Prospect Profile: Rob Segedin

(Photo Credit: Tulane University)

Rob Segedin | 3B

A semi-local kid, Segedin grew up a Yankees fan in Old Tappan, New Jersey. He attended Northern Valley Regional High School, where he lettered in baseball all four years. Segedin helped the Golden Knights to the county championship as a freshman, and the state sectional title as a junior while placing as the runner up as a sophomore and senior. As you can imagine, he racked up plenty of hardware, so let’s recap…

  • Owns the New Jersey state record with 181 career hits
  • All-League honors all four years
  • New Jersey Hitter of the Year as a junior and senior
  • First Team All-State as a junior and senior
  • First Team All-County as a junior and senior
  • Second Team All-County as a sophomore
  • Member of the National Honor Society

Segedin also played for the Bayside Yankees, a prestigious travel team whose alumni includes Jon Lester, Rocco Baldelli, Steve Karsay, Nick Hundley, John Lannan, and Pedro Alvarez. He helped them to the Premier National Baseball championship in 2006 and 2007, winning team MVP honors in ’06. Because that’s not enough, Segedin also served as his class vice president and graduated Magna Cum Laude.

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A quick no on Galarraga

(Duane Burleson/AP)

You don’t often see a team agree to a $2.3 million contract with a player only to DFA him a day later. But that’s what happened with the Tigers and Armando Galarraga. They avoided arbitration by signing him to the contract, and then designated him for assignment to make room for the newly acquired Brad Penny. That gives the Tigers 10 days to work a trade, and GM Dave Dombrowski is confident that he can do so. While he’ll certainly ring up Brian Cashman, he hopefully will not find a match.

All winter we’ve been exploring options for the back end of the Yankees bullpen, which currently comprises Ivan Nova and Sergio Mitre. Having Nova there can be a good thing. He gained big league experience last winter and he’s a decent prospect, so they might as well see what he can do. The issue is with Mitre, who, despite having played in the bigs for parts of seven seasons, has limited starting experience. In fact, we’re so desperate to get Mitre out of the picture that we’ve measured all external options by the BTM scale: Better Than Mitre. Unfortunately, Galarraga doesn’t necessarily fit that bill.

If Galarraga has one advantage over Mitre it’s experience. He has made 78 stats in his four big league seasons, while Mitre has made just 64. He has also pitched at least 143.2 innings in each of the last three years, while Mitre’s career high is 149 — and that came in 2007. That is the only reason I can see that Galarraga could potentially represent an upgrade. But in all other aspects the two are relative equals.

Galarraga 5.70 3.52 1.42 4.58 5.17
Mitre 5.38 2.96 1.10 5.27 4.72

Neither strikes out many batters, but at least Mitre mitigates that somewhat with a lower walk rate. Galarraga owns the better career ERA, due mostly to his flukey 2008 season. He’s clearly not that good, though he might not be quite as bad as his 2009 campaign. Mitre, on the other hand, has an ERA that far outpaces his FIP. Given the walks and the FIP I’d pick Mitre, but there is one more factor that has me certainly favoring him.

The most glaring number on the above table is home run rate. Galarraga’s 1.42 homers per nine rate is bad enough as is, but it looks much worse when you consider his home park. Comerica Park suppresses home runs, yet during the past three seasons only two pitchers have a worse homer rate. Now imagine him, a soft-tossing righty, facing David Ortiz at Yankee Stadium.

As the winter wears on and we pine for baseball, we’re going to explore any Yankees topic possible. A final starter is the foremost topic, and we’re going to explore every possible angle. (In fact, today or tomorrow we’ll have something on a name you haven’t yet heard.) But Armando Galarraga just doesn’t fit the Yankees needs. He’s a homer-prone soft-tossing righty who had one good season three years ago. Even then he greatly outperformed his horrible strikeout and home run rates. There is someone out there who can provide an upgrade to the rotation. Galarraga is not him.

The way to use Rafael Soriano

Yankee fans who came of age during the past four years could be forgiven if they don’t understand the concept of leverage situations for bullpen pitchers. Since the Yankees rushed a young Joba Chamberlain up to the Bronx in 2007 to fill the set-up role and had to force Joe Torre to use him carefully, the team has had a seemingly unhealthy obsession with The Eighth Inning™. Rafael Soriano‘s presence on the Yanks should change that.

The idea behind leverage differs a bit from the concept of a set-up man as the eighth inning pitcher. Major League managers will never get to the point of using their closers in high-leverage situations well before the ninth inning. Ideally, though, the best relievers will be used in the best situations. For instance, if the home team has a two-run lead in the 6th inning but their opponents have bases loaded and one man out with the top of their order up, the pitcher is facing a high-leverage situation. That’s not when a manager should call upon his third- or fourth-best pitcher even if the inning dictates it.

Often, though, we’ve seen Major League managers adhere too closely to the time of the game. Even if it’s not the eighth inning, the seventh inning middle relievers must pitch. If it’s not the ninth inning, the eighth inning guy but not the closer will make an appearance. Oftentimes, closers end up pitching in lower leverage situations than the lesser pitchers behind them on bullpen depth charts. Sometimes, those lesser pitchers blow the game, and the closers never even see action. Losing with the best pitcher sitting on the bench can be a frustrating experience indeed. Ask any Yankee fan who had to sit through Chad Gaudin pitching before Mariano Rivera last year.

For 2011, the Yankees can do something different with the bullpen. While I’m not enamored with the Rafael Soriano signing, he certainly makes the bullpen better and deeper. Now, we just have to hope Joe Girardi uses him correctly.

With Soriano around, the Yankees have two closers: one for the ninth inning and one for appropriate high leverage situations that pop up late in close games. Earlier today at The Yankee U, E.J. Fagan explored Soriano as a fireman. Instead of the traditional eighth-inning only set-up guy, the Yanks should use Soriano to put out fires. Fagan proposes the following three rules to guide Soriano’s appearances:

  1. In a close game, Soriano comes into innings 5-7 in any situation with the starter out (or gassed) with less than 2 outs, a runner on second or third base and a right-hander coming up to the plate.
  2. If no situation presents itself by the 8th inning, Soriano pitches the 8th inning.
  3. Against top lefty hitters with runners on base in a close game, Feliciano or Logan relieve Soriano. He stays with no runners on base and against most lefty hitters.

These rules may be too rigid. I’d amend the first one by urging the Yanks to use Soriano at any point during innings 5-7 when the pitcher — starter or reliever — is getting into trouble, and the Yanks need to get out of a typical jam. If the team is losing by a run and needs to keep the score close, Soriano should pitch as well. If the Yankees are in a position where a path to a victory requires one of their top relievers to get a few outs, Rafael Soriano is now the clear leader in the non-Mariano category of bullpen pitchers.

Rafael Soriano is, in a certain sense, an unnecessary luxury for the Yankees, and they might only have him for one year. But his presence on the team can help shorten games in a way we haven’t seen since 1996 when a young Rivera would hand the ball to John Wetteland over and over again. As Fagan wrote, “If they use Soriano the wrong way, they’re going to do a very good job taking a lead that they had at the beginning of the 8th inning and transferring it into a win. If they do it the way I am arguing for, they will do a much better job of taking a lead in the 6th inning and holding on for a win. That’s really what shortening a game is about.”

Open Thread: Taking care of business

(AP Photo/Kathy Willens)

The Yankees don’t have much more business left to take care of this offseason, aside from that whole starting pitcher thing of course. They signed their last three arbitration-eligible players today, and eventually the pre-arbitration guys will have their contracts renewed at something close to the league minimum. The Rafael Soriano signing is now official (according to a press release), and it seems like Andruw Jones will be in the fold soon enough. Otherwise, that’s pretty much it. They might look at some utility infielders, but I wouldn’t expect any major moves at all, even on the starting pitching side. All that’s left of the offseason is to just ride it out, sit around and wait for pitchers and catchers to report in about four weeks. The dog days of January are no fun.

Anyways, here is your open thread for the evening. Not one of the local hockey or basketball teams are playing tonight, which pretty much sucks. Talk about whatever your heart desires.

Joba Update: Joba Joba Joba

The trickle down effect of this Rafael Soriano signing is that now everyone’s talking about Joba Chamberlain and what his role should be going forward. We’re blogging like it’s 2008. Anyway, on Friday we found out that the Yankees are willing to trade Joba but only as part of a package for a “viable starter,” which I assume means someone better than Joe Blanton or Armando Galarraga. Of course most of us are wondering why they won’t just try him as a starter if they’re willing to trade him (as part of a package!) for one. Does not compute.

If the Yankees did want to give Joba another go in the rotation, they could send him down to Triple-A so that he could properly stretch out. He would need to pass through optional waivers to do that because of his service time situation (explained them here), but Keith Law spoke to a front office person who confirmed that players are never plucked off those kinds of waivers. They’re completely revocable, so even if some team did place a claim in on Joba, the Yankees could pull him right back. The point is that if they want to turn him back into a starter, they have several ways to go about it. Now it’s just a matter of deciding to actually do it.

The RAB Radio Show: January 18, 2010

The Yankees agreed to contracts with three arbitration-eligible players today. Boone Logan, Joba Chamberlain, and Phil Hughes are all under contract for 2011 at reasonable rates. Mike and I talk a bit about that, and a bit more about how the arbitration process affects the team.

Also, I’m sure we’ll find a day where we don’t talk about Rafael Soriano. Today is not that day.

Podcast run time 24:26

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