Thursday, December 10, 2015

Pedro Alvarez NOT A Fit in New York

Pedro Alvarez, formerly of the Pittsburgh Pirates, was made a free agent last week after being non-tendered by his former team. I have received a slew of emails since asking if the Yankees would be interested in Alvarez’s services on a short-term deal so I figured I would answer everyone at once rather than in a million individual emails, Pedro Alvarez is NOT a fit in New York.

Yes I realize he will come “cheap” and yes I realize that Baseball Reference lists him as a third baseman and a first baseman. Yes I realize we have no true third base backup for Chase Headley and yes I realize he is “versatile” because he plays multiple positions but here’s the thing. He’s left-handed, he stinks up the joint at both positions defensively and he cannot be hidden at the DH position.

Alex Rodriguez is the team’s DH for the next two seasons, Greg Bird is going to take over for Mark Teixeira after this season and Chase Headley has three more seasons at third base. Sure Headley could get injured but the Yankees, and myself, feel more comfortable with Brendan Ryan’s defense over there than Alvarez’s, even if the former Pirates player could hit you 20 home runs.

How Long Does “Percolating” Take?

The New York Yankees are not going to spend money this winter, everyone needs to realize this and accept this before it’s too late. Hal Steinbrenner is not going to open up the wallet strings and Brian Cashman is not going to be allowed to take on salary in any sort of move or trade. Bottom line. This is the reasoning behind Cashman’s statements detailing how the New York Yankees would be willing to deal anyone and everyone on the team, especially Andrew Miller, Brett Gardner and Ivan Nova. Cashman was interviewed at the Winter Meetings and said that deals for these players were “percolating.” How long does “percolating” really take?

Nova is a free agent at the end of the season and is set to cost them at least $4.5 million in salary this season through the arbitration process. New York is looking to send Nova elsewhere and add another pitcher with just one-to-three years of service time. Apparently teams are not lining up and down the block to buy low on Ivan Nova or buy high on Andrew Miller.

Cashman is waiting for these contracts to come off the books. CC Sabathia’s $25 million AAV, Mark Teixeira’s $22.5 million AAV, Masahiro Tanaka’s $22 million AAV, Jacoby Ellsbury’s $21.1 million AAV, Alex Rodriguez’s $20 million for 2016 and 2017, Brian McCann’s $17 million AAV and Carlos Beltran’s $15 million AAV.

Ladies and gents, the Yankees are not bluffing. They weren’t bluffing last season and they weren’t bluffing before the 2013 season either. 2016 has all the makings of being a long, long season. Starlin Castro may be the only true addition to the team this winter, and that's okay.

Hal Shows He’s Still Calling the Shots… Unfortunately

The Winter Meetings are almost wrapped up and the New York Yankees once again have been relatively quiet. Many fans are screaming for the head of Brian Cashman, once again, and once again Cashman is getting stoned for the King’s work. It’s not King George anymore though, this time around it’s King Hal Steinbrenner that’s still calling the shots… unfortunately.

When the news broke that the San Francisco Giants had signed right-hander Jeff Samardzija to a five-year deal worth $90 million many Yankees fans erupted. Samardzija had been linked to the Yankees all offseason long and when the dust settled the Yankees didn’t even make an offer. The same can be said for the Los Angeles Dodgers signing of right-hander Hisashi Iwakuma. Another perfect fit for the Yankees, another pitcher with a ton of rumors and supposed interest by New York and another non-offer. Why? Hal Steinbrenner. Hal Steinbrenner is not allowing Cashman to make any significant signings or expenditures this offseason since very little to no money is coming off the books.

Cashman once again gets the short end of the stick and the brunt of the hate. Cashman did not sign many of the contracts that are hampering the team and their budget right now. It wasn’t Cashman who wanted Carlos Beltran, Brian McCann or Jacoby Ellsbury. It was Hal. Cashman did not want to re-sign Alex Rodriguez once he opted out, hell Cashman didn’t want A-Rod to begin with, both were George Steinbrenner influenced signings. Cashman is merely the guy being handed chopsticks to eat with after the organization has cut his hands off. He’s starving!

I know this probably goes on at many organizations and none of them are as public, or maybe I just don’t pay attention close enough to other teams, as the Yankees but this is getting out of hand. Let the general manager, in name only apparently, do his job and simply write the checks Hal. If you don’t have trust in your people, and obviously you don’t, then fire them and start over with people you do trust. Something has got to change though because this has proven time and time again that this is not working. Not even close. 

Jeff Samardzija Prices New York OUT on Wei-Yin Chen

The New York Yankees are going to be frugal once again this winter, this much we know, and are likely to stay out of the deep end of the free agency pool. We’ve all watched as David Price, Zack Greinke, Jordan Zimmerman and Jeff Samardzija have pulled down big money offers without the Yankees even making an offer or as much as a phone call to their agents while the team looks to acquire a player with one-to-three years of service time in a trade. Brian Cashman and Hal Steinbrenner have not completely ruled out a free agency signing this winter but they have stated that it will be a minor one. After seeing what the San Francisco Giants gave Samardzija after possibly the worst season of his career I think Wei-Yin Chen just got a little too expensive for the Bombers.

The Yankees have been linked to Chen for much of the offseason after the left-hander hit free agency this winter. Chen has given the Yankees headaches over the past few seasons as a member of the Baltimore Orioles and despite lackluster numbers inside the new Yankee Stadium New York remained interested in his services. Chen was offered a qualifying offer this winter and declined meaning that the Yankees would have to surrender the 20th overall pick in the 2016 Draft, remember Arizona and San Francisco lost their picks due to free agency signings, but at this moment it seems like that pick is safe.

Chen is a better pitcher than Samardzija has ever been and definitely was in 2015. Chen pitched to a 3.8 WAR, 4.16 FIP and 1.218 WHIP in 2015 which improved his career numbers to 10.0, 4.14 and 1.252. Looking at Samardzija’s disaster of a 2015 season he posted a 0.2 WAR, 4.23 FIP and 1.294 WHIP lowering his career totals to 7.1, 3.84 and 1.278. Looking at these numbers for a pair of 30-year old pitchers if Samardzija is worth five-years and $90 million then what’s Chen worth? Six years and $120 million? Not my money or not, no thank you.

The only way the Yankees are going to acquire an upgrade in the starting rotation is via trade. If the Miami Marlins want to make Jose Fernandez available then swoop him up, even if it costs the team Aaron Judge. If the Braves are willing to make a Shelby Miller for Ivan Nova and Robert Refsnyder package work then you pull the trigger. Just don’t sign Wei-Yin Chen. 

Meet a Prospect: Starlin Castro

Brian Cashman and the New York Yankees continued their second baseman stockpiling this week when they acquired second baseman Starlin Castro from the Chicago Cubs for relief pitcher Adam Warren and infielder Brendan Ryan. The trade allowed the Cubs to finalize a deal with free agent Ben Zobrist and gave the Yankees some stability at the second base position that they have been lacking since Robinson Cano left for Seattle via free agency. I am still on the fence about this trade truth be told but that doesn’t mean we aren’t going to introduce you to Castro anyway. This is Meet a Prospect: The Starlin Castro Edition.

Starlin DeJesus Castro was born on March 24, 1990 in the Dominican Republic. Castro is your stereotypical second baseman or shortstop build standing at 6’0” and 190 lbs. who can hit for average and some power. That build and power landed Castro as the Cubs top prospect in 2009 and earned him a call up to the Major Leagues for the 2010 season, Castro was just 20 years old.  

Castro was called up on May 7, 2010 all the way from Double-A and became the first major league player to play in a game after being born in the 1990’s. Castro wasted no time getting acclimated to the big leagues as he took Reds starter Homer Bailey deep in his first major league at bat for a home run becoming the sixth player in Cubs history to hit a home run in their first at bat. Castro later hit a bases clearing triple in that same game to set the record for the most RBI’s in their MLB debut with six RBI. Castro finished his rookie campaign playing in 125 games and batting .300/.347/.408 with three home runs and 41 RBI. Not a bad start rookie. Castro finished tied for fifth in the Rookie of the Year vote and was named to Baseball American’s All-Rookie Team.

Castro got a full season of work in 2011 and rewarded the Cubs with an All-Star Game appearance. Castro became the youngest Chicago Cub to ever make the All-Star team and also won National League Player of the Week twice in his sophomore campaign. Castro finished the season with over 200 hits, becoming the youngest Cub to ever reach 200 hits in a season, and led the entire National League in hits with 207 hits. Castro finished 2011 with a .307/.341/.432 triple slash with 10 home runs and 66 RBI. Castro was now on the map but his defense once again left much to be desired. Castro led all MLB shortstops that season with 29 errors and a .961 fielding percentage.

Castro followed up his first All-Star campaign with his second trip to the Mid-Summer Classic in 2012. Castro finished the season playing in all 162 games and posting a .283 average with 14 home runs and 78 RBI. Castro’s downward trend began in 2013 though after finishing with his worst stat line of his young career. Castro finished hitting just .245 but he did hit 10 home runs and knock in 44 RBI in 161 games. Castro looked to bounce back in 2014 and did with his third All-Star Game appearance for the Cubs. Castro came all the way back from a down season but unfortunately saw his 2014 season end prematurely after landing on the disabled list for the first time in his career. Castro was injured on September 2nd after sliding into home plate awkwardly against the Milwaukee Brewers. Castro did not return that season and ended the year with a .292 average, 14 home runs and 65 RBI. Castro’s defense also improved a bit as he committed just 15 errors and improved his fielding percentage to .973 on the season.

Castro’s career has been one of many “firsts” and he saw his first competition for his starting job in 2015 with Addison Russell. Many speculated that Castro would be dealt at the July 31st trading deadline, potentially to the Padres or Phillies, but Joe Maddon told Castro he would not be traded and he kept his word. That didn’t mean Castro was Maddon’s favorite player though, especially after benching the struggling Cubs star in August for poor performance. Russell took over at shortstop, Castro was moved to second base and the Cubs hoped that Castro’s .236 batting average and defense would improve because of it. That it did as Castro formed into a good second baseman and hit well over .300 after the benching with a .353 average.

The latest first for Castro was the first time that he was traded as the New York Yankees made the trade for him at the Winter Meetings. Brian Cashman hopes to buy low on Castro and hopes that the second baseman can give the stability the Yankees need at the position. Castro is owed $38 million through the 2019 season giving New York his age 26-29 seasons in the Bronx.

Welcome to the family Starlin, be nice to Robert Refsnyder!

Digging in the TGP Archive: Didi Gregorius, BIP Locations and Yankee Stadium

The original post can be seen HERE. If you ignore the fact that I mention Didi Gregorius as a potential 20 home run power bat in 2015 or shortly after the prediction and analysis is pretty spot on. That's my opinion anyway, what's yours?

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?