Sunday, July 30, 2006

Breaking Down the Abreu Deal

Time to reach into the minor league stats database to help examine the Abreu/Lidle trade.

Full Name: Carl Andrew Henry
Born: May 31, 1986, Oklahoma City,Oklahoma
Height: 6-3 Weight: 205 Bats: R Throws: R
High School: Putnam City (Oklahoma City,OK)
College: None
Drafted: Selected by New York Yankees in 1st Round (17th overall) of 2005 amateur entry draft


From First Inning:

Henry is striking out in over a quarter of his plate appearances and struggling on the field during his first full season of baseball. His projection is terrible, but that's what happens when your list of similar players includes highly-touted teenagers like Scott Moore and Gookie Dawkins. He's too young and athletic to dismiss, but he probably won't have a meaningful career in the big leagues.

It should also be noted that he has committed 25 errors at shortstop this year, and has been relegated to DH in recent games. I’ve heard rumblings that he’s going to be switched to the outfield, where his bat doesn’t leave him with much value. I was high on Henry when they drafted him in 2005, but have wizened up over the course of this season.

Full Name: Matthew J. Smith
Born: June 15, 1979 Las Vegas, Nevada
Height: 6-5 Weight: 225 Bats: L Throws: L
High School: n/a
College: Southwest Missouri State University
Drafted: Selected by Chicago White Sox in 44th Round (1310th overall) of 1997 amateur entry draft


I’m actually sadder to see Smith go than Henry. With the evidence mounting that T.J. Beam just won’t be able to cut it this year, Smith could have been an adequate replacement. The only drawback of his 12 scoreless Major League innings is the high walk rate, something that will inevitably drop from 6.00. On the other hand, his home runs allowed has climbed with each successive level, meaning he might be due for some clobbering at the Major League level.

For the bounty of Abreu and Lidle, the sacrifice of Smith and Henry seems like a steal – and it is. On pace for just 13 homers this season, Abreu may have lost a little pop. But the Yankee Stadium porch in right field is 16 feet closer than that of Citizens Bank Park, so he might finish ahead of his current pace.

The real ramifications of this trade lie a month ahead, when Sheffield and Matsui are projected return. Everyone’s doing it, so I might as well point out the potential lineup for September and beyond.

1. Damon – CF
2. Jeter – SS
3. Giambi – 1B
4. Rodriguez – 3B
5. Abreu – RF
6. Sheffield – DH
7. Matsui – LF
8. Posada – C
9. Cano – 2B

As our foes in Boston would say, that is one wicked good lineup. Pitching is still an issue, but this lineup will help compensate for that shortcoming. An underrated aspect of the trade is how it will improve our bench for the stretch run. Much as I’ve liked Guiel, he’s not going to make the cut, nor is He of the .557 OPS. Melky and Bernie will serve as backup outfielders and more than capable pinch-hitters. Cairo will backup the infield, Phillips at first and Fasano behind the plate. Compare the potential bench this year with that of last year:

Tony WomackIF.249.276.280Miguel CairoIF.235.271.299
Ruben SierraDH/OF.229.265.371Bernie WilliamsOF/DH.280.326.428
Bubba CrosbyOF.276.304.327Melky CabreraOF.281.353.392
John FlahertyC.165.206.252Sal FasanoC.243.284.386
Andy Phillips1B/IF.239.272.401

So the deal shores up both the starting nine and the bench. For the pitching staff, Cory Lidle may not be a savior in disguise, but he’s decent. We need a fourth starter, and Lidle provides just that. As I post his stats, take into consideration that he pitches his home games at Citizen’s Bank Park, which would be the most favorable park to hitters if they didn’t play games in Denver.


You’d think that with peripherals like that, Lidle would be much better suited pitching in a more neutral park like Yankee Stadium. Fourteen of his 19 homers allowed this year have come at Citizen’s Bank Park.

This leaves the rotation at Johnson, Mussina, Wang, Lidle, Wright.

The final aspect of this trade is the bullpen, which pretty much stays the same. Ponson, Myers, Villone, Proctor, Farnsworth, Rivera. This will be in addition to Wright when (if?) the playoffs roll around. It’s scary, though, knowing that if we make the playoffs, Cory Lidle or Jaret Wright will be called on to start.

As for the rest of the pieces surrendered, well, let’s just say the projections on them aren’t high. Jesus Sanchez .264/.343/.319 with 19 strikeouts to 9 walks in 91 AB in rookie ball. That isn’t great, but not terrible for an 18-year-old catcher. You never like to see the team let go of a young catcher, but at 18 years of age, it’s tough to project how he’ll develop. Plus, the Yankees seem to have a plan for their catcher of the future.

Carlos Monasterios, a right hander from the GCL Yankees, is the final throw-in for the trade. He has pitched 30 1/3 innings this year, notching a 2.97 ERA. Control has been his most impressive attribute; he has walked only three batters all season (0.89 per nine innings in a small sample size). Other than basic stats, there’s not much literature on Monasterios.

There’s really no room for complaining here. The Yanks instantly got better without giving up anything of real value. The crux of the deal was in the money owed to both Lidle and Abreu. Thankfully, Lidle is off the books after this year, and while Abreu may command some serious dollars next year – $15 million plus a $2 million buyout on his $16 mil 2008 option – he’s not going to hinder the Yankees payroll situation much.

For a few additional takes:

Peter Abraham has some dirt on the move:

Torre said that Bernie will go back to the role they intended to use him in: occasional DH, pinch hitter and fill-in outfielder.

I did a little jig when I read that.

Ben at Sportszilla and the Jabber Jocks has a similar take on Lidle:

Corey Lidle might be the key component in the trade however. Lidle’s K rate has jumped to 7.04 this year, his career mark is 5.68, but his walks have increased as well leaving him with a 2.51 K/BB. His GB/FB is okay a 1.57, but in Philly where homers rule, that wasn’t going to fly. Overall that left him with a 4.74 ERA and 1.36 WHIP. He’ll be helped by moving to Yankee Stadium which is a better park to pitch in than Citizen’s Bank, but hurt by the DH. Overall, posting an ERA in the low to mid 4.00’s is probably where Lidle should end up. That represents a huge upgrade over even Jaret Wright and certainly over Sidney Ponson.

On paper, it's all peaches. Now they just have to play the games.