Friday, June 12, 2009

A Sinking Feeling

We're a bit late to the party on this one, as it's already appeared on both RAB and Deadspin amongst other places I'm sure. ESPN's excitable, squeeky-voiced Tim Kurkjian has an article on the senior thesis of former Yankee pitcher Ross Ohlendorf, which examined the return on investment Major League clubs realized on the signing bonuses they issued. With the amateur draft concluding yesterday it's an interesting and timely read. Ohlie is Princeton educated, so this ain't no joke. Given his excitability and love of numbers, I'm surprised Kurjian's head didn't explode putting the article together.

I liked Ohlendorf and thought he would carve out a decent little career with the Yanks. I felt they misused him last year, as he became the de facto long man when they opened the season without one. Once he was demoted to Scranton and put back in the rotation, you knew they were showcasing him as tradebait. Sure enough he was a key cog in the deal that brought Xavier Nady and Damaso Marte.

There's been much talk of late of Alfredo Aceves as the new Ramiro Mendoza, and in a way I can see it. Alf's versatility is very valuable in much the same way it was for Mendoza. Both could spot start, serve as a long man, or get you out of a jam. Last night's hiccup nothwithstanding, Alf has been very good this year and there are no Yankee relievers not named "Mo" who I trust more at present.

But Mendoza had another weapon that made him valuable as a reliever: his bowling ball sinker. Mendoza could be brought into a mid-inning jam, and if he was on, he was one pitch, one groundball, and one double play away from getting out of it. Over his career Mendoza got 1.67 groundouts per air outs, compared to the league average of 1.08 over that time (Aceves checks in slightly below league average in his brief career). El Brujo induced 83 GiDPs in his career, 44 of them out of the pen, and seven of those against the first batter he faced. I thought Ohlendorf could have similar success, but it never materialized.

So, other than to fill space, why do I bring this all up now? Because as I mentioned yesterday, I'm at a total loss about what to do with Chien-Ming Wang. The team has already announced that he will make another start Wednesday. I'm not suggesting that he should be made a reliever now. I don't know what to do with him. But I wonder if his sinker could aid in him being an asset out of the pen. Of course, if he wasn't having problems with keeping his sinker down right now I wouldn't even be pondering this.

Ohlie's thesis essentially says that on average, teams realize a 60% return on their investment in a drafted player. I can't even fathom what kind of performance the Nationals would have to get out of Stephen Strasburg to get that kind of return on the dollar amounts Scott Boras is tossing around.


  1. The way Alfredo Aceves has to mop up the Skankees starting pitchers messes, his arm will be falling off by the end of July. I am so sick of Girardi not knowing how to use the bullpen. What is he thinking leaving CC out there to throw away the win in the 8th??? Torre would have never done that. Man, I really am starting to think the good old days are gone.

  2. I think they misuse ALL of their players...they should be catching balls in ass at the red sox batting practices instead

  3. It's easy to second guess leaving Sabathia in now, but if they had brought in Aceves or even Mo in the 8th and it had gone south, you would be all over Girardi for that too. There isn't a reliable guy in the pen irhgt right that Torre would be able to ride into the ground. At a certain point, guys have to get the job done or no matter what Girardi does people are going to say he's an idiot.

    And that's hilarious Anon. So clevah and witty! You must be like a supah fackin genius. Dood, you ah like the next fackin Good Will Hunting. Has anyone evah told you thaat?

  4. Thanks for the compliments, Jay!!!!