Is it time for A-Rod to move to DH for good?

Sooner or later, Alex Rodriguez is going to have to become a full time DH for the Yankees. Given his age and contract status, there’s jut no way around that basic fact. Is that time now? TYA’s Matt Imbrogno thinks it might be:

Let’s start with a simple breakdown of A-Rod’s numbers at the various positions. Instead of taking his whole career into account, though, let’s look at post-2008, when the A-Rod we know, the oft-injured one, started to show up. From 2009 onward as a third baseman, A-Rod has hit .274/.363/.486 in 1469 at bats. In that same span as a DH, admittedly a much smaller sample–216 ABs–he’s hit .301/.382/.537.

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And, of course, there’s the “value” argument. At least at third, he can provide some defensive value and his bat is likely to be farther above the average third baseman than it is to be above the average DH. But when we think about it for more than 30 seconds, we realize that he’s never going to live up to the dollar value of that contract. Like the length, it’s just something we’re stuck with. Now, we have to just let the Yankees get the most production out of Rodriguez possible and it seems that having him DH is the best way to do that. Even if there isn’t an immediate replacement and even if he’ll never return good “value,” the benefit of keeping him healthy and productive is much bigger than any con we can think of.

Two quick counterpoints. First,while the statistical difference is compelling, there are still issues of sample size and variance. If nothing else, it would be hard for me to accept them outright since I was dismissive of a similar split in Jorge Posada‘s numbers last season. As to A-Rod’s health, it’s a very reasonable concern to have and probably the best argument there is in favor of moving him out of the field, but to be fair it should be noted that staying healthy has been the least of A-Rod’s problems so far this season, and that his current ailment comes from having a bone broken by getting hit by a pitch, which is obviously different than losing playing time to wear and tear.

That said, I do actually think that I would give serious thought to moving A-Rod off of third now, especially if the Yankees are interested in trading for Chase Headley. If the Yankees can find a cheap, long term alternative to Alex at third base, it’s not hard to see how that could make them better going forward, especially as they seek to get under the luxury tax threshold in the next couple of years. This would be the only reason to make a move now, in my opinion, as A-Rod is still a competent third baseman and had proven this year that he was still capable of staying in the lineup with the rest mix of rest and good luck. Considering that, I don’t see a reason to force the issue and sacrifice production at the hot corner, especially since the Yankees have proven to be able to get reasonable production from cheaper DH options, especially since not having A-Rod playing the field is no guarantee he won’t get injured. Continue reading Is it time for A-Rod to move to DH for good?

Phil Hughes Q&A with Fangraphs

Fangraphs published an interview with Phil Hughes today in which the Yankees’ right-hander and former top prospect discusses the evolution of his arsenal of pitches. A highlight:

“I started messing around with a slider again last year, but those were miniscule. I wanted to firm up my breaking ball and have something that I could throw in the low 80s. With my curveball, I could never quite get that speed with my arm speed, so I threw a few more sliders just to see where I was at with that. I even messed around with not spiking my curveball any more, to see if I could firm it up that way. Basically, I fell back to having a spike-curveball grip, because I felt more comfortable with it and felt that it was more of an arm speed and aggression-type of issue. I went back to spiking it and have had some decent success with it since then.

“I’m not throwing a cutter or a slider any more. I’m just fastball-curveball-change now. I felt that with a better curveball — and being able to throw strikes with it, and having a strike breaking ball and a harder breaking ball — I drop my arm angle a little bit just to get a little more sweeping action on the back foot to a lefty. I just felt that I could do the same thing with the same pitch. I basically threw those other pitches out.

There’s no question that Hughes has really turned things around since I basically wrote him off for good earlier this season, and ditching the cutter and improving his curveball has definitely been a big part of that. For more, go read the whole thing. Continue reading Phil Hughes Q&A with Fangraphs

Mendoza to manage in AFL

Rosters for the Arizona Fall League aren’t announced until August, but the Yankees’ organization already has one representative slated to go to the dessert, as Charleston Riverdogs’ manager Carlos Mendoza will be managing the Scottsdale Scorpions, the team the Yankees’ minor leaguers will be playing for. Which farm hands join him will be pretty interesting to see, as the Yankees’ top position prospects are already getting their first taste of a full season schedule, so I assume the team won’t send them off for even more action. Someone like Slade Heathcott, however, could get some additional work in by going out to Arizona. Continue reading Mendoza to manage in AFL

Joba update

Joba Chamberlain pitched in back to back games for the Tampa Yankees earlier this week, clearing the last major hurdle on his route back to the big leagues following Tommy John surgery and a dislocated ankle, but Brian Cashman would only say that Joba is “close” to returning to the big league roster. As of now, the plan appears to be for Joba to throw a bullpen session in New York for the big league coaches today, and to make at least one more rehab appearance Sunday in either Double-A or Triple-A. If everything goes well this weekend, Joba could presumably be ready to go as early as Monday. It would have been cool to see him make his triumphant return against the Red Sox, but I just can’t wait to see him back on the Yankee Stadium mound, no matter who the opponent is.
Continue reading Joba update

PITCHf/x Scouting Report: Josh Johnson

The starting pitcher market is beginning to dwindle down as we reach the July 31st trade deadline. Cole Hamels has already agreed to an extension with the Phillies, Wandy Rordiguez is now pitching in Pittsburgh, and Ryan Dempster is on the verge of moving to Los Angeles. Amongst other trades, the Marlins have parted with Hanley Ramirez, Omar Infante, and Anibal Sanchez, and the club appears poised to trade away the remainder of their bulky contracts. Starter Josh Johnson may be the next to go, and the Yankees could be in play if they’re in the market for a top Continue reading PITCHf/x Scouting Report: Josh Johnson

Recommended reading: Friday

Here’s some morning reading t get you ready this weekend’s series with Boston:

  • Joel Sherman writes that Jon Lester and Josh Beckett will be the keys to determining if Boston can turn their season around.
  • ESPN New York’s Wallace Matthews writes that the Red Sox, just three games out of second place in the A.L. East and boasting the division’s second best run differential, are “doormats,” and essentially no longer worthy of calling themselves the Yankees’ rivals. Oy.
  • Ichiro Suzuki, and some of his new teammates, discuss his upcoming debut in pinstripes at Yankee Stadium.
  • ESPN’s Jayson Stark passes along some trade deadline rumors, including the idea that the Yankees could pick up Colorado’s Marco Scutaro as a “fallback” option to San Diego’s Chase Headley. Speaking of Headley, the Padres are attempting to give the impression that they’re willing to keep their third baseman, and Stark reports that they’re looking for a return similar to the one they got for Mat Latos. Chalk this up as one more reason I don’t think Headley is a realistic option for the Yankees this summer.

Continue reading Recommended reading: Friday