Settling the Score
Today, in the comments section of this post at RAB, I got into a little bit of an argument with Ben over a potential Manny Ramirez acquisition. The comments by both of us are kind of scattered all over that thread, making it hard to follow. But the gist of the conversation was that Ben wants Manny Ramirez as the DH next season, which would put Hideki Matsui on the bench or on the trade block. I don’t want that to happen. Matsui can’t play the outfield–his knees are just too bad to either handle the position or to simply stay healthy over the long haul.
Ben’s plan is summed up in this comment, when he says, “The Yanks should go after Manny and deal with Matsui after the fact.” I responded by saying that doing that is incredibly shortsighted, considering that Matsui and his $13 million salary can’t just be cast off like it means nothing. Signing Manny to be the DH would mean that Matsui is on the bench used only as a pinch-hitter or occasional fill-in. He’s certainly not a defensive replacement, and can only play two positions–left and right field. So let’s see how this goes….
This isn’t a stats-heavy post, but let’s look at some numbers. Let’s project Manny for 40 runs above average next season. The past four seasons, he’s been 46, 49, 21, and 56 runs above average. He then gets a positional adjustment of -15 runs for playing DH instead of the outfield. [We don't need to compare him (or Matsui) to replacement because we're not figuring total value, which would be versus a replacement player, we're just comparing the two of them in similar playing time. If you really want to, add 16 or 17 runs to the total to approximate a replacement level comparison in slightly limited playing time (~140 games)]. So that’s 25 runs above average for Manny. Doing the same thing for Matsui now…. his somewhat healthy 2007 had him as 20 runs above average in 143 games, so that’s 5 runs above average for Hideki after the DH adjustment.
So for 2009, Manny is projected to be 20 runs above what Matsui would provide. That’s probably what people expected, I know I didn’t think the gap wold be any smaller. But Manny is reportedly demanding a 3-year deal in the neighborhood of $65-70 million. Are those 20 runs worth the $11 million per win (above Matsui) that they would cost? Is any win worth $11 million on December 15th?
I can’t tell you the answer, that’s for the Steinbrenners to decide. For those people who say it’s worth it, I’m going to spend a little time thinking of other ways the Yankees can get those two wins over what Matsui provides for less money. Anyone care to make any suggestions for finding those missing 20 runs that seem so necessary to some?
Note: Why does 10 runs equals one win? See here.