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New York Yankees Articles

At $153 Million, Jacoby Ellsbury Has Been New York's Best Expenditure

By Andrew Perna

The New York Yankees are often fiscally irresponsible with a penchant for signing older stars to expensive, long-term deals. That has been one of the few constants over the last two decades as pitchers have returned to dominance, prospects have risen in value and the implementation of drug-testing has altered the game of baseball.

So it didn't surprise anyone when the Yankees spent more than $500 million on free agents this past offseason after sitting out the playoffs with an 85-77 record. They finished 12 games back of the rival Boston Red Sox in the American League East and more than six games back of a Wild Card spot. However, after spending half a billion dollars, New York is on pace for fewer wins (84) and a playoff-less end to Derek Jeter's career.

Health has certainly been an issue, but almost every Major League team has to deal with a significant injuries. It just so happens that New York's injured players are among the highest-paid in baseball. CC Sabathia ($23 million) has only logged 46 innings and Ivan Nova ($3.3 million) has been limited to fewer than 21 frames. Masahiro Tanaka ($22 million) hasn't pitched since July 8 because of troublesome elbow issues.

The offense has been healthy, but not much more productive.

Brian McCann, signed away from the Atlanta Braves for $85 million over five years, is having the worst offensive season of his career. In his age-30 season, the catcher is hitting .234/.287/.384. He hasn't hit for average for several seasons, but owns a career .809 OPS.

Carlos Beltran, who landed a three-year, $45 million contract, is seven years older than McCann and a perfect example of the stereotypical New York signing. He has a disappointing slash line of .240/.303/.420 in 412 plate appearances. He is putting together the worst season of his 17-year career, by far. Age was an obvious concern, but Beltran hit .296/.339/.491 with 24 home runs for the St. Louis Cardinals just last season.

While the contract was more ceremonial than indicative of his true value, the Yankees are paying Jeter $12 million on a one-year pact in his final season. He has remained healthy, which was a significant question mark at 40, but is having the worst full season of his career (sensing a theme?) with a .261/.308/.312 line.

Thanks to the struggles of McCann, Beltran and Jeter, three of Joe Girardi's key offensive pieces are getting on base less than a third of the time. It's surprising the Yankees (.695) don't rank lower than 18th in team OPS.

When looking at the money Brian Cashman spent this past offseason, the most exorbitant contract handed out was the seven-year, $153 million deal given to Jacoby Ellsbury in both the length and cost. The speedy outfielder came to New York with a history of inconsistency and health issues. He played in just 250 games between 2010-12 and his oWAR in the five seasons before leaving the Red Sox were 3.2, -0.3, 7.4, 0.8 and 4.1.

Would he become complacent? Was he due for a poor season? Would be play in enough games to provide a return on New York's investment?

All those concerns have been tabled for now as Ellsbury has been not only the Yankees' best hitter, but also most valuable player overall. Brett Gardner has accumulated more WAR (4.3 to 3.5) than his new outfield partner, but Ellsbury has done more to jumpstart an anemic offense.

Ellsbury leads the club in batting average (.288), on-base percentage (.348) and trails only Gardner in slugging (.435, by a mere eight percentage points). It goes to show you how badly the Yankees have struggled to score runs when you see Gardner and Ellsbury leading them in power.

For the first time since winning the AL Rookie of the Year award in 2008 and following it up with another strong season in 2009, Ellsbury, who will turn 31 next week, has put together consecutive above-average seasons. That's good news for the Yankees, who have $166 million already committed to next year's roster.

When you remove Ellsbury's $21 million from that total, it will cost New York $143 million to employ Alex Rodriguez, Sabathia, Mark Teixeira, Tanaka, McCann, Gardner, Beltran and Martin Prado. That's barely a third of a Major League roster.

Where would they be without their center fielder?


MLB Rankings For The Week Beginning July 28

By RealGM Staff Report

The Opsera is a statistic RealGM Executive Editor Chris Reina created in order to objectively rank teams by how well they hit (OPS) and pitch (ERA). 

In order to determine the Opsera rating for each, we take their OPS, multiply that number by 10 to move the decimal point over one place to the right and then subtract their ERA from that number.  

All statistics are through Sunday, July 27

Rankings from last week are in parenthesizes.

1. (1) Oakland Athletics – 4.25

It's becoming more and more likely that Oakland will sit in the top spot for the remainder of the season.

2. (3) Washington Nationals – 3.95

A gradual rise has the Nationals, seven wins in 10 games, as the class of the National League.

3. (2) Los Angeles Dodgers – 3.91

Los Angeles has the best road record -- 34-23 -- in baseball.

4. (4) Los Angeles Angels – 3.79

With Troy Tulowitzki on the DL, Mike Trout (5.6) will soon lead the Major Leagues in WAR.

5. (5) Detroit Tigers – 3.65

The Tigers, who ranked ninth in ERA in each of the last two seasons, sit 22nd entering the week.

6. (6) Seattle Mariners – 3.63

7. (12) Milwaukee Brewers – 3.56

T8. (7) Atlanta Braves – 3.50

-- (T9) St. Louis Cardinals – 3.50

-- (11) Baltimore Orioles – 3.50

11. (T9) San Francisco Giants – 3.49

12. (8) Pittsburgh Pirates – 3.48

13. (T13) Toronto Blue Jays – 3.44

14. (15) Tampa Bay Rays – 3.42

15. (16) Cleveland Indians – 3.35

16. (T13) Cincinnati Reds – 3.31

17. (17) New York Mets – 3.22

18. (18) Boston Red Sox – 3.17

19. (19) Kansas City Royals – 3.15

20. (20) New York Yankees – 3.13

T21. (21) Miami Marlins – 3.07

-- (22) Chicago White Sox – 3.07

23. (23) San Diego Padres – 2.96

24. (24) Chicago Cubs – 2.89

25. (26) Colorado Rockies – 2.88

26. (25) Arizona Diamondbacks – 2.76

27. (27) Philadelphia Phillies – 2.67

28. (28) Minnesota Twins – 2.54

29. (29) Houston Astros – 2.44

30. (30) Texas Rangers – 2.13

 

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MLB Rankings For The Week Beginning July 21

By RealGM Staff Report

The Opsera is a statistic RealGM Executive Editor Chris Reina created in order to objectively rank teams by how well they hit (OPS) and pitch (ERA). 

In order to determine the Opsera rating for each, we take their OPS, multiply that number by 10 to move the decimal point over one place to the right and then subtract their ERA from that number.  

All statistics are through Sunday, July 20

Rankings from last week are in parenthesizes.

1. (1) Oakland Athletics – 4.18

The Athletics lead a division with three teams at least six games over .500. Even Seattle would be within two games, in the win column, from first place in any other division.

2. (2) Los Angeles Dodgers – 3.94

Yasiel Puig has contributed a team-best 3.4 WAR to the Dodgers in 2014.

3. (3) Washington Nationals – 3.93

Washington has maintained the best ERA (3.10) in baseball despite nothing spectacular from Stephen Strasburg (3.55) and Gio Gonzalez (3.74).

4. (5) Los Angeles Angels – 3.80

The Angels continue to chase the first-place A's. They have the second-best record in the Major Leagues.

5. (4) Detroit Tigers – 3.72

Detroit has been average as of late, but still have more than a five-game edge in the American League Central.

6. (6) Seattle Mariners – 3.61

7. (T8) Atlanta Braves – 3.54

8. (13) Pittsburgh Pirates – 3.53

T9. (T11) San Francisco Giants – 3.52

-- (T11) St. Louis Cardinals – 3.52

11. (7) Baltimore Orioles – 3.47

12. (T8) Milwaukee Brewers – 3.44

T13. (10) Cincinnati Reds – 3.43

-- (14) Toronto Blue Jays – 3.43

15. (17) Tampa Bay Rays – 3.34

16. (16) Cleveland Indians – 3.33

17. (15) New York Mets – 3.28

18. (19) Boston Red Sox – 3.21

19. (18) Kansas City Royals – 3.10

20. (21) New York Yankees – 3.08

21. (20) Miami Marlins – 2.98

22. (22) Chicago White Sox – 2.96

23. (24) San Diego Padres – 2.95

24. (23) Chicago Cubs – 2.88

25. (28) Arizona Diamondbacks – 2.76

26. (25) Colorado Rockies – 2.75

27. (T26) Philadelphia Phillies – 2.68

28. (T26) Minnesota Twins – 2.62

29. (29) Houston Astros – 2.56

30. (30) Texas Rangers – 2.10

 

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