Talking Baseball

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Posted by Dave on Tuesday, January 27, 2004

"That Crossover Was So Dirty, He Didn't Break My Ankles, He Broke My Knee"
Posted by Dave Metz

I'm going to be flagrantly honest: I don't want to write about this. I wish I could judge the salary decisions made for marquee and mediocre players alike, but salary arbitration hasn't occurred yet. I wish I could rant about some contract (good or bad, I'm indiscriminate at times like these), but, really, who cares about Darrell May (by the way, he definitely got overpaid (Transaction Guy reports a 4.93 K/9? Gross.))? I wish I could also write about some false statement Rob Neyer recently wrote, but his statements are dead-on this week (and usually are). I also wish I could trash Jayson Stark a bit more, but he does that for himself enough (who entitles their articles "Useless Information Dept."?). So what am I left with? Aaron Boone playing freaking basketball.

ESPN.com has reported that it is suspected that Aaron Boone tore his ACL playing basketball. I should probably wait until the ACL tear is confirmed by physicians before I write about Aaron Boone - but, too bad. This article will have a giant "What If?" attached to it. That is to say, if Booney is out for the season, this is what will happen. With that disclaimer aside, I'll begin now.

Aaron Boone is a solid third-baseman even despite some rather significant problems getting on-base. Looking at his totals, that much is apparent. It seems that in 2002 he made the decision that making contact (instead of hitting for power) was for the birds (or the Birds, I suppose). His average fell 50 points from previous years along with his on-base percentage. Unfortunately, his slugging did as well and, though it recovered some last year, is still below his SLG in the "peak" (in quotations because it's quite debatable) years of 2000 and 2001. Anyone who has watched him play will comment on his slick fielding. Like Bret, his brother, he is one of the premier defensive players at his positions. There isn't much credence to the claim that Aaron may not be suited to the AL; After initially stinking up the joint, he turned it on as playoff time neared (look at August, then September).

What does all this amount to? I'd bet that Aaron Boone is worth a bit (or more, possibly) less than the 5.75 million he was scheduled to make this season. Still, there's no denying he's their best option at third base. Enrique Wilson, though he hits Pedro, doesn't seem to hit anyone else. Miguel Cairo, though he evokes thoughts of pyramids, is similarly inept. One wonders however, how much worse is the ineptitude of Wairo (That's the platoon of Enrique Wilson and Miguel Cairo, if you're confused (say "Wairo" out loud, it's a hoot))? Your favorite tool and mine, Win Shares, helps to predict how many wins the Yankees will lose as a result of Aaron's awful absence.

It seems Booney was worth approximately 17 win shares last season - that's about 6 wins. That's nothing to sneeze at - If your 8 position players, DH, starting pitchers (all four and a half of them) and your relief ace all produced that many win shares, you'd have yourself a pretty good team. I can still do arithmetic by head, I swear: (8+1+4.5+1)*17/3 = 82 wins. Not a bad team. In the AL Central, you'd threaten to win the division for most of the year if you finished 82-80 (for those that didn't catch the biting sarcasm, I think that's absolutely pitiable). What about Wairo? Cairo had 3 win shares, but if you project that to a full season he garners a whopping 5 win shares (1.66 wins). Wilson? 2 win shares, but with a full year he'd also have approximately 5 win shares. If Wairo was used ideally, maybe they'd combine for 6 win shares, or 2 wins. That's a full 4 wins that's lost if Boone goes down. With the Angels improved, the A's still dangerous, and Boston still competitive (Jon's pointed out on numerous occasions that if luck was eliminated, Boston would have finished with a better record), a loss of 4 wins could mean losing not only the division, but the wild-card as well. Maybe I was too sarcastic. This is a very significant piece of news if, in fact, Aaron will be out for the year.

I'll finish with a bit of irony: Who's the only third-baseman left on the list of free agents? None other than Todd Zeile, who flunked his tryout for the Yankee Yuggernaut.

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