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A-Rod in Pinstripes

It’s funny how when you’re busy over a weekend, stories have a habit of sneaking up on you. This is exactly what happened to me regarding the A-Rod for Soriano trade that happened this weekend. I remember reading about some “rumors” on Friday, and didn’t think anything more about it. Then as I was winding down last night from a day of painting, I hopped on the net, and the deal was all anyone was talking about. So it looks like the Yankees send Alfonso Soriano and a player to be named later for Alex Rodriguez.

On the face of things, this is a great deal for the Yankees. They’re one of the few teams who don’t feel bad about falling over the luxury tax cap, so adding even more payroll doesn’t seem to phase them. The problem with the deal is, the Yankees already have their team captain, Derek Jeter, playing shortstop. So to accomodate everyone, it looks like the Yankees will take a two time gold glove winning shortstop, and will move him to third base.

How will this affect the team? Let’s take a look at a few numbers (I haven’t really surfed the web to see if anyone else has done a similar analysis, so hopefully I’m not replicating someone’s work):

As I move over to Baseball Prospectus (Baseball Prospectus is supposed to ship today. I’m looking forward to my copy), I find the following fielding runs above replacement (FRAR):

Derek Jeter -3
Alex Rodriguez 31

So you’re talking about a total of 34 runs between the two. That’s a sizable amount, and using a conservative 10 runs = 1 win, you’re talking about somewhere in the range of 3 to 4 wins. In a very competitive AL East, this could be the difference between winning the division, winning just the Wild Card, or even not making the Playoffs at all.

And I know Soriano plays a different position, but his FRAR is 27 (FRAA 0), so in addition to the A-Rod/Jeter situation, you also have to find a an average fielding second basemen to take his place.

Of course, assuming he picks up the position, which I don’t doubt, A-Rod will be at third base. Although he won’t touch the ball nearly as many times, Eric Chavez, the 2003 gold glove winning third basemen, had a FRAR of 35, right where A-Rod came out at. But this number was only 15 runs higher then his FRAA. A-Rod’s FRAR was 26 runs higher. So it’s much easier to find a replacement, or even average fielding third basemen (Derek Jeter?) then it is to find one at shortstop.

Good trade for the Yankees? I think it is. But the better question is, why would one of the players in the game want to switch postions? Of course we’ll see how this all plays out once the season starts.

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