What does Jack Cust bring to the table?

In case you missed the news, the Yankees signed left-handed hitting OF/DH Jack Cust to a minor league deal yesterday.  Cust is an interesting addition, and could be considered a possible replacement for Raul Ibanez if Ibanez continues to struggle.  Cust was cut by the Houston Astros this spring after posting an Ibanez-esque .040/.200/.040 in 25 AB’s this spring.  He posted a .213/.344/.329 triple-slash line in a limited role with Seattle in 2011.

Cust has made a career out of his excellent power and patience, though his inability to make consistent contact and mediocre defense hurt his value significantly.  Cust put together some monster seasons earlier in his career with Oakland, including a wRC+ of 143 in 2007, and 130 in 2008.  However, injuries and inconsistency derailed Cust’s major league career, and he has been reduced to fighting for a minor league contract.

Could Cust be a viable replacement for Ibanez?  To determine this, it would be necessary to look at his performance against right-handed pitchers, since he would likely find himself primarily in the platoon DH role.  … Click here to read the rest

Some Thoughts On The First (Real) Games Of 2012

  • Ex-Yankee Bartolo Colon is still fat. And good. He threw 8 innings (EIGHT!) of one-run, six-strikeout ball. And do you know who he struck out in the top of the second inning? Jesus Montero!
  • Montero has a .143/.143/.143 triple slash line in his first two games. Which means he has gone 1 for 7 with a single. Wait, what’s that? ESPN NY is already running a story about Montero being a bust? Next to a hundred Andrew Marchand articles demanding that Michael Pineda be sent to Single A? Someone over there is already talking about how the Yankees won the trade because they got Jose Campos?
  • I think Curtis Granderson should get that Bartolo Colon/A-Rod/Kobe Bryant/witch doctor injection into his elbow (which is actually going to be fine without it). You know, just because.
  • Yoenis Cespedes might hit 35 home runs this season. And he might strike out 250 times.
  • Sticking with Cespedes: he’s built. I know we all saw that epic video, but when you see him in real time (and by that I mean on an iPad), he just looks so freaking strong.
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If They Retired Today, Who Makes the Hall of Fame?

With the quiet lull in place before the burst of energy that marks opening day, its a good time to have one of my favorite baseball discussions. Who makes the Hall of Fame? Let’s supposed that these players retired today, without playing a day in the 2012 season or beyond. Who is in? Active players only.

  • In, no discussion: Derek Jeter, Mariano Rivera, Alex Rodriguez, Albert Pujols, Chipper Jones, Jim Thome, Pudge Rodriguez, Manny Ramirez, Ichiro Suzuki, Roy Halladay, Vlad Guerrero
I don’t think anything more needs to be said about this group. Vague, silly steroids concerns aside, everyone is in. No doubts here. The following players also should make it in:
  • Jorge Posada – Count me as on the Posada wagon. The Hall of Fame undervalues catching. Posada put together 44 bWAR over a successful career, despite the limited playing that comes with his position, the physical rigor, and the reduced credit for defensive WAR that catchers get. You can count the number of players during his era that were clearly better than Posada on one hand – Pudge Rodriguez, Mike Piazza, and Joe Mauer.
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Mulling the Yankees’ Bullpen

The biggest regression candidate is David Robertson. His season a year ago was magical from beginning to end. But it can be said with some certainty that there is little chance he can continue that torrid pace. His strand rate alone of 89.8 percent would be nearly impossible to duplicate. Robertson’s FIP came in at 1.84. Most projection systems have him for 2012 at 2.70 and 3.17. That’s a full run higher. Robertson would still be very good at that rate, but not the superhero he was in 2011. He could negate the luck factor a bit if he could lower his walk rate from 4.73 per nine innings to around three or so. But barring that, you just can’t project a repeat of last season.

If Rafael Soriano can improve on his inaugural Yankee campaign, that could make up the difference lost by Robertson. Soriano had a much higher walk rate than his career average and his FIP ballooned a bit to 3.97.… Click here to read the rest

Prospect Profile: David Adams

It looked like Adams would continue his march towards the Bronx in 2010 when he started in Trenton.  He appeared in 39 games and hit .309/.393/.507 before his injury ended his season.  Adams, who has been one of the top infield prospects since high school, was supposedly part of ill-fated deal with the Mariners that would have put Cliff Lee in the Bronx.  When the physicals were done, however, the Mariners did not like what they saw in Adams ankle and the deal was dead.

Adams would continue to be frustrated during the 2011 season, as slowly continued to rehab his ankle.  He saw time in Tampa early on in the season, but was did not appear ready to play.  He ended the season having appeared in 29 games between the GCL Yankees and Tampa, and while he was able to put together some really strong numbers, it was clear that Adams was still hurting.  He hit a combined .370, but had only one home run and twelve doubles. … Click here to read the rest

The NY Spring Training Double Standard

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

Lost in all the talk about Ivan Nova‘s command, Andy Pettitte‘s return, and Michael Pineda‘s velocity is the rather pedestrian spring being had by another Yankee starting pitcher.  This pitcher has made only 4 official starts this spring and in those 4 starts has thrown 14.0 total innings.  In those 14 innings, he has allowed 7 earned runs on 19 combined hits and walks while striking only 10.  As a back-of-the-rotation candidate, these numbers could be acceptable.  For a guy being paid top dollar who is expected to anchor the starting rotation of the New York Yankees they are hardly encouraging and yet there hasn’t been a peep from anybody in the media about him or his performance this spring.

As you probably guessed, the pitcher in question here is CC Sabathia.  CC has reached almost Mo-like levels of media non-coverage this spring, as the only time his name has been mentioned is on the days he’s scheduled to pitch. … Click here to read the rest

From Rotation to Bullpen & Back Again…Why?

The foremost question plaguing the Brian Cashman era in New York remains, “Are the Yankees any good at developing pitchers?” Any real answer to that question means considering not only players on the current roster, but those who have moved on to greener pastures (or grayer ones), as well as current prospects like Banuelos and Betances, who could quickly make us forget mistakes of the past. But, the fact is, the question might never even get asked if not for the tortured career arcs of Joba Chamberlain and Phil Hughes, the last pair of premier prospects to emerge from the Yankee farm system. Both reached the big leagues in their early twenties, but now, though still a rather tender age, after half a decade of injury and inconsistency, both are facing uncertain futures. Part of what makes their development so frustrating is that, superficially at least, it seems as though the organization either never had a plan, or couldn’t stick to it, as Chamberlain and Hughes bounced back and forth between the bullpen and the starting rotation, never given time to fully adapt and adjust to the challenges of either role.… Click here to read the rest

Girardi to make rotation decision soon

“You look at Freddy’s year last year and it was really good,” the manager said. “And for a guy that’s not supposed to be pitch well in spring training, he sure has pitched well.”

That said, I think King is likely being over generous with his interpretation here. As Chad Jennings notes, the most obvious difference between Garcia and the collective of Ivan Nova, Michael Pineda, and Phil Hughes is that the latter group figures to be an important part of the Yankees’ roster for multiple years going forward, while Garcia looks like a year-to-year back end of the rotation piece at best. All else being equal, that potential impact on the future should be the determining factor in a close decision. King calls Garcia the known commodity, but that seems like a euphemism for “he’s pretty old” more than anything else, really. After all, Garcia is still the guy who posted a 4.64 ERA in 2010, his peripherals last year don’t exactly reach out and scream “sustainable!” at you, and even granting the positive aspects of his 2011 production, he was only good for 146.2 innings, a number that doesn’t figure to grow with another year on the body.… Click here to read the rest