From the beginning of the off-season we knew that Bobby Abreu’s preference was to remain a Yankee. That was not the team’s preference, though. The acquisitions of Nick Swisher and Mark Teixeira essentially spell the end of any reunion talks, giving Abreu even less leverage in a free agent market saturated with corner outfielders. That three-year, $48 million pipe-dream he was seeking earlier this winter? Gone, according to ESPN.com’s Jerry Crasnick (h/t MLBTR). Instead, he’ll seek a deal more in line with Raul Ibanez and Milton Bradley.
Sadly to say, I don’t think any teams are going to bite even at that price. There are just too many teams that can’t afford him at that price. The Angels could, but why would they pay $30 million for Abreu when there don’t seem to be any other offers? A week ago Chico Harlan of the Washington Post quoted an executive who thought Adam Dunn “will get a max of $5 million per year.” I’m surprised the same wasn’t said about Bobby Abreu.
This was just a bad time for Bobby to become a free agent. It’s not only the market in general. It’s hitting free agency at the same time as five other corner outfielders. It’s the fact that he’s 35 years old and has seen a diminished OBP and walk rate over the past two years. It’s the recent and prominent criticisms of his defense. It’s all come together at once and it’s working against Bobby getting anything more than a one-year deal.
Before long Bobby will find a new home, and it will probably be a one-year layover until he has to do this all over again next off-season. Maybe then he’ll find a few takers at a price more in line with how he values himself. Seeing as he’ll be another year older, I don’t think that will be the case.
Sometimes in baseball things happen that we just can’t explain, and when it does happen we call it luck. Good luck, bad luck, whatever. One of the biggest statistical luck fiends in BABIP, or Batting Average on Balls in Play. Nick Swisher posted a career low batting avg last year (.219) despite a career high line drive percentage (20.9%) how? Bad luck, evidenced by his absurdly low .251 BABIP, fourth lowest in baseball. Diasuke Matsuzaka posts the third best ERA (2.90) despite the worst walk rate in the league (5.05 BBper9, worst by 0.55) how? Ridiculously good luck, like the fourth lowest BABIP in the league (.267) good luck.
Derek Carty over at THT took a look into all the different ways to calculate BABIP yesterday, while Rich Lederer at Baseball Analysts dug deeper into how groundball rate will effect a hitter’s BABIP today. Both are interesting reads and worth your time .Check ‘em out. · (82) ·
What I love about the nightly open thread is that we can write about basically anything. If you find it boring, irrelevant, or overdone, you can just skip over the post and dive into the comments. If you want to use the post as a jumping off point you can, but there’s certainly no obligation to do so.
Why did I open like this? Because I saved up some articles relating to the Joe Torre book, and I figured I’d dump them on you in the open thread, rather than litter your day with them. I know a lot of people are sick of the topic. Even for those who aren’t, it’s a tough topic to navigate because so few of us, if any of us, have read the book. We’re going on reactions. But they can be fun too, right?
First up is Ken Davidoff. He wrote about Brian Cashman‘s relationship with Joe Torre following the 2005 season. Yet before he gets into that, he says something about A-Rod which I think is worth repeating:
And as Tyler [Kepner] points out, if Mariano Rivera had just picked up the save in 2004 ALCS Game 4, then Alex Rodriguez would’ve been riding a monster first two rounds into the World Series, and we wouldn’t be standing here today, dissecting A-Rod the way we do.
Of course, this isn’t blaming Mo, just like “if he hadn’t thrown the ball into center field we would have won the 2001 series” isn’t blaming Mo. It does bring up an interesting point, though. People also kill A-Rod for striking out with a man on third and less than two outs in the game, and then dismiss his early home run. This I will never understand. Sans the home run, Mo doesn’t have a lead to blow.
Next up, and also relating to A-Rod, is a statement by Brian Cashman. Bryan Hoch brings it to us.
“I think we’ve gone through so much of the Alex stuff that, you know, if anything, maybe this brings people closer together,” Cashman said on Monday during a conference call to announce Andy Pettitte‘s one-year contract.
I’m not so sure this will bring anyone closer together. Cashman does have a point, though: the team has been through all this. They’ve dealt with A-Rod for five years now. I doubt anything Torre makes public in the book will change how the guys on the team view him now.
Finally, Jack Curry has some quotes from Torre on the book. The former Yanks’ skipper made it clear that he never used the word “betrayal,” despite every tabloid in the city saying so. He also had a comment on A-Rod: “I don’t think I said anything about A-Rod that I didn’t say already.” Yeah, that you didn’t already say to Tom Verducci. Thankfully, it appears A-Rod is taking this all in stride.
This is your open thread for the evening. The Knicks and the Nets are off tonight, the Hurricanes are in the Garden, and the Devils are in Ottawa.
While I had pegged Dan Giese as the likely man designated for assignment, the Yanks had other ideas in mind. The AP reports that Chase Wright has been designated for assignment to make room for Andy Pettitte. Wright, 26, is a lefty famous for giving up back-to-back-to-back-to-back home runs against the Red Sox in 2007 when he was rushed into an emergency start. As a young lefty with a good MiLB ERA but mediocre peripherals, I doubt he’ll clear waivers. I guess the Yanks like Giese as a potential long man instead. (Hat tip to MLBTR.) · (63) ·
A Red Sox Fan From Pinstripe Territory finds a unique way to honor and remember post-renovation Yankee Stadium: through the appearance of the old BRUT ad in baseball cards. In a massively long but highly entertaining post, Jere tracks the appearance of that once-iconic ad in baseball cards throughout the 1980s. A surprising number of visiting team players are featured in front of the ad. I guess Topps didn’t want to dispatch a photographer too far from its home at One Whitehall St. in Lower Manhattan. · (6) ·
When the Yankees announced they were bringing back Andy Pettitte yesterday the first thing a bunch of fans said was “now Joba can go back to the bullpen, where he belongs.” They said this when they signed CC. They said this when they signed AJ. It’s like clockwork. Luckily Eric Seidman at Fangraphs broke out some math and showed just how more valuable a starter is than a reliever.
Seidman shows that as a starter, Joba could pitch to a 4.10 FIP over 150 innings and be worth +2.6 wins. That’s a good but not great projection, and I suspect many Yankee fans would be a little disappointed with that kind of output out of the big Nebraskan. In fact, 51 starters put up +2.6 WAR last year, including guys like Wandy Rodriguez (+2.7), Dana Eveland (+2.7), Jesse Litsch (+2.8), and Ubaldo Jimenez (+4.4). The +2.6 WAR Starter club isn’t the most exclusive club in the world, as you can see.
Now, to match that production as a reliever Joba would basically have to be one of the five or six best relievers in baseball by putting up a 2.28 FIP in 80 innings, and even that only works out to a +2.4 WAR. Only eight relievers matched the +2.6 WAR Joba could reasonably put up in 150 mediocre innings as a starter, and they’re like, the eight best relievers in baseball pitching in highest of high leverage situations. Even the almighty Mariano Rivera, baseball’s most valuable reliever last year with a +4.2 WAR, was just the 26th most valuable pitcher in the game last year.
There really is no debate. Joba Chamberlain, even as a middling starter, is more valuable to the team than he is as a shut down reliever. Bringing Pettitte back doesn’t change anything, all it does is push Joba back to the fifth spot. This isn’t a situation like Mariano Rivera or Joe Nathan, where the guy doesn’t have enough pitches to start. There’s a reason guys become relievers, and it’s because they aren’t good enough to start.
Please, end the foolishness. Joba should be a starter until he proves he can’t handle it.
In an effort to protect the team from staph infections that have plagued baseball clubhouses over the last few years, the Yankees are employing a disinfectant sports coating to keep their new stadium clean. The team plans to spray, according to Newsday, “all public bathrooms and concession areas, along with the home and visiting clubhouses, weight rooms, lounges, showers, coaches’ rooms, dugouts and bullpens, are being treated.” While one doctor thinks regular cleaning would do the trick, the company behind the coating obviously thinks otherwise. Either way, this move should satisfy all the germaphobe Yankee fans out there. (Hat tip to Shysterball.) · (25) ·
Basically, Pettitte can earn $4.5 million in performance bonuses and $2 million in roster bonuses. The deal is structured in way such that the southpaw would have earned the full $12 million in three of the last four seasons. The only exception was 2008 when Pettitte threw only 204 innings. The bonus breakdown is as follows:
- $4.5M in performance bonuses: $0.5M each for 150, 160, 170 IP; $0.75M each for 180, 190, 200, 210 IP
- $2M in roster bonuses: $0.1M for 120 days on active 25-man roster; $0.2M for 130 days; $0.25M each for 140, 150 days; $0.4M each for 160, 170, 180 days
As long as the lefty stays healthy and continues to rack up the innings, he’ll get his money. His baseline for performance is to pitch well enough to stay in the rotation with the kids knocking on the door.
Meanwhile, speaking of the kids, Mike Ashmore offers up a dissenting opinion on the Pettitte signing. Noting the ever-increasing number of young arms in the Yankee system, Ashmore ponders the depth question:
If the consensus is that Pettitte is little more than a placeholder, why not use one of your numerous starting pitching prospects in a meaningful role at the big league level instead of picking up garbage innings as a long man in the Bronx or spending another year in Trenton or Scranton?
And how long before some of these players start getting frustrated with having to repeat levels of the minors?
Things are looking great at the big league level, and the minor leagues certainly look stacked as well. But at what cost?
I’ve struggled with this one for much of the winter and have no good answer. I was fine seeing Andy leave; I am fine seeing him return. With this incentive-laden deal, he’ll put pressure on himself to pitch. As long as the Yanks don’t leave him in there to the detriment of the young arms if the time is right to replace him, this one-year contract will work out for everyone.
By the end of this week or the beginning of next, RAB will have its copy of The Yankee Years. After reading it — and only then — will any of us be in a position to comment on the controversy that has exploded across the pages of the New York tabloids and more reputable newspapers this week.
We have all seen an excerpt, but that’s hardly conclusive. The rest of us who haven’t read the book are simply basing our opinions on the raging “he said-he said” debate. All that leads to is a bunch of ill-informed sweeping pronouncements about who’s right and who’s wrong.
While we’re waiting for the book — now with eager anticipation — one aspect has emerged as the truth, and it is a truth that has been dominating Yankee coverage since 2004: It is, for better or worse, all about Alexander Emmanuel Rodriguez. Torre, from the early reports, never thought too fondly of A-Rod. The Yanks’ one-time skipper supposedly couldn’t reach the seemingly cerebral slugger, and A-Rod was envious of Torre favorite Derek Jeter while others in the clubhouse weren’t fond of A-Rod.
“We never really had anybody who craved the attention. I think when Alex came over, he certainly changed the feel of the club,” Torre writes in his book. Of course, baseball-wise A-Rod had a little bit of an impact too. The game’s best hitter will do that.
The Yanks, of course, are rallying around A-Rod. “I think we’ve gone through so much of the Alex stuff that, you know, if anything, maybe this brings people closer together,” Yanks GM Brian Cashman said during Monday’s Andy Pettitte conference call.”There’s always going to be some controversy that surrounds this club. The best way to try to deal with it is, I guess, rally around each other the best you can if there’s real feelings there.”
Defend each is is, after all, what a team is supposed do, and Pettitte got right to it. “I have never one time heard of the term `A-Fraud’ until I saw that rolling on the TV, I guess this morning or whenever they started reporting it,” he said. “If it did go on, it went on before I was there.”
For their part, A-Rod’s team is fighting back through anonymous quotes in The Post, according to NJ.com. That’s fighting fire with, um, fire.
No matter how this soap opera plays itself out though, A-Rod will remain front and center. Since joining the Yankees in 2004, he has been far and away the team’s most productive hitter, but between his perceived playoff failures, his divorce and Madonna, he’s made more than his fair share of back pages for non-baseball related antics as he has for his baseball heroics. Until the Yankees win a title with A-Rod, he will remain this powerful, polarizing figure. It’s just the way it is, and no matter what it ultimately says overall, Torre’s book is just another part of the Alex Rodriguez circus. With that bat around, though, I wouldn’t want it any other way.