Going from Saltalamacchia to McCann will be a big plus for Nathan Eovaldi

Yankees sign Stephen Drew
The upcoming apprenticeship of John Ryan Murphy
(Marc Serota/Getty)
(Marc Serota/Getty)

For the second time in four offseasons, the Yankees traded a player who was expected to be a prominent part of their lineup for a young starting pitcher yet to reach his 25th birthday. Three years ago it Jesus Montero for Michael Pineda. This offseason it was Martin Prado for Nathan Eovaldi. There were other players involved, but those were the principals.

Unlike Pineda, Eovaldi was coming off a disappointing season at the time of the trade, a season in which he led the NL with 223 hits allowed and posted an 87 ERA+ in 199.2 innings. There’s obviously more to the puzzle than that — Eovaldi did have a shiny 3.37 FIP, 27th best out of MLB’s 88 qualified starters — but in its most basic form, pitching is about limiting hits and runs. Eovaldi indisputably stunk at both last year.

The good news is that in the other 260.1 innings of his career, Eovaldi has allowed as many hits as innings pitched — as opposed to many more hits than innings pitched — with a 101 ERA+. He’s shown he can be effective at preventing hits and keeping runs off the board at a very young age, which bodes well for future. If Eovaldi had pitched like that in 2014, it would have taken much more to get him than Prado. The Yankees got him at a discount thanks to his poor year.

Clearly though, the Yankees are banking on Eovaldi improving going forward. They don’t want the 2014 version of him — though given the state of the rotation, I’m sure they want those 199.2 innings — and they don’t want the 2011-13 version either. They want someone better. And stuff like this …


Source: FanGraphsNathan Eovaldi

… suggests a better pitcher is on the way. It’s not a guarantee, but improving your FIP every year of your career is promising.

Since Eovaldi’s strikeout and home run rates have held fairly steady throughout his career, the FIP improvement comes in his walk rate, which has gradually dropped from 13.7% in 2011 to 5.0% in 2014. Young pitchers walk people. That’s what they do. They walk people and they get hurt. As they gain experience, they tend to walk less people (but still get hurt!) and that’s what’s happened with Eovaldi.

Pitching coach Larry Rothschild, pitching coordinator Gil Patterson, and whoever else will be charged with boosting Eovaldi’s strikeout rate, which sat at 16.6% last year and is 16.2% for his career. That’s comfortably below the league average, which topped 20% for the first time in 2014. Eovaldi has the stuff to get strikeouts, including a big fastball and a nice slider and an improving changeup, but so far the whiffs aren’t there. They have to be unlocked somehow.

One way the Yankees hope to unlock those strikeouts is Brian McCann. The Yankees were way ahead of the pitch-framing curve — they traded for framing god Jose Molina in 2007 and since then the only below-average framer they’ve had is Jorge Posada — and they clearly value the skill, so much so that they deluded themselves into thinking Chris Stewart could play regularly. McCann happens to be an excellent pitch-framer. Eovaldi’s old catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia? Not so much.

Here is the pitch-framing leaderboard for the 2014 season according to StatCorner:

1. Miguel Montero
2. Mike Zunino
3. Jonathan Lucroy

11. Brian McCann

105. Jarrod Saltalamacchia (out of 105!)

For a second opinion, here are the pitch-framing leaders according to Baseball Prospectus (again out of 105):

1. McCann!
2. Lucroy
3. Montero (Miguel, not Jesus)

92. Saltalamacchia

I intentionally omitted the runs saved values because I don’t trust them. Not enough to say this player is precisely X.X runs better than that guy anyway. I use framing metrics like I use all defensive stats: directionally. They tell me who’s good at it and who isn’t. Otherwise there’s no need to act as if a certain level of accuracy exists when it just isn’t there.

Anyway, McCann once again rated as one of the very best pitch-framers in baseball last summer. And after watching him all year, I totally buy it. Saltalamacchia, on the other hand, was very bad at framing borderline pitches. I didn’t watch him nearly as much as McCann a year ago, so I have to trust the StatCorner and Baseball Prospectus rankings when they say he’s a bad framer of pitchers.

Eovaldi faced 854 batters last season and Saltalamacchia was behind the plate for 536 of them, or 63%. He had a 16.2% strikeout rate and a 5.4% walk rate with Salty. With backup catcher Jeff Mathis, who the numbers say is an average to slightly above-average pitch-framer, it was a 17.3% strikeout rate and a 4.4% walk rate. (If we remove intentional walks, the walk rates are 3.5% to 5.1% in favor of Mathis.)

Every pitcher in the world would benefit from having a good pitch-framer behind the plate, though Eovaldi might stand to benefit more than most because he lives on the outside corner to righties/inside corner to lefties. Here is the strike zone breakdown of his pitch locations and called strike rates last year. The views are from the catcher’s perspective.

Pitch locations on the left, called strike locations on the right. (click to embiggen)
Overall pitch locations on the left, called strike rates on the right. (click to embiggen)

Eovaldi got only an average number of called strikes just inside the corner on the left-handed batter’s side of the plate — it was basically a 50/50 chance — and a below-average number of called strikes (hence the blue squares) just off the plate on that side. That’s a problem for him because look at his pitch locations, his comfort zone is away from righties and inside to lefties. (That is skewed somewhat because he’s a slider pitcher and sliders break towards that side of the plate.)

Based on the pitch-framing data, McCann will help Eovaldi get many more called strikes in general, and especially on that corner of the plate because that’s where Eovaldi throws the majority of his pitches. It should be a significant number of extra strikes considering Saltalamacchia is one of the game’s worst pitch-framers and McCann is one of the best. This means not only more called strike threes, but more 1-1 counts turned into 0-2 counts, more 2-1 counts turned into 1-2 counts, more first pitch strikes, more stuff that makes hitters defensive.

I have zero doubt the framing upgrade from Saltalamacchia to McCann is a major reason why the Yankees believe they can unlock Eovaldi’s potential. McCann’s pitch-framing alone — projected backup catcher John Ryan Murphy has rated well as a pitch-framer during his brief MLB time, for what’s it worth — won’t get Eovaldi’s strikeout rate to match his stuff, but it will definitely help. As long as he keeps living on that left corner of the plate, the Yankees’ catching tandem will help Eovaldi much more than Miami’s.

Yankees sign Stephen Drew
The upcoming apprenticeship of John Ryan Murphy
  • Go Win

    Excellent post Mike! I fully buy into your logic.

  • gageagainstthemachine

    Usually stats driven analysis is overwhelming a bit and drives me bonkers, but cases like these it’s nice to see things by the numbers to gain a little more insight into why moves were likely made that at first glance can be perpelxing. If this analysis is correct, life will be much better for Eovaldi in NYC and the Yankees know it. We’ll have to wait and see!

  • lightSABR

    I have to wonder how important differences like these are. Getting Eovaldi’s K-rate from 16.6% all the way up to 20% would mean about one extra strikeout per game. Getting his BB-rate from 5% down to 3% would mean about one less walk every other game. Are those differences really going to win ballgames?

    Sometime I should really read up on the pitch framing scholarship, since obviously they’ve figured that out.

    • TheEvilUmpire

      One more strikeout means one less ball put in play. Let’s say for example that the league hit .350 off of Eovaldi when putting the ball in play. That would mean 0.35 fewer hits per 9ip. Moreso, it would mean one less chance of moving runners up, of scoring runners on a sac fly or groundout, or of reaching on an error. That, my friend, adds up over the course of the season.

      • lightSABR

        Oh, I’m sure. I’m just curious how much.

        (Quick clarification: I didn’t mean 1 extra K per 9 IP, I meant one extra K per game started. Going from 16.6% to 20% K-rate would mean more like 1.3 extra K per 9 IP.)

        • TheEvilUmpire

          Even better… I think Mike’s point is that the brain trust looked at Eovaldi as being more than what his old man stats were telling them. He’s got the stuff obviously, his advanced stats are trending the right way, and they feel they have the resources (Rothschild, McCann, et. al.) to help him reach the next level. Should be a fun little project.

          • lightSABR

            I’ve been on board with this move since the beginning, basically for those reasons.

            And just looking at the rest of his stats, I’m guessing he’s going to get some happy regression on his BABIP, too. Last year it was .323. The AL average was .296, and Eovaldi’s in 2013 was .286.

            Eovaldi’s slightly more GB heavy than the league average, and gets lower pop-up rates, so maybe his above-average BABIP is here to stay. But if it drops down to .300 or so, that by itself means about 15 fewer hits per year.

            • TheEvilUmpire

              BABIP also does not take strikeouts into account, so you figure 1 more strikeout per start would reduce his hits by another 30… Now we’re talking 45 hits, which with improved strikeouts and a maintained low walk rate probably makes him a solid 2-3 starter in this league. So long, of course, he doesn’t go all homer-happy in YS3.

              • lightSABR

                Right. That’s the big concern, I think. He had a below-average HR/FB last year, and I don’t think we can expect that to continue.

                The most common dig when the Yankees traded for him is that they’d just found another A.J. Burnett. I was worried they’d found another Phil Hughes.

                (Though to be fair, Hughes has a career FB% of 44.8% and Eovaldi’s is only 32.8%, so I think my worry was misplaced.)

              • TheEvilUmpire

                Sorry, I forgot to factor in other types of outs when talking about strikeouts… Guess it would be more like 9 hits with a .300 BABIP. Still, 24 hits saved is nothing to sneeze at!

              • http://shhhorsie.com Cheval Anonyme

                One strikeout per start, or strikeout per nine innings? One strikeout per nine innings seems highly optimistic; one per start, excessively so.

        • Need Pitching & Hitting

          Rough calculation using a 20% K-rate, 3% BB rate, over 854 PA’s (his 2014 total), and using his career .309 BABIP against, he theoretically would have saved about 8.6 hits and 17 BB’s over the course of the season, which using 2014 run values, should theoretically save about 15 runs over the course of the season, which should theoretically gain 1-2 wins. That’s a pretty big impact coming from 1 player.

          • Scott

            Awesome analysis. I don’t have quite the math brain, thank you for clarifying.

      • Go Win

        Exactly. And also better framing should allow him to pitch less from behind – being on attack mode could Make a big difference for the pitcher.

      • http://batman-news.com Thunderfingers

        And even more than that, batted balls in play on say a 1-2 count as compared to a 2-1 count tend to be turned into hits less frequently. That may also contribute to fewer runs in a game.

  • Jorge Steinbrenner

    But it’s all cancelled out by Stephen Drew WAAAAAAAAAAAAAAH!

    McCann and Rothschild seem like a wonderful scenario for a young pitcher with Eovaldi’s makeup. Really looking forward to watching him blossom, Drew-willing.

    • TheEvilUmpire

      Speaking of Drew, I think all the posters are still over on that board. I can hear our comments echoing off the walls in here…

      • lightSABR

        It’s a pleasant sound. Rational baseball fans having a rational discussion.

        But if you’re missing bigdan et al., I could do my best to imitate them. “The Yankees determined that having Drew, Refsnyder, and Pirela all in the system would make them a better team than just having Refsnyder and Pirela, therefore they hate all young people and never want to make the playoffs again.”

        How’s that?

        • pfoj

          You forgot to claim you read something and then refuse to provide a link to it.

          • http://shhhorsie.com Cheval Anonyme

            “We won’t get fooled again…”

          • http://shhhorsie.com Cheval Anonyme

            “We won’t get fooled again…”

          • http://shhhorsie.com Cheval Anonyme

            I predicted this last week. Hal will eat the entire AAA roster, then dress up in woman’s clothes and dance around a flagpole.

          • http://shhhorsie.com Cheval Anonyme

            I predicted this last week. Hal will eat the entire AAA roster, then dress up in woman’s clothes and dance around a flagpole.

          • Scott

            Usually he uses the infamous WFAN radio interview so he can’t link to it conveniently.

            • Canarsie Yankee

              That can’t be real. I don’t think WFAN does interviews.

        • pfoj

          You forgot to claim you read something and then refuse to provide a link to it.

        • Canarsie Yankee

          Needs about 300 more words and a reference to how awesomely he predicted this in 1977. C+

      • lightSABR

        It’s a pleasant sound. Rational baseball fans having a rational discussion.

        But if you’re missing bigdan et al., I could do my best to imitate them. “The Yankees determined that having Drew, Refsnyder, and Pirela all in the system would make them a better team than just having Refsnyder and Pirela, therefore they hate all young people and never want to make the playoffs again.”

        How’s that?

    • Fenway cheats

      Like Phil Hughes?

      • The Great Gonzo

        I don’t think I am in the wrong for stating this: Some guys are good players that are just not cut out to play for the Yankees. Hughes might be one of those guys.

        I’ll throw another name out at you… Javier Vazquez. Career numbers, including some time in the AL Central (so you can’t call NL bias) are anywhere from serviceable to good. Came to the Yankees, shit the bed, TWICE, in historical fashion.

        This game we cheer and root for and wax poetic over for days and months and years on end…. it’s a weird one. A lot of mental stuff.

      • The Great Gonzo

        I don’t think I am in the wrong for stating this: Some guys are good players that are just not cut out to play for the Yankees. Hughes might be one of those guys.

        I’ll throw another name out at you… Javier Vazquez. Career numbers, including some time in the AL Central (so you can’t call NL bias) are anywhere from serviceable to good. Came to the Yankees, shit the bed, TWICE, in historical fashion.

        This game we cheer and root for and wax poetic over for days and months and years on end…. it’s a weird one. A lot of mental stuff.

        • lightSABR

          I still remember the words that came to my mind the first time I saw Javy’s career Yankees/non-Yankees splits. They aren’t words I say out loud.

          • Fenway cheats

            And I really liked the first Javy trade.

            • whileaway

              he did make the AS team in 2004 . It was after the AS break that it went downhill fast ,some claim it was because he wasn´t 100%.

          • Fenway cheats

            And I really liked the first Javy trade.

        • lightSABR

          I still remember the words that came to my mind the first time I saw Javy’s career Yankees/non-Yankees splits. They aren’t words I say out loud.

        • Fenway cheats

          Exactly why Eovaldi is scary for me. Hit prone pitchers get rattled much more easily in Yankee Stadium and in the AL East. David Ortiz ain’t what he was but one monster shot from him will make Eovaldi very strike-phobic.

        • Fenway cheats

          Exactly why Eovaldi is scary for me. Hit prone pitchers get rattled much more easily in Yankee Stadium and in the AL East. David Ortiz ain’t what he was but one monster shot from him will make Eovaldi very strike-phobic.

          • mitch

            you’re just making stuff up

            • Fenway cheats

              I’m making up him leading baseball in giving up hits? I’m making up Yankee Stadium being a hitters park and esp for lefties? I’m making up the Yankees being unable to develop Phil Hughes but him flourishing elsewhere?

              • whileaway

                remember David Wells and Andy Pettitte ? They always gave up more hits than IP. Relax.

                • Fenway cheats

                  Do you remember both were lefties and limited walks?

                  • The Great Gonzo

                    Eovaldi limits walks too.

              • mitch

                that wasn’t what you said. Also, nobody said the current version of Eovaldi was going to dominate. Did you read the article? It’s about a reason we can be optimistic about him improving.

                • Fenway cheats

                  That’s my evidence.

                  • mitch

                    nope. Not evidence. You commented on his mental makeup. Good luck providing evidence for that.

            • Fenway cheats

              I’m making up him leading baseball in giving up hits? I’m making up Yankee Stadium being a hitters park and esp for lefties? I’m making up the Yankees being unable to develop Phil Hughes but him flourishing elsewhere?

          • http://riveraveblues.com Mike Axisa

            That’s a you problem, not an Eovaldi problem.

            • Fenway cheats

              His problems against LH and missing bats don’t scare you in Yankee Stadium?

              • http://riveraveblues.com Mike Axisa

                You said “Hit prone pitchers rattled much more easily in Yankee Stadium and in the AL East. David Ortiz ain’t what he was but one monster shot from him will make Eovaldi very strike-phobic.” which is just flat out making stuff up.

                • Fenway cheats

                  So explain Phil Hughes to me – Yankee version and Twins version?

                  • http://riveraveblues.com Mike Axisa

                    Keep moving that target. Phil Hughes has nothing to do with anything.

                    • Fenway cheats

                      Righty with a straight fastball who got abused in Yankee Stadium. Yup, nothing to do with anything.

                    • http://riveraveblues.com Mike Axisa

                      See? Still going on about Hughes. You still haven’t explained this: “Hit prone pitchers rattled much more easily in Yankee Stadium and in the
                      AL East. David Ortiz ain’t what he was but one monster shot from him
                      will make Eovaldi very strike-phobic.”

                      How do you know Eovaldi will get rattled? That’s just you making something up.

                    • Fenway cheats

                      He gives up hits in bunches. That won’t play well in YS.

                    • http://batman-news.com nyyankfan7

                      In his career he has had no problem pitching at Coors Field or Chase Field, both much better hitter parks than YS3. Granted this is only about 40-50 innings but considering you are basing your conclusion on 0 innings pitched at Yankee Stadium I think it is a good comparable.

                    • lightSABR

                      nyyankfan7: Do you have a way to look up his career performance in those stadiums? I’m having difficulty finding it on fangraphs.

                    • http://batman-news.com nyyankfan7

                      yeah baseballreference.com and then click on splits and it’s down towards the bottom

                      http://www.baseball-reference.com/players/split.cgi?id=eovalna01&year=Career&t=p

                    • lightSABR

                      Nice. Thanks. Someday I really need to figure out how to use Baseball Reference. Mike says the interface makes more sense to him than Fangraphs does, but my brain must just be wired differently.

                    • http://batman-news.com nyyankfan7

                      Yeah I’m with Mike, I have trouble figuring fangraphs out. But I do like it if I am looking for league leaders in a year or something rather than looking at one individual player.

                    • Centaur Hips

                      Because Eovaldi totally doesn’t throw 95+ consistently or anything.

                    • Fenway cheats

                      So did Hughes.

                    • Centaur Hips

                      Nope. Never even averaged 94 and he was a RP at one point. Look it up.

                    • http://batman-news.com nyyankfan7

                      “look it up”

                      if only more people around here did before they hit “post”

                    • Centaur Hips

                      Edit: Replied to wrong comment

                    • http://batman-news.com nyyankfan7

                      ummm….I was not criticizing you, I know you’re correct. Believe it or not, I was agreeing with you and merely pointing out how much better the boards in general would be if everyone took your advice.

                    • Centaur Hips

                      Sorry thought you were Fenway Cheats. Ignore.

                    • http://batman-news.com nyyankfan7

                      How dare you; I’ve been insulted before around these parts but that’s just mean. You want me to bring my dog over so you can kick her too?

                    • Centaur Hips

                      Just replied to the wrong comment.

                    • http://batman-news.com nyyankfan7

                      Just a joke…..it is possible to have fun around even with the morons on the loose

                    • Canarsie Yankee

                      IETC.

                    • Centaur Hips

                      http://www.fangraphs.com/statss.aspx?playerid=7450&position=P#pfxpitchvelocity

                      Did it for you. You’re welcome. Next time you should do it before you spew bs.

                  • whileaway

                    howabout “erratic “ Phil Hughes.

                  • lightSABR

                    The Twins version of Hughes is remarkably similar to the road performance of the Yankees version of Hughes.

                    There: explained.

                    • Fenway cheats

                      Part of my point about Eovaldi, thanks.

                    • lightSABR

                      Hughes is a flyball pitcher. Eovaldi is (ever-so-slightly) a groundball pitcher. YS3 was a much bigger problem for Hughes than it will be for Eovaldi.

                    • Canarsie Yankee

                      There was a point?

                • Fenway cheats

                  So explain Phil Hughes to me – Yankee version and Twins version?

              • http://riveraveblues.com Mike Axisa

                You said “Hit prone pitchers rattled much more easily in Yankee Stadium and in the AL East. David Ortiz ain’t what he was but one monster shot from him will make Eovaldi very strike-phobic.” which is just flat out making stuff up.

              • http://riveraveblues.com Mike Axisa

                And it’s funny, Pineda’s straight fastball and struggles against LHB really didn’t seem to hurt him all that much this year. It’s almost like every pitcher is unique.

                • Fenway cheats

                  Pineda’s fastball is straight?

                  • http://riveraveblues.com Mike Axisa

                    PitchFX says it moves a heck of a lot less than Eovaldi’s.

                    Pineda: -4.7 horizontal, +6.9 vert
                    Eovaldi: -6.6 hor, +7.3 vert

                    • Fenway cheats

                      That ignores the release points.

                    • Centaur Hips

                      Which has nothing to do with your claim.

                    • Jorge Steinbrenner

                      Just imagine my jpg of goalposts being moved.

                    • Scott

                      LMAO. Ignore the facts, change the argument.
                      Jorge, where is your picture of the goal post being moved?

                      Andrew, BGT, whoever you are, you are ignorant.

                    • Canarsie Yankee

                      http://ewas.us/moving_goalpostsSM.jpg
                      Also workplace appropriate.

                    • Scott

                      Great thank you.

                    • Jorge Steinbrenner

                      I actually am on vacation, you know.

                    • Jorge Steinbrenner

                      I actually am on vacation, you know.

                • craig

                  Haha…this x1000!

                  Fans who never played or who have trouble grasping nuanced thoughts have so much trouble getting this. If it doesn’t fit into a brief soundbite for them or if they can’t say one pitcher is EXACTLY like another pitcher they just get lost…then angry.

                  I love the EO trade! Classic Cash move. Seriously, the guy wins trades left and right. I don’t know why anyone deals with him.

            • Fenway cheats

              His problems against LH and missing bats don’t scare you in Yankee Stadium?

          • Canarsie Yankee

            Sounds like McCarthy and his career 9.4 H/9. Or Andy Pettitte and his career 9.4 H/9. But Eovaldi has a career 9.5 H/9, so he clearly sucks.

          • The Great Gonzo

            Hit prone pitchers =/= pitchers without the mental makeup to pitch in pinstripes. I think you misread my point, or made up your own bullshit agenda.

      • Jorge Steinbrenner

        Shut up, BGT.

        • Fenway cheats

          Ha, how nice of you to keep talking out of your ass!

          • Jorge Steinbrenner

            My ass is none of your business, Andrew.

        • Fenway cheats

          Ha, how nice of you to keep talking out of your ass!

      • Jorge Steinbrenner

        Shut up, BGT.

    • Elton Cod

      I think it’s ridiculous. “This guy can’t really pitch, AND the team is too cheap to pay for real pitchers, so we will pretend that pitch framing to get the guy 2 more strikes per game is going to change everything. The future!” The guy needs to learn how to pitch or become a different person who is a non-mediocre pitcher, not depend on a catcher’s “pitch framing”.

      • Y’s Guy

        …because no SP ever improves after he turns 24, right?

        • Canarsie Yankee

          Nope. That’s why Randy Johnson is just the really tall mustachioed fellow manning the register at your local XXX rated VHS store.

          • Y’s Guy

            Whats a VHS?

            • Canarsie Yankee

              I don’t know. I think it’s how the oldsters delivered mail?

              • Y’s Guy

                im more technically adanced. i get my porn on betamax.

          • craig

            Hey…what RJ does in the off-season and in retirement is RJ’s business.

      • Y’s Guy

        you wrote the same thing about Koufax when he was 24 didn’t you?

      • Jorge Steinbrenner

        His peripherals suggest there’s plenty of room for growth. Whether that happens is something we can only hope and guess about.

      • The Great Gonzo

        Cliff Lee wants you to go right to hell.

    • Elton Cod

      I think it’s ridiculous. “This guy can’t really pitch, AND the team is too cheap to pay for real pitchers, so we will pretend that pitch framing to get the guy 2 more strikes per game is going to change everything. The future!” The guy needs to learn how to pitch or become a different person who is a non-mediocre pitcher, not depend on a catcher’s “pitch framing”.

    • Canarsie Yankee

      Drew hitting .157 will make Eovaldi more homer prone and off the strike zone. In fact, Drew will hit .406 because he will enter the batter’s box for the opposing side against Eovaldi.

    • Sir Didi Odell Nakamura Jr

      I swear to you, Eovaldi is going to look out to 2B, see Drew, cry and blow out his arm all within 5 seconds. Book it.

  • http://shhhorsie.com Cheval Anonyme

    Thank you for posting something that was not about Stephen Drew.

    • mitch

      Stephen Drew is another above-average defender. They should have a pretty great defense with Stephen Drew in the lineup. Along with pitch framing upgrade, Stephen Drew and Co. should also provide a defensive upgrade over the Marlin’s mediocre defense.

      • http://shhhorsie.com Cheval Anonyme

        LOL, meanie.

    • mitch

      Stephen Drew is another above-average defender. They should have a pretty great defense with Stephen Drew in the lineup. Along with pitch framing upgrade, Stephen Drew and Co. should also provide a defensive upgrade over the Marlin’s mediocre defense.

  • Fenway cheats

    And going from the NL East and the Marlins to the AL East and the Yankees will be a big negative. Straight fastballs don’t do well – ask Phil Hughes.

  • Bobby d

    We are all going to be so frustrated with this over the hill lineup by the middle of May that they will have no choice but to start bringing up young promising players like Refsnyder, Pirela and Bird. This lineup is feeble and a joke!

    • Jorge Steinbrenner

      Wrong thread. The Stephen Drew Armageddon thread is the previous one.

      • Bobby d

        Understand. I’m just so frustrated with this signing of Drew!

        • blake

          You should be no more frustrated with it than Capuano……they cost the same and are both cheap enough to dump if it doesn’t work out

          • Fenway cheats

            And combined they could have had a far better pitcher.

            • http://riveraveblues.com Mike Axisa

              Such as?

              • Fenway cheats

                Anderson? McCarthy? Liriano?

                • http://batman-news.com nyyankfan7

                  Of those only 1 (Anderson) signed for $10 mil and 1 year and he comes with as much risk if not more than Capuano.

                  • Fenway cheats

                    And he’s better.

                    • http://batman-news.com nyyankfan7

                      based on what? projecting numbers of when he’s healthy to times when he’s injured?
                      The guy has pitched less than 50 innings for 3 straight years! less than 100 for 4 straight! You want to bitch about 5 mil to Capuano, who may not be good but for God’s sake at least we know what we are getting.

                      It’s funny, people like you bitch and moan and bitch and moan and bitch some more about $5 mil to a guy like Drew or Capuano but you advocate for spending $10 mil on a guy who can’t walk to the mound without getting hurt.

                    • Fenway cheats

                      People wanted an either or. If it were up to me I sign McCarthy.

                    • http://batman-news.com nyyankfan7

                      Awesome, even more money for even more years for a guy who also has huge injury concern and a half of a season track record.

                    • Fenway cheats

                      And would have been a good ground ball pitcher in a fly ball park.

                    • http://riveraveblues.com Mike Axisa

                      McCarthy: 222 hits in 200 IP – bring him back!

                      Eovaldi: 223 hits in 199.2 IP – hit prone and will curl into the fetal position in Yankee Stadium!

                    • Canarsie Yankee

                      Yeah, but Eovaldi couldn’t get to 200 innings. It doesn’t matter that McCarthy will make $11 million more for that extra out. It was a hell of an out.

                    • http://markfrancobaseball.blogspot.com/ Mark Franco

                      I find your arguments less than cromulent.

                    • craig

                      Yes…because he is a name you recognized.

                      Also…McCarthy cost 4/48 which is so dumb. If the Yankees did that you would be bitching about the McCarthy signing and saying they should have traded for a young, cost controlled guy who would improve…which is just what they did!

                • blake

                  McCarthy cost 50 million dollars…..Anderson is hurt all the time…..

                  • Fenway cheats

                    Not in 2015 and Anderson is still better than Crapuano.

                    • blake

                      Unless Anderson is sitting in the training room watching almost the games

                • http://riveraveblues.com Mike Axisa

                  So saving $10M in 2015 would have made it more likely the Yankees would have committed $12M to McCarthy in 2018? Got it.

                  • http://batman-news.com nyyankfan7

                    C’mon Mike it’s simple math.

                  • Fenway cheats

                    What does 2018 have to do with anything? They are in a budget this year…

                    • http://riveraveblues.com Mike Axisa

                      Well this about sums this entire argument up.

                    • Fenway cheats

                      Sums up what? They are under self-imposed budget constraints this year far more than they will be in 2018. Spending on three SSs is a poor use of resources.

                    • http://riveraveblues.com Mike Axisa

                      Yeah that $7.5M they have committed to three SS is a real waste. Definitely don’t need depth at that position. Better off spending $10M on those 50 innings Brett Anderson will give you.

                    • Fenway cheats

                      Drew and Ryan are completely redundant. No problem with a 30 man roster. That doesn’t exist.

                      They are choosing a short rotation and a weak lineup in favor of three SSs. Their choice but surprised to see so many defend it.

                      In a vacuum I’m fine with Eovaldi, but not at the cost to their lineup.

                    • pfoj

                      2018 is a year Brandon McCarthy is signed for. To sign him to a contract in 2015, they would have had to pay him for 2018. Not hard to see the relevance there, chief.

                    • Fenway cheats

                      Apples and oranges. Not the same budget constraints in 2018. Also, Anderson was one year if that’s your concern.

                    • pfoj

                      Anderson is hurt all the time.

                      Honestly, how sad is your life that you spend time trolling a Yankees blog? I’m obligated by my employment to spend forty hours a week staring at a computer screen and even I would never spend any time trolling a rival team’s blog. Go get a girlfriend or something, dude.

                    • Mandy Stankiewicz

                      Andrew DeClerk, I’ll volunteer to help you make a Tinder profile! Sign up and share your login, when I’m done, change your pw. I’ll start with a profile name…how about, GrnMnstr69?

                    • pfoj

                      Protip: I’ve found that “What are your hopes, what are your dreams?” is an extremely effective Tinder opening line. Derek Jeter is the smartest man that ever lived.

                    • Mandy Stankiewicz

                      pfoj, we’re getting this man laid! (and off this board)

                    • pfoj

                      We’re doing the lord’s work here.

                    • Canarsie Yankee

                      Just as long as he doesn’t refer to his parts downstairs as the Green Monster.

                    • Mandy Stankiewicz

                      And which budget is that? The one you’ve been privy to in your private meetings with Brian Cashman, or the one people here assume exists and repeat, ad nauseam.

                    • Fenway cheats

                      The ones that’s committed to insane money for below average players.

                    • Jorge Steinbrenner

                      The one him and his LoHud running buddy believe is the meaning of life.

                    • Mandy Stankiewicz

                      Said buddy’s lapdogs are really off the leash in the last thread…

                • Mayan Brickann

                  You would have been in favor of giving McCarthy 4 yrs and $48M?

            • http://batman-news.com nyyankfan7

              name one

            • blake

              Like who?

          • Farewell Mo and Jeet

            I’m actually more concerned with Capuano being rolled out there every 5 days than with Drew as a regular 2nd baseman.

            • blake

              Yea me too

        • blake

          You should be no more frustrated with it than Capuano……they cost the same and are both cheap enough to dump if it doesn’t work out

      • Bobby d

        Understand. I’m just so frustrated with this signing of Drew!

    • Jorge Steinbrenner

      Wrong thread. The Stephen Drew Armageddon thread is the previous one.

  • Bobby d

    We are all going to be so frustrated with this over the hill lineup by the middle of May that they will have no choice but to start bringing up young promising players like Refsnyder, Pirela and Bird. This lineup is feeble and a joke!

  • blake

    Pretty excited about eolvaldi……I’ll miss Prado but getting a guy with his sort of stuff with 3 years of control for an over 30 guy like Prado is pretty cool.

    • Fenway cheats

      Not at the cost to their awful offense.

      • Need Pitching & Hitting

        It’s not like Prado is an elite hitter. Slightly above average at best.
        The offense isn’t great with or without Prado.

  • blake

    Pretty excited about eolvaldi……I’ll miss Prado but getting a guy with his sort of stuff with 3 years of control for an over 30 guy like Prado is pretty cool.

  • blake

    For the first time in forever (cue frozen song ) …..I feel like the Yankees can bring pitchers in and make them better than they were before.

    We used to be like…..well so and so will leave the Yankees and some other team will fix them…..I feel like now the Yankees can do some fixing of their own and that’s really cool

    • TheEvilUmpire

      I was almost certain you were going to cue “let it go” instead. There are a few commenters here who need that song inserted into their regular playlists.

  • Mayan Brickann

    No sale with me. He’s a bottom of the rotation guy until he proves otherwise on the mound. All this pitch framing stuff aside (and I don’t discount it), of all the pitchers he’s thrown too, his best K/BB ratio is when pitching to Saltalamacchia. All of it is too SSS anyway as there is no one pitcher he’s thrown 140 innings to and only Mathis (138) and Salty (125) topping 70 IP, and the numbers while pitching to them are virtually identical. Hope it works out for him, but all we really have on the guy is rationale for his slight below averageness. When the day comes when we don’t need the rationale is when I’m buying in.

    • Y’s Guy

      do you not get that he’s only 24? Again, I’m not saying he’s Koufax, but Sandy sucked at 24. Eo is not nearly a finished product.

      • Mayan Brickann

        We’ll see. And you don’t need to tell me he’s not Koufax. (:

  • Chip

    They really did maximize the heck out of Prado. Got him for very little, he had a great, short stint, and then they turned around and got back better than what they gave up.

    Think about it this way – under no circumstances were you getting Eovaldi, Jones and German for a package of Phelps and O’Brien.

    • blake

      Good point …..

    • Canarsie Yankee

      Cashman could have had the entire 1978 Phillies for Phelps and O’Brien but he failed.

      • Chip

        Frankly I don’t know why Cashman didn’t trade Shane Greene, Frankie Cervelli and Alex Rodriguez to the Angels for Mike Trout.

        • Scott

          The Angels asked for B. Ryan and Cashman refused.

        • Canarsie Yankee

          Of course. Other teams are clamoring for Yankee leftovers.

          • Chip

            Leftovers? Cooperstown has someone working on Frankie’s plaque right now.

  • dickylarue

    I’m a bit concerned he goes in to Lefties and out to Righties. Fans behind the RF wall should wear helmets during his starts. Hopefully, that’s something they work on. Going away to lefties and in on righties will produce better results in the Bronx.

  • Centaur Hips

    His zone % has increased every year and he’s in the top 5 of SP now. That drop in BB rate could be legit. Add in BABIP regression and stranding more runners and he could be much better. At the same time throwing him in YS could take away one of his few strengths (HR rate). We’ll see what they can do with him.

  • James Stolfi

    Great work as usual Mike. I’m not much of a commenter, but I felt compelled to create an account to applaud your use of ’embiggen’ in your article. Which, of course, is a perfectly cromulent word.

  • blake

    I’m not sure now much I buy into all the pitch framing stuff but this is great analysis and it’s something to hold on to as hope that it will make a difference.

    Again 24 year old with big time stuff and 3 years cheap control….I’ll take it

    • http://cnn.com/ Magic Rat

      I think the analysis would be more meaningful / complete if it included data on how other Marlin pitchers K rates may have been impacted by working with Saltalamacchia.

      • Upstate Yanks

        They did, his ERA with Mathis behind the plate was a full run lower.

        • http://cnn.com/ Magic Rat

          Yep, and that’s interesting and maybe bodes well for Eovaldi but to confidently say that Salty’s pitch framing sucks and it has has a negative impact on pitchers, I’d like to see data showing that it has effected other pitchers – not just maybe Eovaldi.

          I don’t dispute this analysis, just not complete in my opinion.

          • Rick

            You partially have that data. Salty didn’t only catch Eovaldi. He caught the other pitchers as well and finished dead last in pitch framing. You can definitively conclude he didn’t help them.

            • http://cnn.com/ Magic Rat

              Partially, yes. That’s my only point.

    • chris hines

      The value of pitch framing shouldn’t be something that has to be bought into, now the metrics and exactly how many runs it turns into is completely up for debate. The actual skill set being a tremendous value teams need to quantify however shouldn’t be.

  • SweetSpot

    Excellent post. I think there is valuable insight here aside from the benefits of good pitch framing in my opinion. That is, that a player’s sub-standard performance in the past is not the only factor in determining their current desirability. Cashman and his baseball ops personnel including their excellent five person quantitative analytics department and eyes-on scouts have access to information we as fans we might not see and information we as fans generally are not as capable of interpreting. I would think after doing their due-diligence they come to a conclusion; the reward is higher than the risk, or vice-versa.

    • Scott

      I think the Yanks major league scouting deparment is better than their minor league scouting department. They have done a decent job finding ML players that others thought were done, or weren’t worth as much and turning them into average or better guys. So I think you are on target.
      Not so much on the minor league side, but maybe that is more player development than scouting.

      • SweetSpot

        I agree and so do the Yankees I believe, Baseball America was all over this. They recently made major changes to their minor-league operation. Farm director Mark Newman moved on, Mike Quade and Jody Reed were added and Gary Denbo was appointed Farm Director. Now, international scouting, professional scouting, amateur scouting and player development all will report to Cashman,

  • http://markfrancobaseball.blogspot.com/ Mark Franco

    Also, the Yanks are going to have a top-notch defense everywhere next yr (well, except RF where Beltran will need a caddy), so that should help all the P’s, in theory.

    • lightSABR

      I’m really looking forward to that just for aesthetic reasons. Bad defense is really painful to watch.

      • blake

        Defense doesn’t matter. #bigdaned

    • blake

      I know…..the Bronx Run preventers!!!!

      • http://markfrancobaseball.blogspot.com/ Mark Franco

        The Bronx Web Gemmers!

        • blake

          Better than the Bronx slow and plodders

  • Winn Dixie

    Interesting read but I’m skeptical. Saltalamacchia’s game changing inability to frame pitches didn’t exactly hurt Boston in 2013.
    Eovaldi looks like a power pitcher who doesn’t strike people out. Isn’t it likely his walks came down last year because he’s grooving pitches, hence the huge hit totals?
    Greene’s numbers were better (with Roberts, Solarte and a diminished Captain backing him), his stuff looked just fine, and we had 6 years of team control. Essentially swapping him for Eovaldi was a mistake.

    • Dalek Jeter

      Boston in 2013 had Lester, Lackey, and Bucholz. 3 guys who have very good control to begin with, and 2 of which who seemingly (could absolutely be confirmation bias) get very wide strike zones anyway in Lester and Lackey.

      As for Evo vs Greene, I’ll say this for the 1000th time, there is a reason (multiple actually) Evo is younger than Greene yet has been in the league for 3 more years. Greene had a great start, but lets not pretend 78 innings across 14 starts makes a starting pitcher. This is still a guy who spent years in the minors getting hit hard and struggling with control issues.

      • vicki

        further, boston’s 2013 staff – starters and pen – overwhelmingly got a high percentage of swings and high whiffs per swing. they didn’t necessarily live by the called strike.

        gotta stop this evo business. i object to the transposing of letters; plus it reminds me of rachel ray talking about olive oil, and there is nothing more annoying than that.

        eova =/= evo

        • Sir Didi Odell Nakamura Jr

          Eovo sounds better. Or Rico. My phone kept autocorrecting “Eovo” to that.

          • vicki

            i’ve seen his “nickname” listed as simply nate. some have proposed E-O, which is fine by me; it kind of suggests neo from the matrix.

            • Sir Didi Odell Nakamura Jr

              I like Evo the best. How about a compromise and spell it “Eovo” but pronounce it “Evo”

        • Dalek Jeter

          Evo>>>>EVOO.

          • vicki

            too damn close. it’s a visceral reaction.

    • pfoj

      It wasn’t Greene for Eovaldi. Greene+Prado+Phelps for Eovaldi+Gregorius+Jones+German. To me, that’s a no brainer.

      • Winn Dixie

        To each his own. I’d rather have Greene, Prado and Phelps (with Drew as the everyday shortstop) than Eovaldi, Didi and Capuano. With the money we save on Capuano, we could have signed Mike Morse, a better, right-handed G. Jones. German is a long way off.

        • Jorge Steinbrenner

          Nothing stopped this team from being in the market for Morse, if they chose to be.

          • chris hines

            Except you know him not wanting to be a backup lol.

        • http://batman-news.com nyyankfan7

          And where would you have played Mike Morse?

          And more importantly how would you have sold Mike Morse to come to NY to be a part-time player instead of getting a full-time gig elsewhere?

          Believe it or not, every player you want doesn’t fit on the roster and more importantly every player doesn’t think being a bench player for the Yankees is far better than being starter elsewhere

    • Need Pitching & Hitting

      They didn’t essentially swap Greene for Eovaldi, though. They gained a potential long-term SS in the process.

      • Winn Dixie

        True. But I don’t think they do the Eovaldi deal if they don’t first move Greene.

        • blake

          I dunno about that…..I think trey still would have as Green was hardly a sure thing

    • http://riveraveblues.com Mike Axisa

      For what it’s worth, the Red Sox ended up benching Salty in the postseason in favor of Ross.

      • Mayan Brickann

        Well, at the end they did. Salty started 9 of the first 13 postseason games that year, his last act being the throw down to 3B that ultimately led to Craig scoring on that interference play to win Game 3 of the WS. Ross started the last 3 games of the series.

  • cashmoney

    Just looking at Eovaldi’s mechanic, barely any follow thru, not your norm. The amount of stress that delivery puts on elbow concerns me.

    • Dalek Jeter

      He’s already had his TJS, in high school I believe.

      • cashmoney

        it would not surprise me if another one is coming soon.

      • cashmoney

        I was also looking at arm slot and release point, it looks like his 4 seams normally settles in the middle to below the zone, when you look at his delivery, release point and arm slot, you can understand how he might have difficulty in elevating his fb and maintain command in the upper quadrant of strike zone. that along with his secondary offering (his slider actually impresses me) , I can understand at least in part why the dude give up so many hits while not striking out many.

  • blake

    I’m really kinda getting excited about this season…..the youth that guys like Eovaldi and Didi provide gives the fan something new…..fans like prospects because there is hope they’ll get better. We like youngsters because they are like investments…..you dream on them.

    I’ve been against signing Scherzer most of the offseason……I didn’t think they were good enough to warrant that sort of investment……with the moves they have made now I’m not so sure he couldnt be the missing piece to making a run.

    With him the best case rotation scenario for them is pretty darn awesome…..you’d have Eovaldi as like the 5th starter.

    • Dalek Jeter

      I feel like the general theme of this comment is the team is young and it could be very exciting…but haven’t you heard? The team signed Stephen Drew…that means that the FO is intentionally sabotaging the team by signing old guys to prevent Rod Carew Rob Refsnyder from playing because reasons!

      • blake

        Mainly I’m just ready for spring….I think Id be optimistic if we had the Astros roster right now just because

      • Canarsie Yankee

        Always thought he was more of a Rogers Hornsby than Carew, but the point about the lack of big power is there. And to think, he will be in Triple-A! Talk about depth!

        • pfoj

          Nap Lajoie IMO.

      • blake

        They never let kids play! They have an agreement with the AARP that prevents it

      • http://markfrancobaseball.blogspot.com/ Mark Franco

        Unleash Refsnyder’s Roughriders on the world! YS needs a new “rally monkey” thing to get the peeps super-excited.

        • Dalek Jeter

          The day the Yankees introduce a rally monkey style stunt is the day I renounce my fandom.

          • http://markfrancobaseball.blogspot.com/ Mark Franco

            What if it happens organically amongst the fans?

          • The Great Gonzo

            Yup, I’ll start following NPB exclusively that day.

    • Winn Dixie

      Not to throw cold water on the dream, but we’ve really only gotten younger at shortstop. Eovaldi is one year younger than Greene and has three years less team control.
      Prado and Refsynder were both going to play a lot. We’ve essentially replaced Prado (31) with Drew (32) and G. Jones (34). Miller, Wilson and Carpenter for Robertson, Kelley and Phelps is a wash.

      • Chip

        The Drew signing may get them younger in that it’s possible, perhaps even likely, that Brendan Ryan will be out and Jose Pirela in. Additionally, Murphy vs. Cervelli, Young vs. Ichiro and Jones vs. Soriano

        But to me it’s not about age so much as it is that it’s about flexibility. They have Drew, who can play 2b, 3b and SS. Pirela who can play 2b, 3b, LF and RF, Young who can play all 3 OF spots, Jones who can play 1b, DH or RF – three spots that sorely need a competent back up.

        The pen can be utilized in dozens of different ways.

        The team is finally giving themselves depth so that when inevitable injuries strike they won’t be scrambling to pick up the Reid Brignac’s of the world.

        • chris hines

          I love how Pirela just gets shoehorned into these roles on defense, the last time he played 3B was 2012 in AA and it was for a total of 11 games. In fact he’s only ever played those 11 games at third in his entire professional career. He’s pretty much just a poor defensive 2B who can occasionally play LF and RF in an emergency but he doesn’t really have the arm for it and he’s only ever played in RF for a total of 13 games.

      • blake

        Yea but Eovaldi is a real big league starter. I know folks like to act like Shane Greene was a sure thing …..he has 70 innings in the majors…..that’s nothing

        • The Great Gonzo

          How dare you besmirch Shane Greene here on his holy grounds? You are hereby uninvited to the sacrificing of a virgin (plucked from their mother’s basement, because Internet Blogs!) in the name of the Greene One.

    • mrpappageorgio1 .

      Everyone likes prospects/youth until the team is in the cellar in mid-may and those prospects/youngsters aren’t doing jack. Then it will be a completely different tune.

      • Giuseppe Franco

        I think watching a young team in the cellar is more interesting than watching an old team in the cellar.

        • chris hines

          Not the only two options.

          • Giuseppe Franco

            No, but if my team is going to be a doormat – I’d prefer that it was a young team with plenty of upside that’s part of a long term plan.

            • chris hines

              I understand what you mean but youth doesn’t always equal plenty of upside, sometimes bad teams with a lot of youth are just young players who aren’t real good.

              • Giuseppe Franco

                I don’t disagree with that. But I think you read much more into that original comment than was intended.

                The FO is obviously trying to make a concerted effort to get significantly younger over the long term. Whether that influx of youth translates to better team performance remains to be seen.

                But I’d rather watch that process unfold than continuing the plan of overpaying players for past success and relying on too many older players and retreads to keep the team competitive.

                That model doesn’t work.

  • Scott

    I’m excited to see Eovaldi pitch. There will be some growing pains, but he is 24.
    I’m also glad Mike posted a new article because I am sick of the Drew stuff.

    • Canarsie Yankee

      Up next, an update on how Drew is helping Eovaldi’s release point.

      • SweetSpot

        Or hurting it.

        • IVoted4Kodos

          Based on what I read from some yesterday and today, they’re expecting Drew to kneecap Eovaldi while simultaneously messing with his release point and insulting his father.

          • SweetSpot

            Some are speculating it might take Drew eight kicks before he makes contact with his knee.

            • IVoted4Kodos

              Ridiculous on their part. With s full spring training, it’ll be no more than two.

            • IVoted4Kodos

              Ridiculous on their part. With s full spring training, it’ll be no more than two.

  • Rick

    Mike, you crushed this. Extremely well done. Very informative.

  • cashmoney

    Viva Eovaldi, my first my guess on Sterling’s punchline in 15.

    • Y’s Guy

      thinking about another season of listening to Gramps just ruined my coffee break.

  • Jake

    Heard he’s extremely stubborn, hopefully he comes in with an open mind.

    • Canarsie Yankee

      Hopefully that’s harnessed in a productive way. But given the information above, I’m hopeful.

  • dave_8

    Looks like Pavano. Gives up hits like Hughes. Still haven’t warmed up to that deal.

    • craig

      Uhhh…no he doesn’t and no he doesn’t.

      FTFY

  • Robert

    Still not sure about Eovaldi,but looking forward to seeing him pitch. Still think we will see Severino by June.Drew had better get off to a good start or the Boo Birds will be out on every at bat.

    • http://cnn.com/ Magic Rat

      Nah, they’ll be hoarse and a little tired from booing Alex.

    • chris hines

      Something has gone terribly terribly wrong if they have no choice but to start Severino by June.

  • craig

    I also think that Rothschild has a very good track record of increasing his pitchers K rates and decreasing the BB rates.

    I think the bad attitude rap on EO is overblown. The Yankees FO is smart and they do their homework. I think this will show itself to be a very shrewd deal by Cash.

  • bgardnerfanclub

    I heard it mentioned a couple of times by YES announcers that Brandon McCarthy said he thought McCann made him a better pitcher. So, at least one pitcher has provided some anecdotal evidence for this.

  • chris hines

    I have a hard time buying the 2014 walk rate as legit, 5.0% is hard for any pitcher to maintain, especially one moving from the Marlins in the NL to the Yankees in the AL. I think he’ll be more in line with the previous two years where he was 8.9%, which is still really good. I’m expecting around league average production, maybe a little higher as he adjusts to the new league, but honestly if he can do that and throw 200 innings that’s more than good enough.