As the trade deadline approached late last week, we heard that the Yankees were connected to the usual suspects: Jarrod Washburn, Bronson Arroyo, Brian Bannister, middling guys like that to fill out the back of the rotation. But then something crazy hit the blogosphere on deadline day … the Mariners were actually listening to offers for Felix Hernandez. The next day we learned that Brian Cashman and the Yankees were one of the teams to give Mariners GM Jack Zduriencik a call about his young ace, but ultimately no deal went down. Theo Epstein sure made a valiant effort, though.
It’s hard to think of many pitchers in baseball with more trade value than King Felix. There’s that kid in San Francisco doing amazing things, but he’s almost two full years older than Hernandez. Zach Greinke is two-and-a-half years older, but is locked up below market value for the next four years. Jon Lester? Two years older. Justin Verlander? Three years older. Heck, Joba Chamberlain? He’s eight months older. Phil Hughes is just two months younger than the King, but far less established.
We’re talking about the Justin Upton of pitchers here, a kid who’s already one of the best players in the game at his position but still has his best years ahead of him. He ranks in the top ten in innings pitched (152.1), FIP (3.11), strikeouts (141), and wins over replacement (4.3) this year, and is only going to get better as he enters his prime years. Scheduled to become a free agent after the 2011 season, when he’ll be just 25-yrs old, it’s almost a foregone conclusion that Hernandez will become the highest paid pitcher in history. If things go his way, he’s got a chance at being the first pitcher to crack that $200M plateau.
Since we’re talking about the best young pitcher to come along in years, possibly decades, it would have taken a tremendous package to acquire him before the deadline. We’re talking about a Herschel Walker type of trade for the Mariners, one that sets them up at multiple positions for years. What could the Yankees have offered?
Joba Chamberlain? he’s yours
Phil Hughes? sure thing
Jesus Montero? no problem
Austin Jackson? free shipping
High upside, low level prospect like Arodys Vizcaino? you can have two
That’s the kind of package we’re talking about; several young players in their pre-arbitration years, and I don’t mean the Brett Gardners and Ramiro Penas of the world. A package of Zach McAllister, Austin Romine, and Mark Melancon doesn’t even get you invited to the party. If a team like Texas wanted to get in on the action, they’d have to offer up guys like Derek Holland, Justin Smoak, Elvis Andrus, and more. It’s an extraordinary deal that would have made a Roy Halladay trade look like the Joe Blanton trade, given how young and dominant Felix is.
The real question is this: Are you willing to give all that up? Having to part with Joba and Hughes in the same package is really something you want to avoid at all costs, but if you’re going to do it, Felix Hernandez is the kind of guy you do it for. Considering his tremendous performance, about the only concern you can have about Felix is the workload he’s been run through. He’s thrown 1,056 innings since his 18th birthday, and is on pace to throw over 190 innings for the fourth straight year. He’s never been Verducci’d though, with his biggest increase in innings from year to the next coming in ’04-’05, when he went up just 23 IP.
For the sake of this post, I ran Felix Hernandez through Beyond the Box Score’s trade calculator, which says King Felix has a trade value of $38.1M based on my almost arbitrary WAR predictions. Victor Wang’s research says that Montero and Jackson combine for $59.9M in value (one top-10 hitting prospect, one 26-50 hitter), while a low level arm like Arodys adds another $1.9M. Joba’s trade value comes in at $50.6M while Phil Hughes’ registers at $46M. However, those values represent best case scenarios based on my WAR assumptions, which are far from perfect. The total value of that package is $158.4M, but we have to factor in attrition rate. Felix’s value represents just under 25% of the package’s value, but I honestly have no idea if that is an appropriate flame out factor. This is all just food for thought, and for all I know I just wasted 15 minutes of my time calculating that stuff.
I know we have plenty of Felix fans out there, but would you be willing to give up the package of young players required to obtain him? It’s a lot of eggs to put in one basket, that’s for sure. Remember, Hernandez already turned the Yankees down for the Mariners as an amateur even though the Yanks (and Braves) offered more money, so it’s no slam dunk that he signs an extension to keep him in pinstripes past 2011.
Photo Credit: The Seattle Times
This is a guest post by Travis G. of Pinstripe Alley.
As I often do, I was thinking about baseball one day, specifically sluggers, and wondered if the act of slugging (hitting a tape-measure homerun) was any better than a run-of-the-mill homer.
I endeavored to study this. HitTracker was invaluable, as it measures the distance of every homerun hit; and BRef of course, because it compiles homerun logs for every player: the inning, the pitcher, etc.
So I looked at how pitchers fared after the tape-measure shots (“no-doubt”) as compared to everything else (“plenty” and “just enough” as determined by HitTracker). Would pitchers fare worse after a humiliating longball? Would there be any kind of ‘rattle effect’?
ERA and WHIP were the two stats I used to determine if pitchers improved or regressed after a homerun. I know they’re not the end-all, be-all of pitching stats, but they’re easy to figure out and are readily available in the game logs/box scores (as opposed to FIP or LD%).
Since I knew it would take many hours of research, I studied only three players, but was sure to take one each from a hitter’s park, a neutral park and a pitcher’s park. After all, if I only studied Mark Teixeira, he would have a greater percentage of ‘no-doubters’ than most other hitters because Yankee Stadium is rather conducive to ‘no-doubters’ (defined as: “the ball cleared the fence by at least 20 vertical feet AND landed at least 50 feet past the fence”; so a 370 ft. shot to rightfield in Yankee Stadium may be a no-doubter, yet a 380 ft. shot in Petco wouldn’t).
The three players were Mark Teixeira, Prince Fielder (in the neutral Miller Park) and Adrian Gonzalez (in the pitcher’s paradise known as Petco). The study included all homeruns through July 20.
The number of no-doubters was directly linked to the ballpark: Tex had the most, followed by Fielder and then A-Gon. I didn’t go purely by distance because I was more interested in any kind of rattle effect a homer that appeared long would have on a pitcher. A longball that gets out by plenty in rightfield can appear longer than a ball that just clears the centerfield fence.
There were 21 no-doubters hit by the three sluggers and 50 normal homers.
After a normal homer was hit, pitchers pitched to a 4.53 ERA and 1.46 WHIP. And now for the surprise: after a no-doubt’ homer was hit, pitchers actually fared better: 4.15 ERA and 1.41 WHIP. That was the opposite conclusion I expected. The results are even more pronounced when measuring by distance: 4.28 ERA and 1.33 WHIP after 400 ft. (or longer) shots, 4.56 and 1.56 after 399 ft. (or shorter) shots.
Now I know half a season’s stats from three hitters isn’t the biggest sample size, but I hope to increase the data field in the future and perhaps come to a more definitive conclusion. But still, it is intriguing and points to the possibility that pitchers bear down after a humiliating homer as opposed to getting rattled.
Other interesting tidbits
Pitchers were immediately pulled after 14% of no-doubt homers; on all other homers just 4% of the time. What value that has, I’m not sure.
For both types of homers (no-doubt and all others), the average inning of occurrence was the same: two outs into the fifth inning (4.7). Perhaps that is the most frequent time at which starters begin to tire (though the data includes relief innings).
Record Last Week: 3-4 (38 RS, 44 RA)
Season Record: 63-42 (581 RS, 510 RA), 0.5 games up
Opponents This Week: @ Toronto (2 games), vs. Boston (4 games)
Top stories from last week:
- Having won nine of ten coming into the week, the Yanks promptly continued their winning ways on Monday as AJ Burnett dominated the Rays. The Yanks played an ugly brand of baseball the next night, but Joba Chamberlain turned in another sterling effort on Wednesday to wrap up the series win.
- Nick Swisher hit a majorly clutch homer in the ninth against his former team in the first game against the White Sox, but the Yanks lost the series opener in walk-off fashion. After jumping out to a 3-0 lead the next day, Sergio Mitre gave it all back and then some, while an all-around ugly game on Saturday resulted in the team’s third straight loss. Powered by Melky Cabrera’s cycle, the Yankees escaped from Chicago with a win in the series finale yesterday.
- The trade deadline came and went, with the Yanks picking up utility man Jerry Hairston Jr. and minor league pitcher Jason Hirsh in separate deals. The Yanks were reportedly interested Bronson Arroyo but thankfully nothing came of it. They also made a run at Jarrod Washburn, but the price was too high. Brian Cashman & Co. will still be on the lookout for pitching in August, but the pickin’s might be slim.
- The only other roster moves of the week came when Shelley Duncan was called up, and then sent back down the very next day.
- In a rather unsurprising turn of events, Chien-Ming Wang needed season ending shoulder surgery. Now the Yankees must decide what to do with him in the offseason. Sadly, uberprospect Jesus Montero also went down for the season with a fractured finger.
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For the first three games of this series, we’ve harped on the Yankees inability to hit with runners in scoring position. On Friday and Saturday they put plenty of runners on, but couldn’t bring them around. That changed on Sunday, as they had six hits in 17 at bats with ducks on the pond. The White Sox, who had done a great job in those situations, went 2 for 14. It was the difference as the Yankees avoided the sweep, beating Mark Buehrle and the Sox 8-5.
While the whole offense, including newcomer Jerry Hairston, hit well, Melky Cabrera was the game’s first star. The big story was his cycle, capped off by a triple in the ninth inning. It was the timing and nature of his hits that put the Yankees over the top. He started their scoring with a three-run homer in the second. Next was a double to lead off the fourth, leading to the Yanks first run of that inning. He then picked up a single with A-Rod standing on second base, extending the Yankees lead to 6-4. Finally was his triple with none on and one out in the ninth, leading to an insurance run to make up for the one the Sox scored in the eighth.
Overall Melky was 4 for 5, scoring three and driving in four. In two at bats with the bases empty he hit a double and triple, thereby putting himself into scoring position, both times with fewer than two outs. In three at bats with runners in scoring position he went 2 for 3, driving in his four runs. His one failure was a groundout to second with bases loaded and two outs. To harp on that one at bat, though, would be to diminish an excellent game by Melky. He truly was the difference between salvation and a sweep.
While we had some concerns about Melky playing full-time with Brett Gardner injured, the Melk man has really stepped up of late. Since Gardner’s thumb injury on July 25, Melky has gone 10 for 28 with three doubles, a triple, and two homers. His on base percentage has been .438. We’ve seen flashes from Melky this season, and it’s so easy to forget how young he is. We’ve been especially hard on Melky at RAB, and would like nothing more than to be proven wrong. Melky has had some hot stretches this season that make me think that he might be on the brink. His emergence could mean a lot to the Yankees not only this season but next, when the Yankees have fewer in-house options.
As for CC Sabathia, it wasn’t quite the start the Yankees had hoped for. He struggled through the first three innings, throwing 58 pitches and allowing four runs on seven hits, including back to back home runs by Jermaine Dye and Jim Thome — both to the opposite field. He settled down after that, throwing just 42 pitches in the next four innings plus one batter, allowing just two more baserunners through the seventh.
Joe Girardi sent out CC for the eighth with 99 pitches already under his belt, and No. 100 tuned into a Gordon Beckham double. Phil Hughes came in to strike out two and walk one, and Mariano Rivera came in from the bullpen to allow a run-scoring hit, saddling Sabathia with five runs on the afternoon, plus the final out of the inning. He closed the door in the ninth, finishing off a much-needed Yankees victory.
Here’s a little crazy stat. CC threw 100 pitches, 71 for strikes. Through three CC threw 57 pitches, 37 for strikes. Over the next four-plus innings, he threw 43 pitches, 34 for strikes. As PeteAbe chronicles, the big man had had enough. “That’s all they get,” he said to his catcher. CC certainly stepped up his game after the third. That’s what the Yanks need from him going forward, just in all of his innings. It’s going to be a long pennant race, and the Yanks would do well to have their ace at his strongest.
What impressed me most was how the Yankees exploited the hole between short and third. They put plenty of balls in play to the left side, and oftentimes it paid off. It looked like Kevin Long devised a game plan, and the Yanks stuck with it. Whatever it was it worked, as the Yankees knocked Buehrle out after 4.1 innings. He left having allowed seven runs on 12 hits and without striking out a single Yankee. Also impressive: the Yankees singled Buehrle to death. Of the 12 Yankee hits off him, 10 were singles. The only extra base hits were a double and a homer by, who else, Melky.
The win keeps the Yanks a half game out in front of the Red Sox, but later this week that difference won’t matter much. After a day off tomorrow they have two up in Toronto, followed by a big four-game set at the Stadium over the weekend. Let’s hope this weekend was just a three-game hiccup, just like out in LA.
In case you missed the news, Jesus Montero is done for the year with a fractured finger. Mike Ashmore says he may still play in the Arizona Fall League, which I believe was probably going to happen anyway.
Triple-A Scranton (3-0 win over Pawtucket)
Ramiro Pena: 0 for 1, 1 K – ejected for arguing balls & strikes in the first
Eric Duncan: 2 for 3
Colin Curtis & Yurendell DeCaster: both 1 for 4 – Curtis doubled & K’ed … DeCaster drove in a run
Austin Jackson: 2 for 4, 1 R, 2 RBI, 2 SB, 1 CS – 4 for his last 10, so he’s starting to come around
Shelley Duncan & Frankie Cervelli: both 0 for 3, 1 K – Shelley walked … Cervelli picked a guy off first with a snap throw
Juan Miranda & John Rodriguez: both 1 for 3 – Miranda walked intentionally … J-Rod doubled & K’ed twice
Doug Bernier: 0 for 2, 1 R, 1 BB, 1 K
Josh Towers: 7 IP, 5 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 3 BB, 2 K, 11-7 GB/FB – 57 of 96 pitches were strikes (59.4%)
Damaso Marte: 0.2 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 1 K, 0-1 GB/FB – 10 of 20 pitches were strikes … his rehab assignment is up two weeks from today
Jon Albaladejo: 1.1 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 0 K, 2-2 GB/FB – 7 of 9 pitches were strikes
Way to go, kid.
Here’s the clip of Melky’s cycle in case you missed it; it’s the 15th in Yankee history. I wonder how many guys have picked up the first three legs of the cycle from one side of the plate, then finished it off from the other like the Melkman. Can’t be many, right?
There have been 263 no-hitters and 286 cycles in MLB history, but think of it like this: on any given night, there are just 30 chances for a no-hitter (one per team), but there are 270 chances for a cycle (nine hitters per team). The event-per-opportunity ratio for a cycle is way, way smaller than it is for a no-hitter. Crazy, huh?
Anyway, use this for your open thread for the night. The Dodgers and Braves matchup on ESPN’s Sunday night game, but feel free to talk about anything here. Just be nice.
“My shit doesn’t work in the playoffs. My job is to get us to the playoffs. What happens after that is fucking luck.” – Billy Beane
Many fans I know object to that quote. They think that the inefficiencies Billy Beane exploited work well in the long-haul, but fail miserably in a short series. And, in their defense, Beane’s playoff run in the early 00s bears that out. However, the recent play of the Yankees and Red Sox better illustrates Beane’s point than his words do.
After rolling through the first four teams after the All-Star Break, the Yanks hit a snag, dropping three straight to the White Sox. The Yankees are obviously a good team, but hit a rough patch. It happens to the best of teams. The Red Sox also hit a bad patch, right as the Yankees were rolling. Both teams are on the same level, yet both have slumped, and slumped hard, over the course of the season.
What if those teams hit a rough patch in the beginning of October? It’s unfortunate, but it happens. The 2006 Yankees are a good example. They had a great regular season, but hit a terrible patch against Detroit in the playoffs. Hell, they even played well enough in the first game, but slumped in the final three. It happens during the regular season, and it can happen in the playoffs.
You hope your team can focus and avoid a slump when the games matter the most. The great teams, so goes the reasoning, will be able to do this. But in an age of increasing parity, rough patches hurt that much more. A team can hit a few bumps in the road over a 162-game season, but if they slump just a little during the playoffs it’s over. Even the best team in the long haul can have four bad games.
This is just something to chew on as we enter the off-day. We’d like to believe that players can elevate themselves in October, but sometimes they just can’t. I don’t think that’s necessarily a reflection of the team’s character. I think it’s in the nature of baseball’s marathon schedule.
Leadoff triple, and you will get … NOTHING!!!
Good thing they gave up that out to move the runner over.
PeteAbe has the news. Montero broke the middle finger on his right (throwing) hand after catching a pitch in last night’s game. He’ll be out 4-6 weeks according to the team, meaning he’s out for the rest of the minor league but could return in time for a stint in winter ball. Montero finished the season at .337-.389-.562 with 17 homers. · (31) ·