Baseball Toaster was unplugged on February 4, 2009.
Who are the cherce free agents this winter? A quick look via the Associated Press.
Player: Zone Rating/Fielding Pct/Range Factor
Of course, the guy's 30 years old and will probably need a 4 to 5 year contract, but he's pretty durable. What would be better, though, is if Soriano could pitch...
What is behind this confluence of mediocrity? Smarter deals for teams with young players? Fall-out from the scrutiny of PEDs? The law of averages (or in this year's case, the Year of Averages)? Nutty Buddy's evil masterplan of parity? What?
Aside from that, this year's playofs just seemed to suck the life out of the whole year. Not just because the Yanks lost, but also because the worst team won. It makes it seem like the effort and pressure to win throughout the season was a complete waste. I begin to see Jeter's point when he says that it doersn't matter if you don't win at the end, especially if you have World Series with both teams backing into the playoffs after almost blowing the season. Is it worth sitting through an entire season of baseball when the teams virtually change completely afterwards.
Just ranting I guess from a casual point of view since I skipped out on the playoffs after the Yanks' loss, but there are a number of ponderables related to the setup that Selig and Co. have wrought that makes the whole enterprise seem profitable, but futile (which is sort of like dedicating this season to Jean-Michel Basquiat) to consider. No wonder I didn't feel the urge to spend my life savings at the Stadium this year. What capital gains? Phooey...
Outside of pitching, IMO, the Yanks' big need is a good-hit/good-field first baseman. Even if Melky plays everyday in either LF or CF, and Matsui, Damon, and Abreu rotate at DH ('Zilla in RF if Bobby DHs?), what happens when Giambi isn't in the field? Who's on first?
Outside of Frank Thomas, who can't play first anymore, the currently available free agents are an uninspiring bunch. Maybe its worthwhile to take another flier on Craig Wilson? Anyone at Scranton/WB? Can Shelley Duncan play 1B?
It's hard enough to project minor leaguers' stats year to year, let alone trying to do it for 2009. I'm sure there were people imagining Ruben Rivera and Rickey Ledee patroling the Yankee outfield for years to come in the late 90's. Hope the youth movement is as fruitful as you predict. I'd be glad if it is.
Fox Sports finished the '06 World Series with a 10.1/17 average Nielsen rating, the lowest-ever mark for the Fall Classic, and 9 percent behind last year's mark of 11.1/19.
Yikes. 9% below that exciting White Sox sweep of the Astros last year.
The best bargain bat available is Frank Catalanotto. He'd be perfect in Yankee Stadium but I don't know where he would play. Look for the Mets to make a run at him.
I think the most difficult long term need for the Yanks is getting a young catcher to spell Posada in the long term. You have to get that by trade - my favorite young catcher is the Pirates Ronny Paulino. I'd love to see the Yankees overwhelm Pittsburgh with some decent veteran talent and buyouts and grab Paulino. The Pirates have another prime catching prospect Ryan Doumit that was ahead of Paulino before an injury so maybe they make a deal.
The biggest offensive problem the Yanks have is they are getting old and they have a stagnant lineup. I think that is best addressed by dealing Giambi to the Angels who badly need offense and taking back some of the Angels big contracts (Garrett Anderson, Bartolo Colon). A deal can be made with LAA that benefits both NYY and the Angels and frees up critical DH ABs for the Thirtysomething Yankees.
9 The genius of ol' George was, is and forever will be his own best-kept secret.
There isn't anything out there that you can pinpoint and say that it's a good fit. You either take your chances with what you have or take a bigger chance with someone who may not fill your need to begin with. If you're going with the unknown, I'd rather go young and start some guys that can build equity (There's got to be another Melky down there; after all wasn't he somewhat of a Cano?)
Free-agent wise, I mean.
No way do I want Sori's strikeouts.
I fervently believe that a major achilles heel this team has had of late has been striking out (or popping up) in huge spots. IMO, the team's new philosophy should be, "Just put the ball in play and anything can happen."
Of course for this to be a winning strategy, you have to have a superb defense and good pitching.
I don't know how many players are out there who hit, say, .300 and don't strike out, but if they're out there, they'll probably be a lot cheaper than a Soriano. Sign those kind of people and use the savings to invest in pitching and defense.
13 Giambi to the Angles for Anderson and Colon does nothing to solve the 1B problem - in fact, it makes it a huge gaping hole. Anderson is toast. He's 35 next year, can't play the OF well, has played 1B once (in 2000) - and his last productive season was 2003. Pass.
If the Pirates wouldn't give up Paulino, I'd gladly take Doumit instead.
Ditto putting the ball in play. The Yanks finished second in the AL in batting average, tied for the league lead in hits, and tied for second on batting average on balls in play - so it seems they were putting the ball in play quite a bit, too, with great results.
For another...I think it's different in the postseason, when the pitching tends to be better. Remember the beginning of the season, when the Yanks couldn't win a game unless they scored nine runs or more? You have to be able to win some low-scoring pitchers' duels in the postseason.
My feeling is that Yanks, in the postseason at least, had too many hitters who were too similar. It made them too one-dimensional. When the sluggers were shut down, they didn't have a plan B.
I recall two games this year where the Yanks faced the dreaded Zumaya. The guys who had success against him were Cairo, Crosby, and Cabrera. The ones who don't try to do too much.
You wouldn't want a whole lineup of guys like that, but having a mix - some sluggers, some contact hitters, some guys who can bunt and steal bases, etc. - would be a good thing.
And defense. I am still convinced that the old saw is correct. Defense wins championships. No more aging DHs who can't field their positions.
It could be all in my head, I don't know. When 2007 comes around, I'll try to point out each time I see an avoidable strikeout. Giambi and Arod are the chief culprits--guys who never shorten their swing when it's appropriate to do so. It just pains me.
The Yankees should NEVER have a player like Giambi on the roster that is best suited as an everyday DH. They will always have loads of veteran talent that can use 1/2 a day off in the DH spot. I want Melky to play every day and possibly develop a 2nd good young OF on the days that Matsui, Damon, and Abreu DH. That can never happen with Giambi on the roster.
I wonder if the Pirates will part with some of their young catching talent? That is a commodity worth paying a premium to get to NY.
I don't see how we can develop two young outfielders with Matsui, Damon, and Abreu on the roster. Heck, I have my doubts about one.
Young players need to play every day if they're to develop to their full potential. And they generally don't hit well off the bench. From the little we saw of Melky as backup OFer, he's no exception.
Torre says he'd take turns DHing the OFers so Melky could play every day, but I have my doubts. He may intend to do this, but when push comes to shove, he'll go with the veterans, and Melky will end up riding pine.
28 I too am skeptical about Torre's willingness to develop young players. He seems to put young players in "sink or swim" scenarios. cf Melky in Game 4 against Tigers.
Melky rode the pine for 3 games and then was placed in an elimination game at Detroit. No pressure there...
Imagine how our outlook would be if we had Beltran in Center and Guerrero in right next year. It would cost us the same as Abreu and Damon will next year.
28 "Torre says he'd take turns DHing the OFers so Melky could play every day, but I have my doubts. He may intend to do this, but when push comes to shove, he'll go with the veterans, and Melky will end up riding pine."
Yes, I can easily see that happening this time of the year in my head already.
I am dreading watching the likes of Melky on the bench next year as Joe insists he's going to try to get him some time soon, with other, even younger guys not even getting a shot. Its going to cost us in payroll and possibly prospects and level of play.
NOW can we sign him for an incentive-laden one year deal as Jorge's backup and DH. I still think it should have been done last year.
I wouldn't be so gung ho about bringing Pizza back to NY if we actually had an heir-apparent to Posada waiting and needing much needed playing time in the Bigs...but since there is no such player, I say let's have a go at Mikey Piazza.
I'm sick to death of aging all-stars.
The team is becoming a parody of itself.
Anyone ever see that great cover of the Onion a few years ago?
It featured all of major league baseball's all-stars (I only remember RJ's mug among the cast of characters) in pinstripes.
The joke's gone on long enough--it's time to bring up our own.
The problem is, that doesn't sell. Attendance is at an all time high and I have no doubt that in large part it's because we hire superstars who appeal to casual baseball fans.
Mike Piazza would surely put butts in the seats and of course he'll contribute, but that's not the kind of contribution I, personally, would like to see.
Ah, found it!
Piazza's among the cast of characters, as is Bonds.
""It's an honor to be part of this team," said catcher Benito Santiago, picked up from the San Francisco Giants as insurance in case catchers Jorge Posada, Ivan Rodriguez, and Mike Piazza all go down with injuries. "It's a surprise, certainly, but I'd be crazy to turn down the opportunity to play on what is, by default, the greatest team in baseball."
Yankees manager Joe Torre, whose pitching rotation, prior to the mass signing, lacked a clear seventh ace, now has the luxury of starting each of his hurlers twice a season.
"As they say, you can never have enough pitching in this league," Torre said. "Especially come playoff time. Now, if we make it to the World Series, we'll be able to start Pedro Martinez in Game 1 and still have him fresh and ready to go for a Game 287, should it be necessary."
With so many egos to juggle and so many personnel decisions to make, Torre said his job will actually be harder this season, the lack of opposing players notwithstanding. "
Quite simply, there's something unseemly about it.
If that's what Yankee-haters object to, I see their point.
It's why I had no interest in the old Mets, with Roberto Alomar and Mo Vaughan and Mike Piazza and whoever else they had whereas this current Mets team is easier to like.
Just think how gratifying a championship would be if we have done it while developing people like Nick Johnson and Juan Rivera and whoever the hell else we've cast away.
I have no objection to free agents, even good ones, but when that's your only gameplan, it gets tedious, imo, especially when they don't win. If they're not going to win, I'd rather not win while developing players.
I agree that Giambi has become an albatross for this team a lot more than A-rod, but the chances of moving him are slim to none at this point. at best we can simply hope for his health to improve .
As for putting butts in seats. that's something the Yankees have no worry for really.
I would do Sheff for Bonderman in a heartbeat and throw in any prospect not named Hughes or Tabata really.
But i think realistically Sheff for Prior or Lidge would be for more realistic.
As for catching prospects. I think Pirates / Cubs / Angels/ Braves have some good once, but that doesn't mean we can get them.... espically with only Sheff.... I think you might land a Jeff Mathis or Mike Napoli I suppose though.
Meaning, I'd guess that a Yankee team that won 100 games with the likes of Arod and Randy Johnson, etc. would draw more fans than a team that won the same number of games with lesser-known personnel.
I don't know if that's true, but I'd suspect it is.
I sometimes wonder, in other words, if bringing in superstars has as much to do with entertainment value as it does with good baseball sense. Obviously the two can overlap, because superstars also tend to win, but when push comes to shove, if the team can hire Johnny Damon (hypothetically) or a younger, unknown version of Johnny Damon, they'll hire the former.
You hire the old Damon, you take a chance that he'll continue to perform; you hire the young Johnny Damon, you take the chance that he'll one day in the not-so-distant future perform.
The fans will pay to see the Damon they know rather than the Damon they don't, is all I'm saying.
Personally, I prefer the promise of youth to the predictability of age, but I'm a romantic.
For the yankees they have the reputation already, if someone performs on this team it will be known very fast. Robbie Cano and CM Wang is already far more famous than say.... Dan Uggla and Aaron Cook (two fairly similar players)
The more I think about it, the more fervently I believe we should declare Melky the everyday left-fielder and work everyone around him.
He's the future and I have every confidence he'll get better and better and better.
He could easily hit .300 and more if given a chance to play everyday. Young talent like his should be given every encouragement, he's a special kind of player.
I knew he was special that first game, when he drew a critical walk off Schilling in the late innings. He's going to be a monster one day.
Paul O'Neill said being a young player on the Yankees is like being a contestant on American Idol, and I think he's right. One bad night, and you're gone. Every player goes into slumps. If you're a veteran, then Joe will keep putting you in the lineup, even if the slump goes on for weeks. For a young, unknown player, a few days' slump will get you benched. The pressure must be insane.
Especially for pitchers.
Or maybe they're just its most prominent victims.
Nearly every single pitcher the Yankees have brought in over the last five years has failed, many of whom came with big expectations.
Weaver; Vazquez; the lefty from Colorado whose name I always forget; Contreras; that reliever from Cleveland, forget his name too;
and so many others.
Here's the problem: these people all have insane expectations placed on them. Contreras, for instance. He wasn't given enough time to perform. The organization needs to sign people like that not expecting them to beat the Red Sox, but expecting to simply slip them into the number five slot and give them a couple of years to get their act together.
But they don't perform and panic ensues.
Even Andy fucking Pettitte had Steinbrenner's axe looming over his head for awhile there.
The team has no plan for the future.
Instead of throwing money at people like Arod, they should give it to people like Pettitte instead and just chill the fuck out.
Instead of signing RJ, why not buy a couple of promising prospects and hope for the best?
It would be nice for the organization to adopt a plan and stick to it, within reason ,
of course, but basically commit to players in a way that makes them feel relaxed enough to find their game.
This is just the first year into the NCE (New Cashman Era) after all. The current team is holding the fort until the farm starts to blossom.
I just hope management doesn't take Steinbrenner's "it's about time we won again" statement too seriously.
Any thoughts on acquiring Vicente Padilla and/or Miguel Batista?
He also thinks they will keep Moose:
Although the Yankees aren't going to pick up Mike Mussina's $17 million option for next season, it's believed they will retain Mussina with a two-year deal that likely will be in the $10 million a year range. It could be a little higher because Mussina, rightfully so, wants to be paid more than Carl "American Idle" Pavano, who makes $10 million a year to do nothing.
I think Aramis Ramirez's decision to enter the FA market just upped the chances of a Yanks-Cubs deal w/Arod, maybe followed by the Yanks signing Aramis as their new starting 3B, though I think the Yanks would be better served to pick up a slick-fielding, Brosius-type 3B and utilize the saved money on pitching.
... careful .... I mentioned Adrian Beltre as a possible A-Rod replacement, and I was sent to the corner for a time-out. :-)
when you average 50,000 per game, there aren't too many extra seats you need to fill by way of adding piazza ...
But my point is, is it possible that one of the factors in this team's outdrawing the '98 team is superstar power?
I know, '98 had Straw and Raines and Cone, but I think still it was less of an all-star team than today's team is. I could be making things up, I don't know, but I'm just wondering if star power is ever a factor in the Yankees decisions to hire people.
Think back to the 96-2001 teams. Who were the "young guys"? Jeter, Jorgie, Bernie and who else?
You dont over react and tear down a dynasty because you played 2 terrible games in Detroit.
You go out and add pitching which is what wins. You dont trade a sure Hall of Famer who plays hard everyday for 40 cents on the dollar.
You dont move a good CF to firstbase.
You sign a good glove decent right hand bat for 1b.
You add power arms for the pen.
You continue to nurture the farm system.
I'd rather have the Japanese pitcher.
Get Andy Pettite back.
Trade Wright to a NL team where he becomes real valuable.
Take a chance on Mulder like you did with Lieber.
Wang, Matusaka, Pettite, Moose, RJ
with Pavano, Hughes, Karstens ready to go
I'm thinking the market might be so good we may get a Brad Lidge. Or am I dreaming?
You posed a similar question the other day - whether it would be more productive to go after high average, low strikeout hitters rather than looking at OPS. So I decided to see.
I looked at batters from 1969-2004 (that's as far as my Sabermetric Baseball Encyclopedia goes). I narrowed it down to players with at least 5000 PA - I wanted guys with real careers. I made 3 lists: (1) fewest Ks for career .300 hitters, (2) highest OPS, and (3) highest secondary average - that is, the most value from walks and power separate from BA.
All of them are good hitters - they'd have to be, given the restrictions. I'll post the lists in separate posts for easier reading.
Hes got a great arm and proved he can pitch in the AL. In a great hitters park no less. He wont come cheap.
Even Ted Lilly is going to make 8 mill a yr.
Another lefty wouldnt be a bad idea especially one who has proved he can pitch in the AL East.
But I'd prefer Andy P.
And if you look at the team right now, who isn't a contact hitter? Giambi?
A Rod is a power hitter who also hits 300. Same with Matsui. Same with Bobby A.
Damon, Jeter and Cano. All contact.
They need pitching. Pitching. And pitching.
He would be a solid 4th starter especially with how he finished the year. Obviously you cant build your staff around him but as a back of the rotation guy and someone to help school the young guys ala Jimmy Key, Cone, Clemens. He's worth a shot.
I guess contact out-makers would be a more appropriate term.
Theres contact hitting and theres productive hitting.
I think we can all agree on the fact that the Yankees have productive hitters. Adding Bobby A to the lineup only added to this. The team wasnt that reliant on the long ball this year which was nice.
But the long ball is always good to have in your lineup and we have 9 guys who can go deep at any time.
Offensively I'd like to see them add a right handed hitting 1b who has a good glove and who's a decent hitter.
And find a backup catcher who can hit and play more than once a week if need be.
The thing is, when you get to the postseason, it often seems as if games are decided by errors, all things being equal. From my observations, it seems as if putting the ball in play can make all the difference because against tough pitchers, you can't expect rallies, but if you just keep putting the ball in play while keeping the game close, anything can happen.
I'm not articulating this well.
Watching Eckstein, for instance. One of those games he had an infield hit and also (iirc) reached on an error. So yes, contact hitters can go cold, as in not hitting the ball quite so hard, but they can still be useful in a slump because of errors and infield hits. In tight games, those can make all the difference.
69 Or maybe it would make more sense to just get better defenders? They can go cold in the postseason, too (see Boone, Aaron), but in general, defense seems more reliable than hitting.
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