Earlier this week, Melky Cabrera with 2.148 years of playing time, joined 110 others in filing for salary arbitration. As a super-two, Melky could experience the trials and travails of salary arbitration.

In discussing the Melky situation earlier this week, Pete Abraham posted a question: “It’s easy to see how Nady and the Yankees could have something to talk about. Maybe even Bruney. But what could the possible holdup be with Melky? He should be happy to get a free appetizer at the new Hard Rock Cafe after how he played last season.”

It is an interesting question. Mostly, these salary arbitration cases are settled well in advance of a hearing. It’s certainly better for the two teams to settle on a figure before the Yanks go in and explain why Melky doesn’t deserve any money (not a tough arugment) and Melky explains why he deserves what would really be an inexplicable raise.

Since we haven’t had a chance to dump on Melky dig into the erstwhile Yankee center fielder in a while, I thought about running a post on the arguments Melky could make. The only attribute of his that would ever warrant a raise is his arm. He managed seven assists last year and has 28 over his career. Otherwise, he put up a 68 OPS+ with a .249/.301/.341 line, most it coming in April. (He hit .235/.280/.286 over his final 98 games.)

Historically, Melky doesn’t stack up too well either. I ran his qualifications — age 23 season, 453 plate appearances, 68 OPS+ — through Baseball Reference’s Play Index, and his fellow underachievers do not make for a very promising list. In baseball history, only 24 players suffering through their age 23 seasons of the game have done as bad or worse than Melky did in 2008. None of those have really gone on to do much of anything.

I don’t like to see Melky be so bad. I’d much rather see Melky mature into a top-notch center fielder or at least an average one. I don’t, however, see what Melky has to gain by the arbitration process. Oh, to be a fly on the wall during that hearing.

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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.

Categories : Open Thread
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  • Some smart post-season rule changes

    While not complaining about salary caps, the owners at their meetings in Phoenix this week managed to enact a few smart rule-changes concerning the playoffs. First, all playoff games must be at least nine innings long. If a game is called due to weather, it will be resumed from the point of suspension. Second, head-to-head records will now determine home-field advantage for tiebreaker scenarios instead of the coin toss. “I’m delighted,” Commissioner Bud Selig said about these common-sense clarifications. Me too, Bud. Me too. · (4) ·

altuniform Via Shysterball, we learn that the Tampa Bay Devil Rays of St. Petersburg have once again changed their uniforms. The team — famous for changing, well, everything — will soon unveil a new alternate jersey.

On May 1st, the Rays will don a new alternate jersey when they host the Red Sox at Tropicana Field. It will be a navy blue button-down with RAYS outlined in white trim with a light blue shadow across the chest.

The sunburst emanating from the “R” is forty percent larger than the sunburst on the team’s home and road jerseys. Light blue piping surrounds the sleeves and collar and extends down the front of the jersey. The player’s name and number are featured on the back [in navy] outlined in white.

Now of course, this is a marketing ploy. It’s fairly amusing that one of the teams with the fewest amount of fans would have the most egregious changes. They change their team, their colors; their uniform styles.

So in the spirit of Friday afternoon, let’s run through the history of the Tampa Bay Rays’ uniforms. For the sake of comparison, we’ll compare them to the changes in the Yankee uniforms since 1997. Keep in mind that Yankees merchandise is baseball’s top-selling. One of these two teams is doing something right.

After the jump, more about uniforms than you ever wanted to hear.

Read More→

Categories : Whimsy
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  • IDA approves more tax-free bonds for Yanks

    Despite contentious hearings, a strident Times editorial, and opposition from numerous advocates and officials, the New York City Industrial Development Agency has approved another $370 million in tax-free bonds for the Yankee Stadium construction project.

    The agency voted 11-1 in favor of the bonds with Comptroller William C. Thompson’s representative voting against the issuance and the Queens rep abstaining. Neil de Mause estimates the total subsidy for the Yankee Stadium and CitiField construction projects at $1.8 billion. One can make convincing arguments for against public support of the initial costs of construction, but by now, I have to believe that the teams should be taxes for more bond requests. Either way, the bond issue is pretty much closed. Problems surrounding land valuation and missing green spaces and parks in the Bronx remain.

    For Mike’s chat, click here. He’s still going. I wanted to get this breaking news up on site.
    · (8) ·


RAB Live Chat

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Categories : Chats
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  • Yanks demanding the moon for Nady

    Via Ken Rosenthal comes this gem: “A trade remains a possibility, but the Braves are unwilling to meet the Yankees’ price for outfielder Xavier Nady, knowing they might get better deals in July.” That’s music to my ears because it shows the Yanks aren’t going to just give Nady away because they have a bit of a logjam. They don’t have to move him, but if someone is willing to pay the right price, they will. It works for me. · (71) ·

As the baseball owners met quietly in Phoenix this week to discuss the baseball economy and take care of some administrative details, the ever-popular stop-the-Yankees salary cap idea came out for the umpteenth time this postseason.

“I think there’s a lot of owners that would like to have that right now,” Lew Wolff, owner of the A’s, said. “I think the parity is what we’re looking for, and the more ways you can get to parity the better. I think it’s pretty good now, but I think it could be better.” Coincidentally — or not — the A’s ownership has a net worth estimated at $1.5 billion.

Brewers owner Mark Attanansio, who recently paid a quarter of a billion dollars for the right to get into the ownership club, echoed Wolff’s complaints. “I would ask, if it’s such a bad idea, what sport doesn’t have a salary cap other than us?” he said.

The AP, linked above, had more:

The Yankees’ offseason spending spree has sparked renewed talk of a cap, an issue owners haven’t brought up in negotiations since the disastrous 1994-95 strike that wiped out the World Series for the first time in 90 years. But not all owners are critical of the Yankees’ acquisition of pitchers CC Sabathia and A.J. Burnett and infielder Mark Teixeira.

“I have no problem with what they’ve done,” [Cubs Chairman Crane] Kenney said. “They’ve done it within the rules, within the confines of our agreement…

Wolff’s team recently agreed to a one-year, $5.25 million year with Jason Giambi, who had bolted Oakland after the 2001 season to sign a $120 million, seven-year contract with the Yankees. Asked if the Yankees’ spending concerned him, Wolff replied, “I probably should say it does, but to me it doesn’t because, frankly, the more visible they are — they are baseball, traditionally. And they’re not doing anything different than they’ve done traditionally for years. I think they benefit all of us more than they hurt us…”

“There’s no sour grapes here,” Attanasio said. “The Yankees are playing within the rules of the system. So you can’t blame the team. You have to change the system.”

I won’t pass judgment on Attanasio, but it’s interesting to see Kenney’s comments make this article. In a way, it shows what the real fight would be if the owners try to hammer out a salary cap. In one corner would be the rich teams, the Yankees, Red Sox, Mets, Dodgers, Cubs, Angels of the game. In the other would be the Pirates, Marlins, and A’s of the world. Never the twain shall meet. The players, indeed, have nothing to worry about.

As I said last week, baseball doesn’t need a salary cap, and baseball probably couldn’t even afford a salary cap. These owners are failing to recognize that the Yanks will have a lower or comparatively similar Opening Day payroll in 2009 as they did in 2008, and they are spoiling for a fight with each other that neither side can win. This is one sleeping dog best left undisturbed.

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Since the off-season began, I’ve heard Yanks fans mention Jon Garland as a possible solution in the rotation. Those comments have heated up a bit over the past few weeks as it has become increasingly unlikely that the team signs Andy Pettitte to fill the fifth starter void. The argument usually goes something like: “He’s a guy who can eat innings and give you league average pitching.” If we were sure this is what Garland would bring, I could see signing him. Unfortunately, the way his stats have trended make it look unlikely.

Garland made a name for himself in 2005, posting a 3.50 ERA in 221 innings, en route to a World Series title with the White Sox. However, since that season he’s not been nearly as good. Not even close. In fact, even that season his FIP was 4.24, which is not bad, but shows that his results might have been part of the randomness that baseball players experience from year to year. For more on randomness, read books by this guy. His 75.4 LOB% might have something to do with that low ERA as well.

Let’s take a look at Garland’s peripherals. We’ll start at the basics, with his strikeouts and walks.

Year K/9 BB/9
2005 4.68 1.91
2006 4.77 1.75
2007 4.23 2.46
2008 4.12 2.70

In 2008 he walked nearly one more batter per nine innings than he did two years prior. If that was a one-year jump, it wouldn’t scare me as much. Yet his 2007 figure, 2.46, sets off a red flag. Combine this with his incrementally declining K rate, and you have one messy situation.

Moving down to his other peripherals, it paints a strange picture. His line drive rate has been pretty consistent throughout his career, right in the 22 percent range, but he saw an enormous spike in groundballs last year — 49.9 percent, which was over 10 percent higher than his 2007 campaign. This means he was giving up fewer fly balls, generally a good thing, but not when your HR/FB ratio jumps up by nearly five percent (7.1 percent in 07, 11.9 percent in 08).

No, Jon Garland probably wouldn’t be a poor choice to fill the fifth starter role. A 4.50 ERA/FIP, which is what the three projection systems (Bill James, CHONE, Marcel) have him at in 2009, is fine from the five hole, especially if it’s over 200 innings. However, the price will not match the output, and that gap becomes wider if Garland continues his downward trend. Unless he’s available for one year and around $5 million, the Yanks would do best to pass on him.

(Plus, as tommiesmithjohncarlos says: “Jon Garland is the exact opposite of Katie Holmes topless.”)

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