Monday, December 15, 2008

Baseball Prospectus Needs Some TARP Funds

Joe Sheehan and Jay Jaffe both HATED that the Yankees did not offer arbitratrion to Bobby Abreu and Andy Pettitte. The gist of their argument was that arbitration meant either 1 year of a good player or draft picks, and if the Yankees wouldn't mind either of them on their team, then they turned assets into dust.

But they forgot to look at the other side of the coin. Abreu and Pettitte could be assets or they could be liabilities. The two players each made $16 million each last year. In arbitration they could easily earn $18 million each. Let's look at the opportunity cost of each.

Abreu's offensive has been steadily declining since his then-record-setting performance at the 2005 Home Run Derby, but he's still pretty good at the plate. His defense, however, is terrible. I'll leave the sabrmetric analysis for others, but with Damon, Melky/Gardner (or now Cameron), and Nady as full-time outfielders and Swisher and Matsui as backups, the Yankees hardly need a declining expensive OF taking playing time away from better younger players.

The case with Andy is even simpler. The Yankees knew that Pettitte only wanted to play for the Yankees. That leaves him with no leverage. Cashman wanted to give Andy a paycut, so offering arbitration would just be throwing money at him.

And the final argument is that Cashman knew what we didn't; that the Yankees were going to put the full-court press on CC Sabathia and A.J. Burnett both. Knowing that, tying up $36 million in two players who are not the solution to the Yankees' problems would be dumb*. Fiscal responsibility, folks. It's a good thing.

* Now, none of us knew that, and of course Sheehan and Jaffe didn't know it when they wrote their posts. I disagreed with them well before Cashman signed CC and A.J., but I'm a slow blogger.
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