Clutch in Contention

   Monday, August 07, 2006  

Hello -- Goodbye, Gary Sheffield

I am a firm believer in what I am about to tell you. Gary Sheffield's 2004 and 2005 campaigns were the two most productive seasons by a Yankee Right Fielder since 1997.

Consider his competition:

An aging, and rapidly deteriorating Paul O'Neil years 1998-2001.
2002-2003 was the ever so overrated Raul Mondesi.

Okay, so not exactly earth shattering. Sheffield has made, afterall, just a tier below Vlad Guerrero type money.

So here's what it's come down to:

A half-season's worth of injuries for a 37-year-old in his own stage of rapid decline results in the acquisition of Bobby Abreu. So what's the next course of action, naturally? Rumor, innuendo. I pre-cursor the following the link by saying only 'consider the source':

Yankees Mull Sign-And-Trade of Sheffield

And so there is apparently division amongst the Yankee braintrust as to what to do with this somewhat-valuable resource that's name is Gary Sheffield. Arbitration eligible in 2007, the Yankees could retain him, of course at high market value, and trade him. But what does a 37-year-old in his stage of decline, being overpaid bring back from the trade market?

The supporter's of this idea's position is essentially this: If you cut the leash on Sheffield, you get nothing in return for him. Sure, the Yankees already have locked up his replacement in Abreu for the 2007 season, but why let Sheffield go off on his own if you can pull a return out of him?

The detractor's of this idea's position is essentially this: This is a gamble, there's no telling how limited the market will be on an aging outfielder, and at best the return would probably look something similar to a salary dump.

So here's my contention on the issue:

The Pros:

1) Sheffield's two full seasons with the Yankees were remarkably consistent. His average, and offensive production were both within a few percentage points of each other for the two years. His swing is slowing down, and his power is beginning to reduce itself, yes, but when you're a consistent 35-HR per year hitter, a reduction in power to something like say, 20, is not as career altering as if he wasn't a complete murderer of the baseball to begin with. No line-up, even the bloated Yankees line-up, couldn't find room for a .285/20HR/90 RBI guy that they can stick at the bottom of the order.

2) Double A washouts are better than no washouts. At least you're getting some sort of return for Sheffield. You'll never know when the next .207 hitting Bubba Crosby will pop up, ready to hit a considerably crucial home-run and insert himself meaninglessly on the Yankees bench for multiple years!

3) Sheffield could probably be retained and fair better at first base than Jason Giambi. So could a lamp post, but that's beside the point. We all remember two years ago when Sheffield moved to third in extra innings against the Red Sox and looked marginally better than a sack of potatos would at the position, but the transition to a more stationary, and forgiving place, like 1st base may also be an easier transition. He's saying the right things, to, at least so far. But that leads me into the cons.

The Cons:

1) It's no secret that Gary Sheffield can be a tremendous dick. When rumors began swirling last year that he was possibly on the block to be traded, to help improve the Yankees various other desperate needs, Sheffield began his public outcries, threatening teams to drop their interest for him, because, as Sheffield put it, "a traded Gary Sheffield will be an unhappy one."

2) The risk involved. When do the Yankees find it necessary to make salary dumps? And now they're chasing one?

3) A non-competitive free agent market still has 3 large names who can play the Outfield coming up for free agency next year: Carlos Lee, Jermaine Dye, Alfonso Soriano. There are only a handful of teams who would be willing to take on Sheffield's contract at the risk of seeing him return to everyday 2003 form to begin with: The Angels, The Giants, The Dodgers, maybe The Mariners or a handful of other less considerables. Assuming Soriano becomes a free agent, then the likelihood that Dye, Lee and Soriano split themselves between the three primary interested parties also makes this a big risk for the Yankees; there simply may not be a place to trade him once his arbitration year is upheld.

Here are Sheffield's stats as a Yankee, as well as his last year as a Brave:

Year Ag Tm  Lg  G   AB    R    H   2B 3B  HR  RBI  SB CS  BB  SO   BA   OBP   SLG   TB   SH  SF IBB HBP GDP 

 2003 34 ATL NL 155  576  126  190  37  2  39  132  18  4  86  55  .330  .419  .604  348   0   8   6   8  16
2004 35 NYY AL 154 573 117 166 30 1 36 121 5 6 92 83 .290 .393 .534 306 0 8 7 11 16
2005 36 NYY AL 154 584 104 170 27 0 34 123 10 2 78 76 .291 .379 .512 299 0 5 7 8 11

So anyone can see the decline. Call 2003 a career year, and you're still seeing Sheffield's numbers drop a little more each year. The dropping of the power numbers are especially disconcerning.

What would I do?

Cut the leash already. The downsides to a sign and trade are less in number than the upsides, but they're considerably heftier. Sheffield could become a clubhouse cancer, overpaid and flat out stink. That's three strikes. That's an out.

Plus, the deal to me does not seem whatsoever Cashmanian, which is the era we're suddenly apt to believe we've been thrust into, and away from Steinbrenner's second reign, correct? Sheffield was a Steinbrenner signing, perhaps one of the last Steinbrenner signings before Cashman manuevered himself into the position of authority that he has now, and everybody know's his MO: Hold on to prospects, build upon the farm system, and get rid of old guys. Sheff's only been around for two years of course, but he's an old guy now. Cashman is supposedly one of the supporters of this idea, and maybe that is because of the possibility of building into that farm system via trade, but I just don't think the possible return is worth the risk of being stuck with that sort of contract.

One thing that Cashman continues to do is pull money from the wallet. For someone who is supposed to be one of the young genius GM's, the man still doesn't seem to care that much about reaching into the deep pockets when he sees no other possibilities. Having that money has made Cashman too susceptible to letting himself make mistakes. This could be another one. I hope not.

   [ posted  @ 12:32 PM ] [ ]

   Saturday, August 05, 2006  

The Moose Redundancy Factor, Hello Jose Veras

I've created this factor, it's called the Moose Redundancy Factor. It's not meant to really measure anything, but here's how you can verify it's existence:

Watch the YES Network Pre-Game show.

Count the amount of seconds it takes for YES to run stock footage of Mike Mussina's chase for various milestones and his 'shouting back' of Joe Torre earlier in the year.
C) Confirm your own genius.

I have watched pre-game shows for, I'd say, probably 7 of Mussina's last 10 starts, and it's occurred to me that YES runs that stock video clip, the same one in fact, every time.

So I'll partake in a bit of redundancy myself. Is this, tangibly, Moose's best year evaaaah? Answer: Doubtful. Explanation: Mr. Mussina has always been very good, and just kind of unlucky.

1994 for example. Strike shortened season, Mussina through 24 starts had already come just one strikeout short of 100, had already thrown 176 innings, and had an ERA+ of 168 -- 68 points above league average. He won 16 games in that time and there is little doubt in my mind giving 10 more full go arounds he would have backed his way into 4 wins and the curse that is his life, the perfect games falling an out short, the milestones he never seems to reach, would finally be lifted.

Mussina in 1994:

 Year Ag Tm  Lg  W   L   G   GS  CG SHO  GF SV   IP     H    R   ER   HR  BB   SO  HBP  WP  BFP  IBB  BK  ERA *lgERA *ERA+ WHIP
 1994 25 BAL AL  16   5  24  24   3   0   0  0  176.3  163   63   60  19   42   99   1   0   712   1   0  3.06  5.00  163 1.163

1995 was even better. That year, in a full season's work Mussina fell a game short of 20 wins with a 19-9 record. Wins generally being a product of early run support, well, you know how that goes.

Mussina's 1995

 Year Ag Tm  Lg  W   L   G   GS  CG SHO  GF SV   IP     H    R   ER   HR  BB   SO  HBP  WP  BFP  IBB  BK  ERA *lgERA *ERA+ WHIP
 1995 26 BAL AL  19   9  32  32   7   4   0  0  221.7  187   86   81  24   50  158   1   2   882   4   0  3.29  4.91  149 1.069
His best year as a Yankee was by far his first in '01. It's the only time as a Yankee that his WHIP was sub 1.1, and his ERA + was higher than 140. Both of those I suppose, but especially the WHIP number have a chance to happen again this season. One thing that ought to be taken into account though is that Mussina is striking out nearly a batter more per game than he has in the past two seasons.

So while this season is nothing more than above average, and that is what should be expected of Moose, it's certainly entertaining to see a pitcher 10 years past his high watermark with a chance to crack some meaningless milestones. 20 wins is again possible, but not iminent. This may be his best year as a Yankee, it may turn out to be his second best. In any event it's certainly important he continues what he's doing. Because I just don't know how much the 6'10 lefty has left in the tank...


The Yankee vs.
Adam Loewen today was a lesson in teaching the youngsters how to be quite unable to hit awful pitching. The first thought today when I saw that scrumptious 6.44 ERA, more than a hit per inning, the up and down turmoil that has defined Loewen's year was "Who needs David Ortiz when you get to play the Orioles?"

The strike zone was attrocious today. Mussina's second Bad Moose appearance of the year. God awful. Wasn't entirely his fault though, he was hitting the spots. Old Blue simply was picking and choosing when he wanted to call the low outside corner, and when it came down to it wasn't enough. These type of umpires piss me off at any level of baseball -- consistency, the one job of an umpire.

Kudos to Moose on his 1,000th K as a Yankee.

Ron Villone is going to pitch in every game for the rest of the season, I think. I wonder if Torre put actual effort into mismanaging his bullpen, if he could really do that much worse of a job. Villone almost worked out of a bases loaded one-out jam, but Jeter put his gold glove away in favor of the regular one = more runs for Baltimore. Hey. What can you do?

New guy up. Jose Veras. Looks like a prototypical overthrower. Has some wicked awful stuff on his breaking balls though: Those things move. Albeit sometimes in the wrong direction.

There's a few things you can count on with the Yankees: When it's going good, it's going good. When it's going bad, it's going bad, and there are a few players who you can be fairly certain aren't the ones to change the outlook of things. Jorge Posada, for instance, seems to be the perfect example of a follow-producer. I've seen him lift this team before, but never in a situation in which they desperately needed a good at bat to get something going has he done more than swung at ankle high curveballs.

Looks like Cairo pulled his hammy, or something. Get well soon, Little Egypt. And get your ass in gear, Mr. Cano.

Final Score: 5-0, Baltimore. Meh. Wells steps out onto the pile for the Red Sox tonight, he's good for a loss.

From the Rec League

Ahh, another summer modified recreational softball league season concludes yesterday. Team GA Home squared off against us Jimmies, that's what we're calling ourselves these days, in what was billed as the most monumentally meaningless game in the history of forever: A Lakewood Baptist B-team was handling their opponents easily on an adjacent field, all but rendering our game for second place. And so we kind of came out and acted like it.

GA Home batted around in the 1st inning. 9 runs. 9-0 before we grabbed a bat; I don't think you could do much worse than that. Somehow we rallied back over the course of the next two innings, scoring 6 or so in the first and then jumping to a 10-9 lead and holding it through until the 4th when GA Home came back to tie the game. In the bottom half of the frame, we took the lead back, but marginally, 11-10, and they tied it agian in the 7th and brought home the lead run on an error for our miserable, herniated catcher who lofted a ball into right field on a bunt. 12-11, last-ups.

See, here's the thing. Last ups are designated by a coin toss. For some reason this year, we've had the greatest of luck with coin tosses, winning all but I think one of them. It may very well have made the difference in what was our 13-3 regular season record this year compared to a 1-15 two seasons ago. In any event, the last-ups proved out against, as the lead-off man got on, was tripled home, next batter was walked, 1st and 3rd with nobody out and nobody can score or we're the winners and league runner ups. Getting three consecutive outs with a man on 3rd and not allowing a run is nothing short of a miracle in modified softball, and it didn't take but a little blooper to right field to end it. 13-12 final, hooray hooray, etc.

The after-season party was the fun part. Aforementioned miserable, herniated catcher is renamed to Miserable, herniated, belligerent catcher after a six pack of Bud Light is in him, and begins telling stories of his one-night stand ventures with 400 pound offensive linemen sized women. Another few beers and he's again renamed to Miserable, herniated, belligerent and now tough to handle or comprehend catcher. Now he's the filibuster. One story, another story, the stories keep coming. Got down to four of us a few hours later, my heads ready to pop off, my ears and sanity have long since bailed and so I took off down the road. I don't know if he made it home. As karma would have it, I wouldn't think so.

Ron Guidry should stop picking his nose

Or at least refrain from getting caught on television doing so..

   [ posted  @ 7:42 PM ] [ ]

August 2006

Baseball Think Factory
Chronicles of the Lads
Replacement Level Yankees Web Blog
Baseball Reference

[=Powered By=]

[=About Me=]
Facebook Profile
BTF Profile
Contact Me
AIM SN: American Sandlot