Baseball Toaster Bronx Banter
2006-01-24 05:16
by Alex Belth
Note: The Bronx Banter blog has moved to

According to published reports, Mike Piazza's agents have contacted the Yankees. While The Daily News writes that the Bombers have no interest in the Mets' former superstar, Brian Cashman tells Jon Heyman in Newsday:

"We're fairly set. Our designated hitter spot is taken by Bernie Williams and Andy Phillips. But I'll keep an open mind," Cashman said. "I'm always open to consider any possibility that may help the ballclub."

My co-writer Cliff Corcoran has been in favor of the Yankees' signing Piazza for months now. You know that Met fans would hate to see Yazzie in the Bronx. I've always loved the guy, so I think it would be a lot of fun to see him in pinstripes, playing for Joe Torre, but I don't think it's likely to actually happen.

Meanwhile, the News has a little puff piece on Aaron Small.

2006-01-24 06:28:48
1.   Sliced Bread
Would the Yanks have to surrender a draft pick to Team Italy if they sign Piazza?

Do the Yanks really need another overpriced ($7 million per year?!) "GQ" feature boy?

I'd pass on Piazza, therefore, the Yanks (read Steinbrenner) are probably extremely interested in him, and not just doing him a hometown favor by feigning interest.

Speaking of the unappealing, The Boston Red Sox Today (soon to be formerly known as the New York Times, which is a part-owner of the afforementioned baseball club) is running this:

Theo and Kobe Leave Mentors Behind
Published: January 24, 2006

Poor Phil Jackson and Larry Lucchino, who imparted all they know to Kobe Bryant and Theo Epstein, only to wind up imprisoned by their own patronage.

That's as far as I got with this article.

Would you pay a nickel, or take a minute to ponder the similarities between Kobe (who scores 81 points per game, when he's not "scoring" with female hotel employees) and Kid Kong, Boston's boy GM in the grrilla suit? I'll pass on that, thanks.

2006-01-24 07:26:24
2.   pistolpete
Why, was Theo in Colorado recently?
2006-01-24 07:30:38
3.   JohnnyC
The economy must be really worse than we read in the Wall Street Journal for a good journalist like Harvey Araton to have to put his name on garbage like this.
2006-01-24 07:31:26
4.   markp
I agree with Cliff-he's still a better stick than Bernie or Phillips and could catch a couple times a week. I see it as a no-brainer considering who'd be catching when Jorge sits and who the DH options are.
2006-01-24 07:58:42
5.   Sliced Bread
I don't think Piazza would be any better than Bernie as the DH, especially for the money. Bernie's in for $1.5 million in '06, and if I read it correctly, Piazza figures he's worth about 4 times that amount. If the Yanks have Piazza money to burn, use it to get better pitching, or save it for a future acquisition.
I'd rather see Torre employ a DH rotation to give our aging, and heavy-legged sluggers (specifically Matsui, Giambi, Posada, Sheffield) some much needed rest.
2006-01-24 07:59:59
6.   wsporter
I realize were about to take off on a riveting Bernie v. Piazza riff but I was also taken with the Aaron Small piece this morning. I know we do a lot of talking about Small as well as a lot of will he or won't he and should he or shouldn't he analysis and conjecture about him. But when you get right down to it if you can't root for a guy like that to succeed what the hell is the point of all this? I hope he gets every dime he can in arbitration and a nice sweet spot in the Bronx.
2006-01-24 08:09:47
7.   Sliced Bread
Good call on Small, wsporter. He and Chacon were my favorite stories from the '05 season.
It's hard to believe the Yanks are playing hardball with these guys over a combined $1.5 million.
2006-01-24 08:10:33
8.   standuptriple
I'm so against Piazza. Can his "presence" behind the plate even count as catching anymore? As a former backstop I have loathed his fundementals for going on a decade. He can't throw out anybody. At least Molina can play some D. Plus his bat is SSSSLLLLOOOOWWWW. He can't catch up to the good fastball. I've always suspected him to be one of the big-time steriod users in the past too due to his constant hard-to-explain injuries. Please please please DO NOT pickup Piazza.
How's that for a rant?
2006-01-24 08:32:22
9.   singledd
Re: Piazza
I agree, he's not worth 7 mil.
But what if he will sign for 3 mil? For one year?
Its not Bernie OR Piazza...
It's Piazza DHing and PHing against lefties and catching once a week and in late game blowouts.

Our bench is pretty weak. One injury to a regular kills us. Resting Posada without totally losing a bat is important.

I'm for Piazza if it's one year and 4 mil or under.

2006-01-24 08:48:49
10.   Cliff Corcoran
I just can't believe that anyone really believes that Bernie has anything left. Old habits die hard I suppose.

We'll make this easy:

Average AL DH 2005: .259/.337/.440
Bernie Williams 2005: .249/.321/.367

Bernie just can't do it any more.

That said, Mike Piazza 2005: .251/.326/.452

Shea actually played fairly neutral last year, so I won't make a park-factor argument here, but 85 points of slugging is nothing to sneaze at.

Meanwhile, Piazza may not be Johnny Bench behind the plate, he may not even be Jorge, but the alternative is Kelly Stinnett (career: .239/.320/.390). Stinnett is a nice upgrade over Flaherty, but he can't compete with Piazza at the plate.

I agree that that the upgrade to Piazza is not worth the $7-8 mil Daily News tosses around, but I wouldn't hesitate for a second if his price comes down to the $2-3 million that Newsday suggests. I might even give him $4 mil if it's a one-year deal.

2006-01-24 09:18:44
11.   JL25and3
Sliced Bread, I think you made it further than I would have. Poor Larry Lucchino? Pardon me while I lose my lunch.
2006-01-24 09:31:09
12.   Sliced Bread
In 2005 Bernie had 85 at-bats as the DH and hit .294, .362, .459 with 19 RBI.

Coming in as a pinch-hitter in 2005, Bernie had 11 at-bats and hit .273, .438, .545 with 4 RBI.

I wouldn't be at all surprised to see him come through as a fairly reliable DH/PH next season, posting several crucial RBIs and walks, to offset those rally-killing double-play dinks we love him so much for.

Stinnett's probably a better defensive catcher than Piazza, no?

Heck, I'd rather see the Yanks use Piazza money to get the 22 year old switch-hitting catcher Dioner Navarro back from the Dodgers.

2006-01-24 09:42:28
13.   strangeluck
I'm surprised that no one's mentioned this before, but Erubiel Durazo's still out there. He would be relatively inexpensive, and platooning him at DH would allow Bernie to stick to batting righty, his natural side.
2006-01-24 10:14:23
14.   Schteeve
Sliced Bread says Matsui is heavy legged, facts don't agree! News at 11.

Also, if Piazza is asking for $6million a year, I'd pass. He's not worth it. I'd offer him 3, plus incentives that could juice it to $4, and tell him to take it or leave it.

Bernie getting more than 300 PAs this season is a bad thing.

2006-01-24 10:22:47
15.   Zack
Is it even possible to say the words "poor" and "Larry Lucchino" in the same sentence? Until today, I hadn't thought so...
2006-01-24 10:42:17
16.   pistolpete
"I'm surprised that no one's mentioned this before, but Erubiel Durazo's still out there. He would be relatively inexpensive, and platooning him at DH would allow Bernie to stick to batting righty, his natural side. "

I've always liked Durazo - and he plays 1B on occasion.

2006-01-24 10:51:06
17.   Sliced Bread
Schteeve, I think the 11 o'clock snoozies would break out the measuring tape and concur that Godzilla has thighs like Earl Campbell did.
Hideki is running and swinging with tree trunk legs, but granted, he runs and swings well.
My point in suggesting he share DH duty with Posada, Giambi, and Sheff is that Matsui could probably benefit from being relieved of his fielding duties a few games a month.

You're right about curtailing the Bernie at-bats. I figure 250-300 is plenty.
But why would you pay Piazza twice as much as Bernie? Is there evidence that suggests Piazza would be twice as productive as Bernie?

2006-01-24 11:00:09
18.   Marcus
Durazo does, on occasion, play 1B, but that doesn't mean he should. He might as well drag a lawn chair out there with him. Unless you get him dirt cheap ($1M or less), I'm not sure if I would gamble on him, considering his elbow problems.

How about getting a 4th outfielder with some offensive upside to rest Sheffield once in a while? Jeff DaVanon maybe?

2006-01-24 11:26:17
19.   pistolpete
"Durazo does, on occasion, play 1B, but that doesn't mean he should. He might as well drag a lawn chair out there with him."

1.000 fielding percentage last year, thank you very much...


2006-01-24 11:43:09
20.   Dimelo
All-baseball looks at the '06 Sawx with Crisp on the team.
2006-01-24 11:45:41
21.   Shaun P
I think taking a flyer on Piazza is $4 mil well spent. Heck, I'd even say $5 mil is OK. It wouldn't hurt to have him on the bench.

Of course, I've also advocated signing Matt LeCroy and trading for the Pirates' Craig Wilson, as a way of stocking the bench/DH/RF mix and helping spell Jorge at catcher, so maybe I just have a thing for catchers who hit.

Making the bench a weapon would be a good thing. Having the likes of Bernie (sadly), Cairo/Escalona, and Stinett there does not make it a weapon.

2006-01-24 11:57:14
22.   Cliff Corcoran

Blatant misuse of statistics right there.

A 1.000 fielding percentage only tells us that Durazo caught everything that bounced into his lawn chair, not the size of the lawn chair itself (that being his range, which is a more important fielding stat). I'd give you his 2005 range factor, but looking it up I notice that he played a grand total of one game in the field in 2005.

(something, perhaps the emoticon, tells me pistolpete knew all this)

At any rate, looking at Durazo's career number's he's only slightly below league average in terms of range factor, and was actually well above average in the last season he played a significant amount of 1B (33 games in 2003). His Rate (my favorite fielding stat) concurs with the career mark (96, just below average, which would be 100), but disagrees wildly with regards to his 2003 performance (81 Rate, which is just dreadful).

Of course, fielding stats are the messiest room in the performance analysis house (to add another unnecessary metaphor). I suspect that the low Rate for Durazo's 2003 season has something to do with his ratio of assists to errors (3/2). By way of comparison, that's almost twice as bad as Jason Giambi's A/E ratio in 2005, a mightly low standard to say the least.

At any rate, to repeat an old argument: If ten batted balls are hit toward first base and player A fields the two hit directly at him cleanly and converts them into outs, but lets the other eight go by for hits, while player B fields those two cleanly and converts them into outs and does the same for the two next closest balls, but makes an error on the fifth closest ball, who is the superior fielder?

According to fielding percentage it's player A by a long shot (1.000 FPct vs. .800 FPct), but I think we'd all agree it's actually player B.

2006-01-24 12:15:33
23.   rbj
I'd pass on Piazza. We've already got one bad legged over the hill (sorry Bernie) player. I would much rather see those shared DH at bats/catching opportunities to go to someone on the farm/low level trade who will be part of the club for the next few years.
2006-01-24 12:44:04
24.   Bob Timmermann
Jayson Stark is reporting that Piazza is also talking to the Phillies
2006-01-24 12:54:30
25.   Shawn Clap
I don't think Piazza is ready to be a bench player for anyone, including the Yanks. He seems to have a selfish streak, remember when he refused to play 1st for the Mets?

I bet he STILL thinks he's a starting catcher. And I bet there's some sad team out there that agrees.

2006-01-24 13:48:20
26.   wsporter
As I recall Piazza wouldn't play First for the Mets even after they gave him a mit and made him stand next to the bag. Was it more of a display of inadequacy than selfishness? I don't know.
2006-01-24 14:04:55
27.   The Mick 536
Hey, you guys know better than me, but can he still hit. Has to be some loss of bat speed. And if he doesn't hit it out, he is liability on the basepaths. The guy couldn't throw me out trying to steal second and I just had a hip replacement.
2006-01-24 15:43:02
28.   susan mullen
What a bunch of hype by a desperate agent--Jon
Heyman's on the gravy train, saying this would
be a 'major public relations coup.' Really? It would make me sick.
I've heard about this clown Piazza day in &
day out, & if you have as well, you wouldn't
want this human being anywhere around your team, no matter what team you are. His mere
presence is a huge downer.
2006-01-24 16:01:50
29.   Levy2020
In terms of DHing, I still want to see Bubba Crosby in the field spelling Sheffield and possibly Damon.

I can't believe everyone's forgotten about Bubba-mania. If the Yankees need another bench player, it's not in the outfield (Bernie, Bubba) or at 1B (Phillips, Escalona. . .)

2006-01-24 16:06:25
30.   Zack
There are reports out there that Mota failed his physical with the Indians, which puts that trade on hold:
2006-01-24 16:16:51
31.   Marcus
Don't get me wrong, Levy2020, I agree the Yankees have enough warm bodies to fill out every position and bench spot, but it would be nice to have a 4th outfielder that can actually hit. I'd even be for having Sheffield be the permanent DH if there was a suitable RF replacement (which I don't think Bubba is).

By the way, rumors are spreading that the Crisp trade is being held up because Mota didn't pass his physical. If this trade falls through, is debris going to pop back up talking about how Adam Stern projects to be better than Johnny Damon? Or perhaps he'll point out how Alex Gonzalez plays better defense than Jeter.

2006-01-24 16:31:56
32.   wsporter
Zack, Thanks for the link. There were reports early this morning about Mota and his alleged bad arm. The link says among other things that "If the Indians can get Andy Marte, they shouldn't let the relievers stand in the way. It's just too good of a trade for them." Is Andy Marte really that good? My feeling has been that he was a creature of Baseball America's overheated hype machine. I've seen him play, the kid looks good but that good I don't know. Can he and a replacement for Crisp (Michaels?) give them more than Crisp and Boone this season? Isn't Cleveland thinking they have a shot this year?
2006-01-24 17:12:08
33.   wsporter
Yo Sliced, Small agreed to a K today. Just about split the difference in arb numbers, although they lean slightly in the teams favor. I'm glad that Small signed and Cashman doesn't have to walk into the hearing and trash the guy over a couple of hundred G's. 10 - 0 has to mean something to somebody.
2006-01-24 17:53:38
34.   yankz
I hope there is some flaw in Baseball Musing's stats about shortstops and 2B, because the numbers for Jeter and Cano are just nauseating.
2006-01-24 18:15:10
35.   CoCoIsntDamon

Right now, Phily is showing some interest in Piazza. So, if the Yanks don't tick of the Queens' Queens, then I guess the Phillies are willing to do it.

2006-01-24 18:30:37
36.   joejoejoe
Posada DH'd a whopping 3 times in 2005 and zero in 2004. The Newsday story says the Yankees don't want to "irk" Posada or his longtime teammates by getting Bengie Molina. I say irk away.

Let Posada catch 3/5 of the rotation and Molina 2/5. Posada has faded at the end of seasons (in my view - I don't have stats). Let Posada take 1/5 of the ABs at DH and if he could duplicate his '04 numbers (.272/.400/.481) in '06 with more rest the Yankees will approach 1000 runs with improved defense adding Molina.

And I like the idea of Molina talking smack in the locker room about beating the Yankees twice in the playoffs in '02 and '05. It should irk the Yankees core that the Angels have been more successful in the past 4 years. Adding Molina is looking forward while adding Piazza is looking back. Molina has about 700 games in the MLB and Piazza around 1700. Which one has something left?

2006-01-24 18:38:50
37.   brockdc
While I'm not thrilled about signing either, I think signing Molina makes a hell of a lot more sense than signing Piazza. If you sign Piazza, you're paying for his past. If you sign Molina, you're investing in a guy who can hit a little (probably about the same as Piazza, at this point) while still offering some solid defense. Also, I can't imagine there being much of a salary disparity between the two at this point.
2006-01-24 18:40:26
38.   brockdc
But, like, I said: If the Yanks are looking to get deeper off the bench, why not Hidalgo? That would just make too much sense.
2006-01-25 09:03:12
39.   Schteeve
Levy, Bubba mania needs to be forgotten, the guy couldn't hit the water if he fell out of a boat.
2006-01-25 19:55:44
40.   wsporter
Well, if the boat's in dry dock....? Couldn't hit a bull in the ass with a bass fiddle?

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