December 12, 2012

SportsFilter: The Wednesday Huddle:

A place to discuss the sports stories that aren't making news, share links that aren't quite front-page material, and diagram plays on your hand. Remember to count to five Mississippi before commenting in anger.

posted by huddle to general at 06:00 AM - 26 comments

Sporting News ships its last print edition

posted by justgary at 10:49 AM on December 12, 2012

Yankees sign Youk.

posted by justgary at 10:50 AM on December 12, 2012

1 year, $12m? It's good to be Youk.

posted by kokaku at 10:57 AM on December 12, 2012

Reds, Indians and Diamonbacks involved in a nine player swap.

posted by yerfatma at 11:00 AM on December 12, 2012

Reds, Indians and Diamonbacks involved in a nine player swap.

Nice trade by the Reds, in my opinion. The one gaping hole in their lineup was at leadoff hitter. I wanted to support Stubbs, but .213 just ain't gonna cut it. Phillips can bat leadoff, but I think he'll be much more comfortable at #2. If everyone stays healthy, they're looking at Choo, Phillips, Votto, Ludwick, Bruce, Frazier, Cozart, and whoever catches. That should help the 3,4,5 guys' numbers skyrocket and make the Reds a real contender. Nice job by Jocketty to fill the biggest hole in a formidable lineup.

posted by tahoemoj at 11:29 AM on December 12, 2012

1 year, $12m?

$42 Million investment in 2 third basemen on the tail end of their careers in 2013. Youk isn't likely to last the entire season without injury, so add a few more million to that number for another body.

Being that the Yankees don't ever develop anyone within their own organization, why wouldn't they just offer another team with a development system $5M for a young prospect? At least there is a possibility of future upside to such a deal.

posted by cixelsyd at 11:35 AM on December 12, 2012

Being that the Yankees don't ever develop anyone within their own organization, why wouldn't they just offer another team with a development system $5M for a young prospect?

Mariano Rivera
Andy Pettitte
Derek Jeter
Jorge Posada
Bernie Williams
Phil Hughes
Brett Gardner
David Robertson

That's just off the top of my head. I'm sure there have been a few that have been traded away and become good players on other teams (like Ian Kennedy and Austin Jackson).

posted by grum@work at 11:53 AM on December 12, 2012

a) You guys know I'm not a baseball fan and I did read the linked article, but Youklis is 34, much younger than the other players mentioned. His production was off the last couple of seasons but if Valentine was right about the issue being psychological then maybe the House That Ruth Built is the change he needs to rebound.

b) Grum, that list is very reasonable but the article's relevant comment was, I think, more focused on the team not developing any young players in the last year or three to "replace the aging core."

posted by billsaysthis at 12:14 PM on December 12, 2012

We're over the $300 mark but there are still some of you who want to contribute but haven't yet. You know who you are, so getterdone!

posted by billsaysthis at 12:22 PM on December 12, 2012

Grum, interesting list.

The keepers (top 5) are all pre-Cashman era, and were the key components of successful Yankee teams.

With that in mind, puzzling how the value of player development is lost on the current organization. From a business standpoint the Yankees are getting decent financial return paying well above market value for aging talent. From an on field perspective I suggest they'd have a better chance of success if they diverted a small portion of their yearly payroll into player development. They do have the means to create the best development system in baseball.

posted by cixelsyd at 12:43 PM on December 12, 2012

His production was off the last couple of seasons but if Valentine was right about the issue being psychological

I really liked Youk with the Sox, but I can't agree. He's been a physical mess for a few years and Bobby Valentine was right about exactly nothing last year. Youk is on the wrong side of 30 and playing at third isn't going to help keep him healthy.

more focused on the team not developing any young players in the last year or three to "replace the aging core."

But that's going to happen to any successful team that can afford to keep players. And it's not particularly true either:

Joba Chamberlain
Phil Hughes
Ivan Nova
Francisco Cervelli
Robinson Canó

They've also done alright with their acquisitions. They traded Phil Coke and Austin Jackson to get Granderson.

posted by yerfatma at 01:15 PM on December 12, 2012

I am very excited about this trade for the Reds. They got rid of Drew Stubbs, the strikeout machine! I can't count the number of rallies he killed last year with a 2 out strikeout. I feel bad for the Indians.

posted by insomnyuk at 01:31 PM on December 12, 2012

Thanks for the reminder, bill. I finally had a spare moment and was able to help the cause.

posted by 86 at 01:52 PM on December 12, 2012

@86, thanks for playing!

Holy cow, Chris Bohnker (not sure if that's you 86) just came in with a mega-contribution to put us over the $500 milestone! Some deserving boys and girls are going to get really nice footballs for the holidays!

Thanks Chris and everyone else who've kicked in. At this point we're sending at least 30 footballs, so please give yourself a pat on the assback.

posted by billsaysthis at 05:23 PM on December 12, 2012

@billsays I sent out the link for the site (to family)prior to realizing you set up a SpoFi site.

We can add 8 ball if ya wanna:

2 from Oregon, 1 from Texas, 2 from South Carolina, 2 from Maine, 1 from Florida.

Great f'in idea dude, I'm f'in impressed with this, can't wait to get my ball.

I really have to know what it feels like!!!

posted by Folkways at 05:53 PM on December 12, 2012

I think the Youk signing isn't a bad one for the Yankees, even though as a Sox fan it fills me with nausea- Youk is one of my favorite Sox players of the last couple of decades, and his unceremonious exit under the tortured reign of Bobby the Fifth seemed an awful way to end his career in Boston. Him going to the Yankees, though- what a kick in the teeth while watching Boston have a rebuilding year in 2013 (and possibly 2014).

But for the Yankees, it's a good move. He's a good free agent if ideally at a lower price, and they do need half a season of a quality third baseman: Youk is a great defender, and has a solid bat that may even spark up a bit over the small sample size of April-June. Shit, if A-Rod never rediscovers his talent, Youk might be a better choice at third both offensively and defensively, so he's a little bit of insurance in that regard for the next season.

The real advantage their money buys them is they can find overly expensive gap filler players while their farm system (eventually) churns up good young talent- and then they can keep that homegrown talent as long as they wish. I think Youk still has a few good years in him, although not at his peak production (obviously). The total production they'll get from Youk/A-Rod will not be worth the total salary... but it will be a net positive at third base by 3-4 WAR or more. Sprinkle enough 2, 3, and 4+ WAR players among your various positions, and you'll have a consistent 95+ win team. This is the same model the Red Sox use: GM for the regular season, and hope that consistent playoff spots yield occasional trophies.

What makes the Yankees different is that every other team- well, except apparently the Dodgers now as well- has to restrain their payroll, and balance the wins/runs created of a player against their salary. They need to careful pick who they sign, who they retain, who they pursue, so that they aren't overspending $/win anywhere they can help it. But for the Yankees, they aren't budgeting dollars- they're budgeting innings; they just need to make sure they're putting ~95 wins worth of talent on the field for the ~1,458 innings of the season, every single year. They can afford to overpay a guy by $5/year, but they can't afford to overplay a guy who is a net negative at his position/at the plate.

The only reason to penny pinch with their deep pockets is if you can swap an aging player for a younger one with the same production and thus a longer period of producing 'x' additional runs created/runs prevented over the course of the season. But the Yankees don't have a financial penalty to keep renting known commodity free agents for 1-2 years on the downward slope of a stellar career, then it will keep working out for them in terms of playoff success.

Really, the Yankees are waging an arms race against themselves. They can always afford to outbid the other teams, but by running this style of GM they aren't hurting themselves season by season, but in the long haul: the Yankees doing the rent-a-star model means they more than any other single team continue to exert upward pressure on salaries, which other teams then rise to, which makes the Yankees have to spend even more to continue their rent-a-star philosophy. The safety valve of their system is to periodically get lucky with the farm system, and get players on the cheap who produce several WAR each year for a small $ per win. Of course, they then never let go of those players, and have to keep escalating the payroll to the homegrown players as they age, since the fans won't ever let them cut the name brand players loose (and while I hated it, and hated Bobby the Fifth, letting Youkilis go is not a bad move for the Sox since he was going to get more expensive per win over time).

I guess what I'm saying is the Yankees can keep this model going apparently all but indefinitely, but it's a terribly inefficient way to run a business.

posted by hincandenza at 11:36 PM on December 12, 2012

I guess what I'm saying is the Yankees can keep this model going apparently all but indefinitely, but it's a terribly inefficient way to run a business.

This isn't the Steinbrenner we are used to, however.
Hal wants to bring the payroll down to $189million (the luxury tax level), and that means some cost cutting (maybe) and reduced spending (definitely).

The issue is that the Yankees don't just have expensive (bad) players to worry about, but expensive (bad) players with LONG contracts.
ARod/CC/Teixeira are on the hook for the Yankees until 2017/2017/2016, all of them more than $20million a season.
That means almost exactly 1/3 of the Yankees proposed payroll will be tied up in 3 players who will be 41/36/37 years old.

Throw in Cano, Jeter, Granderson, and a slew of pitchers all on contracts that end in 2013 (Jeter has an option for 2014)...

If the Yankees implode in 2013 (like Boston did in 2012), then November/December 2013 is going to be a VERY interesting time for the fans.

posted by grum@work at 12:09 AM on December 13, 2012

NBA ref trying to block a Kris Humphries free throw attempt. More or less strange than the tug-o-war incident with Amir Johnson?

posted by tron7 at 02:00 AM on December 13, 2012

That... that... I mean, what the hell was that?! Just blow your whistle, and if he shoots it it won't matter because play will be dead.

These refs man; when they tear themselves away from their gambling addictions and fixing the games to actually try officiating, they just end up making a mockery of the sport.

posted by hincandenza at 03:53 AM on December 13, 2012

I'd argue that Boston started imploding in 2011, but then got the worst possible manager to run the show for 2012 (and inexplicably ran Tito out of town) which only exacerbated their problems. Boston's best move of the last two seasons was the mega-deal with LAD that gave them huge flexibility to rebuild smart, like they originally did leading up to the 2003-2009 era. Sadly as a Sox fan, I don't see this off-season being very inspiring so far...

grum@work: the point I was making is that they can want to reduce payroll, but unlike other teams they can easily afford to float a little extra spending instead of making a Sophie's choice. Sure, having 1/3 of your payroll tied up in aging players is not good... but the payroll left over under that $189 soft cap is still enough to fund an entire roster in itself. They shouldn't overpay for an already established name, but they can afford to pick up a young stud on the rise at the right price without ever saying "Oh shoot, we're already full up, we can't afford to pick up the next Derek Jeter right now and know he's a cost-effective option for the next decade. I guess we'll just have to hope someone just like him is available in the off-season next year instead.".

As you point out, there's a ton of people in option years this year and the next, such as Jeter and Granderson, so a lot of payroll will free up quickly if they want it. And while guys like Arod/CC/Teixeira are around for a few more years, at least other than ARod (who was still good for a couple of WAR last year) they are putting up 3-4 WAR. Again, this is a case of "Paying too much for the net positive WAR" not "These players are a net negative", and I doubt those three average less than 6 WAR total over the remainder of their contracts. If you can average 2 WAR per roster spot, you are a 95-100 win team- which means you get a couple of 6's, a few 2's, 3's, and 4's, and then a slew of 0.5's and 1.0's.

I guess... are you saying the big question for them isn't so much the big long contracts, it's finding those next decade players to transition in? This is true- it's much hard to sign young talent as a free agent, because they won't be FA eligible until they've been around a while, and can command a high salary. Still, the Yankees are simply not going to give their fans 2-3 years of "rebuilding". They can afford to weather the pricy long-term contracts and patchwork in decidedly short-term contracts of known veterans (such as Youk and likely Ichiro) until their future 1.0+ WAR players and spattering of All-Stars come up through the farm system at each position. I want them to fail of course, since I'm a Boston fan, but that kind of wealth gives you a lot of options; you can make a quiet mandate to stop pursuing the big money free agents, but still allow yourself the indulgence of a an expensive but safely short-term filler. I don't expect the Yankees to go anywhere in the AL East, and still be a 90+ win team or better every year.

posted by hincandenza at 04:35 AM on December 13, 2012

Incidentally I've mentioned WAR a lot in the above comments, even though I have plenty of reservations about it; for example, why is Ichiro listed as a net negative defender for several years now?

I know he's lost a step since his younger years, and it seems like the fire went out of him for those last few years in Seattle when they were playing for nothing... but I find it completely implausible to suppose that he went from the cavernous SafeCo, where he was still apparently 0.9 WAR defensively in 95 games, to the much smaller RF of Yankee Stadium and managed to be -1.1 WAR defensively in just over a third of a season. It's why I continue to have reservations about how accurate WAR is (not just how precise).

posted by hincandenza at 04:47 AM on December 13, 2012

The defensive component for WAR hasn't really been established properly in my mind. Fangraphs and Baseball-Reference use two different calculations, so that's why their total values for players are different.

If you look at the 2012 Fangraphs WAR leaders, and compare it to the 2012 BBRef WAR leaders, you'll notice that the numbers rarely match up.

Especially in small sample sizes (half-seasons), I tend to take the defensive values with a boulder of salt.

posted by grum@work at 08:21 AM on December 13, 2012

Not me, bill. My contribution wasn't enough to get us over the $500 mark, though I'm glad we made it.

posted by 86 at 10:21 AM on December 13, 2012

Youk is a great defender

I think you're overestimating his defensive ability. He was never great at 3rd, and I wouldn't be surprised if he's average or a little below at this point in his career.

posted by justgary at 01:45 PM on December 13, 2012

He was decent at third before the injuries and he's a good defender at first. But yeah, "great" isn't how I would have described his play at third: it always looked like a triumph of effort over ability. Which is not to run him down: I loved him as a Red Sox player at both corner positions and I wish he was still a productive player in Boston. Boggs and Youk. I wonder if the Yankees ever kicked the tires on Scott Cooper. Shea Hillenbrand?

posted by yerfatma at 03:19 PM on December 13, 2012

hincandenza is correct about the Yankees needing half a season out of Youkilis, and judging by the past few seasons, that's about all he will be able to give them. He has been pretty well beaten up, mostly by his hard-nosed style of play, and his body shows the result. I've always been a bit of a Youk fan, and despite my Boston roots, I hope he succeeds in NY.

His appearances in pinstripes at Fenway should be interesting. Will the fans boo or cheer. Of course, if they boo, who will be able to tell?

The bit about not being able to tell the boo from the Yooooouuuuk is not original. I read or heard it somewhere.

posted by Howard_T at 04:24 PM on December 13, 2012

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