Project 189: Dingers, Dingers....and more Dingers

1- CBrian McCann (5/$85MM) $17.000MM2- 1B: Mark Teixeira (8/$180MM) $22.500MM 3- 2BRobinson Cano (8/$180MM) $22.500MM 4- 3BJuan Uribe (2/$12MM) $6.000MM 5- SS: Brendan Ryan (1/$2MM) $2.000MM 6- LF: Alfonso Soriano (8/$136MM) $17.000MM 7- CF: Brett Gardner (Arb 3) $4.000MM 8- RF: Nelson Cruz (3/$39MM) $13.000MM 9- DH: Derek Jeter (1/$12.81MM) $12.810MM + $7.000MM Bonuses 10- BN: Vernon Wells (7/$126MM) $18.000MM 11- BN: Eduardo Nunez (Min) $0.511MM 12- BN: Ichiro Suzuki (2/$13MM) $6.500MM 13- BN: Francisco Cervelli (Arb 1) $1.000MM 14- SP1: CC Sabathia (5/$122MM) $24.400MM 15- SP2: Ivan Nova (Arb 1) $2.800MM 16- SP3Masahiro Tanaka (6/$56MM) $9.334MM 17- SP4: David Phelps (Min) $0.511MM 18- SP5: Michael Pineda (Min) $0.511MM 19- CL: David Robertson (Arb 3) $5.500MM 20- RP: Shawn Kelley (Arb 2) $1.500MM 21- RP: Preston Claiborne (Min) $0.511MM 22- RP: Dellin Betances (Min) $0.511MM 23- RP: Adam Warren (Min) $0.511MM 24- RP: Vidal Nuno (Min) $0.511MM 25- RP: Jesse Crain (3/$3.5MM) $3.500MM

Total: $199.921MM

40-Man Roster

26- SP: Manny Banuelos (Min) $0.040MM 27- SP: Nik Turley (Min) $0.040MM 28- SP: Brett Marshall (Min+) $0.080MM 29- SP: Jose Ramirez (Min) $0.040MM 30- SP: Shane Greene (Min) $0.040MM 31- SP Jose Campos (Min) $0.040MM 32- RP:  Cesar Cabral (Min+) $0.080MM 33- RP: Matt Daley (Min+) $0.080MM 34- RP: David Huff (Min+) $0.080MM 35- C: Austin Romine (Min+) $0.080MM 36- C: Gary Sanchez (Min) $0.040MM 37- C: J.R. Murphy (Min) $0.080MM 38- IF: Dean Anna (Min) $0.040MM 39- OF: Zoilo Almonte (Min+) $0.080MM 40- OF: Slade Heathcott* (Min) $0.040MM

Total:  $0.88MM

Final Calculations Total Roster Owed- $200.801MM Salary Relief- -$13MM (From Cubs for Soriano), -$18MM (From Angels for Wells) Player Benefits- $12MM Cushion For Non-25-Man Players- $3.5MM

Current Budget Owed- $185.301MM

Current Budget Remaining- $3.699MM

The Brian McCann signing ruined the original plans I had for Project 189. As you can see, those of us who put McCann on the roster previous to the signing had an AAV of 16, but now it’s 17. That one extra million threw a wrench in my plans to build a solid rotation, but I tried to be creative anyway.

A few quick thoughts about Brian McCann before I get into my off-season plans. McCann will dramatically increase the level of play that we saw from the catchers position in 2013. The team probably overpaid, but anyone who’s a Yankees fan should be happy with the fact that he’ll out-produce all the catchers that the team used last year.

In my original plans I had Scott Kazmir as the fourth starter in my rotation. After the McCann signing, I was over the self-imposed payroll cap and decided to drop Kazmir from my plans. This freed up $8MM for the 2014 season, so I decided to upgrade Alex Rodriguez’s replacement at third, as well as add some help in the bullpen.

For an extra million or two, Juan Uribe was worth the upgrade over Mark Reynolds (my original fill-in). He provides improved defense, along with some pop in his bat. Reynolds does have his power streaks, but he comes with an incredibly high K% (30.6% in 2013). Uribe didn’t hit as many home runs as Reynolds, but he struck out a lot less. On top of that, Uribe is a better overall hitter with a 116 wRC+, compared to Reynolds below average 96 wRC+. Uribe’s wOBA was also higher than Reynolds at .334, compared to .310. Surprisingly, Uribe was worth 5.1 Wins Above Replacement last season. If he produces a little more than half of that, he’ll be a steal for the Yankees.

Then, with the remaining money, I looked at possible starting pitchers. Paul Maholm looked interesting for a one year $7MM deal, but after looking at the numbers, David Phelps was worth more, (1.1 WAR to .7 of Maholm) for a much cheaper salary. I noticed the bullpen looked a bit weak, especially with Mariano Rivera as the team’s closer this season. So I dipped into the remaining money to sign Jesse Crain. Crain was worth 1.9 Wins Above Replacement level last year. That was higher than Rivera’s WAR, but the stat doesn't do justice to the high leverage situations Rivera has as closer. If he's able to stay on the field, Crain should be a great piece of bullpen depth for the Yankees. Assuming he can put up that value in nearly 37 innings, he can be an asset in the bullpen.

As for the bench, Cervelli should be a serviceable backup to McCann, who will likely need some days off. Wells is useless, but hopefully they won’t need to play him that often, he’s essentially free anyway. Ichiro is a nice player to have come off the bench, as he still has some left in the tank as a defender, but not as an everyday starter.

As Michael Eder pointed out in his Project 189, the Yankees will have a run saving defense. Add that with three sinker ball pitchers at the top of the rotation and the Yankees have a recipe for success. We can only hope Tanaka is a younger version of Kuroda, but that the long term contract keeps him successful in the pinstripes for a longer time. I also see CC Sabathia bouncing back from a tough year. He lost a lot of weight fast. It takes the body a while to regain strength once that happens. A full off-season should get him back on track. Phelps and Pineda round out the rotation. I'm optimistic that Pineda is able to get back to where he was during his rookie year in Seattle. Just in case, Jose Campos sits on the 40-man to salvage any attempt at the Yankees winning that trade.

One of my unique signings was in right field. Nelson Cruz was suspended last season for testing positives to PEDs, but should still produce big power numbers. He’s a right handed power bat, something the Yankees need in my opinion. He has a smooth swing, similar to Napoli in a way, (reason I like these players for YS3) that projects to translate well in Yankee Stadium. Cruz has hit at least 24 home runs in each of the last three years. If he can play a large majority of the season, I see Cruz approaching 30 homes runs or more in 2014.

Here is my projected 2014 lineup.

1. Brett Gardner

2. Alfonso Soriano

3. Robinson Cano

4. Nelson Cruz

5. Brian McCann

6. Mark Teixeira

7. Derek Jeter

8. Juan Uribe

9. Brendan Ryan

I see a lot of potential power threats and probably the scariest 2-6 in baseball. Soriano, Cano, Cruz, McCann, and Teixeira are all capable of hitting 30 home runs. Brett Gardner should be able to spark the offense by getting on base a ton. Then, even the bottom of the order can be productive with Jeter in front of Uribe at 7-8. Ryan isn’t exactly a good hitter, but 1-8 is good enough to manage with a lesser bat at the bottom of the order. Compared to what we saw at the bottom of the order last season, one Brendan Ryan in the 9 spot will be a relief.