Showing posts with label 2009 Yanks-Rays-Sox Comparison. Show all posts
Showing posts with label 2009 Yanks-Rays-Sox Comparison. Show all posts

Sunday, March 29, 2009

2009 Yanks- Rays- Sox Comparison

This is it, I actually finished this series of posts and I`m a little shocked at myself. After the teams name I posted how many times they finished in each category. For example, if a team was first at a position 3 times, second 5 times, and third 10 times it would read 3-5-10. Then I made up an extremely unscientific point system in which each 1st place is worth two points, 2nd place is worth 1 point, and 3rd place is worth no points. That isn't the end all-be all though. Get ready for a long post guys.

Yankees- 7-5-3- 24 points- For once the Yankees are coming off a year in which they didn't make the playoffs and, hopefully, they`ll be a better, hungrier team for it. They seem to have been waiting for this great free agent class for a while and they definitely capitalised on it. They went from a team that clearly had the worst rotation in the division to probably having the best. They didn't sell the farm either. Hughes, Aceves, and Kennedy are still all with the team and ready to fill in when someone (coughcoughBurnettcoughcough) gets hurt. They also shored up an aging offense with Mark Texiera. Nick Swisher gives them some solid depth as well. The defense is looking much better this year. Still below average but better. The bullpen looks to be strong as well with some promising young arms. Right now this team looks like a juggernaut. The key player will, of course, be Alex Rodriguez. The sooner he recovers from surgery, the better. They also have the added bonus of a great manager. Joe Girardi's bullpen management was a welcome change from the Torre years. The only worry I have is injuries. In particular, Posada. Right now, they look like they can get back into the playoffs though.

Red Sox- 4-5-6- 18 points- Boston is the closest thing baseball has to a dynasty. I hate to admit it but they're probably the best run team in baseball. They have a group of committed owners who are actually willing to spend money without micro managing (coughSteinbrennercoughcough). They also have a smart front office led by Epstein. They have a strong core of young players like Youkillis, Beckett, and Papelbon so they didn't need to make major changes this offseason. Instead, they bought low on a few risky players for depth. The Manny trade also looks pretty good right now. Jason Bay is a younger, cheaper, comparable player. However, as new players step in, the old guard is leaving. Manny, as I mentioned before, is long gone, Schilling is finally gone for good, Varitek almost left in the offseason, and Ortiz's best years are behind him. Their pitching is very deep and if John Smoltz can regain his form of a year or two ago then it gives them a very scary rotation. On offense, their aren't many stars but everybody is a good solid hitter. All in all, this is a really good team and a serious contender for another World Series victory.

Rays- 4-5-6- 18 points- For years the Rays have seemed like a team almost ready to break through. Last year they finally got the pitching they desperately needed and they had an incredible run. They ran away with the division, won the pennant, and forced me to add a third team to this comparison series. Now they're a year older and, as a young team, a year better. Their farm is still stacked though. Guys like David Price will spend their first full year in the ML's and make major contributions. The veteran bat of Pat Burrell was also a nice free agent acquistion that went largely unnoticed. They have very few guys that are household names. However, they have a strong young core who are going to be major threats to both the Yanks and Sox for the next few years, until they become to expensive. The front of that rotation is killer and they have some stud hitters. However, their are some causes for concern. I believe they overachieved last year and will come back down to earth. The bullpen is also a problem they should have adressed this winter. Like the other two teams they could easily win the World Series or not even make the playoffs.

Final Conclusion- Yankees- Red Sox- Rays- I started these posts way back in the middle of January. Back then I had the Rays first, Yanks second, and Red Sox last. However, after looking at things carefully I've changed my mind. The three of them were ridiculously close before they signed Texiera. However, after that the Yankees pulled ahead a bit in my mind. It seems like most projection systems agree with me to. They have the best pitching, the best offense, and nearly the best bullpen. Even with A-Rod out, I`m pretty confident right now as a Yankee fan (please don't let that be a jinx). Who takes second in the division is a tougher call. I went with Boston because of their better bullpen and incredible pitching depth. If a few key players break out on the Rays though it could swing things the other way. It'll also be interesting to see if the Wild Card will come out of the East. The division is incredibly competitive so the three teams will beat up on each other a bit. The Athletics seem to be gearing up for a run this year and I never like to count out Billy Beane. Pretty much any of the Central teams could make a run as well, other than the Royals. This series was a lot of fun/work and I hope you guys enjoyed, thanks for reading.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Bullpens

I went back and it turns out that I did the the third starters after all so I just need to make this post and one last post to sum it all up

Yankees- Mariano Rivera is one of a very exclusive group of relievers who manage to stay incredibly dominant for more than just a couple years. He seems to be recovering on schedule from his shoulder injury and will be ready by Opening Day baring any setbacks. He is getting older though and you have to wonder how many years he has left. The guy expected to fill the 8th inning role is Damaso Marte. He, like most relievers, has been very inconsistent over the years. All in all he's been a good setup man and the fact that he's left-handed doesn't hurt. His contract was probably a bad idea but they could've done worse. Behind these two is a long list of potential middle relievers/setup men. To list them all would be pointless but you have to think that a handful of them will stick in the major leagues. The wild card here is Mark Melancon. If he keeps dominating AAA then he'll be up in no time. The Yanks bullpen won't be a concern unless Rivera falls off a cliff.

Red Sox- Boston also seems to have found a top knotch closer in Jonathan Papelbon (who is a prime contender to replace Curt Schilling as the biggest A-hole in baseball). He made the switch from the rotation back in 2005 and he hasn't looked back since. His numbers the past three years have been very close to Rivera's and he's much younger. So, this may be the year he claims the title of best closer in the AL East. Hideki Okajima was also a great find by Theo Epstein. It gives them a formidable combination at the end of games that rivals the Yankees. . Ramon Ramirez and Manny Delcarmen are also promising. However, after that things thin out. Justin Masterson and Javy Lopez don't really inspire much confidence and Takashi Saito could be a stroke of brilliance or a disaster. If he can recover from his injury well then they have a devestating combination at the end of the game. However, the odds are against that. All in all, another great bullpen.

Rays- I hate to admit it but before this post, I knew absolutely nothing about the Rays bullpen. Thats kind of because they flat out suck. Troy Percivical, their closer, has very rarely been great and last year he was awful. On the Yankees or Red Sox he might not make the cut. At first glance, Dan Wheeler provides a glimmer of hope. However, his DIPS stats have been in decline for the past few years and are largely uninspiring. Not terrible, but not great either. After that, things get better. J. P. Howell and Grant Balfour seem promising. However, the bullpen just isn't on the same level as the Yanks and Sox.

Conclusion- Red Sox- Yankees- Rays- The Yanks and Sox are really close on this one. However, I went with Boston mainly because I have more faith in Papelbon than Rivera at this stage in their careers. On the other hand, if anything ever happed to Rivera, Joba might join the bullpen and fill the hole. Boston also has the tremendous potential of Takashi Saito. I won't argue with anyone who put the Yankees first here though. The Rays are clearly trailing the pack here. Of course, bullpens are extremely volatile and I questioned whether I wanted to make a post like this at all.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Rightfield

I have to double check but I think this is the last position for this series. Then I have to go back and do the 3rd starters, a post for the bullpen, and an overview of the teams in general.

Yankees- Xavier Nady/Nick Swisher- To me its obvious that Nick Swisher deserves the starting job here. He's simply better in all facets of the game. However, it looks like the Yanks will go with Nady in order to justify giving up Jose Tabata. Not that you won't see a lot of Swisher, of course. Both of them are solid players though. Swisher is a borderline star player who is a well above average corner outfielder and a great hitter (usually an EQA around .300). Nady is also a solid player though. His defense isn't bad, he's generally been around average in rightifield. He's also a decent hitter. Other than last year he's consistently hit around a .270 EQA.

Red Sox- J. D. Drew- Boston got a lot of criticism when they signed Drew to a big contract a few years ago. So far, its been a mixed bag with Drew. On one hand, he's flashed incredible potential. His glove is definitely a plus and nobody doubt his ability to crush the ball. However, his weakness has always been his injuries. He's been plagued with them and it really kills his value. He already has had back and hand problems this spring and they're definitely going to need a good fill-in. When they traded away Coco Crisp they lost that.


Rays- Gabe Gross- Gross is one of the weaker players on the Rays. Nothing about him seems to really stand out. He was decent with the bat after being acquired by the Rays. However, not much more than that. He's never really been a full-time starter until last year and its obvious why. Luckily for him, he seems like a very good fielder. From what I've read he seems good and his numbers are also great. He's not a terrible player but his bat is weak for a rightfielder.

Conclusion- Yankees- Red Sox- Rays- I went with the Yankees first here on the guess that they'll end up with Swisher starting by the end of the year. Drew's injury risk hurts his value a lot and Gross really isn't in the same league as the other two. If Nady's career year turs out to be the start of a new trend then that'd be fantastic and gives the Yankees and even bigger edge.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Centerfield

All three teams have young guys here and the Yankees could very well go with somebody different from who I put here. However, I think that Brett is the best option and will get the Opening Day start.

Yankees- Brett Gardner- It looks like Brett has won the job with his superior defense and speed. He's also hit much better than Melky this spring. I`m not expecting great things out of Gardner though. I very much doubt he'll ever be much more than a borderline starter. With his speed and defense though, if he can get on base at a decent clip he'll be a solid player for them. If he doesn't hit watch for Swisher or Damon to take his place.

Red Sox- Jacoby Ellsbury- I'm not a prospect expert but the consensus seems to be that Ellsbury is a much better prospect than Gardner. Boston was confident enough in his abilities to trade away Coco Crisp for a reliever. Last year was his first full year in the majors and he hit fairly well. An EQA of .264 is fine for a guy who's defense is outstanding and can steal at the rate he can. He also is a candidate to get better at only 24 years old.

Rays- B. J. Upton- Upton is one of the best young players in the game. However, he's often overshadowed by the other young guys on the Rays. He's far and away the best hitting centerfielder in the AL East. He put up an EQA of .312 two years ago and last year it was .291. Not only that but he's a solidly above average fielder. He's not quite as good as Ellsbury or Gardner but he's still good. Another scary guy who could still get better on the Rays.

Conclusion- Rays- Red Sox- Yankees- This one was pretty easy for me. Upton is already a star and hasn't even hit his peak years yet. He's the total package. I pretty much went with Ellsbury over Gardner based on their reputations. Gardner is an interesting player though. His style of play is exciting and if he can get on base he's going to be an exciting player.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Leftfield

Yankees- Johnny Damon- Damon was originally signed to be a centerfielder and its dissapointing he can't handle that position anymore. However, he's become one of the best defensive left-fielders in baseball. He does have a pitifully awful arm. However, his range is very good for a leftfielder. His bat has also showed little signs of decline. His EQA last year was the best in his career and its really surprising to see a guy who almost quit a couple years ago to still be playing as well as he does. Next year is his contract year and he's a Boras client. With a good year, you need to seriously consider re-signing the (then) 35 year old Damon.

Red Sox- Jason Bay- Its almost a relief to not have to type Manny Ramirez's name here. Almost but not quite. Unfortunately, they replaced him with a younger, cheaper and, at this point, close to equivalent player. Bay is clearly not a good fielder. Over the past two years, he's cost his team over 30 runs according to UZR. However, like his predecessor, he can hit. Aside from his awful 2007 he has consistently put up great numbers. He's also shown he can handle the pressure of Boston. They have an excellent player in Bay.

Tampa Bay- Carl Crawford- Crawford was one of the rare bright spots on the pre 2008 team. His speed made him an exciting player. However, don't mistake him for Juan Pierre as he can actually hit the ball. 2008 was not a good year for him though statistically. His stats declined across the board from the previous year. He posted an EQA in the .270's for the first time since 2004 when he was just 22. He made up by upping his fielding and it looks like an outlier to me. Established stars rarely hit their decline at 26.

Conclusion- Red Sox- Yankees- Rays- This one was especially tough. All three of these guys are good players but fall short of being superstars. In one draft of this post I had the exact reverse of what I have now. Bay is a fantastic hitter but his fielding has slipped a little. Now that he's with an actually competitive team, he may be motivated to improve his fielding which has slipped in recent years. Its hard to bet against a Boras guy heading into a contract year coming off the best year of his career at the plate though. So, Damon gets second. I went with Crawford at the back end on the off-chance that his 2008 wasn't just a fluke. In 2007 his BABIP was ridiculously high which helped to hide another down year in 2007. Honestly, this one was extremely close.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Designated Hitter

Yet again, I am falling behind on these. I`ve been busy lately which is my lame excuse for not posting that much. Anyway, I still have the three outfield spots, the bullpen, and apparently I missed the third rotation spot so I have to hurry up if I`m getting this done before opening day.

Yankees- Hideki Matsui- Matsui's biggest problem the past few years has been his injuries. After a super long consecutive game streak (including him somehow playing 163 games in 2003), he's average only 93 games the past three years. The move to full-time DH might help him stave off the DL though. With Swisher on the bench he should get plenty of rest as well. Matsui can still hit and he`s headed into a big contract year but he`s certainly no lock to be a big producer.

Rays- Pat Burrell- Burrell was the Ray's only major offseason purchase and he was a pretty good one at eight million dollars a year. Like Adam Dunn, he compensates for a relatively low batting average by walking a ton and hitting home runs. Taking him out of the field also adds to his value. His EQA is consistently over .300 and he`ll be a welcome addition to the middle of the Ray's lineup. Nobody will mistake him for Mark Teixeira or Manny Ramirez but he's a solid, under the radar acquistion.

Red Sox- David Ortiz- With Manny gone, Ortiz has inherited the proud title of the biggest pain in the Yankees @ss in baseball. The proud soldier against steroid use in baseball has emerged as one of the best sluggers in baseball in recent years. However, last year was not a good one for him. His EQA dropped over 50 points from the year before and he was plagued with injury. I have a hunch that he may be headed for a steep decline the next few years and the injuries could become more commonplace. He just seems like the type of player who would have that type of problem. Of course, I`m a Yankees fan and I have nothing more than that hunch to base it on.

Conclusion- Red Sox- Rays- Yankees- I was really tempted to put the Rays first here but in the end I couldn't do it. Ortiz had a down year last year but even so, he matched Burrell's EQA and most projection systems have him bouncing back well. Still, I wouldn't be surprised to see Ortiz miss a big chunk of the season again this year and further slipping. Matsui is pretty clearly at the back of the pack here. Even if he can stay healthy and bounce back, he's not the hitter that Ortiz is and Burrell is a much safer pick for similar production.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Third Base

Another strong position for the three, the two best guys in the league are in the AL East. I totally forgot to do third a while back but I guess its a good thing with all the A-Rod news.

Yankees- Alex Rodriguez- We all know the story with A-Rod. He's the best player in baseball but he has a reputation as a choker and is always embroiled in a new controversy. The latest is the steroid one and its not one that's just going to go away. Every day he's going to have to deal with that. Now he's under a tremendous amount of pressure to prove he can play clean. Will that effect his game? I hope not but nobody will argue that he has handled pressure well in New York. All of a sudden, the best player in baseball has become a big question mark on the 2009 Yankees.

Red Sox- Mike Lowell- Boston may regret the big extension they gave Lowell. By now he`s an injury prone player who's in his decline. Of course, that doesn't mean he's a bad player. He`s still an above average guy. He's still probably the best defensive third baseman in the league and a solid hitter. The biggest question is his health and that's a big key to the Red Sox. He's still recovering from a hip injury and they need him to get back to his former self.

Rays- Evan Longoria- I don't know if Longoria won the Rookie of the Year last year or not but he deserved it. At the tender age of 22 he had an outstanding EQA of .302 and earned a great defensive reputation. Next year the league will probably adjust to him a bit and bring him down a knotch but as A-Rod ages and Longoria hits his prime it`ll be interesting to watch Alex come down while Longoria goes up. For now he`s "merely" one of the best young players in the game.

Conclusion- Yankees- Rays- Red Sox- Alex is still the best player in baseball despite the steroid scandal. In a few years Longoria may be breathing down his neck. However, for now A-Rod is still the king at third base. Lowell, though a good player, is essentially an afterthought in this super competitive division.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Catcher

Catcher is a tough position because the value of how they call a game and their arm is so hard to quantify so I usually just go on defensive reputation here.

Yankees- Jorge Posada- After coming off a career year in 2007, Posada was lucky enough to become a free agent and got a contract he never should have gotten. Then last year he missed a huge chunk of the year which ultimately cost them a playoff berth. All signs are pointing toward him spending a lot of time DH'ing. Unfortunately, that means a lot of Jose Molina. He`s still recovering and I doubt his defense will even be the solid average that it has been in the past. I`m sure he`ll bounce back for a solid year and they have some solid prospects waiting in the wings but Posada isn't the player he once was.

Rays- Dioner Navarro- I have covetted this guy ever since the Yankees traded him away for Randy Johnson. Last year he broke out and was a key piece of the Rays success. His bat wasn't outstanding but he had a solid .277 EQA and has a good defensive reputation. He should start entering his peak years now and will only get better. The "problem" with the Rays is that so many of their players are young and entering their best years. Navarro will be a key piece of the Rays for the next few years until he leaves for free agency.

Red Sox- Jason Varitek- Luckily for us, Boston made one of the most purely sentimental moves of the offseason in re-signing Varitek. Varitek has always had a great defensive reputation. He also was one of the best hitting catchers in baseball. However, he`s in the midst of a steep decline. He hasn't lost much behind the plate but as a hitter he`s a ghost of his former self. A line of .220/.313/.359 won't cut it in the AL East. However, Boston must have decided that his fielding and leadership was worth 5 million dollars. Its not a ton to the Red Sox but their is a very real chance that Jason is done.


Conclusion- Rays-Yanks-Sawx- This is actually a relatively weak position for the three teams. The order is pretty clear cut though. If all goes right than Posada might approach Navarro but the fact that he`s not expected to catch a full season pushes him back in my mind. Varitek is very obviously at the back of the pack.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

#5 Starter

This is were things get really messy. I really have no idea what Boston is going to do so I`m going to turn this into a post on the 5th starter and the next few guys who will come up when somebody gets hurt.

Yankees- Joba Chamberlain- In his brief time in the majors, Joba has been an incredibly dominating force. In his first real year in the majors he put up an RCA of 2.65 in 102 innings. Yep, that's pretty insane. That is a small sample size though and now that the league has seen him that`ll go up. Personally, I think he`s going to go through some growing pains this year. Still, he`s going to be a big part of the Yankees future, either as the biggest bust in their history or their next ace. Beyond Joba they have some very solid depth. I still have faith in Hughes and Coke and Aceves are both promising. Theirs a few veterans they have as well, like the newly signed Brett Tomko. I haven't totally given up on Ian Kennedy yet either.

Rays- David Price- Honestly, the best comparison I can think of for Price is Joba. Except Joba is a year ahead of Price. In his first year in the pros, Price flew through the minors. He ended up finishing the year in the Ray's ML bullpen. Everybody loves this guy, scouts and statheads alike think he has the potential to be an ace (note the lack of starter/reliever debate over this guy). The question is whether his first year in the majors is more like Hughes or Joba. My gut feeling is that he`ll have a solid year but not much more than that.

Red Sox- Brad Penny- Penny was one of a bunch of buy-low guys that Boston signed this year. He`s coming off of the worst year of his career. He got killed with a 5.35 RCA in 89 innings. So, obviously Epstein is hoping for something more like the previous two years. That's possible but some of the bragging I`ve heard from people north of the New York border goes a bit to far. Anybody hoping for him to be an ace is going to be sorely dissapointed. In 2007 he threw 190 innings and had an RCA of 4.36 and the year before he was a tick better with an RCA of 4.35 in 186 innings. I know Boston has a great medical staff and could get him back to what he used to be. They also have excellent depth though. Around June they`ll get John Smoltz who is still a front of the rotation guy. Clay Buchholz is coming off a bad year but, like Hughes don't give up on him yet.

Conclusion- Yankees- Red Sox- Rays- This was a tough one for me but Joba has more upside than Penny and is a safer bet than Price. Besides that, having Aceves, Hughes, and Kennedy all waiting for the call to the majors encourages me. I think John Smoltz is going to have a very good year as well which is why Boston is ahead of the Rays. Price is very good but just doesn't have a proven track record. This concludes the rotation part of this series which means I will no longer bombard you with RCA calculations. I still have to do catcher, the bullpen, the three outfield spots, and DH. Hopefully, I`ll get another one or two done by the end of the week.

Monday, February 2, 2009

#4 Starter

I put Pettitte in this spot. They`re going to want to limit Joba's innings so he`ll be the #5 guy. Boston's situation also starts to get a little fuzzy at the back-end. I`m going with Wakefield here though.

Yankees- Andy Pettitte- Even if Any makes his incentives, he could be one of the biggest bargains of the off-season. If he struggles then he`ll only get about 5 million dollars. If he does well it only goes up to 11 which is still a good deal. I`d bet on him having a solid ERA around 4.10 with around 200 innings. Don't count on him having a Mussina type year but he`s still a very solid pitcher without getting paid an exorbitant amount of money.

Red S0x- Tim Wakefield- Wakefield is one of those exceptions to the normal rules of pitching thanks to his knuckleball. Theirs no need to worry about his pitch count, theirs no reason to worry about his age, and their's no reason to worry about his defense independant stats. He`s not great but he's always going to be solid. I`m not going to bother doing his RCA stats because he`s such an exception to the rule. Around a 4.50 ERA in 180 innings is pretty reasonable to expect for him.

Tampa Bay- Andy Sonnanstine- Sonnannstine is the only player who's autograph I have so I`m a little biased towards him. He`s also suffered from an awful BABIP in his first two years in the majors. In his first year, he had a 4.16 RCA in 132 innings. Last year was even better. In 200 innings his RCA was only 4.05. He`ll be 26 next year and could be poised for a big year. He may be one of those rare players who have a higher than average "normal" BABIP. He has fringey stuff and relies mostly on control. For now though, I`ll give him the benefit of the doubt.

Conclusion- Tampa Bay- Yankees- Boston- Sonnannstine edged out Pettitte here because he`s entering his peak years and could have a big year. However, Pettitte is also the safer bet. Sonnannstine took a big jump in innings pitched last year and it wouldn't surprise me to see him get hurt. Wake has to be at the back. He`s neither as good as the other two or as much of an innings eater. Boston looks like its going to have a relatively weak rotation.

Saturday, January 31, 2009

#3 Starter

You know, as I get deeper into these I get the sense more and more that these teams are idiots for the way they order their rotations. Its also kind of cool to see how lucky certain guys got.


Yankees- A. J. Burnett- I wasn't a fan of this signing but their's no denying that Burnett is a really good pitcher. His RCA's the past few years have been good (3.86, 3.13, 3.60) but his innings haven't (134, 164, 222). The sudden jump last year makes him even more of a risk then usual as well. He`s good and is probably actually better than Wang but he`s got to stay healthy. Hopefully, he can prove me wrong and be the that the Yankees are hoping he can be. We`ve got him for 5 years, hopefully he`ll be good.


Red Sox- Daisuke Matsuzaka- I`m still very slightly annoyed that we failed to get this guy but take solace in the fact that he`s one of the more overrated pitchers in baseball. Last year his RCA was 4.49 in 163 innings. That's solid but not even close to being the ace that his record and ERA would indicate. The year before he was better at 4.01 in 206 innings. It seems like the league has adjusted to him and its just a matter of time before he stops getting so lucky. He`s an above average pitcher but not a great one.

Rays- Matt Garza-The Rays got him from the Twins for Delmon Young last year and right now, that deal looks pretty good for the Rays. In his first full year, he was pretty good. In 185 innings his RCA was 4.26. Essentially, what we were hoping to get out of Hughes and Kennedy. The sudden rise in innings is dangerous and he`s a guy to watch for injuries but if he doesn't get hurt, he should keep developing and getting better. He`s cheap and good. Most teams would love to have guys like this.

Conclusion- Yankees- Rays- Red Sox- I didn't have a hard time going with Burnett at #1 here. Burnett is good enough that even when he misses half the year, he still has a lot of value. Garza and Matsuzaka are close though. I went garza because he`s still young and could get even better next year. Matsuzaka is in his peak years right now and has probably hit his ceiling already.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

2nd Starter

I went with Wang in this spot because he has seniority over Burnett with regards to his time with the Yankees. They could really go either way on this one. Burnett probably makes more sense I guess.

Yankees- Chien-Ming Wang- Wang had a very dissapointing 2008. It wasn't just his injury either that bothers me. His RCA was a very high 5.02 in his 86 innings. This is out of line with what he did the year before (4.38 in 184 innings) and the year before that (4.32 in 200 innings) where he established himself as a good pitcher who had no business pretending to be an ace. An interesting note about Wang is his consistenly low HR/FB%. This is generally attributed to luck but some pitchers do have a talent for it. Usually GB pitchers or soft tossing control guys. If Wang is one of these rare guys then RCA would underrate him. Hopefully, 20008 was just an outlier in a small sample size and he`ll go back to being the solid innings eater he always has been. If Wang could just work on his sider and start striking guys out though.....

Red Sox- Jon Lester- A year ago I laughed when my cousin compared him to Phil Hughes. I regret that. 2008 was essentially his first full year so that's all I`m going to go on. It was very good to. Not quite what his ERA would indicate but a 4.39 RCA in 199 innings is pretty damn good for a 24 year old who already has had to deal with cancer. He`s going to fall off a lot from his 2008 but anybody would still love to have him on their team. I also think their's a good chance he`s going to get hurt. He took a pretty huge jump in innings pitched from 2007 to 2008. He`s going to start hitting his peak years in the next year or two and then we really have to start worrying. If he could strike out a few more guys he`d be scary.

Rays- Scott Kazmir- Last year the former Met basically gave up on his slider in exchange for a more straightforward fastball/changeup combo. This isn't a sudden change either. Over the past three years he went from throwing his slider about 29 percent of the time in 2006 to about 10 percent last year. Why? I have absolutely no idea. Its not working. He had a 4.05 RCA in 151 innings last year. That's really good but not even close to 2007 (3.23 in 212 innings) or 2006 (3.39 in 146 innings). Before 2008 Kazmir was better than anybody in the division not named Sabathia. If he could get his injuries under control that would also help him a ton. My guess is that he`s going to stick with the fastball/changeup since his ERA was as good as ever last year. However, he`s not going to be the pitcher he should be.

Conclusion- Rays- Red Sox- Yankees- Even a diminished Kazmir is still well above Wang or Lester. Wang and Lester are almost to close to call though. I went with Lester in the end because he`s younger wtih a better chance of improvement. 2008 also has to be somewhat concerning for Yankees fans. Plus, Wang has a bit of an injury history. It could break either way here. If Kazmir can regain his form of a year or two ago then Shields-Kazmir could be a really scary 1-2 punch. Like Sabathia-Sheets was last year.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Aces

Believe it or not, we don't have any more of the position spots set in stone. I don't see Swisher or Nady getting traded but I don't want to do a whole post and then have to start all over again so I`m going to play it safe. In addition, Boston doesn't know who their catcher is yet and I`m still not quite sure what to do with centerfield. So, its on to the rotation for now. First up is the team's aces.

Yankees- C. C. Sabathia- Its nice to not have to fit Wang into this spot anymore. He`s a good pitcher and passable ace but not on the same level as Sabathia, Santana, Halladay, Peavy, and a few others which you need in the AL East. Anyway, in Sabathia we have either the best or second best pitcher in baseball (Roy Halladay is the other guy). I already did a super long post on Sabathia so I`ll condense it here. He`s been worth 4, 5, and 7 wins over the past three years which his RCA going down every year and his IP going up every year. The only concern with him is injury and I`ll give him the benefit of the doubt on that for now.

Red Sox- Josh Beckett- I honestly didn't know who to put as Boston's ace right away. I think Boston is planning on having Beckett as their Opening Day starter though so that's what I`m going with for now. Beckett actually had a pretty poor 2008 with a 4.02 RCA in 169 innings. That's very good but not ace like. I`m not sure why that's so far off from his FIP but it almost exactly matches his ERA. This is a pretty sharp contrast to his 2007 when he had a 2.88 RCA in 200 innings. Then, if you go back another year the see-sawing continues. In his first year in Boston, he had an RCA of 4.26 with 207 innings pitched. Bizarre. The best I can make of this is that Beckett is a good pitcher who had one incredible year that probably won't be replicated.

Tampa Bay- James Shields- After so many years of suffering through Michael Kay telling us that if the Rays could just get some solid pitching behind Kazmir they`d be a contender he was agonizingly proven right. Not only did they get some solid guys behind Kazmir, they found somebody better than him. Shields didn't really become effective until 2006 when he turned 26 (take that Hughes haters) but now he`s one of the better pitchers in baseball. He had a 3.71 RCA last year in 211 innings and the year before he had an RCA of 3.41 in 213 innings. He`s still fairly young and his peak years so theirs no reason to expect him to suddenly stop. The sudden increase in his innings may end up being a problem but if he hasn't gotten hurt yet then I think you need to give him a pass there.

Conclusion- Yankees- Rays- Red Sox- I think the Yanks come out ahead here pretty easily. Sabathia is really in that top top tier of pitchers which Beckett and Shields aren't at. How Beckett does this year should be interesting. If he has another 2006 or 2008 year then it might be time to start calling 2007 an outlier. However, if he has another ace type year then we also need to adjust our opinions of him. Shields also has the potential for a big year though and has already established himself as consistently being a front of the rotation guy. Keep in mind that I`m doing this in the order that the teams seem to be setting up their rotations. Not who is best, otherwise Lester may have been ahead of Beckett. It also means Joba is the #5 guy to limit his innings.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

2009 Shortstop Comparison

Sorry for the long time in between posts. Life gets busy.

Yankees- (Saint) Derek Jeter- Sorry to tell you guys but Jeter isn't the player he used to be. And that's a problem. He has never been a good defender and its always getting worse. His power has totally dissapeared and he doesn't get on base as much as he used to. His stats have been declining across the board for the past three years and at 34 years old I have no reason to expect the decline to suddenly stop. He's still one of the best shortstops in the AL but he`s overpaid and its time to stop saying he has a chance to one day have more hits than Pete Rose. I do think he was banged up last year though and should bounceback to a degree in 2009. Just closer to 2008 than 2007. His decline is something you really have to worry about as a Yankees fan though.

Red Sox- Julio Lugo/Jed Lowrie-The Julio Lugo signing is looking pretty bad for Boston right about now. An EQA of .263 won't cut it in the AL East and that was the past he`d done in the past 3 years. He`s a bad fielder as well. Boston would be better off with Lowrie instead. He was pretty solid in a rookie year last year and actually seems to be able to field. Regardless though, shortstop is one of the few holes in Boston's lineup. They better hope that Lowrie works out. I have a feeling that Lugo will get the majority of the starts though with their big investment in him. If that's true then good luck guys.

Rays- Jason Bartlett- Bartlett is a pretty solidly mediocore guy who will put up around average stats with about a .260 EQA and an okay glove. He`s not exactly a key component of the Rays but he fills a hole well enough for them. He`s got absolutely no power, even less than Jeter but he has a solid enough OBP to avoid being an automatic out. He's not great but if he's the worst hitter they have then the Rays are going to be pretty good.

Conclusion- Yankees- Red Sox- Rays-Its pretty clear that the Yankees are best off here even if Jeter sinks lower than 2008. I only put Boston ahead of the Rays because of Lowrie's potential to be good. Bartlett is a little bit ahead of Lugo and it really depends on how Francona manages.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Second Base

To continue with this series....

Yankees- Robinson Cano- Cano had a really pathetic 2008 after emerging as one of the the best second baseman in the league. It wasn't quite as awful as it seemed though. His EQA was .255 which isn't great but its tolerable from second base. His defense also appeared to fall off. I like Cano a lot but he really has to make a comeback next year. Thankfully, that looks likely. His BABIP last year was the worst of his career despite a high LD%. Supposedly, Kevin Long helped tweak his swing and he`s been working hard this winter in winter ball so I`d be surprised if he repeated 2008. Still, 2009 is a big year for Cano. In winter ball he seemed to be willing to walk more which would be a big step in the right direction.

Red Sox- Dustin Pedroia- On the opposite end of the spectrum we have Dustin Pedroia. Pedroia is, of course, coming off an MVP year and may be the best second baseman in baseball (although he`s still probably behind Chase Utley). Certainly in the AL at least. He`s one of the best young players in baseball and anybody would love to have a guy like him. It should be interesting in the next few years how him and Cano do and if we have any flashbacks of Nomar/Jeter.

Rays- Akiniori Iwamura- Originally signed as a third baseman, Iwamura made the shift to accomodate Evan Longoria. Iwamura's absolute lack of power is his downfall which seems to be a trend in players coming over from Japan. He hits for a solid OBP and BA and has a good glove but six homers just isn't enough. Last year he was better than Cano but I`m counting on a bounce back from Cano.

Conclusion- Red Sox- Yankees- Rays- Pedroia is pretty clearly the head of the pack here and by a good bit. Cano has a chance to surpass him but I wouldn't bet on it. Iwamura at the bottom mainly due to his lack of power. He`s not bad but he`s not as good as Cano or Pedroia either.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

2009 First Base

This happens to be a fairly close position and everyone is strong here so its a good place to start.

Yankees- Mark Teixeira- The Yankees stole him right from under Boston's nose and it probably puts them at the top here. Clearly, he was the best free agent available this year. Teixeira consistently puts up EQA's over .300 ad theirs no reason to think he`ll fall of a cliff at 29. His glove is a big upgrade over Giambi as well. He`s a little overrated in the field but he`s generally solidly above average and good swing a few games that Giambi may have lost. All in all, this position was perenially a concern for a Yankees fans but we shouldn't have to worry about guys like Josh Phelps or Andy Phillips for a long time.

Rays- Carlos Pena- Once upon a time, the Yankees picked this guy up after he was released by the Tigers. While the likes of Andy Phillips and Miguel Cairo took turns being automatic outs Pena mashed away at AAA. Finally, he opted out of his contract and signed on with Boston. For some reason, I remember him hitting a walk-off home run for them but I`m a little fuzzy on that. Anyway, after the year he left as a free agent and signed on with the hapless Devil Rays. The past two years he`s been with them and Pena has quietly emerged as one of the better first baseman in baseball. Funny how things work out isn't it? Anyway, Pena has a glove and a bat that is comparable to Teixeira's and can crush the ball. He`s an underrated piece of the Rays.

Red Sox- Kevin Youkilis- At some point, somebody (Peter Gammons I`m looking at you) annointed this guy the heir to David Eckstein's throne as the grittiest man alive. As a result of this he went from being one of the most underrated players in baseball to being one of the most overrated. He`s clearly a very good player but not on the same level as Pena or Teixeira. This isn't just my Yankee bias either. In a career year he psoted an EQA of .321 which is great. However, Teixeira has beaten that three of the past four years. Pena crushed that in 2007 (his breakout year) and came close last year. All three of the projection systems available at fangraphs.com have Youkilis coming crashing down to earth next year as well. His glove is probably the best of the three but not significantly so. Its certainly not a weakness for Boston but he`s becoming very overrated.

Conclusion- Yankes- Rays- Boston- The Yanks are in the best situation here and Teixeira has a solid edge over Pena but both Tampa and Boston are getting more bang for their buck. As I said before, Youkilis is the worst of this very good group of players. However, its close enough that any of the three could emerge. If Youkilis' 2008 was more than just a career year then he could easily end up better than Pena and could beat out Teixeira for the All Star Game's starting spot as well.

Yankees-Red Sox-Rays

In the past I`ve always tried to do a comparison between the Yanks and the Sox but I`ve fallen flat at the end because I always started it to late. Now theirs a third team in the AL East to worry about. So, to make sure it gets done this team I`m going to start it now. In the past I`ve gone position by position, dealing with the bullpen as a single entity. Not everything is set yet so I`ll just do it with the positions that seem unlikely to change.

To start out I`ll do first base later today.