Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Cause For Concern With Matt Thornton

(Courtesy of FanGraphs.  Click to enlarge)

That graph shows Matt Thornton's career K/9 trends.  As you can see, it's broken down by K/9 against right-handed and left-handed hitters and as you can see, both of those lines have been trending in the wrong direction for the last 3 seasons.

Part of what makes Thornton a bit of a risky signing is that major decrease in K rate he's experienced since 2010.  The loss of swing-and-miss stuff has made him much more susceptible to getting tuned up by right-handed hitters and since 2010 that's exactly what's happened.  In 2010 righties posted a .254 wOBA against him.  In 2011 that increased to .291, in 2012 it was .302, and this past season it was .370.

Thornton is no longer the dynamic reliever he was against hitters from both sides of the plate.  He's devolved into a lefty specialist only and there's reason to be concerned that his effectiveness against lefty hitters could start to deteriorate as well based on his downtrend in strikeouts.  It hasn't happened yet (.280 wOBA vs. lefties in 2013), but it could.  Righties have figured Thornton out now that he's not throwing the same smoke he used to.  It's not out of the realm of possibility for lefties to start doing the same.

Let's Talk About Some Prospects

(Courtesy of the AP)

(Originally published at IIATMS/TYA)

I have a confession.  I'm bored.  I'm bored talking about mediocre second and third basemen and I'm bored waiting around for the Rakuten Golden Eagles president to just embrace the inevitable and agree to post Masahiro Tanaka.  I'm bored pondering which righty reliever the Yankees will overpay to "compete" with D-Rob for the closer role next year and I'm bored wondering how or if they are going to be able to move Ichiro.

Baseball America and Baseball Prospectus have both recently released their annual top 10 Yankee prospects lists, and both have their strengths and weaknesses.  That means prospect ranking season is right around the corner, if it isn't here all ready, so I'm saying the hell with the Major League issues this morning and going with the prospects.  I still have to put the finishing touches on my top 30 ranking for this season, but for the sake of conversation and debate here's a peek into my mindset.

The Only Thing That Matters About This "Tell-All" A-Rod Book

If you were busy following the important stories about the new player signings or actually doing something constructive with your time yesterday, you might have missed this juicy nugget of gossip about A-Rod.  Apparently he's close to locking up multimillion dollar deal to publish a book that he says will dish all the “full dirt of Major League Baseball’s tactics” against him as part of his suspension.

Al.  Can I call you Al?  If you read this, I need you to know something.  I need you to know that no matter what kind of details you put in this book, the one thing that needs to be confirmed is the story of the centaur painting.  I need to know if that thing exists or not, more than I need to know how big of a scumbag Bud Selig truly is.  I've named this blog after you.  The image of you as a centaur is basically the logo of this site.  I've been one of your biggest supporters since I started AB4AR in '09 and I will continue to be for as long as there's still a chance that you can play.  After all that, I think I deserve to know the truth about the centaur painting.

And if you don't want to do it for me, that's fine.  Then do it for the kids.  And their kids.  And their kids' kids.  Do it so that future generations of Yankee fans don't have to live with the same uncertainty the rest of us live with now.  We all pretty much know the story of how your battle with MLB went down.  What we don't know, and what we need to know, is whether or not you commissioned a painting of yourself as a centaur.  It's the one chapter of the A-Rod Saga that really needs closure.

Mark Reynolds vs. Jeff Baker- Who Ya Got?

Joel Sherman threw another name into the free agent hat yesterday when he reported that the Yankees had "expressed interest" in utility man Jeff Baker.  They've been linked to him before but never made any serious moves and he actually makes a ton of sense for them right now.  They're also still linked to Mark Reynolds but it's highly unlikely they have room for both on next year's roster.  So who would you rather have?

Reynolds Career Averages: .233/.329/.464, .344 wOBA, 28.86 HR*
Baker Career Averages: .267/.321/.440, .330 wOBA, 5.33 HR*

Reynolds Career vs. LHP: .238/.359/.475, .361 wOBA
Baker Career vs. LHP: .298/.353/.522, .375 wOBA

Reynolds Career BB/K Rates: 11.6% BB/32.3% K
Baker Career BB/K Rates: 7.1% BB/24.0% K

Reynolds Defensively: Well below-average at the infield corners; hasn't played the outfield since '07
Baker Defensively: Below-average at the infield corners, well below-average at second, below-average in the outfield but capable of playing it.

Closer than you thought, right?  Reynolds provides the power and patience that fits well with the Yankee offensive model, but he's a big time hacker and a butcher in the field.  Baker is a more balanced hitter with tremendous power potential against lefties and he can play more positions, although none of them particularly well.  Take your pick, Cash.  Just don't lose out on both of them.

*- Baker has never played more than 104 games in a season.  Reynolds has never played less than 111.