Browsing Posts in Yankees

Jacoby Ellsbury received many ‘boos’ during his Boston homecoming as a member of the New York Yankees. The speedy lefty went for 2-for-5 with a double, triple, and two RBIs during a 9-3 Yankee romp over the Sox. Ellsbury’s triple in the Top of the 1st set the tone for the rest of the game. The 12-8 Yankees will look to pick up their second victory over their rival Wednesday night at Fenway Park. RHP Michael Pineda will take the ball and look to build upon his impressive performances thus far. Pineda (2-1, 1.00 ERA) threw six scoreless innings in his last start, a win against the lowly Chicago Cubs. Pineda has already faced the Red Sox and won. Pineda struck out seven en route to a 4-1 victory over the Champs at Yankee Stadium. Pitching in Fenway Park figures to be a big challenge for the burly righty. Pineda made his only start in Fenway as a member of the Seattle Mariners. The Red Sox tagged him for seven runs in 4 1/3 innings. Pineda is hoping for a better outing this time. During his last start, Pineda appeared to have some sort of substance on his hand. We’ll see if it happens again tonight and if the Red Sox do indeed to say something to the umpires.

Pineda will face off against RHP John Lackey (2-2, 5.25 ERA). Lacky has given up twelve runs over his last two starts including a 7-4 shellacking at the hands of the Yankees. Lackey carries an unsightly 6.26 ERA in nine starts against the Bombers since 2010. 

The Red Sox are supposed to get lead off man, Shane Victorino back soon. The speedy switch hitter has not played due to injuries. 

Current MLB odds have the Red Sox installed as slight money line favorites (-123). However, I love to ride hot streaks in baseball and the Yankee bats have been on fire lately. They hit Lackey very well and I expect that to continue. This is one of the rare occurence when we can get the Yankees as a road dog. Take them tonight in Fenway.

Pick: NY Yankees +117

 

Masahiro Tanaka (1-0, 2.57 ERA) will make him Yankee Stadium debut on Wednesday night against the Baltimore Orioles. Tanaka gave up three runs and six hits over seven innings during MLB debut in Toronto last weekend. Tanaka struck out eight and did not issue a walk. 65 of his 97 pitches were strikes. He’ll look to build on that success against a hot hitting Baltimore club. The Orioles scored 14 runs on 20 hits during Tuesday’s 14-5 beat down of the Bombers. Each of Baltimore starters, except catcher Matt Wieters, had multiple hits. The Yankees will look to deliver a beat down of their own to Baltimore RHP Miguel Gonzalez. Gonzalez was shelled for seven earned runs on nine hits in 3 1/3 innings last Friday in Detroit. The Yankees touched Gonzalez up for seven runs last August at Yankee Stadium. Outfielder Alfonso Soriano has two home runs in five career at bats against Gonzalez.

Current MLB odds have the Yankees listed as a whopping -180 home favorite. The Yankees and Orioles have split the first two games of this three game series. Many people will opt to side with the Yankees and Tanaka in an emotional home debut. However, I’m siding with Baltimore. Hitting in contagious and tends to carry over from day-to-day. I’m getting a good price on Baltimore after a 14 run onslaught. The Yankee bullpen is spent and the closer situation is unsettled. I expect Tanaka to pitch well, but I don’t trust the Yankee bullpen.

Pick: Baltimore Orioles +165

Masahiro Tanaka will make his major league debut Friday night against the Toronto Blue Jays. He’ll look to guide his team after a disappointing road trip to start the season. The New York Yankees (1-2) dropped two of three in Houston against the Astros while the Blue Jays split four games in Tampa Bay against the Rays. The Yankees have high hopes for their $175 million man and a strong start on Friday night will be a great start. Tanaka was flat out dominant last season in Japan, posting a 24-0 record with a sparkling 1.27 ERA. Tanaka was the center piece of the off-season, but his contract didn’t stop the Yankees from improving their offense. The Yankees committed $85 million to catcher Brian McCann and over $150 million for center fielder, Jacoby Ellsbury. The Yankee offense as a whole struggled in Houston, but hopefully a stop in Toronto’s hitter friendly park will help.

Tanaka will face off against RHP Dustin McGowan. Due to various injuries, McGowan will be making his first start since September 2011. McGowan missed the entire 2012 season due to foot injuries and exclusively pitched out the bullpen last season. McGowan’s strong spring earned him a rotation spot over LHP JA Happ. 

The Yankees went 13-5 against the Blue Jays last season, but went just 4-5 at the Rogre Centre. 

Pick: Current MLB Odds have the Yankees listed as a modest road favorite (-128). I’m fully expecting Tanaka to come out ready to pitch and start his MLB career on a high note. The Yankee offense is ready to get on the map and I’m fully expecting them to take advantage of McGowan.

Pick: New York Yankees -128

Less than 72 hours remain in the Masahiro Tanaka sweepstakes. I’ve written a scouting report, valuation study, and just some general thoughts.  Overall, I think a six-year, $120 million deal is pretty reasonable. However, two of baseball’s richest teams, the Yankees and Dodgers, as well as new regimes in Arizona and Chicago have also shelled out nine figure offers. When the competition is this fierce, someone is going to pay a premium. Tanaka’s agent, Casey Close, has done an excellent job keeping negotiations quiet, so we don’t know where each team stands.

When we compare Tanaka to the entire free agent pitching market, it’s not even close–and Close knows that. Based on age alone, Tanaka is three years younger than the next pitcher (Phil Hughes). Skill-wise, an argument can be made that Tanaka has the best ‘stuff’ among free agent pitchers. This article will show us why we shouldn’t be shocked when Tanaka signs a deal in excess of $140 million.

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Yesterday, we heard rumblings that the Yankees were ‘considering a run‘ at free agent shortstop, Stephen Drew. Drew, who turns 31-years-old in March, was the starting shortstop for the Boston Red Sox. In 124 games, Drew hit 13 HRs, drove in 67 runs, and put up a .253/.333/.443 slash. Defensively, Drew finished second among American League shortstops with a .984 fielding percentage. Drew finished the year with a 3.4 WAR, sixth best among shortstops. After making $9.5 million last season, Drew turned down Boston’s qualifying offer of one-year, $14.1 million, in hopes of securing a multi-year deal. Despite grading out as one of the better shortstops, Drew is having a tough time find suitors. Could the lack of demand for Drew create a market inefficiency that the Yankees can exploit?

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Lost in the Masahiro Tanaka sweepstakes, the A-Rod fiasco, and the optimistic Jacoby Ellsbury signing, the Yankees signed a future Hall of Famer to anchor the middle of their order. No one is talking about switch hitter Carlos Beltran, who quietly signed a three-year, $45 million in December. Among position players, Beltran is 90th in career WAR (64.1). Three solid seasons in the Bronx will vault him in the Top 50 ahead of future HOFer, Craig Biggio (68.1) and 2014 HOFer Frank Thomas (72.1). In 16 seasons, Beltran has 2,228 hits, 358 HRs, 308 SBs and boasts a .283/.359/.496 slash. To put his numbers in perspective, A-Rod is the only other active player with 300 HRs and 300 SBs.

As he enters his Age 37 season, Beltran’s days of double digit stolen bases are finished. However, Beltran’s power has not subsided. Beltran has clubbed at least 22 HRs over his last three seasons and hit at least .296 in two of those seasons. When we factor in Fangraph’s park factors, via Fangraphs, there’s an even bigger reason for optimism. Take a look at Table 1.

Table 1: Park Factors (Busch Stadium vs Yankee Stadium)

Season Team 1B as L 1B as R 2B as L 2B as R 3B as L 3B as R HR as L HR as R
2013 Yankees 101 99 98 97 103 86 114 106
2013 Cardinals 101 99 94 100 97 91 94 90

Higher ratings indicate a more hitter friendly park and when we consider home runs, Beltran gets a giant boost by playing half of his games at Yankee Stadium. For lefties, Yankee Stadium is the second most power hitter friendly park (Coors Field is first) while Busch Stadium ranks in the Bottom 10. For righties, Yankee Stadium is the seventh most friendly while Busch Stadium is in the Bottom 3. Beltran took 71 percent of his at-bats left-handed last season and hit 17 of his 24 homers from the left side.  Add in the luxury of the DH and Beltran should be a safe bet for 70-75 games at Yankee Stadium. Therefore, as long as he continues to receive 600+ plate appearances, Beltran should see a spike in home runs. 

In addition to a boost in park factors, Beltran will likely hit third and have more RBI opportunities than he did in St. Louis. Beltran hit second in St. Louis’ order and had the luxury of second baseman, Matt Carpenter (.396 on-base percentage) hitting in front of him. With the Yankees, Beltran will have Ellsbury (.355 OBP) and Derek Jeter (.362 OBP) hitting in front of him. Add in Brett Gardner (.352 OBP) when the line-up turns over and Beltran, who hit .374 with runners in scoring position last year, will have ample opportunities to drive in runs. Beltran should see a steady dose of fastballs with Alfonso Soriano and Brian McCann hitting behind him as well.

Defensively, Beltran will grade out as below average, but when you factor in two plus defenders in LF (Gardner) and CF (Ellsbury), it’ll off-set Beltran’s shortcomings. In addition, Beltran will like see a third of his at-bats as a DH and the Yankees can insert Ichiro Suzuki into RF during late game situations. His glove won’t kill the Yankees, but he was ultimately brought in for his offense. 

Based on these factors, I think Beltran has 30 HR, 100 RBI, .290+ batting average upside over 145 games. After reviewing some third-party projections, I think analysts are down on Beltran due the stigma surround his age (37) and ‘injury proneness’ (knee injuries in 2009 and 2010).  Table 2 has their projections and my projection:

Table 2: Beltran Projections

Season Site G PA HR R RBI SB AVG OBP SLG
2011-13 Avg 146 606 26 80 88 6 0.288 0.357 0.504
2014 Steamer 122 530 21 68 73 4 0.277 0.343 0.473
2014 Oliver 143 600 23 75 86 3 0.279 0.341 0.471
2014 Fans (23) 129 562 24 76 81 4 0.283 0.345 0.484
2014 NYSOS 145 603 30 85 100 5 0.290 0.355 0.520

Overall, I’m surprised how down Steamer and Oliver are on their projections. Beltran has some major things (home park, lineup, situational advantages) working in his favor. While ‘trying hard’ and ‘determination’ are things that go overlooked, Beltran has always wanted to be a Yankee. Before signing with the Mets in 2005, Beltran was very open about joining the Yankees. At the time, the Yankees had a declining Bernie Williams manning center field and opted for a cheaper Johnny Damon (four-years, $52 million) instead of a more expensive Beltran (seven-years, $119 million). Beltran, who hails from Puerto Rico, grew up idolizing Puerto Rican star, Bernie Williams. Just from listening to his press conference, Beltran is ecstatic about donning pinstripes. 

While most Yankee fans are excited about Tanaka, McCann, and Ellsbury, expect Beltran to relish in a ‘secondary role’. Keep forgetting about him until April before watching him rake all summer long. 

CC Sabathia, Hiroki Kuroda, Masahiro Tanaka, and Ivan Nova will comprise 80% of the Yankee rotation. The Yankees are holding an open competition for the final spot. RHPs Michael Pienda, Adam Warren, and David Phelps will compete with LHP Vidal Nuno for the last spot. Each pitcher brings some positives and negatives to the Yankee rotation. Today, we’ll walk through each option to see what they bring to the rotation.

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I haven’t written about Derek Jeter’s impending retirement. Jeter, who is the master of calculated moves, announced his retirement, following the 2014 season, on Facebook about three weeks ago. Jeter’s announcement came just days after A-Rod dropped his federal appeal against MLB. After breaking his ankle during the 2012 ALCS, Jeter missed nearly the entire 2013 season. When he did play, Jeter looked old, slow, and feeble. Jeter’s bat speed has clearly declined and he’s having issues getting around on mid-90s fastballs. In the field, Jeter has no problem fielding groundballs hit to him, but his range is compromised. Yankee fans are so used to seeing a young, youthful Jeter manning shortstop and I can’t help, but think Yankee fans are going to be very disappointed with Jeter this season. Mariano Rivera dominated on his farewell tour. Can Jeter match that dominance in his last season? I wouldn’t bet on it.

I usually discount Spring Training stats, but when players who missed a lot of games in the previous season play, I take notice. Brewers’ outfielder Ryan Braun is hitting an absurd .825 so far. Jeter? 0-for-9 with six groundouts, which isn’t a good sign. During 2012 and 2013, Jeter posted his highest ground ball rates (63% and 71%, respectively) of his career. Jeter’s fly ball rate continued to plummet to career low of nine percent in limited action last season. These stats further illustrate Jeter’s decline and inability to drive the ball like he used to. If Jeter continues to drag his high ground ball rate into the regular season, can the Yankees still afford to slot him second in the batting order?

If Jeter struggles through April, Joe Girardi may have some tough decisions to make. For now, it’s appropriate to assume Jeter will hit second behind Jacoby Ellsbury and in front of Carlos Beltran. Fans are so used to seeing Jeter set the table for the power hitters and if he can’t get the job done anymore, will he accept a demotion down the order? Will the fans accept a demotion? Will ownership worry about the backlash of such a move? Remember, Jeter is the last remaining ‘Dynasty Yankee’ and one of the ten best players ever to don a Yankee uniform. It’s not an easy situation and the Yankees will likely lose, either in the media/with the fans or on the scoreboard.

It’s hard to see a player who can still play retire. No one wanted to see Mariano Rivera go because he was still one of the top closers in the game. Leaving emotion out of the equation, Jeter isn’t a top player anymore and hasn’t been one since 2009. Some fans completely wrote Jeter off last season because the team wasn’t missing his production. The team did miss his leadership ability, but Jeter is no longer cranking out 200 hits per season.  

It’s always hard to see an iconic player retire, but some Yankee fans are losing sight of the big picture. The Yankees didn’t make the playoffs last season and the Boston Red Sox are the reigning world champs. Yankee ownership spent nearly a half billion dollars on new players. Focus should be on winning the AL East, AL Pennant, and then the World Series. Anything less is failure. Derek Jeter will be showered with gifts and attention from opposing teams, but I hope Yankee fans don’t lose their edge this season. I think most fans lost sight of the big picture during the Rivera hoopla last season. Let’s hope that doesn’t happen again.

The 2014 season is a critical one for the future. The Yankees have a lot of new stars that must assimilate to the challenges of playing in New York. Derek Jeter should receive the attention and accolades he deserves, but that shouldn’t make fans complacent. Remember what the ultimate goal is… 

 

The Yankees gave 30-year-old center fielder left fielder, Brett Gardner 52 million reasons not to test free agency next season. The Yankees’ speedy left fielder agreed to a four-year, $52 million contract that will keep Gardner in pinstripes through 2018. The contract includes a team option for a fifth year. The signing may come as a surprise. The Yankees signed Jacoby Ellsbury to a $153 million contract in December which solidifies center field for the foreseeable future. Gardner has been adamant about his desire to play center field, but he actually grades out better as a left fielder. Gardner does not fit the prototypical, power dependable mold for left fielders. Gardner hit a career high eight home runs and drove in a career high 52 runs in 2013. However, baseball is always evolving and this signing is a microcosm of this notion. Relative to his peers, Gardner’s signing tell us a lot of the future of the game. After the jump, I’ll show why the Yankees did a great job by locking up of their home grown players at a very reasonable price.

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2014 Additions   2014 Depatures
Pos. Player AAV 2014 WAR   Pos. Player AAV 2013 WAR
C Brian McCann $17.0 3.9   C Chris Stewart $1.3 0.3
2B Brian Roberts $2.0 0.7   2B Robinson Cano $15.0 6.0
3B  Kelly Johnson $2.4 1.4   3B  Alex Rodriguez $26.0 0.5
OF Jacoby Ellsbury $21.9 3.8   OF Curtis Granderson $15.0 1.4
OF Carlos Beltran $15.0 1.9   OF Vernon Wells $13.0 -0.8
SP2 Masahiro Tanaka $22.1 4.0   SP2 Andy Pettitte $12.0 3.2
SP5 Michael Pineda $0.6 0.6   SP5 Phil Hughes $6.0 1.3
CL David Robertson $5.3 0.9   CL Mariano Rivera $10.0 1.5
TOL   $86.2 17.2   TOL   $98.3 13.4

Things are looking up.