First off, if you missed my appearance on Fox's Sunday Night's Sports Extra with Duke Castiglione — and at the length of a pop song, you're forgiven, unless of course you were watching the godawful Grammy Awards — it's now available online. The focus of our rapidfire exchange was what Baseball Prospectus' PECOTA projections say about the likelihood of various key Yankees and Mets to rebound from subpar 2010 showings, among them Derek Jeter, Alex Rodriguez and A.J. Burnett:
Thanks to Duke for having me on and giving us an opportunity to promote Baseball Prospectus 2011, which is shipping from online merchants and will be available in finer bookstores beginning this week.
Second, the AL edition of the first-ever offseason Prospectus Hit List is up at BP. Unlike the in-season power rankings based on objective formulas, this version is focused on grading teams' handling of their affairs over the winter. From the intro, along with the top-ranked team, and the 13th-ranked one:
Happy pitchers and catchers! In honor of the first real sign of spring, we're trying something new with the Hit List, namely this feature's first-ever offseason report card. Our PECOTA-driven Projected Standings will be along soon enough, but here we've subjectively graded each team while attempting to answer the question of who "won the winter" by best filling their needs via free agency, trade, and internal promotion, with an eye towards the future as well as the present, and a heavy dose of first-run PECOTA metrics...
[#1 Blue Jays: Overall Grade: A] While it lacks the live audience drama of David Copperfield making the Statue of Liberty vanish, general manager Alex Anthopoulos earns honors for the winter's top magic trick, namely making Vernon Wells and his $81 million bloated contract disappear. Implicitly acknowledging that this may not be Toronto's year, Anthopoulos is banking on rebounds from players under club control who disappointed last year, rather than spending big on upgrades. Thus none of the new Jays is making more than Wells deal door prize Juan Rivera's $5.25 million, and if the price tags on relievers Frank Francisco (3.44 ERA, 0.7 WARP), Jon Rauch (3.72, 0.6) and Octvio Dotel (4.05, 0.3) look relatively high, so is the likelihood of at least one being flipped at the trading deadline.
[#13 Yankees: Overall Grade: D+] You can't always get what you want, as Brian Cashman learned the hard way, so it's better to get what you need in case your big-ticket item is out of stock, lest you wind up digging in the bargain bin, loitering at Unclaimed Freight, or splurging for that belt-and-suspenders set because it was right there in the checkout aisle. Lacking a Cliff Lee to offset the departures of Javier Vazquez and Andy Pettitte, the Yanks face a rotation with Freddy Garcia (4.81 ERA, 1.3 WARP), Sergio Mitre (4.67, 1.0), or kids who've barely tasted the high minors as possible fourth and fifth starters, and that's while expecting a rebound for A.J. Burnett (4.56 ERA, 2.6 WARP). They're more successful at bagging a shiny extra closer in Rafael Soriano (2.74, 1.3), adding to their glut of questionable catchers via Russell Martin (.265 TAv, 2.4 WARP), and complementing their southpaw-bedeviled outfielders with Andruw Jones (.266, 0.8).
Overly harsh? It's a grade Steve and I debated well into the wee hours. Can't accuse us of favoritism, at the very least...