Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Change In 2011 Approach

Outside of making additions to the team (hello, Cliff Lee), the most important thing the Yankees can do between now and the start of next season is to start treating players more for what they are than what they used to be. The two exceptions to this would be the contracts for Jeter and Rivera. In these instances I think it is appropriate to try and find a balance between paying them for their Hall Of Fame careers while being realistic about their present circumstances. This presently only applies to Jeter in terms of performance, as Rivera is still the best closer in the game. It applies to both of them in terms of age. I don't mention Pettitte because his situation is a little more clear at this point: he'll likely either play for the Yankees on a one year deal or retire. For Jeter and Rivera, it's acceptable to consider what they've done in what you pay them, as long as there is a balance with what is realistic to pay players under their circumstances.

After that, for every single player on the team, it stops. What they've done in the past and who they are should be irrelevant in terms of their role for this team. There is nobody for whom this is currently more applicable to than my favorite athlete of all time, Derek Jeter. A quick example:

In 2010 Derek Jeter batted leadoff virtually every game he played in. This despite hitting .246/.315/.317 in 500 plate appearances against righties and .321/.393/.481 against lefties. Curtis Granderson's struggles against lefties were talked about non-stop, yet his line against lefties (.234/.292/.354) wasn't really any different than Jeter's struggles against righties. In fact, Granderson's OPS was slightly higher in such situations, but they both struggled mightily. Since Granderson crushed righties (.253/.340/.526), he rightfully batted 2nd against righties and 8th (or benched) against lefties. Made a lot of sense and worked in a big way for the Yankees. Despite similar splits (Jeter had a slightly higher OPS vs. lefties than Granderson did vs. righties), Jeter still lead off virtually every game. It really wasn't even talked about much that he would be dropped, or platooned in the lead-off spot.

The only reason for this is that he's Derek Jeter. That's why he wasn't evaluated solely based on his production and Granderson was. And frankly, for 2010 I understand this decision. He was 3rd in MVP voting in 2009 (!), hitting a terrific .311/.381/.435 against righties, so there was no reason to think entering 2010 he was going to struggle against righties at all, let alone as mightily as he did. You owe him a few months to try and work out of it, and once you do that and get that far into the season dropping him would likely do more harm than good because of the ensuing media storm/distraction.

But things should be different in 2011. Jeter can and should get paid beyond what he is worth on the open market for what he's done for this organization. He should not play a certain amount or hit in a certain spot because of the same. When it comes to those decisions, it should be 99% about what he is now. If the same situation (or worse) arises in 2011, Jeter should leadoff against lefties and bat 9th against righties, with Gardner leading off against righties and batting 9th against lefties. This, of course, assuming that they don't make any other lineup additions.

Jeter may very well bounceback and make this all moot. I think he will, at least to a certain degree. In 2008 he had 179 hits, 11 homers, and 69 RBI and everyone was talking about the start of his decline. He came back and finished 3rd in MVP voting in 2009. This year he had 179 hits, 10 homers, and 67 RBI, albeit in 71 more plate appearances in 2008, but I think the point still stands. I won't count him out until he retires. But this isn't about predicting what he'll do next year. It's about him being treated appropriately for however he's playing, not being treated appropriately for how he's playing...for Derek Jeter. If he's playing great, business as usual. If he's not, it should be adjusted to. If it's in the middle, find a middle ground that best helps the team in terms of how he's used.

This isn't specific to Jeter. This goes for everyone. Robinson Cano was one of the 10 best hitters in baseball in 2010, and he was the Yankees' best hitter. He should not give way to Alex Rodriguez or Mark Teixeira just because they are more established and have almost always hit 3rd or 4th. Just like with Jeter, if 2010 repeats itself, Cano should bat 3rd, Rodriguez 4th, and Teixeira 5th. Cano showed himself to have the across-the-board dynamic qualities you want from your #3 hitter. Teixeira showed a slightly less dynamic but still power/on-base/RBI heavy set of qualities you want from your #5 hitter. Teixeira is supremely talented, and finished 2nd in MVP voting in 2009. Again, things could change in 2011, for him, Rodriguez, Cano, or anybody. It isn't about predicting what will happen. It's about responding appropriately to what does happen, and not being overly swayed by what these players used to be. If the Yankees are going to successfully navigate these next few years, with generational legacy veterans and younger talent, and continue to compete for World Series titles, they are going to have to adopt this philosophy.

12 comments:

Anonymous said...

A few comments:

- Good post Pat F. For what it's worth I think you are right in your assessments here. I also think Jeter will bounce back and maybe not be an mvp candidate, but still be much more solid than he was this year.

Cano is one of my favorite players to watch right now, putting aside the fact that I mostly see him when he's doing damage against the Red Sox. Some players just look like they are ready to crank one every time they are up to bat. They are just on perfect balance and have great power. Ortiz was this way back in his steroid fueled prime in the middle of the decade. Cano is like that now.

- Not to drag us too far down a rat hole, but I do want to address some of Pat F's comments about Garnett yesterday. First, there's no doubt in my mind that Garnett said what Villanueva (sp?) accused him of yesterday. For those of you who don't know Garnett came out of with some sort of excuse that Villanueva misunderstood him and that he actually said something different. Well it would be a huge coincidence if that was the case.

Having said that, Garnett was wrong to say what he said, but I do think that if we are going to be rational there are some things that need to be considered:

- Whatever Garnett said probably pales in comparison to some of the other trash talk that occurs on the basketball court.

- Charlie Villanueva is a punk. He has always been an underachiever at both the college and professional level. To get into it with a Hall of Fame player like Garnett and then Twitter about it afterwards is childish and stupid. Why don't we just start twittering every time something offensive is said on a basketball court? Running a smear campaign in this way is unacceptable in my opinion.

- Lastly, Pat F said that Garnett needs to stop the "i'm super intense" act. I disagree. I can certainly understand why Pat would say this, because he's probably tired of the Knicks losing to the Celtics. But in basketball, unlike baseball (which a more individual and cerebral sport), attitude matters a great deal. A big part of a team's success in contingent on players actually getting up for games throughout the 82 game schedule and playing with energy and intensity. Garnett helps the Celtics to do that.

Anonymous said...

A few comments:

- Good post Pat F. For what it's worth I think you are right in your assessments here. I also think Jeter will bounce back and maybe not be an mvp candidate, but still be much more solid than he was this year.

Cano is one of my favorite players to watch right now, putting aside the fact that I mostly see him when he's doing damage against the Red Sox. Some players just look like they are ready to crank one every time they are up to bat. They are just on perfect balance and have great power. Ortiz was this way back in his steroid fueled prime in the middle of the decade. Cano is like that now.

- Not to drag us too far down a rat hole, but I do want to address some of Pat F's comments about Garnett yesterday. First, there's no doubt in my mind that Garnett said what Villanueva (sp?) accused him of yesterday. For those of you who don't know Garnett came out of with some sort of excuse that Villanueva misunderstood him and that he actually said something different. Well it would be a huge coincidence if that was the case.

Having said that, Garnett was wrong to say what he said, but I do think that if we are going to be rational there are some things that need to be considered:

- Whatever Garnett said probably pales in comparison to some of the other trash talk that occurs on the basketball court.

- Charlie Villanueva is a punk. He has always been an underachiever at both the college and professional level. To get into it with a Hall of Fame player like Garnett and then Twitter about it afterwards is childish and stupid. Why don't we just start twittering every time something offensive is said on a basketball court? Running a smear campaign in this way is unacceptable in my opinion.

- Lastly, Pat F said that Garnett needs to stop the "i'm super intense" act. I disagree. I can certainly understand why Pat would say this, because he's probably tired of the Knicks losing to the Celtics. But in basketball, unlike baseball (which a more individual and cerebral sport), attitude matters a great deal. A big part of a team's success in contingent on players actually getting up for games throughout the 82 game schedule and playing with energy and intensity. Garnett helps the Celtics to do that.

Anonymous said...

Bandi

I seem to remember PF giving Cheney the business about Villanueva's UConn Huskies back in the old 142.

Also, he is a punk. And in fact, he is a cancer to whatever team he's played on. Check out the team's he's played on--Bucks, Raptors, Pistons. All bad teams, all lots of losing.

Now, if Kevin Garnett made an off-color remark about cancer and cancer patients, then it is inexcusable and unfortunate. Literally everyone close to them has had someone with cancer. It's an awful disease.

With that said, I can't believe anyone cares that something like that was said on the basketball court. I would bet my life that during any game things that are significantly more offensive and/or sensitive are mentioned out there.

More importantly though is that the outrage we've seen about this issue is part of a disturbing trend of political correctness and lack of accountability. At some point I would just like to see people not be so soft. It's really terrible. We're getting to the point in our society where there's an excuse for everything that someone does---he bludgeoned six people with an axe? Oh, that's ok, his parents didn't hug him enough. She's had six kids, she's 22, and the state pays for all of them. Oh, that's ok, her parents got divorced. Give me a break.

--the Gunn

John said...

Well I finally got back around to checking the site, and in regards to what you say Pat I agree. The Yankees should pay Jeter more than what he would get on the open market because he deserves it. But now jumping in to projections for the next few years in terms of his production... I haven't delved as deep in to his statistics as you have, but a quick glance at them shows that over the past 5 years, with the exception of 2009, he has been declining. Bouncing back to 2009 for would be an extremely unlikely scenario, considering it was one of the better seasons of his career. I'm not even sure he will bounce back to what he was in 2008(feel free to quote me and prove me wrong in 11 months) but will probably end up somewhere between 2008 and 2010. Is this worth the 22 million he made last year(I think that's technically what it was), absolutely not.

So the question becomes, if this decline is real, what is a fair contract to give him. The Yankees don't really have an upper spending limit, especially if it comes down to seeing Jeter stay or go, so giving him $22 million over the next 4 years won't really kill them. If he ends up batting close to .260 in 2012 though(let alone 2013/2014), is that a player you want to spend $22 million on, and will Jeter understand that going forward he isn't worth what he was over the past 5 years. If I were the Yankees I would pay him as much as it took, and if I were Jeter I would most likely not want a pay decrease whether I'm conscious of my own decline or not.

Patrick said...

what you and i are saying is not mutually exclusive, bandi. you are saying attitude matters, and intensity is good, and i agree. what i am saying with kg stopping his "i'm so intense act" is not acting more intense than you are/is necessary. i have no doubt kg is intense. very much so even. but he is not as intense as he acts. on a site where two of our favorite words are contrived and disingenuous, that is exactly what kg's intensity act is, and there is just no need to take it so far over the top. just being intense is enough.

we, of course, have the 2009 playoffs. even the sports guy said he couldn't defend kg's actions from the bench. he was acting nuts as if to show just how much he wants to win. ridiculous, not believable intensity.

there are other examples. i remember a celtics/lakers game in la on a thursday night last year. the lakers were without kobe. the celtics had a 10 point lead in the 4th, and kg did almost everything he could to make sure the celtics lost the game. he missed jump shot after jump shot and just kept hoisting them. it turned out to be a great game and the celtics barely held on to win in the last seconds. both teams played extremely hard, and in a rare moment of mutual appreciation between two rivals, the teams exchanged some congratulations on such a hard played game. you could almost sense the "man, we almost got you without kobe" on behalf of the lakers and a "man, you almost got us without kobe" on behalf of the celtics. not kg. despite his poor play he was off on his own celebrating the win yelling and making gestures and whatever else he does. it was beyond out of touch with reality and again is an example of someone who is trying to put on a show as opposed to being genuinely emotional.

this is what i was getting at.

at some point you will learn that needling me about the knicks does not work, especially needling me about the knicks driving my opinions on things. they don't. you've tried this like 10 times now and it's never registered.

Anonymous said...

Pat,

Your affinity for the Knicks clearly affects your opinions. There's nothing wrong with that. But denying that just makes you look ridiculous. If Garnett was on the Knicks, you absolutely wouldn't have an issue with him.

Also, your assertion that Garnett is too intense is only valid if you can prove to me that his antics hurt the Celtics. I don't think that's the case. If anything, I think the other Celtics see the level of effort he brings and feed off of this. Ultimately, if you were going to observe a player objectively (which you're not) you would look at whether or not what
he does is helpful to his own team, and that's all. It doesn't matter if you or any opposing player doesn't like Garnett or how he acts. If he's doing what is good for the team, then that's all that matters.

Patrick said...

ay yi yi. there is A LOT of room between how you would view a player if he were on your own team and how you view another player just because they aren't on their team. your initial statement was that i was only making this analysis because i was tired of the knicks losing to the celtics. over the summer you said i was only not being hard on lebron because i hoped the knicks got him. none of these thing are true. the knicks have no rivalry with the celtics, and now that lebron has joined the heat i have not changed my stance. so you are just simply off base saying that the knicks are impacting my views on these thing. with that said, of course things would be different if a player were on my team. but the only two options are not viewing a player how you would if they were on your team and then having your affinity for a team drive every single opinion you make. i think kg is obnoxious and contrived no matter who he plays for, and quite honestly would probably have to acknowledge that even if he was on my own team. i mean, even the sports guy couldn't defend him in the 2009 playoffs. so i don't expect that i would.

on your second point, huh? this is like arguing with a moving target. i'm sure his over-the-top antics do help his team. great. that has nothing to do with the point i was making. his actions can be both contrived and disingenuous (which is what i am saying) and also help his team. they are not mutually exclusive. i never said his contrived actions weren't a good thing for his team. i just said they were contrived.

Anonymous said...

Pat,

You are one to to talk about being a moving target since you went back and deleted your comments about Garnett from yesterday. Apparently some of us play by different rules than everyone else.

Anyway, the point is that Garnett does not need to stop his super intense act. It helps the team. If you go back to my main comment on this post, that was the point.

The secondary point is that you are biased against Boston and that you can't sit here and pretend that you are giving a rational non-biased view.

Is that too hard for you to follow?

Patrick said...

ok, in the literal sense, he doesn't need to stop them. my original comment wasn't in anticipation of him actually doing so. i was just saying enough already, nobody buys it. contrived and disingenuous.

biased against boston, sure. but first, you said it had to do with my affinity for the knicks, which has nothing to do with it. on the list of why i'm biased against boston, the knicks and celtics would be somewhere near the bottom of a list that is quite long. second, just because i'm biased against boston doesn't mean every comment i ever make about a boston athlete can just be written off as irrational. i'm not really going out on a limb here with kg. go back and check out the coverage from his actions in the 2009 playoffs. everyone, biased against boston or not, was pretty capable of seeing that was totally over the top. you seem to want to live in a black and white world where everything can get categorized nice and neatly (ie, kg being contrived only matters if it negatively impacts his team; because i'm not pro boston sports anything i say about a boston athlete - even the obvious - should be met with immediate skepticism), when the reality is things occur in various shades of gray. no kg being contrived might not hurt his team, but it doesn't change the fact that he is contrived (some guys can get it done in the "intensity" department without taking it to this level, which is my point). yes i'm a knicks fan, but that doesn't mean every opinion i have of the celtics is biased (especially since we aren't talking yankees/sox, jets/pats, or lakers/celtics here...we are talking knicks/celtics for crying out loud, where absolutely little to no ill-will exists beyond residue from yanks/sox and jets/pats). especially on points that i'm not putting out there for the first time, like kg is a little bit too much with trying to show everyone how intense he is all the time. it may ultimately benefit his team, which is all that matters. but i'd say it's just as likely that it comes from a "look at me" place as it does from a "this is really what's best for the team" place, which is what i'm getting at.

the gm said...

Greetings from the Islands. First of all, let's get real about Villanueva. This is worse than Zinedane Zidane. I'd prefer if he had just headbutted Garnett and called it a day. People talk about the freaking PLO in basketball trash talk. The fact that people are surprised or offended by this is asinine. I agree with Bandi here, and I offer this: In the year 2010, would Tom Green even be able to sing his "feel your balls so you don't get cancer" song? No. You can't make light of a serious situation anymore. This is the NBA, not the NESCAC. Soon you won't be able to talk about luaus on a basketball court. Thanks, Villanueva, you punk.

I saw a NYT headline about how Jeter played too much this year. Look at Cal Ripken's career stats, year by year. The streak hurt him. A lot. He was average to below average for a lot of his career. Look at how freaking Varisuck played this year - another aging veteran who needs those days off. Not that Jeter needs to play 60 games. But if he plays 135 games, he might get as many hits over the course of the year than if he plays the 157 he played this year. He does this - even if he continues to hit at the top of the lineup and accumulates the same number of at-bats per game - and he hits .314. I think that's reasonable with a less-tired player. So you're literally taking out 100 outs.

the gm at work said...

PF,

I'd love to find out what those deleted comments are. Maybe just to bust your balls, I can undelete them as an administrator.

TimC said...

Someone should help Mr. Villanueva find the 'delete' button on his tweets. Also, has anyone heard about whether Favre will play? Cannot find a word on his status with this wall to wall KG coverage.

I think the problem here is just a simple matter of lines. Within the court, athletes do what they want. I can defend KG's intensity, on-court, until he announces his retirement. It is hard to defend his antics while in street clothes- he should restrict it to towel snapping (waving is too non-intense) and some loud, encouraging yelling at teammates. If in uniform, the line is making someone cry. When he does his act off-court, outside the flow of the game, he just looks like Stone Cold Steve Austin flippin' people off, wasting beer, and people get tired of it.

What I think the Villanueva situation should come down to is basically, was this comment made in the flow of play, or not? Trash talk is what it is and for people to think KG's comments in-game are some kind of commentary about his disdain for the appearance of cancer patients just reminds me of being back at Colby. Is it ESPN or the Echo reporting these tweets? He does not like Villanueva and wanted to rile him up, just like Bandi riles up PF by telling he is incapable of being balanced with Boston analysis. Maybe the end justifies the means. If KG said these things in street clothes or on the press conference podium or in some measured moment during the game, it is a story (and maybe he did, I did not see a video or anything).

GM- glad to see more evidence for weaning athletes off full seasons. My dad hated Cal Ripken, maybe it rubbed off, but I still am unsurprised to see those numbers.