Baseball Toaster Bronx Banter
2008-03-03 16:55
by Cliff Corcoran
Note: The Bronx Banter blog has moved to

The Yanks beat the Astros 7-6 this afternoon to run their spring record to 2-0-1.


L - Johnny Damon (LF)
S - Melky Cabrera (CF)
L - Robinson Cano (2B)
R - Shelley Duncan (DH)
R - Morgan Ensberg (1B)
S - Wilson Betemit (3B)
R - Jason Lane (RF)
S - Francisco Cervelli (C)
R - Chris Woodward (SS)

Pitchers: Mike Mussina, Jeff Karstens, Edwar Ramirez, Steven Jackson, Daniel McCutchen, Mark Melancon

Subs: Cody Ransom (1B), Bernie Castro (2B), Alberto Gonzalez (SS), Nick Green (3B), Kyle Anson (C), Jose Tabata (RF), Brett Gardner (CF), Austin Jackson (LF), Greg Porter (DH)

Opposition: The Astros starters.

Big Hits: Doubles by Melky Cabrera (2 for 3, BB), Shelley Duncan (2 for 4), and Morgan Ensberg (2 for 4). Robinson Cano went 3 for 4.

Who Pitched Well: Everyone except Mussina. The five Yankee relievers combined for this line: 7 IP, 4 H, 1 R (0 ER), 0 BB, 4 K. Jeff Karstens delivered three strong innings of relief, working around a single and a double by striking out two and getting four other outs on the ground. Jackson pitched a perfect inning. Melancon erased an error in the ninth by inducing a double play to face the minimum.

Who Didn't: Mussina, who allowed five runs (four earned) on six hits in two-plus innings without striking out a batter. Moose breaks down his outing here. In summary, he was getting lots of early two-strike counts, but lacked command and an out pitch and thus was making mistakes in the zone (he threw a whopping 83 percent of his 40 pitches for strikes) and getting hit. The bulk of the damage occurred when he came back out for the third inning and gave up a pair of singles (an infield job by Kaz Matsui and a solid shot by Lance Berkman) and a three-run homer to Carlos Lee. Moose's outing is yet another reminder that it's very early in spring training, though it's worth noting that a lack of an out pitch is what got him bumped from the rotation down the stretch last year.

Oopsies: A bunch: Morgan Ensberg booted one in the first. In the second, with Hunter Pence on second, Jose Cruz Jr. singled to right field, Ensberg made an attempt at the ball (Mark Feinsand thinks he perhaps should have gotten to it), drawing Mussina toward first to cover the bag, Jason Lane then threw wild to the plate, and Mussina was caught out of position, leaving no one backing up the play and allowing Cruz to move to second. Later in the game, Alberto Gonzalez made a throwing error and Cody Ransom booted one in the ninth.

Ouchies: Hideki Matsui apparently tweaked his neck while swinging a bat a couple of days ago, but was still scheduled to take BP today.

Bonus Cut: Third baseman Marcos Vechionacci, another low-minors player with zero chance of factoring into a position battle, was reassigned to minor league camp.

More: This is utterly unrelated, but fun stuff from Jack Curry on some old cat-and-mouse games between Jason Giambi and David Cone.

2008-03-03 20:42:48
1.   Yu-Hsing Chen
I like how Cervelli has a OPS of 2.0000 after 1 game :P
2008-03-04 02:46:31
2.   Bagel Boy
I saw that too on Cervelli. He starts the year at Trenton?
2008-03-04 05:29:32
3.   joe in boston
Here's hoping Moose will be fine.

On a different note, check this out !

2008-03-04 06:20:47
4.   Yu-Hsing Chen
Yeah Cervelli probably start in Trenton, I hope he show a little more pop or at least a little more consistensy (he was hitting EVERYTHING to start last year then didn't hit much the rest of the way. but was bothered by injuries too. )

Still though, he's pretty much got the floor part all set. he's a very good defensive C and probably will be able to at worest not embarrase himself with the bat. the only question is wether he could take one more step foward with the bat and become a starter instead of a backup.

2008-03-04 06:34:58
5.   OldYanksFan
Here's another.
This guy might spawn an entire industry.
2008-03-04 06:40:10
6.   Yu-Hsing Chen
I also like he's athelism, nice to see a catcher that can run . Can't really complain a ton about Jorge but jesus the Yankee backups have been a slew of the slowest man on earth parade. (Flahterty / Stinnet / Fasano / Neives /Molina )
2008-03-04 07:01:06
7.   Rob Middletown CT
I've been rooting for Cervelli for a while now. I just like the name. Frankie Cervelli. :)
2008-03-04 07:10:16
8.   Bagel Boy
Cool. Even if Cervelli can stay right where he is - .375 OBP and excellent defense - he's a fine backup catcher for 2010, when Molina's contract expires. If he shows any pop at all, he's a very good starter in a league where the average catcher puts up a .760 OPS. Last year, that's just behind McCann but just ahead of Johjima.
2008-03-04 07:20:23
9.   wsporter
Cervelli is about ready to go. Most projection reports already have him as a plus ML defensive catcher. He should be ready to hit ML pitching by mid summer if not now. The nice thing is he may allow the Yankees to deal from the BUC position this summer if they need a piece. We're going to start feeling the push from below soon across the field and reap the benefits from it. Cervelli is just the tip of the iceberg.
2008-03-04 07:34:50
10.   Bagel Boy
I don't about about dealing an excellent (or ML-ready as you say) defensive catcher who's 22 years old and who knows how to get on base. With the whole "power comes late" theory, he could be a very good starter or at his worst, one of the better backups in the game.

Besides, Romine and Montero are projected to be good, but both need still need at least two years of seasoning in which alot could happen. And even then, Montero's no sure thing to stick at catcher, but if he does, wow.

I'm liking the "hold onto all prospects" approach. It's by luck Cano and Wang are still on the team, and we just missed trading Hughes and Melky. If the Yanks continue to develop their own and sign free agents when appropriate, they'll always be fine.

2008-03-04 08:04:44
11.   Zack
Let's not rush Cervelli yet guys. After a blistering start last year, he hit about .230 for most of the year. Last season's #s are skewed by a great month and 1/2...
2008-03-04 08:04:47
12.   kylepetterson
To brighten everyones day - here's my boy practicing his slide into 2nd.
2008-03-04 08:09:04
13.   Mattpat11
33 out of 40 pitches for strikes.

Any other day we'd be thrilled.

2008-03-04 08:17:31
14.   wsporter
10 I'm not talking about potentially dealing Cervelli. Cervelli may allow us to deal Molina.
2008-03-04 08:44:32
15.   Cliff Corcoran
12 Awesome pic, Kyle.
2008-03-04 09:00:16
16.   Bagel Boy
14 I'm sorry I misunderstood. Still I can't see them trading Molina. He's on a good contract and for only two years.

12 Indeed, great pic! The kid's a natural!

2008-03-04 09:10:25
17.   JL25and3
16 Good contract? $2M for a BUC? I think they'd have to eat salary if they wanted to trade him.

10 I think "hold all prospects" is as short-sighted as "trade all prospects." Prospects are commodities, and keeping them all isn't necessarily the best way to maximize their value. Yeah, we're lucky they didn't trade Cano or Wang, but are you sorry that they traded Navarro & Halsey?

2008-03-04 09:10:37
18.   Mattpat11
On a more serious note, does anyone know how long until Bobby Murcer's biopsy results come back?
2008-03-04 09:11:19
19.   wsporter
16 I'm not sure I would make a move with Molina either and I certainly wouldn't do it just to bring Cervelli up. They have some pretty good injury depth now with Cervelli and Jorge does have some age on him. But if they need to, Cervelli makes Molina movable if they are interchangeable and i think they may be at some point if not already. It would be Molina because Cervelli still has upside and he would be under their control pre-arbitration for three more years alone. Molina is moveable because of his skills and an atractive contract. They may allow Cervelli another year to grow at AA and AAA but it wouldn't stun me if he's backing up Jorge at the end of this year.
2008-03-04 09:15:59
20.   Cliff Corcoran
18 Could be today, could be later this week.

Also 17 has it right. Molina is overpaid. His contract is not a good one for a back-up catcher, which is all he is.

2008-03-04 09:18:32
21.   Shaun P
18 I believe I read that they'll know the results by the end of week. I hope it comes up clean.

17 If Navarro hits like he did in the second half of last season (.285/.340/.475 albeit in less than 200 ABs), then yes, I will be very sorry that they traded him. Unless Cervelli puts up numbers like that in the bigs in his age-24 season (2010), in which case, no worries.

2008-03-04 09:23:12
22.   wsporter
17 Moving Navarro in that deal still makes my head hurt so count my among the sorry crowd.
2008-03-04 09:41:10
23.   kylepetterson
18 I heard late this week.
2008-03-04 09:42:06
24.   Bama Yankee
12 Kyle, that's a nice picture. Since you brightened my day with that, I did a little something for you. Check this one out:

2008-03-04 09:47:36
25.   rilkefan
12 , 24 , great stuff.
2008-03-04 09:53:19
26.   Bagel Boy
Sorry, but $2 million for a backup who could start on some teams is like a handful of spare change for this organization. Still, I'm not advocating trading him.

17 Well, it depends on what you mean by "prospect". Still, show me the last decent trade the Yanks gave up prospects to get prospects. Giving up prospects to get proven talent is another beast. Even then, point to the last trade that worked out well. The sad thing is, giving up Vazquez, Halsey, and Navarro plus a ton of cash (for Vazquez and Unit) was way too much for what they got back. They didn't give up true prospects for Abreu, Betemit, or Molina. Maybe Clippard counts but everything I've read says he'll be lucky to be a MLB starter. Unless they truly have no use for a "prospect" (see Clippard and Henry), I see no reason making deals involving prospects. Santana would have qualified as something I'm against, as would whatever it takes to get Nick Johnson. I'd rather see them develop their own and use their financial muscle in the draft and in the free agent market. That, to me, is a recipe for long-term success.

2008-03-04 09:57:57
27.   williamnyy23
20 Is Molina overpaid? Perhaps...but it sure beats going with a guy like Nieves for the league minimum.

21 If Navarro hits at that clip, then yes, the Yankees will regret dealing him. Of course, Navarro's OPS+ for the whole year was 70, and much of his second half surge occurred in September, a month that often can be misleading for teams not in contention.

2008-03-04 10:05:32
28.   Bagel Boy
Here are at least a few catchers, with more ABs in 2007, that Jose could at least battle for playing time:

Jason Kendall
Miguel Olivo
Paul Lo Duca
Johnny Estrada
Brian Schneider
Gerald Laird
Yorvit Torrealba
Dioner Navarro
Brad Ausmus
Michael Barrett
Miguel Montero
David Ross

Sure, some are younger and some are slightly better hitters and some aren't guaranteed those ABs this year. But Molina gets bonus points for his defense. The bottomline is he's a borderline starter. Two years at 4 million is a fair deal, especially as insurance for Jorge.

2008-03-04 10:07:22
29.   williamnyy23
26 We discussed this last thread, but I think the contribution RJ made to the 2005 division title made giving up prospects like Navarro and Halsey worthwhile.

I am also not sure I agree that holding onto prospects is a recipe for long-term success (holding onto stud, blue chips might be, but not prospects in general). Think about the recent championship run...guys like Cone, Tino and Knoblauch were all acquired in exchange for prospects. If the right deal can be made, the Yankees shouldn't shy away from dealing prospects as a rule. Like all things, context is extremely relevant.

2008-03-04 10:07:38
30.   wsporter
26 I agree with you at this stage of the systems development. However there will come a time when we have guys sitting on the vine who have value whom we will loose in the Rule V or as MiL FA's if we don't move them and manage the overall system roster (let alone the 40 man) wisely. I think that time will arrive sooner rather than later and we'll see some of it with the outfielders that will soon be pressing against the upper minors as well as our right handed pitching depth. The organizational philosophy has changed, we're no longer viewing the rest of MLB as our minor league development system where we pay a premium for finished and at times superannuated products. We're now developing those pieces in house and therefore the way we manage the total personnel list from the DSL through the 40 man has got to change with it. It will be great to hold 'em if we can but at times it will make sense to move them. That's the part of this that hurts a little, especially if you follow them from the time we pick them up.
2008-03-04 10:15:16
31.   Bagel Boy
29 Maybe, maybe not. Vazquez has been league average the last few years and he's capable of good runs too - like the first half of 2004. Sure, he imploded. But he's recovered nicely and in the AL. And maybe he doesn't implode in the 2005 and 2006 post-seasons.

Sure, rules are made to be broken. But I'd venture it's not a bad one for this organization.

30 Oh, absolutely. If they're going to be lost in the Rule V or as free agents, better to move them. A part of me as sad to see Clippard go, but it doesn't look like he's going to be much, and they may have gotten something in Albaladejo. That's an instance where they didn't wait too long nor give up too early.

2008-03-04 10:15:28
32.   wsporter
28 I took a look last week (blame it on a nasty dose of the flu) at ML BUC's at Cot's. I think I found 24 of the other 29 teams have Bucs who make less than Molina. There are only a couple I would take ahead of him though (See Salty). Molina's deal included a $.25 mil signing bonus so he's not owed $2.00 million this year. What my quick little informal look around MLB has confirmed for me are two things: 1. BUC's don't make much and 2. there is a good reason for it, offensively at least they're not worth much.
2008-03-04 10:20:39
33.   kylepetterson
I think everybody has it partly right. Is he overpaid? Yes. Is he a terror with the bat? Not so much. That being said, I'd rather overpay Molina than underpay most other BUCs.
2008-03-04 10:25:19
34.   Bagel Boy
32 I was trying to say, not so well I guess, that Jose could be battling for a starting job right now on some teams. He took decent guaranteed money to take a backup role on the Yankees. If anything, that's why they paid what they did.

33 If I were to agree with anything here, it's that!

2008-03-04 10:36:27
35.   wsporter
34 Yes, I agree with you. He's at the top of the list of BUC's and well could be battling for a full time or platoon starting role on a few teams. He's paid in the 1st quintile of BUC's and I think he's worth it. The BUC list however is not particularly rich in talent so he's really separated from the mean. I wonder what his BUC VORP would be if there were such a thing. :-)
2008-03-04 10:42:15
36.   Bagel Boy
35 Yup. Better than Nieves! or Stinett! or Fumanchu! or Flaherty! Goodness, I can't believe they managed to get that position worse year after year. My, how lucky we've been that Jorge is an ironman (touch wood).
2008-03-04 11:16:41
37.   Yu-Hsing Chen
I have a feeling that Navvaro will take a very serious step foward this year, and by next year we'd see plenty of moaning on why we traded him.

And remember. the RJ trade wasn't really Halsey and Navvaro, it was more like Halsey + Navvaro + Nick Johnson + Juan Rivera.

THAT is pretty painful. esipcailly in 05/06 when we were force to choose between the horrors of Giambi's glove of Andy Phillips bat at first while Nick Johnson had a OBP well north of .400 and plaing Terrance Long in the OF when Juan was hitting 20+ bombs.

missed in Navvaro's so far impotent bat is that last couple of year he was arguablly the best defensive catcher in the game. that's pretty special. espically considering that over half the pitching staff probably has no clue on how to hold a major league runner on.

The Yankees did pull a prospect for prospect trade almost a decade ago... that in retro spect is probalby pretty bad.

February 1, 1999: the New York Yankees traded Mike Lowell to the Florida Marlins for Mark J. Johnson, Ed Yarnall, and Todd Noel (minors).

Johnson never made the club, Yarnall pitched a little in 99 then bombed, and Noel went no where. meanwhile Lowell hasn't been a super star but he's really a ton better then Aaron Boone, Ruben Ventura and to some extend even Scott Brosius.

Not to meantion the most horrific trade a prospect for vets move of all time during the Steinbriener era .... that Sienfield punchline trade....

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