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Pitchng Prescription: An Oldie, But Goodie
2006-11-20 19:50
by Cliff Corcoran
Note: The Bronx Banter blog has moved to bronxbanterblog.com.

While we await the results of the AL MVP voting, allow me to share an idea that popped into my head while looking over yesterday's MLB transactions, specifically these two headlines:

First of all, no, Moose's deal still isn't final, though pending a physical today it will be done by tomorrow. And, yes, he seems to have picked up an extra half-mil along the way.

Second, in this wild offseason that has already seen the Cubs go crazy on Alfonso Soriano ($136 million/8yrs) and the Red Sox bid $51,111,111.11 just to negotiate with Japanese import Daisuke Matsuzaka, the following deals all look mighty reasonable:

  • Moises Alou: $8.5 million/1yr + $7.5/$1 mil club option for 2008
  • Frank Thomas: $18 million/2yrs + vesting 2009 option
  • Craig Biggio: $5.15 million/1yr
  • Mike Mussina: $23 million/2yrs (+ $1.5 buyout for 2007)
  • Jamie Moyer: $10.5 million/2yrs + $3.5 million in incentives
  • Orlando Hernandez: $12 million/2yrs

All relatively low-risk, short-term contracts that, despite the marquee names involved, are actually commensurate with the player's level of production. What's the common thread? The players involved range in age from Mike Mussina, who will be 38 in just a few weeks, to Jamie Moyer, who just turned 44.

There are two things I draw from this. First, the Yankees' decision to take Mussina's hometown discount rather than make an expensive long-term commitment to a younger league-average-at-best starter such as recent conversation pieces Ted Lilly or the execrable Gil Meche was not only wise, but has thus far been underappreciated. Second, Brian Cashman should follow his own example and go after the now-available Tom Glavine.

Glavine, who will be 41 in March, earned $7.5 million in 2006 with an additional $5.25 million deferred (restructured in May from an original $10.5 million). He also just picked up a cool $3 million via his buyout from the Mets. All of which suggests that he could easily be had for less than Mussina, say $18 to $20 million over two years, possibly with money deferred. Consider the pros to such a deal:

  • Glavine has played in New York for the last four years, the last two of them for one of Joe Torre's managerial protégés. There would be no adjustment required for him to move up to the Bronx, personally or professionally. He might even be willing to offer the Yankees a hometown discount of sorts. Glavine has reportedly narrowed his options to New York and Atlanta and is simply trying to make up his mind where he wants to play. Indeed, one of the reasons these veterans are so reasonably priced is that, by time they've reached this late stage of their careers, location and winning are more important to them than that last couple million or the long-term security their All-Star careers has already given them.
  • With the exception of the strike-shortened seasons of 1995 and 1995, Glavine has made a minimum of 32 starts every year since 1990.
  • Glavine has had an ERA below league average just once since 1991, that coming four years ago
  • Glavine's strike-out rate has actually trended upwards in recent years and his K/BB ratio has improved in each of the last three seasons, each of which have seen him post peripherals similar to his averages for his Hall of Fame career.
  • Glavine's list of comparable pitchers according to Baseball-Reference and Baseball Prospectus's PECOTA cards include names such as Warren Spahn, Don Sutton, Tommy John, Jerry Koosman, David Wells, Jamie Moyer, and Kenny Rogers, all pitchers who were still league-average starters or better at the age of 41 and, in some cases, beyond.
  • Glavine is a groundball pitcher, thus unlikely to become homer prone like recent NL imports Javy Vazquez, Carl Pavano and Randy Johnson
  • The Yankees have a growing supply of young pitching prospects, some of whom should break through to the majors for good in 2007. That makes now an ideal time to have a pair of veteran pitchers' pitchers such as Mussina and Glavine around to serve as mentors to Philip Hughes and organization's other up-and-coming young hurlers.
  • On the business side, Glavine is ten wins short of 300. That's a sure-fire mid-season attendance bump as he approaches that milestone.

Now, it's very possible that Glavine doesn't want to leave the National League, so all of the above may be moot, but it's certainly something that Brian Cashman should be exploring.

Meanwhile, the MVP announcement should come around 2pm EST. I don't expect we'll be disappointed.

Comments
2006-11-20 21:59:48
1.   pistolpete
What, not enough 40 year olds (or near 40 years old) on the team for you? ;-)
2006-11-20 22:14:10
2.   rilkefan
0 - "Glavine has had an ERA below league average just once since 1991, that coming four years ago"

You want "above". And I seem to recall that the strike zone reinterpretation was especially hard on him (perhaps because he had been accustomed to getting marginal strike calls on outside pitches) - maybe that was the four-years-ago glitch?

I don't understand why Glavine would leave the Mets to join the Yankees - unless I missed something, the former still want him.

2006-11-20 22:18:10
3.   brockdc
Sure, offer him 1 year at 9 million for a chance to earn another ring. Still, anything more than a 1 year contract for a 40-something would be unwise.

I'm biting my nails hoping Cash doesn't stoop to signing Meche and his "live arm."

2006-11-20 22:21:12
4.   Maz
I like your thoughts on Glavine. Then they could sign Doug Mientkiewicz to scoop up all the grounds ball Glavine and Wang would be inducing. Mientkiewicz is the way to go...defense at 1B all the way.
2006-11-20 22:23:23
5.   Zack
I am all for signing Glavine, and I disagree with 3, I don't see the second year as any more of a risk than the first.

But if we were to sign him, would that set some record for oldest pitching staff ever, and perhaps the pitching staff with the most wins ever? Hell, bring in Roger, lets have 4 starters all close to or over 40 and all over or approaching 300 wins!!

2006-11-20 22:23:44
6.   Yu-Hsing Chen
IF we could get him on a 1 year deal i'd definately go for it.
2006-11-20 22:36:25
7.   brockdc
5 Not sure if you're being facetious, but signing more high-end 40+ starting pitchers to multi-year contracts makes me sick with dread. On the other hand, at least we'd know that Pavano would have lots of company rehabbing in Tampa.
2006-11-20 23:03:57
8.   C2Coke
6 Even two years will be fine. Let him retire with Moose. In two years, the stews that have been cooking in the farm should finally be ready on the table.

5 If we see Kenny Rogers in pinstripes next year, you are paying for his pine tar.

2006-11-20 23:56:57
9.   BklynBmr
Until I read that, Glavine wasn't on my radar screen, mostly assuming it was a no-brainer he'd re-sign with the Mutts. Good stuff, Cliff. Given the Meche/Lilly/et al, alternatives — giving him one year with a healthly buyout/option for the second may not be a bad gamble.
2006-11-21 02:54:10
10.   mikeplugh
4 I thought of Mientkiewicz too recently, but I soon realized that he's a lefty and we absolutely don't need another left handed bat in the lineup. The whole point of seeking out a full time 1st baseman is to add a righty bat, and keep Giambi at DH.

As for Glavine. I'd say there's about a 1% chance that the Yankees can sign him. He's really chomping at the bit to return to Atlanta, and only the Mets' money is keeping him around. In the AL he'd have to worry about the DH and why would he want to do that if he didn't have to?

2006-11-21 04:53:58
11.   RI Yankee
A soon as I heard the Mets declined his option this morning, I had the same thought Cliff. I wonder if the Sawx did too.
2006-11-21 05:30:45
12.   rsmith51
I just read that the Dodgers were planning on offering Pierre 5/45. Wow. Insane is the word that comes to mind.
2006-11-21 05:32:02
13.   rsmith51
I never liked Glavine, but can't deny that he is a good pitcher. His pitching just off the corner was always annoying.
2006-11-21 05:34:04
14.   Alex Belth
The Big Hurt signing is funny to me. Teams like the Jays and Red Sox are supposed to be "Moneyball" organizations. But the whole idea of that philosophy is to find gems at a reduced cost. $500,000 plus incentives for Thomas is exactly what "Moneyball" is about. The contract he got from the Jays is really anti-"Moneyball."
2006-11-21 05:34:55
15.   Alex Belth
No way Glavine is coming to the Yankees. If he was going to stay in New York, it'd be with the Mets. He isn't about to change leagues now. Plus, the reason he'll go with the Braves has everything to do with his family.
2006-11-21 05:42:24
16.   mehmattski
I do think Glavine would be interesting as a short term, relatively cheap experiment. If it provides a small stop-gap between a somewhat shaky opening day rotation and one that later includes Hughes, Clippard, and/or Sanchez, I'd be for it. But I also agree with Alex, I don't think it's going to happen... those ten wins are going to come much easier in the National League.

It's funny though, I remember listening to Mike and the Mad Dog just a few years ago (summer of 2003, maybe). And Chris Russo went on a two hour rant about how Glavine was "shot," and how he didn't have anything left. Glavine had an ERA under 2.50 for the rest of the 2003 season, and he's been solid ever since.

2006-11-21 05:52:41
17.   jakewoods
We dont have enough 40+ pitchers??

Give me Zito or Lilly over Glavine. Younger and AL tested.

2006-11-21 06:13:01
18.   Jim Dean
I agree that Glavine would be a good stopgap, but I don't see him leaving the NL either.

New additions to the 40 man - Sardinha, Kennard, and Chase Wright.

http://tinyurl.com/u8n65

Any one know more about Wright? He was old for High-A, but ok numbers.

2006-11-21 06:15:26
19.   Count Zero
15 Agreed. I don't think there's even the tiniest bit of a chance that Glavine signs with any team other than Atlanta or the Mets. This guy has stated quite plainly that he's only hanging around to get to 300 -- and that the only question in his mind is where he wants to accomplish that.

Obviously he would prefer Atlanta, but he's likely concerned that it would be difficult to get Ws there. In which case, the Mets would be a good second choice and would likely get him the 10 wins easily. This guy is not going to pick up his last 10 at a third team -- it's against his nature.

2006-11-21 06:16:22
20.   Dimelo
No thanks on Glavine.

Man this is a brutal off-season. I can't believe the amount of money being thrown around for the junk on the market. It's kind of like the dot-com boom of the late 90's. I remember seeing some classmates of mine with some obscene offers - even though they managed to have a GPA way below the average for the entire graduating class.

Oh well, when you are a commodity then it doesn't matter if you are a baseball player, an engineer, a garbage man, or anything, if your services are needed then you will get paid. Hmm....now I know why prostitution is such a profitable business. Those services are always in demand.

2006-11-21 06:50:38
21.   Shaun P
Glavine is an interesting thought, Cliff. I wouldn't worry about injury despite his age, because he doesn't throw any pitches that put that much stress on his arm.

But like many others, I'll be shocked if he leaves the NL. It would still be a great addition for the Yanks.

The other thing is something I didn't think about at all until Aviezer brought it up yesterday. Type 'A' free agents, like Aurilia, will cost the Yanks a 1st round draft pick. No way Ca$hmoney gives up a 1st round pick, especially since there are so many sandwich picks now between the 1st and 2nd rounds, which potentially lessens the quality of second (and later) round picks (hat tip to Keith Law).

I think there is a cut-off date after which the Yanks don't lose any draft picks. Whatever moves the Yanks make, it will be after that date.

2006-11-21 06:52:24
22.   Jim Dean
18 I answered my own question. Wright was an 18 year old 3rd round pick in 2001 out high school in Texas. After three season trying to find himself in rookie Ball and Low A, he seemed to turn a corner in 2004 in A-Battle Creek.

Check out these rates (H/9 HR/9 BB/9 K/9)
2004 (A): 10.47 0.42 5.97 5.34
2005 (A): 8.00 0.63 4.31 6.88
2006 (A+): 7.14 0.08 3.23 7.52

Looks like he learned the value of throwing strikes. What pops out most last year is that he gave up 1 HR in 119 innings. The problem is he was old for that league at 23. But as a lefty he still has value even as he's most defintely not a prospect.

I imagine he'll start the year at Trenton.

2006-11-21 06:59:38
23.   YankeeInMichigan
My MVP ballot:
1.) Jeter
2.) Santana
3.) Mauer
4.) Guillen
5.) Hafner
6.) Dye
7.) Ortiz
8.) Thome
9.) Guerrero
10.) Sizemore

I could tolerate Jeter losing out to Santana or Mauer, but I'll be sick if another Twin steals it from him.

I don't understand the Ortiz hype that is still out there. Every "expert ballot" (e.g. USA Today, ESPN) seems to have one first-place vote for Big Papi. Ortiz and Hafner are both burly, power-hitting DHs with clutch tendencies playing for non-contenders. In an apples-to-apples comparison, Hafner is better.

2006-11-21 07:13:10
24.   rsmith51
I like your ballot, YIM.

I would go:
1.) Jeter
2.) Santana
3.) Mauer
4.) Dye
5.) Guillen
6.) Hafner
7.) Guillen
8.) Sizemore
9.) Ortiz
10.) Ramirez

Notice Morneau, who will likely finish 1st or 2nd, is not on the list.

2006-11-21 07:15:35
25.   rsmith51
Let's try again...
1.) Jeter
2.) Santana
3.) Mauer
4.) Dye
5.) Guillen
6.) Hafner
7.) Sizemore
8.) Ortiz
9.) Thomas
10.) Ramirez
2006-11-21 07:45:42
26.   Alvaro Espinoza
FWIW, Glavine's stats vs. the AL the last three years:

10 G
62 IP
5-2 record
4.52 ERA

He had 1 very bad start vs. Seattle (6 ER, 2.1 IP, 23.14 ERA). Remove that start and the numbers read:

9 G
59 2/3 IP
5-1 record
2.45 ERA

Having said that, I'd be shocked if the guy ever played in the AL.

2006-11-21 07:52:18
27.   Yankee Fan In Boston
does anyone remember how long the captain's hit streak was? i forgot, and there doesn't seem to be any mention in the recapping of his season.
2006-11-21 07:56:54
28.   Yankee Fan In Boston
27 25 games. got it.
2006-11-21 07:58:54
29.   yankz
27 26 or 25, I'm pretty sure. I would put Manny higher than Ortiz...
2006-11-21 08:17:00
30.   Fred Vincy
I do think Glavine would prefer Atlanta, but I agree he'd be a nice pickup.

Why'd the Mets decline the option? They seem to like old guys even more than we do....

2006-11-21 08:20:52
31.   standuptriple
21 I just don't see how Aurilia can be classified as a "Type A" FA. Does anybody know where I can find this list? Plus, i thought there were changes to that process due to the new CBA. Please enlighten...
2006-11-21 08:27:02
32.   rsmith51
30 Sounds like there was an under the table agreement about the Mets declining the option. So Glavine has a choice of where he plays in 2007.

Rumor that Jeter and Morneau tied for MVP.

If it is true, at least it was only half a terrible choice. Since when did 3rd best on team = league MVP??? Stupid RBIs...

2006-11-21 08:27:41
33.   Chyll Will
30 They had a gentleman's agreement to decline the option so that they could ostensibly sign him to a new contract; two years with an option I believe. Glavine's waffling between NY and Atlanta is not surprising, given how most players at the end of their careers want to spend more time with their family after so many years being away most of the time. The Mets probably don't like it, but are likely prepared for his departure if he chooses to go home. Zito?

31 I might be wrong, but I think this year's eligible players would be grandfathered in the old CBA, with the new one going into effect in December? Am I right, anyone?

2006-11-21 08:28:49
34.   mehmattski
31 Not sure where to find the list of FA, but I believe the new CBA changes the definition of A and B class free agents. I believe that it used to be that an A free agent was in the top 15 percent of his position (based on some statistics, I guess), and now it's 10 percent... and class B has moved from 20 percent to 15 percent. A team that loses a class A free agent gets the first round pick from the team that signs him... losing a class B free agent gets the team a supplemental pick (between the first and second rounds). The new CBA does away with class C free agents for draft pick compensation.
2006-11-21 08:30:41
35.   Shaun P
31 I've never understood it myself, but I'm betting its based on the old triple crown stats. If he had enough PAs, Aurilia would have been tied for 15th in batting average in the NL.

OK, I found a link to the rankings, but not to the methodology. I think it covers a 3 year period but I'm not sure.

http://tinyurl.com/ybbxpx

And I think the changes from the new CBA go into affect next year.

2006-11-21 08:40:33
36.   Shaun P
35 I stand corrected. Elias does the rankings based on the last 2 years. As best I can tell, it takes into account the traditional triple crown stats for hitters, as well as plate appearances and stolen bases; for pitchers, ERA, starts, IP, strikeouts and saves for pitchers, and does not incorporate defense. In other words, it sounds very primitive.

The rankings are broken down by positions (all catchers, DH/1B/OF, 2B/SS/3B, starters, relievers).

2006-11-21 08:45:27
37.   mehmattski
Given the FA list, I agree that Cash is not going to give up a draft pick to fill his (relatively minor) hole for a righty, sure handed first baseman. For starting pitcher, maybe, but not for that.

I still vote for Daryle Ward.

2006-11-21 09:13:30
38.   OldYanksFan
Glavine is a great idea. Why so many folk here prefer an average youngster to an above average oldster, I don't know. We are strictly talking stopgap here, until some of our kids can grow hair on their faces.

While money is not Glavine's primary issue, it never hurts. The 2 incentives to come to the Yankees would be winning and money.

I'd give him 12-13 mil for one year (inbetween Lily and Zito). He wants to win a WS along with his 300... so the Mets (and maybe the Yankees) are in, the Braves may be out. If he wants to pitch next year, he can go to the Braves with cash in his pocket, and (hopefully) a WS under his belt.

We were willing to spend 20mil/yr for DM... so splurging on Glavine for one year, until Hughes is ready, ain't gonna break the bank.

Glavine should be league average at worst, but probably better.... eats lots of innings, is great under pressure, and as Cliff says, will be good for the kids.

2006-11-21 09:34:01
39.   Maz
10I completely disagree. Sure Mientkiewicz is another left handed bat, and the Yankees do have an abundance of lefties...but the benefit of his defense could be immeasurable.

Just look at what the Yankees have been dealing with: Giambi, Wilson, Guiel(although I like him), Sheffield(please!), and even Philips to some degree. Mientkiewicz could really solidify this infield. Jeter and Rodriguez made quite a few errant throws last season, a guy like Mientkiewicz could really cut down on that. Not to mention he's a gutsy player and he brings a certain, what I would call "personal rivalry" with the Red Sox with him...that part would just be interesting.

I've been reading the board lately and all the suggestions of Hillenbrand and Aurilla I just find absurd. People are suggesting another malcontent...a station to station guy, with a questionable glove, or Aurilla who I can only equate with that old Jetsons episode where Asto was taken back by Mr. Gottrockets and named Tralfaz (Yuck!)...Aurilla (Yuck!).

I'm sure you all know in the late 90's the Yankees had some platoons going on, especially leftfield. Right now the Yankees are covered everywhere with hitters that can flat out rake. Dropping a great defender like Mientkiewicz in the mix to anchor the infield defense is just good baseball. In fact you can even keep the cheap Phillips around to platoon with Doug on occasion. I really feel it could work...and I'll be dropping by the board to keep mentioning this point.

Hillenbrand...no! Aurilla (Yuck!). Mientkiewicz...I think yes. I'm sure I'll be crucified on here with all kinds of hitting statistics to make me look foolish but so be it. I'm steadfast in the belief that an excellent defensive firt baseman is the key. The reason Giambi is being looked at as a fulltime DH is defense, so let's see the Yankees replace him with a great glove first and foremost.

2006-11-21 09:44:46
40.   Cliff Corcoran
39 First base is the least important defensive position on the field, when a first baseman who's an excellent hitter first and foremost is also great with the glove (Mattingly, Hernandez, Clark, Pujols, Lee, etc.) that defense certainly adds to their value, but none of those players would be worth keeping around if not for their bats. I'd rather have Giambi play first base for 162 games than see the Yankees sign Mientkiewicz. I have two words for this Mientkiewicz idea: Travis Lee.
2006-11-21 09:45:52
41.   Cliff Corcoran
40 I should point out that the first Lee I reference is Derek, not Travis.
2006-11-21 09:48:04
42.   Shaun P
39 David Pinto's Probabilistic Model of Range rates Andy Phillips 11th in all of MLB - ahead of Shea Hillenbrand (16th), Aurilia (23rd) . . . and Mientkiewicz (15th). Anyone have the Fielding Bible handy?

I don't have time to look up any other defensive numbers, but my guess is that Mientkiewicz's advantage with the glove isn't much, and not enough to overcome his left-handedness and his mediocre bat.

2006-11-21 09:56:11
43.   standuptriple
Why Mientkiewicz and not JT Snow for $0.10 on the dollar? I mean, if you want an all-glove/no-hit LH 1B.
2006-11-21 10:04:20
44.   Cliff Corcoran
43 Which is further amunition for 40. Cripes, J.T. Snow? Ouch.
2006-11-21 11:02:51
45.   domvjr
Morneau, won the AL MVP!!!
2006-11-21 11:04:36
46.   Shaun P
...................
2006-11-22 07:38:55
47.   Schteeve
40 Thank you for saving me the time.

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