Tag: Elvis Andrus

Elvis Andrus

It’s “doubtful” that the Yankees will get Elvis Andrus


Earlier this week it was reported that the Yankees were “intrigued” by Elvis Andrus. They will likely continue to be intrigued from afar, because they ain’t gonna get him, says Andrew Marchand:

Andrus is only 26, but he is owed $120 million over the next eight seasons and his production has declined in each of the last two years. Seems like no one you really want to give up much of anything for, and I’d assume the Rangers aren’t too interested in getting nothing in return for the guy they run out to shortstop 150+ times a year.

Derek Jeter’s replacement? Yankees “intrigued” by Rangers shortstop Elvis Andrus

Elvis Andrus

As the Yankees look for a Derek Jeter replacement Joel Sherman of the New York Post has an interesting name to consider, reporting that Rangers shortstop Elvis Andrus “has the Yankees intrigued.”

Of course, Andrus has an eight-year, $120 million contract that doesn’t even start until 2015.

Texas might be willing to trade him, however, because his performance has stagnated and they have potential replacements in Rougned Odor and Jurickson Profar.

The question would be whether Andrus’ market value has declined to the point that the Rangers would have to eat some of his contract to get a trade done or if he still has enough value to fetch a decent return along with the high salaries through 2022.

Andrus hit just .267 with six homers and a .653 OPS in 313 games during the past two seasons and both his defense and baserunning showed signs of decline this year at age 25. Do the Yankees want to be paying him $15 million per season through age 34?

Elvis Andrus has lost 10 pounds, plans to lose 10 more

Elvis Andrus

Rangers shortstop Elvis Andrus told the media on Friday that he has already lost 10 pounds and plans to lose 10 additional pounds, as Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News reports.

Obviously, it remains to be seen how the weight loss will affect Andrus, who is listed at six feet, 200 pounds on his Baseball Reference page. Among qualified shortstops, Derek Jeter was the only one to hit for less power than Andrus going by isolated power, which is slugging percentage minus batting average. Jeter came in at .057 while Andrus was found at .069. The major league average at shortstop was .112. To give a sense of scale, Edwin Encarnacion led baseball in ISO at .279. Ben Revere brought up the rear, slightly behind Jeter at .055.

In his six-year career, Andrus has yet to post an OPS better than .727. He fell all the way down to .647 during the 2014 season, and was only 27-for-42 stealing bases. He led the league having been caught stealing 15 times.

Somehow, it keeps getting worse for the A’s

Sean Doolittle

OAKLAND – The only thing more painful than hitting rock bottom is thinking you’ve hit it, only to find out there’s still more room to sink.

Surely there’s been days where the A’s have walked away from a heartbreaking defeat thinking, “At least it can’t get any worse.”

Somehow, it does.

On Wednesday, they got a sterling outing from Jeff Samardzija and took a one-run lead into the ninth with their All-Star closer taking the mound. It all crumbled, in stunning fashion, as the Texas Rangers scored six runs in the ninth and hung a 6-1 defeat on the A’s.

[INSTANT REPLAY: Rangers stun A’s with six runs in ninth]

“We’ve had a few low points here recently, but I don’t know any more so than this,” manager Bob Melvin said afterward.

Closer Sean Doolittle, after facing six hitters and getting charged with five runs on three hits and two walks, sat staring in silence for a long period before rising and addressing the throng of reporters gathered around his locker in a silent clubhouse.

“For me, and maybe the team, it’s gonna be a turning point, one way or another,” Doolittle said. “After the season’s over, are we gonna look back and point to tonight and be like, ‘This is the game where the wheels came off for good’? Or are we gonna be able to pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off, and talk about how resilient we are as a team and how we were able to overcome a game like this and still get it done?”

A very thoughtful take on the situation.

Only problem is, the A’s have already endured several of these gut-check moments where it’s put up-or-shut up time. Their offense simply can’t execute in basic run-scoring situations and create some breathing room. With no margin for error, the A’s inevitably find their way to defeat.

They’ve now suffered 26 one-run losses, their most in one year since they dropped 27 back in 1987.

They led 1-0 and had their chance to pad their lead in the eighth when they loaded the bases with no outs. But Jed Lowrie and pinch hitter Alberto Callaspo both popped up, and Geovany Soto flied out to right.

What happened next was somewhat shocking. Or was it? Doolittle, who came in having converted 21 of 24 save opportunities, gave up a one-out single to Elvis Andrus. Then Rougned Odor hit a game-tying double to the gap in left-center on a fastball that Doolittle didn’t think was a bad pitch.

But after an intentional walk to Adrian Beltre, Doolittle missed location on a 1-2 pitch to J.P. Arencibia, and the result was a three-run go-ahead homer. It took two more pitching changes before the top of the ninth, which lasted more than a half-hour, finally ended.

Offensively, the A’s went 2-for-10 with runners in scoring position.

“You look at the numbers and you would say, ‘How could this happen for this long a period based on what we’d done though the first half?” Melvin said. “But again, we just have to keep working and hopefully something breaks loose and we do some good things.”

Samardzija threw eight shutout innings, the fifth time this season he’s fired a scoreless outing. He been rewarded with zero victories in those five efforts.

“You gotta take the positives, you’ve gotta look at where we’re at as a team,” Samardzija said. “If you take a step back and look at it as a whole, after 5 ½ months, we’re right where we need to be.”

Where are they? Tied for the A.L. wild card lead with the Kansas City Royals, two games ahead of Seattle for the two wild card berths. The A’s have lost nine games in the wild card standings since Aug. 10. It’s also worth noting that they lost the season series to the Royals (2-5), so if the A’s and Royals finish the season tied as wild card leaders, the Sept. 30 wild card game will take place in Kansas City.

That speculation could be pointless. Unless the A’s find a way to reverse the direction they’re going, there won’t be much reason to even discuss postseason hypotheticals.

Money, money, money (and Bud Selig’s nirvana)

Bud Selig

You probably know that one of Bud Selig’s big objectives as commissioner of baseball was to even the playing field – that is, to give the small-market teams a chance to contend. A luxury tax was instituted. Wildcards were added to the playoffs. The amateur draft had numerous rules changed. Sure, many people thought it was all a ploy to take money from the players and give it to the owners – and let’s not be naïve, I’m sure some of it WAS a money grab – but I always thought that competitive balance really was an issue close to his heart. Selig had been a small-market owner. He had grown up a small-market baseball fan. He will talk passionately and often about how every fan should have hope on Opening Day – he borrowed that from me, by the way — and I feel sure he believes that.

Funny thing: Here at the end of his tenure, baseball is closer to Selig’s nirvana than perhaps ever before. As Brian McPherson writes in the Providence Journal, the correlation between money spent and winning is at its lowest point in a long, long time. McPherson writes that the correlation right now between wins and money is actually smaller than the correlation between wins and alphabetical order.

Why is this a funny thing?

Because, I believe the reason for whatever actual effect we are seeing is pretty directly tied to the steroid years that Selig has been running away from for more than a decade.

Before we get to that, let’s look quickly at the playoff picture. As it stands right now:

American League

East: Baltimore (15th in Opening Day payroll)

Central: Kansas City (19th)

West: Oakland (25th) and Los Angeles Angels (6th)

Wildcard No. 1: Oakland or LA

Wildcard No. 2: Seattle (18th)

National League

East: Washington (9th in Opening Day payroll)

Central: Milwaukee (16th)

West: Los Angeles Dodgers (1st)

Wildcard No. 1: St. Louis (13th)

Wildcard No. 2: San Francisco (7th)

So, as you can see, the game is not being dominated by the highest-payroll teams anymore – of the Top 5 payrolls, only the Dodgers are in the playoffs in the season ended today. This, however, is at least a bit deceiving. Detroit has a Top 5 payroll and is just 1 1/2 games behind Kansas City – I suspect most people suspect the Tigers will catch the Royals before it’s all done. And those vampire Yankees, the team Michael Schur will tell you cannot be killed, linger two-and-a-half games behind the Mariners for the second wildcard spot. If just those two things switch, suddenly six of the ten playoff teams will have Top 10 payrolls. So it’s possible to get carried away by the moment.

Still, something is happening. Philadelphia is in shambles with a huge payroll. The Red Sox are again in last place with a huge payroll. The vampire Yankees have been hot lately but I’m still not buying them and they have flashed a whole lot more mediocrity than promise this year. The Rangers have a huge payroll and are the worst team in baseball. The Blue Jays and Diamondbacks and Reds and even the Twins are trying to spend money but seem to be spinning their wheels or are in screaming descent.

So, why is this happening? I have a theory – one that directly relates to my belief that many baseball teams are doing something that is monumentally stupid. I’m referring to the huge, long-term deals that they are giving players – deals that last until the players are in their mid-to-late 30s, and sometimes even carries them into their 40s. These contracts are a death trap, a suicide rap, and while there are exceptions to every rule, there are never more than a few exceptions. Giving huge, long-term contracts to players in their late 20s or early 30s is self-destructive. Period.

Let’s look at those big payroll teams that are struggling.

No. 2 in payroll: Yankees. Even with Alex Rodriguez mostly off the books for a year, the Yankees have these suffocating long term deals with Mark Teixeira, C.C. Sabathia, Jacoby Ellsbury, Brian McCann, heck, they just scooped up the next two years of Martin Prado for some reason.

No. 3 in payroll: Philadelphia. Covered this one. Almost 70% of their payroll is going to big deal guys — Ryan Howard, Cliff Lee, Cole Hamels, Chase Utley, Jonathan Papelbon, A.J. Burnett and Jimmy Rollins. Throw another $16 million in the pot for Carlos Ruiz and Marlon Byrd. What the heck could Ruben Amaro have been thinking?

No. 4 in payroll: Boston. The Red Sox salary structure is a bit different from the Yankees or Phillies… but they are still putting an old team on the field. Dustin Pedroia, David Ortiz, Mike Napoli, Daniel Nava, all in their 30s. You can see them trying desperately to get younger now.

No. 8 in payroll: Texas. Lots of terrible contracts here – Prince Fielder for another six years, Shin Soo Choo for another six years, some big money about to kick in on Elvis Andrus. The Rangers have had terrible luck this year with health but this is a team staring into the barrels of some serious financial pain anyway.

So … what does this have to do with the Selig Era?

Well, there were two things that happened during the late 1990s and early 2000s that were unusual. One, of course, was the crazy proliferation of home runs. But the second was the way players aged. For a long time before the 1994 strike, players tended to age at more or less the same rate. There are countless ways to quantify this – I did a simple spreadsheet looking at players with 3.0 WAR or better. A player with 3.0 WAR is a good player (but not necessarily a great one) and there are usually 25 to 30 of them in any given season, sometimes a few more, sometimes a few less.

For decades before the late 1990s, about 72% of those good 3.0 players were younger than 30. Almost all the rest were between 30 and 34. Very few were older than 35 –  from 1972-1997 only 16 of the 594 players with 3.0 WAR were 35 or older. This seemed the natural aging pattern of players.

Here, for your information, is an incomplete list of Hall of Famers and all-time greats who never had even a 3.0 WAR season after age 35: Rickey Henderson, Rogers Hornsby, Mickey Mantle, Cal Ripken, Johnny Bench, Robbie Alomar and Yogi Berra.

It changed in the late 1990s and early 2000s. In 1998, for instant, HALF the 3.0 WAR players were 30 or older. It was similar in the the surrounding years. If you include all the years from 1996 to 2004, more than 40% of all the 3.0 WAR players were at least 30 years old.

Beyond that, we suddenly started seeing 35-year olds performing at very high levels. People will immediately say that this was because of the popularization of PED use, and that was certainly a factor. It’s also possible there were other factors – smaller strike zones, smaller parks, better bats, many others. But whatever the reasons, there were a few years there where the idea of a player performing well until his mid-to-late 30s suddenly seemed reasonable.

My guess is that this seemingly reasonable conclusion that baseball players had started to beat the aging process was, in fact, quite unreasonable and it is probably the biggest factor in these massive, sprawling and utterly doomed long-term contracts. Teams started trying to lock up player’s last year for huge dough. Best I can tell, there are 22 players who are signed for big money for at least five seasons after this one. They are:

Atlanta: Freddie Freeman.

Boston: Dustin Pedroia.

Cincinnati: Shin-Soo Choo; Joey Votto.

Colorado: Troy Tulowitzki.

Detroit: Justin Verlander; Miguel Cabrera.

Los Angeles Angels: Albert Pujols; Mike Trout.

Los Angeles Dodgers: Matt Kemp; Clayton Kershaw.

Milwaukee: Ryan Braun.

New York Mets: David Wright.

New York Yankees: Jacoby Ellsbury; Masahiro Tanaka.

San Francisco: Buster Posey.

Seattle: Robinson Cano; Felix Hernandez.

Texas: Elvis Andrus; Prince Fielder.

Washington: Ryan Zimmerman.

How many of those contracts would you want? Before you answer, consider that these are mostly newer contracts – we don’t have any perspective on them yet. But we do have perspective on the LAST batch of big-money contracts – here are the big money contracts running out the next three years: Vernon Wells; Alfonso Soriano; Cliff Lee; C.C. Sabathia; Matt Holliday; Ryan Howard; Mark Teixeira; Josh Hamilton, Jayson Werth; Matt Cain; Carl Crawford; Alex Rodriguez; Jose Reyes.

How many of THOSE contracts would you want?

Baseball owners’ and GM’s madness for big money contracts to aging players has, in its own way, evened the game more than anything else Selig or any other commissioner has done. The Yankees stopped developing their own players and bought their way into a pit. The Red Sox had a couple of only moderate seasons, went on a shopping spree, and bought their way to their two worst seasons in the last half century or so. The Phillies spent a crazy fortune in a hopelessly misguided effort to keep a good team together well past its expiration date.

Even the high-spending teams that are doing well this year – the Angels and Dodgers in particular – are basically tiptoeing around some calamitous contracts.

There’s a great line in The Office where the HR representative Toby – who knows that the boss Michael despises him – finds himself stuck in the back with the impossibly annoying Kelly and Ryan, who spend all hours fighting and making up and fighting more. “I don’t think Michael meant to punish me by putting me here with them,” he said. “But if he did – genius.”

That’s what I see here too. I don’t think Bud Selig meant to even up the game by getting the big teams to wasted their huge money advantages on old and rapidly declining players. But hey, if he did – genius.