Out of Left Field, August 2nd Edition

Out of left field is an occasional post about matters that don’t need over 1,000 words of analysis, but should be touched on anyway. In no particular order…

As someone who’s done the research for thousands of baseball articles, I can assure you that pitchers’ ERA is far (and I mean FAR) more reliant on team defense and park factors than the overwhelming majority of experts would lead you to believe. As the Yankees acquired three pitchers yesterday, you’re going to be hearing about their respective ERAs quite often over the next few days – Pro tip: Don’t give it too much weight, if any.

Along those lines, the haul the A’s got from the Yankees in exchange for Frankie Montas and Lou Trivino is not insignificant. Three of the four players have high value and Ken Waldichuk was the organization’s fifth highest-rated prospect. That said, it’s a move you have to make and you have to be happy about if you’re the Yankees.

They needed a proven frontline starter and Montas is undoubtedly that. Out of 63 qualifiers in MLB, Montas ranks 11th in xFIP, 12th in SIERA, 14th in K-BB%, and 18th in ground ball rate. Those are all stats that do a good job of limiting the influence of external factors on the pitcher’s numbers and Montas is very good in all of them.

Lou Trivino will never remind anyone of Rivera, but he’s certainly been much better than his traditional numbers suggest. His K-BB%, xFIP, and SIERA are all well above league average among MLB relievers and his 53% ground ball rate will play much better with the Yankees’ defense behind him than the Athletics’. Speaking of which…

If you’re curious about the impact that defense may have on Montas and Trivino, the Yankees are first in MLB in Defensive Runs Above Average while Oakland comes in at seventh. That may not seem like a huge difference but the Yankees’ DRAA of 22.3 is further from the A’s 0.1 than the A’s is from MLB’s 24th “best” defense (Chicago White Sox, -21.7).

Furthermore, park factors may not be as much of a variable as you think either. Both the Oakland Colosseum and YS III have favored pitchers slightly this season while YS III has yielded both the lowest Batting Average on Balls in Play and OBP across MLB in 2022.

The Scott Effross acquisition I’m a little more skeptical about. Not that Effross hasn’t been outstanding in 2022 – he has been. But as I’ve written numerous times before, relief pitchers – even very good ones – are easy to find and Hayden Wesneski is a legit pitching prospect to give up. That said, with numerous injuries in the Yankees bullpen to go with more than a few question marks, they certainly need a sure thing or two, and Effross (and Trivino) certainly address that need.

Overall it’s hard not to be optimistic about the Yankees after the past few days. Depth in the rotation, the bullpen, and in the corner OF spots were all areas of concern and the Yankees improved in all areas. It sure would have been nice to see Juan Soto in pinstripes but it’s been a good enough deadline that I’ll hold off on my complaining for a while.

In other news…

In looking through transactions yesterday I noticed that St. Louis intends to release Austin Romine today as Yadier Molina is set to return from the IL. If this is the end of Romine’s career (and by the power of Matt Nokes’ mullet, please let it be), we should remember that Romine is possibly the worst Yankee of all time.

Romine had six seasons with negative WAR with the Yankees – the most in franchise history since Black people were allowed in the AL – which never ceases to blow my mind. In six seasons, the Yankees would have been better off with their Triple-A catcher than with Romine, and Romine continued to maintain gainful employment. (Before we bash the Yankees too much, 2022 is Romine’s ninth season overall with negative WAR, so it’s not just the Yankees upon whom he holds illicit information.)

If this is a career for Romine, I wish to congratulate him. He’s earned $11.5 million dollars over 11 years despite proving beyond any reasonable doubt that he was not a Major League player. Good work if you can get it.

Also, if you’re curious, Kyle Higashioka (four) and Miguel Andújar (three) both have outside shots at catching Romine in number of seasons with negative WAR with the team.

Did I miss something? Let me know. Leave a comment below, or yell at me @mybaseballpage1 on Twitter and/or the “My Baseball Page” on Facebook.

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