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Denial Ain't Just A River In Egypt
2007-01-22 22:41
by Cliff Corcoran
Note: The Bronx Banter blog has moved to bronxbanterblog.com.

While I was trapped in a small room and chained to BP07, the Yankees made three moves which directly impact their 25-man roster for the coming season. Among the comments to my previous post were a few requests for me to weigh in on those three moves, which, having been so gently prodded, I intend to do. I need to shake off some rust and get back in fighting shape here, so I'll start with the least significant of the three, the decision to re-sign infielder Miguel Cairo for $750,000 for the coming season.

One can infer my initial reaction from what I wrote about Cairo in my infield post mortem back in November:

The Yankees got something of a career year out of Cairo in 2004, then botched resigning him, leading to the eminently regrettable Tony Womack deal. Cairo fell back to replacement level as a Met in 2005, but Brian Cashman, perhaps overeager to right the previous offseasons's supposed wrong, rather than considering Cairo a bullet dodged, gave him a million-dollar contract for 2006. Cairo rewarded Cashman's good deed by repeating his Met performance almost exactly. Here's hoping the Yankees have learned their lesson.

That lesson, of course, being: Cairo's 2005 was a fluke, move on. Sadly, that lesson has gone unheeded.

Lamenting the state of the Yankee bench in recent years, I took a look at the Yankee reserves over the entire Joe Torre era, which now consists of eleven full seasons. Here are the Yankees' primary middle infield reserves over that period:


NameYearsGPANYYCareer2B Rate2SS Rate2
Andy Fox1996-1997 135259.200/.290/.264.239/.324/.3388692
Luis Sojo1996-2001 271787.262/.296/.330.261/.297/.35210299
Homer Bush1997-1998 5589.378/.414/.451.285/.324/.35810690
Wilson Delgado2000 3151.244/.314/.333.251/.314/.31498106
Clay Bellinger2000 98209.207/.288/.370.193/.257/.36311580
Jose Vizcaino2000 73191.276/.319/.333.270/.318/.346101104
Enrique Wilson2001-2004 264636.216/.261/.332.244/.288/.3509098
Erick Almonte2003 31111.260/.321/.350.269/.327/.365n/a73
Miguel Cairo2004, 2006203652.271/.313/.380.268/.316/.361102100
Nick Green2006 4682.240/.296/.387.243/.312/.351102101

Rate2 is fielding Rate adjusted for league and normalized over time; Rate2 stats are career, G, PA, and NYY stats are for the given seasons with the Yankees only

What stands out here is that, outside of Homer Bush's small sample success (exposed by his career averages), nothing here stands out. Quick find the .330 OBP and the .390 SLG outside of Bush's small sample numbers. Found it yet? There are two ways to look at this. The first is to consider the selection of reserve infielders an organizational blind spot. The second is to consider that the Yankees have made the playoffs for eleven straight years, been to six World Series, and won four championships with a consistent level of production from their reserve infielders. In other words, maybe that level of production is enough.

Here's a look at the middle infield reserves of the other seven 2006 playoff teams:


NameTeamGPA2006Career2B Rate2SS Rate2
Omar InfanteTigers78245.277/.325/.416.251/.297/.389100107
Ramon SantiagoTigers4386.225/.244/.262.227/.292/.29995101
Neifi PerezTigers2170.200/.235/.215.268/.298/.376107111
Luis RodriguezTwins59132.235/.315/.322.255/.327/.359104122
Juan CastroTwins50164.231/.258/.308.233/.272/.340104106
Marco ScutaroA's117423.266/.350/.397.258/.316/.39010095
Aaron MilesCardinals135471.263/.324/.347.280/.322/.3609994
Hector LunaCardinals76245.291/.355/.417.276/.330/.39791104
Geoff BlumPadres109299.254/.293/.366.251/.312/.38994106
Mark BellhornPadres115288.190/.285/.344.231/.342/.39610094
Todd WalkerPadres44142.282/.366/.419.289/.349/.43794n/a
Ramon MartinezDodgers82194.278/.339/.364.270/.330/.381102103
Julio LugoDodgers49164.219/.278/.267.277/.340/.40296102

G and PA columns are 2006 only

Largely more of the same. Todd Walker has played just four innings at shortstop in his career and is a brutal defensive second baseman. Mark Bellhorn is finished, as he was when he came to the Yankees in 2005. Julio Lugo is a starter who was unhappily moonlighting as a reserve in L.A. Hector Luna, Omar Infante, and Marco Scutaro are all still shy of free agency. Take those players off the board and Ramon Martinez looks like a winner in the remaining group. Here's the 34-year-old Martinez and the 32-year-old Cairo up close:


NameYearGPAAVG/OBP/SLGCareer2B Rate2SS Rate2
Ramon Martinez200682194.278/.339/.364.270/.330/.381102103
Miguel Cairo2004, 2006203652.271/.313/.380.268/.316/.361102100

G, PA, and AVG/OBP/SLG columns are for the given seasons

Sure those extra 15-to-25 points of on-base percentage would be nice to have, but that's about the extent of the gripe here. For the most part, middle infielders better than Cairo and Martinez are in demand as starters and thus once they become free agents will fill voids on teams with a replacement level starter. That means that the only real hope of fielding a superior replacement is to grow one yourself.

There were two exceptions in this winter's free agent class. The following are the only meaningfully above replacement middle infielders that signed with teams were they weren't guaranteed to start:


NameTeamGPA2006Career2B Rate2SS Rate2
Mark LorettaAstros155703.285/.345/.361.299/.363/.40210498
Tony GraffaninoBrewers129511.274/.345/.406.269/.338/.39610697

Either of these players would have been far preferable to Cairo because of both their ability at the plate and their greater experience at third base (Loretta: 171 games, 95 Rate2; Graffanino: 156 games, 97 Rate2; Cairo: 81 games, 90 Rate2). Graffanino, a Long Island native, would have seemed like a natural fit. But then both of these players are used to getting significant playing time. Cario and Nick Green made a combined 326 plate appearances last year. Loretta, who is backing up a 41-year-old second baseman and a shortstop who can't hit, has come to the plate more often in every season since 1996. Graffanino, who is backing up a pair of injury-prone youngsters, has seen more action in each of the last two seasons.

Meanwhile, here's one middle infielder who did land a starting job as free agent this winter:


NameTeamGPA2006Career2B Rate2SS Rate2
Alex GonzalezReds111429.255/.299/.397.246/.292/.392n/a94

There's just not that much out there.

On the farm, Andy Cannizaro is just more of the same and would be a 28-year-old rookie this season. Ditto non-roster invitee Chris Basak. Past roster-filler Flex Escalona and Russ Johnson remain free agents. Escalona slipped back down to Double-A last year and, while Johnson has done little other than hit in his two years in the Yankee system, the organization seems to have little use for him, which suggests that as he enters his mid-30s he's limited to third base defensively. All of which makes the system seem pretty barren, though you must remember that it did produce Robinson Cano just two years ago.

Of course the big concern over the Cairo signing is, "what if Jeter or Cano get hurt and he has to start." Well, Jeter missed almost a month and a half at the beginning of the 2003 season, the Yankees replaced him with Erick Almonte, who has since fallen all the way to the independent leagues at age 28, and went 26-11 in his absence, building up a three-game lead in the AL East. In 2000, Chuck Knoblauch missed more than a month and the Yankees went 25-15 with Luis Sojo and Jose Vizcaino filling in, doubling their three game lead in the East over that stretch. Last Year, Robinson Cano missed a similar amount of time and the Yankees went 23-11 with Cairo and Green at the keystone and turned a 2.5 game deficit in the division to a 2 game lead. That's not to say that those players aren't valuable, but that, as the above attempted to illustrate, it's not a disaster to field a replacement level player in the middle infield for a while.

Besides which, the Yankees happen to have one of the best keystone combinations in baseball. Derek Jeter was a legitimate MVP candidate last year and is a sure-fire first-ballot Hall of Famer and Robinson Cano is the best second baseman in the American League and likely second only to Chase Utley in all of baseball. The Yankees are not going to be able to properly replace either of those players regardless of the quality of their backup. The best they can do is hope to maintain some baseline level of ability in their absence. Miguel Cairo is the definition of that baseline.

Comments (64)
Show/Hide Comments 1-50
2007-01-23 03:13:32
1.   Jim Dean
Excellent Cliff, thanks. It's always a nice treat to get going on the day and find something to read and think about here.

I'd argue (you probably knew I would) that the Yanks managed to survive in the other injury years because the other IF's were relatively still young and nimble - they were less likely to suffer an injury as well and were contributing above average performance for their positions (I'm looking at you, Jorge, Jeter, and Giambi, specifically). The effect was to "balance" out the losses. Now, would it really be a stretch to see their IF have a catastrophe like the OF in 2006?

It feels like they compound the mistake of Cairo with TR Nieves and Phelps/Phillips/MCI (who you could also claim as baselines). Further, I'm surprised you're calling Cairo a baseline - that feels like calling a 63 year old hooker "serviceable".

To the list I'd add Chris Gomez:

2006: 132 AB .341 .387 .439
Car: .260 .326 .360

Of course , those 2006 numbers are a small sample size effect, but maybe he's found something (in the AL East) that we know Cairo hasn't. But maybe his RATE isn't in-line with he others?

I'd also add Damion Easley:
2006: 189 AB .233 .323 .418
Car: .251 .328 .404

There isn't much. But with the Yankee resources, that can, and should have, done better. They bought a cheap insurance policy on a multi-million dollar home. I hope it doesn't come back to bite them.

2007-01-23 04:18:58
2.   Shaun P
I thought Chris Woodward would be an OK middle infielder pick up . . . but then I looked at his numbers.

2006: .216/.289/.311
Career: .247/.302/.384

His DT-translated numbers are about the same.

His defensive numbers are quite good, though potential small sample concerns abound:

2B - 2006: 111 (39 games)
2B - Career: 111 (70 games)

SS - 2006: 101 (13 games)
SS - Career: 100 (302 games)

3B - 2006: 117 (10 games)
3B - Career: 116 (39 games)

1 Essentially you're saying the Yanks should have signed either Loretta or Graffanino, right?

Loretta I agree was gettable - unless he was concerned with regular playing time, which not even the Yankee resources (ie money) could have offered.

Graffanino was arbitration-eligible, which the Brewers offered. I just looked this up, and I still can't believe it, but he was listed as a 'Type A' free agent. I'm guessing that's why there weren't any Tony Graffanino to the Yanks rumors.

2007-01-23 04:19:39
3.   mikeplugh
For my money, although I recognize that utility players are utility because they can't hit a lick, I still think the Yankees should give the job to a 25 year old minor leaguer that can run a little and has SOME upside. Cairo will do the job just fine, but Andy Cannizaro or someone of that nature would be better to me.

On a separate note, check out my post at COH. It seems that Joe Torre and Scott Proctor have stirred up some trouble in Lebanon.

2007-01-23 05:39:54
4.   OldYanksFan
Cliff... Thanks so much for presenting some thorough stats, and in context to the rest of MLB.

And I might ask....
what if Big Papi gets hurt? Should the Sox sign Bonds... just in case?
what if Beltran gets hurt? Should the Mets sign A.Jones... just in case?
what if Mauer gets hurt? Should the Twins try to get Posada... just in case?
What team would not be impacted if both their starting SS and 2nd went down?

We have an All-Star at almost every starting position... and spent a ton of money to both keep OUR homegrown guys (Posada, Jetes, Bernie) and try and get other impact players (Giambi, Matsui, ARod, Contraras, RJ, etc)... and in the last 2 years, have NOT given up any of our good kids.

These statements of 'should have gotten' with absolutely NO idea of availability, NO idea if the want to or can play in NY, NO idea what Cashman is manuvering for in both the immediate and short term future.. is getting nuts.

If I have a spat with the old lady, do I sit and tell myself 'I should have gotten' Pam Anderson?

2007-01-23 05:43:39
5.   yankz
Yeah, Jeter's only missed significant time because of that freak injury. What suggests he'll all of a sudden collapse?
2007-01-23 06:34:36
6.   mikeplugh
5 All the sex he's been having in public with ultra-bodacious women.
2007-01-23 06:47:01
7.   Chyll Will
If anyone recalls, Jeter had a rep as a defensive question-mark when he first came up, but has since performed... admirably? What I mean is, though the stats in the minors are a fair indicator of what to expect from a player in the majors, there's really no telling how that player will be until he actually gets there.

Marcus Thames' potential was scary when he was at Columbus; but didn't do much of anything for years after knocking the snot out of Randy his first at-bat. Did anyone really expect Shane Spencer to be heroic (at least until he started agitating to start) and so forth.

I agree with Cliff that just as there may be a systemic blind spot in terms of building a strong bench (but does that include former starters now reduced to back-up?), there may be no better way to strengthen the bench than to groom your own bench, either as career utility players (which would be an unfortunate prospect) or as eventual replacements (provided that the prospect has the patience to wait that long).

4 I imagine most people do. But if Kid Rock and Tommy Lee can't handle her, those are not strong endorsements in my opinion.

5 Never trust anyone over 30?

2007-01-23 06:53:49
8.   Chyll Will
6 That's actually a myth, by the way. It's been proven that sex does not inhibit an athlete's ability to play to peak performance. It's the break-ups right before the first pitch that are a (TinyHyphen)...
2007-01-23 06:58:12
9.   jayd
I don't worry a lick about Cairo or any replacement level player. Now I know why thanks to Cliff's latest post.

Another super productive injury free year from Posada, that THAT gets my all my prayers because at present a couple of months without Jorge will have an impact. Anybody have a clue what's going on with our future catcher or is he still playing video games in high school somewhere?

2007-01-23 07:06:25
10.   joejoejoe
A very simplistic way of looking at it is the Yankees spend a lot more $$$ per AB for starters than bench players even though those ABs all have largely the same value against the bottom line. For example, the Red Sox pay Julio Lugo $5M for 500 ABs. It only follows that they would pay a bench IF $1M for 100AB.

I'm not complaining about the Yankees lineup - it's fantastic. But if I were a GM in the AL assembling a team from scratch I think I'd design in at least one platoon and try and rotate 3 players between 1 position and DH to give all three players 400 ABs. That's not something the Yankees can do as currently constructed so they are stuck getting junkbin bench players who are happy with 100-150 ABs.

2007-01-23 07:46:42
11.   Cliff Corcoran
2 Shaun, great catch on the Type-A status of Graffanino. I had indeed noticed that earlier this winter but completely forgot about it when writing the above post.

3 Another thing I left out of this post is that Miguel Cairo's primary contribution to last year's team was his ability on the bases. In limited duty he stole 13 bases in 14 attempts and over the past three seasons combined he's swiped 37 bags in 44 tries (84%). That's being able to run more than a little. Meanwhile the only farm hand who looks like he might be able to manage even Cairo's low level of production at the plate is Cannizaro, who's not 25, he's 28, and he's 36 for 62 (58%) on the bases in his six year minor league career.

1 Jim, this post is only about the utility infield spot, first base and back-up catcher are separate posts.

2007-01-23 07:48:07
12.   Cliff Corcoran
11 Oh, and translation on the Type-A free agent thing: had the Yankees signed Graffanino they would have lost their first-round draft pick. Not at all worth it for a modest upgrade on the bench.
2007-01-23 07:57:44
13.   Shaun P
11 Thanks, Cliff. I still can't believe Tony Graffanino is a Type A free agent, but there you are.

Crazy free agent ranking fun fact #2: Not only is Graffanino a Type A, so are such luminaries as Rich Aurilia, Todd Walker, and Jose Vidro.

Crazy free agent ranking fun fact #3: Meanwhile, if Scott Rolen were a free agent, he would be a Type B.

Its all right there in black and white:
http://tinyurl.com/ybbxpx

2007-01-23 07:59:37
14.   joejoejoe
OT: I see on the Yankees MLB page that some AAA pitching prospect I've never heard of is tearing it up in the Venezuelan League as a reliever. Does anyone know anything about Francisco Butto beyond his minor league stats (age 26, RH, 6'1 200)?

From MLB.com: "The right-hander has appeared in more games for the Tigres de Aragua than any other pitcher currently participating in the Venezuelan Winter League playoffs. Butto has pitched in nine of the 12 postseason games for the 8-4 Tigres and he has a 1.13 ERA. He also leads the circuit with four saves in the playoffs."

2007-01-23 08:02:55
15.   Cliff Corcoran
14 A slow week or two for news will make just about anything or anyone a story. As I wrote on some other thread, Butto is, as you say, 26 years old and didn't crack Triple-A until last year. He's never dominated his level. His ceiling is Scott Proctor and I'd be very surprised if he ever reaches even that.
2007-01-23 08:13:39
16.   Schteeve
The reason the Yankees can survive Jeter going down, or Knobby going down, or oh I dunno, Sheff and Matsui going down at the same time is that they build their redundancy or "depth" into the starting 9 not the bench.

Their starting lineup is so freaking sick, that they don't need a bench full of guys who can reasonably approximate the starters production, because there ARE NO BENCH GUYS LIKE THAT.

Great analysis Cliff, it's good to have you back.

2007-01-23 08:14:11
17.   ny2ca2dc
I think one thing to remember is that with MKZY/Phelps as the 'everyday' 1B, whenever a star (star being defined as any regular save MKZY/Phelps) goes down, Giambi goes to first, an OFer goes to DH, Melky goes to the OF, and crappy replacement (Cairo or the BUC) goes in for injured star. Yet another way Melky makes the team better and more flexible - he's not just the forth outfielder, he's the first bat off the bench.
2007-01-23 08:45:42
18.   markp
Marcus Thames potential wasn't scary. He had one big year in Norwich (AA) in 2001 at age 24. Other than that, from the time he got out of low A ball until 2003 he never had an 800 OPS in the minor leagues.
2007-01-23 08:49:06
19.   Yankee Fan In Boston
anyone else annoyed that the yankees convinced cano to switch to number 24 so that 22 would be open for clemens?
2007-01-23 08:51:54
20.   Chyll Will
19 Where'd you hear that?
2007-01-23 09:15:30
21.   Shawn Clap
20
http://tinyurl.com/2qt7gx

I wonder how many times an old timer has asked this of himself: Should I retire, or go pitch for the New York Yankees.

Pass on Clemens, please.

2007-01-23 09:25:14
22.   Cliff Corcoran
21 I'm usually the voice of reason on these things, but I honestly expect Clemens to come back. A lot of subtle signs (beyond the usual slow news day filler) are pointing that way. I'll take him.
2007-01-23 09:25:14
23.   Shawn Clap
I'm suprised Cano didn't take 29 to satisfy his Rod Carew fetish.
2007-01-23 09:25:20
24.   ny2ca2dc
19, it says Cano volunteered, and that no one asked him to... but i guess you're calling BS on that. I'll choose to believe he gave it up freely, because otherwise I'd be disgusted, and because Cano seems like that kind of a good guy.
2007-01-23 09:25:28
25.   Chyll Will
That says he voluntarily did it, not them convincing him. I'm on the fence with Clemens, honestly. If he really wanted to come back here as opposed to angling for the best contract, I'd be happy to have him even at mid-season. Meh...
2007-01-23 09:42:58
26.   Yankee Fan In Boston
24 25 how many major leaguers decide to switch their numbers?

...how many for someone who isn't even signed to a deal with their team?

i don't doubt that cano would be cool about it if he was asked, he seems pretty laid back, but it stinks for clemens haters who paid for a cano jersey.

2007-01-23 09:43:25
27.   YankeeInMichigan
Bryan Smith has posted his Top 75 prospects at Baseball Analysts: http://baseballanalysts.com/

Hughes is #4, Tabata is #23 and Sanchez is #52. Clippard is on the Honorable Mention list. In his writeup, he suggests that Sanchez' move the bullpen will be permanent.

2007-01-23 09:44:43
28.   standuptriple
I'm becoming tired of the Rocket spectacle. I think his status has been inflated so much over the last few seasons that he might not be worth the drama. Remember when he was trying to get #300? It became a distraction and I'd prefer a more focused team. When Rocket is on the hill, it's all about him. That's fine in HOU and maybe even in Beantown, but I don't think anybody should get "special treatment" in pinstripes and you know that's going to be a sitcking point for him. Especially since he's proven that he's no more than another hired gun (albeit an exceptional one). The #-thing is just the tip of the iceberg. What's next, Rocket doesn't have to shave? Rocket can grow his hair however long he wants? Drive up Boston's price, let them deal with the added media and clubhouse issues and boo him in the Bronx when he comes (if he doesn't skip the turn).
Wow, even I didn't realize how frustrated I've become with this whole "will he, won't he" BS.
2007-01-23 09:46:40
29.   The Mick 536
How did Robie become the second best second baseman in baseball? Two years ago, he had hands of stone. Is it the Bowa factor?
2007-01-23 09:49:01
30.   YankeeInMichigan
242526 Soriano switched numbers when the Yanks reaquried Wells. Nate Robertson switched numbers when the Tigers acquired Rodgers. As for switching numbers as a "recruiting technique," I don't know of any precedent.

Speaking of numbers, there's been a bit of stink in Detroit regarding Sheffield's taking of #3 (Alan Trammell's old number).

2007-01-23 09:57:15
31.   Yankee Fan In Boston
30 i know that others have changed their numbers before, but usually at someone's request, as you mentioned. i've just never heard of a guy doing so for this purpose. it grinds my gears because it is cano... doing this for clemens... ugh.

(and for the record, soriano changing digits for wells bothered me, too.)

2007-01-23 10:09:37
32.   yankz
Well, Cano was named after Jackie Robinson, and 24 is 42 backwards...
2007-01-23 10:13:23
33.   Yankee Fan In Boston
32 ooooooo... if that has anything to do with this, i rescind all whining and such. good call. if all of this comes to pass, i will convince myself of the jackie myth. thankz, yankz.
2007-01-23 10:19:48
34.   Jim Dean
11 I understand that this post was only about the UIF slot.

However, when a team is constructed you need to also pay attention to the greater whole. The fact is:

a) The starting IF is old.
b) The catcher is ancient.
c) The youngest IF missed 6 weeks.

The likelihood of injuries increases and that places a greater depndence on a quality bench.

In past years (Jeter, Knobs, Cano) they could more easily sustain an extended loss with Luis Cairo prodcution AND younger players at all the IF positions.

If anything, there's even more of an increased likelihood of injuries at multiple positions. Sure, some would say last year was a fluke - I think it was more than likely. Why not overpay for a bit more insurance now?

17 It's a great scenario, and I would prefer Giambi starting half of the time because of it. Still, they seem intent on making him a DH. Yet, they go years without acquiring a 1B.

2007-01-23 10:26:24
35.   thelarmis
excellent analysis, cliff. i caught the post super late last nite. it really is nice to have you back...

yesterday = Scrabble is a kickass nickname, esp. since Eye Chart is apparently taken (?)

i was wondering what would happen, #-wise w/ Cano/Clemens if it came to be. it really does seem like it's gonna happen. Rocket was sporting one of his WS rings the other day... i was surprised Brad Penny (of all people) wouldn't give up #31 when Maddux joined the Dodgers. Maddux being Maddux didn't care, but i thought it would've been a nice, respectful gesture for Penny to offer the number...

2007-01-23 10:41:45
36.   thelarmis
The Post was saying the Yanks asked Cano to switch... mlbtraderumors brought up the wily mo #22 situation in beantown. this is a bit silly...
2007-01-23 10:45:06
37.   hoppystone
Hey, hang on to those Cano #22 jerseys; they'll be quite a collector's item someday!
2007-01-23 10:52:15
38.   Chyll Will
35 "A Penny saved is a Penny durned..."

34 Man, you're just a bulldog about this infielder issue. For what it's worth, old is subjective in baseball. Jeter is old in babseball years, but not old in quality, and neither is A-Rod. Giambi would have been in the catagory if he didn't (allegedly) shoot himself up with PHD and then (allegedly) suffer withdrawal, and Cano old and by inference lame??? Posada could still kick four out of five asses in the majors with a broken nose to boot.

I don't know what else to say, man.

2007-01-23 10:56:51
39.   standuptriple
I don't know why Cano just didn't hold on to it. I assume you can't change #'s mid season or something? If you can he's forfeiting a nice payout from Rocket (unless a deal is already in place). If it is 36 then that's a hell of a chess move. Ball's in your court Theo. (If that IS the reason, while silly, it's the kind of sh!t-starting George loves to stir up).
2007-01-23 11:08:07
40.   Chyll Will
39 Like Cliff said, slow news week. George is the master at that kind of stuff...
2007-01-23 11:25:29
41.   Jeteupthemiddle
29 I think it is an offense issue. He is the best in the AL because really, what is his competition? He may be the 2nd best in the NL because really, what is his competition? We are in a dark era for second basemen I believe.

I am not nearly as bothered by the Cairo signing as some people. Anyway, I expect that should a middle infielder go down for any extended period of time, recently acquired Alberto Gonzalez will be called up and get the bulk of the playing time.

He still has prospect status, and should be getting regular playing time...he will get that in AAA and not on the big league club.

However, I wouldn't be surprised if he were the utility infielder in 2008.

2007-01-23 11:27:13
42.   Jeteupthemiddle
39 You can change your number mid-season.

A couple of years ago, David Wells had number 3 for Boston, and then later in teh season Renteria had number 3.

2007-01-23 11:40:19
43.   williamnyy23
I can't imagine why anyone would criticize the idea of Clemens returning to the Yankees. Pitching ability aside, I would love to have him hanging around Hughes, Sanchez, et al.

Like it or not, Clemens could very well control the balance of power in the AL East, and Cashman would be foolish if he was anything but pro-active in seeking his return. I could care less what it takes to get him. When you are clearly one of the top players all-time on "your side of the ball", then you deserve some perks.

2007-01-23 11:55:56
44.   standuptriple
43 I believe those perks have a cost at the expense of the rest of the team. Do those costs overtake the benefits, well that's for the season performance to decide. My ideal pref is to have him stay in HOU where he gets to feast on the crappy NL lineups and pitchers to his heart's content before he rides off into the sunset. He's already retired as a Yankee.
2007-01-23 12:11:35
45.   Cliff Corcoran
41 Alberto Gonzalez is just more of the same, except right now he's only played four games above Double-A. His big selling point is his glove, but if you were to stick him in the majors this year I'd be surprised if he was able to hit his weight. He wasn't even invited to spring training.

And yes, 29, 41, the Cano evaluation was based largely on his offense, though his defense did improve markedly last year as well, which makes the statement easier to make.

2007-01-23 12:25:51
46.   Schteeve
Some people are nuts.

Getting worked up about Robby Cano voluntarily and apparently happily changing numbers so that the greatest pitcher since WWII could wear 22?

Really? we're upset about that? It's not like they asked Robby to contract Genital Herpes to help woo Clemens.

Sheesh.

Maybe I don't take things seriously enough.

2007-01-23 12:40:18
47.   OldYanksFan
a) The starting IF is old.
b) The catcher is ancient.
c) The youngest IF missed 6 weeks.

ARod, Jetes, Cano, Scrabble. 31,32,24,31 are not spring chickens, but I would hardly call them old. Mantle was old at 34... but thats a different era and the guy was permanently injured. How many players 40+ are still posting good numbers? 35+?

Posada is 35. Pudge is 34. Aside from Fisk, there are a number of catchers who were very productive at 35. But you must factor in the Posada was converted from INF to C late in his career. He has the knees of a 31 year old. Yes... he's getting old... but ancient?

So Cano, whos still a kid, pulled a muscle. So what? Whats your point?

Jim Jim Jim.... I did lots of acid when I was younger, but now my percerptions are just fine. Dude... please.... you need mega doses of vitamin C.

2007-01-23 12:50:13
48.   YankeeInMichigan
27 Smith has a pretty nice writeup on Hughes: http://tinyurl.com/2k9fke

"If Roger Clemens does not return to the Bronx in 2007, Hughes will be the hot-button issue in New York come June. By then, Hughes will be dominating AAA with every outing. The Yankees have done a fabulous job preparing Hughes for his midseason call-up, slowly increasing his workload in the minor leagues. With 146 innings last year, Hughes should be able to pitch consistently through October, by which time he might already be the Yankees' No. 2 starter. Far more impressive than Hughes' heavy sinker or jaw-dropping curveball is his understanding of pitching; he is the most intelligent phenom in recent memory. Hughes does not give in to any bat, rarely allows free trips to first base, and gets groundballs consistently from the stretch. Hughes is as good as a New York pitching prospect has been in a long time."

2007-01-23 12:50:47
49.   YankeeInMichigan
47 Make that Vitamin C2.
2007-01-23 12:53:46
50.   Yankee Fan In Boston
46 my personal reaction has less to do with cano than it does my personal distaste for mr. clemens.

yes, he's a certain HOFer and will likely help whoever he decides to play for, but i can't stand the thought of him in a yankee uniform again. i'd just rather not have him on the team.

the fact that he's already getting the yankees to ask "how high" does little to endear him to me.

if winning mehmattski's respect is ca$hman's goal, than clemens' goal must be to get under my skin.

some people despise paris hilton, others certain political figures, i can't stand roger clemens. i'm not proud of it.

(also, i heard that clemens demanded that craig biggio conract the clap before he went to houston... whenever their paths crossed, every 5th day or so... unless they were on the road of course in which case clemens couldn't be bothered to show up, roger would laugh and shout, "look everybody! it's clappy!" ...and you'd want him on your team?!? not me. no thanks. also... he kicks puppies.)

Show/Hide Comments 51-100
2007-01-23 12:56:00
51.   YankeeInMichigan
42 The Wells case was kind of unique. He chose #3 in admiration of the Babe. He then abandoned the uniform when he felt that the Babe was cursing him.

A recent Yankee example of a mid-season uni-switch was Bubba Crosby, who switched from #19 to #18 when the Yanks acquired Al Leiter. He then switched back to #19 the following spring to make room for Johnny Damon.

2007-01-23 12:57:11
52.   OldYanksFan
I think it may be time for a "Do we want Clemens" thread. As I mentioned before, he posted a 3.99 ERA with the Yanks his last go round... and that was 3 years ago. Even with just pitching 1/2 season, he wore down October. Would this just be the second coming of RJ?

Are we expecting a sub 4.00 ERA from him? Will he get paid over 1$mil/start for a 4.50 ERA?

What are we expecting from this guy?
The dude is a serious primadonna
I don't want Boston to get him, but I'm not sure if I want him either.

Thoughts?

2007-01-23 12:58:14
53.   C2Coke
34 Jim, is it that difficult for you to let go of this topic for just a day?

Yes, Cano is doing great but he is still getting taxi fare right now no matter how important he is to the team. Until he signs a long term contract with the Yankees, why wouldn't he do anything to please the organization especially when he only wore the number for 2 years? He's still got plenty in him to make the number 24 meaningful.

2007-01-23 12:58:51
54.   YankeeInMichigan
46 Greatest pitcher since WWII?

Possibly, but it will take another two half-seasons for Rocket to overcome Warren Spahn in wins.

2007-01-23 13:05:48
55.   Chyll Will
50 Meh. (Ben Stein voice) I'm neither here nor there about Clemens. If we get him, whoopee. If we don't, whoopdee-damn-do. (/Ben Stein voice)

46 You need a light there, buddy?

2007-01-23 13:19:18
56.   Bama Yankee
Great job as usual Cliff. Glad you're back.

46 I'm with you Schteeve. If he wants to offer up his number as a "loaner" for a season to help get Clemens, good for him.

I wouldn't mind seeing Roger back in pinstripes, but I really don't want to see him go back to Boston. I hope he stays in Houston.

But all of this is on the back burner for me right now, since I have been busy most of the day trying to figure out how much it is going to cost me to switch from cable to DirecTV (thanks Bud!).

2007-01-23 13:23:50
57.   williamnyy23
I am 100% behind getting Clemens. I loved watching him perform while he was here and would eagerly welcome him back this year. Getting to watch an immortal is pretty neat, IMHO. I also disagree with those who claim Clemens wasn't a real Yankees. He definitely ranks as one of my all-time favorites.
2007-01-23 14:09:22
58.   Peter
Excellent post, Cliff. I'm one of the few people who don't mind having Miggy on the bench (even if Torre's man-love for him can get frustratng at times), but it was nice to see some sort of validation for bringing him back.

As for Cano/Clemens, is it definite that Cano is switching numbers? The story I read on espn.com used an IF, as in: Cano would be willing to switch numbers if Clemens comes back.

I hope Clemens either retires or stays in Houston, but I'd rather see him pitch here than in Boston.

2007-01-23 14:47:57
59.   Shaun P
FWIW, PECOTA thinks Clemens is due for another good-to-great year in '07. Caveat - the forecast was probably done with Clemens as an Astro, not a Yank or a Red Sox, but if the rough translation is to add about .25-.5 a run to ERA and knock the K/9 rate down a bit - its still a heck of a forecast.

If rested and healthy, Clemens would be a great weapon to have for the postseason, presuming the Yanks make it. I wouldn't mind seeing him in pinstripes again.

2007-01-23 15:09:10
60.   YankeeInMichigan
58 mlb.com already lists Cano as #24 on the Yankee roster: http://tinyurl.com/6nga7
2007-01-23 15:29:38
61.   Peter
60 Thanks. Man, that just looks weird.
2007-01-23 15:48:36
62.   standuptriple
Rickey will not be happy with this revelation. On the other hand, he may be too busy being Rickey to notice. GOAT (leadoff)
2007-01-23 18:37:45
63.   Jeteupthemiddle
45 Alberto Gonzalez is on the 40-man roster and therefore does not need an invite to Spring Training.
2007-01-23 20:49:28
64.   Raf
62 Neither is Tino, or Kevin Maas... I think Big Rube is griping a bit too :)

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