Friday, December 4, 2009

Pondering Left Field And The DH

Good morning Fackers. Friday morning. Finally. Good Lord, a five day work week after a three day work week and four day weekend is a special kind of torture. I think I'd rather be water boarded. And still there's eight hours to go until that sweet, glorious weekend.

Speaking of interminable waits, today is the last weekday prior to the Winter Meetings. Maybe, just maybe, that'll get things moving and we'll get some actual player movement. Then again, the non-tender deadline for arbitration eligible players isn't until next Saturday, so the free agent market may not materialize until clubs know the full spectrum of who will be available.

Either way, the Yankees' biggest needs remain the ones we identified immediately after the World Series: filling the left field and designated hitter jobs for next year. As I stated then, I think the Yankees' best options for 2010 are to have both Johnny Damon and Hideki Matsui return on one year deals. To that end, here are a couple things I came across yesterday that speak to that (again, more confirmation bias on my part).

First up, we have Jay Jaffe at Futility Infielder examining the Yankees' decision not to offer arbitration to Johnny Damon. Jaffe points out that based on Nate Silver's calculations from four years ago, the value of the potential compensation picks forgone by not offering arbitration to Damon is somewhere in the neighborhood of $12M.

I've already stated that I thought it was a worthwhile risk to offer arbitration to Damon, but this drives the point home even more. It was no sure bet that Damon, as a Boras client seeking a multiyear deal, even would accept arbitration. If he refused, the club picks up the equivalent of $12M as compensation. If he accepted, the club keeps him for a year, which is probably all they really want to commit to him, at a price tag of about $15M - about $5M more than market value and exactly what Fangraphs pegs his worth, on average, over the last two years.

Yes, we're only talking about draft picks here, which don't always pan out and may be overvalued, as questioned by the blog-formerly-known-as-The-Yankee-Universe yesterday. But as Fangraphs pointed out last week, there are several factors to consider when pondering an arbitration offer. And all things considered, it appears the Yankees were unwilling to risk a $5M investment for a potential $12M return. Then again, the Yankees had the free agent market figured perfectly last year, so what do I know?

Next up, we have The Bronx View pondering if the DH spot is undervalued. And they raise very valid questions. The popular narrative is that the Yankees need to "free up" the DH spot so that Jorge Posada, Alex Rodriguez, and Derek Jeter can get some time off there. There's two problems with that. First every time one of those three players is the DH an inferior offensive player takes their position in the field for the day. Second, The Bronx View estimates those three players might account for 79 games at the DH spot next year; who is the designated hitter for the remaining 83 games?

I'm all for resting the aging veterans from time to time, whether it be with a full day off or with a day at DH. But that's going to cover half the season's games at most. The Yankees cannot afford to turn the DH spot over to an offensively inferior player for the other half of the games, particularly if they don't replace Damon's offense in left field.

I'm sure the options are being discussed at the Yankees' organizational meetings in Tampa. Hopefully, with the Winter Meetings starting Monday, we're not too far off from getting answers to these questions.

1 comment:

  1. Trade Miranda, a catcher not named Montero and either a middle infielder or AAA pitcher for Adam Dunn. A great DH who can play the OF corners or 1B to give the regulars a day off, without losing his impact bat.