Sunday, December 7, 2014

Yankees Headley's "Top Choice" in Spite of Unwillingness to Give Him Four Years: Heyman

It was reported earlier this month the Yankees were "cooling" their pursuit of free agent third baseman Chase Headley, but that doesn't appear to have affected the latter's viewpoint of them much.

According to CBS Sports' Jon Heyman, Headley still favors the Yankees over all other potential suitors, in spite of the fact they don't want to offer him more than three years. The common belief right now seems to be Headley enjoyed his two-month stint with the team last season, and may be willing to accept less length in order to remain a part of it. 

From Heyman's report:

"Headley is said to have suggested to some the Yankees are his top choice. However, the Giants, champions three times in the past five years, provide an interesting second option. They lost [Pablo] Sandoval, and their appearance in this derby raises the possibility of a spirited competition for the player who hit .243 with 13 home runs and 49 RBI but was much better than that in New York."
Indeed, Headley played well during his time in the Bronx, batting .262 with six home runs and 17 RBIs in 58 games. Prior to putting up those numbers, he hit just .229 in 19 more contests with the Padres, the club from which he was traded to the Yankees. 
Nonetheless, the stats Headley put up with the Yankees aren't amazing, and while it's possible he could improve them in the future, it's unlikely New York will suddenly go after him again unless he agrees to seriously compromise. The Yankees are reportedly intrigued by the idea of starting infield prospect Rob Refsnyder in 2015, and since doing so probably wouldn't weaken their defense, it's a safe bet that's the scenario they'll ultimately choose.
We should find out for sure at this week's Winter Meetings, which are set to carry on through Thursday.

Andrew Miller, BIP Locations and Should We Worry?

Earlier in the day we took a look at the BIP locations for Didi Gregorius to see what his batted balls in play would look like if he was hitting inside Yankee Stadium and not Chase Field in 2014. We will do the same here with Andrew Miller as he also came to the team on Friday on a four year deal. We will have to do a pair of these obviously since Miller was traded mid-season from the Boston Red Sox to the Baltimore Orioles so let's get to it, lot's to do here.

Fly Outs
Home Runs

No I did not forget to list home runs in the picture, he didn't give up any and wouldn't give up any inside Yankee Stadium. So far so good, now what about Camden Yards using the same color scheme as above?

So one double goes out of Yankee Stadium and maybe the wind carries a fly out to the Bleacher Creatures. That left handed power arm with strikeout tendencies should be just fine in New York. Take a breath Yankees family, I have a feeling the team is going to be fine.

Andrew Miller Won't Close, per Brian Cashman

Brian Cashman was in a conference call after making the Didi Gregorius trade and after signing Andrew Miller to a four year deal so you have to assume there would be a sound bite or two. The most notable blurb in my eyes was the fact that Andrew Miller would not be the Yankees closer, whether the team got David Robertson back or not. Where does that leave the Yankees bullpen in 2015?

Honestly, if I know Cashman the way I think I know Cashman, if the team does not bring Robertson back then the team will go after a Jason Grilli or a Casey Jannsen. I can't see the team handing Dellin Betances the closers role in 2015, whether he deserves it or not, due to the way the game is played these days. Sometimes the "save" really comes with two outs in the 6th, or when a pitcher gets out of a rally in the 7th etc. Betances nay have hurt his own chances by being too valuable as the Yankees multi-inning fireman in 2014. With that said let's assume the Yankees get Robertson back and take a look at the Yankees bullpen:

CP: Robertson
SU: Betances
SU: Miller
RP: Justin Wilson
RP: Esmil Rogers
RP: Adam Warren
RP: Shawn Kelley
RP: David Phelps/Bryan Mitchell/ Long Man

One word describes that, filthy. That's before Jacob Lindgren comes up or any of Branden Pinder and Danny Burawa.

Making a Case for a Gregorius Offensive Bounceback

First and foremost I want to start off by saying that I was 100% in favor of basically the Shane Greene for Didi Gregorius trade. As much as I love Shane Greene and that slider he is replaceable in the organization with Bryan Mitchell, in the farm system with Manny Banuelos and on the free agency market with Brandon McCarthy, Jon Lester and/or Max Scherzer. There are no above average shortstops on the team right now and the farm system is barren at the position, although not as barren as the free agency market. Didi is better than Stephen Drew, Asdrubal Cabrera, Jed Lowrie and Brendan Ryan.

I realize that Gregorius is not without his faults, especially on the offensive side of the game, but that doesn't worry me as much when I look at the stats. First it's worth mentioning that Didi was a much better hitter in Triple-A than he has been in the majors but I have to wonder if he is due for a breakout season. In 2014 Gregorius hit just .226 in 80 games and still gathered a WAR, 1.1, that was more than five times better than Derek Jeter's 0.2 WAR.

I think Didi has simply fallen into a mixture of not playing enough while running into some bad luck when he plays. First and foremost Gregorius needs to play everyday and the team needs to ditch the "Brendan Ryan platoon" right now before it gets into his head. I mention this because Didi's BAbip was incredibly low at .257, down from his career BAbip of .280 (which granted is a little skewed by a partial season in 2012 with Cincinnati), while his line drive percentage was up to 28% and has gone up every season in the majors. These stats, along with the fact that Didi is still young and left handed inside Yankee Stadium, tell me that Gregorius is due to bounce back and possibly breakout as soon as 2015.

Didi Gregorius, Yankee Stadium and BIP Locations

Every time the New York Yankees acquire player or are reportedly linked to a player the first thing I look at are the BIP locations from the previous season. I think the BIP's, or ball in play locations, can tell you a lot about how a player will react and do in their new stadium. Of course there is neutralized batting stats and such, which I look at as well which by the way adds 11 points to Gregorius' average per Baseball Reference, but this visual look works better for me and a lot of others I've been told on Twitter. Let's take a look at what Gregorius' hits in Arizona would look like if he played 2014 in the Bronx.

As always we use this same chart with the same color scheme:

Line Outs
Fly Outs
Home Runs

As you can see it looks like, again in a perfect world, that Didi will improve substantially inside Yankee Stadium. I know it's hard to differentiate on the picture between doubles, triples, and home runs so you may just have to take my word on it. The lightest colored dots in the outfield were doubles in Chase Field and both of them are home runs in New York. The darker blue dots that barely cleared the wall at the 385 mark and the 408 mark were actually triples which also turned into home runs in the Bronx. Didi hit three home runs last year in Arizona that would have been well out of New York as well which equals seven home runs before we even look at line outs and fly outs. Two fly outs easily clear the wall in New York and I like to at least consider balls that reached the warning track. With the difference in humidity and with the wind blowing at least two of those fly outs could have been home runs in New York while another six were at least in the discussion as home runs. Conceivably, and again in a bubble, Didi could have had 10 home runs or more in New York in just 80 games played just by switching to Yankee Stadium. Double that in 160 games and you have a guy with 20 home run power that we have for the next five seasons and all we had to give up was Shane Greene.... tell me again why you want Brian Cashman fired again?