Friday, November 29, 2013

Yankees 2013-14 Offseason Expectations

I'm late on this post considering the Yankees have already signed Brian McCann and there have been several significant free agent signing, but here are a few transactions I expect from the Yankees this offseason. (And a predicted depth chart for the 2014 Season).

First, I expect the Yankees to resign Robinson Cano. The question is for how much? Based on the contracts signed by Josh Hamilton, Albert Pujols, Prince Fielder, Joey Votto, and Buster Posey, I expect Cano to sign a deal worth approximately $25 million guaranteed plus bonuses. The latest offer from the Yankees (according to ESPN) was $160 million over 7 years. Cano's representatives are seeking a 10 year deal worth $310 million. If you subtract 3 years (and $31 million per year) off Cano's asking price, then that becomes an asking of $217 million over 7 years. The midway point between this offer and the Yankees' initial over is $188.5 million over 7 years which is about $27 million per year which is very close to the $25 million plus bonuses which I suggested earlier.

Second, the Yankees can reach Hal Steinbrenner's goal of a payroll below $189 million to avoid the excess luxury tax. This is especially attainable considering Alex Rodriguez's $28 million salary is unlikely to be accounted for as a result of his likely suspension for next season. Excluding A-Rod's salary and including McCann's as well as the other signings, the Yankees have approximately $117.9 million of guaranteed player salaries. If the Yankees agree to terms with most of the following players: Brett Gardner, Jayson Nix, Eduardo Nunez, Chris Stewart, Francisco Cervelli, Ivan Nova, Michael Pineda, David Phelps, David Robertson, Boone Logan, Shawn Kelley, David Huff, Adam Warren, Preston Claiborne, and Vidal Nuno (which is likely considering arbitration is still in option for most of these players), then the approximate guaranteed payroll should be more than $134 million. I think $141 million is a closer approximation factoring pay-raises (possibly $146 million if Yankees' GM Brian Cashman is feeling particularly generous this offseason). This estimate leaves the Yankees with at least $45 million to spend and the following depth chart:

C  McCann 17 1 Gardner L
1B Teixeira 22.5 2 Jeter R
2B Cano 27 3 Cano L
3B 4 Soriano R
SS Jeter 12 5 McCann L
LF Soriano 5 6 Teixeira S
CF Gardner 2.85+ 7 Wells R
RF Suzuki 6.5 8
DH Wells 2.4 9 Suzuki L

BN Nix 0.9+
BN Nunez 0.5333+
BN Stewart 0.5151+ / Cervelli .515+ / Sanchez
BN Ryan 2.5
Other Considerations: Almonte / Mesa / Williams / Heathcott / Austin

SP Sabathia 23 L
SP Nova 0.5756+ R
SP Pineda 0.528+ R
SP Phelps 0.512+ R
SP

CL Robertson 3.1+ R
RP Logan 3.15+ L
RP Kelley 0.935+ R
RP Warren 0.490+ R
RP Claiborne R
RP Huff 0.494+ 
RP Betances 
Other Considerations: Nuno L / Matt Daley R / Cesar Cabral L

This leaves the Yankees with a few holes which I will address in this third section regarding on possible resignings. The two other free agents who the Yankees gave qualifying offers to were Hiroki Kuroda and Curtis Granderson. If Kuroda decides to play next season in the MLB, then the Yankees should be sure to resign him; I'd expect an offer of about $15 million for one deal (similar to the qualifying offer). Should Kuroda not resign with the Yankees, an offer in the same per year range should be offered to the remaining marquee starting pitchers in the free agent pool. (A few remaining free agent SPs deserving consideration are Ervin Santana, Matt Garza, Ubaldo Jimenez, Bronson Arroyo, and Bartolo Colon). Financially, the Yankees can feasibly resign Granderson to an overpriced deal and still achieve their financial objective for this season though it may put future financial goals in jeopardy. I think the most prudent approach to handling Granderson is to allow him to test the free agent market and to resign him if the organization feels that his market price is fair and that none of the outfield prospects are ready to play at the MLB level this season.

Now assuming the Yankees sign a starting pitcher and Curtis Granderson to deal paying about $15 million in the upcoming season, then that leaves about $15 million for the Yankees to allocate towards additional free agents to upgrade the roster and a better hitting third baseman. Two obvious considerations for third base are Kevin Youkillis and Mark Reynolds - both who were on the Yankees' roster last season. A few other players who may receive consideration are Juan Uribe, Michael Young, and Eric Chavez. Chavez had a successful stint with the Yankees recently, so I would not be surprised to see him back with the organization.

Given all this, the Yankees still have the capacity to improve pitching. I think the bullpen will see one or two additions with Robertson, Logan, Kelley, and Warren being the only four relievers I am very confident will be in the Yankees' bullpen. Of these I expect Robertson to receive first chance at the closer role with Logan receiving the second chance. Another consideration is Phelps' role on the time. I expect him to be tested again as a starter, but if the Yankees are dissatisfied with his performance, then moving him to the bullpen and acquiring a starting pitcher is very feasible. Moreover, if the Yankees' determine that Phelps is better suited for the bullpen, then some bullpen-upgrade allocation could be redistributed to acquiring another starting pitchers. It's very feasible for the Yankees to sign two of the remaining starting pitchers who I referenced earlier if Granderson is not resigned or if the team decides to start a current Yankee capable of playing third base as opposed to signing one. A depth chart with lofty expectations could look like this:

C  McCann 17 1 Gardner L
1B Teixeira 22.5 2 Jeter R
2B Cano 27 3 Cano L
3B Ryan 2.5 4 Soriano R
SS Jeter 12 5 McCann L
LF Granderson 15 6 Teixeira S
CF Gardner 2.85+ 7 Granderson L
RF Suzuki 6.5 8 Ryan R
DH Soriano 5 9 Suzuki L

BN Nix 0.9+
BN Nunez 0.5333+
BN Stewart 0.5151+ / Cervelli .515+ / Sanchez
BN Wells 2.4

SP Sabathia 23 L
SP Nova 0.5756+ R
SP Pineda 0.528+ R
SP Santana 15 R
SP Garza 15 R

CL Robertson 3.1+ R
RP Logan 3.15+ L
RP Kelley 0.935+ R
RP Warren 0.490+ R
RP Phelps 0.512+ R
RP Claiborne R
RP Nuno   L

An obvious omission from this expectation is a consideration of the effects of bonuses on luxury tax status. If bonuses do not affect luxury tax status, then such a roster is feasible. Another omission is how the salaries of the 15 players on the 40 man roster (but not on the 25 man active roster) affects the luxury tax status. The likely effect of such an omission is that the Yankees would be unable to sign both of the free agent SPs which I included in the lofty expectations. A more feasible outcome is that only one is sign and the $15 million used on the other starter would be allocated on assuring bonuses and non-active players were considered for the luxury tax. In this scenario, any remaining portion of the budget could be used on a SP with a lower market price. Another scenario would be signing two marquee SP and promoting an outfield prospect instead of resigning Granderson. 

A humorous consideration regarding this previous paragraph is that it assumes the Yankees are very strict on limiting their payroll to $189 million. If such an assumption is relaxed, then the payroll objective would only be exceeded by the summation of the bonuses and non-active players in the lofty depth chart model.

Another assumption I made was that Alex Rodriguez would remain suspended for the entirety of this season. If he is not, then the Yankees' cannot be as ambitious during the offseason as I have suggested; however, A-Rod being suspended for less than the duration of next season would be very surprising to me.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Right Wing Approach to PEDS

There is no question that Major League Baseball has had a significant run-in with steroids and human growth hormones over the last quarter century. The MLB has attempted to address what it has deemed a problem by banning steroids & HGH and by suspending players caught for taking the banned substances. While these two supplements have been winnowed out of baseball new performance enhancing drugs and substances have replaced them.*

Simply, the MLB has and likely always will have players willing to use PEDS. Under current policy, the MLB will continuously be trying to keep up with PEDS manufacturers on identifying, banning, and testing for different PEDS. This policy is reactionary leaving the MLB in the looping, aforementioned cycle for each new PEDS manufactured.

If the MLB sincerely wants to change the drug and substance abuse culture of baseball, then the MLB needs to institute more proactive, polarized policies and needs to cooperate with the Major League Baseball Players Association. I think there are two effective ways to diminish drug and substance abuse in the MLB.

One is a leftist, regulatory approach in which the MLB approves a list of select drugs and substances which have been deemed safe and beneficiary to players, forbids all other drugs and substances (known and unknown), and suspends (or bans) any players caught using unapproved drugs and substances. The effectiveness of this policy would be determined by the strictness of the suspensions; that is, if the MLB bans any player caught using an unapproved drug or substance, then players will become hesitant to use unapproved PEDS.

This policy does have flaws and is not innovative, so it will not be the focus of this article. To summarize a couple of flaws: first, the MLB will technically still be stuck in the same game of cat and mouse of trying to identify and test for PEDS despite the full commitment to removing PEDS (in comparison with the contemporary, half-hearted attempt); second, the fates of players' careers will lie in testing accuracy meaning some players may be unjustly punished for certain activities which yield false positives. An enhanced litigation and retesting systems will be need to quell this until testing technology is satisfactory enough to rule out extraneous variables.

Another is a rightist, non-interventionist approach which is just as drastic as the leftist approach but approaches eradicating PEDS from an entirely opposite angle in which the MLB eliminates all current bans (therefore, permitting all PEDS), halts PEDS testing, and refocuses efforts on studying PEDS in order to provide players with as much information on the PEDS as possible so that the players can, as rationally as possible, decide whether the benefits of taking certain  PEDS outweigh the consequences.

I think this policy would have some very interesting outcomes.

First, the MLB will be able to concentrate on providing correct and up-to-date information which will not only benefit the players but will also help the entire health community as the MLB will become a new private institution bolstering research.

Second, I think some players will embrace PEDS and be willing to use PEDS. These players will likely have shortened careers and even-more-so shortened lifespans. Players willing to take risks will be making examples of themselves.

Third, I think some players will condemn PEDS and will want to play apart from players who use PEDS. Two possible (and similar) results of this are that the clean players lead a witch-hunt in the MLBPA in which they ban players known to be taking PEDS or those not willing to prove their innocence or that the clean players form a new players' union in which PEDS are not permitted. The next step will be for the Clean Players' Union to contract with the MLB or another baseball league so that the league exclusive hires the clean players. Having PEDS reform rely on player allegations will make it more difficult for players to network with other players to find PEDS.

Fourth, fans will become polarized through this purification of the laws of baseball. Some fans will support the clean players who will likely play a more strategic variation of baseball. These will be the fans who can appreciate a single, a stolen base, a bunt, and a sacrifice fly to manufacture a run. Others will support the PEDS using players who will likely play a more hit-or-miss brand of baseball. These will be the fans who solely appreciate long home runs and radar gun lights. I think the former are more likely to spend a greater portion of their lives watching and engaging with baseball leading me to believe that they are more likely to be season ticket holders while the latter are likely to be fans who are less engaged with the sport on a daily basis leading them to be individuals who purchase single game tickets.

This third assessment is quite tenuous as I have not conducted any research nor have I come across any research which attempt to classify fans based on ticket purchase and game type preferences. If a fan's ticket purchasing tendencies are significant factor in determining which variations (PEDS using or PEDS free) of baseball are successful, then the league which is dependent on these fans will likely be more successful than the one relying on capricious fans because of the fixed stream of revenue.

Fifth, regardless of fans' preference for style of baseball, there will likely be a moral opposition to the players who embrace PEDS because of American values. Parents will likely shun PEDS using players, and companies will be hesitant to sign PEDS using players as spokesmen.

Before concluding, I would like to make a disclaimer. In no way am I advocating the usage of PEDS. I believe players should be able to voluntarily use PEDS with an understanding that information regarding the consequences of the PEDS may or may not be available and that the PEDS themselves may or may not be harmful. As of this writing, I do not recommend such a policy for the amateur or the collegiate levels.

*I have not included any up-to-date statistics which support or refute these claims. The best way would be to conduct anonymous player polls over current and retired players asking about steroid, HGH, and other PEDS usage. The second best way to test these claims would be to compare time-variable MLB citations for steroid & HGH with MLB citations with new PEDS.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

2012-13 Eastern Conference Update

These are my predicted 2012-13 Eastern Conference Final Standings which factor in the four way trade between the Los Angles Lakers, Orlando Magic, Philadelphia 76ers, and the Denver Nuggets on August 10th.

Tier 7
15. Cleveland

Tier 6
14. Charlotte

13. Washington

12. Orlando
The Magic did a fair job of maximizing Dwight Howard's trade value. The team was able to acquire a few valuable role players and was able to unload Jason Richardson. The Magic have put themselves in an excellent position to build around a small forward. Hedo Turkoglu is in his last guaranteed year of his contract with next year having a player option; while he has been loyal to the Magic organization, he is at the point of his career at which he is seeking to win an NBA Championship, so I would not be surprised to see him moved to a contender by the trade deadline.

Tier 5
11. Milwaukee

10. Detroit

Tier 4
9. Toronto

8. Philadelphia
Andrew Bynum is an excellent upgrade at the center position; however, the Sixers lost the advantage they had in the Eastern Conference at the two/three spot that they had with Andre Igudala. While Bynum is one of the best centers in the league, every team that I project to finish better than Phily (besides Miami) has a defensive specialist center who will be able to compete with Bynum in the post.

7. Chicago

6. Atlanta

Tier 3
5. Brooklyn

4. New York

Tier 2
3. Boston

Tier 1
2. Indiana

1. Miami