Bill Hall, and the (Not So) Super-Utility Bargain Bin

With the hot stove dwindling just below a simmer, yesterday saw Ken Rosenthal “break” a story with respect to the Yankees’ interest in … Bill Hall. This is indicative of, at the very least, Cashman’s continued interest in having a veteran presence to spell Alex Rodriguez. A more optimistic and/or pessimistic view may be that the team is looking to send Eduardo Nunez packing – be it to Scranton to work on his ability to be the shortstop of the future, or to another team … with the reader determining which version is the better-case scenario. Regardless of your preference, it seems unlikely that the team will do anything other than supplement their bench with such a signing. While none of this is particularly exciting, perusing the list of remaining free agent infielders should be a bit more than an exercise in futility … so, there’s that.

Bill Hall

The method to this madness, Hall “batted” .211/.261/.314, good for a 55 wRC+ and -1.6 fWAR, for the Astros and Giants in 2011 on the heels of a solid 2010 with the Red Sox (.247/.316/.456, 107 wRC+).… Click here to read the rest

Jorge Posada’s HOF Case

Since Jorge Posada‘s retirement after a distinguished 17-year career, a consensus has emerged on his Hall of Fame case.  Most people will probably place Posada in the “Hall of Very Good” with other Yankee legends such as Don Mattingly and Bernie Williams (presumably), and as a small hall supporter in general, I understand this viewpoint.

The anti-Hall case for Posada was articulated in a recent article on Fangraphs by Marc Klaasen.  Klaasen argued that Posada’s career fWAR of 47.6 is well below the standard set by Andrew Dawson, a “baseline” hall-of-famer, who had a career WAR of 62.3.  Klaasen also looks at 2 all-time great catchers, Ivan Rodriguez and Mike Piazza, and determines that they are able to reach the “Dawson standard”, and as such, Posada is not hall-worthy.  From this, he determines that WAR does not necessarily treat catchers unfairly in the same way that it does relievers (by not adequately accounting for leverage). In my opinion, however, the article takes an overly simplistic look at Hall-worthiness, by setting an arbitrary cutoff for accumulated career WAR as the main criterion.… Click here to read the rest

Who is the X-Factor?

I define X-Factor as, “The player who has the greatest range of variation.” An X-Factor could be really good, or really bad. X-Factors ultimately will make-or-break your season. C.C. Sabathia may be the best player on the roster, but he’s so consistent it’s almost boring. Players may be aging, but many are pretty easily judged by the back of their baseball cards.

So, who is the 2012 Yankee X-Factor? I can think of three candidates.

Michael Pineda – Pineda could have a relatively poor (say, an ERA around 4.oo) 2012 season and still be a good acquisition for Brian Cashman when all is said and done. He’s still very young, and one can expect major league growing pains for the vast majority of prospects. If I were a betting man, I’d set the over/under around his 2011 ERA of 3.74. However, I think Pineda has a great deal of potential for greatness. It’s not hard to envision a breakout season where Pineda puts up a Sabathia-like 220 innings with an ERA around 3.00.… Click here to read the rest

The looming curse of Mo

But then, astute readers will immediately notice that one of these things is not like the others. Jones and Guerrero were highly rated outfield prospects who went on to have very productive, borderline Hall of Fame careers. That’s nothing to sneeze at, of course, and if you were fortunate enough to get the prime years of those careers you got an awful lot of production for it. But Mariano Rivera is pretty much unanimously regarded as the greatest relief pitcher of all time. If all else were equal, you’d expect the greatest player ever at one position to clearly be better than a borderline HOF case at another position.

And herein lies the rub: Mariano Rivera is, by definition, the exception to the rule. What Mo has done in his career and the value he’s provided to his team says absolutely nothing about the performance or value of any other relief pitcher because they’re not Mo. This is necessarily what we mean when we call Mariano the GOAT, though I don’t think many people really appreciate that reality.… Click here to read the rest

Is There Hope For A.J. In 2012?

It's the dreaded return of A.J. Two-Face.

(The following is being syndicated from An A-Blog for A-Rod)

After the additions of Michael Pineda and Hiroki Kuroda, it seemed like a forgone conclusion that A.J. Burnett‘s days as a starting pitcher for the New York Yankees were over.  It had already been reported that Cash shopped him around at the Winter Meetings while offering to eat $8 million of his remaining contract, and that was before the Yankees were flush with the rotation depth that they now have.  Once Pineda and Kuroda were in the fold, it seemed obvious that Ninja Cash already had the next move lined up to rid himself of one of his biggest mistakes.  And yet, we found ourselves still talking about A.J. Burnett as a current member of the Yankees, which leaves the frightening door of opportunity open for him to somehow be the 5th starter in 2012.  It is a door that many of us do not want to see A.J.… Click here to read the rest

Whelan – Yanks’ Last Tie to Sheffield

Despite winning 97 games in 2006, the Yankees were a flawed baseball team. Andy Phillips played 110 games and Miguel Cairo played 81 times. First base was a wasteland of Phillips and Craig Wilson as the Yankees were reluctant to give Jason Giambi many starts there. Randy Johnson won 17 games but finished with a 5.00 ERA. Two of the five rotation starters were guys like Jaret Wright and Shawn Chacon. It was the season that Bernie Williams lost his starting job as a center fielder and it proved to be his last season in pinstripes.

Much of that season became a drama around Gary Sheffield. Sheffield was no stranger to drama as he always found ways to irritate people with the things he said and how his personality was perceived. But 2006 was doubly so because Sheffield missed most of it. After a 5 WAR season in 2005 which was terrific offensively (if not defensively), Sheffield’s absence was a problem.… Click here to read the rest