Saturday, December 20, 2014

Did Yankees and Padres exchange markets?

You can't make up stuff like this.  Today the Yankees traded utility man (2B, 3B, OF) Martin Prado and starting pitcher David Phelps for Marlins 1B Garrett Jones and starting pitcher Nathan Eovaldi.  Say what?  I had no idea who the Marlin players were.

Dumb and lazy Steinbrenner Kids never miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity: Tampa GM goes to Dodgers. Oct. 15, 2014

A few days ago the Steinbrenner Kids, who own the New York Yankees, signed their 16 year incumbent general manager (GM) Brian Cashman to a new three year contract.  Did they know that the Tampa Rays GM was available, that Andrew Friedman was talking to the Los Angeles Dodgers?  ...

The Yankees make lots of mistakes.  George Steinbrenner spent lots of money and bludgeoned opponents by signing many expensive free agents.  Some did not play well for the Yankees but enough did to make the Yankees contenders almost every season and often champions.  In addition, George signed players with star quality starting with Reggie Jackson through the most recent bunch: Alex RodriguezGary SheffieldJason GiambiHideki Matsui...

The Yankees are in a downward spiral.  Blunt force spending cannot save them as it once could.  The dynamics have changed...

Many other teams now have their own regional sports network generating big bucks.  The Yankees no longer have such a big advantage in money. Other teams have gotten smarter, too.  If anything, the Yankees have gotten dumber.  Yankee money can no longer make up for Yankee blunders...

The Steinbrenner Kids exhibit an astonishing lack of imagination.  They're dumb and lazy, a deadly combination.  Instead of cleaning house and bringing in an established but young and talented executive like Andrew Friedman of Tampa, the Steinbrenner Kids stick with Brian Cashman

Some players the San Diego Padres recently acquired:
Matt Kemp from the Dodgers
B.J. Upton
Wil Myers

George Steinbrenner 2008 via Wikimedia Commons
Maybe the Yankee moves this off season are good.  Maybe the Padres moves are bad.  But the Yankee moves seem timid.  After wasting big bucks a year ago, the Yankees now seem seized by indecision, unwilling to either spend money or take chances.  The Padres seem to intentionally want to challenge the big spending Dodgers, at least in terms of bulking up for the 2015 season rather continue to play second fiddle.

Today there was a long shot rumor that the New York Mets were interested in acquiring a shortstop who spent an off day in 2014 at Yankee Stadium watching his hero: Derek Jeter.  Supposedly the Mets were considering Rockie Troy Tulowitzki.  Imagine the humiliation, at least in the short term, of the Mets getting Tulo and the Yankees settling for Didi Gregorius.  George Steinbrenner must be turning over in his grave.

Friday, December 19, 2014

Can Alex Rodriguez do what Derek Jeter just did: play well at 40?

Alex Rodriguez Born: July 27, 1975 in New York, NY (Age 39.145)

Derek Jeter Born: June 26, 1974 in Pequannock, NJ (Age 40.176)

Alex Rodriguez Trenton Thunder (AA) August 2, 2013 by gbrunett via Wikimedia Commons
Jeter is thirteen months older than Rodriguez.  For annual stats baseball age for a season is determined by whether the player's birthday is before July 1.

Jeter was 40 in 2014 and played remarkably well and often for his age: 624 plate appearances (PA), 145 games (130 SS, 15 DH), 10 stolen bases/2 caught steeling.

So technically, although Rodriguez will be considered 39 in 2015, he'll essentially be the same age that Jeter was in 2014: 40.  Hence my question.

Some factors:
- Jeter has never had major surgery.  Rodriguez had surgery on each hip for a torn labrum: 2009 and  January 16, 2013; 2011 "arthroscopic surgery on his knee to repair a torn meniscus that impacted his power".
- 2013:
    -- Jeter: 73 PA, 17 games from July 11 to Sept. 7
    -- Rodriguez: 181 PA, 44 games from Aug. 5 to Sept. 25
- Rodriguez was suspended all of 2014; this is the key difference
- Rodriguez used performance enhancing drugs (PED); as far as we know, Jeter did not.

Both are driven and proud.  Both work very hard on conditioning and craft.

The Yankees simplified things this week by signing free agent Chase Headley for four years to play third base, the position which Rodriguez has played since joining the Yankees in 2004 when he switched from SS to accommodate the incumbent Jeter.

1. How much did the hip injuries impact Rodriguez?
2. How much did the PED impact Rodriguez?
3. How much will age impact Rodriguez?
4. How much will his not having played in 18 months impact Rodriguez?
5. How much will being a full time DH impact Rodriguez?

Barry Bonds and Alex Rodriguez: milestones denied. Sunday, October 12, 2014

Barry Bonds was blackballed.  2007 was his final season:
PA: 477
BA: 276
OBP: .480 led league
SLG: .565
OPS: 1.045
OPS+: 169

Alex Rodriguez was blackballed for the 2014 season.  Even with his missing that entire season Rodriguez in 2015 can join Hank Aaron as only the players with:
600 HR
3,000 Hits
2,000 RBI
2,000 Runs.
Even without the HR criteria Aaron is the only player with 3,000 Hits, 2,000 RBI, 2,000 Runs.

To A-Rod or Not to A-Rod. That is the question. Thursday, November 6, 2014

the Yankees ... have not qualified for the tournament two years in a row despite the addition of a second wild card opportunity.  That's why I think that the Steinbrenner Kids are more inclined to A-Rod, than not to A-Rod...

Yeah, right.  Pay A-Rod $60 million to not play or, even more stupidly, to play for another team? ...

So the question is just how stupid are the Steinbrenner Kids?

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Mickey Mantle: free agent.

Hello, partner.  In his later years Mickey Mantle enjoyed repeating that story about what Joe DiMaggio would do if he were a free agent playing "today": go up to Yankee owner George Steinbrenner and say "Hello, partner".  It implied that The Mick would have the same approach, that they were so good that each would get top dollar, which is what they actually did get in their times.

Mickey Mantle about 1953
by Bowman Gum via Wikimedia Commons 
I've been wondering how Mantle would have fared if current free agency rules existed during his career: 1951-1968, all with the Yankees.  This post is not intended to be an exhaustive economic analysis, which would require a complex program to try many scenarios per year and compare Mantle's money to that of other players.  It may help to look at the three young current very talented players: Mike TroutGiancarlo Stanton and Bryce Harper.

Mantle would have been under club control from 1951 through 1956, his triple crown season.  If he became a free agent after 1956 his value would have been sky high.  Few, if any, other players would have had his value after their first seasons.

1951: returned to minors for a month; modest
1952: star at 20; using today's criteria in which Bases on Balls (BB) are highly valued, Mantle would have been an MVP candidate; would the Yankees have tried to sign Mantle for multiple years right away?  See Bryce Harper, who just signed for two years with his Washington Nationals for his age 22-23 seasons.
1953: regression, which leading to his first arbitration eligible season might have given the Yankees pause about offering multiple years
1954: rebound; Mantle obviously is a star
1955: led American League in homers and triples; Yanks likely to try to sign Mantle
1956: triple crown, including 52 home runs, MVP; Mantle rules the earth.

The others signed their extensions at these ages:
Trout 23
Stanton 25
Harper 22.

A wild card in all this is that a team knows its own players better than outsiders.  Mantle already had physical problems by 1956 and his immature behavior, including abuse of alcohol, were a major concern to the team.

Suppose that the Yankees decided during Mantle's first six seasons to sign him for multiple years.  Sooner and longer would obviously have been best for the team.  Mantle was the best player in the AL pretty much every season through 1964.

Mike Trout signed for his ages 23-28, meaning that he will become a free agent again in 2021 while still in his prime.  Trout has the highest annual salary of the three.

Giancarlo Stanton signed for his ages 25-38 with an opt out at age 30 in 2021, the same year as Trout.  Stanton's highest annual is for ages 33-35.

Bryce Harper can become a free agent in 2019 at age 26, two years younger than Trout and four years younger than Stanton.

So Harper will hit the market two years before both Trout and Stanton and be two and four years younger than both.  Of course, Harper will be receiving much less than either before then.

The matrix below contains the data mentioned for all four players.  It can also be viewed by clicking this link.  Salaries for their new contracts are in BOLD.  For Stanton, his option years are in RED.  For Trout and Mantle, their MVP years are BOLD.  Salaries for Trout, Stanton and Harper are in millions and for Mantle they are the actual numbers that have become familiar over the years eventually reaching the magic $100,000.  That's one hundred thousand dollars, which Joe DiMaggio made in Mantle's 1951 rookie season.  So from the start of Mantle's career to the end the maximum salary didn't change that much, at least not for him.

Sandy Koufax got $110,000 in 1965 and $125,000 in 1966 his final season.

Willie Mays may have received $160,000 at age 28 in 1959 or more likely he received $80,000.
1966 35 $105,000
1967 36 $105,000
1968 37 $105,000
1969 38 $125,000
1970 39 $125,000
1971 40 $160,000
1972 41 $165,000
1973 42 $165,000

Hank Aaron:
1970 36 $125,000
1971 37 $125,000
1972 38 $200,000
1973 39 $200,000
1974 40 $200,000
1975 41 $240,000 Milwaukee Brewers
1974 42 $240,000 Milwaukee Brewers


Mantle's salaries are from the main column on his webpage at and do not reflect information in the notes.  It's obvious that Mantle did not have the leverage to increase his salary as quickly.  Mantle's biggest percent increase in salary is from his age 24 1956 triple crown season: 46.67%.  This is reflected in the matrix below, also viewable at this link.

AgePct +Pct +Pct +Pct +Age
Pct +Pct +Pct +Pct +

Following his disappointing 1959 season Mantle may have been cut from $70,000 to $60,000.  There are no cuts for Trout or Harper and Stanton's salary only decreases at age 36 and even then it's from $32 to $29, then $25 million.

Many people today are blowing off Matt Kemp, Hanley Ramirez and Troy Tulowitzki as players who get injured and are bad risks.  Many of those same people would quickly conclude that Mickey Mantle would have made lots of money in free agency.  But would any of them have thought that Mantle was worth the risk at the time?  Mantle was better that the three players mentioned above but he was also a big risk.