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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.