Sunday, October 08, 2006

Mottainai

The title of this post, "mottainai" means "it is so wasteful that things are not made full use of their value." in Japanese. It's a very expressive word that embodies a lot of subtle points of waste.

The Yankees colossal failure against the Tigers was a waste of money. $200 million dollars a year for the last 6 years of playoff shortfalls is a tough pill to swallow. It was also a waste of talent. "The greatest lineup ever assembled" failed to score for 20 innings, and looked overmatched in most of those frames. They didn't even move runners over with their outs. It was a waste of time. I actually enjoyed this season a lot. It was an entertaining mix of ups and downs, that proved to be a most interesting period to blog about. I did spend untold hours writing and analyzing the 2006 season that I may have better used on other things. I don't regret a second of it, but I think there is some feeling of waste there too. I managed to salvage a little sleep during the elimination game. For that reason, I can say that I avoided a total waste of emotion and energy. At the point that Lidle started coughing up the last chance for the Yankees, I turned off the tv and went back to bed. It was around 6:30am here in Japan.

All in all, the loss to the Tigers was a simple series of subtle baseball truths that govern the ulitmate fate of every team. The most basic of those truths is that good pitching will always beat good hitting. We were all led to believe that the Hall of Fame lineup that we fielded would equate to great hitting, able to overcome simply good pitching. When that aspect of our strategy faltered there was nothing left. The Tigers pitching, which had regressed to the mean after the All Star Break found just enough magic to beat the Yankees. Verlander pitched an amazing game, but was on the losing end until Mussina sputtered to the finish line. That seems to be the end of our chances. If you look at the other two pitching matchups, there's no way we fielded the better pitcher in either game. As shaky as Rogers has been over the years, he was stellar in 2006 from beginning to end. Randy Johnson is nothing more than a big name in an old man's body. Jaret Wright and Cory Lidle are nice 5th pitchers for the regular season. They are guys that you trot out there to fill out your rotation. Neither of those players are the man you want on the mound, facing an excellent young Jeremy Bonderman in an elimination game. Pavano was supposed to be that guy, but he's chosen to flake out on his teammates and fans.

It's not just this year. If you look at all our failures over the past 5 seasons, you have to wonder how often we were putting the best pitcher on the field. Let's examine this and honestly evaluate the matchups....(ERA+ follows each pitcher's name).

2002 ALDS (3-1 Loss to Anaheim)

Game 1 - Clemens(101) vs. Washburn(138)(win)
Game 2 - Pettitte(134) vs. Appier(111) (loss)
Game 3 - Mussina(108) vs. Ortiz(115) (loss)
Game 4 - Wells(117) vs. Washburn(138) (loss)

The series here was lost by the bullpen. Pettitte and Mussina were both good, but not great, and the Angels rallied off our pen to steal the middle two games. Game 4 was lost on David Wells stinker. He left the game after 4.2 innings of ineffective pitching. Here's a series that we should have won by the looks of things. Had the pen done its job, we would have won the Mussina game, and the Pettitte start was winnable too. Either one of those games in the other direction would have given Clemens a shot at a Game Five. Certainly a poor showing by a superior staff.

2003 ALDS (3-1 Win over Minnesota)

Game 1 - Mussina(129) vs. Santana(151) (loss)
Game 2 - Pettitte(109) vs. Radke(103) (win)
Game 3 - Clemens(112) vs. Lohse(100) (win)
Game 4 - Wells(106) vs. Santana(151) (win)

Although the Twins fielded the superior pitcher in two of the four games, asking Santana to come back on short rest against the Yankees is a tough assignment. Had he been able to win, the Yanks would have come back with Moose against Radke, and that favors the Bombers. We won on better pitching here.

2003 ALCS (4-3 Win over Boston)

Game 1 - Mussina(129) vs. Wakefield(115) (loss)
Game 2 - Pettitte(109) vs. Lowe(105) (win)
Game 3 - Clemens(112) vs. Pedro(212) (win)
Game 4 - Mussina(129) vs. Wakefield(115) (loss)
Game 5 - Wells(106) vs. Lowe(105) (win)
Game 6 - Pettitte(109)/Conteras(133) vs. Burkett(91)/Arroyo(227) (loss)
Game 7 - Clemens(112) vs. Pedro(212) (win)

It took an Aaron Boone homer in extra innings to decide this series. That's a series. Both teams can be proud that they sent top line pitchers to the mound and made it last. A classic for all times.

2003 World Series (4-2 Loss to Florida)

Game 1 - Wells(106) vs. Penny(98) (loss)
Game 2 - Pettitte(109) vs. Redman(112) (win)
Game 3 - Mussina(129) vs. Beckett(132) (win)
Game 4 - Clemens(112) vs. Pavano(94) (loss)
Game 5 - Wells(106) vs. Penny(98) (loss)
Game 6 - Pettitte(109) vs. Beckett(132) (loss)

We all know at this point that David Wells was out of steam. His back crapping out of him in Game 5 hurt us badly. The first game was a 3-2 affair that could have gone either way. Game 4 was lost in the 12th inning when Torre opted to use a very ineffective Jeff Weaver to pitch the bottom of the 12th. We all remember the walk-off home run he gave up to light hitting Alex Gonzales. Mystifying. Again, had we won that game Clemens would have been assured of a Game 7 start. In the end, our best 2 pitchers made only a start apiece thanks to the prior series' result.

2004 ALDS (3-1 win vs. Minnesota)

Game 1 - Mussina(98) vs. Santana(182) (loss)
Game 2 - Lieber(104) vs. Radke(136) (win)
Game 3 - Brown(110) vs. Silva(112) (win)
Game 4 - Vazquez(92) vs. Santana(182) (win)

Again we got Santana the second time around. We didn't actually beat Santana, but we managed to put this one into extra innings and send Kyle Lohse to the showers. We were very lucky to win the series with Lieber, Brown, and Vazquez as our rotation behind Mussina. Minnesota wasn't yet the team we saw this season.

2004 ALCS (4-3 Loss to Boston)

Game 1 - Mussina(98) vs. Schilling(150) (win)
Game 2 - Lieber(104) vs. Pedro(125) (win)
Game 3 - Brown(110) vs. Arroyo(121) (win)
Game 4 - El Duque(136) vs. Lowe(90) (loss)
Game 5 - Mussina(98) vs. Pedro(125) (loss)
Game 6 - Lieber(104) vs. Schilling(150) (loss)
Game 7 - Brown(110) vs. Lowe(90) (loss)

Oh...this series was painful. We had it in the bag, save extra inning meltdowns in Games 4 and 5. You can't kill these guys for the loss too much. The Games 6 and 7 matchups favored Boston.

2005 ALDS (3-2 Loss to Anaheim)

Game 1 - Mussina(101) vs. Colon(120) (win)
Game 2 - Wang(111) vs. Lackey(122) (loss)
Game 3 - Johnson(117) vs. Byrd(112) (loss)
Game 4 - Chacon(156) vs. Lackey(122) (win)
Game 5 - Mussina(101) vs. Colon(120) (loss)

The only reason that the 2005 ALDS didn't go the way of the 2006 ALDS, ending in a 3-1 victory for Anaheim is that they tried to bring back Lackey on a couple days rest. Chacon also pulled a rabbit out of his hat.

2006 ALDS (3-1 Loss to Detroit)

Game 1 - Wang(120) vs. Robertson(118) (win)
Game 2 - Mussina(125) vs. Verlander(124) (loss)
Game 3 - Johnson(87) vs. Rogers(118) (loss)
Game 4 - Wright(98) vs. Bonderman(111) (loss)

At best, Game Two is a push in terms of talent. That game was so close that it's hard to throw blame around. A couple of good pitchers matched up and it didn't go our way. Game 3 and 4 were barely competitive in terms of talent. Johnson is a 43 year old guy who stands 6'10" and has a herniated disc in his back. Wright has a career 5.07 ERA.

Taking a look at the whole body of work here, we have only had the pitcher with the highest ERA+ in one series of the eight. That was Mussina(125) in the 2006 ALDS. Verlander had a 124. We should have won the 2003 World Series by all accounts. The 2004 ALDS against Minnesota was more lopsided than it should have been. Things even out over time. The thing is, if you look at our ALDS starters from year to year you see this pattern (average ERA+ in parentheses):

2002 (115)
Clemens(101)
Pettitte(134)
Mussina(108)
Wells(117)

2003 (114)
Mussina(129)
Pettitte(109)
Clemens(112)
Wells(106)

2004 (101)
Mussina(98)
Lieber(104)
Brown(110)
Vazquez(92)

2005 (121*)
Mussina(101)
Wang(111)
Johnson(117)
Chacon(156)

2006 (108)
Wang(120)
Mussina(125)
Johnson(87)
Wright(98)

It's easy to see why things have gone south. We were beyond lucky to have dominated the Red Sox in 2004. They won that series and they were better than us. In 2005 we were probably unlucky. That pitching staff was fairly good with Chacon's contribution. This year is by far the worst staff we've had since Torre took over in '96. You can point to the 1999 Yankees and say that we have the same average ERA+, but it's a stretch given the fact that Clemens and Pettitte both pitched below the league average that season, and displayed their true talent in the postseason. Let's look at the 1996-2001 teams.

1996(131)
Cone(176)
Key(108)
Rogers(108)
Pettitte(131)

1997(127)
Cone(158)
Pettitte(154)
Wells(105)
Gooden(90)

1998(126)
Cone(126)
Hernandez(143)
Pettitte(105)
Wells(128)

1999(108)
Cone(130)
Clemens(97)
Pettitte(95)
Hernandez(109)

2000(113)
Hernandez(112)
Pettitte(116)
Clemens(137)
Neagle(87)

2001(119)
Pettitte(112)
Mussina(142)
Hernandez(92)
Clemens(128)

With the exception of the 1997 team, those are all World Series clubs. The first 3 teams are absolutely dominant. The 1999 and 2000 clubs have better numbers than it looks. I already mentioned the 1999 club. The 2000 club had an average ERA+ among the top 3 starters of nearly 122. The more recent teams are a notch below the World Champion clubs. You've essentially replaced David Cone, Roger Clemens, David Wells, and Andy Pettitte with Mussina, Randy Johnson, Chien Min Wang, and a throw in or two. On paper that isn't awful but taken in context you realize that the best clubs had at least one guy throwing way above league average, and most of the time you had two. Nowadays the highest level pitchers on the club are good, but not great.

There's certainly more to it than that, but I think it's a place to start. I'd like to run down the roster from this season and give a quick thought on who should stay and who should go. I'll truncate everything to include their status, my opinion stay or go, and a brief reason:

C - Jorge Posada (signed, stay, still one of the best)
1B - Gary Sheffield (free agent, go, not a 1Bman and redundant)
2B - Robinson Cano (signed, stay, budding superstar)
SS - Derek Jeter (signed, stay, MVP)
3B - Alex Rodriguez (signed, stay*, Hall of Famer)
LF - Hideki Matsui (signed, stay, consistently good)
CF - Johnny Damon (signed, stay, best available option)
RF - Bobby Abreu (signed, stay, sign him longterm)
DH - Jason Giambi (signed, stay, highest OPS on the team)

Bench
Andy Phillips (signed, AAA, mediocre all around)
Craig Wilson (free agent, go, better in the NL)
Miguel Cairo (free agent, go, old and we can do better)
Melky Cabrera (signed, stay, play Giambi at 1B and rotate him in everyday)
Aaron Guiel (free agent, stay, plays OF and 1B and has some PH pop)
Sal Fasano (free agent, go, get younger here)
Bernie Williams (free agent, retire, we love you GOB)

As far as the lineup goes, we have little flexibility without a trade. Sheffield should see the door because we have a logjam in the outfield and I like Abreu in right better. It's hard to part with Sheff, but we can cut $13 million off the 2007 payroll without him. Melky needs time to play. I put an asterisk next to A-Rod's name because I think Cashman may listen to trade offers. I wouldn't do it personally, but if he makes that choice and gets value back in return I won't argue with his reasoning. The thing is, I would hate to see him go....unless we can dump Pavano with him. The bench wasn't a make or break point for us this year. I think we can get younger and better with some smart choices though. Guiel is versatile enough to play 1st and OF, so we can get a couple of specialists to help out. Perhaps Kevin Thompson can finally find some work as a 4th outfielder and pinch runner. Infielders are a dime a dozen. The younger the better. Likewise with our catching situation. Find someone who can really play, and is under the age of 30.

Starting Pitching

Mike Mussina (option, renegotiate, he's still very good as a #2 or #3)
Chien Min Wang (signed, stay, #2 starter here and #1 in many other places)
Randy Johnson (signed, stay, he's a ghost after 2007)
Jaret Wright (option, go, he sucks)
Cory Lidle (free agent, go, he sucks)
Carl Pavano (signed, stay*, we're stuck with him)

Bullpen

Mike Myers (signed, stay, he's still a good LOOGY)
Ron Villone (free agent, go, mediocre at best)
Scott Proctor (signed, stay, not too bad when managed well)
Octavio Dotel (free agent, go, will cost too much)
Kyle Farnsworth (signed, stay, he's ours and he's okay)
Brian Bruney (free agent, stay, power pitcher with bright future)
Mariano Rivera (signed, stay, GOD)

Looking at the team objectively, pitching is the weak point. If I could get rid of Mussina, Johnson, Wright, Lidle, and Pavano I would. That would leave me Wang. Since that is an impossibility for contractual and competitive reasons, we need to take this in stages. Sign Moose to a one or two year deal at a reduced rate. If he won't take it let him walk, but give it a shot. He's still got something left. Wright and Lidle are both expendable and should be ejected pronto. RJ will grind through another season, but he should be shown the door ASAP. Pavano will be next in line. The three fazes are:

1. Gradually work younger guys in to take the place of the departing vets.
2. If there's a true top flight FA out there, pay. If not, hold.
3. Continue to draft and develop young arms. Pay for bats.
4. Keep active on the international stage. Those arms are up for bidding.

Step one, replace Wright and Lidle with Zito/Matsuzaka and Rasner/Karstens. I'm not a huge fan of Barry Zito, but he is a good performer in both the regular season and postseason. His ERA+ for the last 5 seasons are:

2002 169
2003 129
2004 105
2005 116
2006 116

I think he's going to get between $15 and $18 million per year with Boras, so I would hold off on signing him until I found out about the bidding for Daisuke Matsuzaka. He's my top choice at 26 years old with the kind of stuff he has. It's a risk to drop the $30 million or so that the posting will cost you, on top of $8-$10 million a year, but I think he's an ace in the making. The huge risk is how his skill translates to the US and to the AL East. I trust my eyes, but fortunately Cashman and company have scouts to give them the scoop. At an average of $15-$20 million a year when you include the posting fee in the per annum out of pocket figure that's hefty. Half the money doesn't count against the tax penalty though, unlike Zito.

Wright and Lidle open the door for either Rasner or Karstens to join the rotation full time. Each of those guys is on a minor league contract and, frankly, they couldn't be worse than the former duo. I like Rasner's stuff and he figures to be average at worst. Karstens is a bit young at 24, but he could also slide in nicely given the chance. That's what Spring Training is for. Whatever happens you'd be replacing a $7 million pitcher(Wright) and a $3 million pitcher(Lidle) with a big money guy and a minor leaguer. If Zito or Matsuzaka ends up at between $15-$18 million a year and you add one of the kids to the mix, you have basically added between $5 and $8 million to the payroll.

That makes it imperative to rework Mussina's deal. He's got an option at $17 million for 2007. You need to get that number down to $12 million by perhaps extending his deal another year at $10 million. He'd rake in an extra $5 million in the long run and we'd hope to get 2 more decent years out of him. The $5 million in savings would help to offset our FA pitching splash. The rotation now looks like this:

Wang
Mussina
Zito/Matsuzaka
Johnson
Rasner/Karstens

When Phil Hughes is ready in 2008, you plug him into RJs vacated spot and drop the budget another $16 million!! After Pavano drops off the books in 2008, you have $13 million to put in a kiddy for Carlos Zambrano. If my plan worked out your 2009 Yankees would be:

Zambrano
Wang
Zito/Matsuzaka
Hughes
Rasner/Karstens/Betances

To conclude this little analysis, I'd like to look at the budget that I'm dealing with in 2007 and 2008 with this plan.

2007
Gary Sheffield comes off the books (-$13 million)
Craig Wilson comes off the books (-$3.5 million pro-rated)
Bernie Williams comes off the books (-$1.5 million)
Phillips, Cairo, Fasano off the books (push with new signings/callups)
Jaret Wright comes off the books (-$3 million on $4 million buyout)
Cory Lidle comes off the books (-$3.3 million pro-rated)
Ron Villone comes off the books (-$2 million)
Octavio Dotel comes off the books (-$2 million)
Mussina renegotiated contract (-$5 million)

Zito/Matsuzaka added via free agency (+$18 million)
Rasner/Karstens join rotation (+$350,000)
J. Brent Cox called up to bullpen (+$350,000)
FA bullpen arm (+$2 million)

That's an $18 million dollar savings for next season. I've solved some of the problems with minor leaguers from our system, but we should use it and get value out of it. It's time to get some young players up here to inject some life into the team. We can save even more money in 2008.

2008
Mussina's final year at $10 million (-$2 million)
Randy Johnson comes off the books (-$16 million)
Mike Myers comes off the books (-$1.5 million)

Phil Hughes joins the team (+$350,000)
New bullpen arm (+$1.5 million)

We save $17.65 million in addition to the 2007 salary reduction. That's a two year savings of around $35 million dollars. The team is younger and better, and there's plenty of money to pay Zambrano in the 2008 off season with Moose coming off the books.

The 2008 Yankees could look like this at $35 million less than the 2006 bums.

C - Jorge Posada
1B - Jason Giambi
2B - Robinson Cano
SS - Derek Jeter
3B - Alex Rodriguez
LF - Melky Cabrera
CF - Johnny Damon
RF - Bobby Abreu
DH - Hideki Matsui

Bench
OF/PR Kevin Thompson
1B/OF/PH Aaron Guiel
More young players.....

Starting Pitchers

Wang
Zito/Matsuzaka
Mussina
Hughes
Rasner/Karstens
Pavano

Bullpen

Proctor
Farnsworth
Cox
Bruney
Lefty X
Mariano

I'm not sure if this team will win the championship, but it looks better than the current bunch at a discount. The years beyond will see important decisions about Posada, Abreu, and Giambi. I would hesitate to sign Posada or Giambi beyond their current contracts, but if the price is right....anything can happen. Abreu is a keeper to me, but we have to track his decline to see how much he's worth. Our dollars can be spent better on younger talent in many cases, and I'm all for that going forward.

It's time to take a deep breath and move on into the off-season. I probably won't be posting everyday for a while. I have some things to catch up on, the GRE to prepare for, and a baby due around Christmas. I promise to keep you posted on Daisuke Matsuzaka, and anything big that happens in Yankeeland. Next may be Torre/Piniella. I plan to do some nice pieces on individual players personal recollections, and other interesting items in the off-season, so please keep coming back. Thanks for a very entertaining year, and let's keep our heads up. See you on the flip.

Mike.

16 comments:

Anonymous said...

Mike,

Thank you for all your posts, which have been entertaining (especially your use of Photo Shop :-)).

Some comments: 1. Wright has a $4MM buyout this year, so the savings are actually $3MM, not $7MM;

2. I would not be surprised if Randy Johnson retires after this season.

Look at my reasoning: he's old, he knows he's no longer a HoF level pitcher, and he needs surgery (both at the knee and disk level).

Is he such a money whore that he'll stay around for one more year even though he knows he's just a back of the rotation guy?

Perhaps, but I don't think he's Kevin Brown.

3. Strange as it sounds, I think Pavano will be on the Yankees 2007 AND the collapse of the Yanks 2006 will give somewhat of a clean slate (it's difficult to be snippy at a teammate for not being around when the team needed you when pretty much everyone else on the team collapsed);

4. As good as A-Rod is/has been historically, I think his departure will be a case of addition by substraction.

JRVJ

greggy said...

Excellent post. Agree with almost everything, but what's up w/Zambrano? Zambrano?!
Clue me in, what on earth do you see in this guy?

Mike Plugh said...

Good question on Zambrano. His standard numbers look very good, but there are flaws. Even some of the more obscure metrics are mediocre, but the guy is tough to hit. Looking at his last 4 season's ERA+ numbers, you see that he has been stellar.

2003 136
2004 165
2005 131
2006 136

Those numbers are better than any Yankee starter over the same period, by far. At the start of the 2009 season he will only be 28 years old!!!!!

With that kind of ability, with the Yankees lineup behind him, he'd win a Cy Young.

singledd said...

Hey Mike,
Very, very detailed, although the better ERA+ pitchers didn't win that many more games then their countparts... such is the random nature of baseball. I think Wright, at 3mil, is worth keeping as a #6, injury insurance, maybe PB guy. After all, a team of Wrights is $75mil - cheap in Yankee dollars.

I don't want to trade ARod, and I dont see how we can get 80% value back. Its hard to bargain, when other teams know you are getting rid of a guy, not 'trading' him.
BUT, he can walk if he wants to after 2007. As a FA, if he's willing to take $16-18mil, he will be able to pick a contender with a smaller LF... I fear the Sox would scoop him up in a second.

This team averaged 5.75 runs/game. You might not expect that against PS pitching but.... I would have guess that, before I would have guessed what we got.

Did Moose lose game 2? JD hit a 3 run HR in the 4th, and that was it. We stranded many baserunners. Giving up 4 runs to a good team is not a crime. I put this one on the offense, that had 5 innings to manufacture a few runs.

We knew our pitching was weak, coming in. We didn't know our offense would take a few days off.

While we all know that pitching wins in the PS, the Mets won with pitching similar to ours. 2 More runs in game 2, and Wang goes for the series. So, in GENERAL, pitchings wins. But we were set up to be an exception to the rule.

Mike Plugh said...

Thanks singledd.

I agree with all your points. When I was researching the ERA+ numbers it became clear that the higher number didn't always win the game, but what you can check is that the team with the overall higher number ended up winning the series everywhere but the Yankees win in the 2004 ALDS against Minnesota. It's more an issue of spending $200 million and never having the pitching advantage in a single playoff series.

By the way, I changed the Jaret Wright number from -$7 million to -$3 million. I knew that when I was typing, but forgot to do the math in my emotional state. ;)

rbj said...

Good analysis, Mike. What this team has lacked lately, IMO, is a starter who can go out and dominate another team in the PS. Someone you just "know" is going to win. Yes, the other guy may be shutting you out, but you know you're going to find a way to score a couple of runs, even if you have to wait until late in the game, and that is going to be enough. Yanks did get to Bonderman late, but with lousy pitching up front, it wasn't enough.

Oh, and keep A-Rod. Personally I think this is more of a media driven story than anything else.

Anonymous said...

Is he such a money whore that he'll stay around for one more year even though he knows he's just a back of the rotation guy?


Well, $16M is a lot of money. Can you honestly say you wouldn't?

Anonymous said...

If I'm already very wealthy, am in great pain from pitching and am no longer a HoF level pitcher, yes, I probably would pass it up.

I made this argument 2 years ago for Giambi and Brown (obviously I was wrong about Giambi, but I was dead-on about Brown).

While I could see someone fairly young like Giambi thinking (reasonably) that he can still pitch, RJ is 43.

To paraphrase the great, late Rodney Dangerfield, if he takes excellent care of himself, he'll still be very old in baseball terms....

Travis G. said...

What this team has lacked lately, IMO, is a starter who can go out and dominate another team in the PS. Someone you just "know" is going to win.
--------------
There is no pitcher like that. Even Johan Santana, who everyone was afraid to face in rd. 1, lost. Even when Pedro was at his prime, the Yanks could beat him by pitching a great game themself, and getting to Boston's pen where they put up a few runs.

I dont oppose trading Arod. If the Yanks can get players in return, namely pitchers, then why not? Besides, i think all the hype/attention surrounding him is too distracting, and that he'll just never be the MAN in NY, like everyone wants and expects.

Anonymous said...

Great analysis, Mike. One minor point -- Mussina's option is a *club* option. Instead of exercising it, they should just offer him 2 years at $10M. I think he'll take it; they've already made him rich.

Anonymous said...

Crap I forgot my other point on Mussina. He was going to pitch Game 7 in the 2003 WS. And rightly so -- he was their best pitcher that year, and the single run he gave up in Game 3 was better charged to Bernie Williams.

(BTW, scheduled to go for the Fish was.... Carl Pavano!)

jim said...

Great work, Mike. I agree on most everything, except -

1) Phil Huge was ready this year, even if you worry about the extended innings. He flat out dominated AA. It's time to give him his shot. I think he should get it in 2007, maybe as early as the first Pavano injury. I hope that's what Cashman is thinking at least.

2) The backup catcher slot is a giant gaping hole - it has been for years and it's a game of Russian roulette. We saw in Boston what happens when the catcher goes down, even one in a shrunkened state. Jorge had a great year, but they need to start transitioning to a younger replacement who could step in if the awful happens and Jorge is out for a while. I'd suggest Eric Duncan for Jeff Clement. I shudder to think what six weeks or more of John Kelly Fasano would look like.

3) With Melky aboard, Thompson would be the 5th OF and an ideal one at that with speed, contact hitting, and the ability to play all three OF positions.

4) There are not alot of 1B options available as free agents. Besides Phillips, I'd rather they go younger and even stay in house iff possible, evenif it means what looks like a less than suitable replacement. Shelly Duncan and Bronson Sardinha fit that bill. Few thought Cano and Melky and Wang would be ready when they were given the chance - why not keep trying that strategy and see what you find?

Great work, Mike.

Marco said...

Great analysis. A couple of things, if I may:
1) Realizing that past experiences don't favor this scenario, I think Pavano needs to get serious consideration for the starting roation in 2007. I know Cashman is depending on this and is probably part of his plan "A" rather than plan "B."
2) Who would you consider being the 6th or 7th starter/long reliever? I would think that either Wright or Lidle can be a good fit in this role. Their records are basically .500 but that's OK for this role.

Sean J said...

Mike, I think the analysis you come up with is dead on. The team can always buy hitters but we haven't been able to put together an intimidating pitching rotation since the exodus in 2003. Four comments I'd like to make:

1) I don't think it is that far fetched to believe RJ might retire. He has always said that if he can no longer pitch the way he knows he is capable of that he would and I think it is apparent to everyone that he no longer is able to.

2) I'm not big on the "get rid of Arod" bandwagon but I would definitely trade him for young pitching, something we need far more of then a big bat. I didn't think that we could get good return value on him until the following to things were brought to my attention: A) ALOT of teams have money to spend this off season and there is not a lot of superstar talent available. Alfonso Soriano and Carlos Lee are probably looking at 80 to 100 million dollars committed to them over 5-6 years. A-Rod (due to the texas trade discount) is only owed 66 million over the next year making him almost a bargin to those teams looking for a line up upgrade. B) A-Rod will increase revenue for any team that brings him in. One club executive said "[A-Rod] would cost us only $5 million, really, because we'd make $10 million in revenue after it was announced that we're getting him." Both of these make me think we can get a good return on a trade.

What might that return be? These are some of the trade options reported on by Buster Olney from anonymous club executives:

Chicago (AL) - Brandon McCarthy (pitching prospect) or Mark Buehrle and Josh Fields (3rd Base prospect)

San Diego - Jake Peavy+

LA (NL) - Chad Billingsley+

There are other less likely scenarios involving Matt Cain (SF), Justin Verlander or Jeremy Bonderman, but the most intriguing trade option, and the one I have heard the most about is 23 year old Ervin Santana and Chone Figgins from the Angles.

I'm not saying TRADE AROD, but I think some of these options are interesting.

3) I think Philip Hughes is ready to pitch in the majors as long as we don't expect much of him in 2007. He may have an ERA of around 4.50 for the year but I think he can learn a lot more "on the job" as they say and I think he’s worth a spot.

4) This is a crazy Idea that I have been kicking around to my friends but think about this. What if the Yankees moved Johnny Damon to 1B and had Melky place CF. I think with Jason Giambi being almost confined to permanent DH, this would be an overall defensive improvement at both place. Melky has the arm that you want in a CF in Yankee stadium along with the requisite speed and Damon is more athletic then Giambi and can learn the position over the course of the year.

Any thoughts?

Mike Plugh said...

sean...

I like the Damon to 1B idea. It's worth a look at least, and I hope the Yanks consider it. Melky as an everyday CFer would be interesting as well.

If he could turn into any kind of star ballplayer over the next 2-3 years, it will have been worth it.

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