As I mentioned yesterday, the trade market can offer viable alternatives to free agency during the offseason. There aren’t many quality starting pitchers available on the open market this winter, so trades could be the best and most efficient way for the Yankees to improve their rotation for 2012 and beyond.
MLB.com’s Mark Bowman reported yesterday afternoon that the Braves have informed teams they’re willing to trade right-hander Jair Jurrjens and utility guy Martin Prado, seeking to gain some financial flexibility. Brian Cashman and Frank Wren have gotten together for just one trade in the past (the ill-fated Javy Vazquez deal two winters ago), but I’m sure their working relationship is fine. Prado is of little interest to us, but Jurrjens is definitely someone worth looking into as a rotation candidate. Let’s see what he has to offer, starting with the positives…
- It feels like he’s been around forever, but Jurrjens is still really young. He’ll turn 26 in January, and he has two years of team control remaining. MLBTR projects a salary of $5.1M next season, which puts him in line for an $8-9M payday in 2013, his final trip through arbitration.
- A true four-pitch pitcher, Jurrjens uses two fastballs in the 88-91 mph range (two- and four-seamer) to set up his low-80’s changeup and high-70’s slider. He’s got good control (2.79 uIBB/9 in the last three years), and the slide-piece is a put-away offering that he’s used to hold right-handed batters to measly .228/.280/.362 batting line with a 3.3 K/uIBB ratio over the last three seasons.
- Jurrjens has had a lot of trouble staying healthy in recent years, missing the final month in both of the last two seasons with right knee problems. He had surgery to repair a torn meniscus last September, then dealt with inflammation this August and September. He’s also missed time with an oblique strain (2011), a hamstring strain (2010), and shoulder inflammation (2007 and 2010), limiting him to just 43 starts and 268.1 IP over the last two years.
- That 88-91 mph fastball used to be 92-94 mph, but Jurrjens’ velocity dropped off in a big way in 2011. The velocity graph is quite scary, actually. His offspeed stuff isn’t enough to compensate, which is why left-handed batters have tagged him for a healthy .273/.349/.424 batting line with a 1.4 K/uIBB ratio over the last three seasons.
- Jurrjens is a fly ball pitcher (41.9% grounders last three seasons) and his strikeout numbers are not great (6.11 K/9 with 8.1% swings-and-misses last three seasons). That’s why there’s a considerable gap between his 3.20 ERA, 3.90 FIP, and 4.27 xFIP since the start of the 2009 season.
Bowman’s article says the Braves have already talked to the Royals about a Jurrjens trade, asking about upper-level bats like Wil Myers and Lorenzo Cain. Myers is one of the better prospects in the baseball and Cain is a big league ready center fielder, so that seems a little rich. The point is, they obviously want young position players in return, and the Yankees really aren’t loaded in that department outside of Jesus Montero, Austin Romine, and maybe Brandon Laird or Eduardo Nunez if you squint your eyes and look real hard.
Atlanta traded Derek Lowe earlier this week, so I find it pretty surprising that they’re willing to trade another one of their big league starters. They obviously have a lot of confidence in the young kids they have coming up (Julio Teheran, Randall Delgado, Mike Minor, and former Yankee farmhand Arodys Vizcaino), but isn’t this also a bit of a red flag? It’s not like Jurrjens is making a ton of money. Some guys peak early, and I’m worried that the Braves realize this and are trying to move him before his value declines any further.
There are two major red flags here as far as I’m concerned: the velocity drop and all the injury problems, specifically the recurring knee issues. The two problems might be related, since it is his push-off leg. If he can’t push-off properly, you have to worry about him overcompensating and possibly hurting his arm. You want to like Jurrjens, a young hurler who’s put up a sub-3.00 ERA in two of the last three seasons, but I just can’t bring myself to do it. Given the injuries, underwhelming peripherals, and declining velocity, I really have a hard time valuing Jurrjens as anything more than a glorified Phil Hughes, and the Yankees don’t need another guy like that at this point.
I was in the writing mood when I put this together yesterday, so you’re getting seven questions and close to 2,000 words worth of mailbag this morning. Remember to use the Submit A Tip box in the sidebar to send in your questions.
Many, many people asked: What about Grady Sizemore in some capacity?
The vast majority of the questions we got this week were about Sizemore, either as a fourth outfielder or a full-time corner guy with Nick Swisher or Brett Gardner being traded away. From 2005-2008, Sizemore was arguably the best player in the game, hitting .281/.372/.496 (.376 wOBA) with power (107 homers) and speed (115 steals) to go along with very strong defense in center field. His 27.4 fWAR and 24.4 bWAR during those four years were both the fourth highest in the game. He’s a free agent because the Tribe declined his $9M club option earlier in the week.
The now 29-year-old Sizemore is a shell of his former self due to injuries, specifically to his knees. He had microfracture surgery on his left knee in 2010 (and then some setbacks), and had an arthroscopic procedure on his right knee just a few weeks ago. He’s also needed surgery for two sports hernias (2009 and 2011) and for a debridement in his elbow (2009). All those injuries have limited Sizemore to just 210 games over the last three years (no more than 106 in a single season), during which time he’s hit .234/.314/.413 without any of the speed he showed before (just 17-for-29 in steal attempts). Over the last two years, it’s a .220/.280/.379 line with four steals in eight attempts in 104 games.
I don’t see the fourth outfielder thing working for the Yankees because he’s a left-handed hitter, and they have enough of those in the outfield already. They need a right-handed bat that can step into the lineup against tough southpaws, especially the AL East guys like David Price, Jon Lester, and Ricky Romero. I also don’t see any reason to believe that Sizemore can hold up for a full season playing everyday, he hasn’t done that in three years now. He’s a sexy name because he was legitimately one of the best players in the sport at one time, but Sizemore isn’t that guy anymore and there’s not much evidence that he’s coming back. I expect him to sign with some team that guarantees him a bunch of playing time, then is left scrambling when he gets hurt again.
Ed asks: Let’s say the Rockies non-tender Ryan Spilborghs this offseason, should the Yanks sign him to replace Andruw Jones for the 2012 season? Spilborghs has a career .277/.357/.443 line against lefties, and is a decent fielder.
Spilborghs is okay, but he got wildly overrated a few years ago because he had some dramatic hits during the Rockies’ run to the World Series in 2007. I don’t even think he even qualifies as a platoon bat anymore, he’s hit just .236/.332/.401 against lefties over the last three seasons (.258/.317/.384 vs. RHP), so the majority of his career damage against southpaws came 4+ years ago. Spilborghs is a big step down from Jones, who works the count well and (more importantly) can really hit for power.
As an aside, my all-time favorite Ryan Spilborghs moment was when Woody Paige said the Rockies should trade Matt Holliday (in June 2008) so Spilborghs could become “a full-time starting outfielder who could be the next Holliday.” Nice thought, if it wasn’t for the fact that Spliborghs is four months older than Holliday. Fire Joe Morgan did a number on that one.
The Players Choice Awards were handed out tonight, and Curtis Granderson was named the 2011 AL Outstanding Player of the Year. He beat out Jose Bautista and Adrian Gonzalez for the award. Bartolo Colon was nominated for AL Comeback Player of the Year, but he lost out to Jacoby Ellsbury. No shame in that. Chad Jennings has the full list of winners, which were voted on by the players (hence Players Choice Awards). Congrats to the Grandyman on the well-deserved honor.
Via Buster Olney, the Orioles have asked the Yankees for permission to interview amateur scouting director Damon Oppenheimer for their still vacant GM job. Olney says they might also have interest in pro scouting director Billy Eppler, who was the runner-up to Jerry Dipoto for the Angels GM position.
Baltimore has already offered the job to two very qualified candidates (Dipoto and Blue Jays’ assistant GM Tony LaCava), but both have turned it down. These are highly-coveted gigs, there are only 30 GM jobs out there, and to have two people turn it down is pretty damning for the O’s. Danny Knobler reported yesterday that owner Peter Angelos would not let LaCava bring in his own front office people, which is just mind-numbingly stupid. Be glad you weren’t born an Orioles fan, folks.
Now that free agency is open for business, we are officially turning the page on the 2011 season. Our somewhat drawn-out season review wrapped up yesterday, so in case you missed anything, here’s one last link back to all the posts…
What Went Right
- Post-DL Derek Jeter
- Ivan Nova
- Bartolo Colon
- Freddy Garcia
- Russell Martin
- Jesus Montero
- David Robertson
- Curtis Granderson
- Andruw Jones and Eric Chavez
- Hector Noesi, Cory Wade, and Luis Ayala
What Went Wrong
- Pre-DL Derek Jeter
- Phil Hughes
- A.J. Burnett
- Jorge Posada
- Mark Teixeira
- Rafael Soriano
- Alex Rodriguez
- Pedro Feliciano
- Joba Chamberlain
- The 4-5-6 Hitters in the ALDS
What Went As Expected
Here is your open thread for the evening. The second game of the 2011 Taiwan All-Star Series will be broadcast (on a delay) at 9pm ET on MLB Network, but if you want to know what happens ahead of time, here’s the game recap. All three hockey locals are also in action. Talk about anything you want here, the thread is yours.
Discussion Question: What is Joe Girardi‘s biggest flaw in terms of his in-game management? If you think it’s “the binder,” please be more specific.
Sorry folks, but it’s time for a little shameless self-promotion. With free agency now open for business, Joe took part in a three-person panel over at the YES Network, attempting to predict the landing spots of twenty of this winter’s top free agents. This is different that his top 50 predictions from earlier this week, so make sure you check it you.
As for me, I’ve got a pair of posts up at FanGraphs covering two recent Yankees’ transactions: CC Sabathia’s extension and Andrew Brackman’s release. Over at The Yankee Analysts, Hannah wrote about how Sabathia’s deal gives us Yankees fans some piece of mind heading into the offseason. Ain’t that the truth?