Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Ninja Cash Strikes Again, Yanks Sign Russell Branyan

As much as I despise the Bill Hall signing, low-risk as it may be, I absolutely LOVE today's signing of Russell Branyan to a MiL contract, presumably to compete for the lefty DH role that still remains vacant.

Branyan sucked pretty hard last season (.197/.295/.370, .300 wOBA in 146 PA), but he's only 1 year removed from posting a .350 wOBA in 3 times as many PA, only 2 years removed from a .368 wOBA in almost 4 times as many PA, and he absolutely demolishes right-handed pitching.  Branyan also has a career BB rate of 11.9%, and has 8 career HR in just 47 AB at the new Yankee Stadium, so on paper he fits the mold for what the Yankees would be looking for out of a lefty platoon DH.

His major drop off in production last year is a legitimate concern given the fact that he's 36 years old, but that risk is eliminated by the deal being non-guaranteed.  While we're all sitting around debating the pros and cons of guys like Ibanez and Damon and Chavez, Cash went out and brought in a guy who could be better than all of them for next to nothing.  Total fucking ninja move.

(Ninja Cash strikes again!)

Yanks Looking To Move A.J. To Make Room For Chavez?

In The Post this morning, Joel Sherman provided an update on where the Yankees' financial/roster filling priorities are right now, and included certain language implying that the amount of money they'd be willing to eat on A.J.'s contract has gone way up as a way to make those priorities happen.

"The perception has been that the Yankees have less than $2 million to sign a lefty-swinging designated hitter with free agents Eric Chavez, Johnny Damon, Raul Ibanez and Hideki Matsui forming the field. Nevertheless, what the Yankees want to do most is sign Chavez and one of the DH types. 

Owner Hal Steinbrenner already has expanded his budget once this offseason to allow the signing of Hiroki Kuroda. He has yet to say the Yankees can do so again in order to sign even one additional player, much less two. This is why the Yankees are quietly — but diligently — still working to trade A.J. Burnett.

They know no team will take all of Burnett’s remaining two years at $33 million. But if they could save, say, $4 million this year and next year, it would provide some wiggle room to finish off their roster heading into spring training."

At first glance, I can get on board with this idea.  Moving A.J., at any price, does provide some payroll relief and sets up a classic "two birds with one stone" scenario if that extra cash gives them the financial flexibility to sign the guys they want to sign to fill out the roster.  You could even make the argument that by eliminating A.J. from the pitching stockpile right now, the Yankees are killing a 3rd bird by starting to clear up the 5th starter/back of the bullpen picture.

But if they are really dead set on sticking to their budget, I would question the tactic of splitting the freed up money on Chavez and another DH.  Chavez was only mildly productive in his limited role last season, and as a caddy to A-Rod at 3rd he's not particularly valuable because he's almost as likely to get hurt as The Horse is.  I'd rather see that role filled by the likes of Nunez and Brandon Laird and allow the extra money to be used to sign someone like Johnny Damon for closer to what he's looking for rather than wait for his, or anybody else's, price to come down to $2 million.  It's only going to be for a 1-year deal anyway, so whether you're talking $2 mil or $4-5 mil it really won't affect anything from a long-term payroll standpoint.

Not Bill Hall

From a baseball perspective, I get the deal.  He can play multiple positions, he's got some pop with the bat, and at just 600 thou for a non-guaranteed MiL deal (according to Ken Rosenthal) he's the definition of a low-risk signing.  I certainly don't expect him to reach any of his PA performance marks, and he has an out clause if he's not on the Opening Day roster.  It's basically the same move the Yanks made with Ron Belliard last season, and it seems to be the Yankees' new MO when looking to fill out the roster.

From a personal perspective, COME ON!!!  Really?!?  Bill Hall??  That's the best they could come up with??  Bill Hall fucking blows.  His .211/.261/.314 line last year makes Ramiro Pena look like Hanley Ramirez.  And a .252 wOBA?  Are you kidding me???  I feel like I'm looking at my career Little League numbers when I look at Hall's 2011 line, and remember, I quit baseball to play lacrosse.

Think about it this way.  Eduardo Nunez was worth -0.6 fWAR last year in 338 PA for the Yankees.  In 139 fewer PA, Hall managed to put together -1.6 fWAR.  He was worth an entire loss on his own compared to Nunez in far less playing time.  That's not just sucking, that's next level sucking right there.  I don't root for guys to get hurt, but man, I really hope Bill Hall gets hurt in Spring Training.

(Brewers fans know what I'm talking about.)