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Addition By Subtraction
2005-12-08 11:40
by Cliff Corcoran
Note: The Bronx Banter blog has moved to bronxbanterblog.com.

The Yankees have officially announced the trade that will at long last send Tony Womack hurtling into the sun, or at least Cincinnati. It's a minor deal, with the Yankees unloading an unwanted, unproductive player for a pair of minor leaguers, but as far as I'm concerned, it's a minor miracle.

Not only have the Reds agreed to take Womack and his $2 million salary off the Yankees hands for 2006, but they've sent, not one, but two able-bodied young men back to the Bronx for the privilege. Were these kids ticket takers or pretzel vendors (seriously, the Stadium is in dire need of more pretzel vendors, I can never get a pretzel without having to retreat into the concourses) it would have been a steal, but they can actually play baseball.

The lesser player, outfielder Ben Himes, is too old for his league, having failed to advance beyond A-ball at the age of 24. But he did hit .320/.372/.533 for Sarasota in the Florida State League last year. Himes is a fourth outfielder at best, but given that strong showing and the fact that he got a late start (he was drafted out of college in 2003), there's no reason to write him off just yet.

Kevin Howard, meanwhile, was ranked by both Baseball Prospectus and Baseball America as the top player available in today's Rule 5 draft. A 24-year-old, lefty-hitting second baseman who spent all of 2005 in double-A, Howard doesn't have a whole lot of power, but gets his hits and knows how to draw a walk (his .296/.346/.428 line in Chattanooga last year is fairly representative of his abilities at the plate). Howard played 3B in college and returned there in October in the Arizona Fall League where he crushed to the tune of .409/.475/.557, winning the AFL batting crown. A left-handed hitter, Howard's never had a great defensive reputation, but his offensive skills and ability to play multiple positions (it's thought he could also be used in the outfield) could make him a useful utility player as soon as the latter half of this year, which means he's probably already more valuable than Womack. Best of all, the Yankees got him without having to keep him on the 25-man roster all year.

That's a hell of a take for a player who is almost guaranteed to cost the Reds both wins and a couple mil. Indeed, between this trade and the list of players not offered arbitration last night, the Yankees have drastically improved their ballclub in the last 15 hours simply by deleting deleterious players. Check out the dearly departed and their 2005 VORPs:

John Flaherty -9.6
Kevin Brown -9.5
Tony Womack -8.9
Darrell May -8.5
Tim Redding -5.4
Alan Embree -4.8
Matt Lawton -3.5
Ruben Sierra -2.3
Mark Bellhorn -1.0
Rey Sanchez -0.5
Mike Vento -0.5
Russ Johnson -0.3

No, those aren't dashes, those are negative numbers. If the Yankees can replace those twelve men with replacement level players--the sort that can be acquired via the waiver wire or promoted from the minors--they stand to improve by nearly 55 runs in 2006, that's five and a half wins. For example, John Flaherty's replacement, Kelly Stinnett, had a VORP of 5.3 in 2005, that's a net improvement of 14.9 runs, or a win and a half in the back-up catcher slot alone. Oh, Glorious Day!

Comments
2005-12-08 12:41:50
1.   Shaun P
I might go out and buy a Reds baseball cap as a way of saying thanks to them. The 5.5-win improvement you mention, Cliff, might be enough on its own to overcome the slight, though inevitable, decline in some of the bats.

Now, there's one big question left - and its not "Who plays CF?" Rather, its "Why is Wayne #%(&#%(&##@! Franklin still on the 40-man roster?"

2005-12-08 12:47:04
2.   Dave D
Ya know what Cliff, this is a great f'n post. It shows the Yankees have not been completely silent this offseason. They haven't made a huge splash like getting Josh Beckett but the team is better today than it was after the last out of the playoffs. Too bad the team is also a year older.
2005-12-08 12:47:52
3.   wsporter
Thanks Cliff. We couldn't expect Cashman to trade Womack straight up for Adam Dunn so good job Mr. Cashman. The FSL has a rep for being a tough pitchers league. Himes may not be advanced for his age but he may be based on his experience. We have another guy in Tampa, Christian, who may also fit that description.
The Value Over analysis is great stuff. If we've topped out on high end talent we can do some nice building at the other end of the 25 man roster. I think we can learn something from the White Sox' model.
2005-12-08 13:09:34
4.   Bill
Let's not get too excited until we see how the bench fills out. If they are going to pursue Jose-Viz, for example, we'll know it's just business as usual.
2005-12-08 13:27:16
5.   Nick from Washington Heights
looks like we signed Mike Myers to a 2 year contract. Saw it at Replacement Level...What do people think of the signing?
2005-12-08 13:38:11
6.   ChuckM
It's up on rotoworld too, apparently that's what Myers told MLB.com
2005-12-08 13:39:13
7.   Alex Belth
It's not official yet, but a source tells me the Yanks will sign Mike Myers to a 2-year deal.
2005-12-08 13:39:44
8.   Cliff Corcoran
Bill, Vizcaino was at +0.5 VORP last year. He would do just fine.

Nick, Myers is one of those LOOGYs who should never be allowed to face righty hitters. That's a major problem. That said, he does do his job against lefties and was +10 VORP last year (vs. Embree's -4.8 above, that's another win-and-a-half gain).

Here's hoping he's just a placeholder for a younger home-grown arm and a reason to release Wayne Frankin. No word on the money involved in the two-year deal yet.

2005-12-08 13:43:12
9.   Rob Gee
Well done, Cliff.

Now if only we could get a CF for one of our back of the rotation guys. Simple fact, we found 3 above-average SP's last year (Wang, Chacon, Small) with a little experimentation. Hopefully they continue to produce. We found NO CF's last year with a lot of experimentation. Get the CF CASH-man.

2005-12-08 13:56:59
10.   Andrew Fletcher
I was completely puzzled (and delighted!) that the Reds would give up two prospects, one who seems reasonably-highly regarded until I realized the implications of the Rule 5 draft. They knew they were going to lose Howard anyway, and decided that Womack was worth more to them than the $50,000 they would get by whoever drafted him. While we might think they would have been better off taking the money, at least it gives some explanation as to why we'd get a prospect out of it.

Also, anyone seen how much cash the Yanks sent their way? It wouldn't surprise me if they sent most of Womack's salary for '06, which would still save the Yanks in the luxury tax (right?). This all seems like a clever move by Cashman using the Rule 5 draft to his advantage (without needing to preserve a spot on the 25 man -- just the 40 man.)

2005-12-08 14:01:58
11.   Andrew Fletcher
Just saw that the Yanks paid $900,000 of Womack's salary for 2006. That's almost exactly what they'll save in Luxury tax from not having his $2M on the books. So, they get a prospect without having to keep him in the majors, they save Womack's roster spot and $2M, and they don't have to worry about Torre writing his name in the lineup. Not a bad day at the office for Mr. Cashman.

Anyone think Womack will rebound enough to be worth $1.1 M to the Reds? If he repeats his 2004 numbers, he wouldn't be too badly overpaid.

2005-12-08 14:06:16
12.   jonm
Rob Gee,
You summarized my views perfectly. Starting pitchers are such a gamble that the extra security provided by the back of the rotation guys is really not worth that much. The Yanks scrambled well last year. If need be, they can scramble next year. (Also, as a fan, I found seeing new pitchers being given tryouts to be an entertaining roller coaster ride last year). Henn will be a year older and perhaps he will be ready to contribute.

By the way, can the Yankees still sign Tim Redding to a minor league deal? I think that Kerrigan might be able to get something out of him.

2005-12-08 14:07:54
13.   Shaun P
My brother and I had this discussion last night. A LOOGY is a good thing for the Yanks to have, and Myers is a very good LOOGY . . . but that leaves only 1 open spot in the pen (assuming a 12-man pitching staff):

Starters:
Unit
Moose
Wang
Chacon
Pavano

Bullpen:
Mo
Farnsworth
Sturtze
Wright
Small
Myers
(open spot)

Jason Anderson is out of options, which makes him candidate #1 for the open spot, I guess. And given the pen's construction, if whoever fills the opening ever sees the light of day, it'll be a miracle. We've all seen this one before.

Unless one, if not two, of Wright, Small, and Sturtze suddenly pitch lights-out from the pen - let's be honest, not bloody likely - I see not much progress over last year's pen, addition by subtraction aside.

Sigh.

2005-12-08 14:24:37
14.   Rob Gee
Thanks Shaun. I wanted to do that math. Fact is, the bullpen will go the same way this year. We'll experiment and the youngsters and non-roster invites (e.g., Leiter and Mendoza) seem a much better way to go than say, Todd Jones at 5.5mil/year (yes, the Tiger gave him that). Some will work, others won't - just seems to be the way with most bullpen guys. Depending on whatever Myers got, we're close to about 20 mil in the bullpen. Seems obscene to spend more with rapidly dimishing returns with each dollar.

But CF's get 500 AB's and play defense.(Am I mutilating the horse yet?)

Groan...

2005-12-08 14:31:59
15.   David
Shaun --

How many of those pitchers will stay healthy? Based on last year, I'd say around 2 of them will be on the DL at any given time.

2005-12-08 14:46:17
16.   Adam B
I think either Cashman is working on a trade in regards to one of the pitchers (and will have to if Steinbrenner decides he wants to woo Clemens) or he is just going to wait for some team to have a major pitching injury and then pull off a trade. It's interesting to see the Yankees trying to reduce the awful-ness of the part time players instead of trying to get the best players available. It should at least improve the team in the short run. I still wonder what they're going to do about DH, though. Bernie needs to not be the plan.
2005-12-08 15:12:00
17.   jonm
Rob Neyer wrote an essay in the excellent new Hardball Times book (better than the Prospectus, in my opinion) that has a section on the mistake that was the Yankees bench. It's good to see that they Yankees are now aware of it at least.
2005-12-08 15:46:05
18.   Rich
I just hope Torre realizes that Myers is only effective against LH hitters:

v. Left: .158 .198 .211 .409

v. Right: .385 .510 .641 1.151

Given his historic tendencies, that's not a certainty.

2005-12-08 15:58:05
19.   Bill
Cliff, it is an indication of how low your expectations for Yankee roster management have fallen that you think a 38-year old infielder with a .5 VORP and dubious defensive skills (and a contract well over the minimum no doubt) would be "just fine."
2005-12-08 16:50:08
20.   Start Spreading the News
I was looking at Soriano's numbers. Here are is numbers away from his hitter-friendly home park:
2004 - BA: .244 OBP: .291 SLG: .444 OPS: .735
2005 - BA: .224 OBP: .265 SLG: .374 OPS: .639

And he is moving to a pitcher's park! Now I don't think that he will do this badly. After all, he did quite well at Yankee Stadium which is not a hitter's park. But you have to wonder if the Nationals are overestimating his abilities.

2005-12-08 17:36:39
21.   murphy
wow. if you'd have told me two months ago that tom gordon would be more valuable than alfonso soriano on my fantasy team, i would have said you were on crack, but those splits are SCARY.
2005-12-08 18:13:33
22.   BklynBomber
Miggy wants out of Baltimore, reports ESPN...

http://tinyurl.com/97pbp

Crazy thought (shades of A-Rod) — he'll accept a move to 2B to come to The Bronx, but we lose Cano, Duncan and probably one more top prospect. Maybe worse yet, Cano/Wang and a lower level prospect... Would you do a deal like that today?

2005-12-08 18:17:37
23.   murphy
how bout sheff and duncan for tejada and jay gibbons. play gibbons in right and tejada at DH.
2005-12-08 18:45:45
24.   Ravenscar
Any team that plays Tejada as a DH instead of in the infield deserves to be contracted, disbanded, shredded, stomped on, and fed to New Jersey.

He's simply too much fun to have in the field. I think watching someone with that kind of joy for the game sitting on the bench would make me want to cry.

2005-12-08 19:18:10
25.   murphy
c'mon, ravenscar, tell us how you REALLY feel. ;)
2005-12-08 19:36:52
26.   wsporter
Hey Murphy:

Talk about punishing a decomposing equine, how bout same trade but Jeter in CF and Tejada at short. I know I'm just pissing in the wind, but what the hell its late.

2005-12-08 19:47:21
27.   murphy
sporter,

that was my first thought, but then i realized, as much sense as we all know it would make, jeter will never even be asked to switch.

2005-12-08 20:01:50
28.   wsporter
They're going to have to move him out of there someday. I watched the O's go through it with Ripken, it wasn't pretty watching Cal waive at all those ground balls. I don't want to see Jeter go through that. I'd bet if they asked him he'd do it. Hell, they could dress it up as Jeter riding in to the rescue and putting team first and all for one and one for .... I've loved the Yankees since I was a kid. Its odd to find that you have a favorite player that you identify well into your adulthood. Jeter's that player. Love the guy. Odds are he won't retire as the Yankees' shortstop. Why not ask him to try the move now. He could go out patrolling the same acreage once owned by Mantle, and DiMaggio and Bernie. Where's the shame in that?
2005-12-08 20:06:45
29.   wsporter
Having said all that. Tejada is an emotional guy. He's just blowing off. I'd be shocked if he went anywhere
2005-12-08 20:32:50
30.   Rob Gee
Hey sporter -

How about Milton Bradley instead?

2005-12-08 21:04:57
31.   wsporter
Rob:

Haven't you and I been through enough?

2005-12-08 21:43:40
32.   Rob Gee
sport -

I feel wanted when there's conflict - a very long and painful childhood...

You know, it's just all this nostalgia for drunks and manwhores has me a little emotional. I'm sorry - I'll pull myself together.

2005-12-08 21:59:11
33.   wsporter
Rob:

I wouldn't worry about it. I'm sure it's just an outsized need to belong. I often wander through a similar indigestible set of memories at this hour as well. Ah, good times, good times.

2005-12-09 03:18:45
34.   debris
Hmm, Red Sox need a shortstop, Manny wants a trade, Manny is a stud and is owed a lot of money, all of which he's worth.

Tejada wants a trade. Tejada is a stud and is owed a lot of money, all of which he's worth. Tejada is a shortstop.

Tejada is probably the only guy in baseball for whom the Sox could trade Manny and make themselves a better team.

2005-12-09 04:33:25
35.   Shaun P
Hmm, trade a guy with a career 1.008 OPS for a guy with a career .815 OPS - who has never had an OPS over .900 at any point in his career.

This Manny for Tejada crap was all over the airwaves in Boston last night. What are these people smoking?

I know they are 4 years apart in age, but I'd rather have Manny at 37 when he's still OPSing over .900 than Tejada at any age.

2005-12-09 04:44:36
36.   Nick from Washington Heights
Not that I know what this exactly means but Tejada's VORP was higher than Manny's last year. Although Manny had 6 more win shares. I think this would be a good trade for the Sox as it would occur in the context of a trade demand, and Tejada is the best SS in mlb right now.
2005-12-09 04:53:38
37.   debris
Tejada career stats are brought down by the fact that he didn't develop into a stud player until 2002 when he was 26. He's been in the .850 range over the last four years. But when you consider the fact that he's a plus defensive shortstop, that he's $8 M cheaper than Manny, and that he's a team leader, the deal works for the Sox. But does it work for the Birds? That, I haven't examined.

Also consider the fact that they can find a better left fielder between now and April than they can a shortstop.

2005-12-09 05:15:18
38.   Simone
I don't mind if the Red Sox trade Manny for Tejada though ideally I want Manny out of the AL East. Regardless, this "Tejada is a better player than Manny" thing that is all over the Internet is Red Sox Nation delusion.
2005-12-09 05:27:22
39.   wsporter
For what its worth, I like Debris's analysis on this one. From a talent POV I think the trade would make some sense for both teams. I think Tejada's offensive production is magnified given the position he plays yet, Many was a superior player last year (at least in terms of Win Shares). Tejada did have a down year for him. I'm not sure the O's would take on the money difference this and next year. Plus the O's seem to be a little gun shy of guys who bring Manny's shall we say special qualities. If the Sox pull this off I think they have a chance to make themselves even better. There are still some good free agent left field options out there. I thought I hated what they did yesterday, this would make me down right queasy. Boston had the guy on waivers not so long ago. They were willing to give him away for nothing. If they get Tejada for him I'll puke.
2005-12-09 05:32:53
40.   Nick from Washington Heights
If the Sox pull this off, I could imagine a package of prospects to the Reds for Adam Dunn who would fill out both LF/1b positions nicely. Hate to say it, but at least in terms of hot stove talk, it's fun to be a sox fan right now. They have a lot of options. Us? Not so much.
2005-12-09 11:56:23
41.   Marcus
I was with debris until he said "[Tejada's] a team leader". He may be a good cheer leader, but a good leader doesn't abandon his teammates like he's trying to do right now. I mean, didn't he skip the "criticize the front office in the media" part and went right to the "I want out"?

He says they aren't making the right moves. Well they signed a pretty decent, young catcher in Ramon Hernandez, so now Javy can get some rest at 1B/DH, and it's not their fault the Blue Jays overpaid for BJ Ryan and AJ Burnett. They've got Mazzone now so maybe they'll see an uptick in their pitching. They've got a pretty solid offense as well. But he's ready to jump ship when the offseason isn't even half over. I hate using this phrase, but that's "bush league".

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