Nuno for McCarthy: Good Fantasy Trade; Real Life, Not So Much

July 6, 2014 | 18 comments | in Living in Mom's Basement | by Vizzini

Brian Cashman has loudly signaled his intentions to upgrading the injury-ridden Yankee rotation. He accomplished that in an exchange of Vidal Nuno for Brandon McCarthy, two pitchers who are not what they seem.

On the surface, Brandon McCarthy has posted a 3-10 record this year, accompanied by an unsightly 5.01 ERA. However, as any competent fantasy owner knows, one of the first things you look for in a buy-low target is the difference between a pitcher’s ERA and his more skills-driven xFIP. The difference in McCarthy’s ERA and xFIP (2.89!) is the biggest in the major leagues. His skills are impeccable: He maintains a healthy strikeout rate (7.6 K/9), while walking nobody (1.6 BB/9) and keeping the ball on the ground at 55%.

That’s all masked by a horrific trifecta of bad luck: a .345 BABIP, a 67% left-on-base rate, and a 20% HR/FB rate that is by far the highest in baseball. In truth, Brandon McCarthy is an above-average pitcher who might well be finding his stride and peaking just as the Yankees have acquired him. There’s no doubt he upgrades the Yankee rotation this year.

On the other side of the ledger, few Yankee fans are weeping over the loss of Vidal Nuno. Nuno got his cup of coffee last year, posting a 2.22 ERA in his 20 innings — but this was the opposite of the McCarthy effect. Nuno had a ridiculously favorable BABIP (.219), strand rate (89%), and HR/FB% (6.5%). All that masked an
xFIP of 5.32, and voila: Nuno’s ERA in 78 innings this year is 5.42, with skills that are a bit better (4.41 xFIP) but still well below-average (113 xFIP-).

Nuno was a 48th-round pick, he made nobody’s list of top ten list of Yankee prospects, and he wasn’t going to figure it all out this year. Yet, where McCarthy is a free agent at the end of the year, Nuno is under team control for the next five seasons. That’s plenty of time for him to work his way into an average MLB starter or useful bullpen piece at a guaranteed below-market salary.

Nuno’s minor league record hints at some potential. He dominated every level from A- to AAA along the way to being promoted, striking out 5 times as many batters as he walked over the course of 5 seasons.

Cashman did what said he was going to do: he made this year’s rotation better — and he did it in a way that would make a savvy fantasy owner proud, trading a piece that wasn’t going to help this year for a guy whose smart-person’s stats reveal him to be way better than his silly-old-codger stats.

But unfortunately for Cashman, he plays in a keeper league with some annoying real life constraints. In real life, he has owners that set arbitrary, self-imposed salary caps. In real life, young team-controlled players are growing in value as other teams are catching up to the Yankees in spending and locking up their young stars long term. In real life, Brandon McCarthy has been in the league since 2005 without ever coming close to pitching 200 IP. He pitched 170 innings once and his next most prolific season was 135 innings long. It’s uncertain whether he’ll still be there if the Yankees make the playoffs, and even then he doesn’t start Game 1 or 2. Most importantly, in real life, McCarthy projects to be about a 1-win upgrade the rest of the year on a bad team that would need a lot more to become legitimate contender.

In a vacuum, this is a a shrewd deal by Cashman. In context, it’s another example of sacrificing longer-term stability to ensure short-term mediocrity and moderate relevance.

Should the Yankees trade for David Price?

July 5, 2014 | 10 comments | in Featured | by Vizzini

The three most prominent and consistent names on the pitching trading block over the past few weeks have been David Price (3 WAR to date), Jeff Samardzija (2.1 WAR), and Jason Hammel (2 WAR). Now that the best team in baseball (team payroll= ~$75 mil) has taken the latter two off the market, Price is left as far and away the most intriguing player we know to be available.

Brian Cashman had already made it known he was looking to acquire an impact arm. Now with CC Sabathia likely out for the rest of the year, he is surely feeling increased pressure to acquire a top starter who can help close the seemingly manageable three-game gap between the Yankees and first place.

Price is a very appealing target. He ranks as a top 10 AL pitcher in FIP and WAR, and a top 3 pitcher in K/9, BB/9, and xFIP. He’s averaged 207 innings over the last 4 seasons. He would replace Vidal Nuno in the rotation, so the Yankees would get nearly his full value above replacement level. And should the Yankees sneak into the playoffs, a Tanaka-Price duo would give the Yankees the most formidable 1-2 punch of any team save for the Dodgers.

All that said, Cashman should not take the bait. There’s a question of whether if this trade is even a possibility in the first place. Price will command a huge return, and the Rays are sure to ask for the moon from a division rival. The Yankees farm system might well keep them out of the running. Even if the Yankees could put together a competitive package, they should hold onto their prospects and just let the clock run
out on this season.

As good as Price is, he is not going to make the Yankees a legit contender. While three games isn’t a ton to make up, the Yankees are long shots to beat out both the Orioles and Blue Jays for the division and even less likely to get a wild card. Their mediocre 43-42 record hides a putrid 39-46 Pythagorean record. Only 3 teams in the AL have a worse run differential.

Consider this: The Yankees expected win percentage so far this year is .460. The Blues Jays expected win percentage is the same as their actual win percentage .534. If the Blue Jays only played .500 ball the
rest of the way, the Yankees would have to somehow be a .540 team for the remainder of the season. That’s not impossible, but it’s a long shot even with Price in the fold. And it doesn’t account for the Orioles keeping pace.

The Yankees have proven over the last two seasons, the folly of depending on the free agent market in lieu of developing prospects in this era of baseball. David Price is an excellent pitcher, and he might be worth the prospect haul to another team that just needs a 2 or so win push to make the playoffs. The Yankees are not
that team.

Yanks so far sign 8 of the top international prospects

July 5, 2014 | 5 comments | in Farm System | by SJK

Per Baseball America’s international free agent tracker, the Yankees have so far signed 8 of the top international free agents in this year’s class of kids — including the #2 overall prospect as rated by BA.

It was first reported in December and then in February that the Yankees planned to go bananas on this year’s IFA class — risking financial ramifications for 2015 and subjecting themselves to a 100% luxury tax.

It looks like those initial reports have become a reality. The club is making a big bet that this 2014 class of international free agents is a rich one, as they’ll be restricted in spending for 2015. Here’s what we wrote back in February:

Based on the latest Collective Bargaining Agreement, the Yankees are only “allowed” to spend ~ $2 million on international free agents this year (signing period begins July 2), and they’ll be taxed 100% on any amount over that — so that would be a HUGE outlay for a bunch of 16-year olds. Plus, if they decide to give a middle finger to the new CBA rules, they reportedly won’t be able to sign any IFAs for over $250k in 2015.

We don’t know these 16-year olds from a hole in the wall, but it’s great to see the Yankees finally flexing their financial muscle to build up the farm. Better late than never…

Thoughts before tonight’s game (July 3, 2014)

July 3, 2014 | 3 comments | in Quick Analytical Blurbs | by Rupert Pupkin

Thoughts on both teams before tonight’s series opener against Minnesota:

Things have been just brutal lately. The offense has more or less disappeared. Aside from Brett Gardner, the team itself has been boring as sh*t to watch too.

Once again: if Alex Rodriguez was allowed to regularly contribute to this team, they’d have at least 2-3 more wins. I’ll just leave it there!

Yankees

Impression Lately: This is as bad as I can remember a Yankees team being since 1993. Almost no offense. Seems like there’s a commitment from the front office to continuing to trot out these over-the-hill veterans simply because they’ve got EXPERIENCE. No other team would give Brian Roberts, Alfonso Soriano and Kelly Johnson this many starts. The team is now below .500 with a 41-42 record to accompany their sickening -37 run differential. They are 2-8 in their last 10 games. It’s just been brutal lately.

Thing I Hope to See: Tanaka is on the bump tonight, so I’m hoping he’ll find some way of besting his last start. Most people probably don’t look back on it and think anything positive, given the way it ended with that bonehead fastball to Mike Napoli that was promptly deposited 315 feet into the front row of the right field seats. But Tanaka pitched a complete game and allowed only 2 runs. I’d take something better than that any day of the week. I mean, I’d also take exactly that, or even something slightly worse. Bottom line: I’m expecting Tanaka to achieve his 17th Quality Start in 17 games.

Player I Want To Watch: Zelous Wheeler was called up today, with Yangervis Solarte being sent down as the corresponding move. It’s a shame because Solarte’s first two months were a lot of fun to watch, and his versatility as a switch hitter was even more tantalizing. But now it’s time to look toward a man with an equally fun name and similar abilities. Wheeler is capable of playing most positions sans catcher and 1B. I like the flexibility he gives Girardi in the field, and I hope he can hit well enough to justify starts over guys like Soriano, Roberts and Kelly.

Twins

Impression Lately: The Twins have been bad all season. They have a -30 run differential – which is still better than the Yankees – but that accompanies a 38-45 record, which is good for last place in the AL Central. They are 3-7 in their last 10 games and are coming off a 4-0 loss to the Royals.

Thing I’m Expecting Tonight: Phil Hughes has been a revelation for the Twins since signing with them in the offseason. He’s 8-4 with a 3.58 ERA (2.60 FIP/3.31 xFIP) and has a K/9 of 7.69 in exactly 103 IP. Where was this output when he was a member of the pinstripes? Why did you wait until now to do what we all hoped and dreamed, Phil? Anyway – I expect Hughes to compete with Tanaka, but perhaps fall a bit short. I think the Yankees are familiar with whom they’re facing in Hughes and so the bats might wake up against someone they know so well. Then again, I wouldn’t say my expectations of this happening are especially high.

Player I’m Afraid Of: Brian Dozier. He’s a sneaky good player – in just about every way. He’s hitting .232/.345/.416 but has 15 HR, 38 RBI, 15 SB and a wRC+ of 116…and he’s a second baseman. He leads the team in WAR (2.8) by a sizable margin. He’s someone who should not be underestimated.

MLB gave A-Rod permission to use PEDs

July 2, 2014 | 17 comments | in Uncategorized | by Rupert Pupkin

Bleacher Report:

Before the 2007 season, Rodriguez asked for permission to use testosterone, which has been banned by baseball since 2003. The IPA in ’07 was Bryan W. Smith, a High Point, N.C., physician. (Baseball did not yet have the advisory medical panel.) On Feb. 16, 2007, two days before Rodriguez reported to spring training, Smith granted the exemption, allowing Rodriguez to use testosterone all season.

In 2007, of the 1,354 players subjected to testing, 111 were granted a TUE. Only two, apparently including Rodriguez, received an exemption for “androgen deficiency medications,” the category that would include testosterone.

So MLB gave him permission to use PEDs for at least two seasons (that we know of) and then attacked him later on for doing the same thing? He’s not playing right now because of something they initially allowed him to do!?

Mayo Clinic Definition of Drug Addiction:

Drug addiction is a dependence on an illegal drug or a medication. When you’re addicted, you may not be able to control your drug use and you may continue using the drug despite the harm it causes. Drug addiction can cause an intense craving for the drug. You may want to quit, but most people find they can’t do it on their own.

For many people, what starts as casual use leads to drug addiction. Drug addiction can cause serious, long-term consequences, including problems with physical and mental health, relationships, employment and the law.

You may need help from your doctor, family, friends, support groups or an organized treatment program to overcome your drug addiction and stay drug-free.

bud_asg

“Ah well, I encouraged and enabled the guy — may as well make him a scapegoat too!”

Kuroda allows two runs: What an a**hole

July 1, 2014 | 10 comments | in Featured | by SJK

Hiroki Kuroda NoMaas Yankees Dick

Thoughts before tonight’s game (July 1, 2014)

July 1, 2014 | 8 comments | in Quick Analytical Blurbs | by Rupert Pupkin

Thoughts on both teams before tonight’s game against Tampa Bay:

Before I get into my little hopes and dreams section, I just want to say that I find it truly pathetic that this team has somehow managed to play worse than last year’s. They were in better shape this time last year and they didn’t have Jeter, Teixeira, Ellsbury, Beltran or McCann as “upgrades” at their current positions. Just an abysmal first half. They’re one game over .500 and only 2.5 games back of Toronto for the division lead. Disgusting.

I’m just gonna come out and say it: this wouldn’t be happening if A-Rod was out there everyday, allowed to play. Now that I got that out of the way…

Yankees

Thing I’m Expecting: Low scoring offense. Maybe they’ll bump Brian Roberts up in the order for hitting that game tying HR in the 9th last night. I know I picked him to suck again – well, he made me eat it, alright. I bet we’ll all be rewarded with another month of his futile bat thanks to that (ultimately) meaningless dinger. Sorry, Rob Refsnyder, but you’re no veteran!

Thing I Hope to See: A win. That’s all. It’s too much to ask for anyway. I don’t care if they piece together 4 sac flies and win 4-3. Maybe they can get some length out of Kuroda considering the Yankees used 6 pitchers in 12 innings last night, but y’know, we’re probably not going to get any of this.

Player I Want To Watch: I’m looking forward to seeing Alfonso Soriano bailing and wailing in all his ABs against David Price. I expect nothing but horrific output, and that’s what I want now because maybe it’ll convince the front office to dump him once and for all. This team has turned me masochistic.

Rays

Thing I’m Expecting Tonight: David Price has a career ERA of 3.84 against the Yankees in 145.1 IP. He’s had a sensational season so far and seems to have a chip on his shoulder due to all the trade rumors swirling around him. As the deadline approaches, I expect him to go all out to dominate the Yankees, which shouldn’t be difficult as they’re mostly pitiful at driving in runs.

Thing I Hope To See: I’d like to see Kuroda dominate Tampa Bay’s short, weak lineup. But anything positive seems to be out of the question right now as far as the Yankees are concerned. I hope to see them turn it around, but I also hope the entire of city of Boston mysteriously disappears like people on that new HBO show “The Leftovers.”

Player I’m Afraid Of: Matt Joyce. I don’t know why I neglected him when I wrote this yesterday. He was 5-6 on Sunday (against Baltimore) with 2 HR, 1 2B, and 4 RBI. Joyce smashed a bomb off David Phelps in the top of the 1st last night to build upon that, but went hitless for the rest of the night. I worry about his powerful lefty swing in Yankee Stadium, opposing Kuroda who can tend to leave his sinker up at times.

Tuesday morning humor

July 1, 2014 | 2 comments | in Quick Analytical Blurbs | by SJK

CBS New York:

As the third-place Yankees (41-40) hit the midpoint of their season just off the pace in the muddled AL East, general manager Brian Cashman reiterated he’s eager to upgrade the roster via trade.

“There are some things I need to do,” Cashman said before the game. “I’m ready to rock and roll. But again, I think those who have, are taking their time. Certain pieces, it’s been communicated that if they get what they want, which would be an extreme haul, they’re ready to move sooner than later. For those who want to step up and really pay the price a month before the (trade) deadline hits, obviously there’s going to be a higher price for that.”

Surprise! Yanks lose another low scoring game!

July 1, 2014 | 6 comments | in Featured | by SJK

Kevin Long Lap Dance NoMaas Yankees
What, me worry?

But let’s continue to talk about how the Yankees want to acquire more pitching.

Thoughts before tonight’s game (June 29, 2014)

June 30, 2014 | 4 comments | in Quick Analytical Blurbs | by Rupert Pupkin

Thoughts on both teams before tonight’s series opener against Tampa Bay:

Yankees:

Impression Lately: Pretty obvious. They’re blundering offensively and can only rely on two of their starting pitchers to keep them in games. If they can’t figure out a way to start scoring more runs, they’ll have to learn to enjoy watching Whitley, Nuno and Phelps get torched beyond their offense’s scoring ability on any given start. They’re still only 1.5 games out of 1st place, behind Toronto. They are projected as 17.4% likely to win the division, 7.5% to earn one of the two wild cards, and 25% overall to make the playoffs (all per fangraphs). Their run differential is still terrible, at -32 and they are 4-6 in their last 10 games.

Thing I’m Expecting: Brian Roberts to contribute little on offense. Seems like a pretty safe bet, given the fact that he’s contributed next to nothing for the first 80 games.

Thing I Hope to See: Carlos Beltran had 3 hits and hit a solo HR last night to help the team pull to within 1 run. They’d never come closer to leading the game after that. But maybe Beltran is starting a hot streak at the plate, which would be long overdue. He brought his hideous slash line up to .220/.276/.415 after last night’s game. Maybe he’s about to go on a tear for a month.

Player I Want To Watch: I’m interested in seeing if David Phelps can bounce back from a poor start against Toronto last week (5.0 IP, 6 ER, 8 H, 1 BB, 1 HBP, 7 K). He’s an average starting pitcher which is something the Yankees could use, given the fact that they trot out someone named Vidal Nuno every 5 days and Chase Whitley appears to be turning back into a career minor league reliever. Phelps could stake a claim to the rotation with a few strong performances and tonight is a good time to begin.

Rays

Impression Lately: The Rays, as many know, are absolutely ravaged by injuries this season and are a big long-shot to miss the playoffs and finish at the bottom of the AL East like we all had grown accustomed to before 2008. They’ve had performances beneath projections from guys like Evan Longoria and Ben Zobrist and have struggled to find a sustainable closer option, despite signing Grant Balfour in the offseason. Tampa is coming off a resounding shellacking of the Orioles (winning 12-7), however, and have won 2 in a row. Still, their run differential on the year is -37 which is the worst in the division, to accompany their 10 game deficit in the East. They have a 1.8% chance of making the playoffs right now (per fangraphs again).

Thing I’m Expecting Tonight: Chris Archer seems to have the Yankees’ number so far in his career. The 25 year old right hander is 4-0 with a 1.26 ERA over 28.2 IP against the “Bombers.” So, naturally I’m going against the grain and expecting him to finally have a bad performance. That’s right, I’m not buying what he’s selling. I don’t care if his ERA is a respectable 3.29 to accompany an even nicer 2.96 FIP. Sometimes unexpected outcomes happen in baseball. Tonight I’m expecting the unexpected.

Player I’m Interested in Seeing: The Rays always seem to have good, young talent but honestly I can’t think of one player on their current roster who piques my interest. Brandon Guyer had 3 doubles a few nights ago, but I think his face is kinda dumb (full disclosure: I couldn’t pick him out of a crowd), so I don’t really care to watch him play, nor do I even know if he’ll be out there tonight. I guess I’m looking forward to seeing Joe Maddon over-use the shift and perhaps hear a philosophical quote he relayed to the team to help them get over the fact that they’ve been awful in 2014 so far.

Player I’m Afraid Of: Ben Zobrist was 3-6 with 1 HR, 2 RBI and 8 TB yesterday. He’d been injured and playing below expectations recently, so I’m thinking he’s starting to get hot and that frightens me. He’s another quiet Yankees assassin, and I’m fearful he’ll haunt David Phelps’ (and my own) dreams tonight.

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