Baseball Toaster Bronx Banter
Yankee Panky #58: Anyone for Seconds?
2008-07-20 21:59
by Will Weiss

Since 2002, the Yankees have the best winning percentage in baseball after the All-Star break, at .638 (240-136, including their 3-0 mark so far in 2008). Maybe it’s because with each passing year, the team gets a little older, and it takes four months to loosen up. Or perhaps by mid-July, the collective group remembers how to shrug off the media distractions (see Rodriguez, Alex), and win ballgames.

Contrary to last year, when the Yankees were 43-43 at the break, the Yankees began post-All-Star play this season five games above .500, with fewer teams to leapfrog in the Wild-Card race. But this year, there seems to be more riding on the last two and a half months of the season from a performance standpoint, with it being the final year of the current incarnation of Yankee Stadium, a 13-year playoff streak to maintain and a new manager trying to place his imprint on the franchise. At least, that’s my interpretation based on the media coverage of the team. Fewer pundits are writing the Yankees off, whereas last year at this time, broadcasters were giddy at the thought of a Yankee-less October.

Some of the stuff is mind-boggling, though. Is consistency too much to ask for? On Sunday morning’s SportsCenter, within 30 seconds of endorsing the Yankees’ Wild Card chances based on their second-half surges, Tim Kurkjian placed Joe Girardi on the “Hot Seat,” because, “He couldn’t think of anyone else” to put there. Huh? Tim Kurkjian, you’re better than that. Without concrete information, how can we take that comment seriously? If nothing has been printed or broadcast about Girardi being fired, don’t arbitrarily put him there during a five-minute filler segment; not unless you want to continue feeding the theory that ESPN has a company policy to hate the Yankees. For what it’s worth, I’d think that in Detroit and Cleveland, Mark Shapiro and Dave Dombrowski are keeping a close eye on Jim Leyland and Eric Wedge.

There is consistency on one level: broadcast teams habitually repeat the same meaningless banter on a game-by-game basis, and espouse the theory that this Yankee team is like the playoff and championship teams that came before it. It’s gone on for years, and it's wrong. These exchanges add nothing to the broadcast, and they insult the intelligence of the fans who eat, sleep and breathe the team and know better.

Some myths need to be dispelled, and the broadcasters hold the key. I say this because the writers — when not shadowing Star, Globe or the Enquirer for the latest dish on A-Rod and the Queen of Kaballah — are growing savvier in using the Internet(s) as a viable research tool for their stories. More beat members and columnists are scouring cyberspace to create angles and complement their articles with the numerous stat categories at their disposal. How difficult is it to take 10-15 minutes to provide a series of stat lines that could enhance the game and make the broadcasters sound smarter? Who cares if the numbers outline certain deficiencies? Numbers don’t lie, and they reflect the big picture.

Think of how much better the experience of watching or listening to a Yankee game would be if any member of a broadcast team would dispense the information listed below. If as David Cone says, pitchers can “variate” their delivery and arm angles, then broadcasters can take a risk and “variate” their preparation.

Myth 1: The Yankees are a disciplined, patient hitting team 
From 1995-2002, maybe even through 2004, the Yankees would wear out opposing pitchers, forcing them to throw between five and 10 pitchers per at-bat, and demonstrating a penchant for working walks. Of course, this didn’t apply when facing rookies or any pitcher they’d never faced before, but in general, the Yankees routinely penetrated their opponent’s bullpen in the middle innings. 

Fast forward to 2008 Despite ranking third in the AL in team OBP (.340), the Yankees are T-7 in walks (336). To date, the starting lineup boasts only two players with more than 40 walks: Jason Giambi’s mustache and Bob Abreu.

Myth 2: The Yankees’ offense will carry them
The Yankees scored 968 runs a year ago, but are on pace to be more than 100 runs short of that number this year. Why? Despite the Yankees’ ability to get on base (their .340 OBP ranks third in the AL), they are a terrible hitting team with runners in scoring position. The Yankees rank third among AL teams in at-bats with RISP (893), but are 11th in batting average (.254) in such situations. Further evidence of the Yankees' poor situational hitting is their incredible lack of sacrifice flies. Only the Kansas City Royals (18) have a total lower than the Yankees' 21. Conversely, the Minnesota Twins, who are directly in front of the Yankees in the Wild Card chase, are MLB’s best in both categories: they're batting .314 with runners in scoring position, and have hit 39 sac flies.

If you haven't done so already, start paying attention to the LOB area of the box score. The Yankees left 12 men on base through the first six innings of Saturday's game versus Oakland. Beyond the gross number, pay attention to the number of men left on base with two out, and the batter responsible. If you want to test your emotions, compare the Yankees' numbers to the teams ahead of them in the standings.

• When George Steinbrenner was driven around the stadium prior to the ceremonial first pitch in the All-Star Game, did anyone else sense the fear among Joe Buck and Tim McCarver to mention how frail The Boss looked? Most media members describe Mr. Steinbrenner as being “less of a presence” at the Stadium and in the daily operations of the team. The Steinbrenner family and his PR man, Howard Rubinstein, have been extremely secretive about the Boss's health.

Judging from his appearance, “less of a presence” could be “no presence” before too long. New York Times columnist Harvey Araton hinted at this in this feature on Dave Winfield, which ran Friday.

• Much has been written and said about Bobby Murcer since his passing a week ago. I was not surprised to hear the news, but I still thought his death, considering the circumstances, was sudden and I felt a sense of loss, having worked with him for five years. While our collaborations were not as frequent as they probably could have been, I will remember this: whenever we completed work on a column, he always said, “Thank you.” If our collaboration happened to be in-person at the Stadium as opposed to over the phone, he’d add a handshake, a pat on the back and an “aw, shucks” request to make him sound smart.  His consideration, class and humility made him a pleasure to work with.

Until next week …

Comments (85)
Show/Hide Comments 1-50
2008-07-21 06:36:34
1.   mehmattski
It is a bit disingenuous to use "pitches/plate appearance" to start the discussion about patient hitters, and then end using on base percentage. The two are related, but they are also quantifiable. Here's a typical lineup from the 1998 Yankees:

Knoblauch: 4.03
Jeter: 3.83
O'Neill: 3.58
Williams: 3.77
Martinez: 3.91
Strawberry: 4.13
Posada: 4.03
Curtis: 3.76
Brosius: 3.67

Which is an average of 34.71 pitches per time through the lineup, certainly well under your exaggerated "five or ten pitches per at bat." For comparison, here is a typical 2008 Yankees lineup:

Damon: 4.01
Jeter: 3.73
Abreu: 4.72
A-Rod: 3.83
Giambi: 4.18
Posada: 3.86
Cano: 3.32
Molina: 3.48
Cabrera: 3.72

That's an outrageously impatient 34.85 pitches per time through the lineup. That's even with putting Molina instead of Matsui. If you want to put Brett Gardner in for the injured Damon, the rookie has been seeing 4.14 pitches/PA thus far.

So your notion that the 2008 Yankees are impatient needed a bit more research.

2008-07-21 06:56:46
2.   monkeypants
1 Thanks--I was wondering the same thing but didn't know how to go about the numbers. On a related note, the 2008 Yankees have a .340 OBP and 336 BB through 98 games, on pace for 555 BB. How does that compare:

1998: 653 BB .362 OBP
1999: 718 BB .364 OBP
2000: 631 BB .354 OBP

2008: 555 BB .340 OBP

So, the Yankees are clearly walking less this season compared to the glory years of the late 1990s, and that in large part accounts for their lower team OBP. But I think that you are correct in pointing out that they seem to see the same number of pitches. What does this mean?

Partly, we have to consider how awful the subs have been for the 2008 Yankees, filling in for numerous injuries. Also, we have to consider that the 208 Yankees are simply not as good. So instead of walking on 3-2, or getting hits, the current team has more often made outs.

2008-07-21 07:23:15
3.   mehmattski
2 If you go to a player's page on Baseball Reference, there's a red link beneath the Special Batting stats which can be clicked to reveal data on the pitches each player sees. Unfortunately it is not a searchable category (yet), so you have to look at each player individually. But it took me about 20 minutes to get the 1998 and 2008 Yankees.

It's true that the team from a decade ago could rely on more patient bench players: Tim Raines (3.97) and Chili Davis (3.81). But they also had significant at-bats from Joe Girardi (3.32) and Luis Sojo (3.40). For the 2008 Yankees, I already listed Molina; the next most-used bench player is Wilson Betemit, who has a respectable 3.70 p/PA.

With regards to the walks, I suppose the answer is with the depth of the lineup. I'm not sure why Will went with a cut-off of 40 walks as showing why hitters are patient or not; A-Rod has 36 walks and Damon has 35. The 1998 team had three players draw 70+ walks, and eight players with 50+ walks. Could this team match that? The former is certainly possible, but with Matsui probably out for the year, I'd say no to the latter.

So it comes down to Molina, Melky, and Cano as the main anti-walk culprits. Cano can hit well enough to make up for his lack of walks; Melky and Molina cannot. Is that a problem for this team? And, is it really all that honest to call the patience of the 2008 Yankees a "Myth" because of a couple hitters at the bottom of the lineup?

2008-07-21 07:28:02
4.   Shaun P
1 2

1998 Yanks, strikeouts by hitters: 1025 in 6444 PA (.159 K/AB)

2008 Yanks, strikeouts by hitters: 564 in 3772 PA (.150 K/AB)

So the Yanks are striking out less than they did in 1998 (of course they are also hitting fewer HR: .032 HR/PA in '98, .025 HR/PA in '08). Even though they are seeing more pitches, it seems that they are making more outs via contact in 2008 than in 1998.

I don't know the '98 numbers, and don't know where to get them, but in 2008, the Yanks have a BABIP of .295, a line drive rate of 19%, and a ground ball rate of 46%.

(And for some reason,'s team plate appearance total doesn't agree with what I get from adding things up on the site; maybe hasn't been updated with yesterday's game yet?)

2008-07-21 07:29:52
5.   Raf
ESPN is lowest common denominator programming. They have no reason to do their homework or research; people will still tune in to watch them.
2008-07-21 07:41:47
6.   tommyl
1 -4 I've been racking my brain a bit to figure out why this team is underperforming so much offensively. I have two theories, which are not wholly distinct:

1. The distribution of OBP is much more skewed this year than in '98. If you look at the current lineup you have three players OBP over .350. That's a bit of an arbitary cutoff, because some players (Jeter, Abreu) are just below and I'm leaving off Damon. Still I'm also including Jorge and calling him a catcher right now is sort of being nice about it. By comparison, the 1998 team had every single starting player with OBP over .350. So while they didn't have an A-Rod or a Giambi they had next to no black holes. That meant the lineup just made fewer outs on average all the way through and it was easier to string rallies together. How many of you have any confidence at all when someone like Molina comes up to the plate? Also, having that many players with high OBP means that when one or two players slump you can compensate. Currently, if A-Rod and Giambi go into a funk its pretty damn hard to score any runs at all.

2. The Rob Neyer below replacement theory. Neyer in his book analyzing pennant races showed how giving significant playing time to even a single player below replacement value could kill a team's playoff chances in a close race. Currently the Yankees have several, Melky, Cano (though he's rebounding), Molina, Betemit and Gardner (though its small sample size and he's the backup, backup OF so I can't get too upset) who are below replacement. Note that in Neyer's analysis they don't have to be way below, just a bit below. Its fair to say that Melky and to a lesser extent Cano have killed this team this year.

2008-07-21 07:43:09
7.   mehmattski

1996: .315
1997: .316
1998: .317
1999: .309
2000: .304
2001: .293
2002: .310
2003: .295
2004: .285
2005: .297
2006: .315
2007: .318
2008: .295

As for Line drives, that takes a bit more effort on BB-ref, since I have to do the division myself. Here's some select years:

Year/Line Drives/Total PA/Percentage
2008 /571/ 3772/ 0.15
2007 /980/ 6528/ 0.15
1998 /1124/ 6444/ 0.17
1999 /947/ 6416/ 0.15

In 1998 and 1999 the Yankees hit an almost identical number of ground balls (2042 versus 2035) or 32 percent. This year BB-ref says they've hit 1291, which works out to 34 percent. I trust BB-Ref a whole lot more than I trust ESPN's numbers.

I found all this on the "bat split" page for each team, link located just below the header on the main team page.

2008-07-21 07:58:57
8.   Shaun P
7 Nice research, mehmattski! Interesting that THT and's numbers do not agree on LD%. They must get their data from different sources?

6 Actually, that was a chapter Jay Jaffe wrote for BP's pennant race analysis book ("It Ain't Over"). Jaffe called such guys "Replacement Level Killers". He wrote an article back in June, identifying some guys (MLB-wide) who fit the bill in 2008 ( - subscriber only) and, no surprise, listed both Cano and Melky.

2008-07-21 08:00:26
9.   tommyl
8 Ah, you're right. Damn I'm screwing up my good baseball writers again! Sorry!
2008-07-21 08:04:09
10.   monkeypants
3 4 , etc.

The more I thought about it, the more I question if using the counting total of BB was a good measure 2 --the Yankees of the late 1990s scored more runs and sent more players to bat, so they accumulated more BB. Of course, they also scored more runs and sent more men to the plate BECAUSE they drew more walks. It's hard to separate cause and effect here.

But consider this:

1998: .288 BA .362 OBP = .026 dif
1999: .282 BA .364 OBP = .022 dif
2000: .277 BA .354 OBP = .023 dif

2008: .262 BA .340 OBP = .022 dif

If I read these numbers correctly, the team's lower OBP this year is accounted for by far in the teams lower BA, not its lower BB total. (Though I realize that lower BA may be partly the product of fewer BB, which in turn means more ABs).

Still, the real question may be why is this team this year getting so many fewer base hits, not why are they less patient?

2008-07-21 08:16:18
11.   williamnyy23
Sometimes I think patience is misconstrued and taken to mean taking a lot of pitches and drawing a lot of walks. I actually think it means swing at the right pitches, or, not swinging at the wrong pitches. If a batter gets to a 3-1 count and then flails at a pitch off the plate (see first half Cano), that is not a patient at bat because he saw five pitches. Similarly, if Arod turns on 1-0 fastball down the middle, that doesn't mean he is impatient because he only saw two pitches. It seems as if one problem this year has been that the Yankees are swinging at the wrong pitches, not that they aren't taking enough of them.

Having said that, clearly, the Yankees biggest problem this season has been injuries. Losing Damon, Matsui, Arod and Posada for significant chunks adds up to a massive blow that only gets worse when you factor in the replacements (Gardner, Betemit, Ensberg, Molina, etc.). Then you add in the underperformance of Jeter, Melky and Cano and it's not hard to see why this team struggles to score.

2008-07-21 08:23:53
12.   Schteeve
Cano is SOMETIMES able to hit well enough to make up for his lack of walks. To date in 2008 he has not.

The other thing we haven't talked about is SLG. Giambi, A-Rod, and Abreu are the only Yankees with more than 10 HR. Abreu has precisely 10. (Sexson has 11, but none with the Yankees.) Currently the Yankees are on pace to hit 155 HR this season, in 98 they hit 207.

It's the HR that are missing.

2008-07-21 08:25:29
13.   monkeypants
11 I agree with you (!!!!!). As to your first point, it's hard to measure "swinging at the wrong pitches" using historical data. That said, swinging at the wrong pitches could be just another of saying what I said in 10 , they have a lower team BA. In other words, when they hit the ball they make more outs, maybe because they are going out of the zone.

The injuries have been brutal, resulting in 453 ABs by Molina, Moeller, Betemit, Gonzalez, and Gardner. And the other 149 ABs taken up by Duncan, Ensberg, and Christian have not helped much either.

2008-07-21 08:25:56
14.   Schteeve
And realizing that, I remember a bunch of posters on this board last season who would get outraged that the Yankees scored all their runs via the HR instead of hitting the ball the other way or bunting or something.

Careful what you wish for.

2008-07-21 08:26:59
15.   Will Weiss
1 3 7 Tremendous research. Thank you for the contribution. . ... 2 Your considerations are correct. The effect of the Canos, Cabreras and Molinas on the lineup have been detrimental to OBP and situational hitting. 6 Tommy's first point highlights my reasoning for the .350 OBP cutoff. I apologize for not articulating the point more clearly.
2008-07-21 08:34:05
16.   monkeypants
12 Good point. But also keep this in mind:

2008: .413 SLG

1998: .460
1999: .453
2000: .450

The twenty points lower that the team is batting this year would make up a good chunk of the 40-45 points lost in SLG. In the end, it still seems to come back to BA--the team is getting fewer hits, and that also means fewer balls going over the fence.

2008-07-21 08:42:24
17.   Sonya Hennys Tutu
And once again you've all showed why I've basically stopped going elsewhere for Yankees analysis. Lohud for news, the Banter for analysis. Full stop.
2008-07-21 08:42:35
18.   Schteeve
16 Yep, the two can't be separated. Going back to the 2004 playoffs, I thought I noticed that the Red Sox were very good at not giving the dangerous Yankee hitters anything to hit, and taking their chances with the less dangerous guys. I thought I saw the same thing in 05. I think the Yankees lineup is very well scouted by the opposition, and that there is a "blueprint" on how to pitch them that is pretty simple to execute, if a pitcher hits his spots.
2008-07-21 08:44:16
19.   Schteeve
17 I also think the guys at RLYW do some of the best analysis I've seen.
2008-07-21 08:55:35
20.   williamnyy23
18 It's all about strength of lineup. I am sure pitchers are more apt to attempt perfect pitches behind in the count to the Arods and Giambs because they don't care about walking them. Similarly, and this is true more for Arod than Big-G, but I don't dont the some hitters are extending their zone because they don't want to leave it for the next guy. The only way this Yankee team will start scoring runs is if Damon picks up where he left off, while Jeter and Cano perform to expected standard. That would give the Yankees a solid base of 5 with Abreu, Posada and Betemit/Sexson chipping in.
2008-07-21 08:58:52
21.   williamnyy23
20 Should be I "don't doubt that..."
2008-07-21 09:02:54
22.   JL25and3
11 ...the Yankees biggest problem this season has been injuries...a massive blow that only gets worse when you factor in the replacements

I can't believe that I'm going into a Jim Dean rant, but this is probably the only thing we agreed on.

isn't it time for Cashman to take a hit on this one, and a big hit? The injuries aren't his fault, obviously, but he has to bear some responsibility for the lack of adequate replacements.

The extent of the injuries couldn't have been predicted, but the fact that an aging lineup would be susceptible to injury and/or decline was no secret. It's also more than just a short-term problem; what exactly is the Yankee outfield going to look like next year? Melky yet again, an aging Damon (who's unlikely to reproduce this year's numbers) and ????

Cashman's strategy has been to stockpile pitchers and more pitchers. He drafts pitchers, and he trades for pitchers. As a result, they now have more pitchers in the high minors than they realistically have room for, but nothing else. At least a year and a half ago, some of us were saying that it was time to try to turn some of that surplus pitching into position prospects, but Cashman's having none of it.

The response will be that you can never have too much pitching. I disagree; when you ignore the team's other needs, it might be too much. These were completely predictable needs, and Cashman's complete failure to prepare for them speaks very poorly of his "plan."

2008-07-21 09:10:52
23.   Rob Middletown CT
There is very little incentive for a pitcher, facing a 3-2 count on Melky, Molina or Gardner, to not simply pump a fastball down the middle.

To a lesser extent, the same thing applies to Jeter (have a look at his SLG this season), though obviously he's a better hitter than those guys. He does look like he's driving the ball better of late, thankfully.


Regarding Cashman and depth... I thought the Ensberg pickup was a good idea - many people thought so. Ditto when he traded Proctor for Betemit. And got Molina as a BUC. This was - on paper - a good bench. Unfortunately, guys have underperformed (Ensberg, Duncan, Betemit) or have been overexposed (Molina).

As for trading for a good young position player (outfielder, specifically)... all we know is that Cashman hasn't done a deal. We don't know what he's done to find one. For all we know, he could've asked about Matt Kemp and got told that Wang, Cano and Hughes would do the job :) Or, alternatively, he could have been ignoring the problem. Hard to say, really.

2008-07-21 09:15:02
24.   williamnyy23
22 I am not sure I can kill Cashman too much for this because:

1) I thought Molina was a nice BUC because his defense mitigated against his poor bat. Besides, good hitting BUCs don't grow on trees. Basically, if you lose your starting catcher, you are in trouble.

2) I thought Ensberg, Betemit and Duncan would be a pretty solid bench, particularly if played against their strong split.

Where I do agree with you, however, is that Cashman has:

1) Been very slow in season to acquire needed reserves. I can't believe a guy like Millar, Casey Blake or even Aaron Boone (all who hit lefties well) couldn't have been acquired a month ago.

2) In the off season, we saw Carlos Quentin and Josh Hamilton exchange hands. With the Yankees rich in pitching prospects, but in need of offensive players, perhaps Cashman could have been on in this action? Hopefully, the Yankees use this off season to not only stock up on free agents, but to also cash in some pitching chips for hitters.

2008-07-21 09:15:16
25.   tommyl
22 Its a fair point. Its tough to get position prospects through the draft picking as low as we do. Oppenheimer has said that position prospects for whatever reason rarely drop in the same way that some pitchers do. That said, they've been more aggressive in the international FA market and we do have a few prospects lurking around. Ajax seems like the real deal, and lower on down Montero, Romine and Angelini might pan out. Also, to say that there haven't been any ML caliber position prospects is a bit unfair when we have two starting for us right now (though Melky is certainly below replacement atm).

Now, I agree with you that some trades could be made. The problem is that we have no window into this, minor league deals are typically very off the radar, proposed talks are even farther off. Who knows what's been offered or not.

2008-07-21 09:15:55
26.   Raf
22 isn't it time for Cashman to take a hit on this one, and a big hit? The injuries aren't his fault, obviously, but he has to bear some responsibility for the lack of adequate replacements.

How so? Don't think anyone could've foreseen the injuries to Posada, Damon, Matsui, & Rodriguez this year. Those were the more durable players the Yanks have had. Same with the Matsui & Sheffield injuries a couple of years ago. And Abreu came over to fill in for Sheffield. And the only reason he was able to come over, was because the Yanks were willing to cover his salary.

Now, if Giambi had went on the shelf, and there was no backup plan for that, I could see a problem with that, because he has proven to be injury prone.

As for the stockpiling of pitching, the Yankee staff has imploded every year since 2004; though this year probably hasn't been that bad. I can see why Cashman would stockpile pitching, given the events of 2004-07.

2008-07-21 09:20:47
27.   Raf
24 With the Yankees rich in pitching prospects, but in need of offensive players, perhaps Cashman could have been on in this action?

The roster isn't that flexible. Coming into the season, you had all the positions set, with backups @ these positions. I can understand why Cashman wouldn't make a deal based on what he had at the time.

2008-07-21 09:21:51
28.   JL25and3
24 I also felt that the bench would be better than it's been. But this isn't just about the bench or this year, it's about long-range planning. Who didn't know that the everyday lineup was going to start needing help, and sooner rather than later?

No, I don't know what deal he was pursuing but didn't make. There had to be deals out there - not blockbusters, but deals that could swap something that's redundant for something that they might have a use for.

I'm also not sure how much it matters. Cashman traded away Gary Sheffield, Randy Johnson, Jaret Wright and Tyler Clippard - and got 7 more minor-league pitchers in return. Either it's a deliberate strategy, in which case it's a bad one, or he's been incapable of changing it, in which case he's not very good at implementing a plan. Either way, his explicit focus has been on developing the farm, and he's created this.

2008-07-21 09:26:44
29.   JL25and3
26 The specifics? No, maybe not. The fact that an old lineup would have injuries, and that in any case there would be holes in the outfield next year and beyond? Absolutely predictable.

And yes, it's good that they have pitching depth. But with all that, they still have a ton of pitchers in the high minors and no place to put them. It's great to prepare for pitching problems, but it's not so good to ignore everything else.

2008-07-21 09:37:52
30.   Rob Middletown CT
Regarding getting Millar - isn't he with Baltimore? Something tells me that the Os have no intention of helping the Yankees in any way. They'd be happy to rip us off, I suppose, but I doubt a "fair" trade could be done there.

As to the main point, though: trade some pitching for some position players... I can't really disagree with the overall idea. I'm all for pursuing that sort of trade, because Austin Jackson isn't enough. The Yanks in a tough spot right now b/c of how 2008 has gone for Hughes, Kennedy and Horne.

I can't rip Cashman too much for the outfield situation at present. If he had traded for Hamilton or Quentin... wouldn't he have also had to have traded one of Matsui or Damon? You don't trade for those guys and then send them to AAA or have them riding pine. So what you're asking for is for Cashman to have looked at the '08 outfield, decided the injury risk (which he was no doubt aware of) was too high, picked the right one of Damon or Matsui to trade away, whilst trading for (and being right about a Hamilton or Quentin) - potentially giving up Hughes or at least Kennedy in the process. Yes, Hughes and Kennedy were terrible and then hurt this year. But that wasn't really foreseable, other than to say that young pitchers fail a lot. They were (and still are, damnit) really, really good pitching prospects who destroyed the minors.

2008-07-21 09:39:20
31.   Raf
28 Cashman traded away Gary Sheffield, Randy Johnson, Jaret Wright and Tyler Clippard - and got 7 more minor-league pitchers in return.

Of those 7, 3 have seen action in the majors ('Dorf, Britton, Alba). They also got a decent pen man in Viz, who was allowed to walk, & a utility IF in Gonzalez,

29 They can buy a lineup; I am fairly confident the OF replacements will come from free agency. As for the lineup, there is no way you could've planned for the injuries. If you could find replacement level players for them, they'd be starting, not bench players.

The problem has been injuries to an extent, but just as much a problem is Jeter, Abreu, Cano & Melky underperforming

2008-07-21 10:13:52
32.   ChrisS
31 Have you looked at the FA OFers this year? It ain't pretty. The two best are Pat Burrell and Milton Bradley, followed by Dunn and Abreu. And, whoa, will Bradley be 'spensive.

As for trading for Hamilton, the Reds got Volquez who was Texas' numero uno pitching prospect. #1. Not #3 or an combination of 5 through 10. #1. The Reds would have gotten Joba most likely or, if Cash was shrewd, it would have been Hughes.

I don't think there's a real reason to worry about the rotation next season. Wang, Joba, possibly Sabathia, and a couple of others to round out from, as JL25and3 pointed out, an absurd depth of minor league arms.

I'm in agreement about the OF, there are holes to fill and a reasonable trade would be nice. There were some expectations (young pitching) made this last offseason that have all but imploded disastrously. Having both Hughes and IPK derail seriously hurt Cashman's flexibility. However, there's only so many OF roster spots and 30 is right that either Damon, Matsui, or Abreu would have to have been traded or released.

Part of me also thinks that this season was a bit of a punt for Cashman all along. If they made the playoffs, they made them, but he was looking forward to having the payroll come off the books before going forward.

2008-07-21 10:17:51
33.   pistolpete
Hey Will, your link to the Dave Winfield piece seems to be broken. All I get on the forwarding page is this:

Oops! An error occurred when processing the page.

Here's the error message:

You do not have access permission to this data. conversation:0

2008-07-21 10:40:47
34.   cult of basebaal
first off, we don't have a surplus of pitching. we're starting darrell rasner and sidney ponson for a reason and that's because our young starting pitching has been decimated by injuries this year (that's not directly including the wang injury, but that has the indirect effect of freezing a potential pitching trading chip in place this year, since we need it for our rotation).

injuries to pitching are to be expected, but i think we could call losing your top 3 pitching prospects to injuries within the span of a month, is not just TINSTAAPP, it's bad fucking luck.
hughes is still out. IPK is just back, but still ineffective at AAA (let's not even talk about how badly he pitched in NY). horne is out for the 2nd time this year. karstens went down right around the time he could have been a callup. hell, even al aceves (another scouting find from the mexican league that scouts have been very high on), who has shot all the way through the system in 1 year, suffered a strained groin just as he was promoted to AAA that caused him to miss several starts (without which, he'd very likely be pitching in NY in rasner's place) we can't trade from a surplus we don't have.

similar things have happened with the relievers, bruney and albaladejo both went down with major injuries, which means many of the pitchers who might be trade chits, are now performing important roles in the yankees bullpen.

i also think you overrate many of our pitching prospects. Not what they may be very likely be worth with patience (and a demonstration of health), but what they are worth right to another team right now. Who do you think is going to give up a top hitting prospect for phil hughes right now? what do you think IPK is going to bring us in return, some pocket lint? It's the very definition of trading low. You want a decent bat? Well, then say goodbye to Joba, cause that's what it's going to take. The most valuable of our pitchers are hurt or very young, and our valuable position players are 2-3 years away, at least.

i think cashman is very aware of the issues of age in our lineup, i also think that he expected to have some of our top flight pitching prospects healthy and successful enough at this point in the year to make a meaningful trade to improve the hitting if necessary. as i argued above, i think the fact that that isn't the case is more a factor of bad luck than it is a case of deficient design.

2008-07-21 10:44:38
35.   OldYanksFan
31 Don't forget Sanchez, who could be a BIG part of our BP's future.

I don't think it's far to blame Cashman. Look at the number of injuries we have had to our pitchers (and it ain't the old guys). Yet our pitching is quite some better then last year. This is Cash's future plan in action right now.

If like Posada and ARod of last year, everyone was having a great year, that would not make Cashman a genius. BU/Bench players are just that. There's a reason they are on the bench. The starters and the core guys have to perform. No bench can compensate for an ARod, Posada, Giambi, Bobby, good Jeter, good Cano or Matsui.

Furthermore, we knew going into this season we had potentially a very good team, but not a great one. This IS a transition year. No team can 'plan for' 3 SPs being out the majority of the year. If this happens, any team wull take a hit. How has Cleveland and Detroit fared through their injuries?

Again, there are lots of reasons for our 'failure' so far this year, but the MAIN culprits have been:

Lack of RISP for everyone!
Bobby - OBP 40 lower the YANKEE career
Jeter - OBP 40 lower the YANKEE career
Melky and Cano (please don't make me type the numbers!)

So while SLG, HRs, poor pitch selection, injuries, Windmill Mecham and everything else mentioned here are all to blame, EVEN WITH those failures, the ones I have listed have killed us by themselves.

How many games have we lost to RISP, where 1 hit in 5 RISP ABs turns a loss into a win? 2? 3? 4? 5?

How many games has the C&C black hole cost us? 2? 3? 4? 5?

I will say that if our RISP BA is the same as our BA, and Bobby, Jeter, Cano and Melky have AVERAGE years, we are easily in 1st place.

And again, MM, MP, et al... excellent posts, excellent work. When the Banter gets cookin' it's the 1927/98 Yankees. Nothing else compares!

2008-07-21 10:56:26
36.   OldYanksFan
On a GOOD pitching staff, you hope your #4 is league average and your #5 within 1/2 run of league average.

MLBAvg 4.20
Ponson 4.24
Rasner 4.97

So all in all, these guys haven't killed us.
A 'league average' staff should have a league average #3, right?

Even with Hughes, IPK nd all the other injured kids, if we JUST didn't lose Wang, how many more Wins do we have? Are we ahead of Boston?

2008-07-21 10:57:53
37.   pistolpete
35 >> Melky and Cano (please don't make me type the numbers!) >>

Is there a stat for swinging at the first pitch? I swear these two are battling for the league lead.

2008-07-21 10:58:17
38.   Shaun P
22 "He drafts pitchers"

Call this a technicality if you want, but Damon Oppenheimer is responsible for who the Yanks draft. I'm sure Cashman contribues to the overall strategy, but that seems to have been "take the best guy available, money is no object". The last 2 years, that has often been a pitcher, not a hitter; just how the draft fell out. Can't blame Cashman for that.

24 "With the Yankees rich in pitching prospects . . ."

cult is right in 34 . The Yanks are not rich in pitching prospects. The richness came from Joba/Hughes/IPK (whoops). They have depth: a bunch of #3/#4/#5 types, some potentially very good relievers, and two huge projects in Betances and Brackman. Except injuries have curtailed that depth a ton.

I too wish the Yanks had a big bat on the farm closer than Jesus Montero. But depth doesn't bring a big bat in trade. Big names get traded for big names, and the Yanks don't have any big names to spare.

2008-07-21 11:24:24
39.   JL25and3
Yes, they are rich in pitching prospects. Not top-of-the-order prospects, but a ton of decent young arms.

I'm not saying Cashman should have predicted all these injuries. I'm talking about long-range planning. If this is supposed to be a transition year, I ask: transition to what? With all the talk about rebuilding the minor-league system, it's poorly-constructed in terms of meeting the team's actual needs.

Pitching is great, but young pitchers are also a commodity, and he hasn't managed that commodity well. Yes, the 7 pitchers he got in those trades have been useful - but that's in addition to 7 more that they've got down there. There's a limit to how much redundancy your system should have to cover the bottom of the bullpen.

Again, I'm not talking about reactive moves for this year. I'm talking about an overall plan that was criticized a year and a half ago for exactly this problem. It wasn't unpredictable, because we saw it coming and talked about it. Cashman did nothing to prepare for it.

2008-07-21 11:29:19
40.   JL25and3
38 And to be clear: the depth is precisely what I'm talking about when I say they're rich in pitching. I'm also not necessarily talking about the blockbuster trade for a premier outfield prospect. I'm talking about turning guys who may become serviceable major-league pitchers into guys who may become serviceable major-league outfielders; depth for depth. Instead, they've got redundant pitchers and no depth anywhere else.

And btw, ChrisS is right. The outfield FA class doesn't look good, and it doesn't look a whole lot better next year. We're stuck with Melky until Jackson is ready, and that still leaves next year's team short an outfielder.

2008-07-21 11:34:11
41.   OldYanksFan
38 We should remember that we have had literally the bottom of the barrel drafts for 12 years in a row. The elite bats are gone before we get a chance to pick them.
2008-07-21 11:52:15
42.   JL25and3
41 I understand that. But then why did everything else that he did simply add more pitching depth? And why did he feel it necessary to hoard all that redundantt depth at the expense of everything else?
2008-07-21 11:52:45
43.   JL25and3
42 "Redundantt." I like that typo.
2008-07-21 11:54:23
44.   tommyl
41 And we've gotten some players in the international FA market like Melky and Cano. Now, maybe Melky isn't living up to expectations or whatnot, but you can't blame Cashman for that. They've been aggressive with signing position players iternationally, where they can flex their financial muscles much better.

I'd also like to add one more feather in the FO staff. For all the talk about money, etc. they have found several players in places like the Mexican and Independent Leagues where no one else has looked. How many other teams could have had Ramirez (or had him)? or Patterson? or Aceves? Kudos to the Yankees for searching everywhere possible to find good players.

2008-07-21 12:06:32
45.   Raf
32 ,40 Damon & Matsui will be back for another year. So you're looking to sign a RF if Abreu walks. Of the guys listed, I'm sure you can find a RF (be it a "name" player or a lesser light), and someone to play CF if they decide to give up on Melky. A reserve OF can be found as well, if they decide they don't want to go with Gardner, Duncan, Christian, etc.
2008-07-21 12:08:22
46.   tommyl
Man, remember when we traded Kelly for O'Neil and it turned out to be the right move? I wonder how many people second guessed that one. Younger, better CF for head case RF...
2008-07-21 12:12:43
47.   JL25and3
44 I have no problem with that.

Actually, while the extent of Melky's collapse this year is unexpected, plenty of people were suggesting that maybe he wasn't any better than what we've seen - not quite good enough.

You want to give Melky more room to grow, fine. But shouldn't there be some sort of contingency plan in case the not-unexpected happens?

As it turned out, there was not one single position player in AAA who could help out in the majors. Not one. That doesn't trouble anyone else? The system has exactly one player who might be able to contribute in the next year or two.

That's a plan?

2008-07-21 12:14:09
48.   cult of basebaal
40 and once again, i say, "what depth?"

pocket lint and couch change aren't trading chits.

once again, i say, trading the most potentially valuable pitching chits we have right now is trading them at their lowest value. you give value to get value. you seem to think we can just dump a couple of jeffs (marquez and karstens) on some sucker team and voila! we're gonna get a starting outfielder. when you trade dross, you get dreck and unless you want to start talking joba, jackson and montero, you're gonna end up with stuff that's not very likely to be of any help.

as for next year's team, well, i think it makes far more sense to wait and see how the rest of this season plays out with our young players than to make some move to make a move when our assets are at their lowest and you are working without answers to critical questions.

2008-07-21 12:15:50
49.   JL25and3
45 You mean they only have to fill two-thirds of their outfield, assuming everything else works out?
2008-07-21 12:19:02
50.   JL25and3
48 No, I'm not expecting a couple of Jeffs to get a good outfielder. As I said, depth for depth. Don't tell me the Yankees don't have pitching depth in the high minors, because they do. What they don't have is anything else.

And how many times do I have to say: no, I'm not saying they should sell low now. I'm saying that they should have seen this coming a long time ago. This was not only predictable, it was predicted. It's not a failure to make a move now, it's a failure in long-term planning.

Show/Hide Comments 51-100
2008-07-21 12:20:24
51.   OldYanksFan
42 Because they were able to get 'more talent for the spot' by getting talent looking for overslot money. You can always trade an 'A' pitcher for an 'A' position player... and so on.
2008-07-21 12:22:14
52.   yankster
A few more items in Cashman's defense: He's still dealing with the trailing end of a bunch of legacy contracts with no trade clauses the terms of which I'm convinced he didn't have a lot of control over. Did Cashman really want 95% of the money in the outfield to be spent on players that are obviously down-trending? Of course not. But that's what no trade clauses do - they make you have to ride out contracts at almost any cost. You only get to throw the dice once.

Also, both Matsui and Damon had exceptionally good records of staying off the DL AND producing good numbers. "Aging outfield" underplays the data behind a player with a multi-year consecutive games played streak and Damon's reported "never on the DL" status. If you're going to make a long term bet on a free agent those indications of longevity sound pretty good.

Finally, it was a huge win to get rid of the Sheffield contract and get anything at all in return. Talk about predicting injury - Cashman had to take a lot of criticism for that trade, but it turned out to be relatively prescient.

Let's not forget that the team salary is so far over the cap that signings cost 40% more for us than almost any other team. League minimum ($390) costs the Yankees something like $545,000 - tough to go out and get all spendy for a fifth outfielder in those circumstances.

As always - amazing comments from everyone.

2008-07-21 12:22:22
53.   tommyl
Well, this should help the mood a bit via BP and Kevin Goldstein:

Austin Jackson, OF, Double-A Trenton (Yankees)
After a year and a half of mediocre performance, Jackson exploded in the second half of last season, generating two different schools of thought about what that meant. One saw tools that were finally beginning to play, while another still wanted confirmation that the breakout was for real. Jackson went 8-for-10 over the weekend with three doubles and a home run, and is now 16-for-24 in his last eight contests—raising his averages to .296/.373/.458 for the Thunder. He continues to show gap power (26 doubles and nine home runs in 389 at-bats) with some potential for more, as well as good plate disciple, above-average speed, and solid center-field skills. He's a better prospect than Brett Gardner, will be a better player than Melky Cabrera, and is the Yankees center fielder of the future, beginning at some point in 2009.

Jesus Montero, C, Low-A Charleston (Yankees)
Montero is one of the more impressive young hitters around, as the 18-year-old Venezuelan went 8-for-13 over the weekend to raise his averages to .306/.356/.451 in his full-season debut. The only problem is that he's still not really a catcher. Yankees GM Brian Cashman recently said that Montero had "improved by 50 percent defensively," but the starting point was so low that it hasn't made much of a difference for scouts' evaluations of his glove work. He remains sluggish behind the plate, and his arm is well below average, leaving many to wonder why the six-foot-four, 225 pound monster is being left behind the plate in the first place. That said, offensively he's pretty special, already showing the ability to hit for average, and his raw power is well above average, and most feel it will show itself in games soon as well. He's a premium offensive prospect, but to accurately rank him, you need to see him as a first baseman down the road.

2008-07-21 12:26:06
54.   JL25and3
51 You misunderstand me. I understand why they draft pitchers in the first round, and that makes sense. But that being the case, then maybe when you make trades, you can look to pick up something other than more pitching. And if you do accumulate all that pitching, maybe sitting on all of it isn't the most efficient use of that asset.
2008-07-21 12:26:10
55.   cult of basebaal
50 ok. the yankees don't have pitching depth in the high minors.

not. right. now.

not until the pitchers that people would be interested in trading useful things for, prove they're worth trading useful things for.

you seem incapable of differentiating quality from quantity.

giving someone 4 turds doesn't get you a shiny dollar in return.

2008-07-21 12:28:02
56.   JL25and3
52 The long-term contracts are irrelevant to building the system. And while Damon and Matsui have usually been healthy, a lineup full of players in their mid-30s and up does kind of scream out for a little advance planning, doesn't it?
2008-07-21 12:29:31
57.   JL25and3
55 Who's talking about right now? And who's confusing quantity with quality? How many times do I have to explain that?
2008-07-21 12:33:57
58.   JL25and3
53 Jackson's the one thing they've got. It'll be great if he's ready in a year, but he'd also better be ready by then, because they're putting all their eggs in that basket. After him, there's nothing.

Montero is interesting, and Tabata's still interesting. They're both quite a ways off.

2008-07-21 12:36:31
59.   tommyl
57 They possibly could have planned better but the drafts as a whole were atrocious up until recently. Before Hughes and after Jeter can you name a single impact player we drafted? They have tried to rectify that in recent years, but again Matt LaPorta is not available for the most part by the time we pick. Is Gerrit Cole a pitcher? Yup. Is he a huge risk? yup. But if he pans out he could be a pure, power ace. Later on we took several position players who were signability concerns. Just last year we took Angelini and Romine (or was that two years ago?), two top level position talents that fell because of signability. Elite hitters do not grow on trees. So, I stand by my original statement, they could have done better, sure, but it hasn't been totally punted. Much of the problem came from drafts before Cashman really had total control.
2008-07-21 12:37:30
60.   tommyl
58 Angelini and Romine are at least interesting. Montero is way more than interesting. The kid is batting over .300 and hitting for power at Low-A as an 18 year old.
2008-07-21 12:37:58
61.   Raf
49 Depends on what they want to do. Like I said, Damon & Matsui are under contract for 2009. Melky will be back unless the Yanks decide they don't want him starting. So you have LF & CF covered between 3 players. More if you include the previously mentioned guys like Gardner & Co. If they decide that Damon isn't a CF'er, then yes, they have to cover RF & CF.

I am fairly confident that the Yanks can find a starting OF, be it a CF and/or RF, from this year's FA class (ML/MiL), or the Rule V draft, or a trade.

2008-07-21 12:41:33
62.   JL25and3
59 As I said, if that's the only draft that makes sense, then do it. I don't have a problem with that. But then you don't necessarily gear every other strategy towards acquiring and stockpiling more pitching.
2008-07-21 12:43:31
63.   JL25and3
61 I already don't want Melky starting next year. I think he will be, but not necessarily because it's desirable, only because they won't have a choice. Bad planning.

Ditto Matsui in left (as opposed to DH), or Damon in center.

2008-07-21 12:43:35
64.   Raf
59 Before Hughes and after Jeter can you name a single impact player we drafted?

Nick Johnson?

2008-07-21 12:44:07
65.   cult of basebaal
57 until it makes sense to someone other than yourself, i'd guess ...

you ARE confusing quality and quantity. when you say the yankees have pitching depth in the high minors, the only relevant way of interpreting that in the context of our discussion is saying that the yankees have a surplus of pitchers that are high enough in QUALITY that they would bring in another's team's prospect of a quality high enough to be a likely major league contributor.

my comment is that that "depth" does not exist right now for the yankees, because of injuries this year, the downgrading of our most valuable high minors pitching prospects (as well as the struggles of tabata) and the current needs of the ML ballclub.

anyway, i've got coding to do, so i'm done with this for now ...

2008-07-21 12:46:21
66.   Raf
63 They have a choice; they can either start him or Damon in CF. Gardner can start in CF right now. They can sign a CF'er this offseason, if they feel that Damon & Melky can't cut it in CF. They can make a trade for a CF'er this offseason.
2008-07-21 12:47:41
67.   OldYanksFan
47 When we re-signed Matsui he was an 'acceptable' fielding LFer, and with Melky's glove and potential, we thought we had 'too many' starting OFers. Remember "how are we gonna get all these guys playing time"? Last year we realized Matsui was poor with the glove, but could still play LF. This year he is 90% a DH. So his rapid decline has left us a little short in the OF. Mats and JD are signed through 2009, and in 2010, we have 1, if not 2 OFers to come up.

But now with Mats injury and Melky's suckitude, we are short in the OF. It looked like Gardner could be a decent fill-in, but he has not lived up to expectations. And since Beltran (whom passing on was a BIG mistake by George) there haven't been that many tasty FAs. Hopefully Cashman can come up with Bay or Holliday this year.

Again, it's very easy to point a finger at Cashman, but when you have numerous injuries AND many guys playing below par, you are going to suffer. When you have sloppy seconds for picks 12 years in a row, combined with an OWNER that basically ignored the farm system for many years, you can't blame it on Cashman.

Remember that Cashman almost left the Yankees. He LOVES this team. This is his home. And he was literally in tears at the thought of having to leave. But he knew George screwed things up and gave an ultimatum, putting his job on the line. It took a LOT OF BALLS to do that. He could have shut up, ridden his paycheck, and let the Boss continue in the wrong direction.

Look what he has done in 3 years with the worst picks. If Cashman (with Openheimer) had had full authority their whole tenure, we wouldn't be where we are now. George DID believe he could BUY winning teams, and he didn't do badly. But our current undermanned farm situation is mostly a product of George's stategy.

Cashman is not a God. He makes his mistakes. But EVERY GM makes mistakes. GM's don't bat 1.000 or even .800, especially ones that have a mandate to WIN every year. I have full faith that if the Steinettes stay out of the way and continue to make money available, Cashman will build another dynasty.

2008-07-21 12:48:28
68.   ChrisS
45 By picking up a FA OF, the Yankees still need to address 1B (either keep Giambi or pick up Tex) and pick up a FA starter (Sabathia at best, or maybe Sheets/Burnett, etc.) However, even with $60 million or so coming off the books, I'd rather not be plugging holes with free agents and neglecting the rest of the system re: 47 . Which is what happened in the late 80s, without the stockpiling of young arms.

Oppenheimer makes a good point that projecting young hitters is largely a crapshoot after the 8 or 10 that go in the first 15 picks. The Yankees rarely get to pick those guys so they focused on pitchers that slip and international FAs. So, there's been a steady flow of pitching talent to the organization from all sorts of places, which is a great thing. But the positional situation has been seriously neglected and there hasn't been any moves to take from the strength and patch up a weakness at the AAA level.

2008-07-21 12:49:03
69.   Shaun P
50 Here's everyone who's started a game for SWB this year, along with their age, and some relevant stats:

Igawa: 28
Marquez: 23: currently hurt, 80.7 IP, 4.69 ERA, 33 K and 24 BB
White: 27
McCutchen: 25
Karstens: 25
Giese: 31: in the bigs
Phillips: 26: usually a reliever, just 4 starts, 5.50 ERA in 55.7 IP
Rasner: 27: in the bigs
Alan Horne: 25: 31 IP all year, thanks to injuries
Steven Jackson: 26: converted to relief this year, 5.74 ERA at AA, 4.71 ERA at AAA
Ross Ohlendorf: 25
IPK: 23
Alfredo Aceves: 25: only 8 IP at AAA in his MiLB career, ~100 IP overall
Jason Jones: 25: 1 career AAA start
Phil Coke: 25: lefty: 1 career AAA start

So, the only guys under 23 are IPK and Marquez, and both are buy low candidates for other teams, based on their overall performance this year.

Otherwise you've got a bunch of 25 year olds who could do OK work at the back end of a rotation, or maybe in relief . . . but does that bring a starting OF in return?

2008-07-21 12:49:52
70.   yankster
57 Anybody read the Hardball Times article last month (ten minutes of searching yielded nothing) about how something like only 2 out of 50 drafted prospects make it to the bigs?

The Yankee organization didn't start building the farm (by keeping promising players) until about three years ago so if the odds on average are 2 in 50 and the Yanks pick last, then the three promising position players now in the minors are about what you can expect.

Maybe it's just not that easy to get a replacement level position player?

2008-07-21 12:58:03
71.   JL25and3
68 Once again, slowly: I'm not talking about right now. They should have started this a long time ago, before those prospects had lost value.

A year and a half ago, a number of us were saying exactly that. It was completely clear that the Yankees had a lot of pitchers and nothing else in the high minors. They've had all that time to flip some of it for other help. Not a star; hell, anything would be nice.

Is it chancy? Sure. You have to take chances. You pick the ones you think are slightly overvalued and trade them for guys you think are slightly undervalued. Sometimes you'll be wrong, but that's how you tell a good GM from a bad one.

With all the injuries the Yankees have had this year, yes, they might have been scrambling for pitching. But I'm not sure that preparing for that catastrophic possibility is the most appropriate way to construct a farm system, not when it excludes everything else.

Are you really okay with the fact that the Yankees have not one single player in AAA who could even contribute at replacement level? Not even a useful role player?

Do you really think that reflects good planning?

2008-07-21 13:01:41
72.   JL25and3
69 A year or two ago, you might have been able to move some of that for a player who was a year or two away.
2008-07-21 13:01:48
73.   Raf
68 They had position players that made it (Maas, Hal Morris, Stankie, Ausmus, etc), they were traded for whatever reason. MiL guys weren't going to get a break on the veteran-laden Yanks of that period; what rookie is going to get significant playing time over Rickey, Donnie, Winnie & Willie?
2008-07-21 13:09:02
74.   ChrisS
65 You and a few others seem to think that guys that grade out to be a 3rd or 4th starters have no trade value and that is terribly misguided. Not every pitching prospect is Joba nor is every one else garbage.

The Yankees have been recently stockpiling young arms. Part of the logic was that young arms can always be turned into positional players through trades. Problem: There haven't been any trades for positional players. Result: There's few positional players that can come up and be replacement level, but there are a number pitchers that can. Think of all the AAA hitters that came up to fill in: Gardner Christian, AG. That's it, and none are projected to be anything more than bench help.

2008-07-21 13:12:18
75.   Raf
71 They had Duncan, but he separated his shoulder. They have Gonzalez, but he's a utility infielder; not much use for him @ the moment.

They had to go with the "catastrophic" possibility; the pitching staff imploded in 2004, 2005, 2006, & 2007.

Even so, from the farm we have recently seen Cano, Melky, Sardinha, the two Kevins, etc, etc, etc. Some were starters, some were bench players. I don't think Cashman all of a sudden neglected the minors.

2008-07-21 13:15:32
76.   ChrisS
71 I don't know who you're arguing with here, but it's not me.
2008-07-21 13:18:29
77.   JL25and3
76 Definitely not with you. You're the only one here agreeing with me. That should have read 65 .
2008-07-21 13:20:41
78.   Raf
74 Which goes back to the durability of the lineup; you have a bunch of guys who play 140-150 games a year. And the guys that did go down, were replaced. Melky was called up as a result of Matsui getting hurt. Abreu came over when Sheffield went down. Clark & Olerud & Tino came on board when Giambi went down. During this period, position players like Juan Rivera, Nick Johnson, Dioner Navarro and the like.
2008-07-21 13:22:29
79.   ChrisS
And now Kepner is saying that Posada may be done for the season. Molina starts behind the plate, Damon and Big Sexy alternate DH until, or if, Matsui comes back.
2008-07-21 13:23:38
80.   Raf
78 ... and the like were traded. Given the way the team was constructed, the trades made sense. And some of the lower-tier pitching prospects were dealt for players like Chacon and Hitchcock, among others.
2008-07-21 13:24:27
81.   Raf
79 Damn. Just what the team didn't need.
2008-07-21 13:33:46
82.   Shaun P
"Are you really okay with the fact that the Yankees have not one single player in AAA who could even contribute at replacement level? Not even a useful role player?"

I'm not ready to give up on Gardner just yet, and even I, a Shelley skeptic, thought he could provide a replacement-level bat off the bench.

And while Melky may ultimately fail to be a MLB CF, he could be a great 4th OF rightnow. So that's at least 3 guys.

I've been saying for a few weeks now that the Yanks need to get a bat or 3, for this year (BONDS!), and the future. I also said, pre-draft, that I wished the Yanks would draft some bats already. So I'm with you - but I don't blame Cashman for the lack of bats, or for not trading "all these pitching prospects".

2008-07-21 13:44:10
83.   ny2ca2dc
71 I'm with you buddy. I don't see how people can look at the farm, 2 years running now, and not see the imbalance. Why not trade a Dellin Betances for a Laroche, for example. The prospect for prospect trades just don't seem to happen in Yankeeville. I'm not down on Cash, but this has been an issue for, as JL says, over a year and a half. The focus has been on stockpiling pitching (how could that not be obvious?!) instead of a balanced farm. I'm all for drafting the best talent, but why couldn't Josh Hamilton have been acquired for IPK and Betances (for instance, because Volquez wasn't THAT highly rated). Why not trade an Zak Mcalister for a Jed Lowrie type, etc. Comparisons to Matt Laporta are really not helpful, we're talking about trading midling pitching prospects for midling hitting prospects, so you're not stuck when a regular goes down (as we've been this year).

How big does that injury to Cervelli loom this year, especially now if Po is out for the fakin year. shoot me.

2008-07-21 13:49:26
84.   cult of basebaal
74 no, not really, not at all. the point i made is that we don't have some surplus of 3rd & 4th starters. let's go over that list of SWB starters again, shall we?

Igawa: 28 -- 3rd starter ... in japan
Marquez: 23: projected reliever
White: 27 -- AAAA
McCutchen: 25 likely 4, upside 3
Karstens: 25 AAAA
Giese: 31: reliever
Phillips: 26: reliever
Rasner: 27: 5th or AAAA
Alan Horne: 25: upside 3, injured 2x this year
Steven Jackson: 26: reliever
Ross Ohlendorf: 25 pretty please, santa bring me a pony outcome is 3 or even 2, but far more likely a back end rotation guy or reliever.
IPK: 23 potential 3, likely 4 or 5
Alfredo Aceves: 25: 3rd or 4th
Jason Jones: 25: AAAA
Phil Coke: 25: AAAA

so, i'd say there are 5 guys there who have any potential to have even temporary success in MLB as a starter. of those, horne's been hurt, IPK's been hurt AND awful. mccutcheon's only been up for a couple of months and still acclimating to the level, he may have some primary value later, but is strictly an additive right now. ohlendorf has the best stuff of any of the pitchers, but he's also failed as a reliever in the bigs and is currently working on secondary pitches. he's an additive.

aceves might have the highest value of the lot right now. scouts have been very impressed with his showings at the lower levels and he's probably ready for the back end of MLB rotation within a start or two. he's somewhere in between primary and an additive.

problem is, we need him for the back end of this rotation, where i think he'd be a bigger upgrade over rasner/ponson than he would net us in a trade for a position player.

2008-07-21 13:59:45
85.   cult of basebaal
in any case, i think we all can agree on the fact that this:

"Posada said this surgery would be more intensive that his last surgery, which occurred after the 2001 season. He was ready for spring training the next February, but he said the surgery this time could carry a six-month recovery period. Having surgery now could be Posada's only option to start 2009 healthy."


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