Baseball Toaster Bronx Banter
Shake It Up
2005-06-13 09:00
by Cliff Corcoran

Some quick notes as the Yankees recover from the 3-9 beating they took on their just-completed romp through the heartland:

Rey Sanchez has two bulging disks in his neck and may land on the DL prior to the Pirates series. Should that happen, the Yanks are expected to call up Felix Escalona, following the logic that Sanchez is a back-up infielder and thus should be replaced by one. This is, of course, nonsense. Tony Womack should be sent to the bench, where he can back-up Cano at second. Alex Rodriguez can back-up Jeter at short, and Russ Johnson can back-up Rodriguez at third. There is no need for an extra infielder on this team.

By that logic, it would seem there's no need for Sanchez on this team, which is something I've been saying since spring training. Upon closer examination, however, Sanchez could be useful as a spot-starter at second against lefties (Cano vs L: 3/29, 1 HR, 1 BB--.122 GPA; Sanchez vs L since 2002: .285/.328/.369--.240). That is unless you believe this season is a lost cause and the Yankees would be better off exposing Cano to lefties now in the hopes that he can learn to hit them, making him a more complete player for next year and beyond. With the Yanks two games under .500 less than a month from the All-Star Game but just six back in the AL East in mid-June, I change my mind about this several times a day.

As for Escalona's ability at the plate, his .308/.371/.431 (.275 GPA) as the Clippers' starting shortstop last year was head and shoulders above anything he'd done outside of A-ball. This year, at age 26, he's hitting .279/.364/.413 (.267), a solid-follow up to his break-out 2004 campaign. But solid at triple-A is not reason enough to put a guy on the major league roster. Crushing at triple-A is. For that, we turn to Andy Phillips, who is hitting .340/.389/.670 (.343) with Columbus on the heels of a .318/.388/.569 (.317) performance with the Clippers in 2004. I know Andy fell into a rut when he was here previously, but with Tino 3 for his last 35 with a double and just three walks (.088/.158/.114) and a roster spot opening up, I think it's time for Phillips to get his second shot to nab the starting job at first base. Besides which, Phillips, like Russ Johnson, can play several infield positions and is serviceable as a back-up outfielder. This team is better with those two men in the Bronx and Andy Phillips could make this team better in the future as well.

Speaking of Tony Womack (I did mention him back there somewhere), according to The New York Times Joe Torre is thinking about moving him into center field, which would allow Hideki Matsui to stay put in left, where he's a much better defender than he is in center. Meanwhile, Womack (who of course shouldn't be starting at all, but we'll get to that shortly) has the potential to improve on Matsui's defense center thanks to his speed (something I had suggested when initial move of Womack to the outfield was made in early May). There are also rumblings that Womack is rumbling about playing the outfield, telling the press (when asked) that he still considers himself a second baseman. There are also rumblings that there are rumblings that could result in a more significant roster moves than Escalona-for-Sanchez-due-to-injury. Sez Brian Cashman, "I've got a lot of things going on behind the scenes." This after he was seen talking with Womack twice on Sunday.

Could Womack, whose $2 million salary and stellar reputation combined with complete lack of production makes him a top trade candidate, be on the move? We can only hope. In the mean time, Womack could be seen in centerfield during the upcoming home stand, even as soon as tomorrow's game against the Pirates.

In a related story, Hideki Matsui celebrated his 31st birthday yesterday with a clutch hit and a sprained ankle (he slipped while making a play in right field, where he was starting in place of the resting Gary Sheffield). That puts both his consecutive games streak and Tony Womack's centerfield debut in jeopardy, as there have been no further rumblings about Bernie Williams playing left field. That suggests that Womack moving to center and being shopped could mean that the Yankees are indeed in the market for a real-life centerfielder (oh pleasepleasepleaseplease).

As for Matsui's prognosis, despite leaning on Gene Monahan when coming off the field yesterday, wasn't limping noticeably once back in the dugout, and will likely keep his streak intact, even if it comes via a DH start or a pinch-hitting appearance.

And thus concludes another post that would have been largely unnecessary had the Yankees ponied up for Carlos Beltran.

2005-06-13 18:54:12
1.   Harley
So Lou is trying to talk his way out of Tampa. Any conspiracy theories yet re where he might end up? You know. An underachieving team that could use an infusion of Lou-like energy? (BTW, I'm not for it, I fear it.)

Just wondering.

2005-06-13 18:54:23
2.   brockdc
Bye, Cano.

Bye, Wang.

Bye, Duncan... was nice knowing you (not you, Duncan) for a little while, at least; and to wonder what could have been had you not been packaged for...Kenny Lofton.

You don't think it could happen? Then you don't know these Yankees.

2005-06-13 19:38:00
3.   Paul in Boston
Am I the only one incredibly frustrated that we traded Lofton for a past-his-prime relief pitcher? What were we thinking? That Bernie would somehow discover the Fountain of Youth?

Let's add this to the (LONG) list of "could have, should have" moves, or in this case, "shouldn't have". It would be nice to have Lofton right now, especially given his stellar 2005 so far.

2005-06-13 20:21:48
4.   Cliff Corcoran
Paul, the Lofton trade made sense at the time because it cleared room for Beltran on the roster. In fact, I though it was a neat trick, since Lofton seemed to be a lame duck and the Yanks needed so spread work around in the pen and Rodriguez had a good post-trade showing in Philly last year. But with the Yanks having failed to sign Beltran, it now stands as a colossal mistake.

Also, please note that I've reposted the above post as of 11:30pm. Due to some issues with our server an unfinished draft had previously been posted.

2005-06-13 20:35:17
5.   Zavo
On a completely unrelated note on an off day - For weeks, months, and for some, years, many have discussed the possible problems with Mel. I was away this weekend but a friend told me Johnson had expressed some problem with Posada's catching (or calling of his games). Does anyone have the story on this (did it even happen?)

Is it possible that some of the problems we have had with pitchers coming in is that Jorge calls a bad game? I know we have won WS with him and have had some fanastic pitchers put up good numbers with him as the main catcher, but we have also had our share of problems.

Is there any way to compare the pitchers performances with both Jorge and Flattery or is the sample size just too small to properly evaluate? It seems Mel always gets called out, yet I rarely hear of any blame for Posada's ability behind the plate. (all this despite the offense being the problem right now)

2005-06-14 00:27:09
6.   Hank
Zavo --
A quick warning before we go shaking up the catching situation: Flattery will get you nowhere.
2005-06-14 05:21:14
7.   murphy

my brain hurts now. thanks, hank.

2005-06-14 05:25:52
8.   Zavo
I agree 100% and a nice pun on my poor spelling. It's more a question about Posada than a positive statement about Flaherty who I realize stinks.
2005-06-14 06:27:43
9.   Nick from Washington Heights
I'm not saying this is a good thing, but I have a feeling that the Yanks are going to pick up the recently cut Alex Sanchez of steroid fame.
2005-06-14 06:30:06
10.   domvjr
For more depressing news, check out the analysis, in yesterdays, Looking at the Columbus Clippers. I don't know how to link the story, but it appeared yesterday! Not a whole lot down on the farm.
2005-06-14 07:13:28
11.   Cliff Corcoran
Alex Sanchez is inferior to Tony Womack. His walks and homers are even less frequent than Mowack's, he can't field, and he is caught stealing far too often. This year he's outproducing Womack due to a .346 average and a pair of homers against the Yanks, but he was on pace to cost the D-Rays 20 runs per 100 games on defense. That's more than a run a week.

As for the Clippers, with Cano and Wang already in pinstripes, there isn't much left down there. Andy Phillips should be up here. Mitch Jones might be worth a look in the outfield (though I wouldn't expect much from him). Jason Anderson has been doing well out of the pen, and could be useful if the Yanks can use Quantrill, Stanton or Groom in a trade. 31-year-old Wayne Franklin and Royals cast-off Kris Wilson are both pitching well, but those guys are major league vets who failed to stick in the bigs. Also encouraging are the performances by Jorge DePaula (off Tommy John surgery) and Sean Henn (up from Trenton and off getting rocked in Tampa earlier this year). Both could get a look in September, but I wouldn't really expect (or want) to see either one sooner without their promotion being motivated by an injury to the major league staff.

2005-06-14 07:46:13
12.   JohnnyC
Two things: On Posada...hard to know if he's a great game caller because Mel pretty much either a) allows the veterans to call their own game or b) calls the game for rookies and "inexperienced" pitchers like Vazquez who haved moved to an unfamiliar league. Is Posada a good defensive catcher? Not really but, then again, neither is Jason Varitek. Beyond Tek's inability to throw out anyone and his lack of mobility behind the plate, Doug Mirabelli's catcher's ERA has been lower than his for 2+ seasons. As for RJ being unhappy with Jorge, it may be that he's been reluctant to throw more splitters with men on base because of Posada's bad mechanics behind the plate on blocking balls in the dirt. But, from my POV, Jorge's worst trait is he "snatches" at the ball instead of "receiving" it. The extra movement of his glove and body make it more difficult for umpires to call strikes for Yankees pitchers. This is something Jorge will never correct at this point insasmuch as he is a converted infielder. On the farm: Columbus is really the wrong place to look. The strength of the system (and it's stronger than you're led to believe by uninformed media types)is in AA and A ball. Particularly hard throwers and some high-ceiling position players. Are they going to help us this year? No, but that was never the plan for 2005 anyway.
2005-06-14 07:57:30
13.   Cliff Corcoran
JohnnyC, have you looked at the stats for the Trenton Thunder recently? Not exactly overwhelming. Kevin Thompson, Matt DeSalvo and . . . ? Eric Duncan is struggling mightily.

As for Jorge, I seem to recall David Wells praising Posada's game calling to the high heavens in his book. I also remember Jorge fighting with Contreras and there being one game in which Jorge said "don't shake me off" in which Contreras was unusually effective. I thing there's a lot of truth in what JohnnyC says, however, as far as Jorge blocking balls and snatching at pitches.

2005-06-14 08:14:18
14.   Bob B
The Mets made all the moves the Yankees should have in the off-season. I said that then and I still say it. Cashman did a good job for a while but seems to be suffering from GS burnout.I mean who in their right mind thought Bernie had anything left in the tank? Or that a 41 year old injured Randy Johnson was a better deal than a 34 year old Pedro Martinez?
2005-06-14 09:56:04
15.   Paul in Boston
Given where I live, and my frequent visits to Fenway, I obviously have seen quite a bit of Martinez over the past several years. He was easily the best pitcher I've ever seen, esp 1999-2000, and even after the injury year, in 2002, he was pretty amazing. However, although he remained great in 2003-4, he wasn't quite the same, and there were frequent whispers that the team was hiding an injury. Everyone knew based on his pitch counts that he would run out of gas late in games, leading to much local criticism -- "he's just a 7 inning pitcher". Given that trajectory, I can see the rationale behind signing Johnson over Martinez despite the age issue. Obviously Martinez has been sensational this year, Johnson less so, but I still think this was a more defensible signing than not getting Beltran.

As for Posada, that "snatching" business has always bothered me -- how many times do you see a strike called a ball because of it -- and it must bother the pitchers a lot too. Nonetheless, he still gives you so much more at bat than the average catcher we would be crazy to replace him. I hated those Posada trade rumors.

2005-06-14 10:59:39
16.   Zack
The thing is, Johnson WAS a better deal than a 34 year old Pedro. Let us not forget that Mr. Martinez is feasting on National league lineups, which if you don't think are inferior, take a lot at Gammons' recent article about American League East pitchers and their eras against this league. Its insane! Now I say was because this is all dependant on Johnson regaining his form, which I think will happen.

Thing about Posada is, we have no choice, and we won't have a choice for a long time. In trading away Navarro, we now have no plan b what so ever. I suppose we are doomed to middle aged veterans for a long while, unless somehow we can pull a trade like when the Sox got the Tek. Unlikely...

2005-06-14 12:59:51
17.   sabernar
With the rumors of Womack going to SD, how about a trade for Xavier Nady? He's the odd many out over there, but he's still hitting pretty well. And he's a CF.
2005-06-14 13:48:45
18.   Marcus

I was thinking along similar lines, although it seems like the Padres would not be too keen on trading a 26 year old CF for a terrible, 36 year old 2B. But then again, I keep hearing how Womack might help out an NL team (haven't seen the supporting evidence of how he would do that though). Anybody have thoughts on who else would need to be included for a trade to happen? Wouldn't the Padres be more interested in Cano, or is he to rough for any team but these Yankees?

What is the story on Xavier Nady? He seems old for a prospect; does he have much upside? Defense? From his limited career stats it looks like he strikes out a lot and doesn't walk much. But his .731 career OPS is a definite improvement over Womack.

2005-06-14 14:38:46
19.   JohnnyC
Nady's a former 1st round draft choice. If it's just Womack for him straight up, it's a no-brainer. I don't know if SD really values Nady that much...he's a guy who's not met their expectations (even less so than Sean Burroughs, another underachiever)although he's been given shots every season since 2003. He has plus power potential from the right side, has a good arm but is more of a corner guy. Has played a handful of games at third this season. I'm not sold on him ever fulfilling his potential but it would be a steal for the Yankees if they managed to exchange Womack for him. With Loretta out until August, Padres might pull the trigger on this one. Of course, Yankees will pay most of the freight...better than having to include another player in the deal.
2005-06-14 14:41:03
20.   Rob
As a local San Diegan, if the Yanks can deal Womack for Nady, it's as JohnnyC says a "no brainer". He's a decent to good player, but he's young, has power, and is a decent OF. I've watched him in a bunch of games and he's a good player. Not earth shattering, but certainly capable.
2005-06-14 16:06:54
21.   Marcus
I have to admit of being somewhat ignorant to Mark Loretta, the guy who Womack would replace in San Diego. But upon looking at his career stats, I somehow think the Padres are looking elsewhere for a new 2B. His career averages are:

.303/.367/.412 (.779)

But his averages for the last three years are:

.321/.382/.457 (.839)

If the Padres are thinking about replacing Loretta with Womack (even if they are in severe need of a 2B) they're even dumber than the Yankees for signing Womack in the first place. It'd be great to get Nady for Womack, but I'm not too hopeful this will happen.

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