Saturday: Hope you enjoyed your Saturday, everyone. Here’s the nightly open thread. The Cardinals and Red Sox play Game Three of the World Series at 8pm ET on FOX (Joe Kelly vs. Jake Peavy) plus all three hockey locals are in action. I’m sure there’s college football on somewhere as well. Talk about anything here. Go nuts.
Sunday: I’m going to take the easy way out a repurpose last night’s thread tonight. The Cardinals and Red Sox are playing Game Three at 8pm ET of FOX (Lance Lynn vs. Clay Buchholz) and the late NFL fame is the Packers and Vikings. That’s pretty much it. Enjoy the evening.
First, two quick notes courtesy of Matt Eddy:
- UTIL Addison Maruszak has been sent to the Arizona Fall League to replace OF Tyler Austin, who was pulled from the league after his wrist starting flaring up again. It was originally reported a player from another organization would replace Austin, but I guess not.
- The Yankees have re-signing IF Carmen Angelini to a minor league contract. Injuries limited the former $1M bonus baby to only nine games from 2010-2012. He resurfaced to post a 133 wRC+ in 32 games for High-A Tampa this year, but only managed a 73 wRC+ following a promotion to Double-A Trenton.
Now, updates on the various winter ball action:
Arizona Fall League
- OF Tyler Austin: 4 G, 4-12, 2 R, 1 3B, 3 RBI, 2 BB, 1 K, 1 HBP (.333/.438/.500) — he is indeed done for the year
- C/3B Peter O’Brien: 9 G, 6-36, 4 R, 3 HR, 5 RBI, 2 BB, 13 K (.167/.211/.417) — between the regular season and AzFL, he’s at 147 strikeouts in 483 plate appearances (30.4%)
- OF Mason Williams: 11 G, 12-46, 6 R, 3 2B, 2 RBI, 5 BB, 7 K, 2 SB, 1 CS (.261/.333/.326)
- RHP Brett Gerritse: 5 G, 7.1 IP, 6 G, 5 R, 5 ER, 5 BB, 9 K, 1 WP (6.14 ERA, 1.50 WHIP)
- LHP Fred Lewis: 6 G, 6.1 IP, 5 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 5 BB, 7 K, 1 WP (0.00 ERA, 1.58 WHIP)
- LHP Vidal Nuno: 3 G, 3 GS, 10.2 IP, 14 H, 8 R, 6 ER, 1 BB, 9 K, 1 HR (5.06 ERA, 1.41 WHIP) — results aren’t terribly important, he just needs to make up some of the innings he lost due to groin injury
- LHP James Pazos: 5 G, 4.2 IP, 3 H, 3 R, 0 ER, 4 BB, 7 K (0.00 ERA, 1.50 WHIP)
Via Joel Sherman: MLB and NPB are close to finalizing an agreement that will change the posting system. We first heard changes were in the works last month. A single team will still win the player’s negotiating rights, but the player may now be allowed to pick his destination from the top two or three bidders. The system is expected to be in place by November 1st.
The Yankees “are going to be serious players” for Japanese right-hander Masahiro Tanaka — they’re reportedly in the mix for the South Korean right-hander Seung-Hwan Oh as well — and he figures to be the first to use the new posting system. The changes are designed to help keep posting fees down and give the player some freedom to pick his new team. Maybe the new system will save New York a few bucks if they manage to land Tanaka, but the posting fee doesn’t count towards the luxury tax anyway. Only the contract will. · (23) ·
Happy Friday everyone. Today’s a travel day for the World Series, so there’s no baseball tonight. The Islanders, Knicks, and Nets are playing, however. Other than that, you’re on your own for entertainment. Have at it.
For the second straight year, Robinson Cano is one of three finalists for the AL Gold Glove Award at second base. It’s between him and AL East rivals Dustin Pedroia and Ben Zobrist. Robbie wound up winning the award over Pedroia and Dustin Ackley last season. It was his second Gold Glove after winning his first in 2010.
No other Yankees are finalists for Gold Gloves. All of the finalists are here. Brett Gardner was the team’s only other legitimate Gold Glove candidate and while I thought he was very good in center field this year, I didn’t think he was elite like he was in left field the past few years. The defensive stats back that up but one year of defensive stats yadda yadda yadda. It wouldn’t have been a crime to list among the three finalists though. Oh well. The winners will be announced at 8pm ET on Tuesday as part of some big ESPN2 broadcast. · (3) ·
The 2013 season is over and now it’s time to review all aspects of the year that was, continuing today with the poster boy for the Yankees’ recent player development failures.
Man, these last six years and two months did not go according to plan for the Yankees and Joba Chamberlain. Not at all. He was supposed to be the future of the pitching staff, the hard-throwing strikeout machine who chewed up innings and was the New York version of Michael Wacha or Jose Fernandez or whoever is the young pitcher flavor of the week. Things didn’t go according to plan — not even remotely close, really — and Joba’s final season in pinstripes was a nightmare.
After returning from Tommy John surgery in the second half last year, Chamberlain struggled for a few weeks but closed out the season very well, creating some optimism that he would get back to his pre-elbow reconstruction form the further he got away from surgery. He opened 2013 in the seventh inning setup role behind Mariano Rivera and David Robertson but ahead of Shawn Kelley on the reliever depth chart. The Red Sox pounded Joba to three runs in two-thirds of an inning on Opening Day, but he followed by allowing just one run in his final 8.2 innings and nine appearances of the month.
Joba’s season was put on hold on April 27th, when he suffered a right oblique strain in the team’s 23rd game of the season. He apparently suffered the injury while filling in at closer during a game in which Robertson and Rivera were unavailable:
It was a cardiac save, no doubt about it. The oblique injury sidelined him for a month.
By the time Chamberlain returned from the DL, Kelley had begun to establish himself as the team’s go-to seventh inning reliever. Joba got his old job back but in his second appearance following the injury, he turned a 4-0 lead into a 4-3 lead in the span of two-thirds of an inning against the Indians. A three-run homer by Drew Stubbs did the trick. Boone Logan came in to finish the frame and Joe Girardi relegated Joba to lower leverage work for the time being.
In twelve appearances and eleven innings between the meltdown against the Tribe and the All-Star break — only two of those 12 appearances came with the Yankees leading, both times by seven (!) runs — Chamberlain allowed seven runs on 16 hits (three homers) and five walks. That’s a 5.73 ERA and 5.78 FIP. Opponents hit .333/.407/.542 against him during that time, pretty close to what Mike Trout hit this summer (.323/.432/.557). Joba turned everyone he faced into the best player in the world during a five-week stretch this season. Geez.
That game against the Indians was the last time Girardi used Chamberlain in a truly important situation. He made 20 appearances in the second half and only six times was the game separated by fewer than three runs. Two of those six were extra-inning games, last arm in the bullpen stuff. Only four of those 20 appearances came in games the Yankees were leading — twice by seven runs, once by four runs, and once by three runs. The three-run lead came in Game 160, after the Bombers had been eliminated from postseason contention.
Following the All-Star break, Joba’s average Leverage Index when entering the game was 0.57. That ranked 220th out of 245 relievers to throw at least ten innings in the second half. Girardi didn’t trust him and rightfully so, but for whatever reason, he used Chamberlain in what was then the team’s most important game of the season, on September 19th against the Blue Jays. The Yankees were three games back of the second wildcard spot in the loss column and were down two runs in the seventh inning against Toronto. Joba faced three batters and allowed a walk, a single, and a three-run homer. Just like that, the two-run deficit in a hugely important game became a five-run deficit.
That disaster against the Blue Jays wound up being Joba’s second to last appearance with the team. He finished the season with a 4.93 ERA (5.64 FIP) in 42 innings, and he also left an extra bad taste in everyone’s mouth when he told Rivera not to “shush” him while talking to his family during a road trip to Kansas City in May. Joba reportedly apologized and Mo played it off as no big deal, but still. It was not exactly appropriate.
Chamberlain will leave the Yankees via free agency this winter with a 3.85 ERA (3.83 FIP) in 444.2 career innings. I don’t think they’ll bring him back under any circumstances, not even on a minor league contract. At this point, I think it’s clear Joba’s failure to fulfill his so obviously enormous potential has more to do with him not putting in the necessary work — showing up to Spring Training overweight on more than one occasion is evidence of that — than the team jerking him around, but they didn’t exactly help matters either. Both share some of the blame, but after six years, the last four in the same role, most of it falls on the player. Joba will be some other team’s problem now. The disastrous 2013 season was a fitting end to a disappointing tenure in New York.
Sorry for ending the chat so abruptly, but ScribbleLive was having some technical issues.
Via Jon Heyman: Impending free agent outfielder Shin-Soo Choo is among the players the Yankees have on their radar for the upcoming offseason. Outfield help is below some other positions (pitching, third base, shortstop, catcher) on their priority list but they will look for upgrades, says Heyman. Makes sense.
Choo, 31, hit .285/.423/.462 (151 wRC+) with 21 homers and 20 steals in a career-high 712 plate appearances for the Reds while being miscast as a center fielder this summer. He is not without his flaws, most notably below-average defense (even in right) and a general inability to hit lefties (83 wRC+ since 2011). Injury concerns have subsided after back-to-back seasons of 150+ games and four of at least 140 games in the last five years. The fit is very obvious for the Yankees even with the defense and southpaw problems.
The Reds will surely make Choo a qualifying offer, so he’ll cost a draft pick to sign. That doesn’t really bother me for a player of this caliber though. The FanGraphs crowdsourcing — which was surprisingly accurate last year — peg Choo for a five-year, $80M-ish contract, which actually seems a little light to me, especially after Hunter Pence got five years and $90M. If the Yankees are going to hand out a big contract to a non-Robinson Cano player this winter, I’d rather see it go to a catcher and/or a starting pitcher. There appears to be a decent amount of short-term outfield help available (Carlos Beltran? David Murphy?). · (31) ·
Five questions this week, including some long-ish ones. By know you should know how to contact us, but if not, the Submit A Tip box in the sidebar is the way to go. Send us mailbag questions or anything else that way.
Many asked: What about Brandon Phillips?
Lots of questions about Phillips this week after it was reported the Reds are looking to move him and get out from under his contract. Apparently he’s run his mouth — he called his recent contract extension a “slap in the face” in light of Joey Votto’s extension — a few too many times and has worn out his welcome.
Anyway, the 32-year-old Phillips hit .261/.310/.396 (91 wRC+) with 18 homers and five stolen bases this summer, his worst offensive season in five years. His defense at second base remains very good, among the best in baseball, but the bat is starting to slow down just a bit. Here is a rather troubling graph:
That is what amounts to a seven-year decline in ISO. Yeah, he did rebound a whole two points from 2010 to 2011, but that’s negligible in my opinion. Two points of ISO is one extra base every 500 at-bats, so yeah, negligible. Phillips has hit 18 homers in four straight years — I mean exactly 18 homers, kinda weird — but his doubles and triples are coming down. So are his stolen bases — this was the first full season in his career he didn’t swipe at least 14 bags — so maybe the power drop isn’t so much as a “not hitting the ball hard” thing as it is a “not fast enough to take that extra base on balls hit into the gap anymore” thing.
Either way, Phillips is 32 years old and he has another $50M coming to him over the next four years. That’s a lot of money for a player with very clear signs of decline. If Robinson Cano were to leave as a free agent — pretty much the only scenario in which I would even entertain the idea of acquiring Phillips — I’d still scour the trade market for a short-term stopgap than take on that contract. Phillips is more name than production right now and the Yankees have too much of that as it is.
Wilbur asks: What kind of contract would it take to keep Boone Logan in pinstripes? He’s made it clear he wants to re-sign with the Yankees and he’ll be coming off surgery to remove bone spurs, which’ll drive the price down (but also raises the question of do the Yankees even want him?).
Logan had surgery a few weeks ago and is expected to start throwing in January and be ready in time for the Spring Training. It sounds like a minor procedure but there’s really no such thing. There’s risk anytime you cut into pitcher’s elbow. CC Sabathia had a similar surgery last winter and after the awful season he just had, it’s fair to wonder if the elbow cleanup had something to do with it.
As for Logan, the market for top left-handed relievers if pretty well established. On the low-end you’ve got Sean Burnett (two years, $8M), on the high-end you’ve got Scott Downs (three years, $15M), and in the middle you have Damaso Marte (two years, $12M). Logan is several years younger than Marte and Downs were when they got their contracts and roughly the same age as Burnett when he got his. Burnett had much greater injury concerns though, much much greater. In this free agent-friendly market, I think Logan should be able to pull down Marte’s contract without much of a problem and maybe even land Downs’. Do the Yankees want him back? I don’t know. Lefty specialist seems like an easy spot to save money with payroll coming down though.
Patrick asks: The only reliever I have any interest in is Brian Wilson. How many years and millions do you think he’ll get?
Wilson, 31, joined the Dodgers in August and quickly became their setup man, allowing just one run on twelve hits and six walks in 19.2 innings between the regular season and postseason. He struck out 21 (28.8%) and got 28 ground balls (60.9%). Wilson showed his usual pre-injury stuff — a nasty mid-90s two-seamer and an upper-80s slider — so that was one hell of a late season audition following elbow surgery. He was damn impressive with Los Angeles.
With Wilson, it’s necessary to look beyond the ridiculous beard and (intentionally?) insufferable personality. The Yankees need to add a late-inning arm to replace Mariano Rivera — they’re losing an elite reliever either way, regardless of whether David Robertson takes over as closer or stays in the eighth — and Wilson is close to the perfect candidate. He’s got power stuff and he misses bats, he’s got big game and World Series experience, and he’s an off the charts competitor. This is a guy who pitched through a torn elbow ligament for a while and worked his way back from not one, but two Tommy John surgeries. You don’t do that without being a determined and generally tough dude, both mentally and physically.
It’s tough to figure out what kind of contract Wilson will get this winter given his situation. He’s a not all that old formerly elite closer who has thrown fewer than 20 innings following his second elbow reconstruction. I’d call that unique. The Rangers gave Joakim Soria two years and$8M last winter as he was coming off his second Tommy John surgery, but he was not expected back until midseason. Wilson is obviously ready to go. Joe Nathan got two years and $14.5M one year removed from Tommy John surgery after 2011. If the Yankees could get Wilson for something between those two deals, say two years and $12M, I’d definitely do it. Forget the beard and the Taco Bell commercials, he’s a great fit for New York’s bullpen needs if the medicals check out and they can get him at a reasonable price.
Dan asks: MLBTR is reporting that the Royals might make Billy Butler available. He’s owed $8M in 2014 with a $12.5M club option in 2015. I know the last thing the Yankee need is a 1B/DH but would you consider him to DH and provide backup in case Mark Teixeira re-injures the wrist?
First things first: If the Royals are indeed making Butler available, they probably want something big in return. I doubt they’re going to trade their second best hitter for a prospect or two after having the franchise’s best season in 19 years. If they trade him, it’ll be a win now type of move, perhaps for a starting pitcher. The Yankees don’t really match up well with Kansas City. But, for the sake of argument, let’s assume they do.
I am not all that interested in seeing the team spend even a moderate amount of bucks on the DH spot, and that’s what Butler is. He can fake first base during interleague play and that’s pretty much it. He’s awful defensively and he doesn’t hit for much power either. After hitting 29 homers in 2012, he dropped back down to 15 this year, in line with his 2008-2011 totals. He is a high-average, high-on-base guy and that’s very valuable, but the Yankees wouldn’t be acquiring David Ortiz here.
Spending $8M (and then $12.5M in 2014) for position-less, just-okay-power DH isn’t something they need to do in my opinion. They have so many other holes — more important holes like catcher and the left side of the infield and the rotation — that using a good amount of resources (both into terms of players traded away and then salary) to go after Butler doesn’t make much sense to me. He would make the team better next year, no doubt, but at a high cost that would limit their ability to make moves elsewhere. The Yankees could use a hitter like Butler, but they can’t ignore positional needs.
Kevin asks: If there is a weak draft and the next draft is projected to be loaded, do teams intentionally draft somebody they know they aren’t going to sign to essentially trade the pick in the weaker draft for another pick next year?
No, never. The only team who has something of a history of not signing top picks since the compensation system was put in place is the Blue Jays and that obviously hasn’t gotten them very far. Most scouting directors (and GMs) know they might not be around to make that pick next year if they intentionally do not sign a first rounder. The prospect now is always more valuable than the pick later. Always. Plus it’s impossible to judge the quality of the draft class a year in advance, so very much can change. Every club would rather make the pick now and get the player into their system as soon as possible. Waiting a year delays everything, including the ability to use that player in a trade to improve the big league. It’s a very, very risky strategy. There is always high-end talent available in the first round, you just have to find it.
I was talking to someone recently about the best World Series we’ve seen, and I said 2001 even though the Yankees lost. Frankly, the Yankees had no business winning that series — they were outscored 37-14 (!) in the seven games — yet they had a lead with two outs to go in Game Seven. It took two dramatic game-tying homers (like the one you see above) to make that series interesting and they’re part of the reason why it was so exciting. That series was insane. Took bad the outcome couldn’t be different.
Anyway, here is tonight’s open thread. The Red Sox and Cardinals are playing Game Two of this year’s World Series at 8pm on FOX (John Lackey vs. Michael Wacha), and the Thursday NFL Game is the Panthers at the Buccaneers. Yuck. The Devils and Rangers are both playing as well. Talk about any of those games and more. Go nuts.