Montero would not solve the A-Rod problem

The problem with respect to Montero’s ability to mitigate the problem of A-Rod’s contract is that offensive value isn’t purely fungible, because that offensive value has to be attached to a specific defensive position the player is at least minimally capable of playing. If Montero were able to be even an adequate catcher, he really would have been able to pick up the slack for A-Rod a bit, because his offensive production could have been slotted in at a different position. But if he can’t catch, and if we assume that A-Rod isn’t going to be benched or released when he’s no longer capable of playing the field regularly, then any way you slice it, having Montero on the roster would give the Yankees three players for two positions.

Now, that’s not to say there couldn’t be ways around that. Most obviously you could have just continued putting A-Rod at third so long as he could stand there and swing a bat.… Click here to read the rest

Searching For The Next Great Yankee Bat

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

While the Yankees’ shoddy track record of developing young pitching is well-documented, taking a look through the recent history books also shows that they’re not exactly churning out Silver Slugger Award winners at the plate either.  The last Yankee position player to come through the system and establish himself as an impact bat at the Major League level was Robinson Cano in 2006.  Before Cano, you have to head back to the mid-90s and the days of Derek Jeter and Jorge Posada to find a homegrown position player who stayed in the organization and became an above-average hitter.  This theme hasn’t been as easy a target to criticize the way the young pitching has thanks to the team’s deep pockets.  When you’re getting major offensive production from the prime years of guys like Paul O’Neill, Tino Martinez, Jason Giambi, Alex Rodriguez, and Mark Teixeira, it’s easy to forget about your young position players.… Click here to read the rest

Is A.J. Burnett about to get voted off the island?

Option #1: Keep everybody:

With 12 pitchers for 12 spots on the staff, the Yankees could keep everyone on the roster if they’re willing to use two of Burnett, Phil Hughes, and Freddy Garcia in the bullpen. That’s not unthinkable by any means. One of the non-starters could easily slot into the long reliever/sixth starter role without much of a problem, while the other could become the last man in the bullpen. The problem, however, is that you kind of need that last guy to make actual relief appearances at times, especially with the way Joe Girardi likes to disperse the workload he puts on his bullpen. You can’t merely stash two starting pitchers out there in case they’re needed in the rotation later. So the most likely configuration of this option involves Burnett as the fifth starter, Freddy Garcia is the long reliever role, and Phil Hughes becoming a bona fide relief pitcher. If this reality comes to pass, you can expect me to write something disparaging about it.… Click here to read the rest

How Jorge Vazquez could wind up as Yankee DH

Gotta have one fat guy every year

Some of you may have groaned when you read that title. I fully understand why you would. Anyone familiar with the Yankee farm system knows he has enormous issues with plate discipline. He strikes out so much that he could make Jack Cust look like Tony Gwynn. He has shown little ability (or perhaps interest) in drawing walks, taking his 3 true outcomes down to a measly two. He would be the 2012 edition of Shelly Duncan, and we all remember how quickly that star faded. What follows is not going to be an impassioned plea for the Yanks to select Vazquez with best-case projections on how he’ll perform this year. Rather, its a breakdown of what’s available at DH, what they as free agents will be looking for, and what the best move for Brian Cashman may be.

First, let’s define the need. The Yankee DH role is open, but not completely. Buster Olney recently posted in his column that the Yanks are looking to give A-Rod 25-40 games at DH next year to keep him healthy and on the field.… Click here to read the rest

The Rangers will still sign Prince Fielder. Here’s why.

3. The in-house options are too risky.

Certainly, there is going to be pressure upon the Rangers front office to resign the faces of their ’10 and ’11 AL Championship teams, especially Josh Hamilton and Nelson Cruz. However, there was pressure on them to resign Cliff Lee and C. J. Wilson as well, and they refused to overpay.

With Hamilton and Cruz, what you see is not what you get. Both are proper “five-tool” talents who have provided very memorable performances when the greatest number of eyeballs were fixed upon them: in All-Star Games, Home Run Derbies, and Postseasons. Their ability to rise to the occasion on the “big stage” will probably earn them additional millions when they hit the free agent market, but, what the casual fan probably won’t remember, and several GMs will choose to overlook, is that in the last three seasons the duo has missed a combined 259 games. In his six full seasons, Prince Fielder has missed thirteen games, and he’s at least three years younger than either Ranger slugger.… Click here to read the rest

Butler Would Serve Yanks Need at DH, but Royals May No Longer Be Looking to Flush Away Talent

(The following is being syndicated from The Captain’s Blog).

The names most often mentioned as candidates for the Yankees’ DH opening read like a who’s who from the early part of the last decade. Emerging amid the cluttered speculation about veterans like Hideki Matsui, Johnny Damon, Vladimir Guerrero, Carlos Pena, and Raul Ibanez, however, was a more intriguing rumor about the Kansas City Royals’ 1B/DH Billy Butler.

Billy Butler's bat would fit nicely into the Yankees' DH slot.

Saying that a player is underrated is perhaps the most overused cliché in baseball, but it really does apply to Butler. Because he debuted at such a young age, it seems as if Butler has been around forever, but this year, the right handed hitter will only be 26. And, although defense has proved challenging, he has had very few difficulties handling the bat since his promotion at the age of 21. In fact, not only has Butler developed into one of the game’s best young hitters, over the last three seasons, there haven’t been many better, regardless of age.… Click here to read the rest

Brian Cashman is Right (and Wrong)

Him again.

In the interest of full disclosure, I must admit that this post will be entirely about the Michael Pineda for Jesus Montero deal that was completed less than a week ago. I know, like the rest of you know, that this has been analyzed to death. Yet I believe the consensus Yankee-land, and the blogosphere in particular, have come to over the past week is incomplete. After some initial hysteria, some initial doubt as to the wisdom of trading Jesus Montero, we have settled into a comfortable position of restrained optimism. Brian Cashman did his job well, he got good value, the trade will help us in the short term and puts us in a good position to compete in the long run. The conclusion drawn by the majority is, in my view, correct. This was a good deal, one that will both hurt and help, but on balance the right move. None of this is wrong and I agree whole-heartedly with the sentiments expressed by Jim Bowden on the night of the trade.… Click here to read the rest

Looking at Montero through rose-colored glasses

For one, if the Yankees were going to move a premier hitting piece for a pitcher, I’d have preferred it have been for more of a sure thing. There’s no question Pineda had a great 2011, and while the oft-cited supposed “second-half decline” has been debunked, and I’m aware of the fact that were he still a prospect, he’d be at the top of the Yankees’ top ten list, the fact that he is primarily a righthanded two-pitch pitcher with a bit of a flyball problem coming to Yankee Stadium concerns me. I understand that many feel that Pineda has #1 starter upside, but that upside can only be realized if he is able to develop a functional changeup to help him combat lefties, and as we’ve seen from several of the Yankees’ own starters, the change is one of the hardest pitches to learn.

It’s not I think the substance is wrong here, but I think there’s a double standard being applied to the two players here.… Click here to read the rest

Long-Shot Trade Targets

If we learned anything from last week’s Montero-Pineda swap, it’s that you can’t predict baseball. No one could have foreseen this trade, nor did anyone expect the trades surrounding Curtis Granderson or Nick Swisher a few years ago. With the open spot in the lineup and lingering rumors of payroll inflexibility, there is a good chance the Yankees are looking for a bat through trade. In the spirit of long-shot trades, I decided to collect the longest of shots that realistically fit the team’s needs.

At this point I should offer you some sort of warning. Trade musing is all fun and games until someone gets hurt. In the coming days, weeks, perhaps months, we’ll have all sorts of speculation on who the Yankees should sign or trade for; what you believe is up to you. Adding Cole Hamels to our rotation or Prince Fielder to our imaginary rosters is what makes the offseason bearable, so have an open mind when we get into these sorts of discussion.… Click here to read the rest