Showing posts with label Ivan Nova. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Ivan Nova. Show all posts

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Can Chase Headley jump-start the Yankees in the AL East race?

The New York Yankees have a mediocre 51-48 record and a minus-30 run differential, and 80 percent of their projected starting rotation is on the disabled list.

Nevertheless, the Yankees still believe they have a shot to win this year, and they signaled as much on Tuesday when they acquired third baseman Chase Headley from the San Diego Padres in exchange for infielder Yangervis Solarte and minor-league pitcher Rafael De Paula.

You can't blame the Yankees for believing they have a chance. The AL East is no longer the strongest division in baseball. Despite its uneven play, New York sits just four games back of first-place Baltimore entering Wednesday's action.

But can Headley make an impact? The numbers suggest he will not. He has experienced a steady decline since his career year in 2012.

2012: .286/.376/.498, 31 HRs, 115 RBIs
2013: .250/.347/.400, 13 HRs, 50 RBIs
2014: .230/..296/.353, 7 HRs, 33 RBIs

There's nothing about Headley that suggests he will ever repeat his numbers from two years ago. That was a career outlier. His career slash is .266/.346/.409. He's perhaps a better hitter than he's shown this year, but it's folly to think he'll ever slug close to .500 again.

Headley has been floundering on some awful San Diego teams. He has no help in that lineup whatsoever, so there is some chance he will be resurgent in New York where he will no longer be counted upon to carry an offense. Some have noted Headley's numbers might be hurt by the pitcher-friendly confines at Petco Park. Yankee Stadium, of course, is a hitter-friendly ballpark.

However, an analysis of Headley's splits this year shows no difference in his slugging percentage home and away:

Home: .250/.301/.354, 2 HRs, 19 RBIs
Road: .209/.290/.353, 5 HRs, 14 RBIs

Headley has been a slightly better offensive player at home, in fact. I'm skeptical he'll be the game-changer the Yankees are looking for.

What New York really needs to do is add a front-line starting pitcher. The Yankees have had horrible luck this year with Masahiro Tanaka, CC Sabathia, Ivan Nova and Michael Pineda all on the disabled list. The latter three are on the 60-day DL. Brandon McCarthy has made two good starts since coming over from the Arizona Diamondbacks, but the Yankees are at least one arm, if not two, short in the starting rotation.

There are rumors the Yankees are interested in White Sox left-hander John Danks. I would think, though, that New York needs a top-of-the-rotation starter, like Cliff Lee or Cole Hamels. Danks is nothing more than a mid-rotation guy pitching with a surgically repaired shoulder at this point.

Even with Headley, I don't think New York is going to win the AL East as presently constructed. I think the Yankees need that guy to lead their pitching stuff, or else they'll be lucky to stay in the hunt for the wild card in a mediocre American League.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Masahiro Tanaka agrees to seven-year deal with Yankees

The team that needed Masahiro Tanaka the most was the team that signed him: the New York Yankees.

On Wednesday, the Yankees and Tanaka agreed on a seven-year, $155 million contract. The deal contains an opt-out clause after the fourth year. The Yankees also must pay Tanaka's Japanese team, the Rakuten Eagles, a $20 million posting fee.

I'm sure the Yankees have more than enough money to cover that, and I think their desperation to sign a potential No. 1 starter sent them to the front of the line in the Tanaka sweepstakes.

New York had already spent $283 million this offseason to bring in free agents Jacoby Ellsbury, Brian McCann and Carlos Beltran. However, there was no way the Yankees were going to overtake the Boston Red Sox in the AL East with a declining C.C. Sabathia and 39-year-old Hiroki Kuroda heading up their starting rotation. The Yankees' presumed No. 3 starter, Ivan Nova, has shown flashes been has never been both consistent and healthy for a full season. New York had to sign an ace-quality pitcher.

With Tanaka in the mix, each of those other three pitchers gets moved down a peg, and the Yankees have a better chance to win in one of baseball's toughest division. Of course, the key to the whole deal is Tanaka living up to the hype. Sure, he went 24-0 in Japan last year, but how will that translate to the United States? We shall see.

Both the Cubs and the White Sox were listed as finalists in the Tanaka race. Obviously, both teams came up short. I don't think there will be much shock on the South Side. I can't recall the White Sox ever giving a pitcher more than a five-year contract. I'd be surprised if the Sox would have been willing to give Tanaka six years, let alone the seven the Yankees gave him. Also, the Sox are not expected to contend in 2014, and perhaps that was a factor in Tanaka's decision.

The rebuilding Cubs also were in no position to offer Tanaka the chance to play for an immediate winner. I'm pretty sure the North Siders would have been willing to ante up for six or seven years, but it's questionable whether they would have been able to match or exceed the Yankees' offer. But even if they did, if you're Tanaka, who are you picking? The Yankees or the Cubs? I'd pick New York and go play for a winner.

David Kaplan tweeted today that the Cubs were "runner up" in the Tanaka bidding. If true, it's a little surprising the Cubs were ahead of the Los Angeles Dodgers, but it really doesn't matter. You know what else the Cubs were runners-up in? The NLCS in 1984 and again in 2003. There is no prize for finishing second.

As far as Tanaka goes, the Cubs are in the same boat with the Sox, the Dodgers and the Arizona Diamondbacks. They made their pitch and they lost out to the Yankees. End of story. For some, it might be disappointing, but it's not even slightly surprising.