Larry Mahnken and SG's

Replacement Level Yankees Weblog

"Hey, it's free!"

The Replacement Level Yankees Weblog has moved!  Our new home is:

Larry Mahnken
Sean McNally
Fabian McNally
John Brattain

This is an awesome FREE site, where you can win money and gift certificates with no skill involved! If you're bored, I HIGHLY recommend checking it out!


Disclaimer: If you think this is the official website of the New York Yankees, you're an idiot. Go away.

March 3, 2006

Looking Ahead to 2006 - Right Field
by SG

He's controversial. He's outspoken. He's tended to wear out his welcome in every town he's played in. Despite being a Hall of Fame quality hitter, the Yankees are Gary Sheffield's sixth team. At age 36, Sheffield put up another solid offensive season, with a line of .291/.379/.512, with 34 HRs and driving in 123 runs. The big story so far in spring training has been his 2007 option, and whether or not the Yankees will pick it up. I tend to think most of this story has been embellished by a bored media and don't really care about it.

We know Sheffield can hit. Even with a bit of a decline over the last few seasons (OPS+ of 167 in 2003, 143 in 2004, and 132 in 2005), I'd still expect him to hit next year. The bigger problem with Sheffield is his defense. The ZR metrics I ran agree with this.

The table above shows Sheffield's estimated fielding runs in RF over the last five years, pro-rated for 150 games. As you can see, Sheffield's defense was really bad last year, to the tune of 16 runs below average. Thanks to his solid hitting, he was still worth 3.4 WARP.

Sheffield's past history in RF indicates a slight defensive rebound, to -7. Given the fact that he'll be DHing more frequently, that seems about right to me.

ZiPS hates Sheffield in 2006, primarily because of his age. It predicts a pretty steep dropoff, to .271/.370/.468, with 27 HRs, and which would make him worth 25 RARP.

Marcel is a little kinder to the old man, saying he'll hit .288/.376/.500, with 28 HRS which would make him worth 27 RARP.

PECOTA is far more optimistic, predicting a line that equates to 45 RARP, with more average, more OBP, and more power.

Sheff's not young. However, his bat is still lightning quick. If I had to guess, I'd say he'll be closer to PECOTA than ZiPS or Marcel. I'll say something on the order of 35 RARP on offense. Given the fact that he was never as bad defensively as he was last year, plus the fact that he will be DHing more this year, that -7 defensive projection seems right. This would make Sheffield worth 4.4 WARP this year, which is about one win better than last year.

It looks like Bernie Williams is going to be getting a fair amount of time in RF this year. While the thought of runners going from first to home on singles to RF scares the hell out of me, there have been studies that show the impact of an OF arm is not huge, somewhere on the order of +5 to -5 runs over the course of a season. Bernie may actually be able to cover more ground than Sheffield, which would further narrow the difference between his arm and Sheffields.

Damon plus a slight up-tick in Sheffield's value makes the Yankees' starting 8 position players 6 wins better relative to last year. Bear in mind that this does not necessarily mean they project to win 6 more games, as other teams may have improved as well.

I should probably run through something similar for the bench and DH, but frankly I think it'd be a waste of time. We have no idea who will get the bulk of that playing time, how much playing time it will be, and how well they will do. The good news is, last year's bench was horrendous, and this year's bench does not have to do much to be as good or better.

The first spring training game of the year started out great, and ended poorly. Johnny Damon singled and doubled in his Yankee debut, and Andy Phillips hit an opposite field HR.

On the pitching side, Shawn Chacon looked pretty good, although his velocity wasn't that impressive. Sean Henn gave up a monster HR to Pat Burrell. Aaron Small pitched two effective innings, and Mike Myers pitched a horrendous inning.

Hopefully Torre learned that Myers should not face righties, based on this outing, if not his past 4 seasons, where righties have hit: .341/.464/.534 against him. Here's Myers's inning, broken down by the handedness of the batters he faced.

R - flyout
L - ground ball single
R - line drive single to LF
R - Hard fly ball to medium LF
R - Bloop single up the middle, one run scores
R - Line drive double off the base of the LF wall, two runs score
L - Pop up to second

In other words, don't be worried. He was just getting his work in, and not pitching in a situation that he is suited for. If anything, this is good news, as it will hopefully hammer home the point that Myers shouldn't EVER face a righty.

J. Brent Cox and Matt Smith pitched the final two innings. I have to be honest that Cox didn't look particularly impressive to me, topping out at around 88 mph on his fastball and not fooling anyone with his breaking pitch. I thought Smith looked better, with a pretty good slider, although his command was shaky. He faced three righties in the ninth and retired them all, two on strikeouts, which was good to see. The pen is full right now, but I think he'll be in the mix at some point this season.

Regardless of the outcome, it was just cool to see baseball on TV again.

Update: I just read an interesting article about Larry Bowa, for anyone who's interested.

His batting practice session over, Yankees captain Derek Jeter grabbed his glove and casually made his way back to the field. His first stop wasn't shortstop, but first base for a chat with a teammate.

Larry Bowa, hitting grounders with a fungo bat in foul territory on the other side of the field, immediately spoke up.

"Hey," Bowa shouted.

Jeter looked Bowa's way.

"I know where I'm going," the superstar shot back sarcastically.

But Jeter got the point, and he immediately jogged to his position to take some groundballs before the Yankees and Phillies' spring opener Thursday at Legends Field.

Bowa always did demand effort and excellence.

Something tells Bowa wasn't hired for his third base coaching skill alone.

Update # 2: MC Hammer has a blog? And he's blogging about the Yankees? WTF?

Is This The Yankees Year?
Apparently A-Rod says it is. Now I know A-Rod personally and he is one of the finest all around athletes to ever play the game. Not to mention he is an incredible basketball player. I played in a few charity games with him and he was exceptional. But what should certainly be a wake up call and a warning that the Yankees are ready and will be a team to be reckon with this season is when A-Rod starts talking (he's not a talker) and making world championship promises.

Throughout his stellar career his excellent play ( in the field and at bat) has done all the talking. Now he takes it upon himself to add pressure to the coaches, the management and his team right out the gate. No slow starts, no slumps and no control issues. Just win in the beginning and when at the end. You gotta love it! These are the Yankees. We all want to beat the Yankees and now we have locker room billboard material to motivate us courtesy of A-Rod. When you are as good as he is and surrounded by an excellent team somehow I don't see this as an advantage.

If you were going to fight Ali in his prime and he says he's going to whoop you good, and all night long and become the heavyweight champion of the world, I don't think his words would be to your advantage. On the contrary, I think it may be to your disadvantage and bring on some uninvited fear and trembling. Confidence is not a negative. Over confidence is. A-Rod is confident (another MVP year) based upon what he sees in his team and what he doesn't see in other teams. It sets the table for a more intriguing season now that Alex Rodriguez is confident (good for baseball) and he's talking (bad for us) and the rest of us are waiting, watching and hoping we will beat the Yankees and close his mouth! Go A's!!