Browsing Posts tagged Johnny Damon

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. 

Earlier this week, the Yankees signed free agent center fielder, Jacoby Ellsbury to a seven-year, $153 million contract. Ellsbury, 29, played his first six season with the Boston Red Sox and was a key cog in both of Boston’s world series titles. Ellsbury is one of the game’s premiere leader-off hitters and may be the game’s best base stealer. During 2013, Ellsbury stole 52 bases in 56 attempts and boasts three seasons of 50+ stolen bases on his resume. Add in Ellsbury’s career .350 on-base percentage and you’ve got a guy that can set the table at the top of the order. While that seems like a recipe for success, there are some red flags when it comes to Ellsbury.

After looking through his game logs, two questions immediately come to mind.

  1. What is the deal with Ellsbury’s power output?
  2. Why has he missed so many games? 

Ellsbury home run totals have been mostly modest, but he has one outlier season of 32 home runs in 2011 when he finished 2nd in MVP voting. Outside of this season, Ellsbury has not surpassed nine home runs in a single season. Many think the left-handed Ellsbury will take advantage of the short porch in right field, but I’m not so sure. Ellsbury tends to pepper center field and left center field with line drivers. Whether that’s a product of playing at Fenway remains to be seen, but on the surface, Ellsbury is not a big-time pull hitter. I think Ellsbury has 15-20 HR upside, but the Yankees aren’t paying him to be a home run hitter.

In four of his six full-time seasons, Ellsbury has posted at least 600 plate appearances. Ellsbury had only 84 plate appearances in 2010 and 324 plate appearances in 2012. Ellsbury’s injuries were definitely deemed ‘freak injuries’. During 2010, Ellsbury dove and fell on top of Adrian Beltre’s knee as he was attempting to catch a fly ball in foul territory. He broke three ribs. During 2012, Reid Brignac fell on top of Ellsbury as he attempted to steal second base. Brignac landed on Ellsbury’s shoulder was exposed and he missed three months. This isn’t a guy with chronic knee or back issues. If anything, these injuries define Ellsbury’s effort as a young player. 

At face value, the years and salary amounts seem extreme for a lead-off hitter that has only one All-Star appearance. I can counter that notion with two studies. Dave Cameron of Fangraphs posted a study regarding the ‘Slow Decline of Speedy Outfielders‘. The article shows how 41 other speedy outfielders have fared as they’ve aged. Several outfielders (Kenny Lofton, Tim Raines, Rickey Henderson) aged well while others (Carl Crawford), have not. The article is worth a read, but the study suggests speedy outfielders tend to age well over time. Fangraphs projects a WAR around 4.0 for Ellsbury during 2014. Statisticians suggest a decay of 0.5 wins per season, which would net out to approximately 17.5 wins for the life of the contract. The Yankees are paying about $8.7 million per expected win, which is a little high relative to the rest of the free agent. Thus far, teams have been paying about $7.5 million per win. Still, these are the Yankees and they won’t lose sleep over a few bucks. 

I haven’t focused too much on his defense, but Ellsbury is widely regarded as a plus defender in center field. Ellsbury won a Gold Glove in 2011. Outside of 2009, Ellsbury has graded out as an elite defender in terms of Universal Zone Rating (UZR). He doesn’t have a great arm, but he’s a better defender than Gardner. Pairing Gardner with Ellsbury though will give the Yankees one of the best defensive outfields in baseball. 

Many fans are skeptical of this signing and Ellsbury has drawn unfair comparisons to two former AL East outfielders. Some fans are quick lump Ellsbury in the same category as Carl Crawford, who inked a 7-year, $142 million contract with the Red Sox in 2011 and Johnny Damon who left Boston and signed a 4-year, $52 million with the Yankees in 2005. All three players were represented by Scott Boras and all three players rely on speed. Crawford, who forgot how to hit against lefties flamed out in Boston, was traded in a megadeal to the Los Angeles Dodgers. Before joining the Red Sox, Crawford was a 5-tool stud for the Tampa Bay Rays. Crawford was a horrible defensive fit for Fenway Park and his strengths did not coincide with manager Bobby Valentine’s philosophy. Crawford stopped running and was sent packing to Hollywood. Outside of leaving Boston after winning a World Series title, Ellsbury and Damon have nothing in common. Damon’s defense (and arm) was drastically declining and his base stealing days were long behind him. Damon was also 32-years-old when he joined the Bombers. Free agency is all about money and as we’ve seen first hand, losing a home grown star is rough. Yankee fans are trying to shake off Robinson Cano’s departure and as much as they don’t want to admit it, Red Sox fans must be upset over Ellsbury departure. 

Overall, it’s understandable for fans to skeptical of this deal. The Yankees typically target sluggers and this is a long-term commitment for a speed guy. To me, this type of deal reaks of Brian Cashman. Cashman knows what’s it like not to get any value out of the backend of mega deals. With the Ellsbury signing, this contract will take him until he’s 37-years-old. Cashman is betting he’ll still provide value with his legs and bat, even if he begins to age.  

 

The New York Yankees defeated the Tampa Bay Rays by a score of 4-3 this afternoon. However, the final score of this afternoon’s game is immaterial compared to Derek Jeter’s historical performance. At 2:00 PM this afternoon, Derek Jeter hit an absolute shot to the left-center field bleachers to earn his 3,000th career hit. In the game, he went 5-5 with three singles, a double, and a home run in the game to give him his third career five-hit performance.

3,000 - AP

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The New York Yankees were defeated by the Tampa Bay Rays tonight by a score of 6-5. Even worse than the fact that it was their sixth straight loss, AJ Burnett blew a great start with a bad inning and Kyle Farnsworth got the save for the Rays.

Don't Reach, Ben - AP

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The AL East just got a little more interesting. The Tampa Bay Rays agreed to one-year contracts tonight with free agents, Manny Ramirez and Johnny Damon. Ramirez is set to make $2 million this season while Damon will make $5.25 million. After losing Carlos Pena and Carl Crawford, the Rays will use Ramirez and Damon as stop gaps for the 2011 season. Damon hit .271 with 8 HRs and 51 RBIs for the Tigers last season. Ramirez hit .298 with 9 HRs and 42 RBIs for the Dodgers and White Sox. Damon and Ramirez clearly aren’t what they used to be, but should still be serviceable for the rebuilding Rays. I’m assuming Damon will play left field while Ramirez will be the team’s designated hitter. They may even rotate, who knows. Ramirez was a Type A free agent and Damon was a Type B, however neither of their respective teams offered arbitration, so the Rays will not forfeit draft picks. Great move for the Rays.

It’s crazy that they can pay $7.25 million and get two of the better hitters from the last decade. This move will definitely pay off for the younger hitters on the Rays.

Before I give you the details of this next trade, let’s just say that the Jays’ front office looks like the smartest group of baseball minds. The Jays agreed to trade outfielder Vernon Wells to the Angels for slugging catcher, Mike Napoli and ex-Yankee outfielder, Juan Rivera. Wells has failed to live up to the hype of his seven-year, $126 million contract he signed in 2006. Wells played well last season, posting a line of 31 home runs, 88 RBIs, while hitting at a .273 clip, but he is not worth $20 million+ per season. The Jays have virtually sold high on Wells, making the Angels pick up the remaining four years, $86 million left on his deal. Wells has the option to opt out of his contract after this season, but I doubt he’ll leave $65 million on the table. In return, the Jays will receive Napoli and Rivera. The duo combined for 41 home runs last season. Rivera is owed only $5.25 million this season before hitting free agency while Napoli just passed through his third-year of arbitration. The Jays made the best trade of the off-season.

While Manny and Damon really aren’t huge additions for the Rays, the Jays getting rid of Wells’ ugly contract is great news for the future of the franchise. The team has essentially freed up $20 million for the next four seasons. For the Angels, this may mark the end of a disappointing off-season. They shored up the bullpen by signing Scott Downs and Hisanori Takahashi, but they missed out on the big fish of the free agent class. I still have no idea what they are doing by taking on Wells’ monster contract when their outfield is already full. Peter Bourjos is a very promising young center fielder for the Angels and taking on Wells’ contract makes no sense to me. With all of the freed up money and only $14.5 million committed for 2012, expect the Jays to spend and contend in the AL East in the near future.

With only 35 days to go before pitchers and catchers report to Spring Training (Thank God), the free agent pool is starting to become more shallow. Brian Cashman told the media last week that he will not surrender a first round pick to sign one of the three remaining Type A free agents. With that in mind, let’s take a look at the Top 10 remaining free agents and gauge any potential Yankee interest.

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The New York Yankees have parted ways with seven members of the 2009 World Series Championship roster. Can you name the seven? Some were heroes, some were just okay, and some were role players that were necessary to win a championship. We’ll review what those seven have been up to since they left the Bombers to play elsewhere. Also, we’ll guess where they’d fit in if they came back to play for the Yankees in 2010.

Photo by Elise Amendola / Associated Press

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The Yankees and Tigers will square off for the first time in 2010 this week.  Yankee fans will get their chance to see ex-Yankees, Johnny Damon, Phil Coke, and Austin Jackson.

REUTERS/Ray Stubblebine

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The season is only a few days from kicking off. I’ve written a ton on fantasy baseball strategy and player projections. If you haven’t read any of those articles, check out the archives.

Anyway, on to my Fantasy Baseball Predictions for The 2010 Season: continue reading…

The New York Yankees were able to get two split squad games in today. Florida’s weather has caused two straight day of postponed games on Thursday and Friday.

Game 1: Yankees defeat Orioles, 5-3

Game Notes:

1. Javier Vazquez got the start for the Yankees. In three innings, Vazquez gave up two runs(HR to Ty Wiggington) and struck out two.

2. Alfredo Aceves came in relief of Vazquez. In four innings, Aceves gave up one run(HR to Garrett Atkins) and scattered three hits. Chamberlain, Hughes, Gaudin, and Mtire have struggled this season, making Ace an interesting candidate for the 5th stater’s role.

Spring Stats: 10 innings, 3 hits allowed, 1 earned runs, 5 strikeouts

3. David Robertson closed the game by striking out the side in the Top of the 9th inning.

4. Nick Johnson had an RBI Double in the win.

Game 2: Tigers defeat Yankees, 6-2.

Game Notes:

1. Chad Gaudin started this game. Gaudin yielded three earned runs in three innings.

2. Unfortunately, Sergio Mitre matched Gaudin’s stat line.

3. Ex-Yankee, Johnny Damon homered off Sergio Mitre.

Side Notes:

The Yankees cut pitcher, Kei Igawa today.

Photo Credit: news.yahoo.com