Montero would not solve the A-Rod problem

Somewhere around the time it began to become clear that Jesus Montero probably wouldn’t have much of a career as a catcher, a lot of people picked up the notion that Montero would still have value as a first baseman/designated hitter because of his offensive production. And in a vacuum this is certainly true, especially if Montero developed rapidly into a good-to-great hitter during his team control years. But then people began saying that Montero would mitigate the decline of the Yankees aging lineup, particularly Alex Rodriguez who, in case you’d forgotten, is still under contract with the Yankees for six more seasons. This is a pretty good summation of the premise.

I understand that having Pineda in the rotation probably makes the 2012 Yankees a better team than they would have been with Montero as the DH. But in 2013? And 2014?

Arod and Teixeira are already fractions of what they once were and they will be declining in the lineup for years to come. The Yankees have one big hitter in his prime, Cano, who is fierce but not flawless. You don’t have to squint too hard to see a Yankee team desperate for hitting.

There’s truth in this, to be sure, but what’s done is done. A-Rod and Tex are signed 6 and 5 years, respectively, and with A-Rod’s age and health issues it’s basically a given that he’ll have to become a primary DH sometime in the near future. So obviously, if Montero is ultimately a 1B/DH player, there isn’t room for him in the lineup if Teixeira and A-Rod are already slotted into those spots in the long term.

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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 Continue reading Searching For The Next Great Yankee Bat

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

Believe it or not (and frankly I wouldn’t really have thought it possible), the Yankees’ acquisition of Michael Pineda has actually made A.J. Burnett an even larger albatross around their neck. No, it probably won’t make him pitch any more poorly than he has in the past two seasons, and it won’t make Burnett cost any more money, but rather it puts Burnett in the more uncomfortable position of potentially wasting something even more valuable than dollars to the Yankees: a roster spot.

The problem is that the Yankees now have seven starting pitchers penciled in for their 25 man roster. Add the five relievers who are likely a lock to be on the opening day roster (Mariano Rivera, David Robertson, Rafael Soriano, Boone Logan, and Cory Wade), and suddenly you have 12 total pitchers, or a full staff, with two natural starters occupying relief roles. That’s not exactly an ideal way to build a pitching staff by any means. So how can the logjam be resolved? Here are some potential solutions.

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How Jorge Vazquez could wind up as Yankee DH

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 Continue reading How Jorge Vazquez could wind up as Yankee DH

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

1. They can afford it.

This is not the same franchise whose former owner was driven to bankruptcy by A-Rod’s first outlandish contract (among other things). They may still suffer from payroll envy when compared to the Yankees and Red Sox, but the Rangers are generating revenue as well as just about any other team in the league. First and foremost is the 20-year, $1.6 Billion contract they have with Fox, which assures them $80 Million in annual revenue before they ever sell a ticket, jersey, or soft drink, or take a dollar of MLB Advanced Media money. Dallas is not, as Mark Cuban might have you believe, a “small market.” Dallas-Ft. Worth-Arlington is the fourth largest metropolitan area in the U.S., trailing only New York, L. A., and Chicago. Dallas has a lower per capita income than most coastal metropolises, but makes up that divide with lower property values, cost of living, and a generous tax structure. A substantial number of Dallas citizens have expendable income and they are increasingly willing to spend it at Rangers games, as attendance has risen in each of the last three seasons, by a net of more than 10,000 per game. Add to that the profits of two consecutive deep postseason runs and it’s obvious that this is a franchise with loaded coffers.

2. Their books are clean.

The recent high-profile signings of Yu Darvish ($112 Mil. including posting fee) and Adrian Beltre ($80 Mil.) might give you the impression that Texas is loaded with long-term contracts. That’s far from the truth. The Rangers have only $65.8 Mil. committed beyond 2013. Compare that to Yankees ($238.4 Mil.), Phillies ($184.5 Mil.), and Angels ($248.7 Mil.!!!). Texas could pay steeply for Prince and would still have more payroll flexibility than many of the big-market teams they’re competing against.

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

Brian Cashman is Right (and Wrong)

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 Continue reading Brian Cashman is Right (and Wrong)

Looking at Montero through rose-colored glasses

There haven’t been too many truly negative reactions to the Jesus Montero-for-Michael Pineda trade over the last few days, which is a little surprising to me. Sure, there’s been plenty of “it will be sad to see Montero play elsewhere” sentiment, but even most people expressing that haven’t really disliked the trade, or at least it seems. This morning, RAB’s Larry Koestler mounted the most comprehensive criticism of the deal I’ve seen yet. It’s a good read and I highly recommend it if you’re looking for the counter viewpoint, but I have to take a bit of an issue with this:

Now, we all know comping anyone to [Miguel] Cabrera is the epitome of an overzealous expectation, but even though Montero is unlikely to reach that particular historically-good level of hitting, his bat has been near-universally regarded as an impact, middle-of-the-order force, one that doesn’t seem outrageous to expect possible .300/.400/.500 lines from in the future. I realize both the opportunity cost and scarcity of acquiring a young, cost-controlled starter in Pineda, especially when compared to adding an offensive-oriented player, but more than four days in and I’m still not entirely sold on this being the right move.

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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 Continue reading Long-Shot Trade Targets