Is Wilson Betemit expendable?

What the Sabathia trade means to the Yanks
Remind me again why this game counts?

I know a ton of people would just as well say “yes” and let that be that. His stay with the Yankees hasn’t been too impressive, and certainly hasn’t been near expectations. Yes, he’s an upgrade at the plate over Miguel Cairo. Then again, who isn’t? So as we head towards Betemit’s one-year anniversary, I’m sure many Yankees fans are wondering whether he’s worth carrying on the team.

While Damon and Matsui are out, the Yanks probably have to keep him around. He’s the only guy on the bench right now who can give Jason Giambi a day away from first base, and he’s the only conceivable threat off the bench. With Jose Molina getting more playing time, and with light-hitting Melky Cabrera and Brett Gardner playing with regularity, the Yanks simply need a guy who can rake on the bench.

Betemit, we know, can rake. He’s got 10 extra base hits in his 100 plate appearances this year, which is about double the rate of Melky. It’s well above Derek Jeter, even the Derek Jeter of the past few years. It’s a better rate than Robinson Cano, Bobby Abreu, and Jorge Posada. Basically, the only players on the team with a better XBH/PA ratio than Betemit are Jason Giambi (barely), and Alex Rodriguez.

There are two glaring problems with Betemit. First is that the dude refuses to take a walk. In those 100 plate appearances this year, he has walked just three times. In 192 plate appearances for the Dodgers last year, he walked 32 times. That’s more freakin’ like it. In fact, I’m pretty sure that’s what the Yankees signed up for. So instead of getting a guy who walks once every six plate appearances, we’ve got a guy who walks once every 33.33 plate appearances. This is especially frustrating, since he maintained a similar XBH/PA ratio last year in LA before coming east.

This problem is complicated by his strikeouts. We all knew coming into this that Wilson Betemit has a longish swing, and is sent down swinging on a decently frequent occasion. His percentage isn’t much higher than what we expected, a strikeout every four plate appearances, but because he isn’t walking it’s all the worse. It means that he’s simply making more outs, as evidenced by his .280 OBP. It is simply unacceptable.

The second problem with Betemit is his pitiful defense. We’ve seen him have difficulties taking grounders at first freakin’ base this year. He’s got no range at short. We’ve seen him make enough throwing mistakes to make any start at third an uneasy one. Even if he can rake, how can we carry a utility infielder who can’t play D?

Clearly, the Yanks will have a few questions to answer about Betemit heading into the trading deadline. His bat remains intriguing, but unless he can take a few pitches and not swing at everything in the dirt, he’s not going to have much of a role on this team. If Damon and Matsui come back healthy, there doesn’t figure to be many big-time pinch hitting opportunities for the Yankees bench. You’ll have Melky or Gardner, and maybe Molina, but that’s it. Do you need a guy like Betmit to fill that role? Or is the team better served with a more defensive-minded utility infielder?

What the Sabathia trade means to the Yanks
Remind me again why this game counts?
  • The Fallen Phoenix

    Playing time may or may not have to do with Betemit’s declining BB rate. And as bad as Betemit is defensively, I think the Yankees can sustain that for a spot-start at SS or 2B for a day. He’d be a huge downgrade from Cano, but even with Jeter playing good defense this year, we’ve seen the Yankees survive with subpar-defense at shortstop for several years.

    Personally, I think the power potential makes up for the defensive concerns, since there are very few benches in baseball that can pull that kind of power. I think the biggest gripe I have with Betemit is that most of his power comes from the left. Of course, with Damon and Matsui out, that’s a moot point; the Yankees basically need all the power they can get. But he’d look so much sexier if he could hit from the right as well as he hits from the left.

    • Adam

      regarding the walk rate, i agree. it seems logical to me that a player who gets to hit sparsely would come to the plate wanting to hit the ball to show everyone that he should get more at bats. it is faulty logic, but entirely understandable.

  • Brandon

    just check his LD % he’s worth it just needs a few more AB to get use to his role.

  • Steve S

    I still dont know if Giambi is capable of playing like this for the whole season. His body is bound to breakdown. And honestly as bad as he is Betemit is the only logical replacement on the roster (assuming we have let go of the Shelly Duncan fantasy). Unless Miranda or Duncan are capable you need to keep Betemit.

  • steve (different one)

    i don’t get the Betemit hate.

    how many teams have a bat like Betemit on their bench that can actually play PASSABLE (not gold glove) defense at all 4 infield positions?

    yes, he doesn’t really walk often, and he doesn’t play any one of the 4 positions particularly well, but that is why he is not a starter.

    he is a flawed player, but he is very valuable for a team like the Yankees that pretty much play the same 4 infielders every day and only need to be rested occasionally.

    sure, he’s expendable in the sense that if another team viewed him as a starter and was willing to pay for him accordingly, then yeah, trade him.

    but other than that, he’s probably the best bench player the yankees have had in years.

    also, Proctor looks basically DONE to me. so in that sense, getting Betemit before Proctor crapped out was a pretty good move.

    • Ivan

      Just looked at Proctor’s #’s adn they are bad, really BAD.

  • Ivan

    Yo chris russo just pronounce Dan Uggla’s last name oogala.

  • Joltin’ Joe

    Name a better option not named A-Gonz.

  • A.D.

    Betemit’s got pop, and he can play all the positions in a pinch, he’s not a starter, and I’d rather have Willy Aybar as our utility guy, but he’s not a bad bench player. If you replace him with AG you get better defense, no power so it which tradeoff do you prefer if you have to make one

  • Geno

    You’d think Betemit would take a bunch of practice in the outfield positions. Maybe even catcher. He doesn’t need to be a gold glove, just passable. Even as it is, his bat off the bench and his defensive flexibility make him valuable.

    That being said, I’d advocate dropping Moeller and giving his spot to Alberto Gonzalez. If Jorge’s arm falls off, we can always get a catcher from the farm, or make a trade.

  • Jon W.

    Given the injuries and the problems the Yanks have had scoring runs, you have to keep Betemit. His OBP is indeed terrible, but the Yankees really don’t have anyone who can even come close to replacing his pop off the bench. If everyone were healthy, it might be a different story, but as of right now, they need to ride it out.

    • Joltin’ Joe

      He has traditionally been very patient at the plate during his career, these 3+ months being an exception. It could be a product of sporadic playing time, or pitchers he’s faced?

  • scott

    We have a starting outfield that gives us absolutely no offense and you are worried about wilson betemit coming off the bench…this would be a discussion if the yanks were primed to make a big playoff run..but that doesnt seem likely.

    • http://riveraveblues.com Mike A.

      Brett Gardner and his game winning RBI’s from the last two games say hi.

      ;)

  • scott

    yes, gardner had clearly proven that his “infield dirt” power will carry the yankees back into contention.

  • RustyJohn

    Cairo is now platooning at first for the Mariners- who’d have thought. Would be in favor of getting rid of one W. Betemit if there were something better out there- roster moves for the bench are going to be a bit tight with Jorge the de facto DH now that Matsui and Damon are banged up.

  • monkeypants

    So long as this team continues the inane double whammy of three catchers and thirteen pitchers on the roster, the bench has to have one or two multi-taskers. Betemit is not good, but he plays every position on the IF and he was for a day the emergency OF. He is not a good hitter, but he has some pop and generally very strong splits v. RHP. Frankly, he should hit for Molina every game, given that Moeller is simply rotting on the bench.

    Betemit’s worth keeping.

    Now, a third catcher with 5 appearances in a month, a thirteenth pitcher who will never see the light of day, and Sydney Ponson are not worth keeping.

  • bmatthews

    How about the fact that he comes out to the song “Better Man” by Pearl Jam. Say it fast and like Eddie Vetter….can’t find a Betemiiiiiiiiiitt.

  • bobtaco

    More importantly, can the Yankees trade Farnsworth to the Brewers while his value is up, and get a nice hitting prospect back?

    • Mark B

      Being a former Milwaukee resident and part-time follower of the Brew Crew, there is no chance of that happening. The Brewers have had their fair share of bullpen disappointments this year in Turnbow, Gagne, Riske and most recently Mota. To think they would take Farnsworth, his salary and home runs (given that Miller Park is a hitters park) is pure fantasy. My hunch is that they hold off doing anything as they will be converting either McClung or Bush to become the long man / 7th inning guy (shifting Villanueva to the 7th / 8th inning)

      A much better trading partner would be Detroit if they decide they are going to be a contender. Farnie should thrive in that spacious park.

  • Tom

    rake? easy on the peyote! betemit can not hit a curveball, period. He is absolutely terrible. line drive %? stop making excuses for the felix heredia of batting

  • Mark B

    Pitching + defense wins championships. Given that we are sacrificing defense for offense right now at first with Giambi – Betemit’s primary position – the last thing we need is a poor defending, decent bat like Betemit backing him up. I think the trade to acquire him was fine given how bad Proctor has become (not to mention his injury), though am beating the drum for the Yanks to acquire a better right-handed bat like Nady or Wiggington to help our lefy-dominated line-up versus tough lefties down the stretch.

    • monkeypants

      Pitching + defense does not win championships. Scoring more runs than your opponent does. There have been plenty of teams who thumped there way to the prize.