Posted on: December 14, 2009 10:22 pm
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Ramifications of the Lackey Deal

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It appears evident that John Lackey will sign with the Boston Red Sox, which has made the Al East a race again. As a Yankee fan I was hoping he would resign with the Angels or somewhere in the national league, but you can’t have everything you wish for. I have heard Yankee Fans say haha red sox paid a huge amount of money for someone who is always on the Dl or he isn’t a number 1. True, Lackey has been notorious for trips to the DL but in the last 7 years the fewest amount of innings he has pitched in a season is 163.1 so he will be productive. Secondly the Angels are signing him for a #3 pitcher he probably is the best  #3 in the league. Here is how the Yankees pitching staff and the Red Sox pitching staff stack up.

CC Sabathia vs. Josh Beckett Advantage Yankees

Both of these guys are studs who have proven themselves in the regular and postseason. When either one is on they can be unhittable and are two of the most feared pitchers in the league. That said  in the last three years CC has been more valuable (20.6 WAR to Beckett’s 16.8), had a better season last year (6.0 WAR  to Beckett’s 5.3) and is more durable (230, 253, 241 innings for Sabathia to 212.1, 174.1, 200.2 for Beckett the last 3 years). If Beckett has a better season than Sabathia I wouldn’t be shocked (Beckett is in a contract year) but it’s a safe bet that Sabathia will slightly out perform Beckett has has done recently.

A.J Burnett vs. Jon Lester   Advantage Red Sox

In my opinion Jon Lester is one of the most underrated pitchers in baseball and may be perhaps the Red Sox best pitcher. Sure, most people know who he is and thinks that he is good, but in the last two seasons he has recorded a WAR of 5.1 and 6.2 good for 11<sup>th</sup> and 8<sup>th</sup> most valuable pitcher in the league. He is a terrific lefty and consistent. Not that A.J Burnett is a slouch but his effectiveness deviates tremendously year to year and game to game. There is no question when “good AJ” shows up he is as good a pitcher as anyone in baseball, unfortunately “bad AJ” shows up frequently and without warning. He had a great year two years ago (5.5 WAR) and was decent this year (3.1 WAR), but he is older than Lester and much less consistent. In one game, sure I’ll put my money on AJ and hope for his good side but Lester is getting better and better and has proved that he will put your team in a position to win more frequently than AJ and I will take that every single time.

 

Andy Petite vs. John Lackey Advantage Red Sox

For what AJ lacks in consistency Andy has. He is going to give you 200 innings (in the last 5 years his fewest amount of innings is 194.2) a solid FIB roughly between 3.7 and 4.2 recently (for those who don’t know what FIB it is an “era” that tells you how good the pitcher himself is regardless of fielders and circumstances he can’t control) and puts your team into position to win most days. The value of 200 inning quality eater guys I cannot stress and is why the Yankees were quick to give him a 11+ million dollar contract. Unfortunately John Lackey is just as consistent and more effective. He has 5 consecutive years of 10+   wins sub 4.00 era second to a guy you might have heard of named Roy Halladay (he has 7), a lower FIB than Petite recently ( Last five years he has been around 3.5) and has had a higher WAR than Petite since 2005 every year except 2008 where he was bad. Of course Andy is getting older and older while Lackey is several years younger even if he is no spring chicken himself.

Joba/Hughes vs. Dice-K/Clay  Advantage Red Sox

I won’t go into too much detail on the back end of the rotation as these are subject to change depending on moves made by both teams, but three of these pitchers have tremendous potential but haven’t proved themselves a consistent starter (that would be you Joba, Phil and Clay) so I will call those a wash. Dice-k though gives the Red Sox the advantage. If you disregard his 2009 season (A product of him prioritizing the WBC over the regular season) and the absurd posting fee Dice-K has been fairly solid in his two major league season (he had a WAR of 3.9 and 3.3 both better than AJ stats last year to put in perspective). Now that the WBC is over and he is focusing on the Red Sox again look for another productive year and dominance as a #4 pitcher.

As you can see the Red Sox rotation is better than the Yankees, but fret not Yankee fans the Red Sox still can’t hit. Though that is being slightly unfair as the Red Sox to have a solid core Jacoby Ellsbury (a young leadoff hitter who batted over 300 and had 70 stolen basses) Dustin Pedroia (I don’t really like him and he came back down to earth but productive none the less) Kevin Youkalis (ugliest player I know but can take pitches like no other and knows what he is doing with a bat) Victor Martinez (the guys is a money hitter and a good guy) Drew (no superstar but solid) and Ortiz (he won’t be a 50 homerun guy any more but I would bet against a 30 homerun season or at least 25) It is not quite the caliber of the Yankees mashers but 1 or 2 bats (Bay, Holliday or Gonzalez for example) and this team could win the Al. East.

Should be fun to see how the rest of the offseason unfolds.

 

PS. Hopefully this Derek Lowe trade is a bunch of bs. Nothing against Lowe he is a fine innings eater but unless Atlanta eats half of his 3 year 45 million contract which is more than doubtful it would hurt the Yankees. First, I think Phil Hughes and Joba Chamberlin should be given a chance. If they falter a trade can be made midseason for some solid pitcher on a team that is looking to cut costs (that will happen). Secondly, next year is one of the greatest free agent markets ever for pitchers with Josh Beckett, Roy Halladay (the reliable one), Cliff Lee, Brandon Webb (back to back cy young runner up), Javier Vazquez (believe it or not he has the 7<sup>th</sup> highest WAR over the last 3 years and was filthy this year), Matt Cain, Rich Harden (option), Harang (option) and Chris Young (option). Not all of these pitchers will make it to the market but there will be plenty of quality and stars for the Yanks to grab up. So a narrow minded person might say but Derek Lowe makes the Yankees better this year (which is true) but it hampers the Yankees the next two years when they can’t bid on one of the ACES. (The yanks have plenty of money but I would find it hard to believe the Yankees would be willing to have 4 starting pitchers making 15+ in these economic conditions) That doesn’t mean I think the Yankees necessarily should stand pat. If I were GM I would take a flier on a high risk/ high reward guy like Ben Sheets. His shoulder has had a year off so it is fresh and he could very well break down, but he could be the biggest steal because when he is healthy he is dominate. A decent base salary with a lot of inning incentives sounds like a good idea. The Yankees will need 6 starters anyway as no team (except for the Florida Marlins one year I believe but could be wrong that no team has made it through the regular season with all 5 starting pithchers pitching 25+ games) so making a one year type deal which would allow the Yankees to bid on the stars next year and provide a little depth.

 

PS2. No the Yankees should not bid Holliday/Bay to strike back. The Yankees have plently of middle of the order guys with a bunch of pop (Granderson, Cano and Arod and Tex of course) but the two guys at the top (Jeter and Damon if he comes back) are agiing and eventually are going to need to be replaced. Bringing back Damon on a short term contract and than signing Crawford to lead off next year allows the Yankees to be younger and fill a more pressing need.

Wow that was a long entry, but those are my thoughts.



Posted on: January 21, 2009 8:51 pm
Edited on: January 21, 2009 8:59 pm
 

Get Juan Cruz and Ben Sheets Now!

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     I have been interested in writing about Juan Cruz and Ben Sheets for awhile now and Ken Rosenthal's article made for perfect timing. Some posters have already mentioned the Yankees need for Sheets, but Juan Cruz seems to get neglected on boards. I will explain why I(and hopefully Brian Cashman) believe that signing these two players is not only a must, but also a necessity. I would like to thank Ken Rosenthal and all other sources that I took stats from. Without future ado here are the reasons.

1.) Compensation :

      Since the Yankees have already signed three type A free agents (AJ Burnett, CC Sabathia and Mark Teixeria) and have not lost one (they declined to offer arbitration to any of their free agents) they would only be giving up a 4th and 5th round draft picks. To all the Yankee fans who believe these "vital" picks might develop into superstars, I present the list of the Yankees last ten fourth round draft picks. Corban Joseph, Bradley Suttle, Colin Curtis, Lance Pendleton, Jason Jones, Steven White, Alan Bomer, Aaron Rifkin, Matt Smith and Robert Corrado. Who? What? Somebody actually called their kid Corban?

     Lets play a game. Before reading those names, how many of those players names did you know and I knew the Yankees had some guy named Matt in their farm system doesn't count. If you scored a 0 you fit into the category of someone who has never watched a Yankees game to...well.... someone who watches all 162 games and bleeds pinstripes. 1-3. A huge Yankee fan who knows something about the minor leagues.  4-8. Would never bet against them when it comes to the Yankees. 9+ Get a life. Seriously, and this is coming from a baseball nerd. I assume most people did terribly, regardless the point is that the Yankees 4th round draft picks have amounted to nothing and I mean nothing. Fine, Steven White is considered a decent prospect, but none of these crappers have even made it to the major leagues. Before those who really know their stuff call me a liar, Jason Jones and Matt Smith did make it to the big leagues. In fact, Jason Jones had 107 at bats 3 home runs and a marvelous .215 in his potentially hall of fame career. Unfortunately, his career came to an abrupt and tragic ending in 2003 when the Rangers gave him a permanent demotion to the minor leagues for perennial sucking. Matt Smith fooled a lot of hitters until his 11.25 era in 2007 was even to much for the Philly’s to handle. What about the fifth round you say? While their big league success is equally terrible, the fifth round did draft the coolest name in Adam Olbrychowski. If that counts as success I guess the 5th round has historically been decent.

    Is it more beneficial to keep 4th and 5th round draft picks over successful major league players? I'll let you decide that one.
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2.) bullpen depth:

     My favorite quote in baseball comes from the great Yogi Berra who once said "90% of the game is half mental." It is simple and true. After that, I love the phrase "You can never have to much pitching." Simple and true and really applicable to relief pitching. Generally, good hitters and starting pitchers will have good years and bad years while remaining relatively consistent over time. There are exceptions like Andrew Tubby Jones, whose voracious appetite is responsible for completely diminishing his baseball skills and leaving 1.3 million Africans starving a year, but I would be happy to bet with anyone that Jeter will hit at least .275, A-Rod will get 25 homeruns, CC will have 175k's etc assuming they are healthy.

     Relievers though have always been the most erratic. Excluding the elite closers, it is not completely uncommon for dominate relievers to become awful for no apparent reason. In a way this makes sense, because the middle guys are usually the ones who are not good enough to close or start. Relievers do not pitch that many innings a year so anyone can get hot and look good for a short period of time. I ask all Yankee fans this: Even though the Yankees had a very good bullpen last year, who do you really trust after Mariano Rivera? With the Yankees determined to keep Joba in the starting rotation (which i agree with, 200 innings of domination is better then 60) they have no definite 8th inning man.  Damaso Marte(4.02 era) Edwar Ramirez(3.90era) Jose Veras(3.59 era) and Brian Bruney(steller 1.93 era) are the most likely candidates. If Phil Coker continues to pitch the way he did last year he might get it; maybe Jonathan Albaladej or someone else. I'm not trying to suggest that the Yankees bullpen will collapse, but I do not think there is a candidate that really sticks out as a dominate 8th inning man. Juan Cruz had proved the last two years that he can help solidify the 8th inning. He dropped his era to an impressive 2.61 last year, but his ability to miss bats is what stands out. He had 71k's in 51.2 innings and missing bats is huge in the late innings when teams start to play small ball. Adding Cruz is a smart way to make one of the best bullpens better and provide insurance options in case one or more relievers get injured or regress.

 

3.) Rotation Depth:

Another "You can never have to much pitching."

 The Yankees need one more starting pitcher. The Yankees have locked in 4 starters (CC Sabathia, AJ Burnett, Chien Ming Wang and Joba Chamberlin) and need a 5th. Right now Andy "I'm a spoiled piece of ****" Petite or a minor leaguer are slotted. Signing Ben Sheets gives the back end of the rotation a #1 caliber pitcher. If he gets injured, fine, the Yankees will go to the farm system like planned or pick up a pitcher midseason from a team who is feeling the financial crisis and needs to cut payroll. If he remains healthy, the Yankees receive a steal. It is Win/neutral situation not a win/lose. Keep in mind that AJ Burnett has only pitched an entire year during contract years and Joba Chamberlin will be treated like a child and have his innings limited (I believe around 140 to 160 innings) so sheets and the kids/midseason pick up might both be needed.

 

4.) Price:

     The Yankees have received hatred and jealousy from other fans and teams, but despite the Brewers owner's (Mike or Mark or whatever it is) belief, the Yankees do have limits. These signings though won't exceed their limits. Sheets' injury history has put him in a tough situation. In this crisis teams are not willing to risk money on him when they can have cheaper, more reliable options. If Rosenthal's report that Sheets will command an 8 million base salary, 6 million in possible incentives and a club option for a second year are true, then I'm puzzled to why he is still a free agent. If he goes all Carl Pavano on the Yankees its 8 million down the drain, which the Yankees can afford. If he stays healthy, 14 million (the maximum he could receive) for his production is a great value. The option would allow the Yankees to bring a great pitcher on for another short (1 year) contract, which is the dream of every general manager.

    Just imagine Brain Cashman going to CC and saying "Look. I will give you a 2 years 46 million dollar contract with a 5 year option. If you pitch great we'll give you the rest of your 160 million dollar contract. If not, the Yankees will release you and I will laugh all the way to the bank from saving over 100 million dollars. Sound like a good deal CC?" This of course would never happen, but I believe the point is clear. Great pitchers on a short term contracts just doesn't exist. This is one of the few and the Yankees would be fools to miss out. 

     Juan Cruz story makes me drool. Arizona offered him arbitration, which he declined, and thanks to the wretched compensation system based on Elias Sports Bureau stats, Juan Cruz is a type A free agent. Arizona, the only team that would not be penalized for signing him, has publicly stated they are strapped for cash and won't resign him. So what are his options? His type A free agent status puts him in the same boat as Jason Varitek; no one wants to lose a first or second round pick for a set up man or ageing catcher. Even if Juan Cruz accepted a contract for 0 dollars he still would have limited suitors, but no team is willing to offer him Jeremy Alfeld type money (2 years 8 million) and lose a high draft pick. As mentioned earlier, the Yankees would only surrender a useless 4th round pick, so Cashman better quickly get on the phone and offer him a contract to bolster the bullpen.

5.) Age:

     Juan Cruz's Birthday is in October and will be 30 for the entire regular season and Ben Sheets is also 30 and will turn 31 in July. While they are not exactly spring chickens, they won't require prostate exams or be examining real-estate in retirement houses soon. (hmmm. [cough] Kevin Brown, Randy Johnson and all other washed up former Yankees.) Pitchers seem to deteriorate around the age 33 or 34, so both should be unaffected.

6.) I can do anything better than you can[aka the most important factor]:

     As a Yankee fan, it pains me to admit it, but the Red Sox have completely dominated the Yankees on the field this decade. They have won two more World Series and were playing baseball in October last year while Yankee fans were crying at home. Losing to the Red Sox breaks Yankee Rule #2. For those uninformed individuals, #1 is: win The World Series and #2 is: If the Yankees sadly fail to make The World Series, make sure the Red Sox fail as well. Obviously that has not been working to well and the Yankees have been forced to beat the Red Sox in a lesser matter; the off season. The Yankees have spent the most money on the best players, they stole Teixeria right out of John Henry's hand and signed former Red Sox catcher Kevin Cash to a minor league deal as a **** you and a reminder that the Yankees have the cash and the Red Sox do not. The Red Sox have beaten the Yankees in one area; former stars recovering from injury. The Yankees have no answer for John Smoltz or Brad Penny. Why win 3-1 when you can win 4-0? Signing Ben Sheets would secure a winter sweep. Hopefully the Yankees will start winning is the fall as well :)

Sign Cruz! Sign Sheets! It is that simple.

 

 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com