Dec
31

Mailbag: Vlad & Relievers

By

No, that's not Wilton. (AP Photo/Ben Margot)

Ryan asks: How different would the mid-2000′s of played out if the Yanks topped the Angels 5 year, $70 million contract for Vlad instead of signing Sheff for 3 years at $39 million after the 2003 season. Over the 3 years Sheff was in NY he produced a 10 WAR. Vlad over that 3 years, 16.6 WAR. I did enjoy Sheff but always felt that they should of went with Vlad.

You know what, I honestly don’t think things would have played out all that differently. The problems with those teams in the mid-00′s was pitching, not hitting. Plus it’s not like Sheff didn’t hit, because he absolutely did in 2004 and 2005 (.396 wOBA) before getting hurt. The Yankees almost certainly wouldn’t have traded for Bobby Abreu in 2006 with Vlad around, and you know what? They might not have been able to sign both Hideki Matsui and Johnny Damon (four years, $52M each) prior to the 2006 season either. If they had signed only Matsui (since he was the incumbent), he and Vladdy would have been duking it out for DH at-bats the last few seasons. That would have been some ugly outfield defense, not to mention injury risk.

I wanted the Yankees to sign Guerrero instead of Sheffield as well, but I don’t believe the offensive and defensive upgrade he provided over Sheff would have been enough to overcome the pitching. And who knows how that contract would have impacted future free agent signings.

Tucker asks: A couple names for possible relievers: Mike MacDougal, Scot Shields, Jon Rauch, and Micah Owings.

The easy one is Shields, because he said he was likely to retire this offseason back in September. He hasn’t made an official announcement yet, but I imagine it’s coming. Even if he wanted to continue playing, he has been just a shell of his former self since injuring his knee in 2009. Over the last two years, Shields has struck out 7.2 batters per nine innings (down from 9+ at his peak) while walking 6.9 per nine, far too many. His swinging strike rate fell off a cliff as well. I’d be very, very afraid given his age (35), recent injury history, and overall career workload.

MacDougal is a walk machine, with 5.78 uIBB/9 over the last four seasons. His strikeout rate isn’t all that great either, just 6.73 K/9 during the same time. He still throws extremely hard, so that’s a plus. MacDougal has had a settle for a minor league contract in each of the last two winters, and I expect that trend to continue in this one. I’d have no trouble with giving him (or really anyone) a minor league deal to see if you can catch lightning in a bottle, but the expectations should be zero. Fun Fact: MacDougal’s real name is Robert Meiklejohn MacDougal.

He can hit! (AP Photo/Al Behrman)

People stopped complaining about the Yankees getting Ross Ohlendorf instead of Micah Owings in the Randy Johnson trade soon after they realized that Owings couldn’t pitch (5.03 FIP career) nearly as well as he could hit (.365 wOBA). He’s dealt with shoulder issues in recent seasons, and over the last two years he owns a 6.06 K/9 and a 5.06 uIBB/9. Owings is also a big time fly ball pitcher (64.1% non-ground balls in his career), so homers will be an issue as well. But again, same deal is MacDougal, minor league contract with no expectations is fine with me. I’m not guaranteeing either player anything more than a hotel room in Spring Training.

At this point, Rauch is the only real major league pitcher left in the group. His fine 2010 season was propped up by the best homerun rate of his career (0.47 HR/9), and that’s due to a) playing half his games in Target Field, and b) lucking out and not surrendering a single long ball to a right-handed batter. Over the rest of his career, he’s a one homer per nine innings guy, and I’d expect him to be at least that going forward. Rauch’s strikeout rate has hovered right around seven per nine with the exception of 2006 and 2008, when he was over eight, and his unintentional walk rate is close to two per nine in the last half-decade or so. He’s another extreme fly ball guy (66.4% non-grounders in his career), so that scares me a bit in Yankee Stadium, but Rauch is a quality big league arm that could help the Yankee bullpen. I have no idea what kind of contract he’s looking for, but I’d be skeptical of a multi-year guarantee.

Categories : Mailbag
  • http://twitter.com/steveh_MandAura Steve H

    Owings would be intriguing as a reliever on a minor league deal. His stuff would definitely play better in the pen. As a reliever last year (SSS alert) he did strike out 9.5/9. Of course he also walked 6.75/9 (in the NL), so there’s work to be done. I’ve always liked Owings simply because I went to one of his games in Tulane and he hit a bomb (while playing LF). The pitcher that day was Brian Bogusevic, who has already made the transition to full time position player, wonder if Owings will someday as well.

    • jsbrendog (returns)

      he’d be one mean late inning PH

  • The Three Amigos

    Is there a reason why Owings doesn’t make the full switch to being a position player…?

    • 28 this year

      was wondering the same thing myself. A .365 wOBA is really good and would suffice for a lot of positions on the field.

  • The Big City of Dreams

    I wouldn’t mind having Jon Rauch

    • Colombo

      I would totally get behind a Rauch pickup. Also wouldn’t mind seeing MacDougal on a minor league deal. Love those strikeouts.

  • http://twitter.com/dpatrickg Dirty Pena

    I haven’t been around for the past couple of weeks, so forgive me if I’m beating a drum that’s already been beaten- but what about Chad Qualls? From 2007-2009 he had 8.4 K/9, 2.2 BB/9 (3.88 K/BB), which are all great. I suspect people only want to look at last year though. Even last year in his “terrible” year, he still had a 2.33 K/BB ratio, 4.13 FIP, and 3.91 xFIP. He had a .399 BABIP with a 53% strand rate (72% career). The batted balls weren’t worse either- 16.8% line drive rate vs. 17.3% career, 55% GB vs. 57.6% career, 28.2% flyball vs. 25.1% career. Dude was straight up as unlucky as they come, and I bet can be had for real cheap. I see no reason he wouldn’t be a fit.

  • Joel

    It’s “would HAVE’, not would OF”. Lots of people make this mistake, and it’s wrong every time. Learn your language.

    • Chops

      You must be the life of parties.