Thoughts prior to the start of the World Series



The 109th edition of the World Series opens tonight with perhaps the most insufferable matchup imaginable: the Red Sox and Cardinals. It’s not so much the teams themselves — though let’s face it, no one likes the Red Sox around here — but it’s the way they’re covered. Hopefully these next few days are so super-exciting it will overshadow the general awfulness that will come from a Red Sox-Cardinals series. Anyway, I have thoughts:

1. Regardless of whether they win the World Series, I expect more than a few teams to copy the Red Sox model of targeting mid-range free agents and ignoring the top of market. It’s a great strategy in theory but is very hard to actually pull off. Boston did get at least somewhat lucky that every non-Ryan Dempster signing worked out almost perfectly this season. The years Shane Victorino and Koji Uehara had are like, 90th-percentile stuff. The Yankees are going to wind up re-signing Robinson Cano to a huge contract, which pretty much precludes them for the whole “spread the money around” idea. I have no reason to think they won’t remain a top of the market club, $189M payroll plan or not.

2. The Dodgers fired bench coach Trey Hillman yesterday and I would not be surprised if he wound up with the Yankees in some capacity. Maybe on the coaching staff, maybe as a minor league instructor, maybe as a scout or in the front office. I don’t really know. Hillman coached in the Yankees’ farm system for more than a decade (1990-2001) before leaving because he was passed over several times for big league coaching positions. He spent a year in the Rangers’ front office before heading over to manage in Japan. Brian Cashman and Hillman are reportedly close friends, so much so that he was considered an outside the box managerial candidate following the 2007 season. Hillman was named manager of the Royals before Joe Torre officially left and the Yankees had a chance to interview him. I don’t know what he would do or how qualified he is to do it, but I would not be surprised if Hillman returned to the organization at all.

3. This is probably worth its own post at some point, but I think former Rangers outfielder David Murphy has a chance to be a real free agent bargain this winter. The 32-year-old was awful this year (73 wRC+) but awesome last year (129 wRC+), and I suspect his true talent is somewhere in the middle (career 103 wRC+). Murphy is strictly a left-handed platoon bat (career 71 wRC+ against southpaws) and his performance against right-handers in recent years is rather interesting. Here is a table of information:

2013 365 81 12.6% 8.2% 0.222 44.3% 36.2% 19.5%
2012 437 128 13.3% 11.2% 0.314 42.8% 36.1% 21.1%
2011 322 115 13.4% 7.5% 0.316 49.8% 32.5% 17.6%
2010 346 124 14.2% 10.1% 0.324 43.0% 37.6% 19.4%

That is Murphy’s performance against right-handers only. I repeat: right-handers only. The strikeout and walk rates are very good, and outside of the normal year-to-year fluctuation, his batting ball profile is unchanged. It’s not like he suddenly forgot how to hit the ball in the air or something. It would be a big red flag if he did.

Despite that, Murphy’s average on balls in play fell off a cliff last season, nearly a hundred points from his established level the three years before that. There might be a tangible reason for this — maybe he changed his approach in an attempt to have a huge contract year, maybe he was hiding an injury, maybe he was a mechanic mess, or maybe he simply had an unlucky season. It happens. If the Yankees don’t bring Curtis Granderson back and can’t reel in Carlos Beltran, Murphy would make a ton of sense if they can sell him on the idea of using the short porch to re-establish his value on a one-year, prove yourself before hitting the market again next winter.

4. Tim Lincecum’s new contract (two years, $35M) is on the high-end but not way out of line with what I expected him to get. It shows two things: One, free agent prices continue to go up as the Yankees’ payroll comes down. That’s bad. Two, it shows the value of getting above-average pitching at an affordable rate, say $10-12M per year. Having Yu Darvish at that price sure would have been nice, but maybe Masahiro Tanaka can be that guy. Whoever acquires him will end up spending north of $100M, but half of that will be the posting fee, which doesn’t count against the luxury tax. Obviously the Yankees would benefit from that. My guess is the team that lands Tanaka ends up with a lesser pitcher than Darvish at a higher salary. Either way, Lincecum’s contract shows what happens when teams have a ton of money to spend — remember, every club will get an extra $25M starting next year thanks to the new national television contracts — and not many places to spend it. The few free agents who are good and/or have a track record are going to get paid in a big way.

Categories : Musings


  1. Mark says:

    Mike – what do you think of the rumors that Kevin Long is on his way out?

  2. pat says:

    In the vein of the Red Sox getting lucky, had it not been for a magical confluence of events that enabled them to dump hundreds of millions of dollars of salary in one fell swoop they wouldn’t have had any money for Uehara, Napoli, Victorino etc. Chernington should get some credit for swinging the deal, but they got lucky the Dodgers fell facefirst into a buttload of money and needed some name value.

    • MannyGeee says:

      There is still room for some conspiracy theories. For example, Selig knew that two ‘marquee’ franchises were in the shitter and facilitated the uber-trade in exchange for…

      The greatest East-West World Series of the Selig Era, which fell just short.

      I dunno, just spit-balling I guess, mostly because I am drowning in Red Sox Nation and people are putting fake beards on their shitty little asshole kids today all over great land today.

      • JCK says:

        Oh god. I didn’t even think of that. Halloween is going to be a nightmare around here if either the Sox win or the series goes 7.

        • Robinson Tilapia says:

          I once dressed up as a cross between Pedro Martinez and the devil. True story. Actually went into Modell’s and bought a Sox shirt for it.

    • UncleArgyle says:

      I agree the Red Sox had ridiculous luck this year. I mean Shane Victorino gives up switch hitting in his 30’s and IMPROVES! Of course that has a lot to do with him reinventing himself as Bean Ball Homer (In all seriousness its pretty clear his approach at the plate is to lean into anything close to the inner half of the strike zone). All the injury’s to the Yankees and BlueJays, a schedule where you don’t travel west of the Mississippi until August, Ortiz regenerating an Achilles tendon AND his bat speed in one offseason, Uehara morphing from a run of the mill middle reliever to Trevor Hoffman in his prime, etc. etc. Fuck the Sox. Go Cardinals!

  3. I actually don’t mind the Cardinals at all. The Yanks haven’t had to play them in a World Series or anything like that – at least not recently – so they don’t have much to do with us. They always seem to have players I like too, so I wouldn’t mind them winning it again. Obviously even more so given the options at this point.

  4. Baked McBride says:

    Man looks in the abyss, there’s nothing staring back at him. At that moment, man finds his character. And that is what keeps him out of the abyss.

  5. Mikhel says:

    At this point I thank god I don’t have to suffer listening to McCarver and Buck on FOX, talking about how good these teams are for baseball (I am sure FOX will find a way to show at least once the 2004 elimination of the Yanks at the hands of the Red Sox).

    I get the international broadcast with Gary Thorne and Rick Sutcliffe (SAP) in ESPN en español, and pretty much every announcer in spanish is very good (specially on radio with Dodgers’ Jaime Jarrín and Padres’ Eduardo Ortega, I just hope someday they’ll include DBacks’ Oscar Soria).

  6. Mikhel says:

    By the way Mike, here’s the list of players in the Yankees system that won’t be playing in México due to “extreme fatigue”:

    Felipe González, RHP. His rights in México are owned by Hermosillo.
    César Vargas, RHP. His rights in México are owned by Hermosillo. Due to injury.

    Manuel Bañuelos, LHP. His rights in México are owned by Culiacán. Due to injury.

    Giovanny Gallegos, RHP. His rights in México are owned by Obregón.
    Dallas Martínez, RHP. His rights in México are owned by Obregón.

  7. Robinson Tilapia says:

    The Red Sox “model” = bitch, please. Every one of those guys played to close to their best case scenario. Plenty of teams have tried to play the mid-range market and wound up a mid-pack, or worse, team. I’d like to see them do that again once Napoli and Gomes sign bigger deals elsewhere and, most importantly, stop following the buzzards with those beards.

    Yes on Hillman.

    Add Murphy to that big board being monitored with the names King mentioned yesterday, which wasn’t limited to Maholm and Drew and did include much more marquee names we should, or shouldn’t, pursue.

    I thought Timmy’s deal was a bit inflated. I don’t see how it impacts the Yankees much, though. They know what the score is, and they ultimately determine how much of the money they actually have they’ll spend. They know what the score is going to be.

    • Chien Ming The Merciless says:

      Agree with you RTils. When I first saw the contracts they gave gave to Napoli, Victorino etc I was like, “they be crazy” and they overpaid. It definitely did seem to me that they played to best case-scenario.

      I guess time will tell.

    • MannyGeee says:

      Imagine if the Yankees played to their best case scenario. You think that people would be talking about the Yankees Model of picking up scrap heap players and not letting 1/3 of your roster get injured?

      90% luck in Boston, 9% planning, 1% signing 6 of the same guy (Victorino, Napoli, Carp, Gomes % Ross are literally carbon copies of eachother, give or take some lice…. mostly give) and making them grow disgusting beards at gunpoint.

      • Steve says:

        Yeah Victorino and Napoli are the exact same. I mean they’re both switch-hitting speed guys who built their reputation on defense and slap hitting. Carbon copies

      • Robinson Tilapia says:

        Injured vets and platoon players. Describes what both franchises did.

        I wonder what the OTM archives from January look like. I’m sure they’ve got their fair share of crybabies.

    • WhittakerWalt says:

      As I’ve said before, if the Yankees had made the moves the Sox made, everyone on this site would have been KILLING them. Shane Victorino? Mike Napoli? The fact that those guys are playing huge roles in the Sox’s postseason romp is the kind of thing no one could have predicted. And Victorino wasn’t even doing anything at all, postseason-wise, until Jose Veras decided to get cute with an 0-2 slider. Hanging sliders get hit, no matter who’s at the plate.

    • The Big City of Dreams says:

      stop following the buzzards with those beards.



      You’re going to end up like Kane. :)

  8. The Ghost of Eddard says:

    1. As they should and the Yankees should be first in line to change their model of doing business. The Sox went from worst to first. They have the blueprint for success, along with the Cardinals. These teams have basically been at the top for a decade yet they still manage to develop their own ballplayers despite not having top 10 draft picks. Funny how that works.

    2. I hope not. The last thing we need are more retreads. Hire fresh faces, starting with GM. We need some new thinking around here.

    3. 32 is too young for this team to go after. Now that Carlos Beltran has reached the prequisite age of 38 he is eligible to be pursued by this Yankee FO. They will go after Beltran.

    4. Just another reason why you have to build through the draft. You can’t have another 2009 where you just buy every available top FA and win the WS. Mid market clubs are now locking up their guys to long contracts. The poor have gotten richer and the rich have gotten poorer and the Yankees aren’t at all prepared for it.

    • 1. That blueprint doesn’t always work. Also, the Yanks have won more games than either of them over the last decade, so let’s not make like they’re doing something that puts them light years ahead.

      2. What player personnel move do you see as a fire-able offense for Cashman? Educate yourself and know where to put the blame.

      3. Good one. Yankee age joke. How original.

      4. 2009 was a rare year regardless of the market. Sure, draft and player development are more important now. They were in the 90′s too when the dynasty was underway. Just isn’t the easiest thing to do.

    • Bubba says:

      I know I shouldn’t be doing this but that’s never stopped me before so here we go:

      1: Sox blueprint is missing the postseason three years running while lucking into the biggest get out of jail free card in history. Good news. The Yankees are on that path. All we have to do is miss the postseason next year and the following and find some chump to take A-Rod, CC and Tex off our hands in 2015. Good times.

      2: Devil you know. Bobby V offered some new thinking.

      3: Couldn’t agree more. If the Yankees sign Beltran, it’s a lock that both his legs will explode off his body at his first spring training at bat.

      4: I think you need a mix and a willingness to walk away from stupid contracts (Hello Robbie).

  9. Matt DiBari says:

    I may be confusing him with someone or making it up entirely, but weren’t there rumors that Hillman wasn’t the most stable man on earth?

  10. SMK says:

    Is it sacrilege to say that I wouldn’t be that upset if the Sox won it all this year?

    I’m not going to root for them, obviously, but how could you not be impressed by the repeated ass kickings they handed the Yanks this season? No lead was safe. They’re just a damn good team.

    • Jim Is A (Bored) Peckerhead says:

      “Is it sacrilege to say that I wouldn’t be that upset if the Sox won it all this year?”


      Even though I may be in similar waters.

    • MannyGeee says:

      If you have to ask if something is sacrilege… Then it kinda is

    • Darren says:

      Are you fuckin serious? I don’t care how good they are. I hope the team plane crashes into Fenway.

    • Robinson Tilapia says:

      I’m not rooting for anyone but, honestly, just because I’m closer to actual Sox fans and know exactly one lifelong St. Louis Cardinals fan, yeah, I hope the lose less.

      If they’re going to win it, they might as well do it during a season where we’re not in the conversation and I’m off watching the NBA already while my FF teams beats the shit out of jjyank’s this weekend.

  11. D$1184 says:

    Once the Yankees were out of it, I was hoping for an unlikely/unheard of World Series match-up like Pirates/Reds vs. Rays/Athletics/Indians. This is very disappointing. I think this is how fans of every other team feel when the Yankees make it to the World Series.

  12. gc says:

    What World Series? ;)

  13. Conor in China says:

    I thought Lincecum’s contract was crazy. If they offered him the qualifying offer, would another team sacrifice a pick and pay that much. Hard to fathom. His results have been awful for two seasons and his peripherals have been only a tick above average.

    If other teams view the signing as indicative of salary inflation, then it may push up Tanaka’s salary/posting fee. If name brand mediocrity costs 17.5M why not throw 20M+ at Tanaka?

    • MannyGeee says:

      Because Timmy is what he is. As mentioned above, its the Devil you know.

      As an aside, I (along with every other confused baseball fan with access to the Internet last night) went out to Llincecums BRef page. Basically determined that he has had one good-to-great game per month (7.0+ IP, 4 hits or less, 2 ER or less) and the other 3-4 starts have been mediocre-to-pure shit. If thats what 2/35 buys you, we’re in trouble.

  14. Eselquetodolosabe says:

    What did you guys think about Lincecum’s deal (2 yrs, 35mm) ? 10 – 14, 4.37 ERA. I know the years are team friendly, but that 35mm just shocks me for some reason. I guess I haven’t adjusted to the reality of baseball salaries, and that due to a dearth of quality pitching, and a perceived diluted pool of talent, some of these veterans, with modest numbers, are going to make great money. How much is Kuroda worth for 2 years ?

  15. D$1184 says:

    MLBtraderumors.com is now reporting that the Yankees have discussed Shin-Soo Choo at organizational meetings. I wouldn’t put too much stock by that–I imagine they are “discussing” every free-agent-to-be name. Choo destroys right-handed pitching but is worthless against lefties. I don’t see a fit for Choo on this team. Beltran makes sense because he has power and is a switch hitter. Choo is a lead-off hitter with very little power–or in other words, Brett Gardner but probably not as good, at anything. With all the other needs this team has and the fact that it already has Gardner, Ichiro, Wells, Soriano and Almonte penciled in for next year, I don’t see a spot for Choo.

    • mitch says:

      I don’t see Choo as a fit either, but comparing him at the plate to Gardner is ridiculous. He’s one of the better hitters in the league.

    • MannyGeee says:

      MLBTR will tell you that every team that needs players will be looking at every free agent and ‘discussing them internally’, because… thats what major league teams do.

    • Giuseppe says:

      uh, yeah, except for getting base more often. Gardner .344 OBP vs Choo’s .423.

  16. Andrew Brotherton says:

    I would say the Yankees priorities are most likely Cano, Tanaka, Kuroda, Beltran, Granderson, McCann, Murphy and then Choo. If somehow they didn’t get Granderson back, then Beltran, and if they flopped on Beltran Murphy, and if they flopped on him spend big on Choo. I think the Yankees put out a 55 or higher posting fee for Tanaka just to make sure they win it.

  17. Nathan says:

    “remember, every club will get an extra $25M starting next year thanks to the new national television contracts — and not many places to spend it.”

    Having deep pockets and an owner that was willing to spend was the only competitive advantage that the Yankees had over other teams. Now we’re seeing other teams also able to spend on FA/keep their young stars and the Yankees are sort of left on the outside looking in.

    I think moving forward the not signing of Darvish move will look more of a bad move considering how hard it is to obtain young quality pitching and the Yankees inability to develop their own.

  18. Eselquetodolosabe says:

    If Kuroda decides to play in The US for the next 2 years, any agent worth his salt would comfortably use Lincecum’s contract as a favorable reference, market maker. Based on that, 2 yrs, 42mm for Kuroda ?

  19. NYmassiveplatoonsplit says:

    Cards in 6.

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