A tale of two pitchers

By in Rants. · Comments (63) ·

Who would you rather:

Pitcher A: 64 G, 70.2 IP, 41 H, 6 BB, 77 K, 1.40 ERA, 0.665 WHIP, .165/.190/.233
Pitcher B: 76 G, 68.1 IP, 54 H, 34 BB, 77 K, 2.24 ERA, 1.288 WHIP, .216/.314/.316

Now, it’s hard to deny that both pitchers had some pretty impressive numbers in 2008. Pitcher B walked a few too many guys, and Pitcher A was pretty much lights out across the board. Would you believe me if I told you that Pitcher B garnered 32 Cy Young votes and a third-place finish in the balloting while Pitcher A received just three third-place votes?

Of course, Pitcher A saved “only” 39 games this year while Pitcher B set a new MLB record with 62 saves. For what it’s worth, those fancy statisticians over at Baseball Prospectus figure that Pitcher A, Mariano Rivera, was the top reliever in baseball this year while Pitcher B, Francisco Rodriguez, is far down the list. K-Rod was good this year, but he’s no Rivera.

With 62 saves staring at them in the face, the writers were once again misled by a largely meaningless counting stat. Yet again, the voters show that the post-season awards are purely symbolic. Cliff Lee won — and deserved — his Cy Young, but after that, the voters are just pulling names out of thing air.

Postscript: Mike Mussina received just two third-place votes for his 20-win season. While Cy Young votes for Moose would be largely symbolic, I expected him to do slightly better than that. I guess the writers would rather let saves instead of emotions get the best of them.

Categories : Rants
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Over the next few days and weeks, we’ll burn a lot of pixels talking about CC Sabathia, but that’s one free agent signing that will wrap itself up quickly. In reality, it boils down to Sabathia. Either he will play for the Yankees because they will out-bid everyone or he doesn’t want to play in New York. It’s that simple.

There’s another free agent — number one on Keith Law’s list — who probably won’t sign until the end of December. For a while, this player seemed destined to the Yankees, but with the acquisition today of Nick Swisher, many are assuming that the Yanks won’t be that interested in Mark Teixeira. In my opinion, that is simply not the case.

Swisher was the first salvo the Yanks fired off in the Hot Stove League, but he will be just the first piece in an off-season of moves. Now, there is no doubt that Nick Swisher fills a Yankee need. A one-time first-round draft pick, Swisher will be 28 come opening day, and while his numbers seemed down last year, he has the ability to hit 20-30 home runs a season. He’s also a master at getting on base.

Beyond that, Swisher is both an outfielder and a first baseman. The Yanks, looking to get younger and more athletic, could use Swisher at first and eschew signing Mark Teixeira or Adam Dunn. But perhaps, they’ll opt to use Swisher in the outfield, replacing the 35-year-old Bobby Abreu with Swisher.

In that regard, Mark Teixeira makes total sense, and a team in a position the Yanks are in would have a tough time turning down a player of Teixeira’s caliber. The switch-hitting first baseman will be 29 on Opening Day, making him two baseball seasons younger than Jason Giambi was when he signed with the Yanks in 2001. Meanwhile, Teixeira has a career line of .290/.378/.541, and he’s shown he can hit outside of Texas.

With his Gold Glove-caliber defense, Teixeira is, to borrow a phrase from Buster Olney, the perfect fit for a Yankee team looking to get younger and more athletic while keeping up a relentless pace of high-OBP players. A heart of the order with Teixiera, A-Rod, Posada and Swisher would be potent indeed.

Meanwhile, Keith Law brings up an interesting point in his ESPN free agent run down. Since Teixeira is so young, if he were to sign a six-year deal, when he next becomes a free agent after his age 34 season, he could then sign another substantial contract. It would be more beneficial for Scott Boras and Teixeira to take a six-year deal than it would be for them to push for an eight- or ten-year contract.

Even if the Yanks opt to let Teixeira go, they have another 1B/OF option to pursue as well. Adam Dunn, despite the deceptively low batting average, would fit right in as well. He’s not the defender Teixeira is, and he’s not quite as athletic as Swisher. But he is, however, a beast at the plate. His career OPS+ of 130 is just slightly lower than Teixeira’s 134 mark. He hasn’t hit fewer than 40 home runs since his injury-shortened 2003 campaign, and despite the low batting average and high strike-out numbers, he gets on base a whopping 38.1 percent of the time. For those keeping score at home, that’s actually slightly higher than Teixeira’s career OBP.

Clearly, the Yankees have options. At a time when the team has more holes to fill than they’ve had in recent years, the free agent crop is particularly lush this year. While Nick Swisher is a great start, he’s far from the final answer. While the Yanks may not seem like they need Mark Teixeira or even Adam Dunn now, we’ll see what happens when the dust settles. Meanwhile, forty-five minutes ago, as of this writing, the free agent gates were unleashed. The fun is just beginning.

Categories : Hot Stove League
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  • Yanks officially firm up coaching staff

    Lost amidst the brouhaha of the Nick Swisher was a press release from the Yanks announcing what we knew a few weeks ago about the coaching staff: Rob Thomson is the new third base coach; Tony Peña will serve as Joe Girardi’s bench coach; and Mick Kelleher will be the Coach In Charge of Lighting a Fire Under Robinson Cano’s Ass first base coach. This announcement is just a formality as these changes were reported a few weeks ago. · (15) ·


The End of An Era

By in Whimsy. · Comments (18) ·
Categories : Whimsy
Comments (18)

So how about that, eh? In one move today, the Yanks took on Nick Swisher and his salary in exchange for Jeff Marquez and Wilson Betemit. Talk about heating up the Hot Stove League in the blink of an eye.

But do you know what’s even better than Nick Swisher? How about Nick Swisher and C.C. Sabathia, together, in the same picture? Via the excellently-named It’s All A-Rod’s Fault comes this image from Nick Swisher’s Web site:

If only. If only.

Meanwhile, while we’re all enjoying the high of a good trade, the free agent signing period kicks off in a few hours with CC Sabathia, Mark Teixeira and Manny Ramirez headlining the Hot Stove this year. It seems as though Manny and the Dodgers may be heading for a split.

While the Dodgers have an offer on the table that could send $60 million Manny’s way over three seasons, Scott Boras fired back today with a quote that shows his true character. “On behalf of Manny Ramirez, we will, for the first time, begin accepting serious financial offers on Friday,” said Boras. What a class act.

So as we head into the best time of the winter, feel free to open the floor to anything. The Jets and Pats are playing on Channel 11 at 8 p.m., and money is about to dominate baseball’s off-season.

Late add by Mike: South Side Sox has an exclusive transcript of the Swisher trade negotiations. Check it out.

Comments (341)

AzFL Peoria (3-2 loss to the other Peoria)
Kevin Russo: 0 for 0 – came in for defense at short in the 8th
Jeff Marquez: 4 IP, 6 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 1 BB, 2 K, 3-6 GB/FB – 47 of 75 pitches were strikes (62.7%) … even with his AzFL time, he’s still about 30 IP behind last year’s total because of this summer’s groin injury
Kevin Whelan: 1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 3 BB, 1 K, 1-1 GB/FB – only 12 of 26 pitches were strikes (46.2%)

HWB Waikiki (3-2 win over North Shore in 10 innings, walk-off style)
Damon Sublett: 1 for 5, 1 R, 1 K
Austin Romine: 0 for 2, 1 K - left the game in the 6th for an unknown reason
Andrew Brackman: 5 IP, 4 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 5 BB, 3 K, 2 WP, 9-3 GB/FB – 47 of 89 pitches were strikes (52.8%) … drat, he’s a bust this week

PRWL Mayaguez (5-2 loss to Carolina)
Ian Kennedy: 3.2 IP, 6 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 1 BB, 7 K, 1 HBP, 2-1 GB/FB – 12 K in 8.2 IP in his 2 starts

Read More→

Categories : Down on the Farm
Comments (40) baseball scribe Jerry Crasnick is reporting that the Yankees have acquired Nick Swisher in a trade with the White Sox. The Yanks have sent at least Jeff Marquez to Chicago. It is unclear if anyone else will be included in this deal.

According to Ken Rosenthal, the White Sox will send Kanekoa Teixeira to the Yanks while Wilson Betemit & Jhonny Nunez are heading to Chicago. Teixeira, not the one I hope the Yanks land before the winter is out, put up some good numbers in relief this year but at the A level.

Right now, this acquisition is a great move for the Yanks’ roster. While Mike predicted it early last week, Swisher’s role on the 2009 Yankees is still up in the air, and that is perfect. He gives the Yanks a lot of roster flexibility. He could be in the center field mix; he could be one of the corner outfielders (and thus we would be waving farewell to Bobby Abreu); he could wind up at first base. I’d still, of course, rather see Mark Teixeira land there.

Swisher, 28, has been in the league for five years and is due, according to Cot’s baseball Contracts, $5.3 million in 2009, $6.75 million in 2010 and $9 million in 2011. His contract includes an option in 2012 for $10.25 million with a $1 million buyout.

Swisher had a down year last, hitting just .219 but still managed a .332 OBP and a .410 SLG. As Mike noted last week, his numbers suggest a season of bad luck. Swisher is a power threat and an on-base machine who gives the Yanks some much-needed youth.

Marquez is a 24-year-old right-hander with some pedestrian MiLB peripherals. While the sinker-slider specialist was once on BA’s Top 10 list for the Yanks, he hasn’t made the steps the experts expected and doesn’t project very well right now in the Bigs. It’s hard not to love this trade.

Update by Mike (4:15): In case you don’t feel like reading back through the post, the deal is Swisher & Kanekoa Texeira for Marquez, Betemit and Jhonny Nunez. Good deal. The Depth Chart has been updated.

Categories : Hot Stove League
Comments (291)

Okay, we’ve tried this a couple of times before, to no avail. This time, though, we’re super cereal. Mike and I team up this week to talk about the upcoming days, when free agents will be eligible to sign with everyone.

We go over the basics. Pitching, as in CC Sabathia and the rumored 6 year, $150 million offer the Yanks will make. That could have been a concoction of Joel Sherman’s imagination, but the figure makes sense. We talk about CC’s uniqueness, and about the prospect of adding a seventh guaranteed year to the deal. Then it’s about the also-rans: Derek Lowe, A.J. Burnett, Ben Sheets. We discuss the pros and cons of this, plus talk about the conditions under which we would consider Oliver Perez. As a final note on the pitching front, we talk about the popular trade ideas, including why I’m uncomfortable with giving up Phil Hughes for Jake Peavy, and an available starter I wouldn’t mind getting, but will probably get me pelted with rotten veggies.

Then it’s onto position players. We talk about the Jermaine Dye idea Jamal wrote about last night, and how it’s like the Mike Cameron deal. Hey, we’re not saying we should go out and get all these one-year, aging players. We’re just saying that the fit into the strategy. You can’t get younger overnight, so you might as well bring in vets with short commitments.

Of course, we debate the merits of Mark Teixeira, including the prospect of him getting an eight-year deal from some team. Would you go that long for a guy who will be 29 in 2009? Then it’s onto the trade guys, where we bring Nick Swisher back into the conversation. Would they swap him for Damon and a lower level pitcher? Would we throw in IPK? Would the White Sox even be interested in that?

Just so it’s not neglected, we hit on the bench to close things out. No one has yet been able to answer Mike’s challenge: name three utility infielders better than Betemit. He’s a homer threat every time he steps up, which is a positive for a bench guy. We also talk about how the rest of the bench could round out, including the Yanks attempting a little experiment with Justin Christian.

The podcast is available in a number of formats. You can download it here by right clicking on that link and selecting Save As. If you want to play it in your browser, just left click the link. You can also subscribe to the podcast feed, which will send it to you every Thursday (we’re really shooting for this). You can also subscribe in iTunes. Finally, we have the embedded audio player below.

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We appreciate any feedback. You can leave it in the comments or email either of us.

Categories : Podcast
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Since the end of the season, Yankees fans have been waiting to hear the intentions of Mike Mussina. The 20-game winner doesn’t have a contract for the 2009 season, and there has been heavy speculation that he will go out on top. Still, we haven’t heard much from the man himself. It sounds like he’s still mulling the decision; if he was set on retiring, I imagine he would have announced it already.

That isn’t to say that he’s coming back. The way he told it to Mark Feinsand, he still hasn’t decided one way or another. We could hear from him soon, though. He claims he will make his decision “early next week.”

“I’m still kind of up in the air,” Mussina said Wednesday from his home in Montoursville, Penn. “I’m enjoying my time off, but then again, I always enjoy my time off.”

If he does come back, the first question will be on what terms. Will Moose seek a guaranteed three years, which he feels he’ll need to reach 300 wins? Will he accept a one- or two-year deal with options, perhaps of the vesting or mutual type? Or, most importantly, will he consider pitching anywhere but New York?

For all we know, though, we could be bidding adieu to a borderline Hall of Famer early next week. In either case, it has been a pleasure to have Moose on the mound for the past eight years. You know, except those few months in 2007.

Categories : Hot Stove League
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