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News Update – 11/12/09

This update is powered by a Happy 40th Anniversary wish to Sesame Street:

  • Matsui contract talks on hold.
  • Freddy Guzman and Josh Towers opt for free agency.
  • Hideki Matsui in the outfield?  Some GMs doubt it.
  • Internet Baseball Award AL results:
    • MVP: Mauer 1st, Jeter 2nd, Teixeira 3rd, Rodriguez 8th
    • Cy Young: Greinke 1st, Sabathia 5th, Rivera 6th
    • Rookie of the Year: Porcello 1st
    • Mgr. of the Year: Scioscia 1st, Girardi 4th
  • Homer Bush turns 37 today.

Back on Monday!

Categories:  Diane Firstman  News of the Day

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1 OldYanksFan   ~  Nov 12, 2009 9:57 am

It looks like if we offered Matsui 2 years, he would jump on it... one year he might hold out for other offers. What about a 1 year contract with an option for a 2nd that vests with certain goals met? Maybe 400 AB and .825 OPS minimum?

The only way to cut through agent bullshit and make older players accountable is with incentive/goal driven contracts. If Matsui believes he has 2 good years left, let him prove it. You can even dangle a carrot... say a $3m bonus for 400 AB/.860 OPS (play with the numbers how youy like).

Same with JD. He want's to be a Yankee. He loves it here. He thinks (HA!) he has a 30 yr old body. Fine Let him prove it. Put his money where his mouth is. Make contract dollars based on some combination of AB and OPS.

If these guys can only do 300AB with a sub .800 OPS, they should be happy to make a minimum amount... say $4m. JD had 550 AB with an .854 OPS in 2009. Hell, if he does it again, set his contract so he makes $13m again. Pay him $15m for and .875 OPS. But if he has a .750 OPS.... $4m it is.

With older players, it is very important for them to sleep well, eat well and work really hard. I think there is not much motivation when at the end of their career, they get a guaranteed 3 yr contract.

Offer a good incentive driven contract like above ($4m to $13m) and make it PUBLIC. Make sure every GM in MLB knows the exact numbers. If a player turns it down, what does it tell the other GMs? If JD is offered $13m (1.5 times Abreu's contract) to reproduce this years numbers, and turns it down, what is he telling every GM in the game?

And isn't this a fair and sneaky way of diminishing their value on the open market if they say NO? Andy said YES in 2009 and earned his money. Maybe they would cry collusion, but I'm surprised more GMs don't go in this direction.

Fuck the agents. Make players put their money where their mouth is!

2 OldYanksFan   ~  Nov 12, 2009 10:14 am

By the way, in 2006, Vernon Wells posted a .899 OPS.
In 2007, Wells posted a .706 OPS, by FAR, the worst of his career, at age 28. Based on this?? he got this contract (terribly written by the FO):

$25.5M signing bonus (paid in 3 $8.5M installments, March 1 2008-10)
08:$0.5M, 09:$1.5M, 10:$12.5M, 11:$23M,
12:$21M, 13:$21M, 14:$21M
full no-trade clause
Wells may opt out of contract after 2011

So, looking at the signing bonus, it works out to:
08:$9.0M, 09:$10M, 10:$20M, 11:$23M,
12:$21M, 13:$21M, 14:$21M

In 2008, his OPS was .839, so he earned his $9m and then some.
In 2009, his OPS was .711, certainly not worth $10m.
And now, for the next 4 years, he is GUARANTEED prime Manny money.

I really hope Vernon has a LOT of pride.
Yeah, Well's contract is the WORST and an extreme example, but this system is nuts.

Gee, I wonder if Vern will opt-out after 2011.

3 williamnyy23   ~  Nov 12, 2009 10:16 am

[1] Matsui and Damon deserve as much money and as many years as someone will give them. If the can get guaranteed money, there is no reason why they should accept an incentive laden deal. The Yankees need to make their own evaluations about the two players and then make an offer they can live with. I really hope their strategy is not to squeeze Matsui and Damon because that's not the way to run an organization...at least not one like the Yankees.

4 williamnyy23   ~  Nov 12, 2009 10:23 am

[2] Using fangraphs as a guide (because no one else really assigns dollar values to performance), Wells outperformed his salary by over $45mn from 2002-2007. How fair is that? It's the teams that want to maintain the reserve period, so they can't complain when it bite thems on the backend. Players are beholden to teams for up to 10 years of their career and often wind up providing a lot more value then they receive. So, when they get the hammer, it's more than fair that the teams are forced to pay up. Vernon Wells doesn't have to be ashamed about his contract any more than the Blue Jays should have been ashamed at underpaying him by so much over the first 6 years of his career.

5 seamus   ~  Nov 12, 2009 10:25 am

Nothing on the best news of the day? Facemask took his option!

6 ms october   ~  Nov 12, 2009 10:36 am

[3] i agree - make them an offer they can live with and they either take it or don't.

oyf i don't understand why you continually want players to take less money - they have to work fairly hard for their money, far harder then most owners worked for theirs.

i am at a point where i really don't like incentives that are based on playing time (such as at-bats, innings pitched). i think it creates a situation where it is tough to bench that player if that is what is needed.

[5] haha - that facemask has a life of its own. i hope they put a c on the facemask next year instead of the jersey.

7 Sliced Bread   ~  Nov 12, 2009 10:38 am

Torre's in town for his Safe at Home fundraiser. Just saw him at Good Morning America in Times Square. Gotta be weird for him to be here just a couple days after the parade. I don't doubt that he's genuinely happy for his former players, including Girardi -- but I imagine for him it's something like showing up at your ex wife's wedding - and she looks better, and happier than she has in years.

8 seamus   ~  Nov 12, 2009 10:48 am

[6] haha I likes that idea!

[7] no doubt.

9 Joel   ~  Nov 12, 2009 10:53 am

[2] I don't pretend to know the heart of Vernon Wells, but I find it hard to believe that he got his money and decided to lay back and play like crap. These guys are human, and I'm sure when they're in a contract year doing well to make more money is very much on their minds. But I also believe that the vast majority of these guys have enormous pride and want to play well because that's the way to play--regardless of how much they make.

As far as JD is concerned, I pay not an ounce of attention to his "idiot" live-and-let-live persona. Behind that facade is an intense professional who is sniffing 3,000 hits and a back-door entry to Cooperstown.

10 williamnyy23   ~  Nov 12, 2009 11:15 am

When Damon left the 2004 Red Sox, most people thought Theo was smart to let him walk and that the Yankees would regret the final years of his deal. Well, as things turned out, not only did he more than live up to his deal, but he now enters another free agency period as a productive player. In fact, aside from Manny, he is perhaps the best performing key player remaining from that 2004 team. Varitek is an unwanted backup; Millar is barely hanging on as bench player; Bellhorn and Mueller retired; Ortiz is in rapid decline; Schilling and Foulke flamed out and eventually retired earlier than expected; Lowe had a poor season in Atlanta; the Yankees are still Pedro's Daddy; and Arroyo is no more than a solid innings eater.

11 ms october   ~  Nov 12, 2009 11:29 am

[10] i agree with your overall theme, and certainly your assessment of the 2004 red sox, but let's not forget jd's inability to play cf for more than a year of that contract is a factor - so hittng wise he more than "lived up the his deal," but fielding wise he did not play cf, which was needed and he is now a pretty poor defender anywhere.

12 RagingTartabull   ~  Nov 12, 2009 11:33 am

[10, 11] I always felt that when that deal was signed it was for Damon to hit, and any defense he provided was gravy. I think most of us (I certainly did) thought "we're getting him for '06 and '07, the last two years...we'll take what we can get"

I don't think the Sox regret letting him go however, it was the smart move at the time and they've won a championship since...so it really is one of those rare "everybody wins"

13 ms october   ~  Nov 12, 2009 11:42 am

[12] yeah your expectations were a lot more accurate than mine. i actually thought his bat would decline faster than his fielding. was very wrong about that.

14 williamnyy23   ~  Nov 12, 2009 11:49 am

[11] Had he been able to play CF, he would have wound up being a steal, but all things considered it would up being a very fair contract. Also, while Damon wasn't able to play CF and was pretty bad in LF this season, he did so a pretty good job there in 2007-2008, which does make you wonder if his 2009 nose dive was a fluke or a product of getting used to a new Stadium.

[12] They might not regret letting him go, but then again, maybe they do. Not only did Damon really help the Yankees (which hurts the Red Sox), but his replacement really wound up being JD Drew. While Bsoton may be breaking even on that deal now, it does have a lot longer to go.

Also, the most immediate Damon replacement, Coco Crisp, was an absolute bust, so Boston really wound up having to scramble to make up for Damon's departure (not to mention, the net difference between Damon on NY versus Boston could have been the difference in winning the 2005 Division title).

15 RagingTartabull   ~  Nov 12, 2009 11:53 am

[14] you're glossing over Jacoby Ellsbury a bit, no? A player I happen to find woefully overrated, but is no slouch.

JD Drew is really Trot Nixon's replacement more than Damon's

16 ms october   ~  Nov 12, 2009 11:59 am

[14] ii think the contract was perfectly fair and am quite glad the yanks signed him. just saying that his inability to play cf was a strain on the team. for example, maybe melky could have been able to develop without being rushed, etc.

yes, really tough to say whether 2009 in the field was an outlier for him or indicative of further adventures to come. my *eyes* tell me he is a disaster waiting to happen out there, but i could be wrong and he could bounce back for whatever reason (adjusting to the stadium, health, fluky season, whatever).

17 Shaun P.   ~  Nov 12, 2009 12:03 pm

[12] I was going to jokingly refer to you as "Scott" (as in Boras), but then you brought up JD Drew in [14], and killed that.

And Boston has been very, very pleased with Drew, who (by OPS+ which I know you like) had one crappy year (105) and two quite excellent years (137, 133). Damon's best OPS+, by comparison, came this past year (126), his worst season was lower (96), and we all know Drew plays the field an awful lot better. I think Boston is awfully happy with Drew.

By Fangraphs and WAR (not my favorite way to figure these numbers out, but I'll go with them for now), Damon was worth $49.6M over the last 4 years, during which the Yanks paid him $52M. He was also worth 11.7 WAR.

In comparison, over the last 3 years, Drew was worth (according to Fangraphs), 10.1 WAR (1.6 WAR less than Damon) and $45.2M, during which Boston paid him $42M.

And, of course, both teams each won a title during this time.

Still, I think Boston is very very pleased with how things turned out. I'd rather have Drew's age 34 and 35 seasons than Damon's age 36 and 37 seasons.

18 gary from chevy chase   ~  Nov 12, 2009 12:05 pm

I susbscribe to let them leave a year early rather than a year late theory. JD's outfield play has fallen rapidly; he could, however, be productive as a DH - and as has been suggested, if Matsui departs, I could imagine JD playing a bit in the OF, and getting 300 AB at DH, with perhaps 150 AB for Jorge as a DH, with the rest DH AB's split for days off for Jeter, A Rod, and Swish.

19 Shaun P.   ~  Nov 12, 2009 12:06 pm

Branch Rickey used to say, "Better to get rid of someone a year too early than a year too late." (h/t Steven Goldman for the reminder.) I can't help but think of that quote every time I think about the Yanks resigning Damon. Coming off a career year, going into his age-36 season, defense questionable . . . even if he's great somewhere in 2010, I wouldn't want to bet on him continuing that in 2011 or 2012 (it will take 3 years).

20 williamnyy23   ~  Nov 12, 2009 12:14 pm

[15] I am not glossing over him, but I think it's safe to assume that Damon would have been shifted for Ellsbury. The immediate replacement was Crisp, but if Damon was still around, he could have been moved over instead of requiring Drew as a replacement.

As for Ellsbury, he is a league average hitter who rates poorly in CF. I hope he remains in the Sox long-term plans because I don't think he is very good

21 williamnyy23   ~  Nov 12, 2009 12:19 pm

[17] As noted in [14], Boston has broken even on the Drew deal...so far...but they still have a few more years left. It should also be mentioned that one of what you called a "quite excellent" year only involved 109 games, which really isn't close to excellent at all.

Maybe I am wrong, but I strongly suspect that Boston would readily excercise an opt out on the Drew deal right now and use that $14mn elsewhere (perhaps for Holliday and Bay).

22 williamnyy23   ~  Nov 12, 2009 12:21 pm

[19] One luxury that the Yankees have is they don't have to get rid of their players a year too early. Now, if wer are talking three years, that's another story.

23 Shaun P.   ~  Nov 12, 2009 12:28 pm

[21] 4+ WAR in 109 games would be closer to 6 in a full season, so yes, excellent. And they have only two years, not a "few more" years, left.

Anyone would exchange Drew for Holliday, because Holliday is younger, perhaps a better fielder, and is less of an injury risk. For Bay, that's less clear, mostly because his defense is so bad. However, that wasn't the issue you raised. The issue was, was Boston happy with (essentially) exchanging Damon for Drew, and on that, the answer today is a resounding "Yes!".

In any case, I think RagingTartabull is right, the Yanks getting Damon and the Red Sox getting Drew seems like a classic win-win.

24 williamnyy23   ~  Nov 12, 2009 12:43 pm

[23] The point is he missed 53 games. What he may have been projected to do in those games is meaningless because, well, he didn't play them.

Again, I don't agree that the answer is a resounding a YES. I firmly believe that if Theo new Damon was going to put up the 4 years he did, he would have preferred him to 1 year of Crisp + 3 (including one abbreviated) years of Drew. What’s more, he would not have to pay Drew $14mn in 2010 and 2011…and could have used Shoppach and Marte (both very good prospects at the time) for something much better than Crisp. Heck, I am sure they wish they had Shoppach right now.

In other words, the cost to replace Damon was very significant…both in terms of dollars and players given up…and that’s before even considering the net impact on the Yankees.

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