Wednesday, December 24, 2008

The Yankees Offseason In Perspective

The Bronx Bombers' spending spree has prompted two common responses:

a) They spent HOW much!?!
b) The Yankees are buying a championship and ruining baseball!!!

Neither view is really correct. The Yankees have made four big offseason moves:

- Replacing Bobby Abreu with Nick Swisher
- Replacing Mike Mussina with CC Sabathia
- Replacing Andy Pettitte with AJ Burnett
- Replacing Jason Giambi with Mark Teixeira

What has changed?

First, the money. The four castaways made a total of $64 million in 2008, not counting the $5MM Jason Giambi is getting paid to not play for the Yankees next year. Their replacements are signed for an average annual value of $69 million. Once you factor in salary inflation--estimated at 10%/year in baseball--that's not even an increase, it's just treading water.

Fine, so they're not spending more, they're spending smarter. How many wins did New York buy? For that, I turn to CHONE:

Excommunicated (with 2008 Wins Above Replacement):

Abreu (3.1*)
Mussina (5.0)
Pettitte (2.6)
Giambi (2.8*)

No, I didn't just pull these numbers out of my ass. Here's how they were calculated.

Brand Spankin' New (with 2009 projected WAR):

Swisher (2.0*)
Sabathia (5.5)
Burnett (3.6)
Teixeira (4.7*)

*Includes estimates of these players' fielding acumen. Abreu and Giambi are bad glovemen, Swisher slightly below average, Teixeira well above average.

Total WAR lost: 13.5. Total WAR gained: 15.8. Net benefit: 2.1 2.3 wins to the positive.

I am not ready to concede the 2009 World Series title just yet. However, I'm already practicing clicking the 'bet' button on the Rays and Red Sox next year.

Edit: According to Fangraphs, who have really upgraded their stats pages this year, the difference is actually 4.5 wins, mostly because they have Abreu as a -25 run fielder. I know he stinks, but I don't buy this number.

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