Quick Hits: Offense, Protest, Matsui


A couple of Yanks-related links that I couldn’t quite work into a full post:

  • Steve S — you all might know him better as The Artist — writes about the Hideki Matsui situation over at The Yankees Universe. Hideki is putting up good numbers, but is taking up the DH spot, which the Yanks could use for other purposes (i.e., getting vets a half-game off).
  • R.J. Anderson, writing for FanGraphs, notes that the Yankees have surplus offense in AAA. Unfortunately, one of those guys could use some more polish, and the rest are questionable to produce at the big league level. Still, it’s nice to have options, who are performing well, in the case of further injury.
  • Tyler Kepner talks to former umpire Jim Evans regarding Sunday’s protest. Evans runs through the situation, and thinks that the umps made the right call. The way he explains it, the Yanks won’t get another shot at the last two innings of the game.
Categories : Links


  1. pc69 says:

    Thank you for posting the piece on Matsui. While I have been unable to articulate his burden to this team, Steve seemed to be able to make the case for me.

    While Matsui has served the Yankees well, he has taken a huge decline in the past two years, mainly because of his bad knees. However, while there is no immediate answer to replacing him, the Yankees need to seriously consider alternatives to him, even if it means putting him in the line up only a couple of times a week.

    • I don’t think the Yankees need to have an “immediate answer to replacing him.” There’s no need to pick up someone whose sole job is to DH. As we’ve seen this year, having that in Matsui has hamstrung the Yanks at times. Considering that the core of the team is both valuable and old, the best use of the DH would be as a rotating rest spot. Get A-Rod some DH games, get Jeter in there, get Posada and Damon off the field without losing their bats. Deployed effectively, the DH spot could really improve the Yanks.

      • radnom says:

        If you use the DH as a “rotating rest spot” you have to rest someone everyday.
        Which means the 10th or 11th best non-pitcher on the team has to be in the lineup every single day.

        I posted more on this below.

      • radnom says:

        To explain further..
        The problem with Matsui now is that when you DH Arod now, you have to start Pena which is a huge downgrade from Matsui.

        If they used the DH as a rotating rest spot they would have to start Pena or Molina or (backup corner OF) every single day. Every day.

      • King of Fruitless Hypotheticals says:


        so if we play seven games, these guys each get a half night off, and Matsui bats twice, maybe PH’ing once or twice the other games?

        I love Godzilla, but it does seem that he, likes walks, are clogging up the bases…we’re not going to DFA him, so maybe it will actually be to our benefit that him not playing every night makes his knees better, and having him off the bench some nights for PH in tight spots will help even more…wouldnt it be great if we could win-win this all around…

      • JP says:

        Right. This is the classic situation where you can argue that it’s better to sacrifice some “OPS” in order to make your team better. The problem has plagued the Yankees for a few seasons, basically having a glut of players who are marginal fielders but above average hitters. Too many DHs.

        Getting rid of Hideki would sacrifice OPS, because no matter which other player DH’s, his defensive replacement is likely to be inferior to Matsui at bat . . . Gardner, Angel “Yogi” Berroa, Cervelli, Pena…

        But if getting more DH time improves the team D a little, and if it keeps the regulars more rested and healthy and milks a bit more offense out of them by avoiding an injury, in the end it might be a wash.

        I don’t know what’s in the Yankees future, but I’m tired of having a team with multiple guys who all have multi year contracts, are on the wrong side of 30, and who can’t play defense.

        • I Remember Celerino Sanchez says:

          But JP, over the last few years, Cashman has been getting rid of those types of guys. Matsui is one of the last ones left.

          I am not advocating they should re-sign Matsui for next year. The point is this year.

          And D will never make up for the gaping loss in OPS going from someone like Matsui to someone like Cervelli, Pena or Berroa.

          For this season, given the current roster, Matsui is doing a serviceable job, and the hatred of him is just irrational.

          Also, the idea that walks “clog up the bases” just isn’t based in any kind of statistical fact. Getting on base is always good.

        • I don’t know what’s in the Yankees future, but I’m tired of having a team with multiple guys who all have multi year contracts, are on the wrong side of 30, and who can’t play defense.

          Considering that Jorge, Jeter, A-Rod and Teixeira are here to stay, you better get used to it for a while.

          • Mike HC says:

            Unless we develop our own stars, the Yanks will continue to get players who are quickly approaching 30, or beyond 30. Teams have been locking up their top young talent earlier in their careers, thus delaying free agency. The Yanks have to develop their own guys. Adding these top free agents doesn’t hurt, or older players don’t hurt the team. What hurts is the lack of overall talent the Yanks have produced recently. The problem is our farm system, not that we keep signing older guys. Imagine if we didn’t have those guys. We would be horrible.

          • jsbrendog says:

            that was a shot at teixeira who plays defense just fine thank you

          • JP says:

            You’re right, Ben, believe me I know.

        • Mike HC says:

          I agree with what you wrote and I think the Yanks are slowly trying to rid themselves of the old DH types. The problem is that it takes some time. It would be nice to improve on D, but not at the expense of having Gardner/Melky, or Pena, or Cervelli in the lineup every day. And it is not like these guys are great on D, just better than what we have. They are still young and inexperienced. Right now, the Yanks have to stick with what they have and ride it out. Jeter, A-Rod, Posada, Damon, Matsui … these guys give us the best chance to win, even if they are flawed at this point in their careers.

          • JP says:

            Yes, if we want to guarantee we’re in the running every year, this stuff will happen.

            Personally, I’d rather have a team that was less long-term committed as a general rule.

            I think the Yankees have been so successful monetarily that they end up in the catch-22. Since they can afford to outbid everyone, they do, but that outbidding includes length of contract, not only money. It’s like we’re driving a 1978 Bentley…still luxurious, but man is it prone to breaking down.

            I’d rather trade in every 3-4 years and take my chances.

            I hope as the team goes forward they opt for this approach. But they won’t. Unless economics force them.

          • King of Fruitless Hypotheticals says:

            we already have gardner, melky, pena or cervelli in the lineup everyday…

  2. I Remember Celerino Sanchez says:

    I found Steve’s article wholly unpersuasive.

    Given Matsui’s age and the condition of the knees, it would be fine to give him a couple of days off a week. What has kept A Rod from getting DH time hasn’t been Matsui’s presence, it’s been that if he does DH, you have to start Pena or Berroa, neither of which are really MLB hitters.

    Same goes for any of the outfielders. Damon hasn’t played so many innings in left because of the need for Matsui to get at-bats, it’s because if one of them sits, Gardner and Cabrera both have to play, weakening the lineup.

    And, most of all, Matsui is not taking DH at-bats from Posada. What is doing that is Cervelli’s .622 OPS.

    It’s the replacements, not Matsui, that is keeping the Yanks’ older starters from DH at-bats.

    I know a bunch of people have an irrational problem with Matsui. But with an .820 OPS, he’s above the AL average OPS for a DH. Given his knee condition, he’s doing a good job. It’s not his fault Cervelli, Pena, Berroa and Gardner/Cabrera are not great hitters.

    • Link says:

      I disagree that Cervelli is keeping Posada out of games but I do agree that people have an irrational problem with Matsui. He is a very good hitter and always has been when he has been healthy. Yes he has been hurt often as of late but he still is productive.

    • Mike HC says:

      I’m with you Remembering Sanchez. Matsui is an asset in the AL. He is a very good DH and also a very good pinch hitter. The Yanks have done just fine balancing giving guys rest and playing Matsui. Now that A-Rod needs more rest he will obviously have to play less, but that is not Matsui’s fault.

      The problem is that all of these older guys supposedly need rest, which forces a bench guy to play more often than necessary. Having a hitting only DH is not the issue; that is why there is a DH to begin with.

  3. And, in non-baseball related Quick Hit news, the San Antonio Spurs just leapt back into the 2009-2010 title picture by acquiring Richard Jefferson for three scrubs who they don’t have any use for (Kurt Thomas, Fabricio Oberto, and the Walking Corpse of Bruce Bowen).

    If Tim Duncan can have one more Tim Duncan-like season, pairing him with three legit NBA All-Star wings in Parker, Ginobili, and Jefferson will create matchup problems galore for the league.

    • And, in non-baseball related Quick Hit news…

      That is an interesting, if tenuous, approach toward keeping your comment on topic. Points for creativity.

    • Ivan says:

      Saw that on espn. It’s a good trade for both teams actually.

      Spurs get an athletic wing player and another scorer with Jefferson, with parker and Manu Ginobili even though he has to prove he’s healthy. The key for the spurs is Duncan. For the first time I,ve seen him, he looked old and shot. If he can bounce back that’s huge. I

      As for the bucks, they get 3 expiring contracts and it gives them some flexibility. They were not gonna alot of games regardless so might as well fix ya self up for the future.

  4. radnom says:

    I don’t like weird notion of “you need to have the DH spot open to rest guys”. It reminds me of when everyone complained that we clogged first base with Tex so there would be nowhere to put Jeter and Posada.
    In this day and age you need a regular DH that is a bonefide starter. The problem with Matsui is only that he can’t play the field. They need a DH who can play the field adequately to give guys like Posada and Arod days off.

    Leaving the spot totally open means that you have to DH a regular every day, which means that you have to play a backup every day as well.
    Looking ahead at some candidates…

    On the team right now

    He would be my top choice, but unfortunately the catching FA market is pretty thin this offseason. Bengie Molina? Nah. VMart is definitely not going to hit the market and he is barely a catcher these days anyway. Barring a trade for a starting caliber catcher, Posada is going to be the starting C next season.
    Sign someone else for left field (Crawford) and resign Damon as the DH. Makes sense, until you look at where Damon can play - LF, and LF only. Perhaps if Crawford could play right then you could DH Swisher or Crawford without weakening the lineup, but those are not exactly the guys who need time off.

    Free Agents

    Orlando Cabrera
    Can rest Jeter, Arod, Cano without weakening the lineup.
    Miguel Tejada

    So the problem here is that the “vets” that need to be rested are on the left side of the infield, unless Damon comes back. This means either the DH can play those positions or you have to play a UTIL when you DH them (like you do this year with Matsui). Of course, having a regular DH who can play those positions leaves slim pickings and a weaker bat than a corner OF type.
    The way the Yankees are constructed, with a young OF and an aging IF/C is what is causing problems and inflexability with the DH spot, that won’t be easily solved by Matsui’s departure.

    I say, just get a masher corner OF, and deal with Ramiro Pena when Jeter needs a breather. It will work out better over the course of the season.

    • Basically, you’re on board with what I Remember Celerino Sanchez said. Use Matsui as a DH but rest him, and use his days off to rest the regulars. Matsui is certainly productive enough for that sort of DH platoon situation.

      • radnom says:

        Not really. Although I do agree with that for this season, this post is purely about the future, and that system is nothing like the one I am proposing.

      • radnom says:

        Eh I see what you mean now, I didn’t realize I had concluded it so strongly. Yes, my final assessment was similar to this season, but only if we get someone who is a much, much better hitter than Matsui.

        I’m almost equally drawn to the OCab type system though. Depends on the players available.

    • A.D. says:

      There’s no way that Tejada or Cabrera fit as bench players when you combine contract demands & their desire to go start somewhere else.

      • radnom says:

        You miss understand. They would be starting every day in this scenario.

        • A.D. says:

          The Yanks are still not going to want to pay their contract demands for essentially an extra starter, regardless of rotation scenario, and Tejada and Cabrera probably don’t want to be jerked around to different positions to be a semi-starter.

          • radnom says:

            What do you think they would pay for a starting DH?

            They are paying 13 million this season.

            Cabrera maybe..but you don’t think Tejada would settle into a DH role where he only played the field a few days a week? I think you are mistaken there.

            • But Tejada basically is Matsui without the OBP abilities. His IsoD is just .026; he’s slugging a whopping .012 points less than Matsui; and his fielding has fallen off significantly. Bringing him on would do nothing but replace Matsui with another version of himself.

              • radnom says:

                I’m not advocating Tejada, but he can do one big thing that Matsui can’t, which is rest IFers.

                The difference is that when you DH Arod now, you get Pena in the lineup, where as if you did so with Tejada as the everyday DH, he would just fill in at third.

                In short, the difference is
                Arod + Tejada
                Arod + Pena

                I would obviously prefer someone better in the field, I havn’t been following Tejada I don’t even know if he would fit into this senario but Cabrera definitely would.

            • A.D. says:

              Maybe if there are no other options, but my guess Tejada would want something like the following:

              Starting SS
              Starting DH
              DH part of the time & playing 3 infield positions (2 of which he’s never played in the majors).

              Basically if a guy like Michael Young is pissy about moving to 3rd to be a full time starter I don’t see a guy like Tejada being super excited to be a super utility guy.

              Otherwise Tejada is for the most part a pretty bad defensive SS, that probably won’t play that great at positions he hasn’t played previously.

              Don’t get me wrong, I like the idea, i just think for the most part getting a super utility guy is going to have to be a younger player or less established player than these 2.

              • radnom says:

                You are dwelling on Tejada, but really it is just that “type” of player.

                Someone who can play the IF and has a good bat.

                The role is not one of a “super utility guy”.

                The role is starting DH.

                He only plays the IF when other guys are rested.
                Like Jeter signed his contract to be the starting shortstop, but does not complain that he has to DH some days. Yes, it would be a bit more often, but I don’t think its a huge slap in the face.

                • A.D. says:

                  I agree idea makes a ton of sense, just finding the combo of player that hits enough to be a DH, can play the middle infield, and doesn’t want to play that middle infield position full time elsewhere.

                • Which is why most DH’s are guys like Matsui, Thome, Ortiz, etc.

                  Extra outfielders or first basemen.

                  I like you, radnom, but you’re shooting for the moon here a little. I doubt even Mark DeRosa would sign up for a flex role of any sort where a good chunk of his AB’s was at DH. Most guys hate DH’ing, and the only guys who accept deals to DH are guys who know they can’t play the field anymore.

                • radnom says:

                  Of course, that is the tricky part.

                  It is all about who is available and for what price. I would be fine if they continued what they are doing this year with Matsui as long as they got someone greatly superior to Matsui at the Plate (say a Manny or Holliday type).
                  Contract length of course affect that, but this scenario is just another option to signing a big bopper and results in a more consistent lineup.

                • MattG says:

                  DeRosa doesn’t fit in this situation. He would get all his at bats at a position, while other people DH. That is the best solution, and its nothing more than what many (me including) have been tilting at since November: Ransom, Berroa and Pena aren’t good enough.

                • radnom says:

                  you’re shooting for the moon here a little.

                  Oh, I’m well aware of this.

                  As I noted earlier, the way the roster is constructed right now is making it very difficult to both have a DH and maintain any sort of roster flexibility.
                  I was just shooting for anyway to skirt that fact.

    • unfortunately the catching FA market is pretty thin this offseason.

      2010 FA catchers, sorted by current 2009 wOBA (with team and age)
      .407 Victor Martinez CLE 31 (7M team option)
      .342 Jason Varitek BOS 38 (5M team option, 3M player option+2M in performance bonuses)
      .330 Miguel Olivo KC 32 (mutual option, Cot’s does not list dollar amount)
      .327 Brian Schneider NYM 35
      .321 Ramon Castro CWS 34
      .321 Jose Molina NYY 35
      .306 Jason LaRue STL 36
      .305 Gregg Zaun BAL 39 (2M team option)
      .302 Bengie Molina SF 36
      .301 Ramon Hernandez CIN 34 (8.5M team option)
      .298 Josh Bard WAS 32
      .292 Yorvit Torrealba COL 32 (4M mutual option)
      .279 Mike Redmond MIN 39
      .277 Henry Blanco SD 38
      .268 Jason Kendall MIL 36

      Why not Miguel Olivo? The Royals still have John Buck as their starter under team control for another year before he hits free agency, so they’re not a lock to exercise the option, and if they do, how expensive would be be to trade for? He’s 32, so they can’t price him like Texas is pricing their troika of young catchers.

      • radnom says:

        What do you mean price him? I thought you just said he was a FA?

        Honestly I don’t know that much about Olivo. If he is as good as his place on that list suggests, and he it isn’t just small sample size, then I would be an advocate of that next year.
        Olivo behind the plate most days, Posada DHing.
        ONLY if Olivo is solid behind the plate, above average.
        On day’s you rest Arod or Jeter by DHing them, you only diminish the lineup from Olivo -> Pena, plus you keep Posada health and productive all year hopefully.

      • Mike HC says:

        None of these players are an upgrade over keeping Posada at catcher, maybe with the exception of Victor Martinez. I can see signing a guy to be a backup, but not to take legitimate time away from Jorge. He is too good of a hitter, and while not a great defender, he is surely serviceable.

        • We’d be adding those players not at the expense of Jorge. We’d be adding them to play along side of Jorge, as Jorge moves to DH.

          • Mike HC says:

            Yea, and I’m saying Jorge should not be moving to the DH. I don’t think that helps the team. Adding one of these backup catchers, or a guy who is not much younger than Jorge, is not the answer. Having them catch 70-120, or however many games you guys have in mind, will further hurt the team. I think people here have a mentality that the grass is always greener on the other side. Jeter, Jorge and A-Rod are still very valuable players. There are very few players who are better than them, even at this age. I would love to have the best young talent in the game, but it is not realistic. Adding Miguel Olivo, or Bengie Molina is not going to help at all.

            • The more Jorge catches, at his age, the more he’s exposed to increased injury risk.

              Adding a new catcher and moving Jorge to DH helps keep his awesome bat in the lineup more. Keeping his bat in the lineup is more important than keeping his bat at catcher.

              • MattG says:

                I would like to see Olivo, or maybe moreso Castro, added as insurance against the Posada injury, but I would also like to see a Posada-like bat in the DH, with Posada catching. If you lose him to injury, you lose nothing over your plan, as you still have the Posada clone to DH.

                Matsui, when healthy, is a reasonable Posada clone. So who are the available FA DH types for 2010?

      • radnom says:

        Whoops I didn’t see the option thing.

        Mutual options tend not to be activated. Especially if he is talented enough to be a starter.

        • Actually, the reason Olivo and the Royals have a mutual option for 2010 is because they had a mutual option for 2009 that they both exercised and rolled over to the following year. So, there’s a decent shot they do exercise it. Call it 50/50.

          The main reason either party might decline would be how much they intend to play John Buck once he’s healthy again.

          • radnom says:

            I find it hard to consider Olivo a viable option in this senario then, if he would consent to stay with the Royals and not at least seek a starting job elsewhere.

      • ChrisS says:

        In 2007, Olivo had 123 Ks to 14 BBs and a 72 OPS+.

        This season, he has 58Ks to 2 BBs and an OBP of .280. His sole value on offense is that occasionally he hits a HR and this year he’s SLGing 70 points higher than his career rate.

        I’ll keep Cervelli, thanks.

  5. pc69 says:

    Had to step away. There are some very good points made about the DH spot and how to use Matsui. It is a very tricky balancing act that Joe must do, but if, as suggested above, he can limit the exposure of Matsui on a daily basis, I think that makes the team stronger. While Pena or Cervelli are not adequate replacements offensively for Matsui, they do add a different dimension with their AB’s that could benefit the team.

    After reading the a piece on CC’s tired arm and considering ARod’s tired body, I think there is a little blame that needs to be applied to Joe for leaning on injuried or just off injuried players too much.

    But, I think I am now convinced that as the team stands, short of Cashman pulling off a miracle trade or Nady resuming to career numbers, Matsui is not as a detriment as seem to want to believe.

  6. Bo says:

    Matsui shouldnt be playing everyday anyway. His bat isn’t good enough now and the team is far better defensively with Gardner playing everyday and giving the offense a different quality.

  7. Frankie says:

    The Matsui Era was nice while it lasted but he is not the same Hideki who was great with the stick.

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