Saturday, January 20, 2007

PECOTA on the Yankees

Nate Silver has finally made the 2007 PECOTA cards available for Premium subscribers. Combined with his PECOTA Does Prospects series from last year, I decided to see how some of the Yankees' young players developed the past year.

We're going to be looking at three stats here. WARP stands for a player's projected wins above replacement over a five-year peak. Upside is a player's potential runs above average for the same five years. Combined is those two stats added together.

In short, WARP measures a reasonable expectation while Upside measures potential. According to Nate Silver, a Combined score of 300 or better equates to an "elite" prospect. Obviously, major leaguers should score much higher than prospects. Here, then, are all the Yankees covered in Silver's series last year who also have a 2007 projection.

Robinson Cano
2006: 19.0 WARP, 129.5 Upside, 319.6 Combined
2007: 31.2 WARP, 262.4 Upside, 574.4 Combined

PECOTA adores Cano. He has the tenth highest Upside in all of baseball (at least among position players). Sabermetricians supposedly only like players who draw beau coup walks. This is why that mentality is silly.

Melky Cabrera
2006: 12.5 WARP, 78.9 Upside, 203.4 Combined
2007: 23.9 WARP, 110.8 Upside, 349.8 Combined

This one is a no-brainer. Melky established himself as a legitimate major leaguer at the age of 21. That's reflected in the doubling of his WARP score. However, his potential now seems much better, too. Considering his comparables list includes Carlos Beltran, Roberto Alomar, Pete Rose, Tony Gwynn, Derek Jeter and Carl Yastrzemski, Yankee fans have every reason to be optimistic.

Philip Hughes
2006: 17.9 WARP, 131.3 Upside, 310.8 Combined
2007: 21.1 WARP, 197.2 Upside, 408.2 Combined

Last year, PECOTA saw Hughes as the #3 pitching prospect (barely behind Francisco Liriano and Yusmeiro Petit) with the highest Upside. From that already lofty position, Hughes managed to increase his Upside by 50%. He's third among pitching prospects again, but the two ahead of him are Daisuke Matsuzaka--not a prospect--and Tim Lincecum--who has all of 31.2 IP to his name. No one else is anywhere near Hughes.

Hurricane Tyler Clippard
2006: 8.8 WARP, 29.9 Upside, 118 Combined
2007: 9.9 WARP, 49.6 Upside, 148.6 Combined

Clippard made a successful transition to the high minors last year. PECOTA certainly acknowledges that with a significantly higher Upside. But it also obviously agrees with the scouting belief that Clippard is a good-but-not-great pitcher. His stats really aren't anything special.

Kevin Thompson
2006: 13.8 WARP, 57.7 Upside, 195.9 Combined
2007: 13.4 WARP, 30.9 Upside, 164.9 Combined

Thompson is now 27, so he's basically reached his peak already. That his Upside declined is really just a reflection of his age. He's still every bit as likely to be a quality major leaguer. In fact, PECOTA thinks he has nearly an 80% chance of being worthy of an everyday job this year, and a 33% shot at being a star. He deserves to be in the bigs.

Kevin Whelan
2006: 7.3 WARP, 48.3 Upside, 121.7 Combined
2007: 4.4 WARP, 17.2 Upside, 61.2 Combined

23-year-olds who have never pitched above A-ball probably have some major deficiency holding them back. He simply isn't progressing the way kids his age should.

Eric Duncan
2006: 10.4 WARP, 72 Upside, 176 Combined
2007: 12.6 WARP, 33.4 Upside, 159.4 Combined

Is Duncan finished as a prospect? His WARP climbed merely because he reached Triple-A; he's more likely to get a cup of coffee at some point. But his Upside evaporated. It's unlikely Duncan will ever live up to his first round draft status.

Marcos Vechionacci
2006: 8.8 WARP, 13.0 Upside, 101.4 Combined
2007: 8.8 WARP, 2.6 Upside, 90.6 Combined

Vechionacci had a poor 2006, but he's still just 20-years-old. He didn't progress at all, but it's still too soon to write him off.

To recap, Cano, Melky and Hughes took huge steps forward; Clippard progressed nicely; Thompson is the same player but a year older; Whelan and Duncan look more and more like fringe players; and Vechionacci is nothing special.

More PECOTA stuff to follow, I'm sure.

Sunday, January 07, 2007

The Lefty Dilemma

With the signing of Eye Chart, the Yankees' regular lineup will probably look like this:

L - Damon
R - Jeter
L - Abreu
L- Giambi
R - Rodriguez
L - Matsui
L - Cano
S - Posada
L - Mientkiewicz

That's really the only way you can put those nine guys together without having three lefties in a row. The spacing is nice, actually: it follows a constant LLR pattern.

The downside is that there's no avoiding LOOGies. No matter what, teams will be able to use their crappy lefthanded middle relievers for at least two batters. Is it possible, however, that the Yankees' extreme lefthandedness gives them the advantage in the matchup game?

Many managers will be tempted to leave a LOOGY in to face four-of-five lefties. That means Jeter, Rodriguez and Posada will gain at bats against crappy lefties, often in crucial spots. If, on the other hand, managers switch to a righty, that means the next wave of lefthanded batters gain the platoon advantage back.

That the Yankees' lineup now features three matchup opportunites and no team has three quality lefty relievers (some lack even one) should guarantee the Yankees the platoon advantage more often than not.

Friday, January 05, 2007

Mientkiewicz or: Why Steven Goldman is Wrong

The Yankees have signed Doud Mientkiewicz to a 1-year, $1.5 million deal. I like it. Steven Goldman doesn't:

There is very, very little reason for a contending team, or any other, to be interested in Mientkiewicz as a starting first baseman. Or a platoon first baseman. He might make a decent reserve. Mientkiewicz is entering his age-33 season, the point in a player's career when he is in danger of running rapidly downhill. The problem with Mientkiewicz is that he's already gone downhill. His bat is a known quantity: he has little power, some plate judgment, and no ability to hit for average.

Goldman is right when he says Mientkiewicz is getting older and has little power. So why do I like the signing?

Well, first, Goldman is wrong on his other two points. Mientkiewicz has more than "some" plate judgment. He has drawn 377 walks in his career, when an average player would've drawn 281. That's a walk rate 34% above average. It's slipped in recent years, but for 2004-2006, his walk rate is 21% above average.

Second, saying Mientkiewicz has "no ability to hit for average" is absurd. His career average is .270. Last year he hit .283. Not a world beater, but a far cry from "no ability."

So what can we expect from Eyechart going forward? ZiPS has his 2007 projection as .255/.342/.383. Marcel has him at .260/.336/.402. Let's average them out: .258/.339/.393.
Using a simple Runs Created formula, that works out to 77 runs per 650 plate appearances.

Now that's not very good. The average AL 1B hit .280/.352/.467. In the NL, it was .290/.372/.507. Let's say that the average 1B hits .285/.362/.487, or 102 runs/650 PA. Maybe that's unfair to Mientkiewicz, since the NL is the easier league and those stats should be discounted a bit more, but whatever.

Anyway, we can put those numbers on a scale of batting average with this formula: (1.8*OBP + SLG) * .2595. For Mientkiewicz, it's .260. For the average 1B, it's .295. You can look at those numbers the same way you look at batting average, so they're easy to understand.

Baseball Prospectus figures replacement level in a couple different ways. This one works on the batting average scale, this one on the runs scale. These would set the replacement level for first basemen at a .261 average and 75 runs. What was Mientkiewicz again? .260 and 77 runs. In other words, he's the definition of replacement.

So with the bat, Eyechart gives you nothing. What about defense? He's always enjoyed a fantastic defensive reputation. Checking the stats, there are three that I put any real stock into: UZR, The Fielding Bible and The Fans' Scouting Report.

Mitchel Lichtman hasn't made UZR fully public since 2003, as he was working for the St. Louis Cardinals. For 2000-2003, however, Mientkiewicz was fantastic: 17 runs above average, second best in the majors to Todd Helton.

For 2006, the Dial ratings had him as the second best in the AL at +12 runs per 150 games. I don't put much stock in Dial's numbers, but I mention it only because in his midseason update, Lichtman chimed in to note that Mientkiewicz rated a +12 in UZR. So UZR still loves him.

The Fans' Scouting Report is exactly that: fans rate players in various skills based purely on their own observations. Tango Tiger compiles these scouting reports as a sort of "wisdom of the crowd" judgment. In 2003, the fans tabbed Mientkiewicz as the top first baseman in the majors. Tango worked out his ratings to be equal to +23 runs.

For 2004, fans rated him a 73 (out of 100). No idea how that turns into runs, but it's a great number for a first baseman. In 2005, he was a 67. And 2006 a 69, fourth-best among first baseman. So from a scouting perspective, he's still got it.

Lastly, The Fielding Bible. I don't have it with me, but it loves him. He was rated the second-best first baseman (behind Teixeira). What's more, their stats can't take into account saving bad throws, perhaps a first baseman's most important job. Baseball Info Solutions was curious though, so they watched every play from 2005 and recorded every bad throw saved. The result: Mientkiewicz and Albert Pujols rated ridiculously ahead of everyone else.

Put it all together and it is quite reasonable to say Mientkiewicz saves at least ten runs over a full season with his glove. Considering his brilliance with snagging bad throws, quite likely more like fifteen.

What we have, then, is this: his bat is worth 0 runs and his glove is worth 10-15. That makes him worth 1 win, maybe 1.5. That's below average, but not terrible. By TangoTiger's salary research, Mientkiewicz is worth between $4 million and $6 million.

The X factor is his back. How does his defense hold up following the surgery? It's a fair question, and entirely possible one that will hurt the Yankees. But consider this: he'll make $1.5 million in 2007. Even assuming his true value is
on the low-end ($4 million) then the Yankees are paying ~38 cents on the dollar. That seems a more than reasonable gamble to take. And if a better option comes along later, it's an eminently movable contract.

There really is no downside here. Nice move, Cashman.

Friday, December 29, 2006

2006 Roundup: Movies

20. The Notorious Bettie Page

Written and directed by the same pair who did American Psycho, here we have a biopic of the infamous S&M pinup girl. Most of the film is in black & white, switching over to color only when she goes to Florida, and for the 'archived' film footage. The campiness is off the charts, right in line with Bettie Page's real-life work.

19. Wordplay

I'm not into crossword puzzles, but this documentary was fun nonetheless. It delves into how the puzzlemasters create their work, follows the paths of several experts striving to win the national championship, and mixes in celebrity puzzle fiends, including Mike Mussina. Amazingly, this film might have the most heartbreaking ending of any movie of 2006.

18. Inside Man

Interesting caper by Spike Lee. Clive Owen takes hostages at a bank, Denzel Washington is the cop trying to get him out, and Jodie Foster hangs around not doing much of anything. I really liked the reveal of how the robbery went down. Clever stuff.

17. Mission: Impossible III

I admit it: I liked it. Surprisingly good film thanks to a great cast, including Philip Seymour Hoffman and the brilliant Simon Pegg. Gets the coveted Exceeded Expectations Award.

16. Akeelah and the Bee

Hey, back-to-back Laurence Fishburne films. Check out the bit role by Eddie Steeples (Crabman from "My Name Is Earl") as a gang leader.

15. Brick

1940s film noir set in the now. Joseph Gordon-Levitt is a teenager trying to find out what happened to his ex-girlfriend. Everyone talks like characters out of a Bogart film. My favorite line was, "I've got all five senses and I slept last night. That puts me six up on the lot of you."

14. Find Me Guilty

Vin Diesel has hair! Talk about odd. Diesel plays a gangster who defends himself during a massive mafia trial. This is a true story, and they used the actual court transcripts for the trial scenes. Peter Dinklage plays a fellow defense attorney, too.

13. Winter Passing

I adore Zooey Deschanel. Unfortunately, she plays a cocaine addict here, visiting her father (Ed Harris) for the first time in years. She's still cute. Will Ferrell plays a wannabe rocker who plays golf in a small bedroom with Harris. I want to try that.

12. Eight Below

Another true story, this one about eight huskies stuck in an Antarctic snowstorm. Paul Walker is the lovelorn scientist who goes nuts trying to save them. Very sad, as not all the dogs live. Disney couldn't've taken historical liberties with that?

11. Accepted

Another in the "better than I expected" category. The ending is utterly ridiculous and not remotely plausible, but everything that came before it made me laugh. ("This is great, because I always wanted to get hepatitis.")

10. Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest

Yes it was fun, but way too long. The story didn't really get going until about an hour in. Not nearly as good as the original, but still entertaining. I'm greatly looking forward to Geoffrey Rush joining Bill Nighy and Johnny Depp in the third film.

9. Clerks II

More Jay & Silent Bob Strike Back than Clerks, there wasn't nearly enough clever dialogue. Randal was always my favorite non-Jason Lee character from Kevin Smith's films. And Rosario Dawson is really hot.

8. Little Miss Sunshine

I haven't yet decided if the ending is brilliantly hilarious or horribly painful. Steve Carell is easily the breakout star of 2006.

7. Tristram Shandy: A Cock & Bull Story

"The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman" is an insanely long book about a guy trying to tell his life story, but who gets sidetracked so much, he never even gets up to his birth. ("But I'm getting ahead of myself; I've not yet been born.") The film, then, is about the making of a film based on a book that is unfilmable. Steve Coogan plays himself playing Tristram Shandy. Classic British humor here.

6. An Inconvenient Truth

The most important movie of the year. I immediately felt horrible for every energy-wasting activity ever. Learn more here:

5. The Prestige

From the director of Memento, Christian Bale and Hugh Jackman are rival magicians both trying to master the Transporting Man trick. It opens with Bale being sentenced to death for killing Jackman, and ends with a seriously fucked-up resolution. Bonus points for featuring Scarlett Johansson.

4. V For Vendetta

Somehow I didn't know this was about the Guy Fawkes story going in. Tremendous movie. Everything about it was great, from the "Count of Monte Cristo"-style imprisonment to the Benny Hill parody with Stephen Fry. I don't own the special edition DVD yet, for some reason.

3. Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan

Funniest title of the year, and funniest movie of the year. It's pretty much one continuous 90-minute laugh.

2. The Departed

Has everyone seen this by now? Good. It majorly pissed me off that Leonardo DiCaprio was killed so anticlimactically by an irrelevant character. Who the hell was that guy? I think it was Matt Damon's partner, but I can't be sure. You don't have a character that minor kill your protagonist. Bah.

That's my only problem with the movie. Everything else about it was outstanding. I even enjoyed Scorcese tackling the "let's shoot as many people in the head as possible" challenge.

1. Stranger Than Fiction

The most original movie of the year. Even though the entire premise is that Will Ferrell can hear Emma Thompson's narration, it still takes you by surprise when he responds to it, which only makes things funnier. Dustin Hoffman was great as the lit professor. I'm cool with the ending, too. It works for me.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Zito v. Hampton

The Giants just signed a 28-year-old lefthanded workhorse to a $126M contract, coming off a year in which he went 16-10 in 221 innings with 151 K and 99 BB. Sound familiar? Go back six years.

In 2000, the Rockies signed a 28-year-old lefthanded workhorse to a $128M contract, coming off a year in which he went 15-10 in 218 innings with 151 K and 99 BB.

Zito, '03-'06: 55-46, 894 IP, 3.86 ERA, 631 K, 357 BB, 100 HR
Hampton, '97-'00: 63-31, 891.1 IP, 3.30 ERA, 604 K, 358 BB, 56 HR

Zito is Hampton with more home runs. At least he won't have Coors Field to contend with.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Favorite Music of 2006

Ah, the year-end wrap-up posts. Because what else am I gonna write about? A couple brief points first:

  • This is a favorite list, not "Best of..."
  • I'm hardly a music fiend. There are bound to be a million great albums I missed (or at least three or four). In fact, I only have twelve albums in iTunes from 2006.
The Pipettes - We Are the Pipettes

I'm obsessed with this album. The first time I heard it, I thought it was catchy and pretty good but nothing special and I immediately needed to listen to it over and over again. It's nuts.

So the Pipettes are sort of a cross between the Ronettes and the Go-Gos. They're cute, wear polka dot dresses, and are positively alluring. Plus, their video for "Pull Shapes" recreates a scene from Russ Meyer's Beyond the Valley of Dolls. Now that's kitsch.

Belle & Sebastian - The Life Pursuit

One of my favorite bands, Belle & Sebastian can always be counted on for great lyrics and fun wordplay. There's plenty of good stuff on this album: "Funny Little Frog" being my current favorite track.

I don't dare to touch your hand
I don't dare to think of you
In a physical way
And I don't know how you smell
You are the cover of my magazine
You're my fashion tip, a living museum
I'd pay to visit you on rainy Sundays
I'll maybe tell you all about it someday

Jack Johnson
- Sing-A-Longs and Lullabies for the Film Curious George

Haven't seen the movie; don't plan to. I think of this as a regular Jack Johnson album; just aimed at kids. He changed the lyrics to "Who's To Say" to create "Upside Down" (complete with a music video featuring Curious George), reworked the "Three R's" song, covered the White Stripes' "We're Going to Be Friends" (a natural fit for him) and, of course, featured G. Love on "Jungle Gym."

The Islands - Return to the Sea

Part trippy, part melodic, part Caribbean. They cover a ton of territory, including a random rap section on "Where There's a Will There's a Whalebone" and cannibalism on "Humans." It all makes sense in context, somehow.

Tilly & the Wall - Bottoms of Barrels

This is what you need to know about Tilly & the Wall: they have a tap dancer in lieu of a drummer. Seriously.

Now that's a gimmick that begs to be seen. Check 'em out on Letterman.

You don't normally expect to hear the term "tap dance solo" in rock music, but it works. I wonder what that girl feels like at the end of a tour though?

The Little Ones - Sing Song EP

Indie pop to an almost ridiculous degree. Hand claps and sweetness galore, pretty much all six songs here will become permanent squatters in your head. You'll either love it or hate it. Me, I'm cool with it.

I'm From Barcelona - Let Me Introduce My Friends

Everything I wrote about the Little Ones can be applied here, to a lesser extent. They remind me a bit of The Boy Least Likely To, with their fondness for childhood and whatnot.

"I'm gonna sing this song with all my friends/And we're all from Barcelona." They're actually from Sweden, by the way.

Arctic Monkeys - Whatever People Say I am, That's What I'm Not

This album debuted at #1 in Britain, demolishing all the records for fasting-selling debuts. Not only was everyone in the UK listening to them, but pretty much nothing else but them. Pretty good when you consider they never even advertised the album; it was all word of mouth. Frankly, I don't really see what all that fuss was about; they're good but not mass hysteria good.

MC Lars - The Graduate

Lars describes his music as post-punk laptop rap. Umm, okay. I imagine he's the only rapper with a laptop on stage during his shows. That's where his music is since he makes all his songs on Apple's Garage Band software. That's bloody brilliant.

When you listen to him, you think, "Oh my god, this has to be the whitest guy ever." Then you see his video and you think, "Oh my god, I had no idea how white he is."

Now I'm a geek, so Lars cracks me up. His fake song in "Signing Emo" would fit in perfectly on TRL. He trashes on gangsta rap in "Generic Crunk Rap" ("Rhyme about my rims/Rhyme about my bling/Chorus where I scream 'cause I don't know hot to sing"). And "Space Game" is basically geek dance music.

Movies sometime soon.

Friday, December 22, 2006

Home for the holidays

I'm not working again until 2007. My new computer should be here soon, I'm spending Christmas at my sister's, and a writing muse has suddenly hit me. All in all, things are looking up.

Monday, December 18, 2006


A couple months back, I caught Serenity on HBO. It's based on the TV show Firefly, which I'd never seen. But since it's from Joss Whedon, the man behind Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel, I wanted to check it out.

And you know what? It's a great flick. Absolutely loved it. I was captivated by Summer Glau, who played about 900 emotions as River, not to mention going totally bad ass twice. So when I picked up the Firefly DVD, I was expecting more of the same.

There were 14 episodes of Firefly (stupid Fox). I spent all 14 episodes waiting for River to go nuts like in Serenity, but it never happened. Sure, on one occasion she killed three guys with three bullets with her eyes closed. That was all though. The rest of the time she was more helpless little girl than government-created weapon. And the anticipation was killing me.

That's not to say the show wasn't great. Now that I've seen it, I'm convinced it had the potential to develop the same way Buffy the Vampire Slayer did. Instead we get one film and the faintest of hopes for a second. Bah.

Monday, December 11, 2006

The other direction

Last time out I translated Roger Clemens's stats to the AL. As impressive as he looked, it got me wondering what Johan Santana would look like in the NL:


Hot damn, that's pretty.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Projecting Pettitte

Now that Andy Pettitte is a Yankee again, the major question becomes, how will he adjust to the AL? There is a very obvious imbalance between the leagues, and surely Pettitte will suffer for it. But how much?

There were 40 pitchers who split 2006 between the AL and NL, totaling over 2800 IP. I put their stats in both leagues side-by-side and weighted each player by the least PA. For example, Shawn Chacon faced 303 batters with the Yankees and 206 batters with the Pirates. I therefore scaled back his AL stats to 206 batters faced so that he affects each league equally. Here is how those 40 pitchers performed in each league, on a per 200 inning basis:


You can see that switching from the NL to AL will add half of a run to a pitcher's ERA. There is also an across-the-board shift in every statistic showing the NL as the 'easier' league. I don't think any of these numbers will surprise anyone.

Now, to apply these to Pettitte. First, we need a baseline projection. We'll simply use a Marcel-style system: a weighted average of the past three seasons. For Pettitte, we get the following line:


Pretty darn good. If Pettitte were returning to Houston, that's the line we'd be predicting. But we want to know what he'll do with the Yankees. First, we adjust the projection from the NL to the AL:


Doesn't look so hot anymore, does it? Keep in mind, this is the same exact performance as the previous pitching line; the only thing that's changed is the context.

Next step: park factors. Yankee Stadium is presumably an easier place to pitch for a southpaw than the Juice Box. Using the Day-By-Day Database, I figured component park factors for the past three seasons for both stadia. Doing this drops Pettitte's ERA to 4.10.

Last step: defense. As a lefthanded groundball pitcher, Pettitte relies rather heavily on his shortstop. Thankfully, he had Adam Everett sucking up everything in sight. According to The Hardball Times, the Astros made 86 more plays than average on groundballs (tops in the majors) but made 31 less plays on flyballs. Meanwhile, the Yankees were -9 on groundballs and +14 on flyballs. Applying the appropriate weights to Pettitte's projected number of grounders and flies, and we would expect him to give up an additional 10 hits with the Yankees.

I'm regressing that number, however. Since I only have the 2006 stats on this front, I would rather be conservative and bring them back to average 50%. So, our final, league-adjusted, park-adjusted, defense-adjusted, super complete 2007 projection for Andy Pettitte is:


That's what the Yankees are paying $16 million for. Meh.

And just for kicks, here's Roger Clemens's projection:


Sunday, December 03, 2006

Winter Meetings Reset

We're on the doorstep of the main event of the offseason, and there's plenty of action expected. There's pitching aplenty, the Manny Ramirez fiasco, Daisuke's negotiations, potential Barry Bonds developments, and potential trade targets as Miguel Tejada, Brad Lidge and Richie Sexson. With all these storylines, it's easy to get excited despite the Yankees' absence from any of them. Here's where the Yankees stand, unit-by-unit:

Starting Rotation (5)
Right now
RHP Chien-Ming Wang
RHP Mike Mussina
LHP Kei Igawa
LHP Randy Johnson
RHP Carl Pavano

Other options

RHP Humberto Sanchez
RHP Darrell Rasner
RHP Jeff Karstens
RHP Philip Hughes
RHP Scott Proctor
RHP Tyler Clippard
LHP Sean Henn

The Yankees have plenty of depth and oodles of potential. The top three are good bets to be mainstays all year long, though, like all pitchers, with a fair bit of range in performance.

While those three are likely to eat up 90 starts, piecing together the other 72 could very will be spread amongst all nine of the other options. Johnson and Pavano both have serious health AND performance issues. Jeff Karstens, relying on the aerodynamic wonder that is his nonexistent chin, is probably Torre's first option for fill-in duty, despite having the worst stuff of any of the minor league fallbacks. Rasner is a similar 4A guy, though I like his odds of contributing something.

By all accounts, both Hughes and Sanchez are already major league-ready. It's possible--if not likely--that both end the season in the rotation. Clippard should be in Scranton all year with only a late-season emergency start in the cards.

Bullpen (7)
Right now
RHP Mariano Rivera
RHP Scott Proctor
RHP Kyle Farnsworth
LHP Mike Myers
RHP Chris Britton
RHP Brian Bruney
RHP Darrell Rasner

Other Options
RHP T.J. Beam
RHP Colter Bean
RHP J. Brent Cox
LHP Ron Villone
LHP Sean Henn

I'm fine with the bullpen. Granted, I'd prefer only six releivers, but we know Torre is going with seven.

Rivera is a god. The setup and uber-LOOGY are good. Middle relief is a problem for most teams, but there are plenty of names here to work with. In addition to these relievers, there are also the prospects, who can make their MLB debuts as long relievers. There's no reason to give out ridiculous long-term deals to mediocre bullpen arms, Baltimore-style.

Infield (5)
Right now
C Jorge Posada
1B Andy Phillips
2B Robinson Cano
3B Alex Rodriguez
SS Derek Jeter

Other options
Craig Wilson
Eduardo Perez
Shea Hillenbrand

One of these things is not like the other. One could argue that at four of the five infield positions, the Yankees have the best player in the league. The other? Not so much.

Much as I like Andy Phillips, he did nothing last season to earn an everyday job. Craig Wilson would be ideal to resign, what with his righthanded sock and cheap price tag. The concern is that Torre doesn't trust him after his poor two-month trial in 2006.

Other than Wilson, the options are bad. Hillenbrand isn't much of a hitter, costs a lot, and raises all sorts of clubhouse issues. Perez can hit lefties, but is wildly inconsistent.

There's always the possibility of a trade (Pavano for Sexson's contract?) but the wish here is a second chance for Wilson.

Outfield/DH (4)
Right now
LF Hideki Matsui
CF Johnny Damon
RF Bobby Abreu
DH Jason Giambi

Other options
What for?

Can you say 'set'? Seriously, the Yankees' lineup is a monster.

Bench (4)
Right now
OF Melky Cabrera
IF Nick Green
C Wil Nieves
OF Kevin Thompson

Other options
OF/DH Bernie Williams
IF Miguel Cairo
OF Kevin Reese
C Sal Fasano
Any of a million hangers-on and minor league free agents

Melky immediately makes the bench useful; he can and will play all three outfield positions. Thompson is an ideal fifth outfielder. He can hit a bit, has the speed to play all three outfield spots, and is a fantastic pinch running option for Giambi/Posada/Matsui. So this half of the bench is quite strong.

The other half? Meh. When was the last time Torre carried a useful backup catcher? We're used to no value from that spot, a tradition that should continue in 2007. The backup infield spot needs to be filled. I'm not thrilled with either Cairo or Green. That's something that can be taken care of anytime, however.

Essentially, this team needs a first baseman and utility infielder. That's it. Both needs can be filled cheaply and easily, sticking with Cashman's plan to get younger and cut payroll. The only other issue is completing the Igawa negotiations. Beyond that, the Yankees' remaining offseason should be quiet.

The Yankees are strong and the other 29 teams are doing crazy things. Life is good.

Thursday, November 30, 2006

K Kings: Kill and Be Killed

There have been 13 pitchers to record at least 3,000 strikeouts since 1957. Here, then, is the baker's dozen, along with the players they rang up the most, and the ones they faced the most without a single K.

Nolan Ryan - 5714 K
Favorite Victim: Claudell Washington (39 K in 102 PA)
The One Who Got Away: Julian Javier (0 K in 18 PA)

Roger Clemens - 4604 K
Favorite Victim: Chili Davis (30 K in 922 PA)
The One Who Got Away: Brian Harper (0 K in 23 PA)

Randy Johnson - 4544 K
Favorite Victim: Rickey Henderson (30 K in 85 PA)
The One Who Got Away: Orlando Cabrera (0 K in 35 PA)

Steve Carlton - 4136 K
Favorite Victim: Dave Kingman (36 K in 112 PA)
The One Who Got Away: Tommy Helms (0 K in 65 PA)

Bert Blyleven - 3701 K
Favorite Victim: Reggie Jackson (49 K in 140 PA)
The One Who Got Away: Scott Bradley (0 K in 30 PA)

Tom Seaver - 3640 K
Favorite Victim: Tony Perez (41 K in 117 PA)
The One Who Got Away: Craig Reynolds (0 K in 35 PA)

Don Sutton - 3574 K
Favorite Victim: Willie McCovey (38 K in 146 PA)
The One Who Got Away: Rudy Law (0 K in 30 PA)

Gaylord Perry - 3534 K
Favorite Victim: Lee May (32 K in 109 PA)
The One Who Got Away: Bill Buckner (0 K in 46 PA)

Phil Niekro - 3342 K
Favorite Victim: Tony Perez (36 K in 174 PA)
The One Who Got Away: Cookie Rojas (0 K in 29 PA)

Ferguson Jenkins - 3192 K
Favorite Victim: Deron Johnson (34 K in 113 PA)
The One Who Got Away: Johnny Ray (0 K in 29 PA)

Greg Maddux - 3169 K
Favorite Victim: Ray Lankford (31 K in 108 PA)
The One Who Got Away: Tony Gwynn (0 K in 103 PA)

Bob Gibson - 3117 K
Favorite Victim: Willie Stargell (41 K in 152 PA)
The One Who Got Away: Darrell Evans (0 K in 35 PA)

Curt Schilling - 3015 K
Favorite Victim: Andres Galarraga (22 K in 54 PA)
The One Who Got Away: Orlando Merced (0 K in 23 PA)

And because he's right there...

Pedro Martinez - 2998 K
Favorite Victim: Jorge Posada (33 K in 69 PA)
The One Who Got Away: Tony Gwynn (0 K in 36 PA)