Archive for Oliver Perez

Despite their recent stretch of poor play (putting it nicely), the Yankees remain in the postseason hunt because every other team stinks too. The AL East is especially bad. The Yankees have lost nine of their last eleven games yet they remain 4.5 games back of the division lead with 79 games to play. They’re five games back of the second wildcard spot. Those deficits are far from insurmountable at this point of the summer, but they will need help to get back into the race and fast.

Because so many teams are within striking distance of a playoff berth, there aren’t many sellers out there this time of the year. One club that has at least acknowledged the likelihood of selling is the Diamondbacks, who come into today with the worst record in baseball at 35-41. “Based on the last couple of years of being a .500 club and this year with the injuries we have and our record, we have to look at being more open-minded of moving some contracts and some veteran players for younger players,” said GM Kevin Towers to Nick Piecoro recently.

Towers spent a year in the Yankees front office and he is reportedly very close friends with Brian Cashman, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it will be easier to make a trade. They’ve gotten together for eleven trades over the years and most are very minor, Bernie Castro for Kevin Reese stuff. Their most recent sweep was Juan Miranda for Scottie Allen in November 2010, their most notable swap probably D’Angelo Jimenez for Jay Witasick in June 2011. Let’s see what pitchers Arizona can offer the Yankees in the coming weeks. Tomorrow Next week we’ll tackle the position players.

(Denis Poroy/Getty)

(Denis Poroy/Getty)

RHP Brandon McCarthy
The 30-year-old McCarthy is a sabermetrics darling, and you really need to be open-minded to look beyond his 2-10 record and 5.11 ERA. He also owns a 7-21 record with a 4.78 ERA since signing with the D’Backs prior to last year. High school Mike Axisa would have said no way to McCarthy based on that.

Behind the record and ERA are some promising core pitching skills, however. McCarthy has a 3.81 FIP during his two years in the desert and this season it’s a 3.88 FIP with his best strikeout (7.53 K/9 and 19.7 K%) and ground ball (55.6%) rates in years. He also never walks anyone (1.56 BB/9 and 4.1 BB%). During his resurgent “hey this guy is a good pitcher now” years with the Athletics from 2011-12, McCarthy had a 3.22 FIP, a 6.26 K/9 (16.9 K%), a 1.57 BB/9 (4.2 BB%), and a 44.3% ground ball rate.

The biggest difference between Oakland McCarthy and Arizona McCarthy is the long ball — he had a 0.69 HR/9 (7.1 HR/FB%) with the A’s and has a 1.05 HR/9 (14.4 HR/FB%) with the D’Backs. A lot of that is the difference in ballparks. The O.co Coliseum is a tough place to hit homers and Chase Field is not. It’s pretty simple. McCarthy has compensated for the less friendly home park by throwing more sinking fastballs and staying away from his cutter. Here is the breakdown of his arsenal:

Four-Seam Sinker Cutter Curveball Changeup
Avg. Velocity 95.0 94.1 92.1 82.3 88.6
% Thrown 6.8% 54.5% 10.9% 25.7% 1.4%
Whiff+ 334 133 98 94 0
GB+ 81 125 103 104 42

The changeup is just a show-me pitch and because McCarthy throws so few four-seam fastballs, I wouldn’t get too excited about that astronomical swing-and-miss rate. (Whiff+ and GB+ are like ERA+, but with swing-and-miss and ground ball rates for individual pitches.) The sinker is clearly his bread-and-butter and it’s an above-average pitch both in terms of getting whiffs and ground balls. Is a guy who relies so heavily on his sinker a good fit for the Yankees’ infield defense?

The biggest concern with McCarthy, by far, is his injury history. He has stayed healthy this season but has otherwise visited the disabled list with a shoulder problem at least once every year from 2007-13. Only once since 2006 has McCarthy thrown more 135 innings in a season (180.2 in in 2011) and this year he is already at 104 innings. Maybe he’ll stay healthy, but, given his history, you have to think a disabled list stint is coming at some point.

McCarthy is owed approximately $5.1M through the end of the season and will become a free agent this winter, so he’s a pure rental. The fact that he limits walks, keeps the ball on the ground, and is familiar with pitching in a hitter’s park are pluses. The below league average strikeout rate (remember, he’s facing pitchers too) and scary injury history are negatives. McCarthy is an upgrade over Vidal Nuno (and Chase Whitley) and would probably come cheaper than Jason Hammel, another mid-rotation guy with injury issues.

Miley. (Denis Poroy/Getty)

Miley. (Denis Poroy/Getty)

LHP Wade Miley
Unlike McCarthy, Miley would not be a rental pickup. The 27-year-old is in his third pre-arbitration year and will remain under team control as an arbitration-eligible player through 2017. Usually rebuilding clubs don’t trade a guy like that, but Buster Olney (subs. req’d) recently mentioned many teams are looking to land Doug Fister types — unheralded but effective pitchers with years of control remaining. (The Tigers stole Fister from the Mariners when he was in his second pre-arbitration year.) Miley may fit that bill.

Through 18 starts and 113.1 innings this season, Miley has a 4.61 ERA (4.13 FIP). He posted a 3.33 ERA (3.15 FIP) during his first full season in 2012 and followed it up with a 3.55 ERA (3.98 FIP) in 2013, so he is trending in the wrong direction. Miley’s strikeout rate (8.42 K/9 and 22.5 K%) is a career best and both his walk (2.70 BB/9 and 7.2 BB%) and ground ball rates (48.0%) are right at his career norms, so the problem has been the homerun. He went from 0.65 HR/9 (6.9 HR/FB%) in 2012 to 0.93 HR/9 (12.5 HR/FB%) in 2013 to 1.35 HR/9 (16.8 HR/FB%) this year. When he misses his spot, it tends to get hit a long way.

Miley has been very durable throughout his career, throwing 190+ innings in each of the last two seasons and at least 150 innings every year since 2010, when he was just a kid in A-ball. He has all but shelved his curveball this year — it was his top secondary pitch during his excellent rookie campaign two years ago — and is now more of a slider guy. Here is his pitch breakdown:

Four-Seam Sinker Curveball Slider Changeup
Avg. Velocity 91.3 90.9 77.4 84.6 82.6
% Thrown 31.7% 31.9% 1.1% 24.5% 10.6%
Whiff+ 64 150 50 123 119
GB+ 111 107 103 132 63

The curveball is a non-factor but otherwise Miley uses two fastballs interchangeably and has a well-above-average slider in terms of getting both swings and misses and ground balls. That pitch is why he’s in the big leagues and why left-handed batters have mustered only a 2.88 wOBA against him in his career. Like Fister, there’s nothing flashy about Miley’s pitch mix, no huge fastball or anything like that, but he has four distinct pitches and can make the ball move. Add in his durability and left-handedness and you’ve got a guy who figures to spend a very long time in the league.

The original Fister trade is not the perfect deal to reference because he had one extra year of team control, but it can give us something of an idea of what it would take to land Miley. The Tigers sent four players to Seattle for Fister (and replacement level reliever David Pauley):

  1. Third baseman Francisco Martinez, who was in Double-A at the time and considered the fourth best prospect in Detroit’s system by Baseball America.
  2. Left-hander Charlie Furbush, who had made his MLB debut earlier that season and been ranked as the team’s 26th best prospect in Baseball America.
  3. Right-hander Chance Ruffin, who was Detroit’s supplemental first round pick the previous year. He actually zoomed to the big leagues and made his debut with the Tigers right before the trade.
  4. Platoon outfielder Casper Wells, who had about a year in MLB at the time.

In hindsight, the Tigers gave up very little. Furbush has settled in as quality left-handed reliever but Martinez, Wells, and Ruffin all flamed out. At the time though? Wowza. Detroit traded one of their top prospects, their supplemental first round pick from the year before, plus two cheap and potentially useful MLB pieces. Imagine if the Yankees were to trade, say, Greg Bird, Ian Clarkin, Jose Ramirez, and Zoilo Almonte for someone like Miley. Fans would probably riot. That’s not an unreasonable package though.

Miley’s increasing propensity to give up the long ball is a definite concern, but there is plenty to like here. He’s young, he’s under team control for three more years, he’s never been hurt, he’s left-handed, and he has a true starter’s repertoire. Miley is essentially a finished product — yes, I know every player is always looking to improve, but it’s not like they have to teach him a changeup or something — the Yankees could just plug into the rotation and let him go. Even if you think the Yankees have no business being buyers at the deadline, this is someone they should consider acquiring anyway because he’ll also be able to help in the coming years.

Reed. (Dustin Bradford/Getty)

Reed. (Dustin Bradford/Getty)

Miscellaneous Relievers
Every team can use another reliever, including the Yankees. They’ve had to ride Dellin Betances and Adam Warren pretty hard in recent weeks, partly because Shawn Kelley has been shaky as hell since coming off the disabled list. Closer Addison Reed (4.15 ERA And 4.57 FIP) has been amazingly homer prone (2.08 HR/9 and 18.2 HR/FB%), which is not exactly a good quality for a late-inning reliever. Brad Ziegler (2.34 ERA and 3.52 FIP) is a sinker and ground ball machine (67.2%) who needs a good infield defense to be not awful. Both Oliver Perez (.302 wOBA) and Joe Thatcher (.285 wOBA) are serviceable matchup lefties.

Ziegler ($5M) and Perez ($2.5M) are both already under contract for next season while Reed is in his final pre-arbitration year. His arbitration raises figure to be significant because he’ll finish the year with 100+ career saves, significant enough that he might be a non-tender candidate as soon as this winter. Thatcher will be a free agent after the season. Meh. Not really much to see here.

* * *

The rest of Arizona’s pitching staff is pretty unappealing. Bronson Arroyo is currently on the disabled list with an elbow injury and others like Josh Collmenter, Mike Bolsinger, and Chase Anderson barely move the needle. Trevor Cahill was so bad that he’s currently pitching (not particularly well, either) in the minors. If the D’Backs had more good pitchers, they’d be winning more games.

I think McCarthy is a lock to be traded before the deadline for pretty obvious reasons. He makes good money and he’ll be a free agent after the season. That’s exactly the type of player a bad team moves at the deadline. Miley is a different situation though — the D’Backs won’t have any trouble holding onto him if they don’t get an offer they like. The Yankees or any other team would have to pry him loose. Both he and McCarthy make some sense for New York if they’re serious about adding help before the deadline and making a run at a postseason berth.

Categories : Trade Deadline
Comments (78)

Got five questions this week, basically half of the last few mailbags. Remember to use the Submit A Tip box in the sidebar to send us anything and everything.

(Jared Wickerham/Getty)

(Jared Wickerham/Getty)

Jamie asks: Rather than the six-man rotation idea that always gets floated but never implemented, would the Yankees be best served limiting CC Sabathia and Hiroki Kuroda‘s workloads to 6-7 IP per start max and giving them a middle relief caddy like David Phelps?

Yes, I think so. Sabathia and Kuroda have averaged 6.93 and 6.48 innings per start with the Yankees, respectively, which is rather high. The Yankees have talked about reducing the workload on both guys recently and the easiest way to do that might be to treat them as six inning starters rather than seven inning starters. Phelps and Adam Warren would be obvious caddy candidates since they could throw two or three innings at a time out of the bullpen as middle/setup relievers rather than true long men. Sorta like mini-1996 Mariano Riveras. They could be kept on a somewhat regular schedule to make life a little easier as well.

The caddy system sounds great in theory but it would be tough to pull off if the other five relievers are regular one-inning guys. The Yankees would also need another veteran starter so they could stash Phelps and Warren in the bullpen full-time, and it doesn’t seem like they’re eager to add one. I really like the idea of having middle relievers who are used for multiple innings at a time, but no one ever does it though. The 2009 version of Al Aceves is a rarity these days.

Bill asks: Why has there been so little speculation about moving Derek Jeter to third base? It seems like the perfect answer to the third base problem and gets Ryan to short stop where his defensive skills would shine.

The snarky answer is that Jeter is Jeter and he’ll play shortstop for the Yankees until he says he doesn’t want to do it anymore, but I do think there are legitimate reasons for not making the move right now. He is coming back from some rather serious leg injuries and just starting taking ground balls on the dirt this week, so he is not particularly close to being in game shape right now. Jeter has never played a position other than shortstop in 22 professional seasons and third base would be an entirely new experience because the ball gets on you so quick at the hot corner. There would be a learning curve, perhaps a steep one, and asking him to change positions as he works his way back from major leg injuries might be too much for a 39-year-old. If he was perfectly healthy and able to start working out at third early in the offseason, it would make sense. Asking Jeter to go through a crash course at a different position following those injuries probably isn’t realistic.

Pedro asks: What do you think about Oliver Perez?

Time for the Pitcher A vs. Pitcher B game. Everyone loves this, right? Good. Here we go:

IP ERA FIP K% BB% GB% HR/FB RHB wOBA LHB wOBA
Pitcher A 53.0 3.74 3.26 32.3% 11.4% 30.6% 9.8% 0.335 0.304
Pitcher B 53.1 4.39 3.63 31.3% 10.1% 33.1% 13.1% 0.308 0.329

You’re smart, you know one of those guys is Perez. He’s Pitcher A. But what about Pitcher B? He is Perez’s former Mariners teammate and current Yankees setup man Shawn Kelley. Perez and Kelley had almost identical seasons in 2013 — kinda freaky, no? — with the only differences being handedness and ballpark-effected homerun rates (which is why Kelley had a higher ERA and FIP). Could the Yankees use a left-handed version of Kelley? Sure. It wouldn’t hurt given the current state of the bullpen. I don’t know what an appropriate contract would be though. Scott Downs got a one-year deal worth $4M and I’m not sure I’d go any higher than that for Perez.

Mark asks: Do you have an overlay of the new Stadium on top of the old Stadium to see the subtle differences? Also, I know the minor league stadium in Tampa has the same dimensions as Yankee Stadium, but do the AA and AAA ballparks have them too? Wouldn’t it just make sense?

I thought I would be able to create the overlay at Hit Tracker, but they only have the new Yankee Stadium. Here’s an overlay I found on something called The Illuminatus Observor via Google Images:

Yankee Stadium Overlay

As you know, the biggest difference is in straight-away right field, where the new wall is as much as nine feet closer than the old one at some points. George M. Steinbrenner Field in Tampa has the same dimensions as the old Stadium, not the new one. It hasn’t been modified since the new park went up. The various minor league affiliate ballparks all have their own unique dimensions:

Level Ballpark LF L-CF CF R-CF RF
Triple-A PNC Field 330 371 408 371 330
Double-A Arm & Hammer Park 330 ? 407 ? 330
High-A George M. Steinbrenner Field 318 399 408 385 314
Low-A Joseph P. Riley Jr. Park 305 356 398 366 337
Short Season Richmond County Bank Ballpark 320 ? 390 ? 318

I wrote about the four full season ballparks back in June 2011. They’re all slight pitcher’s parks overall except for GMS Field in Tampa, which is neutral compared to the rest of the Florida State League. All of those parks suppress homeruns though, extremely so in some cases. Arm & Hammer Park is right on the Delaware River and the wind makes it very tough to hit the ball out of the park to right field.

The Yankees don’t actually own any of the minor league parks — they operate GMS Field but it is owned by the Tampa Sports Authority — so modifying the dimensions to match the new Yankee Stadium isn’t a simple *snaps fingers* “okay let’s do this” thing. The Triple-A, Double-A, and Low-A ballparks were all built long before those franchises became affiliated with the Yankees. It would be neat if every minor league park matched the big league park’s dimensions, but it’s not realistic or even essential as far as I’m concerned.

David asks: Which Yankees have no-trade clauses in their deal? Am I right that it’s more than any other team? How big a problem do you think this obviously less than ideal practice is?

Here’s the full list of Yankees with some kind of no-trade clause:

I haven’t seen anything about Kuroda having a no-trade clause in his current contract, but he had one in his last two deals and I assume he has one again. That’s ten 40-man roster players and nine who are expected to be on the Opening Day roster who can’t be traded without their permissions. That’s a lot. The Yankees are pretty liberal with no-trade clauses and I wonder how often that has given them an advantage in free agent talks when the offers are similar financially. Some other teams completely refuse to give out no-trade clauses.

Obviously no-trade clauses hinder flexibility and it would be awesome if no player had one, but the Yankees are in a different situation than most teams. They always try to contend and add big name players, not trade them away. How bad would things have to get for them to even consider dealing Ellsbury or Tanaka, for example? It’s not like some team is going to offer a cheap, young superstar for either of those guys, so the no-trade clause rarely comes into play anyway.

Categories : Mailbag
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Via Jon Heyman, the Yankees have some interest in Oliver Perez and have internally discussed bringing him aboard as a cheap sign. It can’t get any cheaper; whatever team signs Perez would only have to pay him the pro-rated portion of the league minimum. Little brother in Flushing is on the hook for basically all of his $12M salary this year.

I always say there’s no harm in a minor league contract/league minimum big league contract, but I understand if it’s tough to see any upside here. Perez, even though he’s still just 29, is done, like done done. He’s been throwing 85 mph nothingballs in camp the last few weeks, and the last time his FIP even approached the league average was 2007. There’s very little to like here; at least Bartolo Colon is showing something this spring. Heyman says that Brian Cashman isn’t terribly enthused by Ollie, and let’s hope his superiors feel the same way.

Categories : Asides
Comments (45)
Jan
04

Kevin Kernan’s Sunday humor

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While we don’t often link to the New York Post around here — for good reason, I might add — every now and then, something so outlandish comes along that to pass it up would be a shame. Coming to us via BBTF, then, is Kevin Kernan’s latest on one final move the Yanks should make. That move? Sign Oliver Perez. And the rationale? To be able to move Joba Chamberlain — you guessed it — back to the bullpen. Feel free to insert a facepalm here.

Anyway, Kernan writes:

The Yankees are waiting on Andy Pettitte, but there is another lefty available at basically Pettitte dollars and that’s Oliver Perez. Signing Perez would cement the Yankees’ rotation for years to come and would give them flexibility with Joba Chamberlain.

“Putting Perez on the Yankees would be a great move,” says one top pitching evaluator. “That would be the perfect environment for him. He would be more focused there. He needs strong leadership around him, and pitching in front of a packed house, he would not be complacent.”

[snip]

Perez is represented by Scott Boras, who also represents Mark Teixeira. Cashman has a good working relationship with Boras. The GM would have to take a leap of faith with Perez, but the upside could be tremendous. In Pettitte, the Yankees will get a pitcher they hope has one good season left in his cranky left shoulder.

Opponents batted .290 last season against Pettitte, 56 points higher than they did against Perez, who allowed 66 fewer hits. Perez also had a lower ERA (4.22 to 4.54) and more strikeouts (180 to 158). Perez is 10 years younger, too, which fits Cashman’s plan of making the Yankees younger.

By signing so many quality free agents this season, it gives the Yankees a window to develop their own talent, and that is still the basis of what Cashman is trying to do. The bottom line, however, is the David Prices of the world can only be drafted when you have the top pick, something the Yankees never have. Teixeira was the fifth pick of the 2001 draft; the Yankees selected 23rd that season. And Sabathia was the 20th pick of the 1998 draft; the Yankees selected 24th that year.

I don’t even know where to begin. The idea that Oliver Perez helps “cement” any rotation is mind-boggling. This is a 27-year-old lefty who has already been on three teams and has a career WHIP in the National League of 1.43. His career BB/9 IP is 4.76. If Perez needs every game to be Game 7 of the World Series as the scout contends, then I worry for his place in any rotation.

Meanwhile, Kernan’s logic about draft picks is completely backwards as well. By signing another top-tier free agent, the Yanks would be surrendering yet another draft pick in 2009. Thus, they wouldn’t be anywhere close to a position to draft the Teixeira’s and Sabathia’s of the world. Meanwhile, losing out on Sabathia by four draft slots is hardly a crime. That year, the Yanks drafted Andy Brown in the first round (who?) and tried to take Mark Prior as a supplemental draft. The ability to pay overslot and the drive to draft smart can be just as important as a team’s position in the first round.

Additionally, a first round draft pick nets a team one whole player for development. While that player could be a huge impact player, the odds are against that happening. It’s far more important for the Yankees to keep open international scouting avenues as well.

Oliver Perez, in the end, is a mediocre pitcher masquerading as a lefty. He’ll always be in demand, and someone will always see him as a reclamation project because he throws hard. But he’s enjoyed limited success in the NL and would cost most teams more dollars and years than he is worth. Tying up a rotation spot with Oliver Perez is no way to commit to developing your own pitchers, and this is one avenue the Yanks have not seemed eager to pursue.

Categories : Hot Stove League
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