Baseball Toaster Bronx Banter
Anything Left in the Tank?
2006-01-27 05:39
by Alex Belth
Note: The Bronx Banter blog has moved to

Will Mike Piazza end up in San Diego? If he does, at least it will continue his streak of playing for team's with pitcher-friendly home parks. Over at ESPN, Alan Schwarz has a good piece about how Piazza and Frank Thomas can still be productive.

2006-01-27 07:11:34
1.   Felix Heredia
It's too late. My sources indicate that Piazza has agreed in principle to a one year deal with the Vatican's softball team.
2006-01-27 07:30:27
2.   Sliced Bread
After a busy week of pondering Piazza in pinstripes, and BoSox belittling, I have nothing left in the tank with respect to MLB.
Today my baseball brain is in Augusta, NJ, home of the newly christened Sussex Skyhawks of the Canadian-American professsional baseball league.
We moved out to the sticks of Sussex County last August, primarily because my wife and I want to raise our three young sons in a home surrounded by trees, hills, and lakes, all of which abound in our corner of the Garden State.
The 50-mile commute to NY (each way, each day) can be a drag, but the payoff is the weekends in the country with my family.
Now, we have the brand-spanking new Sussex Skyhawks to look forward to. I've long been a Yankees and NY Giants fan. The Big-Time Teams, you know? I've never rooted for a college team, or a minor league club.
The Skyhawks will play their homegames about 8 miles from our backyard, which has become my favorite place in the world to observe real hawks hunting overhead.
The team doesn't even have a logo yet, and I woke up this morning, and rode the Sussex Skyhawks bandwagon straight into heart of the big city. Bring on the Brockton Rox, Nashua Pride, New Haven Cutters, New Jersey Jackals, North Shore Spirit, Les Capitales de Quebec, and the Worcester Tornadoes!

If you want to read more about the Skyhawks, and how they were named by a lifelong Yankees fan, (who tells a great story about a brief conversation he had with Yogi) I've attached the following links:
2006-01-27 08:31:12
3.   Knuckles
Are they gonna be playing in the Cardinas stadium? I've been up there many a time. The stadium looks like a giant red and white barn from the road. Some family friends used to host a couple players each summer so we've gotten to sit in the 'luxury boxes' which are curiously decorated like my nan's (grandmother) living room. A couple couches, some framed pheasant painting on the walls, and one glass wall looking out onto the field.
2006-01-27 08:40:24
4.   Sliced Bread
That's the place. The, uh, country-quaint decor of the 'luxury boxes' sounds like a trip. Nothing says "take me out to the ballgame" quite like an antique pheasant painting in a gilded frame, right?
I'll have to look out for that through the binocs. Let's Go Skyhawks! Clap, clap, clap-clap-clap!
2006-01-27 09:42:40
5.   Count Zero
The only thing I have left to say on the Piazza issue is this: Now we know Cashman really must be running the show.

Picking up a washed-up, egotistical, no-defense, bat-speed-down-20%, has-been who doesn't mind losing for $3 million or more because he USED to be great would have been a typical Steinbrenner / Tampa Butt-Kissers move with no basis in reality. The fact that we shut the door on this stupidity, proves that someone with a brain made a decision. :P

2006-01-27 10:07:04
6.   Start Spreading the News
Off-topic: This is Yankee Fandom Craigslist style. Warning: not for under 18.

2006-01-27 10:49:26
7.   singledd
If you average the Baseball Prospectus and Bill James numbers if the article, Piazza comes out with a .780 OPS and 20ish HRS over 400 abs.

I think this is decent for a 2nd string catcher making 3mil/yr.

Kelly Stinnett will be 36 this season, with a lifetime OPS of .710 and avg of .240. Piazza SHOULD be a major upgrade. Dump Stinnett and get Piazza.

He will play for us. He wants to be in a WS.

I guess Count Zero would rather have a washed-up DUD then a washed-up Piazza.

2006-01-27 15:04:14
8.   Marcus
Now they're saying the Coco Crisp deal is all but final, pending an Arthur Rhodes physical:

If Boston gives up Marte, Mota, and Shoppach for Crisp, Riske, Bard, I'm happy with that. They are going to regret trading Shoppach just like the Yankees are going to miss Navarro, no matter if their bats are sub par. Plus, the Sox will be giving Alex "Worse than Womack" Gonzalez a starting job.

2006-01-28 07:47:25
9.   Levy2020
The Crisp trade went down.

I'm worried that Riske is better than Mota. Didn't Mota just afil the physical?

2006-01-28 10:11:40
10.   KJC
// Didn't Mota just fail the physical? //

That was reported by a radio station in Philly, but according to Mota's agent, he didn't fail his physical. (But who knows what really happens with these things...)

2006-01-28 12:29:45
11.   Zack
Not sure how the trade really makes sense for either team beyond the two major players, Crisp and Marte. Trading Riske for Mota doesn't seem like much of an upgrade for either team, and the Sox giving away Schoppach for a crappy back up catcher makes no sense, and the Indians taking on a catching prospect makes sense as they already have a stud starting and a prospect behind him. Maybe someone is going to be trade bait for another deal?

And I don't see why Philly thinks that Arthur Rhodes is a fair trade for Michaels, inless they really just wanted him gone...

2006-01-28 13:39:37
12.   Count Zero

I don't deny that Piazza is likely a more productive hitter than Stinnett. Statistics all back that up. However, if you watched Piazza hit the second half of '05, you would've seen what everyone else saw -- his bat speed is way down and any hard thrower can just blow fastballs by him at will. (Which is exactly what Bernie's problem is now.) This has caused him to start guessing more...which in turn makes him very vulnerable to splitters and change-ups. He was a mediocre hitter at best in '05. When we had Strawman as PH-DH, he was on the decline but he could still wallop a fastball in a fastball count. Same for Sierra. Piazza can no longer tater a fastball in a fastball count, unless it's an 88MPH fastball.

But the offensive production of your backup catcher shouldn't be your number one priority anyway...his defense should be. And Piazza is one of the worst defensive catchers in the majors right now throwing out 13% of SB attempts vs. 34% for Stinnett. Which means Stinnett can be brought into a game in the 7th or 8th to give Jorge some rest, whereas you wouldn't dare bring Piazza in unless you have a five-run lead.

Argue for Piazza as a DH if you wish (although I think his numbers suck for that), but as a backup catcher he's a terrible choice. And those people saying he could spell Giambi at first have obviously never seen him with a first baseman's mitt on his hand.

2006-01-28 16:43:04
13.   mikeplugh
The Piazza debate is interesting. singledd makes a great point in #7 that I hadn't considered....but....

I'm still not looking to add another veteran to this team. In the absence of a market for a younger guy, I'm happy the Yankees are staying with what they have. Our offense doesn't need more help. If we develop some kind of weird hitting ebola virus and can't score with Damon, Jeter, A-Rod, Sheffield, Matsui, Giambi, Posada, Cano, and Bernie/Phillips then we can look into someone that will be available either after Spring Training or before the trade deadline.

The Yanks questions entering the season are still the Dr. Jeckyl and Mr. Hyde starting staff and the new additions in the bullpen. The only thing we can do about that now is wait and see. At least we are DEEP with options on both fronts and a real pitching meritocracy will emerge in March and throughout the season.

Piazza would be interesting from a storyline standpoint and maybe he'd be better than Stinett, but I'd rather have room for Melky, or Duncan, or another pitcher at this point. The roster can mash. We need youth.

2006-01-29 08:07:28
14.   singledd
whether of not to get Piazza has nothing to do with others needs. It's NOT Piazza OR...

I ONLY want to SWAP Piazza for Stinnet... and just for a year. I believe he will sign for A year, and cheap, to stay in NY and have a very good shot at the PS. The guy just wants to pad his numbers, not get hurts, and play in one more PS.

We can make this swap AND still work on other issues.

I agree with Count Zero about Mike having a poor arm. We will need to choose what games he starts, putting him in against teams that typically don't run, major blow-outs, and other 'appropriate' times. I don't agree that Piazza is washed up. Slowing down, but not done. At his age, playing behind the plate 120 games slows you down. Using him primarily as a DH and PH, catching 350 innings might (I believe) bring his bat to life.

We seem to always face a choice between Offense and Defence. Most of our guys, Giambi, Sheff, Matsui, Damon, (and even to some extent Jetes and Posada) are not Yankees because of their gloves. There is debate whether A 'Stinnet' can save more games with his D and arm, the A 'Mike' can win with his bat.

If Mike really stinks, we can replace him. Stinnet is 'replacement level'. It's not like we could not pick up another replacement level catcher if we really needed to replace Mike.

I think it's an upgrade. It will certainly make us more fun to watch.

2006-01-29 14:57:14
15.   singledd
"Mike Piazza agreed Sunday to a $2 million, one-year free agent contract with the San Diego Padres".

2 Million lousy $$.
We could have had him for less.

We spend $200 million to have the worst bench in baseball, and let Thomas and Piazza go for lunch money. Jeez.........

2006-01-29 15:05:51
16.   Shaun P
I really think Piazza was worth a flier, ESPECIALLY at $2mil. Shoot, if there really wasn't a need for him - and IMHO there is no question Piazza's bat trumps any defensive value of Stinnett - at that price he could be traded. Easily.

Matt LeCroy hasn't signed anywhere, has he?

2006-01-29 16:36:32
17.   Zack
This is off topic, but came across this article, via Buster Olney's stupid espn blog, but found it interesting:

Cashman is now the 7th longest tenured GM in baseball, behind:
and Beane

--of that list, Towers and Ryan were the most surprising I think. 1998 doesn't seem that long ago but with Torre entering his 11th season as manager, and Cashman his 9th, and with George clearly on the way out of real operations, perhaps this organization has shifted once again into a new era...Just musing

2006-01-29 17:44:33
18.   Levy2020
I certainly would have taken either for $2m. . . But there appears to be a "No designated DH" mentality in the front office.

Or perhaps everyone is convinced Bernie is the answer.

I'm completely flabbergasted that a National League team picked up Piazza.

2006-01-30 05:30:45
19.   The Mick 536
I do not rue the failure to sign Mikeeeeee. I am, however, reminded of a past signing of a no field, good hit catcher who not only produced but saved the life of either Reggie Jackson or Billy Martin - Cliff Johnson. Check out his stats.
2006-01-30 07:33:11
20.   Murray
Cliff Johnson also famously got into a fight in the showers with Gossage in 1979 that left Gossage injured, destroyed the bullpen for the rest of the summer and mucked up the starting rotation because Guidry agreed to pitch relief. Therefore, saving Martin's or Jackson's life was a wash for the club that season; it would have helped more had he saved Thurman's life. Johnson was a funny presence in a lot of good stories about those Yankee teams, though, and I liked him as a result.

I'll miss Piazza. At the top of his game Piazza was thrilling to watch in the batter's box. Piazza was also a good citizen while he was here in New York and he seemed to enjoy playing here--a quality I prefer in my Yankees and my Mets.

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