Is there anything or anyone out there?

The Hot Stove season is far from over. There are still over 40 days until pitchers and catchers report to Florida and Arizona for Spring Training, so there is still plenty of time for deals to get done. Despite that, the Yankees seem to have a fairly complete roster. With the re-signing of Ichrio Suzuki, the outfield is set and with the signing of Kevin Youkilis, the infield is set. The top of the bullpen is set, even with the departure of Rafael Soriano and the rotation is more or less set. The one spot that doesn’t seem to be settled is the DH spot. Matt Diaz recently signed a minor league deal and has a chance to be the DH vs. LHP, but can the Yankees do better? What about the other side of the DH platoon?

There is a more important question to pose, though. What exactly do the Yankees want out of the DH? As recently as 2010 with Nick Johnson, and later, Lance Berkman, the team has gone with the “traditional” DH: a hitter who offers little in the way of playing a position.… Click here to read the rest

Scouting The Free Agent Market For An Ibanez Replacement

I might have watched every game this year, but it’s still hard for me to remember exactly what kind of season Raul Ibanez had in 2012. Our most recent recollection was his three ridiculously well-timed homeruns in the playoffs. For the rest season, the left handed hitter had his good moments, but also some pretty lousy ones. As expected, he was rather awful against left handed pitchers, but a .248/.319/.492 triple slash (115 wRC+) against righties more than made up for it.

Unfortunately, once the Yankees lost Brett Gardner for nearly the entire season, Ibanez saw much more defensive playing time than expected. The 40 year old actually manned 90 games in the outfield, and started nearly half of the regular season games. It’s not a fact, but the extra work apparently caught up to him after the allstar break, where he hit just .190/.287/.341 for the two months of the Yankees most important stretch of the year. From August 16th to September 19th, Ibanez recorded a total of 3 hits over 60 plate appearances.… Click here to read the rest

2010 Season in Review: The Designated Hitter

The Yankees have had a looming designated hitter opening ever since Hideki Matsui‘s knees stopped working. After much unpopular speculation last offseason that the Yankees would forgo a permanent DH and rotate some of their aging superstars through the position instead, the team signed Nick Johnson.

Nick the Stick seemed like an ideal candidate. He was relatively cheap. He got on base better than just about everyone else in baseball (.402 career OBP), making him a perfect fit for the Yankees’ high-OBP, patient offensive approach. He was injury prone, so he wouldn’t have much leverage to push back if the team wanted to slot Jorge Posada or Alex Rodriguez at his position for a game or two.

Johnson disappointed immediately:

Johnson walked as much the team expected, probably more, in fact, but an abnormally low BABIP limited his overall value. If he didn’t walk, he was an automatic out in the month of April, and was reduced to a measly .305 wOBA.… Click here to read the rest

News Day: Pettitte, Arbitration Decisions, MVP, Cashman (Update)

Today was a day loaded with news, so let’s dive right in.

1) Ken Davidoff is reporting that Andy Pettitte is leaning towards a return to the Yankees in 2011. This is fantastic news, as it makes the Yankees a bit less reliant on signing Cliff Lee and means that they are likely to be at least as good in the rotation this coming year as they were last season.

2) The Yankees are going to offer arbitration to Kerry Wood and Javy Vazquez, but not Derek Jeter. The Jeter decision likely stems from a fear that he would accept it and make 18-22 million dollars next year, although it may have just been a good faith effort to show Jeter that they are committed to reaching a long-term agreement with him and do not want to unnecessarily injure his bargaining position. Javy has already agreed to decline arbitration, meaning the club will gain a supplemental draft pick once he signs with another club.… Click here to read the rest

What about Vlad, and other Yankee DH possibilities

With yet another long-coveted (by me) hitter hitting the free agent market, I’d be remiss if I didn’t at least broach the idea of the Yankees signing Vladimir Guerrero — who recently had his $9M 2011 option rightly declined by the Rangers — to be their DH, assuming the Yankees pass on my boy Adam Dunn. I know Mike Axisa threw cold water all over this idea the other day, but I think it merits further exploration. Vlad may have gone ice cold in the second half and postseason after a lightning-hot start, but there may still be some life left in that bat.

While I imagine the Rangers will try to re-sign him at a discount, it remains to be seen whether Vlad will have Johnny Damon/Hideki Matsui-itis and not be able to swallow his pride and return to his team at a lesser pay grade. At the very least it seems like it’d be worth seeing what it might take to get Vlad on a one-year deal.… Click here to read the rest

Yankees fight back yet again, beat Twins 5-2 to take 2-0 ALDS lead

The Minnesota Twins really might want to think about letting the Yankees score first one of these postseason games. The Yankees beat the Twins 5-2 in Minnesota to take a commanding 2-0 lead in the 2010 American League Division Series, marking not only their eighth straight win against the Twins in postseason play, but their eighth straight come-from-behind win against the Twins in postseason play.

Andy Pettitte was everything the Yankees could’ve asked for and then some, throwing seven innings of five-hit, two-run ball, and only using 88 pitches to do it. Talk about efficiency. On the other side of the ledger, the Yankees proved me wrong and finally touched Carl Pavano up, hitting the moustache up for four runs over six-plus innings, including a mammoth Lance Berkman go-ahead solo home run and huge RBI double that scored Jorge Posada from first base. If there was anyone left in Yankeeland inexplicably dissatisfied with Big Puma — who has done nothing but get on base, take great at-bats and now knock in two tremendous postseason runs — those fools no longer exist.… Click here to read the rest

Where'd Puma's power go?

In Yankeeist’s August Monthly Wrap-Up I noted that the Yankees’ offensive fortunes would improve with the return of a healthy and effective Alex Rodriguez and Lance Berkman. Thus far Alex has more than lived up to his end of the bargain, slaughtering his ZiPS RoS projection on September 1 of .272/.364/.489 to the tune of .356/.423/.667. Berkman was projected to go .262/.380/.464 with four home runs in September, and thus far he’s hit .364/.451/.409 with no home runs.

I don’t mean to ride Berkman too hard, especially since he’s clearly been one of the Yankees’ better hitters during the month of September. However, after watching him hit for nearly 100 plate appearances as a Yankee, half of which have come in September, I can’t help but wonder where his power’s gone.

Part of the reason is due to his batted ball profile — as a Yankee he’s hitting line drives 15.5% of the time (compared to 19.7% for his career), ground balls 52.1% of the time (42.4% career) and fly balls 32.4% of the time (37.9% career).… Click here to read the rest

Berkman's Mechanics Against Lefties

When the Yankees traded for Lance Berkman, many wondered whether they would give him a chance to hit against left-handed pitching, considering his deterioration in that area over the last few seasons. With a lefty-mashing player in Marcus Thames at his disposal, Joe Girardi has answered that question with an emphatic “no.” It seems pretty clear at this point that Berkman is unlikely to see any important at-bats against lefties in the postseason, as he will platoon with Thames and be pinch hit for if a lefty reliever enters the game. In fact, Joe has shown that if a lefty is on the hill, he would prefer to substitute Thames for Berkman even if it means that the opposing manager will change pitchers and bring in a righty to battle Thames.

Being that Lance had always been adequate against left-handers, some have been searching for a way to explain his inability to hit them over the last few seasons. At the request of friend-of-the-blog Jamal Granger (@JamalGr), I reached out to Steve Carter (@SteveCarterPP), senior scout at Project Prospect, to ask if he could see anything different in Berkman’s swing from the right side.… Click here to read the rest

Second-guessing the manager

Less than a day after writing a post absolving Joe Girardi of any wrongdoing in the Yankees’ 8-7 win, last night came another tough one-run loss featuring a handful of moves — or really, non-moves — by Girardi that were questionable.

This time the primary issue revolved around pinch-hitting, or the lack thereof. In the eighth, Girardi elected to pinch-hit for Lance Berkman, who would’ve been forced to turn around and bat from his far inferior right side, for Marcus Thames. As bad as Berkman is from the right side (.247 wOBA), and as unexpectedly good as Thames has been against righties (.398 wOBA), lifting Berkman in this situation made zero sense considering that the utterly useless Austin Kearns and Colin Curtis — who, as noted in the recap, combined to go 3-21 against Tampa, including 1-8 last night with five stranded baserunners (and in reality it was actually 10 when you add up their cumulative stranded baserunner total) — would each be coming to the plate one hitter later.… Click here to read the rest