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Cashing In
2006-02-13 21:50
by Cliff Corcoran
Note: The Bronx Banter blog has moved to bronxbanterblog.com.

This past Friday, the Yankees avoided an arbitration hearing with Shawn Chacon by signing the right-hander to a $3.6 million contract that split the difference between the offers made by the player and the club. With that, they cleaned their offseason slate. With pitchers and catchers due to report on Thursday and my slate similarly clean (a couple of book projects, a foray into homeownership, the resulting move, and some key wedding planning having conspired with a slow offseason to keep me away from this space far more that I would have liked since the end of the ALDS), I thought this would be a good opportunity to review the Yankees' offseason moves. I'll follow this up on Thursday by projecting the team's opening day roster and taking a look at the various and sundry players the Yankees will have in camp this spring.

The Yankees were at a crossroads last October. Thanks to the remnants of a dynasty that came to an end a half-decade ago and the financial wherewithal to supplement those pieces (Jeter, Rivera, Posada) with an all-star squad of veterans (Mussina, Giambi, Sheffield, Rodriguez, Johnson), the Yankees had reached the postseason for a staggering eleventh consecutive season. But due in part to the lack of harmony and foresight in the front office, the team had gone home without a Championship in each of the last five of those seasons. On the heels of the absolutely abysmal offseason that followed the 2004 campaign—highlighted by the commitment of a combined $57.95 million to Carl Pavano, Jared Wright and Tony Womack—Yankee General Manager Brian Cashman, with less than a week left on his contract, gave the team an ultimatum. If the Yankees refused to run all baseball operations decisions through him, he'd sign with another team that would.

To their credit, the Yankees relented, re-signing Cashman to a three-year, $5.5 million deal and giving him authority over all player transactions. As Cashman's in-season infusion of talented youngsters via the promotions of second baseman Robinson Cano and pitcher Chien-Ming Wang suggested, it was exactly what the team needed.

At long last freed from the foolish and impulsive moves made by the team's vilified Tampa contingent, Cashman took a good look at his team and properly recognized that, while the infield was solid-to-excellent and the starting rotation was, if loaded with question marks, at least well-populated, the outfield, bullpen and bench needed to be completely restocked.

The first order of business was the outfield. With Bernie Williams' 2006 option declined, Hideki Matsui's contract set to expire, and Jason Giambi installed at first base—as well he should be by anyone who's ever seen his splits—the Yankees had nothing more than Gary Sheffield and Bubba Crosby to populate the three outfield spots and designated hitter.

Because of a clause in Matsui's contract that would have forced the Yankees to release him on November 16, thus preventing them from re-signing him before May 15 due to baseball's transaction rules (see bottom), Cashman's first job was to sign Matsui.

Given the available alternatives, inking Matsui was a no-brainer, though the price and length of his contract could easily have turned a move Cashman had to make into one he shouldn't have. Matsui will be 32-years old in June and his production was all over the map in 2005. When he's locked in, as he was for the majority of the 2004 season (.298/.390/.522), Matsui can be one of the most productive hitters in the league. But when he's off balance, as he was for most of 2003 (.287/.353/.435) and long stretches of 2006, including the ALDS (.200/.273/.400), he's an absolute out machine. Committing to such a player past his 35th birthday should only be done in the most extreme of circumstances.

Fortunately for Cashman, he was able to keep Matsui's deal to four years, $52 million. The four years will keep Matsui in pinstripes just four months past his 35th birthday, and the $52 million is offset by the revenue Matsui generates for the club through merchandising and television licensing in his home country of Japan as well as increased the revenue brought in by Japanese fans in the States. A three-year deal would have been preferable, but to Cashman's credit, he used nearly every minute of his negotiating time to get as close to the ideal contract as he could, finally signing Matsui on the evening of the 15th.

With Matsui tied up, Cashman turned his attention to two players I strongly advocated in this space: free agent Brian Giles and Phillies center fielder Jason Michaels. Unfortunately, he was unable to land either. Giles resigned with San Diego for three years, $30 million, clearly having used the Yankees, as is so often the case, to improve the offer from the only team he ever honestly considered. As for Michaels, with the Yankees clearly desperate for a center fielder, the Phillies insisted on Chien-Ming Wang in return, a demand which Cashman wisely refused to meet.

With the outfield situation having stalled, Cashman turned his attention to cleaning house. Having earlier declined the option of the now 38-year-old Tino Martinez—who, outside of a thrilling power surge in May, was of little use at the plate or in the field in 2005—Cashman denied arbitration offers to a laundry list of liabilities from the previous season (Brown, Sierra, Flaherty, Embree, Lawton, Sanchez) and dumped the catastrophic and positionless Tony Womack on the lame duck front office of the Reds for a pair of potentially useful youngsters.

Having improved his club by five wins simply by deleting this sub-replacement level dreck, Cashmen held the line at replacement level by replacing Flaherty with catcher Kelly Stinnett, who has just one negative WARP total in his twelve-year career (that coming in a 14-game stint a decade ago). Stinnett, in addition to being something other than a production vacuum, also has previous experience catching the Big Diva, Randy Johnson (more on that potential pairing on Thursday).

The Stinnett signing was a solid move in and of itself. With Dioner Navarro set to assume the starting job in the real Los Angeles, the Yankee system is positively barren when it comes to catchers not named Posada. A reliable career back-up type such as Stinnett who could bounce between Columbus and the majors as injury and flexibility demand is exactly the sort of player the Yankees needed. Unfortunately, Cashman considered the Stinnett signing the final, rather than first, step in fixing his catching situation. Despite repeated overtures from Mike Piazza's agents, Cashman refused to ink the aging Hall of Famer to take the DH-half of an 80/20 catcher/DH split with the 34-year-old Posada. Piazza wound up joining Giles in San Diego for a one-year deal worth $2 million with an $8 million mutual option for 2007 ($750,000 buyout), while the atrocious Wil Nieves (.289/.312/.395 in Columbus in 2005) remains the Yankees third-string catcher.

Out in the bullpen, Tom Gordon decided he wanted to return to closing and signed with Philadelphia for $18 million over three years. Having been rebuffed by their sore-armed, 38-year-old set-up ace and refusing to enter the ludicrous bidding for the services of free agent closers Billy Wagner ($43 million/4 years from the Mets) and B.J. Ryan ($47 million/5 years from Toronto), the Yankees gave Gordon's money to Kyle Farnsworth, a potentially dominant reliever nearly a decade Gordon's junior.

Questions abound about Farnsworth's mental make-up. Can he handle New York? Will he implode in the postseason? My impression is that his brash demeanor and ten-cent head won't be bothered by the big bad city one bit. As for his potential to melt down in key spots (career 7.36 postseason ERA), one must consider Tom Gordon's postseason legacy, which includes a 7.32 career ERA, a key role in surrendering the 2004 ALCS to the Red Sox, and rumors of him vomiting from nervousness in the bullpen during that series (rumors, I should point out, he's since denied).

With Rivera and Farnsworth forming the head, Cashman built the body of his bullpen by signing lefty submariner Mike Myers, trading double-A lefty Ben Julianel for 36-year-old lefty swing man and New Jersey native Ron Villone, and picking up the $1.5 million option on sore-armed Torre pet (which, come to think of it, is redundant) Tanyon Sturtze. I found the picking up of Sturtze's option to be extremely puzzling given his shoulder woes and still unimpressive track record (despite moments of dominance, he's only had two monthly ERAs below 4.00 while with the Yankees). It's only slightly more difficult to believe that he'd have demanded $1.5 million on the open market than it is to believe that he'll be of much use out of the pen in 2006.

I'm less bothered by the other two moves, though I'm far from enthusiastic about either. Myers is a classic LOOGY: killer against lefties, killed by righties. He'll have his uses, especially against his former Red Sox teammates David Ortiz and Trot Nixon, but they'll be brief and far between. Villone, meanwhile, gives Torre another lefty in the pen to keep him from being too precious about deploying Myers and also serves as a long man and emergency starter. That said, it's telling that the Julianel-for-Villone trade undoes the age advantage gained by swapping Gordon out for Farnsworth.

Despite what Steven Goldman might tell you, Julianel was not a prospect (a good interview, yes, a prospect, no). Julianel walked 5.13 men per nine innings as a 25 year old in double-A last year. Given the organization's low tolerance for pitching walks and reluctance to deploy their home-grown relievers at the big league level, the Marlins might just as well have handed Villone to the Yanks for free. The problem is that Villone is not necessarily worth much more than that. He has some walk issues of his own (4.77 BB/9 career), just turned 36, and is very rarely above average.

Sadly, the Villone acquisition is merely another example of the Yankees' reluctance to fill their bullpen from within. In recent years, both Colter Bean and Jason Anderson have turned in remarkable relief seasons for the Clippers, but have combined for less than eight big league innings for the Yankees in the past two seasons. I'll take a closer look at some of the Yankees' minor league relievers on Thursday, but, regardless of Julianel's poor projection, it's discouraging to see the Yankees block potentially useful minor leaguers with a never-was innings eater such as Villone, especially after having already re-upped Sturtze, a pitcher who meets the same description but throws with the other hand.

The presence of Sturtze, Villone and Myers will likely do little beyond increasing the degree to which Farnsworth's right shoulder is Torre-ized in 2006. That said, between Christmas and New Years, Cashman pulled off a stealth move of sorts that could prove to be the key to the Yankee pen in the coming season. On December 28, Cashman inked injured set-up ace Octavio Dotel to an incentive-laden one-year deal at a base salary of $2 million.

As a member of the A's, Dotel shut himself down in mid-May 2005 due to extreme pain in his pitching elbow, then underwent elective Tommy John surgery on June 6. According to Baseball Prospectus injury guru and fellow Toastmaster Will Carroll, Dotel's elbow ligament was not completely torn (which is why he had to elect to have the surgery against his doctors' advice). Thus, instead of replacing a torn ligament, he simply had an overlay surgery. According to Will, the rehab time for overlay Tommy John is significantly shorter than for proper ligament-replacement surgery (the latter being about twelve months).

Dotel is said to be aiming for a return on opening day, but is expected to start the season on the disabled list. Still, his DL stint could simply be part of an extended spring training that could have him back in action early in the season. If the 32-year-old Dotel is indeed able to return to the dominating form he showed for four and a half seasons in Houston, he alone could give the Yankee pen the depth it would need to allow Myers and company to drop down into appropriate levels of disuse (or better yet, give the Yankees the opportunity to dump Sturtze or Villone in favor of someone out of Columbus).

With the pen full, Cashman returned to the outfield, where his delay and the approaching dealine for players who had rejected their teams' arbitration offers greatly reduced the demands of former rival Johnny Damon and his agent Scott Boras. Damon and Boras began the offseason seeking a seven-year deal which would have taken Damon through his age-38 season. They were met with silence. Having failed to show much interest in Damon to that point, Cashman swept in just before Christmas and inked Damon to a four-year deal worth $52 million.

Damon's contract adds up to the same combination of dollars and years that Cashman had given to Hideki Matsui to begin the offseason, but it will likely prove to have been better spent on the returning left fielder than on the new center fielder. To begin with, while Damon is only seven months Matsui's senior, he plays a position much more dependent on youth and speed. What's more, it's not actually his natural position. Having spent significant time in the corner pastures in Kansas City and Oakland, Damon spent just one season as a full-time center fielder prior to signing with Boston before the 2002 season. He emerged as an excellent defender in center in 2003 and 2004, but experienced a disconcerting drop-off in 2005, falling below average with a 97 Rate. A fact made all the more distressing given the approach of his mid-30s and his famously weak throwing arm.

Even more distressing is the degree to which Damon's success over the past four seasons has been a product of his home park. As a member of the Red Sox, Damon hit .310/.383/.442 in Fenway and .281/.342/.440 everywhere else. The biggest cause for concern there is the forty-point drop in on-base percentage (due in large part to a 30 point drop in batting average). Not that .342 is terrible, but it's not worth $13 million a year for a player who could easily replicate Bernie Williams drastic decline over the life of his contract (Bernie's big fall came at age 34, the age Damon will be in the third year of his four-year deal). Note that even in Matsui's disappointing 2003 season, he posted an OBP of .353.

For the immediate future, Damon should be a staggering improvement over what the Yankees had in center last year (which was some combination of the ghost of Bernie—.249/.321/.367—and various Womack-like substances), though it's almost a sure thing that the Yankees, despite playing possum, still overpaid and overcommitted, and very well may find that they've failed to improve their outfield defense much at all.

To make matters worse, Cashman preceded the Damon deal by resigning Williams himself to a one-year, $1.5 million deal. In this case it's not the length or size of the contract, but the mere fact that it exists. Outside of the odd walk, the dulcet tones of his smooth-jazz guitar, and his winning personality, Williams has absolutely nothing left to offer a major league baseball club, let alone a perennial pennant contender such as the Yankees.

Worst of all, Williams could very easily be given the bulk of the team's DH at-bats at the expense of the perpetually overlooked Andy Phillips, who will turn 29 soon after the season starts (so that's what Cashman and Torre meant by "the Ruben Sierra role"). Similarly, Williams and the wildly overrated (at least by net-savvy Yankee fans) Bubba Crosby are the only back-ups expected to make the opening day roster behind the trio of thirty-somethings that make up the Yankee outfield.

To that underwhelming bench (which also includes the afore mentioned Stinnett), Cashman added Yankee retread Miguel Cairo, who revealed his solid 2004 season to be a fluke with an abysmal season as a Met in 2005 (.251/.296/.324) that tellingly bore greater resemblance to his career numbers (.270/.318/.364) than to his stint in pinstripes (.292/.346/.417).

Amid those moves were various smaller transactions, the effects of which upon the Yankees' projected opening day roster remain to be seen. I'll take a look at those moves on Thursday via player comments on the fifteen least familiar members of the Yankees 40-man roster and the 23 non-roster invitees to spring training.

Comments
2006-02-14 04:36:50
1.   singledd
Well done Cliff.
It should be stated (again) that the last 4 years of poor decision making have left the Yankees will very little trade bait. I also believe that other teams expect the Yankees to overpay (as they have a history of doing), and many teams just don't want to deal fairly with the Yanks.

While Piazza is old, poor on D, a shadow of his former self, etc, etc.... the difference between him and Stinnett is huge. For how easy Piazza would have been to get, and his very small salary, this was the biggest screwup of the offseason.
ONE year. CHEAP. A stop-gap move that would have been smart.

Cashman did NOT jump on Molina (as nobody did), which again, was smart. He is the proto-typical example of buy high (after a career year) and get low.

With who was on the market and who is in our farm, we knew this would be a low-impact offseason. In terms of promoting from within, remember... we still have these youngsters. Like Wang and Cano, they may still see the light of day in '06, so I'm not concerned about this aspect of our offseason.

Damon IS overpaid and a bad contract at 4 years, but our back was againt the wall. I believe he was a fall-back position, and when we couldn't get someone younger/faster
(as we had no one to trade), Cashman pulled off this deal in virtually a day.

Many 'true' Yankee fans hate having 'the face of the Sox' as a Yankee, but we are (for a year or 2) a better team with him.

We lowered our payroll by over 15mil. Moose's 19mil goes away after this year. Wright, it he still doesn't perform, has a 3mil 'see ya later'. While he has really been great for us, Shef's 13(+?)mil is off the books at the end of the year.

Basically, this offseason was a finalcial success. Next year, we should be in better shape to build 'young and fast', and still not raise our payroll.

All in all considered, when not an exciting winter, it was a smart and prudent one. I just hope the Yanks are already planning for '07. In '07 and '08, a lot of $$$ comes off the books, and these 2 years will be very important in reversing some of the bad trends of the last 5.

I think Man-of-Cash is up to it.

2006-02-14 05:07:09
2.   murphy
good too see you're alive, cliff. i was getting worried that alex had you locked in his trunk.

while i know you're mostly a stats guy, i was hoping you might address (or at least we'll get some feisty debate over it) the johnny caveman persona/reputation that comes with the package and how it might either:

a) help and OVERLY "professional" team lighten up while at the same time taking some of the spotlight off the people who don't seem to enjoy it (ARod, for example).

or

b) rub yankee brass and perennial do-gooders the wrong way so he either changes HIS ways or manages a rather tenuous stay in the bronx.

boomer he is not, but there is a world of difference between damon and jeter; and i wonder how that may play out over the season/length of his contract.

2006-02-14 05:49:07
3.   Sliced Bread
Excellent offseason recap and analysis, Cliff, especially with respect to the re-stocked bullpen.
However, I'm not as down on the return of Bernie as DH and Cairo as backup infielder.
In 85 at-bats as DH last season Bernie hit .294. Clearly, a little rest does him good. I agree Torre will probably overuse him, but I think Bernie will be more productive than you project. He can still draw a crucial walk, and deliver a big hit. Not a bad veteran switch-hitter to have on the bench for a buck-and-a-half if used sparingly, say 10 at-bats per week TOPS (2 starts at DH, and the occasional pinch hit situation).
As you pointed out, Cairo greatly outperformed his career stats as a Yankee. So did Scott Brosius, in a huge way.
I'm not projecting Cairo to be the MVP of the 2006 World Series, but sometimes, for some reason, good things happen to players in Yankee pinstripes, and vice versa.
Going into '06, I'm comfortable with Bernie and Cairo in their projected roles.
Looking forward to your upcoming analysis of the lesser-known role players.
2006-02-14 06:23:09
4.   Levy2020
Bub-BA! Bub-BA! Bub-BA!

I'll say it forever. I felt really good about his last month, when he finally got regular playing time. He was cheap, younger than Pierre, Damon, etc.

Better than Beltran who the Mets judged by one series.

2006-02-14 07:38:35
5.   Shaun P
I'm very pleased with most of Cashman's moves this year. However, I think its time to admit that he doesn't use the back end of the roster well at all. IMHO, this is a huge reason the Yanks haven't won it all since 2000.

The Yanks are an old team; we all know it. We all know what that means - guys get tired faster, and are more likely to get hurt. So, the bench ought to be filled with depth. Its not. Who on the bench is a likely threat to do anything meaningful late in a game, or if a regular gets hurt? (I presume Andy Phillips will not be on the bench, or he'd be my answer to this question.)

You can say all the same things about the bullpen. At least there is some depth there, but its in the minors - so more than a few guys have to get hurt before any of that depth can be brought into play.

They say everyone has one tragic flaw, and this is Cashman's - he doesn't fill the end of the 25-man roster with guys who are likely to help out when his aged team suffers normal wear and tear, forget injuries.

2006-02-14 07:55:41
6.   Cliff Corcoran
Well-said, Shaun. I noticed that, in my haste to wrap up the above post in the wee hours of the morning last night I failed to draw any conclusions from the evidence presented. What you say in 5 makes up for that lapse on my part. Indeed, with Cashman now in full control of the Yankees' team building, the weaknesses of the roster can no longer be blamed on Tampa.

That said, if Bernie gets the bulk of the starts at DH, Phillips will indeed be on the bench. Andy's defensive versitility and live bat make him an ideal bench player, but with Bernie as the only other option, he'd be better utilized as the every-day DH. Of course if Andy's in the starting line-up, I'll be back to pining for Russ Johnson, which is no way to behave.

2006-02-14 08:01:52
7.   sam2175
4

Are you being serious here or there is some sarcasm there? What am I missing here?

How does one month of .748 OPS (September for Crosby in 53 ABs) trump a career .829 OPS and 109 OPS+? I mean, the latter one being Beltran.

I think, if the Yankees ever try to attempt at having a productive bench and bullpen, the ones to get rid of should be Bernie, Sturtze, Crosby, Stinnett and Cairo, in that order.

2006-02-14 08:13:44
8.   Shaun P
Thanks, Cliff. My hope is that, when the bench fails miserably, Cashman proves me wrong by re-tooling it on the fly, a la his in-season moves last year. For me, I'd love to see the Pirates' Craig Wilson in pinstripes. There goes my things for guys who can player catcher again . . .

Did anyone else see this quote from Torre in today's NY Times?

'"We've replaced Flash with more than one body, so that sort of gives us a little bit more of a security net," Torre said last week. "The one thing we've needed is to not rely on the one guy, only because we don't want to overuse someone. So if you have a couple of guys that can do the job and have the understanding that's what we're going to do, I think we can keep everybody strong. That's the plan going in."'

http://tinyurl.com/cjyl2

Now let's see if he lives up to it!

2006-02-14 08:24:54
9.   Cliff Corcoran
I've heard him say that before. Don't get your hopes up. He's got a quarter-century track record that says otherwise.
2006-02-14 09:28:34
10.   Sliced Bread
Cliff,
Why doesn't Bernie's .294 as DH last season give you more faith in him in that role for 2006?
I don't want to see him in the outfield, but will it kill the team to give him 10 at-bats per week?
2006-02-14 09:28:39
11.   wsporter
If you take a look at 98, 99 and 00 Mr. Torre seemed to spread the BP work around. I think if he has the horses he'll use them during the season. The playoffs are a different story. Yet, maybe he can achieve a comfort level with a broader group this year and not wear guys down and use people in rolls where they can excel. If he can bring that broader group into the playoffs ready to pitch we may be able to claim number 27 this year.

Any way you slice it though jumping over the Black Sox will be tough and I think that's going to be true for a while.

2006-02-14 09:43:24
12.   JVarghese81
"Any way you slice it though jumping over the Black Sox will be tough and I think that's going to be true for a while."

They're not too scary to me they had a lot of career years last year and I'm not sure that I see that happening again. The team that will be giving the Yanks a run in the Al this year is (in my mind, of course) Oakland. Their pitchers are underated (Harden, Haren & Blanton are one hell of a trio and you throw Zito in there and that foursome can pitch with anyone) and they've solidified their lineup with smart additions and players coming back from injury. And did I mention that starting staff? Angels are up there too - I'd put them before the W. Sox as well.

2006-02-14 10:06:12
13.   nycfan
Nice analysis, but i really don't understand why people continue to use Rate when there are other metrics out there that are clearly better and have publicly available methodology.
2006-02-14 10:37:22
14.   Cliff Corcoran
Okay, then, NYCFan, what's your prefered defensive metric and why?
2006-02-14 11:18:19
15.   wsporter
#12
Problem is they had career years by young guys who may be establishing norms, I'm thinking staff and pen especially. They scare me right down to my socks; they play loose, they can pitch, they can hit and they have just enough red ass in them to keep everyone a little uncomfortable. Until someone proves otherwise they're the world champs for a reason.

Oakland should be good that's true and that staff should emerge. But that group hasn't won anything yet, the Black Sox have. Given a choice, first round opponent, I'll take ... the Royals.

2006-02-14 11:58:27
16.   Sliced Bread
I dunno, wsporter, we've all seen the damage the Royals can do in a short series (ack!).
But I agree with you re: the Black Sox. That's a damn good team all around. Ozzie will make sure his players maintain that Oct. '05 swagger.
The '06 A's will be tough. The Blue Jays can take 2-of-3 from anybody. The Indians are back and restless. The Angels always seem to have wings, and that team from the city that rhymes with Austin is perpetually pretty good, too.
Life on the road's going to be a bitch for the Yanks.
2006-02-14 12:22:37
17.   Knuckles
Question for you Fantasy geniuses out there...I'm doing some player ranking using the PECOTA projections from baseball prospectus and have come to a procedural dilemma. We have 6 batting and 6 pitching categories so I'm trying to assign a relative ranking to each player (irrespective of position at the moment). So what I did was get a rank for each category for each hitter and pitcher, and average the 6 categories. (For batters I am tossing everyone under a certain threshold of expected at-bats, so a rookie projected to hit .350 in a hot month isn't overrated)

For a clearer picture- ARod looks like this:
HR: 1 (most in majors)
BA: 18 (18th best in majors)
R: 2 (2nd most runs in majors)
SB: 71 (etc)
RBI: 3
OPS: 6

The average of these 6 is 16.8, making him the best batter, ahead of Pujols. The problem lies however in guys like Ortiz, who don't steal, and Andruw Jones, who doesn't hit for a high BA. So what I'ma do is get the avg of a player's best X categories. But I'm having a hard time deciding how many to use? My gut says toss the worst one and use 5, but I don't know if 4 might be more valid?

Thoughts and opinions more than welcome...

2006-02-14 12:24:17
18.   Voxter
Watch the White Sox be scary all the way to 88 wins and second place in their own division. Who, exactly, was establishing a new career norm with his great year last year? Some of the bullpen guys maybe, but I'm not seeing anyone else whom one might describe as coming into his own. Jon Garland? Freddy Garcia? A 35-year-old Jose Contreras?

Or maybe it was someone on offense. Uh . . . Konerko? Jermaine Dye? I think the acquisitions of Vazquez & Thome will keep the White Sox from falling off a cliff, but I also think there are two teams in each of the costal divisions, and one in their own, who are better.

2006-02-14 12:41:15
19.   Shaun P
Knuckles, I've done something similar for my last couple of fantasy drafts . . . not quite as specific as what you've got but close. I don't keep to a pattern - I will throw out either 1 or 2 categories and not worry about consistency. In your case, I'd throw out Ortiz's SB, and I'd through out Andruw's BA and SB. I wouldn't throw out A-Rod's SBs, but that's only because most 3B don't steal much.

Also, if I'd throw out 3 (or more) categories, I try to avoid drafting those guys, unless I'm desparate at whatever position they play.

I've had pretty good success with this method (1st, 3rd, and 3rd the 3 years I've used it).

2006-02-14 12:44:01
20.   vockins
Not an original thought, really, but I think the White Sox overachieved and the Indians underachieved last year. I think if Marte is as advertised, the Indians will be nuts. Sizemore/Hafner isn't Ramirez/Ortiz right now, I wouldn't be surprised if the combo got pretty close.

(Aside: Michaels/Martinez/Sizemore/Hafner is costing the Indians a little north of $2 mil this year. Jeez.)

The starting pitching took a hit, but the bullpen looks pretty good even though it has been maligned in the offseason.

2006-02-14 12:55:39
21.   Ben
The real fun in drafting for me comes after arod and pujols are taken. Who's second at those positions? Who's third? Someone like Giambi may be more productive all around than Soriano for example, but Giambia is also more likely to hang around until later rounds.

I guess I'm suggesting you do your rankings with a position specificity. Good luck.

2006-02-14 13:01:10
22.   Rob Gee
Great work Cliff. My one complaint, this sentence: "As Cashman's in-season infusion of talented youngsters via the promotions of second baseman Robinson Cano and pitcher Chien-Ming Wang suggested, it was exactly what the team needed."

This left me with the impression that Cash-as-GM is exactly what the Yanks needed. And while you're saying in the comments that there should have been a more analytic ending, I needed exactly that to encapsulate the CASH-man dilemma.

On the one hand, Cash as continuity is good (i.e. a new GM every two years is bad). On the other, if we count only this off-season, his choices leaves oh so much to be desired (like an above average GM).

Thanks Shaun for specifying the problems with the bench. But otherwise, the critical look at this off-season shows only OPP (Overpriced Past Prime among other meanings) with a lack of trading young players.

Matsui I can deal with, esp since he does bring more revenue than the average 13mil/year player. After that though, the CASH-man's choices, and your overview, show how truly unimaginative and downright average he is.

Basically three holes - some much bigger than others:

1) CF - OPP
2) Back-up C - OPP
3) Bullpen - OPP

True, Farns is not old. And Stinnett is not over-priced. But the point is the same:

1) CF: Look, I'm all for keeping youngsters. But if there's no clear spot in the organization for them, and their price is high, move them! Perfect example - Eric Duncan (where's he gonna get 500 AB's in NY?) - he had a huge AFL - perfect chance to spin him for a CF - Rowand, MIL-ton, Crisp - all could have been had this off-season. Michaels would have worked but he wasn't the only non-OPP available to patrol CF and I'm not buying that everyone wants to fleece the Yanks. That's convenient spin.

2) Back-up C: Cliff, you sort of leave this hanging what a bad move this was. This is the epitome of Cash - there's no planning, or risk assessment, involved. Where's even a AA prospect from another organization? Someone that could break through? Something? (And frankly, no matter how much others say otherwise, I just can't believe Tampa said "Trade Navarro, dammit!" - No, they said "Get Unit!" there's a big difference there and it is the CASH-man at fault.)

3) Bullpen: Right now, there's no room for anyone in the organization to break into the bullpen. And even if there are two or three injuries, we know Torre's not going to use them. So why not stock the bullpen with youngsters and let Darwinian performance determine usage. You know we're headed that way with Villone and Myers anyways (one release by May, the other barely used by August). Why not start now?

So, Cliff, what grade do you give you give Cash? He passes my class at a D+, but that leaves plenty to be desired.

Thanks!

2006-02-14 13:02:07
23.   Knuckles
I try to get an over-arching master list of fantasy value, backed up by positional rankings. I also color code the positions on my master list so I can see if there's a drought at a certain spot upcoming which would tell me to take Catcher X because Catcher Y is miles less valuable. Etc etc etc. Much of it usually goes out the window come draft day but I figure the more I prepare, and the more confident I feel in my own data, the more likely I'll follow thru.

Anyone have any thoughts about which stat categories are typically over or underrated as people draft their teams?

2006-02-14 14:00:16
24.   singledd
Has anybody heard this?????

"When Cashman inquired about Chicago center fielder Aaron Rowand soon after the World Series, White Sox GM Kenny Williams told him he didn't think the Yankees were a good fit for a trade -- unless they obtained Delgado from Florida. Cashman worked out the parameters of a deal with the Marlins, but the three-way deal fell through when the White Sox then insisted the Yankees pick up a large chunk of Delgado's contract."

2006-02-14 14:15:39
25.   Rob Gee
singledd -

link please?

Even still - I don't want the spin of "He tried" - I want results.

Cf, BUC (back-up C), and Bullpen were the holy places. All three show Cash just loves OPP.

2006-02-14 14:29:13
26.   singledd
Rob Gee - Yahoo Sports - lead article.
http://sports.yahoo.com/mlb/news;_ylt=AsomTh7_K6DE1Pij9aEyzl8RvLYF?slug=cnnsi-whosno1&prov=cnnsi&type=lgns

'- I don't want the spin of "He tried" '
You wouldn't take on this deal if you had to pay Degato big money... would you?.

This wouldn't be an example of "everyone wants to fleece the Yanks. That's convenient spin." would it?

Cashman ain't perfect... but has little to work with. We have little trading 'chips' but lots of 'cash'. This is why we have Damon... for cash... no chips.

2006-02-14 14:43:45
27.   Rob Gee
singledd -

Do I doubt that some teams try to fleece us? No.

Do I think that every team tries to fleece us?
Yes.

Who's job is it to make sure we don't get fleeced?
The GM.

Who filled every gaping hole with OPP?
The GM.

All else is excuses. You're telling me that:

a) No trade for a CF could have worked.
My Response: Michaels, MIL-ton were cheap chip-wise.

b) The BUC was the best to be had.
My Response: No other organization would pass up Eric Duncan for a young AA/AAA Catcher?

c) The only solution for the bullpen was OPP.
My response: Again, no one in our organization could have worked?

See, the CASH-man spin is ending with this off-season. The man's finally in charge - look out! He wants his OPP. Duncan for Jason Kendall in June sounds about right.

2006-02-14 14:47:49
28.   Rob Gee
Thanks for the link.

The even scarier bit - after next year Damon still has two years left, and if Torre's still around, Damon is still batting lead-off while manning CF. Good times! Maybe we can wait until 2010 before MIL-ton replaces him.

2006-02-14 15:08:04
29.   Dimelo
singledd - Thanks for the article. I couldn't help but get more pissed after reading what Kenny Williams did after our beloved Cash-Money (yeah you read that right, Rob Gee) had a deal in place to get Rowand. I like Thome, but because he's wearing a White Sox uniform I now hope he tears his biceps like Mo Vaughn.

Rob - I wish the Yanks had got Michaels over Damon, but the Phillies didn't want to part with Michaels because they really wanted Rhodes. Go f'en figure. You can't win'em all....I'll wait till the tell-all book from Cashman is published, after he leaves the Yanks, before I pass any judgement on him. Cash has not made all these decisions alone.

2006-02-14 16:21:56
30.   Rob Gee
Dimelo,

It's like shouting into the wind but one last go -

"Can't win them all" means one out of three go badly.

Instead we get OPP at:
1)CF
2)BUC
3)Bullpen

Save CASH-man the love. He's going to need it in Year 3 of his bloated contract.

2006-02-14 16:42:09
31.   Zack
Well, clearly if our friend Rob Gee were running the ship, the Yankees would be unbeatable. We would have traded a few minor leagers and gotten Milton Bradley somehow, we would have traded somemore and gotten a backup catcher, and our bullpen would consist of Mariano and some kids. While I agree somewhat on all points, there are so many things that go into trades and putting a team together that it is fine and dancy to critisize Cashman all you want, but in the end, why aren't you the one making the moves? The Rowand article is the perfrect example. you say your boy Bradley could be had cheap, but who says? How come the Phillies demanded Wang from us for Michaels but only demanded Rhodes from the Indians? Same thing with so many trades. Just because it might seem that a player can be had cheap doesn't mean we can get him cheap.

You are obsessed with this concept of, as you put it, OPP. Well, the only guy we signed of impact that is OPP would be Mr. Damon ( Stinnett really isn't impact considering how much he will play). I know that touches a nerve with you because he isn't Bradley, but he actually was gotten cheaper than Bradley. Money for the Yankees isn't a big deal. In two years, Damon can move to right and one of our kids will be ready, a kid we would probably have to trade for bradely. What the Yankees don't have the luxery of is people to trade.

So you can talk all you want about Cashman not doing a good job, about the moves we SHOULD make, the trades we COULD make, but the truth is, don't think he hasn't thought of everything you could think of. Hes paid to do it every day. Cashman is a smart man, if the possibility of trading for Crisp presented itself, he might do it. But who could we trade away for him that would leave us any talent? We don't have a Marte and Schoppach, that is, guys who are under a year away from stardom.

I love to second guess as much as anyone, and I have major issues with this team, most of which Cliff summarized, but I am so sick of the Cashman should have gotten THIS GUY instead of THAT GUY without any inside knowledge of the actually cost/feasibility of that aquisition

(no knock on you Rob, stream of consciousness took over)

2006-02-14 16:48:02
32.   sam2175
Rob Gee,

I also am not entirely happy with the Damon signing, and was particularly disappointed with the fact that Yankees did not make a pre-emptive move at Bradley. I am not so sure though that treating Duncan as untouchable at this point is a bad idea. There are exactly two prospects in the Yankees system who ranks in the top 100 across all prospect rankings. Duncan is only second to Hughes there.

Duncan is going to be 21 this year, and Giambi is going to be a liability come 2008. Hopefully Duncan will be ready by then to play first base, and will be 23. I believe Yankees need to hold on to prospects.

That said, Cashman has to share responsibilities for the complete blackhole at the catcher position in the organization. If Posada misses significant time this year, he takes the Yankees season with him.

My even bigger beef with Cashman is where Cliff points out, the bench. He simply does not treat it with the seriousness it deserves, in my opinion, and cares too much about keeping Torre amused.

2006-02-14 17:13:35
33.   Rob Gee
More weepiness from the boss (great pic, too!):

http://tinyurl.com/a5xpf

Zack -

You lose all credibility whenever the words "Damon" and "right" appear in any sentence you've written.

But I doubt that Cash ever gave Michaels a serious thought. Sure, he has a staff, and sure he's probably smarter than the average GM. But let the record of the 2006 off-season speak for itself - he's a pretty piss poor GM. The job involves decisions. And those decisions speak for themselves.

Now, if I could get OPP out of my head, I would. But alas, I can't.

OPP also applies (admittedly not quite for Stinnett) to the...freakin BULL-pen! Fine, take Farns as the token young guy - but who else did Boss CASH-man acquire in that department? You're telling me that Smith Andersen, Cox, Proctor, etc couldn't round out those slots. Of course, Torre won't 'trust' them. But don't give him a choice. Sooner or later one will stick. Villone will be gone by May and Myers by August - so why not get started now?

OPP also applies to the...freakin' BENCH (thanks Shaun!). You're saying that Cairo (gulp!) and Bernie (who I'll never forget) couldn't be replaced with Eric Duncan and Kevin Reese/Thompson? If not, they won't be much worse for trying.

If you're not going to give kids a chance (sorry Bubba and Phillips don't count) why even pretend to hold onto them? To keep you, Zack, happy?

And as far as Shoppach goes - that's a guy Cash SHOULD be getting - NOW! Of course he'll wait until Posada goes down for two weeks before trying it. And we wonder why we get fleeced!

See, my head might just explode if Posada goes down for any length of time. Even still, is it really rocket science to say we need a BUC? You tell me Zack - what's the Grand Wizard Cash-man's magic plan there? He's got it all figured out - he's got to, right? - please share...

And for your information, while still quite bitter, my love affair with MIL-ton has ended...until I remind you, and wsport, of his stats at the All-Star break (but he was had for .5 of a AA prospect). My love has now turned toward CASH-man (in case you haven't noticed) and his inability to plan for holes on the team (like the three year CF slot). Catcher looks like the new CF - until we get Jason Kendall.

2006-02-14 17:19:53
34.   Rob Gee
Thanks sam for the reasoned insight. The lack of a BUC is a fire-able offense and I share your worries. Look, every body's saying it now - Cash is finally in charge.

I'm saying: great! Wait, what!? Where's the difference.

I agree with you on Duncan's worth, but his value is only going south from here. Does it go up with a monster AAA season? Probably not by much. And if he's not going to see significant playing time (400 AB's) in the Bronx (which even you say is in 2008!), then the time to move him is now. (Shoppach anyone?)

2006-02-14 18:41:21
35.   Rob Gee
Someone mentioned Craig Wilson earlier today.

I'll drink to that (29 y.o - RF, LF, 1B):

http://tinyurl.com/awvyd

http://www.baseball-reference.com/w/wilsocr03.shtml

2006-02-14 20:43:39
36.   Zack
Rob,
The bullpen is a moot issue, Cashman, I believe, knows Joe all too well. Joe, given a bullpen of kids, even with no other choice, woudl have Mo pitch 3 innings every day to avoid using someone else. He'd use Proctor, probably the worse of the bunch I suppose, but only in utterly bizzarre places. The same thing goes for the bench. Torre, given a bench without a Bernie or Ruben, would simply not use it. He barely uses it to begin with. Had Chamna signed Piazza, perhaps he would get used.

The bullpen issue is complex. Look at those vaunted 1998 Yankees and their pen:
Willie Banks 1969-02-27
Joe Borowski 1971-05-04
Ryan Bradley 1975-10-26
Jim Bruske 1964-10-07
Mike Buddie 1970-12-12
Todd Erdos 1973-11-21
Darren Holmes 1966-04-25
Graeme Lloyd 1967-04-09
Ramiro Mendoza 1972-06-15
Jeff Nelson 1966-11-17
Mariano Rivera 1969-11-29
Mike Stanton 1967-06-02
Jay Tessmer 1971-12-26
Ok, can you name one of those guys who really made an impact besides Stanton, Nelson, Mendoza, and Mo? And Stanton and Nelson were hardly fresh faced lads. Banks, Holmes, Tessmer, Erdos, Buddie...All garbage. thats the way Cashman puts together bullpens. And Torre than choses to use a very select few of them. Even Mendoza was used more as a starter that year, starting 14 games. So I think stocking the bullpen with kids and not giving Joe a choice just wouldn't work, plus what if those kids then fizzle. I agree, I bet by midseason we will see at least one of those kids in the pen...

And do you seriously think that Eric Duncan and Kevin Reese/Thompson would provide an adequate bench? Duncan hasn't played about AA, and Reese hit a whopping .276 in Columbus and Thompson .249. Our best hitter is alreayd on the bench in Phillips. I don't think we should have resigned Bernie, but Torre wouldn't use Phillips anyways, even if he was the sole bench guy.

Ok, so maybe Damon could DH/play left, right requires an arm, but the point is the same. Spending money will neve rhurt the Yankees. Trading prospects will. The organizations #1 concern right now, besides winning, should be stockpiling the farm system the way they did leading up to their run. The Sox did it, and quickly too, and thus were able to make some trades this year and still have prospects better than ours.

I agree, we should get Schoppach, and if we could do it for the right price, amen. I just somehow doubt that will happen. Not because Cashman doesn't realize we need a catcher, but what Cleveland has is what we don't, a major league ready prospect, and they would probably want the same if not more in return. Who would they take, Bubba? A package of Duncan and Cox? Don't see it happening. Besides, oh wise Robb Gee, the Schoppach trade JUST HAPPENED! Give it some time...Its not like the Sox would have traded him to us...

2006-02-14 22:01:15
37.   brockdc
Rob "Rain Man" Gee is on point, though I don't completely agree that Cash is a horrible GM - he is, however, toeing the line of mediocrity. My biggest complaint is the roster spot that Bernie will consume for the entire season, which clearly needs to be occupied by a more versatile outfielder with a decent stick. Mark my words: if Bernie remains healthy, he will get AT LEAST 400 ABs. Scary thought. Also agreed that, if the Yanks trade Duncan, it should be for youth in return, i.e., for an AAA stud backstop.
2006-02-15 05:02:32
38.   Rob Gee
Before this thread is officially dead - Zack - three things:

1) You cite four guys in the 1998 bullpen that were heavily relied on. This year we have one surefire guarantee (Mo). With all that uncertainty, why not promote from within? At the current rate and CASH-man's modus operandi, we'll see Leiter and Mendoza in this year's Pen before we see Smith or Cox.

2) You lose whatever credibility you had left when you use 'Damon' and 'LF/DH' in the same sentence. Also recall that in 2008-09 we'll have a full-time LF named Matsui. So the prospectus for Damon doesn't look good. Either, Torre's still playing him in CF at the end of that contract or we're paying 13mil/year for a fourth OF.

3)Of course the Sox wouldn't trade us Shoppach. The Tribe on the other hand have no use for him (see Martinez, Victor). Since, we have just a teeny bit more of a use, but there isn't pressure to make it happen NOW, NOW is the time to make it happen. If we WAIT until Jorge goes down, the price goes up exponentially. You don't need a Ph.D. to figure this stuff out. But clearly CASH-man hasn't.

Thanks brock for the love. I actually like Bernie. But you're right - 400 AB's is a killjoy.

2006-02-15 05:24:10
39.   Sliced Bread
brock,

If Bernie gets 400 ABs this season, that means he's hitting, and driving in runs at a pace that will silence his doubters.
I don't think he'll get more than 300 ABs, but predict he will more than earn his $1.5 million dollars.

2006-02-15 05:41:36
40.   Dimelo
Honestly, I don't see why Rob is crazy for Shoppach. We can't fill every position on the field from within. Catching is the least of my concerns with the Yankees minor leaguers. I'd rather see more pitching coming from within than bidding for the likes of Vazquez (whom I thought was a sure thing), Wright and Pavano. I'd rather keep Duncan and use him in the future than use him to get a guy barely known in his own house.
2006-02-15 07:01:51
41.   sam2175
40

Dimelo,

One of the main things that has kept Yankees afloat all these seasons is having full, healthy seasons from Posada. If he goes down for 40-50 games this year (in addition to the games started by Johnson), Yankees are done at that very moment.

2006-02-15 09:38:47
42.   Zack
Well I am going to post here even if the thread is dead, mostly just to get the last word in. yeah, I am that petty...

If I lose credibility for saying that Damon could Dh/lf/cf, than you lost credibility saying that DUn can, and the Kevins could fill in our bench. Just because they are young doesn't make them good. yet...besides, you already wanted to trade at elast Duncan away. And the reason you don't promote from within is that those kids are just as unsure. We know that Farnsworth will at elast be reliable for some of the time. he isn't a bad pitcher, he just might expload under pressure.

As for Kelly, well, hes not so good a prospect to warrent selling the farm. Hes got some pop, but has yet to hit above .253 at AAA with low obp. So if we are goign to litteraly sell the farm, do it for someone better. Its not like just because the Indians have a catcher they will sell him for cheap, the whole reason they got him I suspect is to fleece someone else. So Mr. GM Gee, thats that

2006-02-15 11:39:42
43.   Rob Gee
Whoa ZACK-man, all over the place! And no, I'm going to get the last words. Ha, ha!

1) You lost most of your credibility when you said Damon would shift over to RF. The clincher was the suggestion to DH/LF. My response was not as well-developed as I would have liked. Here's another go: a) DH won't work because he won't hit enough, and b) LF will be occupied by a man named Matsui. That leaves Damon as either x) below average CF still batting lead-off for Torre, or y) a 13mil/year 4th OF. Which do you see happening? CF = OPP

2) Duncan and the Kevins. The example was used to illustrate a point - namely that we could approximate the production/defense from the youngsters that we'll get from the current bench and force Torre to use said youngsters. Why even keep them (and give Cash kudos for doing so) if we don't give them legit shots? See, the bench is filled with OPP. That's the Cash-man way.

3) Bullpen = OPP too. You only mention Farns and I'm not all that convinced that a Cox couldn't do just as well. The BULL-pen was another opportunity for Cash to show us what he's made of - he showed us OPP. You down wit it?

4) Shoppach - His average sucks. But he shows discipline and good power. Even still, are you saying he wouldn't be an upgrade over Stinnett? If yes, uh... If no, then what's your point? That we shouldn't trade a bunch to get him? I agree - Dun can seems about right - no more, no less (AA prospect for AA prospect). If something else, I'm game - give me names. But the fact is, CASH-man blows, and his choice at BUC shows exactly how little he thinks ahead.

So there!

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