Vechionacci heads to Japan

Channeling his inner Jon Albaladejo, former Yankee farmhand Marcos Vechionacci has signed on with the Hanshin Tigers as an ikusei player according to NPB Tracker. An ikusei player is basically the Japanese equivalent of a minor league contract; you can learn all about it here.

Vech was once one of the Yankees’ most promising prospects (and also a personal fave), a switch-hitting shortstop/third baseman that put up a .373 wOBA across three levels as a 17-year-old. The Yanks rushed him up the ladder at a time when they needed trade chips, and it killed his development. Vechionacci enjoyed the best season of his career in 2010, wOBA’ing .350 as a 23-year-old corner infielder with Double-A Trenton, though he became a minor league free agent after the season. Good luck to him.

Yanks “quietly” closing in on a deal with Mariano Rivera

Via The Toronto Sun (h/t MLBTR), the Yankees are “quietly closing in” on a new deal with Mariano Rivera. It’ll pay the birthday boy $17M per season, but the team is unwilling to go beyond one year at this point. Earlier today we heard that negotiations are going well, and it sounds like this might be wrapped up very soon.

Update: Eh, looks like the hosers jumped the gun on this one. Brian Costa says the two sides will meet this week then again at the Winter Meetings next week, and the contract is expected to be finalized before the meetings come to an end. Got me all excited for nothing.

Feinsand: Rangers ‘reach out’ to Andy Pettitte

A 23-year-old Andy Pettitte delivers a pitch during Game 2 of the 1995 ALDS. (AP Photo/John Dunn)

A few weeks ago, as he adjusted to life back home after a physically taxing season, Andy Pettitte spoke of his uncertain future. Not sure if he wanted to pitch again in 2011, he said that if he were to take the mound again, it would be for only one more year. “At this point in my career, it’ll be New York or it’ll be nowhere for sure,” he added. That hasn’t stopped other teams from calling.

According to a report in The Daily News, Texas Rangers president Nolan Ryan has “reached out” to Andy Pettitte to see if “he could convince the veteran lefthander to pitch in his home state.” Neither Pettitte nor the Rangers have commented on the report.

So should we be worried? I don’t think so. Pettitte has been very explicit in stating his desire to pitch for the Yanks or to stay home. He tried the Houston gig a few years back and wound up in the Bronx again. I do think the Rangers are taking an obvious jab at the Yankees because they see New York at Cliff Lee’s next home. Why not make the Yanks sweat as they pursue Lee and try to re-sign their own free agents at the same time?

If anything, as Mark Feinsand notes, the Rangers’ interest might bump up Pettitte’s price tag a bit. He made $11.75 million in 2010, but due to concerns over Pettitte’s age and health, the Yanks were probably hoping to see that figure drop a bit. With other interest, Pettitte has the ever-important leverage — something that has, for instance, so far eluded Derek Jeter — and he could make the Yanks pay for it.

* * *

Update (10:00 p.m.): The Rangers have seemingly denied contacting Andy Pettitte,’s Bryan Hoch reported this evening. According to Hoch’s Rangers’ sources, “the only contact between Pettitte and the club was when the lefty called Ryan after the ALCS to congratulate him.” Take that for what you will.

Open Thread: 42 turns 41

Yesterday it was Jesus Montero, today it’s Mariano Rivera. The greatest relief pitcher in the history of humanity turns 41 years old today, and although he’s not technically a Yankee at the moment, we certainly expect him to be very soon. He simply belongs in pinstripes. Also happy birthday to another all-time great, Dodgers play-by-play announcer Vin Scully. The Bronx-born Scully turns 83 today, and like Mo he remains at the very top of his game late into his career. Happy birthday to a pair of baseball’s greatest.

Here’s your open thread for the night. The MNF game features the 49ers and Cardinals (holy snorefest), plus the Rangers are in action as well. You guys know the drill, so have at it.

Weekend Writer Update: The three of us are still pouring through the applications, I think there’s close to a hundred of them. We want to have this process wrapped up this week, but we’ve still got a ways to go. Stay tuned.

Thanks to RABer Tyler Wilkinson for the graphic.

For the AL runners-up, $110,302.97 each

Long after the playoffs are over, Major League Baseball totals up the gate receipt from the various postseason games — the first three LDS games of each series and the first four LCS and World Series games from each series — and distributes them to the victors. Each playoff team gets a share based upon how far they made it and the four second-place non-Wild Card teams share in the action as well. (I’m sure that’s a bittersweet reward for the Padres.)

Today, MLB announced the totals. While the Giants get a playoff pool of over $19 million and the Rangers took home $13 million, the Yanks’ players had to split $6.588 million amongst the club. Ultimately, the Yanks awarded 43 full shares of $110,302.97 each, 15.75 partial shares and one cash award. While that’s a far cry from the $365,000 World Series share the players enjoyed in 2009, that 100 grand isn’t a bad reward for losing the ALCS.

The RAB Radio Show: November 29, 2010

Phil Hughes is headed to arbitration for the first time. Mike provided an excellent write-up. We take it a bit further on the podcast, talking about all those tangential issues that don’t fit into an article proper.

Then we move onto the inevitable topic of every podcast from now until January: Derek Jeter. It’s not about his negotiations, per se — though we do invoke the reality potion — but rather about how Juan Uribe’s new three-year, $21 million contract affects the situation. Will Jeter think he’s worth triple Uribe? Will the Giants jump into the fold now that they don’t have a shortstop?

(No and no, but it’s a fun discussion.)

And then there’s Mo. Everything’s going fine with Mo. That’s nothing but good news.

Podcast run time 24:25

Here’s how you can listen to podcast:

  • Download the RAB Radio Show by right clicking on that link and choosing Save As.
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Intro music: “Smile” by Farmer’s Boulevard used under a Creative Commons license

Arbitration Case: Phil Hughes

Worst best night ever? (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

The Yankees have a few players eligible for arbitration this offseason, none more notable than first-timer Phil Hughes. After earning the league minimum or close to it over the last four seasons (or parts of them, anyway), Hughes will see his salary bump up into the seven figures this winter. How much exactly? Well let’s try to figure that out.

The entire arbitration process is pretty archaic, relying on old school stats that don’t tell the whole story to compare players with similar amounts of service time. Hughes will be compared to other pitchers when they hit arbitration for the first time, and his salary will be based on what they earned. Of course both the Yankees and Hughes want to avoid an arbitration hearing and agree to a contract beforehand, but his salary will still be determined in a similar manner.

Because of his 2010 season, Hughes has himself a damn fine arbitration case. He won 18 games and was an All Star, a huge feather in his cap. It’s basically irrelevant that he had the best run support in baseball even though it absolutely inflated that win total. The wins and All Star Game alone are enough to get him a substantial raise, but his other numbers stack up as well. I ran a B-Ref Play Index search to help dig up some similar pitchers, then picked out the best matches. As it turns out, Jeff Euston (the man behind Cot’s) published an article at Baseball Prospectus today (subs. req’d) looking at AL East arbitration cases, so that was helpful as well. Here’s who I came up with…

Those stats are leading up to each player’s first year of arbitration only; career stats don’t do us any good in this situation. I also ignored players that had signed contract extensions buying out their arbitration years because it skews the salary data, otherwise Randy Wolf, Gavin Floyd, Fausto Carmona, and Chris Young would have been included as well. For shame. The average salary in the player’s first year of arb and percent raise is a weighted average based on innings pitched. Nolasco’s relatively small workload will count less than Felix’s mammoth innings total; it’s only fair.

Garza might be the best overall comparison, though Capuano fits as well. Hughes’ strikeout rate is inflated a bit by his 2009 stint as a reliever; as a starter he’s got a 7.3 K/9 in his career, right on par with just about everyone else listed. If we apply that 684.4% raise to Phil’s 2010 salary of $447,000, he’s looking at a 2011 salary of $3,264,588. If we remove Felix since he’s clearly a notch above the other guys, it’s a 679.5% average raise and a projected $3,241,215 salary for Hughes next year. It’s a negligible difference as far as we’re concerned. Remember though, Phil’s got that All Star berth on his resume, something only two guys from the above table (Verlander and Capuano (naturally)) had at the time. That could push Hughes’ salary up towards $3.5M, and that’s a damn fine estimate of what he’ll be paid next season.

One thing is for sure, I had been grossly underestimating Phil Hughes’ earning potential. I had been under the assumption that he’d get a deal worth $2M or so for next season, maybe $2.5M if the Yankees were feeling charitable because I was ignorant to the comparables. He’s going to blow right by that amount and land a contract around three-and-a-half million bones, quite the payday for a 24 year old and a decent dent in the team’s bottom line.