Friday, November 18, 2005

Mike Lupica is a Jackass: Chapter Two

Guess who's back with another asinine column? Why it's New York's Premeire Sports Writerâ„¢, that's who!
Yank focus way off center

They can do better than Giles

Awesome. We're not even through the headline and already I'm convinced Lupica has no idea what he's talking about. This could be fun.

There is no more glamorous piece of real estate in all of sports, not one, than center field at Yankee Stadium. It belonged to Joe DiMaggio once, and Mickey Mantle. For a long, proud, classy run, that real estate has belonged to Bernie Williams. Now we read and hear that Williams' successor out there might be Brian Giles of the Padres. We hear that the Yankees have searched far and wide and that Giles just might be their man. If that is true, they need another search committee.

Yes, Giles may be a stopgap in center. However, there aren't a lot of good centerfielders available, Mike. How about you list some? Juan Pierre? You want to do the Cano-for-Hunter swap? And yes, the Yankees have had a lot of great centerfielders. They've also had a lot of crappy centerfielders. Besides, who says Giles has to play center? Torre said he may play Matsui in center, and Cash said he may play Bubba Crosby in center. Signing Giles doesn't change either of those. Hopefully it lets Sheffield DH.

Giles is a tough out, and a gamer. He had some big years for bad Pirates teams once. There was a season when he played 108 games in center field for the Pirates, even though this would be difficult to prove, since nobody has actually seen the Pirates in years.

Oh ho, you got us there. Discount those games in center because you didn't see the Pirates.

Brian Giles' last big year with the bat was 2002, when he hit 38 home runs and knocked in 103. Last year he hit 15 home runs for the Padres, in 158 games and 545 at-bats. That is a lot of home runs to misplace in just three years, even playing half his games in that new ballpark in San Diego.

No it isn't. If a guy's HR rates go up if he's traded to the Rockies, you'd be the first to blame park factors. My guess though is if you don't know a lot about the Pirates, you probably aren't an expert on the Padres or their stadium either. Besides, why are you just picking home runs? There are far more important stats.. OBP, SLG, OPS... Yes, his HR totals dipped slightly, but when you play in a park like that even on the road expect home run totals to dip a bit because you're not playing long ball. It's difficult to adjust your approach depending on where you are. You know though? That's my opinion. Why don't I instead provide you with some facts:
Giles' OPS+ since 1999 (his first qualifying season):
1999: 157
2000: 158
2001: 153
2002: 173
2003: 148
2004: 126
2005: 148

Except for 2 aberrations (a monster 2002 and a sub par for his standards but still very acceptable 2004) his numbers aren't all that different. But yes. His home run totals went down. Continue.

But it is all around that the Yankees are so sweet on Giles that Joe Torre wants to recruit him, and that the team is prepared to pay him the rather insane amount of $33 million over the next three seasons.

How is that an "insane amount"? $11M per for one of the best hitters in baseball? Ok, I'm about to throw some "crazy stats" at you, Mike. Ones I'm sure you've never heard of, such as WSAB (Win Shares above bench). If you take Giles 23 Win Shares (according to the Bill James Handbook) and then calculate them vs. how much players on average make per win generated for their team (I could go into a long discussion explaining how all of this works, but that would be an article in and of itself. If you're interested, Hardball Times is a good starting place) you'd see that $11M is cheap. The average FA made $1.3M per WSAB. A net share win value of $0 would mean you performed exactly up to your contract expectation. Giles in 2005 had a net win share value of $13,298,869, which when combined with his salary of $8,333,333 would equal a real world value of $21,632,202. Ok so James predicts a drop off in WSAB in 2006 for Giles to 18. Runnin the same figures, should Giles exactly match James' prediction, his net win shares would be $7,735,285 at a salary of $11M. How is a guy who is paid $11M per year but produces at a rate of $18,735,285 a bad investment?

Only around here does that make perfect sense. Giles is getting up there in years, he's already had the best years he's going to have in the big leagues, and he's expensive. Historically, that has made guys like him irresistible to the Yankees.

How much do you want to bet it makes sense to other teams as well? I mean the Padres offered him 3 years at $21M. The Padres. This is the team that never pays anyone. They offered him a cut in salary. It was a below market offer. I'll guarantee you Giles gets at minimum two other offers that match or beat $11M per for 3 or 4 years from other teams besides the Yankees.

Maybe Giles would come here and play a swell center field, be on base all the time. But to get this overheated this fast about a potential Yankee center fielder who's not even a center fielder - who's only played 36 games in center over the past four seasons - makes you wonder how different the new, user-friendly Yankee front office is from the old dysfunctional Yankee front office.

There is no guarantee Giles would play centerfield. Why is that stuck in your head? And do you offer up another viable solution? Corey Patterson?

I keep hearing that Torre really likes Giles. Why? And how much has he seen him lately? The last time Giles played in the American League was 1998, when he hit 16 home runs and knocked in 66 for the Indians. Whatever he was doing at the time sure must have rung the skipper's bell. That and whatever he saw of Giles on DirecTV last season.

Torre's probably seen as much of Giles as you have of the Pirates. Oh, by the way though, Torre isn't the general manager and isn't negotiating contracts. He calls the FA that he's asked to. The guy went golfing with Albert Belle to try and woo him, for crying out loud.

"He's a baseball player," a manager who has managed against Giles for a long time said yesterday.

Ok, this is one of my favorite quotes of all time. You hear it constantly to describe someone. It's supposed to be a compliment to the way the guy goes about his job. But you never hear "that guy John, who drives the bus? He's a bus driver. A real bus driver." But I digress.

"He can still hit and he'll walk a lot. But he's a right fielder. If he's not a right fielder, he's a left fielder. What he's not is a center fielder."

It is why this can't be the end of the star search.

We are only halfway through November. This is clearly a year when the trade market is better than the free agent market. The Yankees can't possibly have decided that Giles, who wasn't a regular center fielder in San Diego, is the best possible choice to be the next center fielder at the Stadium.

Again, please suggest something better, and please show where anyone has said Giles will be in CF.

Johnny Damon faded down the stretch for the Red Sox last season. After he hurt his shoulder, he made Bernie seem as if he had Vlad Guerrero's arm in comparison. And Damon still fits what the Yankees need - he's an actual leadoff man, for one thing - more than Giles ever could.

........ did I just get that right? You want Johnny Damon? You think Giles isn't worth $11M per for 3 years, but are ok with Damon's demand of $40/4 yrs? You say Giles is an "aging ballplayer whose best days are behind him and then you suggest... Johnny Damon? You think Johnny Damon is a "actual leadoff man?" The Yankees already have an actual leadoff man. His name is Derek Jeter. Damon's WSAB was 13 in 2005. He was worth $13.7M in real dollars. That's $8M less than Giles was worth.

Reportedly it's Giles' .423 on-base percentage that is one of the things making Torre and Brian Cashman weak at the knees. Is that all it takes to get big Yankee money now? Or maybe they have this idea that you can plug any decent outfielder into center at the Stadium these days. That's the kind of thinking that sent Tony Womack out there last season, for about 20 minutes, anyway.

.....again, what? You have a problem with Giles getting on base? And you know, if Womack had a .423 OBP, he'd still be playing OF for the Yankees on a daily basis and this would be a moot point.

The Yankees just overpaid Hideki Matsui. I like Matsui a lot. They still gave him too much money and too many years. Now there seems to be a pretty good chance that they might be ready to overpay Giles. The Yankees keep saying they are going to change when it comes to throwing money around. Maybe they can't.

They're not throwing it at bad players. A lot of money just came off the books. Would you trade Kevin Brown and Bernie Williams for Giles and Matsui if you also got and additional $6M per year in payroll of the books?

The Yankees need to get younger, they need to get faster, they need to move Derek Jeter back to No. 2 in the batting order. And they need a pure center fielder who can go get it. Giles is a solid player, an All-Star player once, a splashy hire for the Padres when they got him in 2003. But if you think he covers any of those Yankee needs, send up a flare.

If they need to get younger, why are you advocating Damon? Why does Jeter need to go back to the 2-hole? His production as a leadoff hitter has been outstanding. In fact, his numbers leading off are better than those in the 2 spot. No, he doesn't cover your listed "needs." However, those needs are irrelevant because you're a jackass. Giles was #3 in the NL in WSAB last year. Numbers 1 and 2? Pujols and Lee. I'd say that he's better than an "All-Star player once."

When you first heard the Yankees might be interested in Giles, the next thing you heard was that he might not want to come East, being a Southern California kid. At this point, Giles' agent, Joe Bick, nearly tore a rotator cuff reaching for the phone and telling anybody who would listen that this couldn't possibly be further from the truth. Bick is no fool, not when there is Yankee money on the table suddenly.

Always remember what another owner said once about that:

"There is Yankee money and then there is everybody else's."

Ok, I'll keep that in mind, chief!

Cashman has been saying for months that the Yankees can't just throw money at their problems anymore. He was still saying that when the Yankees were out of the playoffs and Aaron Rowand, the White Sox center fielder, was catching everything he saw in the ALCS and then in the World Series.

Another thing the Yankees say is that they want to cut payroll. Apparently what that means is they wait for old bad contracts to come off the books before they start offering new ones.

New contracts? Because a 3 year deal for a stud player isn't a bad contract.

My prediction anyway is that you're going to see Pavano as a Dodger and Bradley as a Yankee, or Pavano in a three team deal with Brad Wilkerson or Aaron Rowand as a Yankee.

In addition to Giles in RF.

You jackass.
Originally published on November 18, 2005

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posted by Mr. Faded Glory @ 7:43 AM   0 comments


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