Filling the third base hole, part 1 of a lot

Yanks top defensive team in 2007?
Pettitte declines his option but...

Clearly, the Yankees have a hole at third base. They also have a few spare outfielders sitting around as well as a large stockpile of good, young prospects. Somehow, someway, this hole will be filled.

Right now, the rumors as the GM meetings begin in Orlando involve the Yankees and the White Sox. The Yankees are rumored to be interested in Joe Crede; the White Sox are intrigued by Johnny Damon. Over at The Bronx Block, EJ Fagan believes, as I do, that the Yanks can do better than Crede, and John over at Yanksfan vs. Soxfan notes the Crede-Brosius comparison.

I understand the appeal of Crede when it comes to Scott Brosius nostalgia. Crede is a glove man at third who has shown some flashes of hitting ability at the plate. Crede turns 30 in April; Brosius was 31 when he arrived in New York.

But let me tell you the dirty little secret about Scott Broisus: Despite his postseason success and career year in 1998, he wasn’t very good as a member of the Yankees.

In 1998, Brosius was an All Star for the Yanks. He hit .300/.371/.472 with a career-high 19 HR and 98 RBI. It looked like the Yanks had landed themselves an unheralded star in a lineup of top performers. But it all came crashing down after that.

From 1999-2001, Brosius hit .254/.316/.411 with 46 HR. Take out 2001, and those numbers are even worse (.239/.303/.394). Now, I loved Scotty-Bro just as much as the next Yankee fan. He was a great number nine hitter in a pretty powerful lineup.

But 2007 is not 1998. In 1998, the Yankees were trying to replace Wade Boggs. He was a great hitter, but he wasn’t the centerpiece of the lineup. In 2007, the Yankees are trying to replace their number four hitter and third baseman at the same time. There are plenty of better options out there, and the Yanks, with all of their resources, shouldn’t settle on Joe Crede this early in the offseason.

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Yanks top defensive team in 2007?
Pettitte declines his option but...
  • Pete

    Yeah, but what options are really there at 3B?

    Assume we sign Mo, Pettitte and Posada…we couldn’t sign Lowell (or A-Rod) because of the aforementioned 3 Type A signing limit.

    Now there’s the trade route, with Cabrera, Atkins and yes, Crede supposedly available. I really think the BoSox will outbid the Yanks for Cabrera (in terms of what prospects they’re comfortable trading) if Lowell asks for too much. I don’t think the Cashman will match a Bucholtz/Ellsbury package with a Hughes/Melky package. So, its not likely Cabrera heads to the Yanks.

    Secondly, reports are Colorado is pegging Atkins’ value to Cabrera’s, which is one: stupid and two: means Colorado wants a big piece back.

    Crede seems like the easiest to land, but one: I don’t think the Brosius comps are apt, and secondly I don’t think he’s brings anything that Wilson Betemit doesn’t.

    As unpopular as this seems to be, I think Betemit is our best option at 3B in 2008. And we can see what’s available in 2009. Just my opinion.

    • Count Zero

      Unless I’m totally mistaken, Pettitte picking up his player option doesn’t count towards the type A cap…

      You sign Po and Mo and have one FA signing left.

      • http://www.riveraveblues.com Ben K.

        Quick note on this: Teams can replace their Type A and B free agents with other Type A and B free agents, and they are not penalized overall.

        For example, Posada, type A, files for free agency. The Yanks are out one Type A free agent and can now sign their allotment of Type A free agents PLUS a replacement for Jorge (which can include Jorge).

        The pertinent language in the CBA reads: “Irrespective of the provisions of subparagraph (a) above, a Club shall be eligible to sign at least as many Type A and B Players as it may have lost through Players having become free agents under this Section at the close of the season just concluded.” Subparagraph (a) deals with Type A/B signing numbers.

        We can re-sign Posada and Mo and still sign three other Type A free agents. So there’s no need to worry about free agent type limits as far as I understand it.

        • Count Zero

          Thanks for clearing that up.

        • Jon

          Also, a team’s own FA which sign before the FA election deadline don’t count.

          So basically, regardless of when they sign, we can sign at least 5 type A/B FA.

          I believe in the best case (at least in terms of the # of FA that we can sign), we can sign 8 free agents. That would mean that all 5 of our existing ones sign before November 12.

          Realistically, we know ARod isn’t of course. But Rivera, Posada, and Pettitte are good possibilities, and there’s a chance about Vizcaino too (though that’s unlikely).

          So realistically we can hope for Rivera, Posada, Pettitte, and 3 more.

  • Stephen

    I think that the Crede option is viable as long as the Yanks could find someone who offers more production out of firstbase. Unless Albert Pujols suddenly became available for some reason, there’s no way to make up A-Rod’s production with one player. The answer, instead, it to try and spread that production around by finding multiple solid players.

  • mehmattski

    Of course, the Yankees don’t have to replace the third baseman and the #4 hitter at the same time… trading for Crede or Atkins and signing Barry Bonds would solve both problems. But, shh, that’s blasphemy!

    • Count Zero

      Put me in the camp that isn’t totally against Mr. Big Head as a DH.

      However, we desperately need a RH power bat somewhere in the 4-5-6 slots and BB doesn’t address that problem. Nor does Crede unless you really feel that 2006 wasn’t an aberration.

    • Rob

      I don’t understand this logic for the life of me. The Yankees have three DH’s right now – Matsui, Damon, and Giambi. So folks want them to sign another? And what? Trade Damon, release Giambi, and start Matsui in LF?

      None of that makes any sense. The Yankees led the sport in runs last year and that’s without any contribution from Giambi. An upgrade at 1B and a good find at 3B, and they’ll be fine. There is absolutely no reason to sell out to Bonds unless you’re panicking like a young child.

      • steve (different one)

        why is Damon a “DH” now?

  • Mike R.

    I wrote this over at The Bronx Block, but I think that the Yankees might be looking at Crede as an option for a 3B platoon. The original post was:

    “I think that the interest in Crede could be to serve as the RH side of a 3B platoon. Crede has a career OPS of .751 (.305 OBP .446 SLG). Betemit has a career OPS of .771 (.332 OBP .439 SLG).

    When you look at their splits it is clear that Betemit, despite his switch hitting, struggles against lefties. Over the last three years Betemit has an .841(.355 OBP .486 SLG) OPS vs RHP, and Crede has an .800 (.337 OBP .463 SLG) OPS vs LHP over that same span.

    It would make sense. Sure Beltre would be better, but it might take more to get him than the Yankees would like to give up. If all is the same give me Beltre, but in real world conditions Crede might be the better option.”

    • Count Zero

      Interesting. I knew about Betemit’s splits but didn’t realize Crede’s was just as pronounced.

      Of course, it still leaves us loogy vulnerable. I would rather have a full-time RH bat in there somewhere.

      Beltre would definitely be my first choice — Cabrera second because of the defense on the left side.

      • http://www.riveraveblues.com Ben K.

        Never ever would I take Adrian Beltre over Miguel Cabrera. There’s no comparison between the two.

        • Count Zero

          Not player against player — I fully see that.

          But if you factor in everything else? I.e., Cabrera is more expensive to trade for, Cabrera isn’t going to play 3B for very long, Cabrera and Jeter next to each other = very large holes on left side, Cabrera will soon be a very expensive FA, etc., etc.

          I would love to have Cabrera as a 1B/DH — but not at 3B.

    • Jon

      I keep saying it but I like Ensberg a lot as a platoon partner for Betemit. His splits are much more pronounced than Crede’s (actually Crede’s splits aren’t really prounounced at all).

      He is sure to be non-tendered by the Padres, I’d think. He’d cost $2M max, and wouldn’t require any players to be traded, nor any draft picks to be given up.

      I showed their 3 year splits would average out to a .869 OPS.

      • steve (different one)

        i’m not so sure he is “sure” to be non-tendered. but yeah, i would be ok with this plan.

        • Jon

          I’m pretty sure he made about $5M last year. I can’t imagine him being offered arbitration, even if the 20% pay cut is assumed. I guess there’s a chance, but why would they keep a bench player who hasn’t hit RHP in 2 years at that cost?

          • steve (different one)

            because they could tender him and trade him?

            hey, you might be right. and if he were non-tendered, i would expect the yankees to be all over that.

            the guy kills lefty pitching. i would sign him spot him at 3B and 1B with Betemit and Duncan.

            it just seems to me that a guy with a career OPS+ of 116 is not someone you give away for nothing. but who knows?

            • Jon

              Do you see teams trading for him at $4M+ though? I don’t think so, but I guess someone might. Also I don’t know if it’s valid to quote his career OPS+, because of just how much he’s fallen in the past two years. Still, I guess it’s possible someone might want to take a chance on him – it just seems to be more trouble than it’s worth for the Padres to offer arbitration, negotiate a deal (or go to arbitration, because obviously he doesn’t want a pay cut), then find a trading partner. They’ve already cut Giles – I think they want to get as much guaranteed salary off the books as soon as possible so they can make a run for some FA, Andruw Jones in particular.

      • Kanst

        I really like Ensberg as a platoon option. He kills lefties, and he isnt a butcher with the glove. He would also be a nice bench bat for when we play righties.

    • Jon

      I’d be fine with Crede as the RH side, but wouldn’t want to pay his price (in salary or whatever we trade for him) if he’s doing that. There are other much cheaper options.

  • Stephen

    Would Beltre really take that much to land? I could certainly see the Mariners being willing to cut a deal so long as the Yanks ate the salary. I’m not saying he would come for nothing but I can’t imagine that Seatle would demand a top tier prospect.

    • Jon

      Perhaps we could get Beltre for free if we took Sexson as well?

      We could have the $40M, .230 hitting DH platoon! The two-headed monster that is Giambi and Sexson!

      (actually, compared to some of the other options, that’s not a horrible idea.)

    • Rob

      Sexson is an excellent 1B. He’d be a very good short-term filler there who may just break out for a very good year. I’d very much support a trade for Beltre and Sexson but I don’t see why the M’s would do that. They contended for a while last year and any team that thinks they have a shot will look to keep the players they have.

  • steve (different one)

    who would play 3B for the mariners next year?

    beltre is not really that overpaid in the current environment. he is their starting 3Bman, and contrary to popular opinion, the Mariners WILL need to field a baseball team in 2008.

    what is the Mariner’s incentive to trade Beltre if they are not getting back good prospects/players?

    not every team exists solely to help the Yankees fill their holes.

    • Jon

      I don’t think Beltre is overpaid at all. He’d should get a 2 year deal for $24M if he were a FA.

      Their incentive would be us taking Sexson, who they would surely give away for free (I believe the reports on him being claimed and pulled back last year were false).

      Now yes, that creates a hole in the lineup, and they’d have to be confident they can fill it before making the trade. But just because they’d lose offense doesn’t mean it doesn’t make sense. Trades like that happen all the time. Manny was put on irrevocable waivers, remember? If he left Boston there’d be a huge whole in that lineup too, but the financial relief was worth it for the Sox.

      All of the suggestions that we’re making for the Yankees could be made for the Mariners as well. How about $40M for Lowell over 3 years? Surely that would be better than $36M for 3 player-seasons of Sexson and Beltre.

      I’m not saying that Lowell is even a possibility, but just that there are options to replace the lost offense that are reasonable. A package for Cabrera involving Jones and Clement could be possible as well.

  • Steve S

    I think there is no way to replace Arod’s offense in this offseason. One they dont have enough open positions to improve upon. Richie Sexson and Crede are fine, only in the fact that they improve the defense immeasurably. Plus they add some right handed balance. The need to focus on the pitching, you are not going to get great production out of third, so the next logical step is get someone who can catch the ball and then add some pitching. I also think they should avoid long term commitments, thats why Lowell should not be an option. Crede could be a one year try out. Additionally, the Yankee season will rest on Hughes, Chamberlain, Kennedy, and the kids who get spots in the bullpen. And that goes even if Arod were coming back. I think the only discussion should be about Santana and what it would take, because he is the one guy who can have an immediate and long term impact. I would say the same about Cabrera but if you are going to give up young pitching to get him, than you should just sink $350M into Arod and keep the pitching.

  • Chris

    As I’ve been advocating here for the past couple of days, Cabrera fits all of the Yanks’ long-term needs, and they would be foolish not to at least shop Hughes in a trade for him.

    • steve (different one)

      except he doesn’t fill their need at 3B b/c he is an absolute disaster defensively.

    • Jon

      What’s long-term? 2 years? That’s all he’s signed for. And it’s not as if he’s a super bargain either – he’ll make about $25M over those two years, and then get an extension for about $20M per season. So he fills our long term needs about as well as ARod does.

      Combined with all the documented problems with him (weight, attitude, poor defense, etc.) it just doesn’t make sense to trade a potential ace under our control for 5 more years, plus more key players for him.

      There’s no need to replace ALL the offense that ARod provided. Our pitching will be better, odds are we’ll be more healthy, and the rest of the offense should be about the same (and possibly could improve slightly, since the only hitter likely to decline will be Posada).

      • http://www.riveraveblues.com Ben K.

        I’d say Cabrera, being 8 years younger than A-Rod, feels our long-term needs much better than A-Rod does.

        • Mike R.

          I agree with you because even if he has to move to first in a couple of years he iis still filling a need, but are you willing to give up the players/prospects it will probably take to land him? Would you rather have Cabrera or Santana? Which helps your long term plans more? They would probably require similar packages.

  • Chris

    According to BP at least, he’s not an absolute disaster defensively.

    There is no reason to think that the Yanks won’t be able to sign him after the two years are up; in any event, they can address it at that time. Through this point in his career, Cabrera is a lock first-ballot HOF. In fact, through 24, his numbers are as good or better than A-Rod’s in some respects. And, as noted, he’s only 24.

    A position player of this caliber is always more valuable than a pitcher, particularly a pitcher that we’re only speculating may be an ace.

    And, yeah, Cabrera only fills our long term needs as well as A-Rod does. And I’d say that cuts in favor of signing him, wouldn’t you? The money is no object.

    • Chris

      I forgot to add: A-Rod is precisely ONE spot ahead of Cabrera in ZR. They’re both not extraordinarily great defenders, but it’s not like the world ends if Cabrera is in the corner.

      And Cabrera is two spots ahead of Atkins, who some on this board are saying the Yanks should pick up. . . .

      • Kanst

        I hate the Cabrera idea. He will require way more then he is worth in a trade. As a third baseman, hes a first baseman. Here is how he does in a number of different measures:
        Errors 3rd
        Fielding %- 3rd to last
        Zone Rating- 2nd to last
        RZR – 6th to last
        Plus Minus- 3rd to last
        UZR- Last

        He has little range and even when he does get there he is sloppy. All of this and he is still getting bigger. He should be a first baseman next year, forget about the future.

        As a hitter he is one of the best but his defense negates some of that. I would trade Melky, IPK and another prospect for him but I wouldnt give them Hughes.

        As far is position players being more valuable then hitters I am not sure. A run saved is worth the same as a run scored

        • http://www.riveraveblues.com Ben K.

          As far is position players being more valuable then hitters I am not sure. A run saved is worth the same as a run scored

          All Star position players play just about every day. Starting pitchers go once every five days. It’s not even close really. During a 162-game season, it’s much more important to have better position players.

          • Jon

            The question about which is more valuable is often debated and still remains an open question. Obviously, it depends on the quality of a the starter vs. the quality of the hitter (nobody would say that a pitcher who through a shutout every single time is not better than any hitter, for example).

            Ben’s argument is a common one, but it doesn’t address the increased effect that a starter has on a game when he pitches. Is it reasonable to say that a starter has 5X the effect on a game that a hitter does? Maybe.

            If you like WPA, the top hitters always have much higher scores than the top pitchers. But if you look at from a runs created/prevented standpoint, it gets a lot cloudier.

            Consider ARod’s season this year. According to BP, he was 68 runs above average offensively.

            Now how about a starter? The average starting ERA was 4.64 this year. Take a starter with an ERA of 3, assume he pitches 6 2/3 innings per start, and makes 35 starts. That makes him about (4.64-3)*6.66/9*35 runs above average, or about 43 runs.

            But if you’re taking ARod’s 2007, it’s only fair to take a similar season from a starter – an ERA of about 2.50 seems to be a reasonable equivalent. That would result in a gain of 55 runs from the average, much closer.

            Now let’s take Cabrera – 49 runs above average. If we maintain our assumptions about starts per season and innings per start, a starter would need to have an ERA of about 2.75 to be worth the same in terms of runs allowed.

            There are a few other factors here – 1, I’m only looking at ERA. Since good starters allow fewer unearned runs also, that pushing things in their favor a bit. Also, and this is much harder to quantify, there is the “good pitching beats good hitting” adage.

            Anyway, the evidence does suggest that only a handful of starters are better than a Cabrera-like hitter each year. But if we’re comparing Hughes and Cabrera, there are a many other factors to consider – namely salary and length of time under control.

            • Chris

              Jon, you’re ignoring the defensive contributions of position players. You should also, as you pointed out, be using RA as well.

              But let’s take your numbers at face value, though. Not a single starting pitcher in the AL last year finished the season with an ERA under 3. Thus, Cabrera at an equivalent of 2.75 ERA, > all AL starting pitchers. ARod even more so.

              /sarcasm

              Anyway, Cabrera is a proven clutch performer! He’s got two rings already! Remember 2003! Let’s take a cue from my beloved Islanders and sign him to a 15-year contract. He’s plainly worth more than A-Rod.

    • steve (different one)

      i’d love to have cabrera, but i am not sure i want to trade elite talent and then give him a $200M contract. i’d sooner wait and see if he hits FA, which i think he probably will.

      FWIW, BP’s defensive numbers are not very useful, they are not based on play-by-play data.

      • Chris

        Maybe not, but they’re very close in terms of ZR as well.

        Cabrera is elite talent; Hughes is an elite prospect. It’s a no-brainer to me that you take the young, elite HOF talent over the prospect if you have the chance to do so. In all substantial likelihood, Phil Hughes will not be a HOF pitcher.

        • http://riveraveblues.com Mike A.

          In all substantial likelihood, Phil Hughes will not be a HOF pitcher.

          Blasphemy!

      • http://jeteupthemiddle.blogspot.com Jeteupthemiddle

        Sigh, I have a real job now and always miss the fun discussions.

        Anyway, I wanted to throw in my two cents.

        Betemit for third base, and upgrade first base with James Loney of the Dodgers. They want Nomar at first, so they may be willing to trade him. I would give them Ian Kennedy and possibly a second tier prospect for him. Yankees get a good young first baseman. Dodgers get a young, cheap starting pitcher whom Joe Torre appears comfortable with.

        Seems win/win to me.

        Of course, Loney is still under team control and still makes peanuts, so the Dodgers may (probably?) want more than Kennedy…or they may not be willing to trade him at all.

        • http://jeteupthemiddle.blogspot.com Jeteupthemiddle

          Oops…this was totally not supposed to go here.

  • Mike R.

    Patience and pitching is what the Yankees need. They need to think of short term solutions that do not adversely affect their long term plans. They need to go out and get the best 3B they can without giving up any talented young pitchers (That includes Horne). They need to sign players that won’t be a contractual burden on the team come 2010 and 2011.

    Just a thought…Hideki Matsui loves Torre and vice versa. Los Angeles has a larger Japanese community than NY. Ned Colleti wants veteran help based on all reports. Any chance we can move Matsui to the Dodgers for anything. Maybe send him and another piece of value for Andy LaRoche? That would help our 3B problem.

    • Chris

      Put it this way: would you trade, say, Phil Hughes + a couple mid-level prospects for A-Rod at 24?

      • Mike R.

        A-Rod is one of the hardest working players in the game. I have read this from more than one source. He was the first guy to arrive at the park to work on different drills and to go through his exercise program.

        Cabrera is reportedly lazy and undisciplined. I have also read this from more than one source. He is often late to meetings, does not like to work out and is putting on weight like crazy.

        If Cabrera had A-Rod’s work ethic it would be a no-brainer, but let me turn the tables. Do you think that Phil Hughes and a couple of prospects would land you A-Rod at 24 or any age?

        • Chris

          And yet given Cabrera’s supposed poor work habits, he’s still matched A-Rod’s production through the age of 24 almost exactly. Imagine if he applied himself, then.

          I think that Phil Hughes + some prospects could get Cabrera/ARod @24 from the Marlins, who either can’t or won’t pay him the money he’d get on the FA market. With their depth of young prospects, particularly pitching prospects, the Yankees are in a unique position to offer the Marlins what they want: talent that will remain cheap for several years. Keep in mind, a trade for an established star isn’t really in the books for the Marlins because an established star will come with a hefty price tag, and at least some of the motivation for getting rid of Cabrera will be salary-dumping. That and they’d never, ever be able to sign him once he goes FA.

          • Mike R.

            He matched his offensive production with his poor work habits because weight doesn’t affect offensive production as much as the defense. As Steve points out below A-Rod was a gold glove winning SS. Add to that the fact that odds a more in favor of A-Rod staying healthy than they are in favor of Cabrera. When you are thinking long term you have to take many more factors into account.

            • Chris

              Again, I have to point out that ARod and Cabrera have almost identical 3B numbers.

              I agree on the weight issue with respect to long-term health, though. But I’d imagine that being a major star in NY and being constantly in the spotlight would help motivate him. He can walk around Florida right now, I’m sure, and nobody would even know: (1) who he is; and (2) that they have a baseball team in the state in any event.

      • steve (different one)

        i understand your argument and in some ways i agree that Hughes for Cabrera is pretty lopsided in favor of the yankees.

        but A-Rod at 24 was a gold glove SS. Cabrera is a poor defensive 3Bman.

        A-Rod at 24 may have been one of the most valuable properties in baseball history. Cabrera is an elite talent, but he gave back a lot of the runs he produced with his bat on defense.

        i would want the yankees to open the vault for him in 2 years as their 1Bman of the next 10 years. but i don’t think i’d want to trade Hughes+ for him AND have to give him the contract.

        and i am fairly confident he will make it to free agency.

        • http://www.riveraveblues.com Ben K.

          There are too many rampant generalizations about defense going on around here. No matter how bad Cabrera is in the field – and by all accounts he’s about average – he’s not giving back as many runs as his .320/.401/.565 numbers give to the team. He would have to be absolutely AWFUL in the field to give back that many runs. To even say that he’s giving back a lot of the runs isn’t really accurate either.

          Sure, Cabrera is not a Gold Glove infielder, and he’s probably better suited for 1B than for 3B, but he’s a fantastic bat. And the last I checked, the Yanks need a first baseman as well.

          • Chris

            Amen.

          • Mike R.

            Has anyone taken into account the wins that Cabrera represents versus Beltre and the wins Hughes represents versus Mussina. Cabrera is a huge improvement over Beltre (offensively speaking) but is it worth Hughes? I don’t know. Maybe Hughes has a mediocre year next year, maybe he gets hurt, but maybe Cabrera gets hurt, maybe he has trouble adapting to the AL East. There are uncertainties on both sides. Of course Hughes has more because of a lack of track record, but we shouldn’t take one into account and not the other.

          • steve (different one)

            except i never said he gave back ALL of the runs.

            and he is well below average.

        • Chris

          Why do you think he’ll make it to FA? The Marlins have a well-established track record of NOT letting their young stars make it FA when the team is then guaranteed to get nothing in return.

          The Yanks should pull the trigger now, if they can. What if Hughes has a mediocre year? His stock plummets and that makes a trade even more costly or less likely.

          It’s true that A-Rod as a gold glove SS; fair enough, but we’re talking about A-Rod the 3B version now, and he’s scarcely better than Cabrera. It’s folly to say that Cabrera gave up a lot of runs that he produced; he’s simply not that bad a defender — check the numbers.

          • steve (different one)

            i am not saying he won’t be traded, i am saying he will still become a FA even if he is traded this offseason.

            why? because there are few teams that will be able to trade for him and then give him the type of extension he would command.

            it COULD happen i guess.

            but i think he is baseball’s next $200M man, and he would be foolish to forego the bidding war created by FA.

        • Kanst

          Right now Miguel Cabrera is the same as Manny Ramirez. They are one of a kind hitters who are butchers in the field. Wait two years and then Miguel will also be a contractual nightmare.

          Also I would argue that in this landscape good young pitching is much more valuable then great young hitting. Just look at free agency, the best pitcher you can sign this year is probably Curt Schilling who is 40 and not that good. However on the hitting side you could snag a Lowell or A-Rod or Andruw Jones.

          Very good hitters become free agents all the time, very good pitchers rarely ever do. So in the essence a solid #2-#3 starter at the league minimum may be almost as valuable as a top 3 third baseman making 10+ million.

          • http://www.riveraveblues.com Ben K.

            Mike Lowell, as we discussed last week, would not be a good hitter in New York. His success this year was largely a product of Fenway. I don’t want him in New York at all at age 34 and beyond.

          • Chris

            That’s lunacy. Simply put, there are hardly ever hitters of Cabrera’s caliber on the market — and when there are, they ask for $350m contracts.

            Granted, it’s true that pitching has started to command more a premium lately, but the Yanks are stacked with young pitching prospects coming down the pipe and will likely continue to draft pitchers in gross. Against that backdrop, I honestly can’t see the case for not going after Cabrera. Unless you don’t like winning.

            • steve (different one)

              i want to be clear that i think the yankees should go all out to get him as a FA. i absolutely want him in pinstripes.

              i would also want to trade for him if that trade could be completed without Joba, Phil, or Cano. everyone else is fair game. but it probably can’t.

              that is all i am saying.

            • Kanst

              What are the Yankees better off with next year:
              Phil Hughes and Wilson Betemit/platoon partnet

              or

              Miguel Cabrera and Carlos Silva?

              The top option will cost a couple million (3-4) the bottom option will cost 20+ million. Will the bottom two produce 6-7 times more? You have to look at the total picture here, trading Hughes for Cabrera just makes our pitching and defense a lot worse and costs a lot more. Not to mention if we want cabrera it is going to take more then just Hughes, it will probably also take Melky and another prospect. I think at the price Cabrera will cost in terms of money and talent it isnt worth it.

              • http://www.riveraveblues.com Ben K.

                That’s a false dichotomy.

                The Yankees options aren’t Phil Hughes + crappy third base platoon or Cabrera + crappy pitcher. In reality, it’s somewhere in between.

                • Kanst

                  I dont think its false at all. Carlos Silva is pretty much the best free agent option available at starting pitcher (other then big mouth schilling).

                  As for third base, yes the Yanks will probably find someone better then Betemit but I needed an option to compare Miguel Cabrera to.

          • Chris

            And who is the best hitter on the FA market this off-season . . . .?

            • Mike R.

              Uuuum… A-Rod

              • Mike R.

                Posada?

                • Mike R.

                  Bonds?

                  • Chris

                    Is this the first year of Bonds’ career that he’s been a FA? At the age of 45? I think that proves my point pretty well.

                    And as for ARod, you can have him for the low, low price of $350m! I thought you said it was easier to get hitting?

                    • Mike R.

                      I never said it was easier that was someone else, i was just answering your question. In Kanst’s defense he said it was easier to get hitting via FA than pitching via FA. The truth is that he is correct. The top hitter is A-Rod and the top pitcher is Schilling. The hitting crop is much better than the pitching.

                    • Kanst

                      Thanks, that was the point I was trying to make. Carlos Silva (as far as I could think of) had the highest WARP3 of the free agent pitchers with 5.8, these hitters all did better, Mike Lowell, A-Rod, Andruw Jones, Torii Hunter, Aaron Rowand, Barry Bonds, Mike Cameron, Jorge Posada, Shannon Stewart

                    • Chris

                      The point is, aside from ARod and arguably Bonds at this point of his career, none of those other hitters even approaches Cabrera’s talent. And it’s highly unusual to have Bonds and ARod as FA in the same year in any event. Plus, we’re acting like ARod is attainable for most teams — plainly not so at $350m.

                      I’m not arguing that it’s not generally easier to get good-to-very-good hitters on the FA market as it is to get good-to-very-good pitching. But a talent like Cabrera you trade the farm for, in my view. You will not be able to replace him on the FA market unless you sign ARod, or possibly Ryan Howard (but we need right-handed power) or Pujols. And in all likelihood, those guys won’t become FA.

                      You guys are all acting like the Yanks are giving away their entire pitching staff for Cabrera. We’re talking specifically about Hughes, against the backdrop of a very, very deep organization of young pitchers.

                    • Mike R.

                      We are not talking about every team. The fact that the high end FA’s are not attainable to most teams plays to the Yankees benefit. Teixeira to play first next year.

                      One thing you have not addressed is what do you do with Hughes spot in next year’s rotation. Who do you give it to? Mussina? Carlos Silva?

                    • Kanst

                      Is it really that odd? Cabrera had a WARP3 of 11.5 this year, if we go back and look at every years free agent class here is the top hitter and their WARP for that year:
                      2007-A-Rod-13.7
                      2006-JD Drew-9.5
                      2005-Rafeal Furcal 10.0
                      2004-Carlos Beltran-10.5

                      So pretty much each year there is a 10 win player available in free agency. There is rarely ever a 10 win pitcher available.

                    • http://riveraveblues.com Mike A.

                      Bonds was a FA back in the early 90’s. That’s how he went from the Pirates to San Fran.

                    • Mike R.

                      List the best pitchers in baseball and see how many of them signed with their teams as a FA. Compare that to the best hitters. The hitter list will probably be longer.

  • http://sverlyngmail.com sverlyn

    Even if Arod were to come back, chances are very good that his production would be less than what is was in 2007. I guess we forgot about 2004/6.
    Of course his career norms are great, but 2007 was a career year and chances are good at the end of an 8-10 year contract he’d be nowhere near 2007’s production

    • usty

      I dislike the end of the contract argument. The Yankees can afford 30 million a year to someone who stinks (see Giambi, Jason) to get those 33, 34, and 35 year old years from A-Rod. The man is in impeccable shape. If you look at someone like Ripken’s numbers, he didn’t really nosedive until 39-40 either. So would you take potentially 2 crappy years from A-Rod for 6 at his career norm? Not to mention the fact that no one has any idea what the market will be like in 8 years, 30 million might not even be that overpaid at that point.

    • http://skyking162.greenmen.org Sky

      Great point, one that’s forgotten by many people. The same goes for Jorge Posada. Re-signing him doesn’t guarantee another 7-win performance. It’ll be more like 4 and everyone will be disappointed. Spending all-star money doesn’t guarantee mean that you’ve bought all-star performance.

      • Jon

        There is such a small chance that Posada duplicates 2007, it’s absurd. He had a very lucky season which in reality was about the same as 2006. We should expect 2006, with a decline each year.

        The problem is, the alternatives are much worse than even 2005, so we’ll have to knowingly overpay.

  • Mike R.

    Continuing the Cabrera conversation. I am not trashing the guy. I don’t want to come off that way. I’m just not sure if the Yankees should continue their emphasis on hitting. I know that the loss of A-Rod puts more pressure on replacing those runs, but I am not sure I would prefer to trade Hughes + unnamed prosepect for Cabrera than Hughes + Brett Gardner for Santana.

    I think Santana offers something we lack more than a power hitting third baseman. I understand both sides of the argument though.

  • Mike R.

    BTW You only have 60 comments in 3 hours. I’m not sure anyone wants to talk about this. you might want to scrap this series.

    • http://www.riveraveblues.com Ben K.

      Just wait until I start suggesting that Graig Nettles come out of retirement.

      • Mike R.

        I am not sure that really solves anything. We would probably have to put Nettles at first or DH after the second year of the contract.

  • Steve S

    Everyone is ready to give Hughes away, with the lack of starting pitching on the free agent or trade market, who fills his spot in the rotation? While Kennedy looked good last year, he is a pitchability guy and projects as good number 3, while Hughes showed flashes last year of a # 2 or arguably an ace. The Yankees have suffered through bad starting pitching over the last three years, and while having a dominant offensive player at third has been great, it hasnt merited the expenditure in the postseason. Put it this way whose contribution was bigger this October Phil Hughes or Arod’s? Actually, you could make that argument for almost any position player on the team. And going back and in retrospect, who would you rather have now from the 2003 World Series team: Beckett or Cabrera?

    • Kanst

      Thank you, trading Hughes means spending a bunch of money on a crappy free agent starter (think Carlos Silva). Hughes is penciled in for a very important role on this team next year. He isnt just some prospect at this point he is our #3 starter (#2 if Pettite isnt back). Yes Cabrera is a lot better then the other options but Hughes is also better then any of the other options at pitcher (not to mention cheaper)

      The argument isnt that Cabrera isnt good (He was 4th in vorp) its that at the cost of acquiring him it just really inst worth it. In two years I would love to sign him to be our new first baseman/DH, but right now I dont want to give up 6 years of hughes, 3 years of Melky plus 6 years of some other prospect for him

      • Steve S

        And not to mush anything, I know everyone is hyped on Joba, but he was in a very specialized role last year and wont be able to maintain 98-100 for nine innings so it may be an adjustment before he is as dominant as his stuff. Plus, guys like Joba are often subject to arm problems [see Joel Zumaya]. Even Verlander needs his offspeed stuff to be dominant. Joba may end being the better pitcher long term, but for next year, I think Hughes is slightly ahead of him when it comes to be a major league starter.

        • http://www.riveraveblues.com Ben K.

          Zumaya hurt himself playing Guitar Hero. Then he hurt himself when his tendon sheath on his finger got screwed up. Then he destroyed his pitching shoulder moving heavy boxes during the California wild fires. He hasn’t yet – other than that freak finger problem – hurt his arm pitching.

          • Steve S

            if you believe the guitar hero stuff i got a bridge in brooklyn to sell you. The guys shoulder was tired. Bottomline, there are very few people in this world who can throw a ball like Joba Chamberlain, there are even fewer who do it over an extended period of time, at that type of velocity. And there are greater percentage of guys who do throw that hard that end up with an injured shoulder or elbow. Regardless, of Zumaya, my only point is, the Yankees need starting pitching, and it would be prudent to keep the guys who actually contributed last year rather than trading one and relying on a Pavano, Igawa, Silva, or another kid who doesnt have the same pedigree or stuff as Hughes. And we shouldnt rest all of our money in the lap of Joba Chamberlain, who dropped in the draft because of $ and arm problems.

            • Mike R.

              There are a bunch of guys who throw like Joba and stay healthy. Most of them lose something with age, but I don’t think you should lumo all flamethrowers into the same category.

              • Steve S

                Id like to see a list of guys who throw 95 and up and have maintained a ten year career, specifically in the last 20 years. Randy Johnson, Clemens, Pedro, Smoltz, are the only ones who come to mind. There is a small army of guys who have broken down or suffered injuries and then are good starter but never live up to expectations. The jury is still out Kazmir, Verlander, and Feliz since they havent done it for extended periods of time.

                Brien Taylor, Todd Van Poppel, Jaret Wright, Rich Harden, Liriano, Jason Isringhausen [granted he became a very good closer], Paul Wilson, Mark Prior, Kerry Wood, Kyle Farnsworth [he was once a promising young starter and now cant throw on back to back days], alex fernandez, tony saunders, ben sheets, eric gagne. And thats just off the top of my head.

                The point was that Joba hasnt shown that he has an offspeed pitch which he will need to succeed.

                • http://www.riveraveblues.com Ben K.

                  Yeah, it’s a good thing Joba didn’t effectively use a devastating slider this season or flash a pretty nasty curve a few times. Oh wait… :)

                • Mike R.

                  Brien Taylor broke his arm in a Bar Fight. It had nothing to do with how hard he throws. Ben Sheets isn’t really a flamethrower.

                  Curt Schilling was a power pitcher. Beckett has proven durable. CC Sabathia hasn’t had arm problems. Carlos Zambrano has been relatively Healthy.

                  • Steve S

                    since you guys are slow on the uptake…im not saying joba is going to get hurt or that he cant throw an offspeed pitch (by the way a slider is not an offspeed pitch) but what I am saying is that pitching is at a premium and the percentages are that one of these kids doesnt work out and most likely because of injury. I like Kennedy but he doesnt project like these two do. I would hold on to both, because odds are one is going to work out and if both work out, you are so ahead of the curve, power hitting third baseman isnt as important.

                    My point about Joba is, is that human beings normally cant throw consistently at 95 and over. Not to mention the fact that the kid once had a problem with his weight and had a history of shoulder problems. One we havent seen if Joba can sustain that past three innings. Two, a couple of curveballs in 20+ innings doesnt make me feel like he has a great curve. three, beckett has been anything but durable. torn rotator cuffs and ligaments arent the measure for durable pitchers. Rather arm fatigue is often what people call it when it comes to these hard throwers because they cant sustain for a long period of time. And check your facts before Sheets got hurt he was 95+ with a viscious hook and change. And Schilling is one of those few exceptions. And ive named them. I hope he is one of those guys but they dont come around that often. While third baseman are not as difficult of a resource to develop, sign or trade for.

      • Chris

        Again, this argument simply overlooks the relative importance of pitching vs. offense. I don’t know how else to explain it.

        Don’t worry, anyway. Maybe Carl Pavano will come back next year.

    • Chris

      This is a very easy question: I would much, much rather have Cabrera.

      • Steve S

        Its not that easy of a question, because you have to look at it from the perspective of what is the more valuable commodity. Granted Cabrera’s production at third base is huge, but for the Red Sox what is more valuable- Lowell and beckett or Hanley Ramirez. Clearly this year it was the former. I understand its about getting to the postseason, but starting pitching is about depth as much as its about quality. Position players like Cabrera are incredibly valuable, but there are other potential avenues. Granted Arod had 39 win shares this year and beckett had 19. But Lowell has 24. Those two players accounted for Arod’s production in the regular season, and made the red sox better suited for the postseason. The whole argument with Cabrera isnt that he cant fill the hole at third, its what you are sacrificing to fill it, and ultimately how you fill the other holes. And I think the Yankees due diligence should be to add a guy like Crede, provided he is healthy, keep Hughes and try to trade for Santana, who might actually be cheaper (prospect wise) than Cabrera to acquire. Or be patient and stop trying to make the biggest move every year when its not the best move for the franchise. Cabrera would be great, so would
        Pujols, so would Ryan Braun but sometimes things are not a reality in the market your in. In a regular season a position player has much greater value, Im not arguing that. But the reality is that there are potential replacements for third base (as thin as it is) while # 1 or # 2 starters do not come along very often.

  • Rob_in_CT

    I want to keep the pitching. I understand that Cabrera is a young HOFer. I’m just sick and tired of the Yankees pitching being mediocre. I know that it’s entirely possible that Hughes/Chamberlain/Kennedy doesn’t work out the way I hope it will. But I want to roll the dice, commit to it, and hope it does happen. Because that would be totally awesome.

    Remember when the Yankees could pitch? It was pretty cool.

    I think the wise move is to not panic this year. Dumpster dive to create a 3B platoon (I like the Ensberg idea) and see if you can upgrade 1B on the cheap, and watch the pitching develop. There is always the possibility of a mid-season trade if the team is really close but needs something extra. But if it doesn’t work out, you have an interesting FA class in the ’08/’09 offseason and a bunch of money to spend.

    That works for me, even if it means risking a real down year in ’08 (no playoffs).

  • Rob

    The problem is getting to October. And over the course of a season a position player will affect the outcome much more often than a pitcher, even a front line starter. Cabrera/A-Rod will affect 162 games. Starting pitchers affect maybe 35 games, and that’s IF they stay healthy, and that’s a very big if.

    I’m not arguing for trading Hughes, but the Sox did trade a player who was the second most valuable last year for Beckett. It’s an interesting case study actually. With Hanley, they no doubt would have had the best offense in the game. But they would have missed those truly dominant starts in October. Position players are easier to project, but the pitchers may end up as the true difference maker. Problem is, you have no idea what kind of pitcher you have until it’s shown. Beckett for instance looked like a good, young pitcher with flashes of brilliance but lots of inconsistency. Now, following that post-season, he looks like the best pitcher in the game. Still, they gave up the best young bat in the game to get him (2nd in VORP to A-Rod).

    Based on expected impact, you take Cabrera every time. But the risk is you’re giving up a legit #1. And I don’t think we’ve seen enough of Hughes to make a good assessment one way or another. Lots of risk, but the payoff is more likely to favor the position player, by far. Glad I’m not the one deciding. If anything, I give up Wang/Melky before one of the young pitchers. At least there you have a better sense of what’s being traded.

    • Chris

      Excellent post.

    • http://yankeesetc.blogspot.com/ Travis G.

      dont forget about Anibal too. the dude threw a no-no his rookie year. he’ll be back next year at just 24 and has a 133 ERA+ in 144 ML ip!

      i would love Miggy, for sure. he could play 3b/1b/LF/DH, with Shelley and Betemit giving him time off. but to give up Hughes i would be very hesitant. ZIPS (for what it’s worth) projects Hughes to be the Yanks best starter next year (3.70). outside of Hughes, Joba and Cano, give up anyone to get him, but those guys are too valuable imo.

  • steve

    they can’t trade hughes. i just bought his jersey.

    • Chris

      So far, this is the best reason articulated here not to trade him.

  • http://www.lvyankeefanclub.com/blogs Mike S.

    Upgrade elsewhere. Jones and Hunter can upgrade CF. Then deal Melky or Damon for help. Yanks need a righty middle of order bat. Jones is a better option for cleanup, but he or Hunter to a 3-yr. deal. It would be hard to deal Damon (age, salary) but Melky might bring something back. Jones agent is Boras. Not good. But work on him or Torii for a righty mid-order bat, then trade one of the other two–maybe for a 3b.

  • Rob_in_CT

    Torii Jones a mid-order bat? I don’t think so.

  • http://www.lvyankeefanclub.com/blogs Mike S.

    Andruw Jones or Torii Hunter.

  • http://www.lvyankeefanclub.com/blogs Mike S.

    Free agency-wise, there isn’t much out there. That is it.

  • Rob_in_CT

    Sorry, that should’ve read: Torii Hunter, a mid-order bat? I don’t think so.

    I’m also dubious of Jones. This FA market is terrible. Best to stay out of it, IMO.

    • http://riveraveblues.com Mike A.

      Andruw Jones won’t cost the Yanks a first round pick because he’s a Type B FA. If they could work out a 1-yr, $15M “let’s see what you got while you try to up your FA stock for next year” type of deal, I’d be all for it. Boras did it with Millwood, so maybe he’ll consider it again.

  • Rob

    Sorry, I’m looking at shopping Wang/Melky plus lower level arms (Horne or Marquez) and maybe Tabata for Cabrera or Santana. That’s it for a big trade. Those two players you can’t go wrong either way, but it would take too much to trade for both. And the chances are Santana is not available because the Twins want to compete next year. If all goes well they’re in the race in July then Santana leaves as a free agent.

    So I say:

    Wang+Melky+Horne+Tabata for Cabrera

    Seems like a good fair deal. Yanks avoid trading one of the breakout young pitchers. And they solve 3B for next year at least and with a RH bat.

    As for CF, you go with Damon and hope Gardner or AJax show enough in the first few months in MiLB to get playing time later in the season.

    The rotation would be very young if Pettitte doesn’t come back and that may be the only downside. Still, with Karstens, Rasner, and Igawa they’ll put together decent enough innings. But we all know it comes to pitching any ways, so might as well put the guys out there and see what happens.

    • http://yankeesetc.blogspot.com/ Travis G.

      Sign me up. they could try to sign Hunter or Andruw to a 1-year deal to man CF. i wouldn’t be so averse to Gardner getting regular PT in CF. he seems about as ML ready as MiLers go.

      although who takes Wang’s 200+ innings? Moose, no thanks. Igawa, Rasner, Horne, TClip, DeSalvo? No thanks either. Wang/Melky vs. Moose/Miggy. tough call.

  • http://jeteupthemiddle.blogspot.com Jeteupthemiddle

    Where I actually wanted to put this post:

    Sigh, I have a real job now and always miss the fun discussions.

    Anyway, I wanted to throw in my two cents.

    Betemit for third base, and upgrade first base with James Loney of the Dodgers. They want Nomar at first, so they may be willing to trade him. I would give them Ian Kennedy and possibly a second tier prospect for him. Yankees get a good young first baseman. Dodgers get a young, cheap starting pitcher whom Joe Torre appears comfortable with.

    Seems win/win to me.

    Of course, Loney is still under team control and still makes peanuts, so the Dodgers may (probably?) want more than Kennedy…or they may not be willing to trade him at all.

  • Mike R.

    I am all in favor in dealing for one of the Dodger’s young position players. Loney, Kemp, LaRoche. Give me any of them.

  • http://yankeesetc.blogspot.com/ Travis G.

    wow. some discussion. just to point out, there was a study in ‘Baseball Between the Numbers’ that basically said flat out that pitching is more important than hitting.

    they took a team that score and allowed an average numbers of runs, say 800 scored and 800 allowed in a season. going by Pythagorean Win %, subtracting 100 runs from their Runs Allowed increased their Win % MORE than adding 100 runs to their Runs Scored. so there!

  • Count Zero

    And in other news…Andy declined his option. Although he reiterated that it’s the Yanks or retirement. He says he needs more time to make up his mind.

    You can’t trade Hughes now.

  • Steve T

    I don’t think we trade Hughes, we keep Betemit at 3rd, and platoon him with another utility cheap infielder. We move Melky + young pitching for Jones, and we platoon Damon/Jones in CF and Damon/Matsui in left. Just my $.02

    • Kanst

      Jones is a free agent

  • http://skyking162.greenmen.org Sky

    Yes, potentially losing both Posada and ARod is a huge blow to the offense. But even with mediocre replacements (Crede and LoDuca, for example) it should still be better than the pitching was in 2007. Why are Yankee fans not more concerned with filling the holes in the rotation? Probably because they’re already filled by Hughes, Kennedy, and Joba. Assuming Pettitte and Mussina are back, too, this team should be just as good in 2008, just with a more balanced approach.

  • http://memotosteinbrenner.blogspot.com/2007/10/eric-duncan-replaces-arod.html BiLLyBaLL3R

    I think we should pursue a trade with the marlins for both d willis and miggy cabrera , miggy being a profesional hitter to the degree that manny ramirez is!
    I know the knock on Miggy is his prus defense laziness and weight problem!
    However stick him on a contender instead of The Marlins his attitude might change, and at worse he can play RF, 1B o even DH at .320 potntial 100+ RBI and 25 to 30 HR potential!

    Anybody other than Joba, Jeter and Hughes even Cano can be traded!

    However if this doesn’t happen we should take a look at maybee David “Shelly” Duncan long arms rangy at 6’5″ can fill the cleanup role that’s now vacated with Arob gone now. But signing Posada , Mo and convincing Pettite to come back is the formost!

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