Open Thread: Arbitration absurdity

Teams and their arbitration eligible players had to exchange salary figures by today, although over thirty players (of 111 eligibles) have already agreed to deals prior to the deadline. Xavier Nady was one of those players, Ryan Howard was not. The Phillies’ first baseman submitted a salary figure of $18M (!!!) despite just over four years of service time. The Phils countered with $14M, and the two sides appear headed to a February hearing. Howard has the stats – including a Rookie of the Year trophy, an MVP (not to mention a second place and fifth place finish), a World Series Title, and 153 HR & 431 RBI over the last three years – but is he really worthy of being the fifth highest paid hitter in the game today? Perhaps even more fitting, is he really deserving of $2M more in annual salary than Albert Pujols? I think the arbitrator will side with the Phils’ braintrust on this one.

Elsewhere in salary arbitration land, Jonathan Papelbon agreed to $6.25M salary today, setting a new record for first year eligible relievers. The previous record was the $5.6M Bobby Jenks received just yesterday. That’s a lot of moola for a pair of guys who threw just 4.8 and 4.2% of their teams’ total innings last year, respectively. In case you’re wondering, Mariano Rivera settled for $4.25M in his first year of arbitration.

Brian Bruney is the Yanks’ only remaining arbitration-eligible player after Melky agreed to a deal worth $1.4M. Melky Cabrera. $1.4M. I’ve always said that Melky was a nice guy to have around as a fourth outfielder until he started making seven figures in arbitration, and now that time has come. Yikes. Bruney asked for $1.55M, the Yanks offered $1.1M. They should hammer that one out.

If you want to follow along all the arbitration madness, I suggest doing so on The Biz of Baseball’s convenient tracker. DePo has a nice breakdown of the process in case you’re wondering what the hell arbitration is.

Here’s your open thread. The Rangers are playing their last game before the All-Star break, and if you’re into American Idol, well then I suppose you already know that’s on tonight too. Have fun.

Open Thread: WBC provisional rosters

Provisional rosters for the sixteen countries taking part in the ’09 version of the World Baseball Classic were released earlier this evening on MLB Network, and I stupidly anticipated a thorough breakdown of each roster, or at least a graphic showing the players on each country’s squad. Instead I got a bunch of chit chat between analysts and famous players who called in, with the occasional note mixed in regarding big name players on a specific team.

Anywho, here’s a list of all the Yankees’ players I managed to find on various clubs:

USA: SS Derek Jeter (this was obvious since he was on stage for the WBC press conference during the winter meetings)
Dominican Republic: 3B Alex Rodriguez, 2B Robinson Cano

Woo hoo.

CC Sabathia declined the opportunity to play. Ex-Yanks Bobby Abreu and Pudge Rodriguez will suit up for Venezuela and Puerto Rico, respectively. They said the rosters would be available on the WBC site, but I can only find the 2006 rosters.

These are just the provisional 45-man rosters; 25-man rosters don’t have to be finalized until February 24th. The tournament starts 45 days from now in Tokyo, Mexico City, Toronto and San Juan. Tickets went on sale today; there will be games played in Petco, Dodger Stadium, and Dolphins Stadium.

Update (7.42pm): The provisional rosters are up. In addition to A-Rod, Jeter and Cano who I mentioned above, Al Aceves & Jorge Vazquez will be playing for Mexico, Melky Cabrera, Edwar Ramirez, Jose Veras & Damaso Marte for the DR, Frankie Cervelli for Italy (Italy!), Jahdiel Santamaria for Panama, and Kai Lui and Zhenwang Zhang For China (you remember those two).

Here’s your open thread. The Knicks already beat the Bulls and the Islanders already lost to the Capitals (you get one guess:  who do you think scored both Caps’ goals?). The only local team in action tonight is the Devils, who are out in Nashville. I’ll be kicking it with the new episodes of House and 24. You know the routine, talk about whatever, just be nice.

Open Thread: AFC Championship Game

Wow, that NFC Title game was something else, huh? Congrats to the Arizona Cardinals on finally clinching the first Super Bowl berth in franchise history.

The Ravens last played in the AFC Title Game way back in 2001, when they were on their way to winning the first World Title the city of Baltimore has seen since the Colts won Super Bowl V way back in 1971. The boys from Steeltown are playing in their third AFC Title game in the last five years, but in the end that doesn’t really mean much of anything.

This should be a great, an old school smashmouth kind of game. It looks like Mother Nature won’t interfere much after dumping snow on the Three Rivers area all night. Enjoy the game.

Open thread: NFC Championship Game

The Cardinals, long the laughing stock of the NFL, are playing the biggest game in franchise history today, and perhaps the biggest sports event the state of Arizona has seen involving an Arizona team since … well … a warm November night back in 2001. Donovan McNabb and the Iggles aren’t new to this NFC Championship game thing, as this will be their fifth trip to the game in the last nine years.

Does Kurt Warner have another shot at something special left in that right arm? Can McNabb continue to persevere through all the crap he has to deal with? Should be an exciting game, chat away about it here.

Open Thread: A one year ‘what if?’

Over at MLBTR, Alex Walsh has a Reds-related Bobby Abreu update. He writes:

The Reds won’t sign a veteran outfielder to a multi-year contract. If the Reds do sign such an outfielder, like Bobby Abreu, the deal will be for one-year. With the economy the way it is, such a deal may become increasingly more favorable to a player like Abreu.

So let met toss out some idle thought. What if Bobby Abreu ends up settling for a one-year deal? Should the Yankees get involved?

There’s no doubt that Bobby Abreu is still a very good hitter, if a terrible fielder, but I’d believe, without analyzing the situation, that one year of Abreu would be better than one year of Nady or Swisher. if the Yanks sign Abreu to a one-year deal, they could easily move Nady while maintaining Swisher, who is under contract for a few more years.

Of course, there are some limitations here. With Swisher and Nady, the Yanks have the luxury of seeing what they have. They can go with one and trade the other. It gives them roster flexibility. As soon as they commit to Abreu, he would be the starting right fielder and whichever of Nady or Swisher remains with the Yanks would be either be relegated to the bench or left field with Damon in center. The outfield defense would suffer, but the bench could be stronger.

In the end, it’s just a though. Feel free to debate this or anything else tonight in your open thread. Just play nice.

Open Thread: Baby, it’s cold outside

It just looks wrong. (Photo by flickr user Keith Barlow)

As I write this, it’s 6:15 p.m., and I just got home from a walk to the bank. The bank, it should be noted, is at the corner of my block, and yet, by the time I got back home, I was chilled from head to toe.

With the current temperature hovering at 15 and a windchill of -1, it’s that kind of day. The low for the evening in Brooklyn is 10 with winds up to 20 miles per hour, and baseball is a far away thought right now. Earlier today, Home Run Derby noted how oddly peaceful baseball stadiums look in the cold. The hulking ballparks are just there, blanketed by snow and silent.

A quick run through Flickr gave us the photo above. We can also see the field covered in snow. But in less than a month, pitchers and catchers report. The metaphorical snow on baseball fields around the country will begin to melt, and all will be right in the world again.

You know the Open Thread drill. Anything goes. Just play nice. In local action, the Knicks are playing the Wizards, the Rangers are in Chicago (where it’s actually colder than it is in New York) and the Devils are in Columbus.

Open Thread: Tex vs Youk

Yes, this is in direct response to the four year, $40M+ deal Kevin Youkilis agreed to today, which bought out his two remaining arbitration years and two free agent years, with an option to cover a third. As you can imagine, Sox fans are now out in full force claiming that Youk is better than Mark Teixeira  because he spurned them for greener pastures (I’m looking at you, Fire Brand), which is just not true. Let’s break it down.

Here’s Youkilis’ stats over the last three years:

2006: .279-.381-.429, 42 2B, 13 HR, 72 RBI, .357 wOBP, 106 OPS+, 2.3 WAR, 18.6 VORP
2007: .288-.390-.453, 35 2B, 16 HR, 85 RBI, .373 wOBP, 117 OPS+, 3.9 WAR, 29.6 VORP
2008: .312-.390-.569, 43 2B, 29 HR, 115 RBI, .402 wOBP, 143 OPS+, 5.6 WAR, 53.6 VORP

And now, Tex:

2006: .282-.371-.514, 45 2B, 33 HR, 110 RBI, .374 wOBP, 126 OPS+, 3.2 WAR, 37.7 VORP
2007: .306-.400-.563, 33 2B, 30 HR, 105 RBI, .406 wOBP, 150 OPS+, 4.0 WAR, 54.0 VORP
2008: .308-.410-.552, 41 2B, 33 HR, 121 RBI, .410 wOBP, 151 OPS+, 6.8 WAR, 67.2 VORP

To get Tex’s VORP in ’07 and ’08, I just added his VORP totals for the two teams he played with those seasons. So ’07 is VORP (Rangers) + VORP (Braves), and ’08 is VORP (Braves) + VORP (Angels). I know this isn’t 100% accurate because a AL replacement level 1B is different than a NL RL 1B, but it’s close enough for this application. I mean, what are we talking about here, maybe a 4-5% error?

Anywho, let’s average these bad boys out:

Youk: .292-.387-.483, 40 2B, 19 HR, 90 RBI, .377 wOBP, 122 OPS+, 3.9 WAR, 33.9 VORP
Tex: .298-.393-.541, 40 2B, 32 HR, 112 RBI, .397 wOBP, 142 OPS+, 4.7 WAR, 53.0 VORP

In the words of Mr. Mackey, mmmkay. Tex has considerably more power and slightly better on base skills, although it’s probably a negligible difference. Youkilis had a 143 OPS+ in a career year last year, which is basically the same as Tex’s average output over the last years. Also, that 143 OPS+ would be just the fourth best OPS+ Tex has put up over the last five years. It’s obvious Tex has been an elite player for a much longer period of time, which makes it easier to project future performance. In fact, let’s check out what CHONE projects for 2009:

Youkilis: .286-.388-.474, 35 2B, 18 HR, 79 RBI, 3.9 WAR
Teixeira:  .286-.381-.521, 33 2B, 32 HR, 108 RBI, 5.4 WAR

Heh, I’m sure some fans with boo Tex for that “subpar” performance, even though he’ll still be better than Youk. Here’s some other small factors that are also worth noting:

  • Tex is thirteen months younger
  • Neither player has a significant platoon split, but Tex is a switch hitter
  • Both players are Gold Glover caliber first basemen
  • Youkilis can slide over to third without incident, Tex hasn’t played third since 2003

Now, obviously Kevin Youkilis is an excellent player, there’s no denying that. And for ~$10M a year, he’s a bargain. Based on the above however, I don’t see any way you can claim Youkilis is a better player, unless you really believe last year was a true breakout year and he’ll produce like that for the next three or four years while Tex plateaus at a .280-.370-.510 level.

Also, I know some people are comparing contracts, but you can’t do that because Youkilis wasn’t a free agent. He didn’t have the leverage of going to another team and shopping his services to the highest bidder like Tex did, but if he did you can be sure he wouldn’t have settled for 4/40. There’s no doubt Youk is more cost effective, but Tex is the better player on the field.

Here’s your open thread. Chat away.