Baseball Toaster Bronx Banter
Observations From Cooperstown--Who Will Be The 13th Man?
2008-03-07 07:08
by Bruce Markusen
Note: The Bronx Banter blog has moved to

What the hell is the 13th man, some of you are probably wondering right about now?! Basketball has a sixth man, hockey has a third-man-in, and baseball has a 10th man, so what exactly is the 13th man? With 12-man pitching staffs becoming the norm throughout the major leagues today, teams generally now have 13 position players from which to fill out their lineup and bench. That figures to be the case with the Yankees, who will carry a four-man bench in support of their regular nine-man lineup.

Barring injury, 11 of the 13 slots have been decided. They include two catchers (Jorge Posada and Jose Molina), five infielders (Jason Giambi, Wilson Betemit, Robinson Cano, Derek Jeter, and Alex Rodriguez) and four outfielders (Johnny Damon, Melky Cabrera, Bobby Abreu, and Hideki Matsui). That leaves two open slots. One of those will likely be filled by Shelley "Slam" Duncan, who is off to a riveting start in the Grapefruit League. Yankee management, from the front office down to the coaches, loves Duncan’s work ethic (he took 200 grounders a day in the early part of spring training), enthusiasm, and raw power from the right side of the plate. Let’s face it, they want Duncan to make this team. Heck, I want Duncan to make the team. Only a brutal spring performance would ruin Duncan’s bid, and right now, it doesn’t appear that Slam will crash. So Duncan figures to be the 12th man.

That leaves us with one open spot for a position player—the aforementioned 13th man. Although the Yankees are publicly keeping an open mind, let’s rule out young first baseman Juan Miranda, who will likely start the season at either Trenton or Scranton. We’re left with an intriguing battle featuring four non-roster players and a minor league prospect who received a cup of coffee in 2007. With that in mind, let’s examine the five candidates and their worthiness.

Morgan Ensberg: He has the most impressive resume of the contenders, but is also the oldest at age 32 and is learning to play first base for the first time in his career. A solid defensive third baseman, Ensberg should be able to handle first base with little trouble, but the question lingers: will he start to hit again? He had big years for the Astros in 2003 and 2005, and emerged as a huge component of Houston’s World Series club in ’05, but hasn’t been the same hitter since injuring his shoulder in the middle of the 2006 season. Instead of hitting like Morgan, he’s been hitting more like Morganna. Ensberg is also one of those rare players who sometimes becomes too patient at the plate. Like former big league outfielder Rich Becker, Ensberg can look so passive that he creates the impression that all he wants to do is work out a walk, which may be a sign that he lacks confidence in the strength of his shoulder.

Still, Ensberg ability to draw walks and hit home runs fits in with the general Yankee gameplan. He has also hammered left-handed pitching throughout his career, to the tune of a .405 on-base percentage and a .530 slugging percentage in 686 plate appearances against southpaws. Considering that his primary role would consist of playing first and DHing against lefties, and backing up A-Rod at third, Ensberg seems like a solid fit.

Jason Lane: Like Ensberg, Lane is learning to play first base and also provides the potential for right-handed power on a left-hand dominant club. At 30, he’s two years younger than his former Astros teammate, and brings the added benefit of being able to play all three outfield positions. Unfortunately, that’s where his advantages end. Lane has had only productive season in the major leagues; that was in 2005, when he slugged 26 home runs and came within a whisper of slugging .500. He has been positively brutal the last two seasons, including a failed late-season tryout with the Padres. Unlike Ensberg, Lane hasn’t hit left-handers especially well, so he may not fill the need for lineup balance. He’s also not your prototypical fourth or fifth outfielder. Defensively, Lane is OK, but nothing special, and doesn’t have enough speed to give the Yankees a pinch-running option. In order to make the Yankees’ roster, Lane will have to hit exceptionally well this spring; even then, the Yankees would be wise to take a pass and try to send him to Triple-A Scranton-Wilkes Barre. Or perhaps trade him to the Mets, who could use a warm body from the right side of the plate.

Chris Woodward: Like Lane, the 31-year-old Woodward has had one big year. That was way back in 2002, when he pounded out 13 home runs in semi-regular duty as the Blue Jays’ shortstop. Since then, he hasn’t put up a slugging percentage of even .400 and hasn’t reached base at anything better than a .337 clip. So what does Woody do? Well, versatility is his particular claim to fame. He played seven positions for the Mets in 2005, then showed up at six positions in 2006. A shortstop by trade, Woodward can play all four infield positions and has experience in all three outfield slots. There is some value in carrying a jack-of-all-trades, but the Yankees already have a versatile infielder in Wilson Betemit, who is a much better hitter, can switch-hit, and happens to be five years younger than Woodward.

In the old days (I’m thinking of the seventies and eighties), teams often carried two utility infielders as part of a contingent of 15 or 16 position players. So under that structure, there would be room for both Woodward and Betemit. But in today’s game, with only 13 position player slots, that kind of arrangement doesn’t make sense—unless both utility guys can hit like Tony Phillips or Cesar Tovar. Woodward is clearly not that kind of player, meaning the Yankees should take a pass and try to stash him at Scranton Wilkes-Barre.

Nick Green: He’s a lot like Woodward, only he’s a little better defensively and doesn’t play the outfield, outside of three career games in right field. He’s never had a big season offensively, which puts him behind Woodward, Lane, and Ensberg on the depth chart. Frankly, the 29-year-old Green needs the other contenders to flop and needs some veterans (like the ailing Hideki Matsui) to hit the disabled list to have any chance of making the team.

Alberto Gonzalez: Having been acquired as part of the Randy Johnson trade, Gonzalez is the only one of the five contenders who’s already on the 40-man roster. That won’t help much; he clearly has only an outsider’s shot of making the team—and that’s only if the Yankees decide that Derek Jeter needs a late-inning caddy. Given how the Yankees treat Jeter with ultra-sensitivity, it’s unlikely they would insult him by suggesting he needs to be lifted for defensive reasons. The 24-year-old Gonzalez does have his plusses, however. He’s a brilliant defensive shortstop in the Andre Robertson mold and has the kind of athleticism that should allow him to learn second and third base quickly. He also has just enough speed (38 steals in 57 minor league attempts) to serve as a pinch-runner. But his inability to hit and his lack of experience will probably doom him to start the season at Scranton Wilkes-Barre, where he’ll wait for an injury –or to be traded somewhere else.

So those are the five choices for the 13th man. I’ll take Ensberg, but could see the Yankees, who don’t seem to value good offensive players on the bench, opting for either Lane or Woodward. Who would you choose?


I heard the best possible baseball news on Wednesday—and it had nothing to do with who won or lost an exhibition game, the latest trades or free agent signings, or the most recent steroid updates on Roger Clemens and Barry Bonds.

The results of Bobby Murcer's biopsy show no recurrence of the brain cancer that first struck him a year ago. Yes! as Marv Albert might be tempted to exclaim. The potential abnormality that had concerned his doctors was merely the development of scar tissue, which can be a normal occurrence after the kind of brain surgery that Murcer underwent last year.

This is good news no matter who it might concern, but it is an especially pleasant development because it happens to involve Murcer. Simply put, Bobby Murcer is one of the nicest gentlemen in all of baseball, a man who treats everyone he comes in contact with as if he were a long lost teammate. He is a man with an easygoing nature, a self-deprecating sense of humor, and an eagerness to look first and foremost at the good side of people. Several years ago, I had the pleasure of interviewing Murcer for MLB Radio; it remains one of the highlights of my broadcast career.

And, oh by the way, Murcer was a pretty good ballplayer in his day, a star during the first half of the 1970s before an unwanted trade led to some unpleasant summers at Candlestick Park and Wrigley Field. At his peak, Murcer was a legitimate five-tool talent who played center field to a Gold Glove level while tailoring his sweet left-handed swing to the friendly right-field fences at Yankee Stadium.

According to a baseball cliche, spring training is one of the best times of the season. That was especially true this week, as we heard some good news about a terrific guy named Bobby Murcer.


Bruce Markusen writes "Cooperstown Confidential" for and can be reached via e-mail at



Comments (195)
Show/Hide Comments 1-50
2008-03-07 07:46:08
1.   monkeypants
0 Who do I want to make the team? None of them, really. Isn't Ensberg just S. Duncan (RH platoon bat) with more IF versatility? But with Betemit, do they really need a BU3B?

I would like to see either 1] a LH thumper off the bench, or 2] maybe a speedy guy, for late inning defense and PR. In either case, I would prefer an additional OF (right now its 4.5 with Duncan) or an additional middle IF (if A-Rod doesn't fill in for Jeter, who plays BU SS...and who is the BU 2B? Betemit, I guess).

2008-03-07 07:56:21
2.   Yu-Hsing Chen
definately take Ensberg too as long as he show that he's at least mostly passed his shoulder woes. at least start the season with him.

pinch runners are fairly useless in the regular seasons. I mean by using it for a full year you miiiight get like 2 to 3 extra base gained by running . that's really pretty worthless. espically if he's not a worthwhile bat. I'd definately take a guy who won't throw away 5 PA into the water if they get a start

and that's a really overlooked fact. how many PAs actually going to the guys outside of your starting 9. in any given year (factoring in some injurys and stuff) you'll most likely give almost 1000 PA to those guys... that's A LOT. and the difference between Cario / Phillips / Nieves / random crappy player to Betemit / Duncan / Molina / Ensberg could likely be HUGE.

2008-03-07 07:56:46
3.   YankeeInMichigan
I can't see the case for Lane at all. As a righty 1B/OF, he is redundant to Duncan, and Duncan is looking better on both offense and defense (he's a bit slow in the outfield, but he has a plus arm). 1 states that Ensberg is redundant to Duncan as well, but another power righty could be useful against the likes of Kazmir, Bedard and Santana. I'd much rather see Ensberg at 1B and Duncan in RF than Duncan at 1B and Lane in RF.

Besides, Ensberg's 3B skills provide the flexibility to replace two infielders in case of emergencies (Cano/Betemit/Ensberg, Betemit/Jeter/Ensberg, Betemit/A-Rod/Ensberg).

In summary, Ensberg provides
a) the possiblity of a formidable righty-laden lineup
b) an additional backup infielder without sacrificing offense

2008-03-07 08:03:32
4.   monkeypants
2 3 Points well taken. I am still concerned that they are going into the season with only 4.5 OF, including Duncan, Matsui, and Damon--who are either challenged defensively or injury prone. Add to that 1.5 of the OFs will frequently start at DH, so if they are called upon to move to the OF, the DH position is lost.

Of course, in my old-fashioned universe the team would carry 11 pitchers and 14 players: that is, carrying the seldom used PR instead of the seldom used LOOGY.

2008-03-07 08:09:03
5.   Shaun P
3 I don't think Lane should make the team, but AAA is devoid of anyone who could come up for a couple weeks and maybe hit MLB pitching if one of the regular OFs gets hurt. He's fine insurance.

I'd go with Ensberg, and I'm hoping that's Girardi's choice too. I don't think he'll go with Green or Woodward. They seem very redundant when Cano, Jeter, and A-Rod are among the healthiest players in MLB.

2008-03-07 08:12:14
6.   Shaun P
4 And the Yanks have the perfect 5th OF (great runner, real CF, but no power) - Gardner.

But with the limits on the Big Three, I don't see the Yanks taking only 11 pitchers north.

2008-03-07 08:19:56
7.   monkeypants
6 I was hoping against hope that they could preserve the limits on the big three by using the farm, not the BP. In other words, go with 11 pitchers and essentially cycle relievers between the big club and Scranton as needed. I'm not sure this would actually work in practice, of course.
2008-03-07 08:20:21
8.   YankeeInMichigan
4 However you cut it, outfield defense will not be spectacular. Abreu, Melky, Damon (in left) and Duncan are all average (with only Melky having possibility of real improvement), and Matsui and Damon (in center) are a bit below average. But it's a whole lot better than in Bernie's twilight years.

Ensberg and Giambi are both DH options, so I believe that that the Duncan/Ensberg plan provides maximum offensive depth without leaving any glaring defensive gaps.

2008-03-07 08:29:39
9.   YankeeInMichigan
6 Gardner would be an ideal 5th outfielder IF he could bat right-handed. The first 4 outfielders are 3 lefties and a switch hitter.
2008-03-07 08:53:23
10.   Yu-Hsing Chen
9 if you can't hit at all whats the difference what hand you hit? as a lefty at least he has a better chance of beating out the infield excuse me rollers he's likely to hit anyway.
2008-03-07 09:27:57
11.   kylepetterson
I'm going to have to go with the Attorney General simply because he's got the best nickname out of the bunch. He's also the only one on the list who's nickname I know. Although, while researching their nicknames, I found this:

"Lane is an avid fisherman in the off season with his longtime partner, Big V" -

What the hell is this?!? Who, or what, is "Big V"?!? If it was a nickname, shouldn't be in quotations?!? Is it some fat woman named Vivian?!? Is it his big gay boyfriend?!? Is it the crappiest named giant dog ever?!? Is it the lamest "clever" name ever given to a small dog?!? Someone please help before I have a stroke or something.

2008-03-07 09:37:59
12.   ms october
2 3 5 yes, probably going to be ensberg and if he hits decently and grasps 1b - the best choice of the bunch.

6 would be nice to find a way for gardner at some point. maybe when some one goes on the dl.

regardless of all of our manuevirings to get jeter off ss, it doesn't seem to be on the horizon. cano is not going anywhere - so gonzalez is blocked. why not give him some time in lf and maybe cf while in the minors -so he could be a super-sub. if his glove and athleticism is that good, he should pick it up quickly. (he would essentially be the bizarro shelley - not that good with the bat but a great defensive replacement for 2b, ss, 3b and cf, lf).

2008-03-07 09:40:37
13.   wsporter
"Instead of hitting like Morgan, he's been hitting more like Morganna." Bruce, Bruce, Bruce.

Nice :-)

2008-03-07 09:41:58
14.   Sliced Bread
12 and as the "bizarro shelley," he would deliver the softest high- fives and gentlest knuckle-knocks known to mankind - like butterfly kisses.
2008-03-07 09:48:28
15.   ms october
12 sounds about right for the attorney general.

11 on jason lanes' player file he is married to "his wife kasey," so i think we can rule out his big gay boyfriend unless it is his secret big gay boyfriend

2008-03-07 09:51:04
16.   ms october
whoops, meant to link to 14 not myself.

and funny comments about kk on the previous thread, sliced.

2008-03-07 09:55:17
17.   wsporter
10 What makes you think Gardner can't hit? It's SLG that has been lacking in his minor league stats not "hitting". The question is "can he slug enough to justify earning a position as a starter at the ML level" not "can he hit". That question has not yet been answered by anyone who has actually seen him play on a regular basis, In fact there are those who believe he has good gap power and his line drive swing coupled with his speed will result in enough extra base power to justify a starting CF role at the ML level. Are you relying on BA or Sickles for your info on Gardner?
2008-03-07 10:15:26
18.   weeping for brunnhilde
Baseball on the television, baseball on the television!!!


2008-03-07 10:15:33
19.   markp
Alberto Gonzalez doesn't look like a good AAA player to me, let alone being on the roster of a contending team like the Yankees.
2008-03-07 10:16:46
20.   weeping for brunnhilde
Wow, Cecil Cooper managing the 'Stros.

Bobby Meacham coaching third for us.

Everything old is new again.

2008-03-07 10:18:27
21.   weeping for brunnhilde
Good morning, good afternoon, and goodnight from Andy.
2008-03-07 10:20:11
22.   weeping for brunnhilde
Andy floats a nice 1-0 curveball in for a strike.
2008-03-07 10:21:42
23.   weeping for brunnhilde
Nice inning for Andy.

He's looking awfully sharp.

2008-03-07 10:21:43
24.   JL25and3
17 I think "can he hit" was just shorthand for "can he provide enough offense." His minor league stats certainly give no hint of that XBH gap power.
2008-03-07 10:24:05
25.   weeping for brunnhilde
Oh, hey, it's our old buddy Shawn Chicon.
2008-03-07 10:26:51
26.   weeping for brunnhilde
Three easy outs. Melky bounced to third, Derek to second and Cano to first. Cano hit it hard, at least.
2008-03-07 10:30:38
27.   weeping for brunnhilde
Nice opposite-field homerun by Victor Diaz.
2008-03-07 10:43:15
28.   Bagel Boy
6 I agree on the 12 pitchers, especially with their brutal April schedule. Not sure there's a spot to be had apart from Slam Duncan's (who has an option).
2008-03-07 10:44:19
29.   YankeeInMichigan
17 24 I think Gardner's best value is as trade bait. Someone (most likely in the NL) is going to go for the Juan Pierre-type skills.

Seriously, he has some reserver outfielder value, just not to the Yankees, who are already imbalanced to the left side.

2008-03-07 10:45:12
30.   monkeypants
What channel are you watching baseball on? Here in Canada TSN (the more-or-less sister station to ESPN) is showing the Canadian NAtional Pond Hockey Championships. Sadly, I am not joking.
2008-03-07 10:46:02
31.   YankeeInMichigan
28 12 pitchers still leaves room for 13 position players. Duncan is #12.
2008-03-07 10:46:47
32.   weeping for brunnhilde
30 Game's on YES.

Damned shame, mp.

Hockey, schmockey.

2008-03-07 10:47:31
33.   Sliced Bread
25 yeah, Chaconey still wears his pants long, and his lid low. Always liked him.

27 Pett left a curveball on the table. He's just going through his paces. Appears to be working at about 70% intensity. Still he looked a little pissed walking off the field.

Nice stroke by the third baseman to get the inning started. Ripped a first pitch double, for those who didn't see it.

2008-03-07 10:48:17
34.   weeping for brunnhilde
Some guy named Gardner just slapped a double the other way, in the left field corner.

Previously, Molina dug a pitch out of the dirt to dunk it into left.

Melkman at the bat, two out, second and third, all tied up at 2.

2008-03-07 10:50:02
35.   weeping for brunnhilde
Melk works a walk.

Come on, Derek!

2008-03-07 10:51:18
36.   weeping for brunnhilde
Derek should walk to let Robby practice his bases-loaded hitting skills.
2008-03-07 10:51:27
37.   Yu-Hsing Chen
17 well i was really just replying to the 5th OF thing, 5th OFs aren't there to really swing the bat anyway.

as for Gardner , one thing you need to remember is that pure speed no power guys tend to not translate well to the majors. look no further to Joey Gathright's minor league line to major league line. or the best player of this type... Juan Pierre's translation to the majors.

Gardner does have "a little" more power then those two. but that's very faint praise. but it's easy to seriously speculate how he'll translate to the major leagues. he walks in the minors but also strikes out A LOT for a no power guy. that usually suggest he's just waiting for a walk. but that rarely works in the majors. where as a slap hitter with no power at all we'll probably see a ton of jam pitches and pop up a ton ...

it's not impossible that he makes the translation better than most guys these type. but its definately not a good idea ot bank on it

2008-03-07 10:52:17
38.   monkeypants
29 et al.

Gardner is such an interesting player, but as I have mentioned above, he plays in the wrong era. It seems to me that valuable bench players fall into two categories. They are pretty good at a number of things, so they can be plugged in here or there, different positions, and not hurt the team too much. Or they are are very good at one or two things, but don't have the overall talent to start on a regular basis (think Daryl Strawberry at the end of his career).

Gardner is the latter, I think. He can get on base (.380 OBP in MiL), he is blazing fast (114 SB v. 22 CS), and can play great defense by all reports. In a the days before LOOGYs, even the Yankees could find room for a guy who could play late inning D, draw a walk, or go in to run. Heck, the OBP even suggests that he could PR in 6th or 7th inning, and not kill the team with the bat if his spot comes up again later.

Unfortunately, teams would rather carry crummy relievers with often very little value, than marginal benchers who possess some tactical value.

BTW, I know you were kidding, but Gardner seems to lack Juan Pierre's primary skill, which is making outs.

2008-03-07 10:52:28
39.   weeping for brunnhilde
Derek taps it weakly up the middle.

Inning over.

2008-03-07 10:52:50
40.   Sliced Bread
For the Shelley fans without TV today: Kay and Singleton mentioned during BP they make Duncan hit everything opposite field or up the middle. Trying to get him to use the whole field.

Kay says A-Rod was sporting what appeared to be the beginning of a goatee. He went into the clubhouse and shaved after learning the game was going to be televised.
The exciting things you learn during ST.

2008-03-07 10:54:59
41.   Yu-Hsing Chen
Shawn Chacon is a control pitcher that often loses control.... so... :P

I like his charactor though. but the Astros are in for a loooooong summer if Chacon is they're starter for much the season

2008-03-07 10:55:27
42.   weeping for brunnhilde
Andy comes out for a third inning!
2008-03-07 10:58:37
43.   weeping for brunnhilde
Oooh, nice little play at the plate there.

Gardner to Molina.

Not a very good throw, but it got the job done.

Andy comes out, Edwar (the only major leaguer who weighs less than I do) comes in.

2008-03-07 10:59:32
44.   Sliced Bread
Pastadiving... Betemit!
Gardner skims a five bouncer to Molina.. Molina with the tag... he's out!

Gonna win ugly today, I can feel it.

2008-03-07 11:00:30
45.   Yu-Hsing Chen
38 Juan Pierre' minor league OBP was .373 granted he did it more with super high average then walks.

the issue here is that guys with this sort of skill set just isn't a good bet to translate thier minor league numbers to the major leagues. Gardner might actually translate significantly WORSE then Juan Pierre because he strikes out a lot more. strike outs are overrated in terms of it's effect in the majors. but it's often a good indicator on wether the prospects can translate to the majors

2008-03-07 11:01:16
46.   wsporter
24 Minor League stats need to be taken with a large dose of salt. I'd rather rely on scouting and eyewitness reports in conjunction with them because the MiL stats don't always tell us all there is to know about a player. I'm not convinced that Gardner will hit for enough power to justify starting on a first division team but I think the book is still out on that score. I don't think we know enough at this point to make declarative statements about Gardner. I think this season will tell the tale as to whether we're more likely to be looking at a potential Jason Tyner or Brett Buttler. It could go either way.
2008-03-07 11:01:20
47.   weeping for brunnhilde
Past a diving Jeter.

Ball was hit hard, though, I didn't expect him to get so close to it.

2008-03-07 11:02:10
48.   monkeypants
37 I'm not sure the Pierre-Gardner comparison stands up. In MiL Pieere had a .377 OBP, but a .330 BA (!) and .392 SLG. So, he derived almost all of his OBP from hits. His isolated power must have been very low, given the smallish difference between his batting average and slugging average. So what you had was a free swinger who walked little and slapped singles.

Gardner, on the other hand, has shown the consistent ability to draw lots of walks. His MiL BA is .288 and his SLG is .374. That suggests that he has a little more pop when he does hit the ball, than Pierre did in MiL. But really not that much, as you say.

The Gathwright comparison is much more appropriate, though.

2008-03-07 11:02:18
49.   Sliced Bread
47 Not many get to that, right?
2008-03-07 11:02:57
50.   weeping for brunnhilde
44 I don't like ugly, but if it's gonna be ugly, better to win, I suppose.
Show/Hide Comments 51-100
2008-03-07 11:04:16
51.   weeping for brunnhilde
49 No, I didn't think so. Ball was hit hard. Usually the ones that get by Derek seem to bounce like a hundred times and still get by.

This one was clean.

Reyes probably gets to it, but most don't.

2008-03-07 11:04:51
52.   weeping for brunnhilde
Robby with a weak-ass tapper to first.
2008-03-07 11:05:33
53.   weeping for brunnhilde
God, look at Alex.

That physique of his.

2008-03-07 11:06:19
54.   weeping for brunnhilde
Alex grounds sharply to third.
2008-03-07 11:07:16
55.   Sliced Bread
Mo time!
2008-03-07 11:07:31
56.   weeping for brunnhilde
Another hard groundout to third, this one by Duncan.


Mo's coming up!!!


2008-03-07 11:10:55
57.   weeping for brunnhilde

Look at him wave at that 0-1!!

Haha hahah!!!

Strike three.

Thanks for playing.

2008-03-07 11:11:38
58.   weeping for brunnhilde
First pitch grounded weakly to Cano.

Two out,

2008-03-07 11:11:39
59.   YankeeInMichigan
48 Actually, I can see the Yanks trading Gardner to the White Sox. Ken Williams will tout him as the next Scot Posednick.
2008-03-07 11:12:59
60.   weeping for brunnhilde
Oooh, look at him paint that outside corner.

Oh my God.

Strike three looking, outside corner.

Painted it twice in a row.

God, how I love this man.

2008-03-07 11:13:49
61.   wsporter
Well, I guess Mo's ready for the season. :-)
2008-03-07 11:13:51
62.   williamnyy23
Mariano is the proverbial hot knife...MLB hitters are just butter.
2008-03-07 11:14:44
63.   Sliced Bread
60 Effortless superiority.
2008-03-07 11:14:45
64.   Shaun P
39 40 Thanks to the both of you for all the game updates!

37 If Gardner turns into Gathright - who didn't even slug .350 last year in the bigs - then yes, he's pretty much useless with the bat.

But, and I can't believe I'm typing this, if Gardner turns into Juan Pierre, that's not so bad. Before Pierre stopped having OBPs over .330, he was a valuable player: 36.6 VORP in 2004 on a .326/.374/.407 line; 30.8 VORP in 2003 on a .305/.361/.373 line; 29.3 VORP in 2001 on a .327/.378/.415 line. Oh, and of course he stole a ton of bases during that time, with a good success rate.

And, FWIW, Pierre was and is not known for his glovework; Gardner is highly regarded as a CF.

I would not write Gardner off yet; even if he never slugs over .307 in the bigs, with a great walk rate, high OBP, and plenty of steals, he could still be a very valuable player.

2008-03-07 11:16:20
65.   Yu-Hsing Chen
48 your right that it's not a good comp, but i'm using it instead of Gathright because unlike Gathright... Pierre actually is a established major leaguer. and not a very good one for that matter. Gathright's career OPS in the majors after well over 950 PA is a depressing .647 with a OBP over .333 .

Again, if the spots open up I'd definately give Gardner a shot . but I'm just pointing out why quoting his MILB # is not a very good idea.

again, if a guy whiffs a plenty without power and walks quiet a bit in a minors. I have the feeling that he's probably looking for a walk instead of actually being a good strike zone judgement player (say ... like Pedroia ) and that's a very bad recpie for major league translation. as major leauge pitcher usually won't give you a free pass if they know your not much of a threat with the bat. and if they have even better command theyll just throw up and in on you and you'll never be able to do a thing with it except maybe pull a lazy fly ball or something.

Minor league stats are a reasonable way to evaluate talent, but you need to consider what your looking at and the potential translation implication involved in the majors.

2008-03-07 11:17:12
66.   Shaun P
64 D'oh! That should read "slugs over .370"; anyone slugging .307 is toast.
2008-03-07 11:18:58
67.   weeping for brunnhilde
1-2-3 go the Yanks.

Nothing to see here, move along.

2008-03-07 11:21:25
68.   weeping for brunnhilde
Hawkins on the hill; Kay and Singleton schmoozing with Goose.
2008-03-07 11:21:43
69.   Sliced Bread
caught a glimpse of Charlie Weiss watching the game. I'm guessing he wants to draft Shelley to be the new Fighting Irish mascot.
2008-03-07 11:22:48
70.   weeping for brunnhilde
Hawkins seems to have a little zip on that fastball, but it seems a bit straight.
2008-03-07 11:23:37
71.   weeping for brunnhilde
Basehit off Duncan's glove off a straight, fat fastball.
2008-03-07 11:23:45
72.   Yu-Hsing Chen
Hawkins is really keeping everything on the ground...
2008-03-07 11:24:20
73.   williamnyy23
Shelley hasn't looked that good at 1B...hopefully he can sure up his defense, otherwise it will cost him playing time.
2008-03-07 11:24:44
74.   wsporter
66 MFD, I think we had that one and I agree all the way round on that.
2008-03-07 11:24:49
75.   weeping for brunnhilde
I don't know what that pitch was, but it was a bit high, but Hawkins got the call.
2008-03-07 11:25:37
76.   weeping for brunnhilde
Double over Melky's head.

Fat, straight fastball up in the zone.

2008-03-07 11:25:54
77.   Yu-Hsing Chen
or... not
2008-03-07 11:26:39
78.   weeping for brunnhilde
94 mph fastball low.

He seems to miss low and then throw meatballs up.

2008-03-07 11:27:20
79.   Yankee Fan In Boston
melky with an adventurous catch.
2008-03-07 11:27:38
80.   weeping for brunnhilde
Another fat fastball up in the zone, but hit right to Derek, who makes the play as a run scores.
2008-03-07 11:28:31
81.   monkeypants
66 "...anyone slugging .307 is toast."

But .320 SLG or so and the initials M.C. gets you about 1000 ABs.

2008-03-07 11:28:43
82.   weeping for brunnhilde
77 :)
2008-03-07 11:29:45
83.   monkeypants
Great. Goose Gossage not only says that "closers are used the right way now," but also that Joba should remain the 8th inning specialist. Hoo-boy, the new baseball wisdom replaces the old baseball wisdom.
2008-03-07 11:29:59
84.   RIYank
Hey all! This is almost like summer!

I gotta go, just checking in -- but man, that Rivera kid looks good.

2008-03-07 11:31:17
85.   weeping for brunnhilde
83 Heh hehe heh.

No kidding.

2008-03-07 11:31:45
86.   weeping for brunnhilde
84 Hey, RI!

Yeah, he's all right, that Rivera kid.

He's all right.

2008-03-07 11:32:03
87.   seattleyank
It's the Goose Gossage ego party! For those not watching, he just said how he used to get the team out of jams God himself couldn't.
2008-03-07 11:32:38
88.   weeping for brunnhilde
Hawkins throws a 3-2 slider(?), up and over the dish, tapped foul.
2008-03-07 11:33:05
89.   weeping for brunnhilde
3-2 fastball down, fouled off the guy's foot.

Hmmm...out pitch?

2008-03-07 11:34:34
90.   weeping for brunnhilde
Weird play.

3-2 fastball up and in, seemed to break the guy's bat, but it rolled slowly to Betemit's left. He couldn't make the play, but threw a lollypop to first all the same.

No replay because they're too busy schmoozing with Goose.

2008-03-07 11:35:03
91.   wsporter
Tough play into the hole at short for Betemit but he has to make a better throw.
2008-03-07 11:35:05
92.   Yu-Hsing Chen
The D is betraying Hawkins so far... which should be kinda expected during the season heh.
2008-03-07 11:35:18
93.   weeping for brunnhilde
87 "I would not have wanted to face me, I scared myself."
2008-03-07 11:35:49
94.   weeping for brunnhilde
91 I know, what was that?
2008-03-07 11:36:05
95.   wsporter
I though Hawk made a couple of good pitches.

They need to end this inning and get Goose off the air, he's quickly becoming a pain in the ass.

2008-03-07 11:36:06
96.   Yu-Hsing Chen
finally the ball is hit to a competent fielder and the inning ends lol
2008-03-07 11:37:20
97.   weeping for brunnhilde
Ok, so Hawkins seems to be most effective up and in.

I didn't really notice how he used the slider or whatever it was, but he usually missed low with the fastball.

That pitch up and in to whoever that was that hit it to Betemit was a very good pitch.

2008-03-07 11:37:47
98.   wsporter
94 My daughter makes a better through from there, I'm not kidding.
2008-03-07 11:38:08
99.   JL25and3
I agree with 38 . I don't think Gardner is a starter on a good major league team, not unless he shows some abilities he's shown no hint of before this - but I don't think he's useless, either, not at all. I think he's much more useful than a 12th pitcher. And if he were hooked up with a really fine manager in the Stengel-Weaver mold, someone who could mix and match effectively, he could be damn useful indeed.

But they'll go with a 12-man pitching staff, and it sill still be missing one crucial piece. This team really needs an old-fashioned swing man, someone who can pitch long relief and make spot starts without killing you; that would be the most effective way to limit the kids' innings. They haven't had someone like that since Ramiro Mendoza, and basically the role doesn't exist nowadays. But it should.

2008-03-07 11:38:43
100.   weeping for brunnhilde
Wow, Gardner!

Little fly ball the other way that just kept carrying.

Dude's on third bae.

I can't believe no one caught that ball.

Show/Hide Comments 101-150
2008-03-07 11:39:27
101.   weeping for brunnhilde
Nice rope to the gap in right by Melky!

Yay, Melkman!

Is that his first hit of the season?

2008-03-07 11:39:41
102.   Yu-Hsing Chen
I actually like what i saw from Hawkins so far this spring. last time out he had a pretty good movement on his FB. not that evident this time around. but pretty good strike thrower and keep most stuff on the ground.

not a great setupman or anything, but should be a fairly competent inning grubbing RP.... much like Vizcaino

boy Gardner is very very very fast

2008-03-07 11:40:09
103.   weeping for brunnhilde
Another weak grounder to short by Derek, first-pitch swinging.
2008-03-07 11:40:12
104.   Yankee Fan In Boston
99 "They haven't had someone like that since Ramiro Mendoza, and basically the role doesn't exist nowadays. But it should."

especially with the kids' innings limits. they have to be discussing this at some level. i'd hope. of course, they might think igawa is the answer.

2008-03-07 11:40:54
105.   weeping for brunnhilde
Chopper over the firstbaseman's head by Cano, with the infield in.
2008-03-07 11:41:32
106.   weeping for brunnhilde
Ooh, Jorgie steps in for Alex.
2008-03-07 11:41:48
107.   wsporter
97 I get the sense Hawk's throwing a two seamer there. He needs to command it , if he can he'll be tough.

I think that's the sort of thing Gardner can provide. They played him shallow in left (based on the stats no doubt :-)) and he ripped it well the other way and used his wheels to turn a double into a triple. We haven't had that dimension in years.

2008-03-07 11:42:37
108.   weeping for brunnhilde
Jorgie drives it fairly well the other way to left, run down by the leftfielder, though.

Two away, Cano planted at first.


2008-03-07 11:43:54
109.   weeping for brunnhilde
98 Ha ha ahha h!

I most certainly do not doubt it.

2008-03-07 11:45:08
110.   wsporter
99 Well that certainly is John Manuel's second hand book on Gardner. I say we have a look-see and make our own minds up.
2008-03-07 11:45:18
111.   weeping for brunnhilde

A little high on the throw, there!


2008-03-07 11:45:32
112.   Yu-Hsing Chen
you know your a bad throw when Cano runs on you
2008-03-07 11:45:54
113.   Sliced Bread
106 Uh oh. No Maas might have to chalk this up as a "Girardi Loss."
2008-03-07 11:46:36
114.   Yankee Fan In Boston
does duncan come through?
2008-03-07 11:47:08
115.   weeping for brunnhilde
Duncan nearly falls over swinging threw strike three and seems to shout, "Aw, fuck!"
2008-03-07 11:47:42
116.   Yu-Hsing Chen
101 actually, entering this game Melky is hitting a wooping .375/455/.500

If Cabrera can avoid having those 2 utterly attrocious months in the start and rear he's actually more than adequet at CF

2008-03-07 11:47:52
117.   Sliced Bread
Duncan wiffs lunging for the outside corner. Bad cut. Taps himself in the helmet with his bat.
2008-03-07 11:48:07
118.   Yankee Fan In Boston
115 he's just saving it for the 9th.
2008-03-07 11:50:01
119.   weeping for brunnhilde
102 Agreed about Hawkins.

With judicious use he could be effective. His stuff is certainly good enough, if he can command it.

I'll keep him.

2008-03-07 11:50:24
120.   weeping for brunnhilde
The baseball's really carrying out to left.
2008-03-07 11:50:26
121.   Yu-Hsing Chen
Steve White (flag) is in
2008-03-07 11:52:03
122.   Yankee Fan In Boston
austin "action" jackson almost ran through the CF wall.
2008-03-07 11:52:17
123.   Yu-Hsing Chen
Austin Jackson almost got to a completely smoked ball but it bounced off his glove for a ground rule double
2008-03-07 11:52:19
124.   Sliced Bread
#82 is not just the number on Steve White's back. It's also his top speed on the radar gun.
2008-03-07 11:53:07
125.   weeping for brunnhilde
118 Heh heh heh.

And that's "through," not "threw," btw.

2008-03-07 11:53:19
126.   Yankee Fan In Boston
124 ...with the wind blowing in from center.
2008-03-07 11:53:49
127.   weeping for brunnhilde
Is that Molina behind the dish still?

That was one weak throw just there.

2008-03-07 11:54:50
128.   Yu-Hsing Chen
White actually has the velocity, he just doesn't have anything else.... I never thought I saw another guy who could actually look worse at throwing a breaking ball then Sean Henn until I saws this guy.
2008-03-07 11:54:59
129.   weeping for brunnhilde
121 h ah ha haha hah!

That's really funny.

2008-03-07 11:55:23
130.   Yankee Fan In Boston
124 he just hit 82 on the radar gun.
2008-03-07 11:55:54
131.   Yu-Hsing Chen
It's PJ Pilterri (sp .. ) the AA catcher... he would be doing well if he ends up better then Wil Neives
2008-03-07 11:55:54
132.   JL25and3
104 The key phrase was "someone who can pitch long relief and make spot starts without killing you." That's the part Igawa's going to have trouble with.
2008-03-07 11:56:38
133.   Sliced Bread
128 true, but he has the kind of velocity that looks like 82mph to a ML hitter.
2008-03-07 11:57:22
134.   Yankee Fan In Boston
132 oh... i was hung up on the "can pitch" aspect of it.
2008-03-07 11:59:28
135.   Yu-Hsing Chen
132 I don't get the whole long relief bullshit. Scranton is right around and if they REALLY need a emergency start guys like Ohlendorf / Traber have a lot of starting experiecne anyway. you could carry some of those guys. hell. if Kyle el Farnsy is so convinced he could go back to back innings and was a SP for a long time could just as well use him.
2008-03-07 12:00:57
136.   Yu-Hsing Chen
Betemit have some nutty power. I wonder how many HR we can get out of our bench if it's really Molina / Betemit / Duncan / Ensberg
2008-03-07 12:00:58
137.   Yu-Hsing Chen
Betemit have some nutty power. I wonder how many HR we can get out of our bench if it's really Molina / Betemit / Duncan / Ensberg
2008-03-07 12:01:12
138.   weeping for brunnhilde
Wow, look at Robby.

No, not Robby, Betemit!

Laced it over the right field wall.

(They actually look very similar at the plate. Stance, swing, everything.)

Anyway, nice, nice hit.

2008-03-07 12:02:11
139.   Yu-Hsing Chen
God I would puke if Woodward makes the team.
2008-03-07 12:02:16
140.   weeping for brunnhilde
He's a switch-hitter, this Lane?

That's something.

2008-03-07 12:03:29
141.   Sliced Bread
I thought Betemit looked like Dave Parker on that swing. Strong. Pumped his back (left) elbow, before the swing and got everything into it. Very nice cut.
2008-03-07 12:04:24
142.   Yu-Hsing Chen
138 errr no, Robbie's swing doesn't have huge holes in it like Betemit. and the only similarity (when Betemit is batting lefty) is that they're both black .
2008-03-07 12:05:08
143.   Sliced Bread
A-Jax up!
2008-03-07 12:05:26
144.   Yankee Fan In Boston
139 beautiful.
2008-03-07 12:06:55
145.   Sliced Bread
A-Jax loads the bases on a bobbled ball to third. YES replay shows him zipping to first. Kid looks very fast in slo-mo.
2008-03-07 12:09:34
146.   Sliced Bread
Nuttin' doin. Steve White back for the 7th. Game tied at 5.
2008-03-07 12:09:44
147.   weeping for brunnhilde
142 All I'm saying is that I sat down, caught a glimpse of the swing and thought it was Cano.

But whatever.

141 I'm not familiar with Dave Parker's swing, but yes, it was a very, very nice cut.

2008-03-07 12:10:30
148.   Yu-Hsing Chen
A-Jax in the best case would be ready after next season, though i have a feeling he might take a little longer then expected. he's minor league line looks a lot like Vernon Wells and Wells took like 3 more year before he was good. after the same stage
2008-03-07 12:12:38
149.   Yu-Hsing Chen
White apparently have a mix of Hennian (unable to throw a breaking ball to save his life) and Brunitst (whats a strike zone?)
2008-03-07 12:16:08
150.   Yu-Hsing Chen
calling in Bruney with the bases load ... this will be fun lol (he really do look much thiner though)
Show/Hide Comments 151-200
2008-03-07 12:18:19
151.   weeping for brunnhilde
Hey, it's "Slim" Brian Bruney!
2008-03-07 12:19:50
152.   wsporter
151 Twiggy?
2008-03-07 12:20:57
153.   Sliced Bread
bases loaded. i out. 1-2 count... what's it gonna be, Bruney?

delivers high and tight, 2-2.
97mph high and tight again.. but gets Diaz swinging at the hot stuff!

2 away

2008-03-07 12:22:31
154.   weeping for brunnhilde
153 That was a nice pitch.

152 Twiggy. Exactly. :)

2008-03-07 12:22:38
155.   Sliced Bread
alas, coughs up two run single. 7-5 'Stros.
Eiland's seen enough of Bruney.
2008-03-07 12:23:29
156.   Sliced Bread
152 Twiggy. Love it.
2008-03-07 12:24:33
157.   Yu-Hsing Chen
heh, Bruney struck out the first guy then a single up the middle. Bruney still doesn't have much command on his FB....
2008-03-07 12:27:11
158.   JL25and3
141 I didn't see the swing...but I'll bet he didn't look like more than half of Dave Parker.
2008-03-07 12:27:57
159.   JL25and3
142 I wouldn't worry too much about it. Weird things always happen with post 138 .
2008-03-07 12:29:17
160.   weeping for brunnhilde
159 Heh ehe heh heh.
2008-03-07 12:30:39
161.   Yu-Hsing Chen
Ensberg with a nice opposite field double
2008-03-07 12:31:54
162.   Sliced Bread
159 Parker was probably being generous, but it was a very impressive jack. Not even sure why Parker immediately came to mind. Haven't thought about him since who knows when.
2008-03-07 12:40:49
163.   Sliced Bread
Build and southpaw-wise, this Heath Phllips fellow looks like he could be related to Boomer Wells, -- but from the side of the family that emphasizes good table manners, and doesn't chug from jelly jars.
2008-03-07 12:46:51
164.   Sliced Bread
A-Jax looks at 1 too high, and 1 too low...
then swings through one...
works the count to 3-1...
opposite field pop up to right.
nuttin' doin'. good looking kid though, Kay and Singleton agree.
2008-03-07 12:47:41
165.   Sliced Bread
what? everybody went home with A-Rod?

c'mon Banterers... rally time!

2008-03-07 12:47:43
166.   Yankee Fan In Boston
164 indeed. how old is he again?
2008-03-07 12:47:55
167.   weeping for brunnhilde
162 Ok, hows about we say Betemit looked like Betemit on that swing?

Not CAno, not Parker, but Woodrow Enrique Wilson Betemit.

2008-03-07 12:48:20
168.   weeping for brunnhilde
165 Heh eh hehehe!
2008-03-07 12:48:49
169.   Yankee Fan In Boston
167 "Woodrow Enrique Wilson Betemit"

if that doesn't stick, i don't know what will.

2008-03-07 12:49:19
170.   weeping for brunnhilde
169 :)
2008-03-07 12:50:05
171.   weeping for brunnhilde
Or maybe Woodrow Enrique Mookie Willie Wilson Betemit.

(Fun game, eh? How high can we go?)

2008-03-07 12:51:25
172.   weeping for brunnhilde
Was there a Hack Wilson, or am I making that up?

Oh, of course, he was the RBI guy, wasn't he?

Or no, the 254 hits guy.

2008-03-07 12:52:00
173.   weeping for brunnhilde
No, that was George Sisler.

God, I don't know what I'm talking about.

2008-03-07 12:52:24
174.   wsporter
I was in and out on the game today but I think I was most impressed with Mo and not meaning to be too provocative Gardner.

It felt like old times at the Banter today, can't wait for the season! :-)


2008-03-07 12:53:29
175.   wsporter
174 CRAP that's YANKEES. I hope some a-hole troll doesn't see that Freudian disaster.
2008-03-07 12:53:47
176.   Sliced Bread
172 Betetmit looks more like Flip Wilson than Hack Wilson.
Either way I'm aging myself.
2008-03-07 12:54:56
177.   weeping for brunnhilde
175 Ha ha hah ah ahah h !!!!

ha ha hah ah ah!!

Me too, ws, me too!

Nice rhyme, btw.

ha ha hah ah ah ah!

2008-03-07 12:55:17
178.   Yankee Fan In Boston
2008-03-07 12:55:42
179.   weeping for brunnhilde
176 Flip Wilson!

haa hahah!

Derek-Jeter Flip Wilson.

2008-03-07 12:56:31
180.   Yu-Hsing Chen
162 he looks a little like Ortiz in his Twinkie days. not that he really have that sort of upside offesnively (without eatting himself to 300 pounds anyway heh) but I think that he profiles a lot like Papi at the similar stages of their career. a guy that has a lot of talent but previous teams look more at what they can't do then what they can do.

Veras' mechanics lok different then I remembered... Ensberg's throw to home have looked pretty bad.

2008-03-07 12:56:47
181.   Yankee Fan In Boston
179 [etc.] this is more fun than the game.
2008-03-07 12:57:40
182.   weeping for brunnhilde
178 Cheers!

Damn, 191 RBI?

Somehow I thought the record was 184.

Where'd I get that from?

2008-03-07 12:58:43
183.   weeping for brunnhilde
181 It's kind of hard to maintain interest watching the keystone cops portion of the broadcast, isn't it?
2008-03-07 12:59:48
184.   weeping for brunnhilde
180 Exhibit A for the Keystone Cops portion of the broadcast.
2008-03-07 12:59:55
185.   Yankee Fan In Boston
182 you were close. it is still ST. we're all knocking the rust off.
2008-03-07 13:00:53
186.   weeping for brunnhilde
185 :)


(God, this is so much fun! Thank the Lord Above for Baseball--at Long Last.)

2008-03-07 13:01:50
187.   weeping for brunnhilde
A basehit for the attorney general!
2008-03-07 13:03:21
188.   Yankee Fan In Boston
186 amen.
2008-03-07 13:04:21
189.   weeping for brunnhilde
What the hell is Jorgie doing in this game?

He didn't start because he was sore or something, but then he comes in for Alex and stays in for three ab?

I get it, he's not behind the dish, but still.

Kind of odd.

2008-03-07 13:06:02
190.   Yankee Fan In Boston
189 i'm just thankful to see a recognizable face at this point.
2008-03-07 13:07:35
191.   weeping for brunnhilde
No kidding!

YFB, et. al., thanks for the game, see you guys tomorrow.

Moose on the hill!

2008-03-07 13:07:43
192.   Sliced Bread
ah, ballgame.
That was fun, all.

189 is Po a few at-bats behind the pack? Only reason I can think of.

2008-03-07 13:10:36
193.   JL25and3
182 184 is Gehrig's AL record.
2008-03-07 14:25:23
194.   weeping for brunnhilde
193 Ah, cheers, JL!
2008-03-07 19:01:08
195.   JL25and3

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