So, Andrew Miller turned down more money from Houston to sign with the Yankees.
Oh, he talked about how they train in Tampa which is his home, and money isn’t everything. But what it really came down to is Miller thinks he’s more likely to win a ring with the Bronx Bombers (spit!) than with the H-Town Nine. (Ten, really, since the Astros moved to the DH League.)
But I digress. The big question is this: Training closer to home aside, did Andrew Miller make the right move.
Let’s look and see.
In 2014, the Yankees (spit!) finished 84-78, or 14 games better than the Astros. Of course, New York also had a little luck on its side. The Yankees (spit!) finished seven games over their Pythagorean record of just 77 wins (633 runs scored, 664 runs against), whereas Houston’s 70 wins were right in line with its Pythagorean projection of 71 wins (629 runs scored, 723 runs against).
Obviously, the Astros and Yankees (spit!) had basically the same lame offense. Of course, the offenses in 2014 and the ones in 2015 will be somewhat different. But that’s another discussion for lower on the page. Miller made his decision on past performance, and past performance shows the Yankees (spit!) and Astros have essentially the same average talent on offense.
No, the big difference is in runs given up. New York gave up 59 fewer runs than did the Astros. Astros starters gave up 15 more runs than did Yankees (spit!) starters. Of course, Astros starters pitched 18.1 more innings, so there’s something there. Yankees (spit!) relievers gave up 44 fewer runs, and they did it pitching about 33 more innings. That amounted to a bullpen ERA of 3.70 compared to Houston’s bullpen ERA of 4.80. Miller, though, would be in position to directly affect that difference and tilt it back in Houston’s favor.
So, in the one big difference between the teams, bullpen ERA, it seems the Yankees (spit!) were and continue (for now) to be the better team.
Sure. But what about those offenses? Well, the Yankees (spit!) are looking at an outfield of Jacoby Ellsbury, Carlos Beltran and Brett Gardner with OPSs of .749, .703 and .776. Both Garner and Ellsbury will start 2015 at age 31. Beltran will be 37, but 38 before we hit May. The Astros, meanwhile, will trot out George Springer (.804), Dexter Fowler (.774) and either Jake Marisnick (.669) or Robbie Grossman (.670). The geezer here is Fowler, who will have just turned over the odometer to 29 when the season starts.
On the infield, as of this moment on the Yankees (spit!) website depth chart, they have Mark Teixeira (34, .711 OPS), Martin Prado (31, .733 OPS), Didi Gregorius (24, .653 OPS) and (gulp!) Alex Rodriguez (a well-rested 39, .771 OPS in 2013). At DH, New York has Houston native Chris Young (31, .683 OPS) while Brian McCann (31, .692 OPS) is their catcher.
Houston’s infield, at this moment, includes Matt Dominguez (25, .586 OPS), Marwin Gonzales (26, .727 OPS), Jose Altuve (24, .830 OPS) and Jon Singleton (23, .620 OPS). At catcher, the Astros have Jason Castro … allegedly … (27, .651 OPS) and Chris Carter (28, .799 OPS).
In total, the Astros put up a slightly higher OPS than did New York last season, but I’m guessing the strike out difference and the fact that the Yankees (spit!) had fewer black holes in their lineup was what allowed them to score a couple of extra runs.
But all those stats aside, which team would you rather pitch for as a closer?
While a bit more consistent, the Yankees (spit!) had no elite hitters like Houston. They have no Jose Altuve. No George Springer. Not even a Chris Carter. Heck, OPS-wise, NY barely has a Dexter Fowler.
And while more consistent, New York’s players are also much older on average. Not one player atop Houston’soffensive depth chart will start the season at even age 30. And Singleton, one of Houston’s worst full-time hitters, will only be 23 on opening day. Chances are he gets better. In fact, several of the Yankees’ (spit!) best hitters are downright ancient. I will eat my hat if A-Rod puts up better numbers in 2015 than he did in 2013. Between Beltran and either Marisnick or Grossman in 2015, I’ll take Marisnick or Grossman. Gregorius’ slick fielding aside, give me MarGo.
Matty D is a bit problematic, but I’d guess he doesn’t start Houston’s season at third. Neither does A-Rod for the Yankees (spit!), but for right now I need to go with who the teams have, not who they hope to acquire. A-Rod, most likely, DHs for the Yankees (spit!) and Young plays elsewhere or is a bench player.
But it all begs the question, did Miller make a huge mistake? I mean, for that extra money he could have brought his family down to Kissimmee for those six weeks and still had money left over.
I won’t even get into the differences in state income tax between Texas and New York or the comparative cost of living.
So, here are my questions:
The Yankees (spit!) are looking at close to $180 million in payroll right now. You literally have to go to their 10th highest paid player right now to find someone who won’t be getting at least $10 million in 2015. If they want to add more players, like say re-signing Chase Headley, that’s going to be at least $12 million more. Headley would allow NY to move A-Rod to DH. Even then, do the Yankees (spit!) have a better offense than the Astros in 2015?
Miller is now stuck with the Yankees (spit!) for four years. Maybe … MAYBE … New York fields a better offense in 2015. But those aging Yankees (spit!) don’t have the pipeline Houston does. The Astros have seven Top-100 prospects. New York, two. Most of their top 10 on MLB grade out at a 50 by the scouts. Houston doesn’t hit a 50 player until Rio Ruiz at No. 9. So, will Miller be regretting his signing in 2016 and beyond?
And what about the money? A million here, a million there. Pretty soon we’re talking about real cash. Plus, state income taxes and the cost of a Manhattan apartment vs. living in Katy. Oh, sure, it’s “The Big Apple,” but that just means when you blow a save, the whole town comes down on you. In Houston, one blown save just raises Bopert’s ire, and he’ll mostly be mad at Luhnow.
All of this makes me wonder, we have the impression that free agents don’t want to sign with the Astros because the team has a recent history of losing. But is that assessment fair? Are free agents who think that way being short-sighted?
Finally, the Winter Meetings kick off tomorrow. What does Luhnow need to do in order to change the perception of the Astros around the league? Does he need to sign a big free agent? Maybe two middle-sized ones? Does he need to pull off a major trade? What are you hoping to see this week (or soon thereafter)?
Bonus Question: Did I miss any spitting?