Josh Phelps can help this team

When can Hughes help?
Reflections on the end of the Steinbrenner era

You might have read this already, you might not have (and you might not have the subscription that is required to do so), but Baseball Prospectus ran an article back in December on the career of Josh Phelps. Instead of just glossing over the numbers, Marc Normandin tries to put them into context and tries to explain why Phelps was disappointing at times on the major league level.

For instance, he was a terrible disappointment for Toronto in 2004, but he sported an ungodly low he .276 average on balls in play, which is in stark contrast to his expected level of .317 (based on the percentage of line drives he hit). Then you have 2005 with Tampa, when Sweet Lou handed him a mere 177 plate appearances. His 2006 season in AAA for the Tigers looked stellar, as he posted .308/.370/.532 averages. In addition, he walked in 7.2 percent of his plate appearances, hit a line drive in a little over 20 percent, and got his groundball percentage down to around 40.

He obviously has the skills to succeed, but has faced a few unlucky breaks — injuries included. I don’t think that Phelps is beyond repair by any sense. In fact, if he can translate some of the skills he displayed in AAA to the major league level and stay healthy, he’ll contribute far more to the 2007 Yankees than Andy Phillips and Doug Mientkiewicz.

Then again, I may be over-arguing here. Does anyone really think that Phillips or Mientkiewicz can make a meaningful contribution? And please, spare me the Pete Abraham “Minky will save an error a week.” That’s a load of anecdotal horse shit.

When can Hughes help?
Reflections on the end of the Steinbrenner era
  • Mike A.

    But Minky WILL save an error a week!

    It’s not all about preventing E’s. How many fewer batters will reach first on infield hits because Minky can actually scoop a ball out of the dirt? Countless.

    Give the “backup guys need to hit” schtick a break (no you personally Joe, just in general). There’s more than enough offense to go around, as you can see from last year w/o MAtsui and Sheff.

    • Joseph P.

      Ah, but when Matsui and Sheff were out last year, Melky and Bernie were able to supple league-average offense (100 and 101 OPS+, respectively).

      And don’t make me go digging through game logs to see how many guys reached on an infield single last year.

  • Rob

    ManCaveItch *is* a better defender than Phelps. That’s pretty clear. Phelps may out-hit him, but will give back some of the production with his glove.

    I’d like to see the team take both Minky and Phelps north, and waive AP. That may sound cruel, given that AP has gone through a lot over the last couple of years, but luckily I wouldn’t have to be the guy to tell him he’s been put on waivers…