Going Into 2011, Yankee Bench Looking Strong

There are two things a bench has to do well in the American League: fill in for resting/day-to-day regulars, and provide an advantage in a narrow band of situations in the middle of games. The Yankees are going into this season with Eric Chavez, Eduardo Nunez, Andruw Jones, and Francisco Cervelli (once he’s healthy) to fill those bench spot. I think its the best group they’ve put together in a very long time.

In the narrow band of in-game situations, the Yankees come out quite well. Andruw Jones and Eric Chavez will take almost all of the pinch hitting appearances. They both have a history of mashing opposite-side pitchers. Chavez has a 112 OPS+ against right-handed pitchers, while Jones has a 110 OPS+ for his career and 148 OPS+ last season. They are probably the best pinch hitting duo to start the season with the Yankees since Kenny Lofton and Ruben Sierra in 2004. The Yankees shouldn’t have a lot of opportunities for the two of them, but we can be pretty confident that they will do a decent job when it counts.… Click here to read the rest

Predicting The 2011 Opening Day Roster, Take 2

Joe Girardi is expected to finalize the Opening Day roster tomorrow, so I thought today would be a good time to predict what his roster will look like. Of course, most of the roster has already been announced, so this should be a fairly simple exercise. Here is my first try at the roster, written 10 days ago. There is just one change, but injuries might alter the roster further.

Everyday Players

C Russell Martin
1B Mark Teixeira
2B Robinson Cano
SS Derek Jeter
3B Alex Rodriguez
LF Brett Gardner
CF Curtis Granderson
RF Nick Swisher
DH Jorge Posada

Bench

BUC Gustavo Molina
OF/PH Andruw Jones
UIF Eduardo Nunez
IF Eric Chavez

The only change can be seen on the bench, where Molina looks to be the favorite for a spot that was assumed to be Montero’s. I would like to see Jesus get the spot regardless of his struggles, but I can understand stashing him in the minors until his bat heats up.… Click here to read the rest

Predicting The 2011 Opening Day Roster, Take 1

With Opening Day just two weeks away and players being cut on a daily basis, the makeup of the Opening Day roster is becoming exceedingly clearer. Let’s take our first stab at predicting the final 25 that the Yankees will take north with them:

Everyday Players

C Russell Martin
1B Mark Teixeira
2B Robinson Cano
SS Derek Jeter
3B Alex Rodriguez
LF Brett Gardner
CF Curtis Granderson
RF Nick Swisher
DH Jorge Posada

There are no surprises here, as all of these players were handed jobs before camp started and did nothing to lose them. I have not noticed Martin behind the plate at all, which is a very good sign when discussing catcher defense. He should be able to ward off Jesus Montero for the time being.

Bench

BUC Jesus Montero
OF/PH Andruw Jones
UIF Eduardo Nunez
IF Eric Chavez

As Larry noted yesterday, this is one of the strongest benches that the Yankees have fielded in a long time, assuming that Chavez remains healthy.… Click here to read the rest

PECOTA on the Bench

A couple of weeks ago we looked what CAIRO, the projection system, had to say about the Yankees bench. Now we’ll take a look at PECOTA, Baseball Prospectus’s projection system. Keep in mind that these numbers ARE park adjusted.

LASTNAME FIRSTNAME BATS POS PA HR RBI SB AVG OBP SLG
Jones Andruw R CF 455 21 55 7 0.224 0.326 0.431
Cervelli Francisco R C 450 5 40 3 0.257 0.325 0.354
Bernadina Roger L CF 450 8 46 21 0.26 0.321 0.382
Laird Brandon R 3B 539 20 67 1 0.25 0.293 0.421
Russo Kevin R 2B 450 4 37 10 0.25 0.314 0.334
Belliard Ronnie R 2B 450 9 45 4 0.249 0.311 0.371
Nunez Eduardo S SS 496 7 49 15 0.268 0.299 0.365
Pena Ramiro S SS 450 5 38 9 0.241 0.287 0.326
Chavez Eric L 3B 450 10 43 2 0.223 0.293 0.353
Curtis Colin L LF 486 8 46 3 0.239 0.299 0.353
Golson Gregory R CF 480 9 47 15 0.24 0.281 0.354

The Yankees will almost certainly break camp with Andruw Jones and Frankie Cervelli.… Click here to read the rest

CAIRO on the Bench

CAIRO is the projection system set up by SG, the man behind the curtain over at Replacement Level Yankee Weblog. Since it’s pretty dead out there right now, I figured we could take a look at some bench candidates and how they might project in 2011.

Now to be fair, projecting players who have yet to play in the majors is extremely difficult. In the past I have tried to take a “rolling average” concept to these projections and come up with a ballpark number for each prospect. It’s just too difficult to tell exactly how someone will transition to the major leagues. So keep that in mind as we look ahead.

NAME POS PA SB HR AVG OBP SLG wOBA BRAR
Montero C 508 1 18 .261 .326 .446 .337 24
Adams 2B 386 6 6 .240 .314 .373 .306 6
Nunez SS 528 19 7 .257 .296 .350 .286 6
Romine C 502 4 10 .238 .281 .362 .283 6
Pena SS/3B 324 7 3 .244 .290 .324 .274 1
Cervelli C 292 3 2 .255 .326 .347 .303 5
Russo 2B 419 9 4 .243 .305 .328 .286 0
Curtis OF 483 4 9 .242 .303 .361 .295 -1

BRAR- Position adjusted Batting Runs Above Replacement

Much to the chagrin of Yankee fans everywhere, we know Francisco Cervelli and Ramiro Pena will probably make the team out of spring training.… Click here to read the rest

Musing About The Bench

The Yankees are on the cusp of signing veteran outfielder Andruw Jones to be the team’s first OF off of the bench. They signed Russell Martin to be the starting catcher for now, with Francisco Cervelli as the back up, and Jesus Montero on the way up. Jorge Posada will be the primary DH and could probably catch every once in a while. The team will also (likely) have Ramiro Pena and Eduardo Nunez to man the extra infield spots. Just so we can see it lined up:

OF–Andruw Jones
C–Francisco Cervelli
IF–Eduardo Nunez
IF–Ramiro Pena

Having two back up infielders may seem excessive, but the way the Yankees’ OF will be structured, I think it’s okay. All three starters are good enough both offensively and defensively that they won’t need many days off. Jones can spell one of Curtis Granderson or Brett Gardner against tough lefties and is also a balanced enough player that he wouldn’t need a replacement fielder after batting for one of those guys.… Click here to read the rest

The Legend Of Homer Bush

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Those who watch Yankees games on YES know that Michael Kay will often mention Homer Bush’s role on the 1998 Yankees whenever discussing how important good baserunning and stolen bases are, particularly from bench players. He tends to pontificate on the topic for a while, suggesting Bush was the consummate bench player and was a key cog on the 1998 Yankees. Yet a close look at the numbers suggest that Kay is misremembering the importance of Homer Bush.

Bush did hit well in his limited appearances, with a gaudy .380/.421/.465 line. However, despite being with the team all year, those numbers came in just 78 plate appearances, and he had just 4 extra base hits and 5 RBI on the season. More importantly, his baserunning was adequate at best. He was just one run better than average as a baserunner in 1998, and had just 6 stolen bases to go with 3 CS’s. In total, he was worth 0.8 wins above replacement over the regular season.… Click here to read the rest

Discussion: Hating On Bench Players

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Stephen made a comment in his post from this morning that piqued my interest. He said the following about Randy Winn:

It seems mean-spirited to hate on the backup outfielder. He is probably a very nice guy with a very nice family, and I’m sure he’s trying his best to help the team win. He might even be excited to play on the Yankees, the World Series champion Yankees, in the hopes of winning a title after toiling in obscurity for the Tampa Bay Devil Rays, the Mariners, and most recently the Giants. It’s almost enough to make me feel sorry for him; it’s certainly enough to blunt the edge of my disdain for his recent play and hope that he can turn it around soon. But Randy, could you meet us halfway? An OBP above .300 would be a nice start.

This is a refrain that I have heard more of lately, probably because the Yankees are playing so many people who would usually be backups.… Click here to read the rest

Advocating Signing Elijah Dukes, Again

I have long advocated that the Yankees give Elijah Dukes a shot on their bench. With Curtis Granderson hurt, Randy Winn struggling, and Marcus Thames occupying the DH slot, the time is right for the addition of another bat. Yes, I know the offense is just fine and that the Yankees are a playoff team without Dukes. But the difference between Dukes and Winn could make a difference in October, and unlike other external bench options, it will not cost the Yankees any players to obtain Dukes.

I outlined the pros and cons during the offseason:

PROS

1) He has plenty of talent: He had a poor 2009 that was marred by injury and a strange loss of power, but his 2008 was fantastic and suggested that he was a star in the making. I am not really sure why he fell of a cliff in 2009, but it is clear that he has the skills and athleticism to be an above average player with the bat and adequate with the glove.… Click here to read the rest