of course, they’re not gonna say they’re the greatest players ever, because a. they’re not and b. they’re not on the team so unless they’re playing the Yankees, who really cares how they’re doing at any given time? And, you want to hear good things about last year’s heroes from someone you called a snob? I am very fond of Matsui AND Damon. When it comes to Matsui, I’m actually pretty sad that he’s in a bad slump, and I get worried when they play him in the outfield because I don’t want his knees to implode.

            lol @ your comments about NJ though.

      • bexarama

        you can’t fool me, dalelama. Though I see he/she’s moved on to making fun of autistic people in the last thread.

        • mike c

          I have no idea who you are, but you come off like a snob

          • bexarama

            When it comes to baseball, I kind of am. I don’t take it as an insult. Thanks for judging me, though. Sweet.

            • mike c

              i’ll buy you a bleacher ticket for the next javy start if you tell everybody to shut up

  • mike c

    Matsui’s knees > NJ’s wrists & back

    • Hangoverologist

      Matsui’s knees can blow up at anytime and he’ll be out of baseball for good. Think about that for a second.

      • mike c

        You mean like Johnson’s wrists did?

        • Hangoverologist

          Johnson is on the DL. He’ll be back in a few weeks.

          • mike c

            cashman’s words yesterday were “several weeks”, and knowing the history with the surgery i’d say at least a month, maybe two

          • andrew

            Yankees took a gamble, it hasn’t paid off thus far. At a certain point, why can’t people acknowledge that? We don’t have to defend these moves forever. At the end of the season, I’m guessing Matsui will have provided more value than Johnson, that’s just my prediction.

            • ROBTEN

              Yankees took a gamble, it hasn’t paid off thus far. At a certain point, why can’t people acknowledge that? We don’t have to defend these moves forever.

              I don’t think it is the case that anyone here is blindly supporting this move. BUT, they are also not blindly dismissing it either.

              In other words, I think that the issue is that most people here don’t think that there is anything to “acknowledge” yet except, perhaps, that in an extremely small sample things are not working out as people had hoped, but that they’re also not willing to fully consider the decision to sign Johnson until the end of the season (at least).

              If there is a common thread, it’s that the comments that signing Johnson are a bad move are way too premature.

              Fun Facts:

              Before his injury, Johnson had put up a .01 WAR in 24 games with 105 wRC+.

              Matsui has put up -.02 WAR in 32 games with a 89 wRC+.

              In other words, despite any talk about Johnson’s struggles versus Matsui’s initially hot start, they have been worth virtually the same amount (with Matsui actually being slightly worse than Johnson).

              • Zack

                research wins

              • bexarama

                boom, roasted.

            • Sleepykarl

              If you are gonna judge it on this small of a sample, why not say Cashman did well and the answer was not NJ or Matsui, but Thames who has outproduced both?

  • yankthemike

    since they weren’t going to spend the money on a guy like Bay or Holliday i’m not really worried about how they are doing in their new homes, but it’s interesting to compare these small sample sizes nonetheless.

    we all know how streaky Godzilla is; by next month his numbers could be off the charts. I haven’t heard of him having any knee problems yet. I never was thrilled with going after NJ- and of course it’s easy to monday morning QB on this one, but i know I wasn’t the only one. it just seemed unnecessary for cashman to sign him SO early in the off-season- but I just checked on the date of the signing- it was December 18th, so it wasn’t like he jumped on the guy right after the end of the world series. Still I think all of us wish he had simply waited out Damon.

    I hope the one we don’t regret the most is giving up Ajax, but there was no way Cash was gonna risk an outfield of swish, GGBG and Ajax. looking forward to CG coming back from the DL and tearing the cover off the ball

    • whozat

      “I haven’t heard of him having any knee problems yet.”

      Except at the beginning of spring training, when his knees ALREADY weren’t at 100 percent

      • yankthemike

        well i heard that as well, but if he was having ANY problems with them now he wouldn’t have played LF in Fenway Park last week. I find it hard to believe that Scioscia would risk that, but he did.

        • whozat

          Mike Sciosia seems to manage by gut, feel and old-schoolery.

          • bexarama

            Seriously, he’s pretty much only playing Napoli, who’s easily his best catcher, because he was forced to by injury.

  • A.D.

    There’s also Kelly Johson, breifly rumored, and tearing it up with the 1.047 OPS.