Roy Halladay

Your Monday Morning Power Rankings

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The rain really messed with stuff last week. There were so many close calls on the rankings that would have been way easier to make if there was one more game in a given series, but a ton of teams had a game — or two — scratched.  Oh well. April showers and all of that. Anyway:

1. Phillies (2): I had a hard time deciding whether to knock the Rockies to number two and elevate the Phillies to the top spot. Yeah, it was a bit of a rough week for the Rockies, but they were facing the world champs and the hot Marlins. It was likewise a great weekend for the Phillies but, dudes, it was the Padres. And the Phillies are still struggling offensively. At the moment I tend to think that each of these teams are strong yet imperfect, and I believe that the differences between them are pretty small from an overall Power Rankings perspective. But ultimately I think the Phillies are better suited for the long haul of the season and, for the moment, that will serve as a tie-breaker.

2. Rockies (1): See above.

3. Yankees (6): An off day and a postponement made for a short week, but at their age they can use the time off.

4. Rangers (3): Neftali Feliz on the DL is bad news. If Ron Washington’s usual bullpen preferences win out, Feliz will be replaced by a bullpen-by-committee featuring C.J. Wilson, Derek Holland and Matt Harrison.

5. Marlins (9): Hanley Ramirez continues to struggle, but the Feesh are doing just fine without his contributions at the moment.

6. Indians (4): Because I’m often too lazy to actually log on to MLB.tv, I end up watching more Indians games than anyone else’s. And I gotta admit: they’ve been fun to watch. Even if the winning doesn’t keep up — which I don’t think it will — it’s been great to watch the development of Carlos Santana and Asdrubal Cabrera as well as a resurgent Grady Sizemore.  It’s just an interesting team to watch, which I didn’t anticipate before the season began.

7. Royals (4): Kila Ka’aihue is struggling. Meanwhile, Eric Hosmer is hitting .380 as a 21 year-old in his first go-around at AAA.  You don’t need to be a MacArthur Grant recipient in order to have the sort of creativity required to solve this predicament.

8. Angels (8): I assume the bad series against the Red Sox is a form of mourning for the departure of Brandon Wood.

9. Cardinals (10): The bullpen is still a problem, but taking two of three from the rival Reds is a nice pick-me-up.

10. Brewers (12): Two of three from Philly, two of three from Houston and their star left fielder locked up for a decade. Not a bad week.

11. Reds (7): Miguel Cairo steps in for Scott Rolen for a couple of weeks. I always want to mock when Cairo gets more playing time than he deserves — which seems to happen a lot — but then he does stuff like hit the go-ahead RBI on Saturday night. And it’s not like Rolen was tearing up the pea patch or anything.

12. Tigers (19): I’ve moved them up a lot because they’ve won, but let’s keep in mind that the wins this past week came against the bottom two teams in our Power Rankings.

13.  Giants (11): Brian Wilson’s ERA is 9.82.

14. Rays (18): Hard to find a pitcher who had a better week than James Shields.

15. Blue Jays (13): If there were any illusions on the part of Jays fans about their team’s prospects of challenging in the East, they can look back at the last week and change and note that they lost three of four to Boston, split two with the Yankees and lost two of three to Tampa Bay. No, they aren’t there yet.

16. Dodgers (24): The Dodgers have taken well to being wards of the state, taking three of four from Atlanta and two of three from the Cubs.

17. Athletics (15): The two losses against the Mariners may seem bad on the surface, but they came against Felix Hernandez and Michael Pineda. There are a lot of teams that are going to go through that experience over the next couple of years.

18. Red Sox (29): Winners of eight of ten including five straight on the road, with most of those wins coming in convincing fashion.  Yeah, I think the Red Sox are gonna be just fine.

19. Braves (17): Are they the listless and feeble team that got pwned by the Dodgers early last week or are they the explosive and opportunistic team that swept the defending world champs in San Francisco over the weekend?

20. Cubs (16): They may have looked OK against the punchless Padres, but they gave up 27 runs in three games to the Dodgers.

21. Nationals (21): Another team with two postponements in the past week. I sure hope the makeup games don’t end up tiring out the pitching staff before the playoffs begin.

22. Pirates (22): The Pirates got creamed by the Marlins early in the week. They bounced back nicely, however, when a random fan wearing a Pirates shirt was sitting along the left field line at Busch Stadium during last night’s Reds-Cardinals game, got a foul ball and then proceeded to thump his chest and yell “Pirates rule!”  The fire still burns inside for some fans.

23. Mets (27): Four wins in a row for the Mets, an off day today and a week in which the biggest gloomy off-the-field news did not involve them. Ya think they’ll get one day without anyone in the press slamming them?

24. Diamondbacks (25): They get three at home against Philly starting tonight. Except they’re flying back from New York while Philly was in San Diego, chilling on Pacific time and likely relaxing in Phoenix before the Dbacks were. Probably doesn’t matter in the grand scheme of things, but I always wonder what about a home game makes it the most advantageous for the players. The beds they sleep in? Travel fatigue? Crowd? Familiar surroundings?

25. Orioles (20): Well, I guess it was a better week than the week they had before. But man, not good. 21 runs given up to the Yankees in two days.

26. Twins (28): My kids’ school sends home letters when epidemics of various stripes are floating around. Strep throat, head lice, that sort of thing. With all that has ailed the Twins so far this year I suppose their moms are getting the same sorts of letters. But hey, three wins in a row suggest that maybe things are looking up.

27. Astros (26): No one has given up more runs than the Astros have (123).

28. Padres (23): No one has scored fewer runs than the Padres have (63).

29. White Sox (14): They’ve lost 10 of 11 and have tumbled down the Power Rankings accordingly.

30. Mariners (30): They have the worst record and the worst run differential in baseball. They’ve earned this.

The Yankees are paying $86 million for a one-inning reliever

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OXON HILL, MD — The Yankees signing of Aroldis Chapman late Wednesday night came as something of a surprise. And the money — $86 million — was something of a shock. Yes, we knew that Chapman was going to break the bank and likely set a record as the highest paid relief pitcher in history, but seeing it in black and white like that is still rather jarring.

In the coming days, many people who attempt to analyze and contextualize this signing will do so by pointing to the 2016 playoffs and the unconventional use of relievers by Terry Francona and the Indians and Joe Maddon of the Cubs. They’ll talk about how the paradigm of bullpen use has shifted and how relief pitchers have taken on a new importance in today’s game. Chapman’s astronomical salary, therefore, will be described as somehow more reasonable and somewhat less shocking than it first seems.

Don’t buy that jive for a second.

Yes, Andrew Miller and, to some extent, Chapman himself were used unconventionally in the 2016 playoffs, but not long into the 2017 season we will see that as an exception, not the rule. And not just because Chapman showed himself unable to hold up to that level of use in the playoffs. It will be the exception because the Yankees have shown no inclination whatsoever to deviate from traditional bullpen usage in the past and there is no reason to expect that they will do so with Chapman in the future.

As you no doubt remember, the Yankees had Chapman, Dellin Betances and Andrew Miller for the first half of 2016. Such an imposing back end of a bullpen has rarely been seen in recent history. All of them, however, were used, more or less, as one-inning-a-piece guys and no real effort was ever made to break any bullpen usage paradigms or to shorten games the way many applauded Terry Francona for doing in the playoffs.

Miller pitched 44 games for the Yankees, totaling 45.1 innings. He pitched more than a single inning on only three occasions. Chapman pitched 31 games for the Yankees, amassing 31.1 innings. He was used for more than one inning only twice. Betances worked in 73 games, totaling 73 innings. On 11 occasions he pitched more than one inning.  It was unconventional for a team to have three relievers that good, but they were not, in any way, used unconventionally. Nor is there any reason to expect Chapman to be used unconventionally in 2017, especially given that Miller is not around and Chapman has shown no real ability to be stretched for multiple innings for a sustained period.

None of which is to say that having Chapman around is a bad thing or that he is any less of a closer than his reputation suggests. It’s merely to say that the Yankees paying Chapman unprecedented money for a closer should not be justified by the alleged new importance of relief pitchers or that changing role for them we heard so much about in the playoffs. Indeed, I suspect that that changing role applies only to pitcher use in the playoffs. And I do not suspect that this transaction alone pushes the Yankees into serious playoff contention, making that temporary unconventionality something of a moot point in New York for the foreseeable future.

It is almost certain that the Yankees are paying $86 million for the same one-inning closer Aroldis Chapman has been for his entire seven-year career. His contract may or may not prove to be a good one for New York based on how he performs, but don’t let anyone tell you now, in Decemeber 2016, that it’s better than you think because Chapman will somehow transform into a 1970s-style relief ace or something.

Report: Yankees sign Aroldis Chapman to a five-year, $86 million deal

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Update (12:02 AM EST): Rosenthal adds that Chapman’s contract includes an opt-out clause after three seasons, a full no-trade clause for the first three years of the contract, and a limited no-trade clause for the final two years.

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Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports that the Yankees have signed closer Aroldis Chapman to a five-year, $86 million contract. Mark Melancon recently set the record for a contract earned by a reliever at $62 million over four years. Chapman blew that out of the water and many are surprised he didn’t fetch more.

Chapman, 28, began the 2016 season with the Yankees but he was traded to the Cubs near the end of July in exchange for four prospects. The Cubs, of course, would go on to win the World Series in large part due to Chapman. The lefty finished the regular season with a 1.55 ERA, 36 saves, and a 90/18 K/BB ratio in 58 innings between the two teams.

Chapman was the best reliever on the free agent market and, because he was traded midseason, he didn’t have draft pick compensation attached to him.

The Yankees don’t seem to be deterred by Chapman’s domestic violence issue from last offseason, resulting in a 30-game suspension to begin the 2016 regular season.