New York Yankees

Alex Rodriguez May Miss Quarter Of Season

12:54pm: I am starting to think that the risk involved makes A-Rod a pretty bad late first/early second round pick.  ESPN's Stephania Bell suggests his recovery time could be longer than ten weeks depending on the details of the injury.  You have to have certainty with your first-round pick.

10:48am: Got a fantasy draft today?  You might want to hold off on that A-Rod pick - Rodriguez's brother told ESPN's Enrique Rojas he'll miss about 10 weeks due to hip surgery.  That'd put his return date around May 15th, so he'd miss a quarter of the season.

Now if we simply multiply A-Rod's projected stats by 3/4, his value goes from $32.04 (fifth overall) to $16.43 (41st among position players).  So if you got the $16.43 and nothing else you'd probably want to draft him around the 4th round.  And even then you'd be taking a risk that he does make it back by May 15th.

However, you would have A-Rod in the DL slot and would conceivably be able to get replacement level production from another third baseman.  For this example we'll use Mike Lowell (ironic, kind of).   Let's combine 139 ABs of Lowell with 417 of A-Rod.

This A-Rod/Lowell hybrid would be projected to hit .287-33-108-104-14 in 556 ABs.  Don't worry about Lowell and his own health issues specifically - use Melvin Mora or some other replacement-level 3B if you want.

Anyway, this hybrid player is worth $25.19, valued at 10th among position players and worthy of late first round consideration.

Problems with this approach: there is a negative value to clogging up a DL spot for a quarter of the year, and we don't know exactly when A-Rod will return or if he'll be 100% when he does.  But in my mind, a late first round/early second round pick of A-Rod is justified if he is indeed to return in mid-May.

Girardi Wants 30 Starts For Joba

Yankees manager Joe Girardi wants 30 starts for Joba Chamberlain, and ESPN's Rob Neyer has already weighed in on how unlikely that is.

You may recall that our panel of experts predicted, on average, 143 innings for Joba in 2009.  That alone makes him the 18th best fantasy starter, without factoring in replacement-level inning you can get if he hits the DL.  Great value with the 100th pick (9th round).

Just for fun, though, what could Chamberlain do in 30 starts?  Assuming 5.44 innings per, that's 163.33 innings.  He'd be worth $24.58, 10th among starters.  163 innings isn't that crazy - Will Carroll predicted 175, and Peter Abraham went with 160.

Fantasy Effect Of A-Rod's Steroid Use?

As you know, Alex Rodriguez admitted to using steroids from 2001-03.  Does this matter for fantasy baseball players drafting for 2009?

If Rodriguez lied in today's interview with Peter Gammons and has been using performance-enhancing drugs in recent seasons, there's no particular reason to think he'll stop for 2009.  If he was truthful, then he's been able to put up massive numbers without steroids.  Either way, we can't let the 2001-03 usage affect our 2009 projections.

The other factor is psychological.  Rodriguez is said to be sensitive, so people wonder if added media pressure and taunts from opposing fans could affect him.  My opinion is that the added hoopla won't change anything - even with the steroid stuff, it would be hard for A-Rod to garner more attention that he already gets.  The Red Sox fan holds up an A-Roid sign instead of some other insult, and the reporter asks about roids instead of Joe Torre or Madonna.  Same difference, is my guess.  If A-Rod does happen to have an off year, I don't think it will be fair to attribute it to the steroid stuff.

Rodriguez currently has an average draft position of 2.38; he's gone no later than fifth.  Maybe this will push people to start drafting Albert Pujols ahead of A-Rod, but I'd be surprised to see Rodriguez drop several spots.  Bottom line, this probably won't make A-Rod a draft bargain and if you were going to draft him you should continue to do so.

Joba Chamberlain's 2009 Innings

Recently a reader pointed out a bold projection from Ron Shandler and company at Baseball HQ: 199 innings for Joba Chamberlain in 2009.  Most forecasters agree that Joba's ERA, WHIP, and K/9 will be very strong in '09, but with that innings total you'd have to consider him a top five fantasy starter.  Mock drafters are taking Chamberlain in the 9th round on average, indicating concern that his innings will be limited by the Yankees, his health, or a midseason move to the 'pen.

I asked eleven of my favorite baseball writers to predict Chamberlain's 2009 regular season Major League innings total.  Here are the results:

The average comes to 142.9 innings.  If Joba pitches 143 innings, I'd rank him 18th among fantasy starters - after Cliff Lee but before Rich Harden.  It's quite conceivable that Chamberlain could have more fantasy value (in just 143 innings) than John Lackey, Felix Hernandez, Scott Kazmir, and Daisuke Matsuzaka, who are all being drafted before him.

As we mentioned in the Max Scherzer post, Chamberlain will probably pitch well if he's healthy and hit the disabled list otherwise.  If he's on the DL, you can take the best available waiver wire arm.   143 innings from Joba plus 50 from the waiver wire probably equals a top ten starter.  Scherzer, Harden, and Randy Johnson may be underrated in a similar fashion.

Mark Teixeira Signing Analysis

The Yankees made another huge move today, signing Mark Teixeira for $180 million.  Let's talk about the fantasy effects.

I had Tex at something like .298-33-114-97-2 in 2009, which would put him fifth among first basemen and among the top 25 hitters drafted.  I'm not sure how the new Yankee Stadium will play, but I don't see it causing a big difference.  It's also indeterminate whether Tex will see increased RBI chances as a Yankee.  With the Braves he hit behind Chipper Jones, who got on base 47% of the time.  With the Angels he followed lower OBP types.

Tex batted with 355 runners on base in 2008, 95th in the game.  Five Yankee players batted with more in '08, so that indicates maybe he will get more chances.  Still, I'm not comfortable counting on a player driving in more than 115 runs.

Right now it seems that the Teixeira signing reduces playing time for the group of Hideki Matsui, Johnny Damon, Xavier Nady, and Nick Swisher.  However, it would not be surprising to see the Yanks trade one of them.

Unless the Angels go get someone, it's Kendry Morales at first base to start 2009.  With a Major League Equivalent of .276/.316/.429, it's hard to get excited.  I suppose he could approach 20 HR with 550 ABs.

The Teixeira signing seemingly makes the Nationals more likely to pursue Adam Dunn.  There would be a ballpark effect - his two home parks in '08 inflated left-handed HRs greatly while Nationals park suppresses them significantly.  Maybe Dunn's raw power overrides that somewhat though.

All in all I don't see a huge fantasy effect from this signing.  Most likely the Yankee Hype Effect pushes Teixeira from his current 14.23 average draft position into the first round.  I wouldn't take him there.

A 3.35 ERA For Phil Hughes?

I've been having fun with the Bill James projections, which you can purchase for $9.95 here.  Today let's take a look at some interesting starters they project to post an ERA under 4.00 in 2009.

  • Barry Zito - 3.94
  • Tim Wakefield - 3.91
  • Jonathan Sanchez - 3.90
  • Jorge Campillo - 3.86
  • Pedro Martinez - 3.36
  • Phil Hughes - 3.35

A few of those are quite bold.  Hughes may be the Yankees' sixth starter heading into 2009, but they have him third in ERA in the American League.  How do they think he'll pull this off?  With an 8.8 K/9, 3.3 BB/9, 0.65 HR/9, and 7.92 H/9.  Hughes has not demonstrated those skills in his 106.2 big league innings.

As for Pedro, projection systems can't understand he had major surgery and isn't the same pitcher.  Most of you incorporate gut feel when crafting your fantasy teams, and this is a great example why that's necessary.

Nomo to the Yankees? Is This a Joke?

With their starting rotation in dire straits, the New York Yankees have signed Hideo Nomo and will be sending him to AAA in hopes of getting him ready to make some starts.  With Al Leiter and Hideo Nomo, it seems that the team is starting a collection of the worst starting pitchers in baseball.  Consider their combined stats this season:

Aldeo Leitmo
Record:  9-16
194 IP
6.82 ERA
1.77 WHIP

Based on these acquisitions, The Roto Authority expects to see trading deadline deals for Eric Milton (former Yankee), Jose Lima, and Sidney Ponson.  Needless to say, The Roto Authority recommends against adding these players to your starting rotation.

For more Yankee rotation dissing, David Pinto's thoughts on Al Leiter over at Baseball Musings. 

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