Happy Friday, all. I hope your week hasn’t been too stressful. Anyway, let’s get down to business. We’re all aware of Derek Jeter‘s injury situation. Opening Day has long been Jeter’s goal, but that now appears in jeopardy. Yesterday, GM Brian Cashman announced that Jeter would no longer participate in Major League Spring Training games; however, he’ll continue to play in Minor League games. As we’ve all heard by now, this is essentially a clerical “just in case.” It allows Jeter to get game action, but also allows the Yankees to retroactively place Jeter on the 15-day Disabled List in case he isn’t ready to go for Opening Day. This all makes me think that they should just place Jeter on the DL now.
The Derek Jeter we’ve all come to know and love is the guy who “shows up to work every day” and just “does his job” (and does it exceedingly well most of the time). Like any successful worker, Jeter is goal-oriented, and in this case, Opening Day readiness is the goal and he’s been steadfast in his determination to reach that goal. That effort is certainly laudable, but is this “toughness” actually a good thing? Being in the lineup on Opening Day is certainly admirable, but if Jeter isn’t field-ready by then, can’t we argue that it hurts the team just as much as–if not more than–it would if he just sat out for the first few games and returned on April 6th? Granted, Eduardo Nunez isn’t going to be any great shakes at short for those few games, but how effective would an injured Derek Jeter be? His range is already limited and now he’s got another year to his name as well as an ankle plate and some screws to match. Wouldn’t it be better to get the DL stint out of the way now rather than in May or June when he’s an absolute statue in the field and possibly unbalanced at the plate?
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We’re nearly two weeks away from opening day, and the Yankees haven’t designated a third or fourth outfielder yet. In recent days, Zoilo Almonte, Tyler Austin, and Ramon Flores have been optioned down, Adonis Garcia has suffered an injury, Matt Diaz has looked awful, and Ronnier Mustelier and Juan Rivera have been getting looks in the infield. The front office did acquire Ben Francisco earlier this week, but Cashman called him a bench option. Slade Heathcott, Thomas Neal, and Melky Mesa are all that remain.
On paper, Heathcott seems like an unlikely choice. He’s been in the Yankee system since 2009, but he has just 869 plate appearances thanks to a number of injuries. The highest level of the minor leagues he’s seen is High-A, where he hit very well this year, but would be in a rare position to jump from such a low level to the major leagues. Regardless, Brian Cashman called him a “dark horse candidate” for the outfield job. Heathcott was briefly sidelined with a thumb injury, but he’s still left a lasting impression with his defense in center field. Though he hasn’t hit, the outfielder has shown defensive tools that Cashman called major league ready. If Cashman was sincere about the organization’s evaluation on Heathcott, the left-hander seems to offer everything you’d want on defense, and upside in the bat. The only problem is that you risk some developmental time in the minor leagues, and there’s always worry about a player’s confidence if they fail.
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When I happen to be in my car during a Yankee game, listening on the radio, I’m surprised by just how often the Yankees face a “really good hitter.” That isn’t a distinction that I give out, but the radio voices of the team, John Sterling and Suzyn Waldman, sprinkle that phrase on batters quite liberally over the courses of the games and the season. One player they happen to lavish this praise upon is the now former Detroit Tiger, Brennan Boesch. John and Suzyn sure do love this guy and they even discussed it briefly last night during the game against the Phillies. Both commentators, of course, wanted the Yankees to give Boesch a shot. To their credit, they usually see Boesch rake against the Yankees. He owns a career line against the Bombers of .363/.369/.538/.907 with 3 home runs in 84 plate appearances. However, that is most definitely not an accurate picture of Boesch.
After hitting just .240/.286/.372/.659 (77 OPS+), Boesch’s career line is .259/.315/.414/.729. Now that’s certainly not terrible, but it’s not something that will solve the Yankees’ forecasted hitting woes. The only slightly interesting thing about Boesch, a lefty hitter, is that he has a reverse platoon split for his career, OPSing .717 against righties and .767 against lefties. That’s really about it. While we’re on his splits, it’s worth noting that Boesch has tended to start hot–he owns an .818 OPS in the first half for his career–and finishes cold: he has a .580 (!) OPS in the second half of the season. To me, this says that while Boesch gets off on the right foot, the pitchers are quickly able to knock him off of that foot and Boesch is unable to make adjustments. Given all of this, like Mike said yesterday, Boesch would be more of a project than a player of value. Signing Boesch to anything other than a minor league deal would be making a move for the sake of making a move, and we all know that doesn’t exactly work as a strategy. For whatever reason, though, he has some name cache among Yankee fans, probably because he’s happened to hit them well. Given Boesch’s profile–or lack thereof–I’d rather the Yankees just go to Zoilo Almonte if Melky Mesa–who’s seemingly won the open outfield job–can’t perform up to snuff. At least Almonte can switch hit and has flashed lots of power against righties in his minor league time.
With Curtis Granderson down and out for ten weeks or so, the Yankees have a hole in left field. No injury can have an upside though there can be silver linings. “Luckily,” a lot of Granderson’s rehab time will be taken up by Spring Training and he’ll be back in early May. But on that [...]
(The following is being syndicated from An A-Blog for A-Rod) There wasn’t much reaction to the Yankees calling up Melky Mesa on Monday. With Mark Teixeira expected to miss 2 weeks and there being plenty of position player depth on the active roster, the move looked like nothing more than adding a warm insurance bench [...]
A darkhorse in the minor leagues is a player who is talented, but flying under the radar. Most have yet to truly break out. I think that quite a few of these prospects are lurking deep down in the Yankee system. Here are the five which I think are most worth watching in 2012, in [...]
I was able to watch the whole Spring Training game last night and I thought I’d drop a few thoughts about the game, mostly just about two players. Bartolo Colon looked good. Damn good. If we’re going to go with this whole start-by-start, then as of right now, he’s clearly got a spot in the [...]
4 years ago, the Yankee farm system was enjoying its first revival in half a decade. After years of terrible drafts and an overall barren system, the Yankees managed to very quickly add to the top of their farm system and become one of the best organizations in baseball, at least temporarily. I decided to [...]
Baseball Prospectus recently published their annual book which is a must read for baseball fans. They’ve also been rolling out some changes to their stats, many of which show up in the annual. The biggest change is their fielding metric, FRAA which you can find out about here. Using FRAA and TAv, or true average [...]