4/30/09

Chone Figgins

Both Conor and I have made it pretty clear that we are fans of Chone Figgins, and we really wish he was wearing a Yankees uniform. Ken Rosenthal has an article up on our boy Figgins, and his future. Rosenthal has a few interesting comparisons...

The Juan Pierre and Gary Matthews deals...complete failures
The Brian Roberts Extension...we'll see

The thing with Figgins, for me is that he is so versatile. He can play 2nd, SS, 3rd, LF, CF, and RF. He's crazy fast. Like Brett Gardner fast. And he's a free agent after this year. The Angels have Brandon Wood, Howie Kendrick, and Maicer Izturis, so Chone isn't integral to their future. He may cost a pretty penny, but I say he's worth it.

We have Hideki Matsui($13mm), Johnny Damon ($13mm), Xavier Nady($6.55mm) , Andy Pettitte ($5.5mm) and Jose Molina ($2mm) coming off the books. That's a total of just over $40mm Most likely we'll see Austin Romine or Francisco Cervelli take over for Molina at the league minimum. We'll see Phil Hughes take over for Pettitte, also at the league minimum. Nady's RF spot will obviously be occupied by SuperSwisher, who is already on the roster/payroll. Hideki Matsui has been playing DH, and I personally don't like to designate someone for that roll unless they can really really hit. We'll have the aging Alex Rodriguez, Jorge Posada, and Derek Jeter who will all need an occasional rest at the DH spot. And we have some youngsters like Jorge Vasquez and Juan Miranda who could take on that role. Johnny Damon is the most irreplacable part we have leaving, but there will be plenty of free agent options available such as Matt Holliday, Jason Bay, Rick Ankiel, Carl Crawford (he has a club option, but we'll see), and Jermaine Dye ( who has a $12mm mutual option). So say that Matt Holliday bats .450/.550/.600 for the rest of the year (yes I know I'm being ridiculous and unrealistic, it is intended) and we sign him...he's still not going to get more than $25mm a year, so we'd still have $15mm coming off the books. Then of course CC's salary jumps up $9mm, so we're at $6mm off the books. And Swish gets about a $1.5mm bump, so $4.5mm off the books. But, we have to pay Jason Giambi's $5mm buyout this year, and not next, so we actually would have $9.5mm off the books. I think that at the very most Figgins could get $10mm a year for 4 years. So we add a total of $500K to our payroll, at the very most. So financially, it isn't really a burden. Also, Alex Rodriguez will turn 35 in '10, and Jeter will turn 36 in '10, so injury risks could be high, and as we know, pluggin in a Cody Ransom/Angel Berroa/Ramiro Pena crew just doesn't cut it. We need someone that can step in and be effective.

By losing Johnny Damon we are losing our only established starter that has real speed (B-Gard isn't established, and A-Rod and Jeter aren't exactly speed demons). So, bringing in Figgins gives us some speed on the basepaths, which we could use. Figgins has a career .356 OBP and has stolen at least 34 bases every year since 04, his tops being 62 in '05, He is that leadoff hitter we need so badly. Sure, Jeter's leading off right now, in part because of his DP tendencies, but if Figgins gets on 1st and Jeter comes to the plate, Figgins will either A. Steal 2nd B. Break up the double play or C. Burn a path of fire in the dirt from his feet that move like a Ferrarri. Yes, DJ will hit into some double plays, but it really can't hurt to have Figgins in front of him. And if you really want Figgins to bat second then you can be sure he'll go from 1st to 3rd on a lot of A-Rod or Tex singles, and if they get extra bases he can probably score from first. Yes, he IS that fast. Figgins will get worked into games because we''ll always like to rest someone, be it on the bench or in the DH spot, and so he'll be an everyday player, just without an everyday position.

If we're thinking about the outfield...our 2010 in house candidates are currently Austin Jackson, Brett Gardner, Melky Cabrera, and Nick Swisher. I'm assuming Swisher will be in right, and AJax will probably take over center, barring a huge year from the Melkman or BGard. We'll most likely use free agency to pick up a left-fielder, or see if there is a team trying to dump salary that could get us someone for left. But, say we can't get a left fielder. Or say SuperSwisher flies into some kryptonite, Harlan Chamberlain forbid! Or say that AJax isn't ready as the year starts, well BAM..Chone Figgins. He'll get on base, and bring phenomenal speed and stellar defense, and he'll play wherever we need him to play. He'll step up and take on the role of starting outfielder if need be.

There is no downside to signing Figgins. There will always be a spot for a speedy guy who gets on base and can play wherever you need him. And he'll save us from ever having to deal with Cody Ransom and Angel Berroa again.

11 comments:

Anonymous said...

While Figgins has been a huge thorn in the Yankees side for about five years now, I don't see how he fits onto our team next year. First, he lacks power for a corner outfield position. If the Yankees don't bring in a guy like Matt Holliday or Jason Bay, they are still likely to bring in a LF with pop. At the very least, if the team was to go with more a singles hitter in the OF, that player might be Jeter.

Second, there are no available infield positions in the near future, unless Jeter is moved out of SS. In that case, the Yanks can move A-Rod to short, thus creating a hole at third. Well, you say, Figgins can play third. However, he's a BELOW average defensive player. His range isn't very good and his throws tend to sail.

waswhining said...

Chone is one of those Yankee killer guys; how well does he do against the Sawks?

My own choice for his role is Ramiro Pena, who has been showing some bat recently. Unfortunately he might lose his 3rd base spot to someone coming up soon. I imagine Berroa gets sent down but I'd rather have Pena getting consistent bats at triple A than having to put up with part time service.

Pena's glove work has been magical and if his batting continues to progress, this could be the start of something grand (Then there is this Hanley guy who'll be around the next time the Marlins get blown up -- he deserves the NY stage)

Crafty Lefty said...

As a reasonable priced super-sub; I'd have no problem with Figgins for a 2-year deal. (Maybe $3M-$5M per)

A 4-year deal at $10M per would not only get Cashman, or any GM, fired; but possibly locked up in a mental institution.

Mike Wilson said...

This is just what we need another aging player. There are plenty of utility guys out there you dont have to pay alot of money for.
The yankees have some problems. Arod can he be the same player without steriods? He couldnt hit a 90 + fast ball when he was taking them. Jeter getting old. Damon is a nice player but we already over paid for him once. The yankees have to get young. Lets see if ustin jackson can be the CF of the futrue bring in a Holliday, Ankiel, nady or bay . Let the older players go. Damon has played a horrible LF this year, and matsui is a full time dh. Let them go.

Canter's restaurant said...

Why would the Angels give up Figgins mid-season and not wait for the 2 draft picks at end of season? What is it that the Yankees could possibly offer in return in a trade?

Anonymous said...

Lame. Too many hasty assumptions. Austin Romine jumping from A to NY or Cervelli from AA to the same. What makes you think Figgins would sign cheaply or for one or two years? The DH spot to be filled willy-nilly by A-Rod, Jeter, Posada, etc.

Kevin S. said...

Mike. Yes we will let the aging Damon, Nady, Molina, Pettitte, and Matsui go. But, Chone isn't really an aging player...He'll be 32 this offseason. So we'd at most have him form age 32-36. That's "older" but not aging. And with his speed and athleticism I'm not extremely worried. Waswhining...Pena is alright, but he's not as fast and can't hit as well, and he doesn't know the pitchers around the league as well. Figgins studies all the pitchers and the game in general. He's your typical old-school leadoff hitter. Crafty Lefty, Figgins would get 4/$40mm at the very most (that's what Brian Roberts got, which is why I made the comparison). I see him more likely getting $5-6mm a year for 3 years. Anonymous, Figgins may not have a set position available, but he doesn't need one. As I said he can play left, center, right, third, short, and second. So if AJax, Swisher, A-Rod, Jeter, Cano, or whoever takes over left field get injured we have a replacement. I'm trying to avoid this Angel Berroa/Ramiro Pena situation again. Also, it's nice to be able to give our big hitters a rest once in a while, even if it just means putting them at DH, and having a sufficient replacement who can take the field and hit is very valuable. Also he can be a great pinch runner, like Dave Roberts was for the 04 Sox. Figgins gives us so many options, there is just no down side to him. And if the Red Sox get some young offense first catcher, we'll see him steal against em every time we face em.

Kevin S. said...

Canter's restaurant, I'm talking about signing Figgins after the season, not trading for him. Also, he won't be type A most likely, only type B, so he'd garner one draft pick, not two, and he wouldn't cost the Yanks a draft pick. Anonymous, Cervelli has played at the major league level before. And if he can't we can re-sign Molina, his price isn't going to rise, or we could go out and get a Yorvit Torrealba type. Overall, our backup catcher isn't going to have a huge influence on whether we can or can't get Chone Figgins. I didn't say Figgins would sign cheaply for one or two years, I said at most he'd sign for 4 year $40mm, but it is more likely he'll sign for 3 years at $5-6mm per. That's around what Bobby Abreu and Orlando Hudson are making this year. Obviously a lot depends on the economy, and he could end up with 3 years/$24mm. but I don't 4 years $40mm is cheap, and 3 years $18mm isn't exactly a small salary either. And I strongly think that it is a good idea to keep the DH spot open to rest players. I'm not saying we should only have 8 everyday players, what I am saying is that by having Chone Figgins we can let everyone rotate through the DH spot as a way of resting players. Which is what Girardi was planning on doing, and was doing, before Nady got hurt this year.

Andrew Katz said...

I think the Yankees would do well to leave Figgins alone. Although I love his speed and he's been a thorn on the side of the Yankees, his three best seasons of OPS+ were 101, 103 and 117. His SB numbers have been declining every year since 2005.

So Brian Roberts isn't an apt comparison. Maybe Bip Roberts.

-Andrew
http://www.noyoureatowel.net/
http://twitter.com/NoYoureATowel

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