Saturday, September 7, 2013

Shaking Up Next Year's Team

A lot of Yankees fans have wanted the team to really shake things up, and I can't blame them for that. For most of the season the team has just seemed flat. So while I've advocated the team bringing back Curtis Granderson to start in LF and Hiroki Kuroda to pitch, along with Vernon Wells to be a bench player and Francisco Cervelli to at least share catching duties, I'm going to change that stance (at least for the time being) and say "let them all go".

Here's a box of puppies as a good-bye present.

Let's start with Curtis Granderson. Curtis will likely be able to take a qualifying offer (about $15 million) this offseason, and could even get offered a contract by the Yankees. While I would be okay bringing him back, this could be a way for the team to save a few bucks while taking advantage of some decent outfield options in free agency (see below).

I see no reason to keep Vernon Wells around. He's batting below .250, his on-base percentage is below .300, and a slugging percentage of .371 is hardly something to be proud of. Wells does hit left-handed pitchers well (.295/.349/.423 this season), and would cost nothing towards the Luxury Tax, but the team already has a bad player under contract to play the outfield (Ichiro). For those saying "why not let go of Ichiro, instead", Suzuki would cost more if released. And at least Ichiro is still a solid defender.

Francisco Cervelli came out of the gate on fire in 2013, before getting injured and then suspended. So I thought, and still think, it would be interesting to see what he could do in 2014. But with Austin Romine looking better as of late, and JR Murphy possibly being ready for MLB-duty, it may be time to let go of Cervie. While having faith that he could continue hitting like he did at the beginning of this season is okay, I wouldn't expect such a thing. 

By the way, it's about time Chris Stewart left the team too.

Yep, you too, Chris. Get out.

Looking at the full season, there's no doubt that Hiroki Kuroda has been the best starting pitcher on the team. Even if CC Sabathia was having his typical good season, Kuroda would still likely be some people's choice for starting the first game in the postseason. But I can't ignore the way he's faltered at the end of the last two seasons. And at 38 years old, I don't think we should disregard that. This is looking like one of those times when a team should get out while they're ahead, because the Yankees are sure as hell "ahead" with Hiro.

With all of those guys being let go, it's time to see what the Active Roster looks like so far for 2014. And the arbitration salaries are just guesses, as is Cano's new contract.

Catcher - Austin Romine $500,000 (pre-arbitration)
First Base - Mark Teixeira $22.5 million
Second Base - Robinson Cano $25 million (re-signed)
Third Base -
Shortstop - Derek Jeter $14.375 million
Left Field -
Center Field - Brett Gardner $6 million (arbitration 3)
Right Field –
Designated Hitter - Alfonso Soriano $4 million

Bench - Jayson Nix $1.5 million (arbitration 1)
Bench - JR Murphy $500,000 (pre-arbitration)
Bench - Ichiro Suzuki $6.5 million Note: Ichiro hits LHP well, but must sit vs. RHP
Bench - Eduardo Nunez $600,000 (pre-arbitration)

Starting Pitcher - CC Sabathia $24.4 million
Starting Pitcher -
Starting Pitcher - Ivan Nova $2.5 million (arbitration 1)
Starting Pitcher - Michael Pineda $750,000 (arbitration 1)
Starting Pitcher - David Phelps $500,000 (pre-arbitration)

Closer - David Robertson $5 million (arbitration 3)
Relief Pitcher - Shawn Kelley $1.5 million (arbitration 2)
Relief Pitcher - Adam Warren $500,000 (pre-arbitration)
Relief Pitcher - Preston Claiborne $500,000 (pre-arbitration)
Relief Pitcher - Dellin Betances $500,000 (pre-arbitration)
Relief Pitcher - ??? $500,000 (pre-arbitration)
Relief Pitcher - ??? $500,000 (pre-arbitration)

That means the team has spent $118.625 million, leaving $53.375 million to spend. Remember, that is after the 15 remaining roster spots and portion of player bonuses are taken care of. And I didn't even take into account the fact the team may want to leave itself with a few million dollars to play with.

No, not this type of "playing". I was thinking in case a mid-season move needs to be made.

While I hope Cashman can pull off a good trade or two to fill some of those holes (particularly at least one outfielder, and a third baseman), let's see what free agency has to offer.

Jacoby Ellsbury – Ellsbury is a good defender, gets on base, and carries batting average. However, his power has diminished, and something about him being a key Red Sox player turns me off.

Carlos Beltran – Carlos will be 37 by Opening Day, and therefore shouldn't cost more than a two-year deal. He has good power, but a very low walk rate this season.

Shin-Soo Choo – Choo could cost as much as 5 years, which may be a bit much. Especially seeing that he's almost useless vs. LHP (.199/.330/.230 this season), even though he's really good vs. RHP (.329/.461/.580 vs. RHP). Another thing to keep in mind is that he's not a good defender.

Starting Pitcher
Matt Garza – Matt's under 30, so his arm should be good for years to come. And one good thing is that he's getting AL experience with a contender. On top of that, Garza's strikeout and walk rates are pretty good.

Tim Lincecum – At one time Timmy was in line for a Greinke-like payday, but that ship has sailed. There's a chance he's looking for a shorter contract to boost value for another FA bid. Lincecum has shown signs of his old Cy Young-self (see no-hitter in July), too. If he can get walks under control, and maintain his nice K rate, he could be a good option.

Ricky Nolasco – Nolasco has been killing it in Los Angeles with Dodgers, but that could be due to his low BABIP. Even so, thanks to a low BB rate and decent K rate, he could be interesting.

Third Base
Can you say “nothing good”? Seriously, the free agent list at the hot corner looks damn cold. Mark Reynolds may be the best 3B available, and he’s a very bad defender over there. Michael Young? Well, he has a good batting average, and his on-base percentage is okay, but that SLG is very low, not to mention his poor defense. A trade here is pretty much a "must".

And we haven't even got into a good bullpen arm, who could possibly set-up for Robertson, or be the new closer for the team (no... Girardi will not talk Rivera into returning).

So while the team could certainly use this offseason as an opportunity to shake things up, their ability to compete while doing so next season is in question. 

"This job is really hard."

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