The Eduardo Nunez lovefest

November 27, 2011 | 57 comments | in Quick Analytical Blurbs | by SJK

A week ago, the Star Ledger ran an article citing an MLB scout who believed Eduardo Nunez should play RF over Nick Swisher. On October 30th, the Daily News suggested Nunez would be the heir to Derek Jeter. No matter what website you go to, Yankee fans praise Nunez in some capacity or another.

For all those in the Nunez ‘Time to Shine’ camp, please tell us on what planet a .698 OPS and horrendous defense is appealing. While the SBs are nice, he has no track record to back up these ridiculous projections we constantly see.

First of all, he hit .265/.313/.385. Is that cause for optimism? Really?

His defense can’t get any worse than we what saw last season (-28.8 UZR/150, 20 errors), but Nunez was always a bad defender in the minors. There will be no miraculous defensive turnaround.

The truth of the matter is that Eduardo Nunez was not even replacement-level last year. He had negative value. Not only is he not the heir to Derek Jeter, but the Yankees should find another utility player to replace him. If some team actually wants to trade for him, Cashman should jump in his car and personally drive Nunez to his new team.

The lovefest in Yankeedom over this kid is mind-boggling.

Jonesing for Jones

November 27, 2011 | 59 comments | in Featured | by SJK

NoMaas Offseason Idea #5: Bring back Andruw Jones

The case for bringing back Andruw Jones couldn’t be any more simple. He was absolutely excellent as the Yankees’ 4th OF. He hit .247/.356/.495. His 2011 wOBA of .371 ranks 7th among this year’s free agent class.

Bill James is predicting a steep drop for Jones, .223/.330/.440 (.331 wOBA), with a notable decline in power. The bearded one sees an ISO of .217. The lowest ISO Jones has produced over the last 3 years is .246 (2009). Andruw will be 35 in 2012 and it’s fairly certain he won’t be as good as he was last season, but we’ll take the over on James’ ISO prediction.

Most importantly, Jones did not show any signs of slowing down versus LHP. He fiddled lefties to the tune of .286/.384/.540.

He was also very solid in the field. (+9.5 UZR/150, +5 Total Zone/year).

What more could you want from a 4th OF?


Jones harassed multiple pitchers this past season.

Something’s gotta give

November 24, 2011 | 35 comments | in Quick Analytical Blurbs | by SJK

With the news that the Yankees have signed Freddy Garcia to a 1-year deal in the $5 million range, the rotation currently stands like this:

CC, AJ, Nova, Hughes, Dwayne Johnson

Consider us very underwhelmed. There’s a lot of HOPE tied up in this rotation. Hope that AJ can be the dominant starter the Yankees mistakenly thought he was. Hope that Nova is better than his peripherals suggest. Hope that Phil Hughes can actually do something productive. And hope that Freddy Garcia has another vile of pixie dust.

For a team with the Yankees’ resources, this is way too much hopeful thinking. Something has to give.

In full disclaimer, we know it’s early in the offseason and things could look a lot different in a couple months. However, let us say this: If the plan is to basically have the rotation look like the above, and then have this big competition/revolving door to see if anyone sticks on the back-end, we would give that a huge thumbs down. The Yankees have the money and the trade pieces to create a dominant starting rotation. Anything less than that is lazy, in our view.

Thanksgiving is about family

November 23, 2011 | 34 comments | in Featured | by SJK

From all of us at NoMaas, enjoy watching your uncle fall asleep with his mouth wide open.

VOTE: Big market or small market

November 22, 2011 | 36 comments | in Featured | by SJK

On Saturday, we wondered if the new CBA would make the MLB draft more like the NBA and NFL drafts, in which each pick has less perceived talent than the previous pick. In other words, the best available player is taken off the board. Obviously, NBA and NFL teams can differ on who is the “best available player”, but generally, the later you get into the draft, the lesser the talent level. Baseball didn’t necessarily work like this due to “signability” issues. More talented kids could drop until later in the draft because the word was that they wanted big $$ to sign, and teams with aggressive draft strategies would be the ones who paid. All that has now changed due to the new labor deal:

From MLB:

Each Club will be assigned an aggregate Signing Bonus Pool prior to each draft. For the purpose of calculating the Signing Bonus Pools, each pick in the first 10 rounds of the draft has been assigned a value. (These values will grow each year with the rate of growth of industry revenue.) A Club’s Signing Bonus Pool equals the sum of the values of that Club’s selections in the first 10 rounds of the draft. Players selected after the 10th round do not count against a Club’s Signing Bonus Pool if they receive bonuses up to $100,000. Any amounts paid in excess of $100,000 will count against the Pool.

B. Clubs that exceed their Signing Bonus Pools will be subject to penalties as follows:
Excess of Pool Penalty (Tax on Overage/Draft Picks)
• 0-5% 75% tax on overage
• 5-10% 75% tax on overage and loss of 1st round pick
• 10-15% 100% tax on overage and loss of 1st and 2nd round picks
• 15%+ 100% tax on overage and loss of 1st round picks in next two drafts

Competitive Balance Lottery

A. For the first time, Clubs with the lowest revenues and in the smallest markets will have an opportunity to obtain additional draft picks through a lottery.
B. The ten Clubs with the lowest revenues, and the ten Clubs in the smallest markets, will be entered into a lottery for the six draft selections immediately following the completion of the first round of the draft. A Club’s odds of winning the lottery will be based on its prior season’s winning percentage.
C. The eligible Clubs that did not receive one of the six selections after the first round, and all other payee Clubs under the Revenue Sharing Plan, will be entered into a second lottery for the six picks immediately following the completion of the second round of the draft. A Club’s odds of winning the lottery will be based on its prior season’s winning percentage.

And the rules have changed for International Free Agents as well (which is how the Yankees signed Ivan Nova and Jesus Montero, for example)

For the 2012-13 signing season, each Club will be allocated an equal Signing Bonus Pool.

3. For each signing period after 2012-13, Clubs will be allocated different Signing Bonus Pools, based on reverse order of winning percentage the prior championship season (i.e., the Club with the lowest winning percentage the prior season shall receive the
largest Pool).

4. Bonus Regulation of International Amateur Players

A. Beginning in the 2013-2014 signing period (July 2, 2013 – June 15, 2014), Clubs may trade a portion of their Signing Bonus Pool, subject to certain restrictions.
B. Clubs that exceed their Signing Bonus Pools will be subject to the following penalties in the 2012-2013 and 2013-2014 signing periods:

Excess of Pool Penalty (Tax on Overage/Draft Picks)
• 0-5% 75% tax
• 5-10% 75% tax and loss of right to provide more than one player in the next signing period with a bonus in excess of $500,000.
• 10-15% 100% tax and loss of right to provide any player in the next signing period with a bonus in excess of $500,0000.
• 15%+ 100% tax and loss of right to provide any player in the next signing period with a bonus in excess of
$250,000.


Debate has erupted from these changes as to who benefits the most from the new rules — big market teams or small market teams?

People like Dave Cameron of Fangraphs, Tom Verducci of SI, and Scott Boras of I Robbed the Yankees on the Rafael Soriano contract are among those who believe the changes benefit large market teams.

Verducci:

The one piece of this CBA that doesn’t make sense is how the owners swung their hammer at amateur players — specifically, penalizing teams for overspending on draft bonuses according to newly established thresholds. Tamping down the ability of teams to evaluate the value of draft picks is a strike against the heart of competitive balance. This rule doesn’t harm the Red Sox, Yankees and Phillies. It harms teams such as the Pirates, Nationals and Royals, who spent the most money on draft bonuses over the past three years and are better positioned because of it. (The Red Sox, Yankees and Phillies rank 10, 16 and 20 in bonuses over the same period.)

Moreover, the reward for small- and middle-market teams that do well, such as Tampa Bay and Milwaukee, is to be given less money to spend in the draft because they will be drafting later. And if they do exceed a threshold, they can be penalized with the loss of draft picks — the very important currency that helped create parity. And are not some drafts — such as 2005 (perhaps the best ever) — stocked with more great players than others? Of course. So why should spending be treated the same every year?

It makes no sense, and it is why many teams, such as Oakland, Kansas City, Cleveland, Tampa Bay and Pittsburgh, consider this cap on draft spending to be counterproductive.

Boras:

His reasoning: With a set amount of money to spend on draft picks each year, it will take longer to accrue superior talent and improve.

“Before, you’d do it by using the draft effectively and scouting aggressively,” he said. “It’s going to take (the Astros) even longer now to get good. You have to add three or four years on now because you cannot use the draft to supply the team talent, which decreases the franchise value.”

He said the current system was “working beautifully,” citing the recent uptick in talent and interest of clubs that spent big money on marquee players in recent drafts, such as the Pittsburgh Pirates (pitchers Jameson Taillon and Gerrit Cole) and Washington Nationals (who signed Boras clients Stephen Strasburg and Bryce Harper to major league contracts, another practice eliminated by the CBA).

“Where would Kansas City be without their draft?” Boras said of the Royals, who had nine of Baseball America’s top 100 prospects this past winter. “They were getting the best players in the draft, and were paying for them.

“Look at what the draft did for Milwaukee. They drafted Ryan Braun and Prince Fielder and Rickie Weeks. Just those three have meant more than $100 million in value for the franchise.”

Finally, in a concept he’s driven home before, Boras says the drag on signing bonuses will drive elite athletes to other sports. At Tuesday’s news conference, Selig said he had “no concerns about that at all. … I don’t believe that’s a possibility.”

For those who believe the new rules benefit small market teams, the arguments are as follows.

Due to the severe taxation penalties and essentially the elimination of “signability” cases, the top draft talents will go to the worse teams — just like in the NBA and NFL. Big market teams will no longer be able to game the system and sign talented “signability” cases who’ve dropped in the draft. Also, Boras used Gerrit Cole and Stephen Strasburg as example of smaller-revenue teams using the draft to build, but those players would still be available to those same teams and wouldn’t require nearly as much money to sign.

There’s also the addition of 12 picks in what’s termed the “Competitive Balance Lottery” which will be given to the smallest-revenue teams.

Lastly, in regards to international free agents, teams will be able to spend based on their prior season’s winning percentage — the worse the record, the more money available for IFAs.

So the debate rages on. At NoMaas, we’ll do our best to bring you thoughts from Yankee decision-makers and get their opinions on these changes. Until then, we ask…




VOTE: The rotation

November 21, 2011 | 44 comments | in Quick Analytical Blurbs | by SJK

Following up on our post from Sunday, in which we commented on Cashman’s “we only need a #5 starter” public statements, we ask:




Cash the comedian

November 20, 2011 | 57 comments | in Featured | by SJK

Saturday’s NY Post:

“Our club is pretty set, except [we want to] shore up the back of the rotation,” Cashman said.

This follows comments he made on Friday:

Again, I expect it to be CC, A.J., Hughes, Nova, and the rest of it is going to come from that pack below, or it will come from an outside source that we have negotiated with or trade for.”

He’s joking, right? The Yankees have the resources and the need for a front of the rotation starter.


What’s the deal with the rotation?

Does the new labor deal hurt the Yanks’ draft and IFA strategies?

November 19, 2011 | 35 comments | in Quick Analytical Blurbs | by SJK

From SI.COM (Click for full article)

HGH Testing

Blood testing for human growth hormone will start when players report to spring training in February, putting MLB ahead of the NFL. The NFL wanted to start HGH testing this season, following that sport’s new labor contract, but the NFL Players Association has not agreed, causing some congressmen to pressure the union.

High school & college draft picks

A tax of 75 percent to 100 percent will be imposed on the amount a team exceeds a threshold, and teams exceeding the threshold by higher amounts could lose first- and second-round draft picks.

International free agents

For international free agents, such as players from the Dominican Republic and Venezuela, there will be a separate threshold and tax with penalties, and there will be a study committee that could put a new system in place later during the agreement.

Super Two’s and arbitration

After the 2012 season, about five to six additional major leaguers will become eligible for salary arbitration each year. The group of players with at least two but less than three years of major league service lost the right to arbitration in the 1985 agreement, but players regained it for the top 17 percent of 2-3-year players by service time in the 1990 deal. That will rise to 22 percent following the 2012 season.

Type A free agents and the elimination of the Elias ranking system

For this offseason, the number of Type A free agents, requiring the highest draft-pick compensation from the team signing a player, will be cut from 21 as part of a one-year deal bridging the way to a new system. There will be no change for the most-prized free agents, since as Albert Pujols and Prince Fielder.

Starting next year, teams will have to make a “qualifying offer” of a one-year guaranteed contract to their players eligible to become free agents in order to receive compensation if the player signs with another club. That amount will be at least $12.4 million and could rise by next year, depending on a formula. The new “qualifying offer” does away with the statistical formula for ranking free agents that has existed since the 1981 strike settlement.

Very, very curious to see how the Yankees react to the luxury tax on draft picks and international free agents. We wonder if the MLB draft will become more like other professional sports drafts where the picks directly descend according to talent level. Before now, it didn’t work like that. You could have better players picked in later rounds due to “signability” issues — a.k.a “it will take a lot of money to sign me.” That served to the advantage of high-revenue teams like the Yankees. Does this advantage go away now?

And what happens if a kid is seriously deciding between continuing school or signing with the team that drafts him? If a team is taxed 75%-100% if they go over slot, we might see more kids going back to school and teams wasting their picks.

This is obviously all speculation on our part and we’re just talking out loud here. Looking forward to seeing more details.

Choose

November 16, 2011 | 52 comments | in Quick Analytical Blurbs | by SJK

Pretty similar, right?

And now for the reveal…

Pitcher A is John Danks, the subject of many Yankee fan orgies so far this offseason. Pitcher B is Edwin Jackson, the subject of NoMaas orgies.

Why give up a player of value for Danks, when you can get Jackson for just money?

The Yankees are not exempt from opportunity cost

November 15, 2011 | 53 comments | in Featured | by Vizzini

Opportunity cost. It is the concept in which a current action causes an alternative action to be passed up. In a financial context, the term is often used in a discussion about allocation of resources, meaning if money is spent in one area that means that less/no money can be spent on other areas.

According to Dave Cameron of Fangraphs, the Yankees are not subject to the laws of opportunity cost because they have an unlimited supply of funds.

Well, Fangraphs is wrong. We will explain why. However, before we begin, let’s get some things out in the open.

First, Fangraphs is the most influential baseball website we’ve ever come across. The work they’ve done in promoting advanced statistics and making people re-think how baseball players should be evaluated is remarkable. Evidence of its influence can be found on so many different sites, including ours. Much respect not only to that, but the effort they put in a daily basis. It’s always easier to hate than to create, and Fangraphs most definitely creates.

Second, anyone who’s followed NoMaas over the years knows we are not fanboys (perhaps ladyboys, but not fanboys). In fact, we’ve sometimes been accused of having an anti-Yankee bias. Thus, as we refute this Fangraphs’ argument, you should know that this isn’t a fanboy reaction to someone saying the Yankees buy success, which is essentially what Dave Cameron is stating.

We are well-aware and acknowledge that the Yankees’ revenue stream gives them an enormous competitive advantage. Anyone who denies that is delusional — and remember this is about revenue streams. Generally speaking, owners don’t tap their personal net worth to fund their baseball operations. If a club is generating X in revenues, that is the source for funding. Since the Yankees generate incredible revenue, they have a bigger pool of money to spend. However, Cameron is saying that the pool of money is infinite and the Yankees do not need to bother themselves with giving any thought to opportunity cost. This is where we 100% disagree.

And so we commence…

To provide the basis for his “Unlimited Payroll” theory, Dave Cameron starts with a recent quote from Brian Cashman:

“There’s always the target area (for the payroll),” Cashman said. “But obviously we’ve always been in the position thankfully that depending on what becomes available, how it looks, what our current circumstances are, if we’re quote unquote in trouble, we have an ownership that’s receptive to having conversations obviously regarding that. I’ll give you an example.

“Like last year, Russell Martin became available so we stretched to make that work. There wasn’t an intention there. But that was something that he allowed me to do a little bit more on because … we weren’t expecting that. We were going to go with the young catchers. But when he became non-tendered, and if we could get a deal at a certain amount, it took a lot of conversations with Hal Steinbrenner. He allowed that to happen and it was a real big benefit for us and we appreciate that.

“So you have those give and takes that take place. Sometimes it’s no, and sometimes it’s yes, but obviously the flexibility, as you already know, there’s no set number where you can’t exceed it that obviously exists in other environments.”

That’s a very interesting quote, as it sheds light on how things work in the Yankees’ FO. Somehow though, Cameron takes this quote and draws the grand conclusion that the Yankees do not have a payroll limit and they can spend whatever and however they want, without consequence:

“Not that this is any real surprise, but the Yankees don’t have a payroll limit, they have a “target area”. Ownership probably wouldn’t go for a $300 million payroll, but as long as Cashman can make a compelling case that there’s value to be had in spending a bit more money, he has the ability to dip into an essentially unlimited pool of resources.

“Unlimited pool of resources”. They “probably wouldn’t go for a $300mil payroll?!” In other words, Fangraphs is stating the Yankees have an infinite supply of money. Does this make sense though? If the Yankees do have unlimited resources, why wouldn’t the Steinbrenners increase payroll by 50% to the $300 million Cameron references? After all, what is better in life than crushing your enemies, seeing them driven before you, and hearing the lamentation of their women?

As for the ability to go over the targeted cap, Cashman’s Russell Martin example doesn’t say much at all. They Yankees had already lost out on Cliff Lee, so they were well under what they were planning to spend. Apparently ownership was content with their present spending on catching, but Cashman was able to get them to pitch in another $4 mil for a one-year contract that didn’t pin them down in future seasons at all. Furthermore, Cashman explicitly states that other spending requests are rejected. Why would spending requests be rejected if the payroll is unlimited? For Cameron, this isn’t exactly demonstrating that Cash could sign Pujols and Reyes to be the best pinch-hitters in baseball.

More from Fangraphs:

“[For most every other team] every dollar they spend on one player is money they cannot spend on another player, and every player’s salary represents an opportunity cost. The Yankees simply don’t have that constraint. Their only opportunity cost is roster spots.”

We call big-time bullsh*t on this. Can Dave Cameron please explain to everybody how Cliff Lee, an unquestionably elite player who fit into a roster spot, managed to go to another team? If the Yankees have no budgetary constraints and they don’t have to worry about opportunity costs, then why didn’t Cashman just up his offer by $5 mil a year? He would have blown the Phillies out of the water and surely landed Lee with that extra $30 mil. Dave, you’re a smart dude. Don’t you think it was possible that the Steinbrenners told Cashman that there was a limit to how much they could pay Lee? If there was infinite dollars available, Cliff Lee would be in the Boogie Down Bronx.

Cashman’s quote indicates that he can get Hal to go over the cap a bit in a given year if he can convince him that it means the Yankees’ playoff odds go up x%. It decidedly does NOT mean that Hal will let Cashman spend as much as he wants in perpetuity. Cashman knew he could only spend so much each year, so at a certain point, he could not offer Lee more money lest it impact his ability to sign other players in the future.

And another excerpt from Cameron’s article:

“They can’t have Prince Fielder or Albert Pujols because they already have Mark Teixeira playing first base, not because the salaries are a deterrent.”

Unfortunately, as you dive deeper into the article, it sounds more like an emotional rant from a disgruntled fan, because the facts simply don’t add up. The Yankees could accommodate either Fielder or Pujols at DH. They’d certainly get more wins with Fielder taking all the DH at bats against right-handed pitchers. They’d get more wins by putting Albert Pujols, an elite defender and best hitter of the last decade, just about anywhere and shuffling the rest of the lineup to have him on the field every day. Heck, if they have unlimited resources, why not just sign Pujols as a nice righty bat off the bench? Two hundred million would be a high price to pick up that extra win Pujols would give you as a bench player, but since there is no such thing as opportunity cost in the Yankees world, then why not? Warning to Dave though…$200 milion for +1 WAR might throw off the going free agent rate of $5 million per 1 WAR.

You can really see how Cameron’s argument erodes with each passing paragraph. But, there’s more:

“We saw this last year with Rafael Soriano, in fact – ownership overruled Cashman and gave Soriano a monster contract to serve as a setup man because it made the team better and the cash spent on Soriano would not prevent the Yankees from doing anything else they wanted to do.”

This is ridiculous. The Yankees ownership overruled Cashman because they were already spending less than they had intended due to the Cliff Lee fiasco. The combination of Soriano and Martin adds up to much less than they would have spent on Lee.

More importantly, why do you think Cashman tried to put the kibosh on the signing? Cashman outright said Soriano’s talent makes their bullpen better. Why would he be so upset that he’d take the rare step of publicly airing his grievances at Soriano’s own press conference? Here’s an idea: Cashman knew that at least part of the $11 million they were spending on Soriano in 2012 and $14 million in 2013 was money that he would have to put towards more productive players.

Cashman was also upset at losing a first-round draft pick since Soriano was a Type A free agent. If the probability of a first round pick developing into an elite player is so small and Cashman could significantly increase his odds of getting an elite player simply by signing one who was already established as such, then why would he care about losing a pick?

It’s because when draft picks turn into productive players, it gives you payroll flexibility. A player like Brett Gardner allows Cashman to spend the money that he is allotted to make vast improvements elsewhere on the roster. If Cashman wasn’t constrained by the budget, he could have much more easily signed Matt Holliday and have been virtually guaranteed more wins. Yet, the Yankees didn’t come close to doing so.

The Yankees spend within their means. Granted, their means are higher than everybody else, but they still spend within them. Cameron’s argument that the Yankees possess an infinite amount is simply not reality.


Dave Cameron’s bedroom reveals the disgruntled fan behind his Yankees’ payroll theories.

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