Baseball Toaster Bronx Banter
2006-07-06 05:38
by Alex Belth

Joe Torre held a mid-season meeting prior to last night's game and then enjoyed watching his team beat-up on the Indians, 11-3. Aaron Boone committed three errors for Cleveland, two in the Yankees' pivotal eight-run fourth inning. Melky Cabrera led the charge with the first grand slam of his career. Mike Mussina performed well enough--his breaking ball was particularly sharp in the early going--though his right groin continues to bother him. Mussina pitched just six innings and hopes that the All-Star break will help him heal properly. Same goes for Johnny Damon, who had to leave the game in the third inning with a sore lower abdominal muscle. According to Torre, Damon first felt that something was not right during batting practice, and after a few innings, he was removed from the game. They should know more about the seriousness of the injury today, but it's not a stretch to think that Damon will be rested this weekend in Tampa Bay.

The Bombers gained a game on Boston, who lost again to the Devil Rays.

The Yanks acquired Aaron Guiel, a left-handed hitting outfielder, on the cheap yesterday. While Boss George is behind his GM, Brian Cashman all the way, the Yanks have not geeked and pulled the trigger on any significant deals yet. Cashman tells Mike Lupica:

"Right now we're not a playoff team. We're just a playoff-contending team."

..."We've had the black cloud so far, no question," Cashman said. "But that black cloud isn't going to be over Yankee Stadium the whole season. Eventually it's going to move somewhere else."

..."We're trying to fix this, but we're trying to fix it right," Cashman said. "We've taken some big-time hits this season, and our team has responded with heart and character. This isn't last season, when we had a lot of healthy guys underperforming and we were nine games out. This team is different. And I want to do my part to help them out, and honor the effort I've seen from them so far. I just don't want to make a mistake."

And here's more from the Times:

"If you want to do something this early, you have to overpay," Cashman said Wednesday. "I'm not looking to overpay. The only thing I'm looking to do is improve our club at fair value.

"So far, I have passed. We have a short-term goal of improving the team now, and a long-term goal of keeping the future intact. It's a tightrope you walk every day. I'm very comfortable with the decision-making process and the fight that this club has shown."

To be continued, for sure...

2006-07-06 06:01:16
1.   mikeplugh
I checked the numbers on Guiel and Bernie, and it looks like a wedding made in heaven, as Bernie is murder on lefties, but crap against righties, and Guiel is the opposite.

Oliver Stone couldn't have made a better Platoon.

2006-07-06 06:19:22
2.   Emy
"So far, I have passed. We have a short-term goal of improving the team now, and a long-term goal of keeping the future intact..."

That's fine, Cash...please keep on passing every time you hear the name Hughes come up!!!

2006-07-06 06:26:58
3.   JL25and3
As far as I can tell, Guiel is basically a poor man's Bubba Crosby. I find that a fairly disturbing concept.
2006-07-06 06:42:13
4.   Felix Heredia
I was having a Miguel Cairo debate with my wife and we decided to actually look up his stats. I was surprised to see he's a career .270 hitter who has hit over .290 in three seasons. The most he ever struck out in a season was 49 times. So he's actually slumping badly right now.

He has also played at least five different positions in five different seasons. Given the way this season has gone, he is arguably as important an acquisition as Johnny Damon (but hopefully not for long).

2006-07-06 06:50:07
5.   Shaun P
1 I'm glad someone else thinks picking up Guiel is not a bad move!

Anyone want to bet that the Yanks don't make a big move at all?

In last night's game thread, someone commented that Tyler Clippard has been pitching much better lately. This is purely speculation, but anyone else wonder if having the regular minor league umps back isn't maybe the reason why?

2006-07-06 06:55:55
6.   JeterChrist
4 Guiel is nothing like Bubba Crosby, and isn't a bad short term, no risk, lefty platoon option at all.

5 Cairo's good years are barely adequate for a playoff team, no matter how many positions he can play, unless one of those is catcher. This is a lack of foresight on the part of the Yankees front office that keeps coming back to haunt them. He's had exactly 3 seasons over .700 OPS in his career. .290 BA with little patience and no power isn't very valuable at all.

2006-07-06 07:05:14
7.   markp
Guiel has lousy numbers in the minors and the majors. The "poor man's Bubba" was spot on.

Cairo has a career OPS+ 4 points higher than Womack. He's an out maker and he's not as good defensively as the booth would have you believe.

2006-07-06 07:06:11
8.   Count Zero
1 Yep -- looks like that was the thought process. Any idea what he's like defensively? Not that he could be worse in RF than the GOB...
2006-07-06 07:08:01
9.   Dimelo
4 I agree with you, Felix. But saying:

//Given the way this season has gone, he is arguably as important an acquisition as Johnny Damon//

Is going to open you up for all sorts of comments. I'll help you out and expand on what you've said and it's simply my personal opinion.

I've always liked Cairo and thought he brought something to the Yanks. Everything is about numbers around these parts and many parts of Yankee web fandom, I love those too, but sometimes I try not to pay attention to them and look at the human element that a player brings to a team. I think Cairo brings that to the team, what that "it" is...I really don't know. But I've seen enough Yankee games to see him do more good and that isn't always reflected in the bottom line hitting numbers. I'm a big believer in the numbers, I have lots of respect for the numbers that are thrown out, but baseball isn't like building a dam or a bridge - where tolerances are measured in the minutiae. Baseball is about managing people and sometimes the numbers don't lie (i.e. T-Ball Long, A. Small) and sometimes they don't tell the whole story (i.e. Cairo), note the difference….sometimes the numbers don't lie and sometimes they don't tell the whole story, nevertheless, the numbers are always facts and it's hard to argue against them.

2006-07-06 07:28:07
10.   Max
I was thinking that it would be good if we could hover around 2-3 games behind the Red Sox by the break. While that's still the most realistic option, I realized that the Sox have a lot of games at Fenway after the break, and in general have it easier for July and much of August than we do.

So waiting around for Sheffsui and Dotel until late August/early September probably isn't going to cut it. I was pretty laid back regarding the need to make a move, but our post-ASB schedule, with all the games against Toronto and the White Sox (and our old friends, the Angels), makes me a bit nervous...we could be seriously out of it by the end of August if we maintain a bunch of mascots at the bottom of the order, and our pitching continues to be a bunch of 5-6 inning starts followed by the continued taxing of the bullpen.

2006-07-06 08:11:22
11.   Sandman42
9 I do believe there is a positive value to Cairo that is not expressed in his numbers. However, I believe there is a HUGE negative value that is quite plainly expressed.
2006-07-06 08:11:36
12.   Sean McNally
The talk of overpaying by Cashman scares me a little... if only because it shows an ignorance of recent history on his part. You don't always overpay when you strike early.

The most significant mid-season acquisition by the Yankees was picking up David Justice in June of 2000. An early deal isn't a bad thing - its the impulse deal that kills teams.

2006-07-06 08:17:04
13.   Sandman42
The online community seems to represent David Justice as the only good move that Cashman ever made. Is one good move that wins a championship a worthy legacy? And do we give Cashman too much credit for improving an already great team in the 2000 Yankees?
2006-07-06 08:19:06
14.   mehmattski
9 I'm sure that the mothers of Terrence Long and Aaron Small would claim that the numbers don't tell the whole story with their sons, while also claiming that Cairo's numbers don't lie. People can have their favorite players, and that's fine, but the goal is improving the team. Whatever intantibles Cairo brings are quickly nullified when he bounces out to the pitcher most at bats. What we should see is a light hitting bench player that Cashman picked up at the request of Torre, when money was much better spent on a bat off the bench. Cairo (career .268/.317/.361) reminds me so much of Pat Kelly(.241/.307/.369), and they even wear the same number. Eerie.
2006-07-06 08:32:44
15.   bp1
14 I'm just old enough to remember when Cairo's career numbers would represent a well paid starter on the Yankees infield.

Who's numbers are these? .276/.373/.351

They would be career numbers for Willie Randolph. Granted the OBP is an improvement, but there isn't that much difference otherwise in pure numbers.

Check these out for Bucky Dent


who was the starting shortstop for a World Series winning Yankees team, along with Willie.

Corner Outfielders? How about Roy White:


Reggie Jackson is in the Hall of Fame (rightly so) with these numbers:


The game sure has changed. Look out our current starting shortstop's career numbers:



2006-07-06 08:35:41
16.   monkeypants
14 Great call! And they both 'look' like baseball players, albeit Kelly as the 'scrappy all-American' type and Cairo as the 'scrappy Latin' type.
2006-07-06 08:36:10
17.   Shaun P
13 That's a really thought-provoking post. I've spent the past 20 minutes trying to write something on it, but I keep changing my mind.

Here's my two cents: I don't think Justice was the only good move Cashman has ever made. And, if we accept that Justice was the single move that cemented a championship - I'm not convinced of that, BTW - then yes, one good move that wins a championship is a worthy legacy.

All that said, I don't think Cashman gets over-credited for 2000. Without evaluating 'heart and soul', I don't think the 2000 Yanks were a 'great' team at all. In all honesty, they were a good team that got very lucky, and Justice was a big reason why. As was Glenallen Hill, for that matter. And Bernie, Jeter, and Jorge - check out their numbers from that season, compared with what the rest of the 'offense' did.

2006-07-06 08:36:37
18.   Max
13 Along these lines, I actually wonder how much blame Cashman should get, as well as how much credit. Don't get me wrong, he would be the first to hold himself accountable, but it's only this year that he's had this kind of autonomy, correct? Other years, it's been much more of a tug of war managing conflicting interests between George, Tampa, and Torre's own peculiar preferences.

I think this is why Cash is respected by many of his peers...the Lupicas of the world who scream "you've got $200 million, how can you go wrong" forget all the baggage that comes with it (including other teams who try to take advantage of George's itchy trigger-finger). It beats being the Marlins GM, but it's not a walk in the park.

This is all a long-winded way of saying that Cash's "legacy" has a number of complicating factors, and may not be fully apparent until we see what the Yankees of 2008 or 2009 look like (though Cash may not be around to see it).

2006-07-06 08:44:36
19.   Shaun P
15 Great post, bp1! Though I think Randolph's huge OBP advantage makes up for the otherwise closeness of his BA and SLG numbers with Cairo's.

Just for the heck of it, here are those guys 'translated' numbers, per BP, so one can compare them despite differences in eras, league averages, positions, etc:

Cairo, career, .266/.317/.363
Randolph career, .293/.394/.393
Dent career, .256/.311/.359
White career, .289/.378/.473
Reggie career, .273/.369/.567
Jeter career, .323/.398/.482

If you think about it, they all make sense. Cairo and Dent are no hit infielders. Randolph was phenomonal at getting on base; that skill alone made him very valuable. Roy White was vastly underrated, while Reggie and Jeter are both clearly Hall of Famers.

2006-07-06 08:50:05
20.   mickey1956
5 Clippard is an interesting prospect. Until this year Clippard has always put up excellent #'s. The knock by scouts on him is not enough juice on the fastball, but good breaking pitches. I've only seen him pitch twice so take all of this with a grain of salt. He has been very unlucky this year. He has only give up 71 hits in 94 innings. His k/9 is 9 and the k/bb is almost 3/1. If you look at his splits he has pitched much worse with men on and in scoring position. One thing I noticed when watching him is his fastball loses some pop when he is in the stretch. If he can add some strength and get his fastball from 90-91 to 93-94 with his offspeed stuff he will be a good starter. For an eighth round pick he has been excellent. If he ends the year with the same peripherals and an ERA below 4 as a 21 year old in AA then he has to be considered a b-b+ prospect. So to answer your question I think he was a little unlucky earlier in the year with men on base and kind of inflated his ERA. He is my favorite prospect so I follow him pretty closely.
2006-07-06 08:54:00
21.   JL25and3
13 Cashman's made plenty of good deals...during the offseason. His midseason acquisitions haven't amounted to much - guys like Denny Neagle, Jeff Weaver, Armando Benitez, Raul Mondesi, Esteban Loaiza. There was Aaron Boone, though.
2006-07-06 09:06:55
22.   JL25and3
19 You're right about Roy White. He had the misfortune to have his best years on bad teams, and in a very different offensive environment from today's. .267/.350/.414 would be laughable for a corner outfielder today - except he did that in 1968, when the league hit .230/.297/.339.

Hideki Matsui reminds me a lot of Roy White: quiet, efficient ballplayers who don't stand out in any one area, but who do everything well (except throw). White had more speed and was a better outfielder, Matsui has more power; but generally they're pretty comparable.

2006-07-06 09:08:44
23.   Zack
3 21 Yes, I am who you think I am...

Cashman's quotes today did a lot to reassure me. As far as I can tell, he seems to be set on sticking to his plan sink or swim, which means that his eye is on making the right moves at the sacrifice, perhaps, of this season, which really should have a mulligan anyways...

When you think, next season, J.B. Cox, Steven White, Hughes (maybe), could all be ready to contribute, with Smith and Beam thrown in as well. That gives us, potentially, a +2 in starters, +3 in relievers.

2006-07-06 09:32:30
24.   Felix Heredia
Dimelo - I made that Cairo / Damon comparison to provoke a response. The signing of Cairo was widely criticized by the stat-obessesed on this blog, so I thought I'd see if any of them are willing to concede that Cairo has been a valuable acquisition. Apart from stats, he does seem to bring a tough-guy attitude that soemtimes seems to be lacking among some of the big names. Torre certainly likes him, but, to paraphrase many on this blog, what the hell does Torre know about baseball?

As for the OBP comments, I guess most people on this blog would take Jorge Posada's offense over Ichiro's. But that's a whole 'nother debate . . . .

2006-07-06 09:38:09
25.   markp
in re Cairo: why would anyone "concede" anything? Baseball is about scoring runs and stopping the other guy from scoring. Cairo is lousy at the scoring runs part and average at best at the stopping runs part.
Being a tough guy doesn't affect either.
2006-07-06 09:54:37
26.   JohnnyC
24 You can't compare a catcher's offense to a rightfielder's. Jorge is one of the 2 best offensive catchers in the league, giving the Yankees a substantial advantage over 12 other teams. And, truth to tell, Ichiro's an exciting player but he'd give the Mariners a much better comparative advantage if he were playing CF or the infield.
2006-07-06 09:59:37
27.   monkeypants
26 Agreed. As a digression, why does Ichiro play RF instead of CF? He is as fast as anybody, has a good arm, and the reputation as a stellar (right)fielder. Was he ever tried out in CF? Is his CF defense really that bad?
2006-07-06 10:00:00
28.   RZG
21 Don't you count Chacon or Small as midseason acquisitions? I do.
2006-07-06 10:05:57
29.   alterity
24 Talk about a a bad comparison. Ichiro is a great hitter, but Posada is far more valuable IMHO because he's a catcher who can hit and hit well. It's ridiculously difficult to find a catcher who can hit at that level (heloo Brad Ausmus and Jason Kendall and a whole bunch of others) while finding a riight fielder who approaches Ichiro's production (not matches, but approaches) is somewhat easier, perhaps even a lot easier. And Posada's .292/.402/.489 is not a far cry from .351/.405/.458 this season, and in some ways is better as Ichiro's OBP is most BA. If he slumps, his OBP goes way down, whereas is Posada slumps he still walks. Of Ichiro's career rate stats (.334/.380/.443) only his BA is exceptional (especially for RF). By contrast, Jorge's .270/.377/.471 career line are better than Bench's (.267/.342/.476; of course, without the defense or quite the career length), similar to Rodriguez' (.304/.343/.485; also without the same level of defense), are similar to Yogi's (.285/.348/.482) and are better than Fisk's (.269/.341/.457). Piazza is significantly better (.310/.380/.552), but he may well be (probably is) the best hitting catcher of all time. So Jorge compares well with three HOFers and two future HOFers at his position. So yeah, in a lot of ways I'll take his offense over a RFer who in 5+ seasons has 249 XBHs, only 58 of which are HRs.
2006-07-06 10:16:24
30.   YankeeInMichigan
26 One the two best? I'd take Mauer or Martinez above him, especially over a whole season.
2006-07-06 10:18:22
31.   Schteeve
24 Would I take Posada's .891 OPS over Ichiro's .863 OPS? You betcha. Without Matsui and Sheff in the lineup, would I take Posada's .080 advantage in slugging? Every. Day. Of. The. Week.
2006-07-06 10:21:34
32.   Schteeve
Victor Martinez' OPS is .855.

his OBP is .375 compared to Posada's .402 mark. They're a wash when it comes to HR. I'm not sure how Victor is a better offensive player than Posada.

2006-07-06 10:22:44
33.   JohnnyC
30 Who said Martinez is a catcher? Looks more like a DH to me.
2006-07-06 10:26:56
34.   Shaun P
24 26 29 31 Very quietly, Posada is having an awesome season, especially for a 34-year-old. The Yanks (and us) will miss him in a couple years almost as much as they/us will miss Mo.

30 Long term I would take Martinez over Jorge only because of the huge age difference in Victor's favor.

2006-07-06 10:34:39
35.   Sandman42
29 This has never made perfect sense to me. When normally patient players slump, is there any evidence to suggest they still walk at the same rate? Seems to depend on the player and depend on the slump. Slumping players often press and swing at balls out of the strike zone. Ichiro is a great hitter. If he slumps, why wouldn't he try taking more pitches, thereby walking more?

I'm also not sold on singles equating to walks in OBP. True, seeing more pitches is good, but base hits move runners.

2006-07-06 10:41:35
36.   Schteeve
35 I agree with your last points. Hits are the more valuable component of OBP when compared to walks in situations with runners on base. But it's all contextual. With noone on base a single and a BB are at parity in terms of value.

With a runner on third a single is more valuable than a walk because in most cases that single drives a run home.

Pretty straightforward.

But what about when there's a guy on first, a single could move a guy to second, or third or in some cases even home. With a runner on first, a single that moves a runner from first to second is no more valuable than a walk.

It would be interesting to find a way to adjust OBP to measure the relative value of it's component parts, but my guess is that a lot of that value is derived by luck, not by any particular skill, and so would be of marginal analytical value.

2006-07-06 10:49:05
37.   brockdc
33 If Wedge or somebody doesn't straighten him out soon, he will be. It's the old cliche: As a catcher, Martinez makes a damn good hitter.
2006-07-06 10:52:00
38.   YankeeInMichigan
32 34 As of yesterday, Martinez out-VORPed Posada 23.3 to 20.9. The last two seasons, Martinez significantly out-performed Posada. In both of those seasons, Martinez surged in the second half while Posada faded. Clearly, Jorgie's 34-year old legs cannot quite handle the stresses of a full season the way the kid in Cleveland can.

No argument on Posada's value. But if I could choose one for my roster for a full season (and certainly for multiple seasons), I would go with Martinez.

2006-07-06 10:54:25
39.   brockdc
36 Interesting. I believe there are times when a walk is actually more valuable than a hit. Here's a possible scenario:

Fifth inning, no one on base, opposing starting pitcher laboring. Would it be more valuable to have a guy like Ichiro slap a base hit into left field on the second pitch or to have a guy like Giambi work the count full and then foul off three pitches before taking his walk. I say the latter.

2006-07-06 11:00:29
40.   Schteeve
39 Ok but if you go down that road, is it more valuable to have Ichiro on first with no outs or Giambi on first with no outs?

I'm just saying that a value weighted OBP stat would be really interesting. I don't know if it would be useful for anything, but it would definitely be interesting.

2006-07-06 11:00:52
41.   Shaun P
36 I think that's probably right - having to contextualize OBP won't necessarily show any great insights, because it would depend so much on the lineup around you, as well as the game situation. For example, does it really matter how the guy leading off any inning gets on base? And if the guy up after you is a slugger, avoiding making an out is probably more important and getting a runner from 1st to 3rd.
2006-07-06 11:01:44
42.   yankaholic
Slightly off topic... This is a good snippet..

2006-07-06 11:07:41
43.   Shaun P
40 Someone at BP - Nate Silver I think - did generate a value-added OBP stat that specifically included baserunning ability into the equation. For example, by his calculations, Rickey Henderson's baserunning ability in 1985 gave him an effective OBP of .476 versus his actual OBP of .419!

OK, I found the article - its a subscriber only, I'm afraid:

2006-07-06 11:10:24
44.   brockdc
43 .476? Holy crap.
2006-07-06 11:30:09
45.   Yankee Fan in Chicago
38 easy to have a strong 2nd half when you don't have to, you know, catch. The Indians might as well just let the ball roll to the backstop after every pitch and put the extra player in the field for all the defense Martinez gives them.

He may just shade Jorge offensively, but sheesh, defensively . . . the guy's got an arm like my 4 year-old daughter.

2006-07-06 11:35:12
46.   Nick from Washington Heights
45 I'm impressed that your 4 year old daughter is able to throw to 2nd from home already. Do the Yanks have the inside track on a possible free agent signing?
2006-07-06 12:30:28
47.   Yankee Fan in Chicago
45 Can't quite make it yet, but she's got about as much chance of throwing out a baserunner as Martinez does.
2006-07-06 12:46:46
48.   Dimelo
Felix, I agree with you.
2006-07-06 15:31:08
49.   mikeplugh
There are two sides to the statistical vs. intangible debate when it comes to players. Cairo for example is a horrible player by most numerical measures. Some people like him because of his toughness, attitude, and the big moment or two that conjures up happy memories.

I like the fact that playing with "heart" matters. It's a big part of what makes a guy a good teammate. A bigger part of what makes a guy a good teammate is not to leave me standing on 2nd base all the time.

Guys like Miguel Cairo have a place in baseball off the bench. Just not on the Yankees. The Yankees spend $200 million on the ballclub and end up with terrible players on the bench. The problem is that we spend money on guys like Carl Pavano, Kevin Brown, and others. Overpaying for pitching is a result of producing zero from the minor league level, and ends up handcuffing the team's ability to sign reasonable bench players to back up in the case of injury.

The failure to produce anything meaningful from the minors to take the mound has killed the budget, as we can only buy what's available, and in most years it's better to pass on the mediocre stuff on the free agent market. Because we spend freely on crap, we have to try to skimp on some parts of the team, most notably the bench.

2006-07-06 17:29:01
50.   Adam B
On Clippard, 3 of his worst starts came with the Thunder playing Shelley Duncan in Left Field. So I think there are good reasons (Duncan and the umps) for some of his bad numbers this year.

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