Open Thread: Building a team with up the middle players


The late 90s Yankees were blessed with incredible talent in up-the-middle positions. Those teams are a testament to the strategy of developing pitching and up the middle players, and using trades and free agency to fill in the other positions. It’s just not easy to find players like Jorge, Jeter, and Bernie on the free agent market, or even in a trade from another team.

Part of the reason the Yankees succeeded in 2009 was that they had excellent talent up the middle. Jorge Posada is one of the best hitting catchers in the league. Jeter is near the top, if not at the top, for shortstops. Cano is one of the better hitting second basemen, and Melky Cabrera hits league average, which is above average for center fielders. The Yanks appear ready to reload, too, as their two top prospects are a catcher and a center fielder.

Over at Baseball Prospectus, friend of RAB Tommy Bennett looks at the up the middle free agents. As expected, the class isn’t all that inspiring. Thankfully, the Yankees have a superior player at every position except maybe center field (Mike Cameron), but even in that case they have a young player who has shown promise. He’s easily an acceptable alternative to Cameron.

Unfortunately, the article is subscriber-only. This is Tommy’s takeaway line, with which I fully agree. “The lesson to be drawn is that if you’re looking to add more than one of these players on the open market, you might want to take seriously the possibility that you’re not going to be competitive this year.” This is true in most years, and 2009 is no exception.

That said, this is your open thread for the evening. Treat it well.

Categories : Open Thread


  1. Dave says:

    More importantly, let’s end this stretch of horrible hockey.

  2. The Artist says:

    Anyone know if the Detroit writer who voted for Cabrera over Mauer was the same douchebag who voted for Verlander over Grienke, because “he saw Verlander and didn’t see Grienke as much”

  3. Salty Buggah says:

    I have been noticing for a while that on, it says weird things for the author of some articles. For the Twins site article on Mauer’s MVP, it said “By: objective and subjective measure.” On the Rosenthal article on his thoughts on MVP results, it said “By: a hair”

  4. JobaWockeeZ says:

    Can’t wait for the Radio Show. When do you think we can expect it?

  5. The Artist says:

    Dodgers “Long Shot” To Land Halladay
    By Howard Megdal [November 23 at 5:28pm CST]

    Dylan Hernandez of the Los Angeles Times reports that the Dodgers are a “long shot” to land Roy Halladay, while Los Angeles GM Ned Colletti indicated an unwillingness to add Chad Billingsley into any Halladay deal.

    It doesn’t take much of a leap to think the former is a result of the latter.

    Colletti refused to discuss Halladay specifically, but said of his desire to improve the pitching staff, “We would like to improve our pitching, especially starting pitching. I don’t believe we can subtract from it in order to improve it.”

    So I guess that stuff about Coletti wanting to dump Billingsley was bogus. It never made sense to me.

    • Mike Axisa says:

      Seriously. Selling low on a guy like that can be career suicide.

    • JobaWockeeZ says:

      Look, the Yankees aren’t the only team “in love” with prospects and young players. Go figure.

      • Lanny says:

        And thats whats called negotiating.

        What team would ever say its down on a player especially a pitcher like Billinglsey???

        They want to keep his stock propped up and make it seem like hes valuable. Even when his team felt so bad about him they didnt start him in the playoffs and let Kuroda start games for them.

        • The Artist says:

          What team would ever say its down on a player especially a pitcher like Billinglsey???

          A)A team that wanted to motivate him, thinking he didn’t give his best effort last year (See Yanks w/Cano last year)

          B)A team that wants to test the waters and see what offers they get, without actually putting him on the market.

          BTW-On that same topic, I’m still not 100% convinced the Yanks wouldn’t trade Swisher. His value is high, he has his limitations as a player, and he’s due to have serious money kick in over the next few years.

          • Jack says:

            I don’t think anyone has said they wouldn’t trade Swish. It really depends what they can get for him and who they can find to play RF.

  6. Rocky Road Redemption (formerly RAB poster) says:

    I think all of you will find this amusing:

    Click on the link. You know you want to.

  7. JMK aka The Overshare says:

    I think RAB should do more guest posts. How awesome would it be to have a Lanny/Bo post followed by a mryankee the next day? That’s change I can get behind.

  8. Salty Buggah says:

    Olney: “Heard this: Teams are being aggressive in pursuit of Randy Wolf, who is one of the best of FA starters not named Lackey.”

    Is this year’s class of FA pitchers so bad that Wolf is one of the best pitchers available?

  9. Mike Axisa says:

    Can Gaborik play 40 minutes a night?

  10. Bryan says:

    Hey so I got my Nike Yankees poster I got from Its really high quality paper, but the images are a bit fuzzed, which is to be expected. The original image was pretty small.

    Here are some pictures:

  11. ColoYank says:

    Is Ajax considered up-the-middle talent? Is he a for-real center fielder?

  12. Mike Axisa says:

    Michael Del Zotto is unimpressed by Steve Mason’s Calder Trophy.

  13. ColoYank says:

    When are the college basketball rankings revised each week? Where is the easiest place to find them?

    Beating Cal and North Carolina on the same weekend must have done wonders for Syracuse’s ranking, and I was trying to find it. I went to ESPN’s and to AP’s sites, but they must not be up yet.

  14. Salty Buggah says:

    Best Yankees players at each position for this decade?

  15. ColoYank says:

    Just look at the lineup now. Except substitute Bernie for Gardbrera.

  16. The Artist says:

    I’m amazed at the negative reaction I got for suggesting the Yanks pick up either Rafael Soriano or Mike Gonzalez today. Are people that shell shocked over Kyle Farnsworth that they’ll NEVER give up a draft pick again?

    • Mike Axisa says:

      It’s not that. It’s that spending big money on free agent relievers isn’t smart because they’re so damn volatile. Even the best are unpredictable. That’s why Mo is so amazing.

      Plus both Soriano and Gonzalez have injury histories, and you know someone will pay them to close. They won’t come to NY to set up out of the kindness of their hearts.

      • The Artist says:

        Both have set up in recent years (Gonzalez this year and Soriano last) and the closer thing is really a money issue, which can be worked out. Also, you could dangle the possibility of closing down the road, since Mo is 39.

        But don’t be so sure they’ll insist on closing. The Atlanta beat writer linked on MLBTR today was questioning how badly Soriano wanted to even pitch (much less close), and said Gonzalez is a ‘consummate pro’ who’ll do whatever is asked of him. I’d pursue both of them, and see which one bites first.

        • Mike Axisa says:

          Why (over)pay a guy for a task he isn’t performing? It’s not Farnsworth, it’s BJ Ryan and Steve Karsay. Two good years out of nine years they were paid to pitch.

          • The Artist says:

            Everyone knew BJ Ryan was a bad risk the day JP signed him. Farnsworth had a history of blowing up in pressure spots and Cash just dismissed it, and was wrong to do so. He should have done more homework on Farnsy. Karsay just didn’t work out, but that happens with prospects as well.

            As far as paying guys not to perform, we did the same thing with Big Unit, Javier Vasquez, Jaret Wright, Carl Pavano, and a few other guys I’m sure I’m forgetting. Should we have stopped signing starting pitchers, too? Where would we have been this year if we did?

    • Accent Shallow says:

      Those guys both aren’t bad, but I’m very reluctant to pay free agent relievers that aren’t great, great pitchers. Both those guys don’t have elite walk or home run-rates.

      (My standards may be a little high. The only free agent relievers I’d be willing to pay are Mo-type, like ’03 Gagne, ’07 Papelbon, etc etc)

  17. Stan Van Jeremy says:

    Teixeira finishing 2nd in the balloting might be one of the biggest jokes of the whole voting process. Obviously the moron who voted Verlander in the Cy Young, and moron who voted Miggy 1st in the MVP are bigger jokes, but Teixeira was probably only the 3rd most valuable player on his own infield, let alone 2nd most valuable in the AL.

    Mauer, Zobrist, Jeter, Longoria, ARod, Youkilis, and Miggy were all better choices than Teixeira.

    “But he had 122 (!) RBI!!!”

    • Salty Buggah says:

      Well, not really A-Rod since he missed 6 weeks and slumped for a month. If he played all year, probably.

      • ColoYank says:

        You can make a case, salty, that ARod is a true MVP contender for what he and the Yanks accomplished after he returned. It shows his value in high relief. I have to agree with Stan Van.

        • Salty Buggah says:

          Yea, I guess you can. I’m sure thats why he ended up in top 10 again. But I still think Tex was more valuable because he played all year.

        • radnom says:

          If you were a Boston fan you would be one of those people who argues that Tom Brady is a better QB than Manning purely because of what his team accomplished.

          • Rocky Road Redemption (formerly RAB poster) says:

            Come to think of it, I actually do think Brady is better than Manning. I’m not arguing who had the better season, just who’s the better player. I’d take Brady.

            When the Colts and Pats play they play great games.

            • radnom says:

              Fair enough, I completely dissagree but I’m not trying to say that its not debatable..

              But saying “hey, just look at the superbowls” is not a good argument. Unfortunately it is a very common one.

        • Rocky Road Redemption (formerly RAB poster) says:

          I disagree. A-Rod helped us a lot when he came back, no doubt. But that doesn’t take away the fact that his numbers were worse than Tex’s.

          Look at it this way: What if Tex were gone a month, but A-Rod was still there, and then Tex came back and ended up putting up the same numbers that he ended up with at the end of the season?

          Now what if A-Rod was here all season and he ended up putting up the same numbers that he ended up putting up after missing a month?

          Looked at that way Tex is far more valuable than A-Rod.

      • Stan Van Jeremy says:

        If memory serves, the Yankees were 13-15 when ARod returned on the fateful day in Baltimore in May. He didn’t play in every game after his return, obviously, but from that date the Yankees won 90 games, and lost only 44.

        Another thing to signify ARod’s value, imo – it was during his really bad slump in June where the Yankees nearly went in the tank. They got swept in Boston, won 2 of 3 from the Mets based on the luckiest play in baseball history (only slight exaggeration) lost 2 of 3 from the [b] NATIONALS [/b], and 2 of 3 from Florida. After ARod finally started hitting again (which was that magical 6/24 game in Atlanta, where everything came back together – the offense, the fight from the team, and ARod especially) the Yankees never looked back.

        That June 24th game is definitely one of those true “turning points”. We all remember how listless the Yankees were, and how the frustration amongst the fans rose. The 6th inning of that game may have very well changed the course of the entire season.

        • Rocky Road Redemption (formerly RAB poster) says:

          I think the turning point of the season was the A-Rod first pitch HR.

        • TheLastClown says:

          Look, Tex is historically a slow starter, and the bullpen was also in shambles at that point IIRC.

          I’m not saying A-Rod’s not immensely valuable, just that you can’t attribute the teams ultimate success to him. Or even mostly to him.

          He played a big role, but not an MVP role, he waited for the DS & CS for that.

          Aside from the obvious issue of the 28 game “Arodless” sample vs. the 134 games afterward, SSS alert, it doesn’t help anything but narrative to try & boil down a team’s success to a single thing or even game, a “turnaround” event.

          This is a great team, & A-Rod is a great player on it. Maybe he’ll contend for MVP next year, but he didn’t deserve it this year.

          • Evil Empire says:

            A-Rod got something better than MVP this year, anyway. But I’m not talking about his World Series ring. I’m talking about Kate Hudson.

    • Jack says:

      Mauer, Zobrist, Jeter, Longoria, ARod, Youkilis, and Miggy were all better choices than Teixeira.

      I agree with most of these, but I think I’d vote for Tex over Youk and Miggy. I think he’s better defensively than both of them (though Youk is close) and you could argue that he was better offensively than those two.

      Tex: .292/.383/.565 (149)
      Miggy: .324/.396/.547 (142)
      Youkilis: .305/.413/.548 (145)

      But yeah, he shouldn’t have been runner-up.

    • steve (different one) says:

      hey, i can type “fangraphs”!

  18. JMK aka The Overshare says:

    Lanny asked me to do a Joba love poem. Well, it’s not exactly that, and I stink at poetry (never went through an emo phase), but here goes:

    Oh Joba, oh Joba, we tithe our love to thee
    The 41st prize from the land of corn, meth and football
    Your graces are the most controversial of The Big 3
    To The 8th the Diabetic Coma Diet Cokes shout,
    He’s not a Starting pitcher, that kid’s got bullpen clout!
    He’s got one-inning composure, he’ll shorten the game!
    Holy bridge, Mosanna in the highest, the Holy Throne he’ll someday claim

    Beneath the bright lights in the blighted Bronx, fastballs fuck the wind
    He’s a starting pitcher, the brass says, one day, he’ll be our ace king!
    In the year of our Mo, 2008, he’ll move to the rotation, the crowds will hiss.
    Standing ovation.
    Ks left and right, 1-2-3, Joba’s doing great, look at that, DCOKE, now do you see?
    In deep trial, under strain, the shoulder pops, the dark of August! Not this game!
    The season was over, how could this be? Oh Joba, oh Joba, please return, return to thee!

    A new season begins–how many innings, the velocity, how will the bullpen be?
    Why, oh why, why is he at 90-93? Bring back the magic, to the 8th, he’ll hit 103!
    He lumbers–great, then good, then bad, then great. For there is no consistency.
    Ablaze in the sky is who we knew he could be. Look at the kid pitch
    Aces shooting down the stars right after the ASB! But it was not to hold.
    Extended rest, 7 days, 10, two weeks, maybe Thursday, can I grab anyone some drinks?

    Has he hit the wall, they say. He’s done, you can’t mess with the starter mentality!
    But the playoff’s fair game, his arm can fall off, at this time we have no shame
    4th starter in the playoffs? Not this time! Back to the 8th, his progeny
    Now without limit for 2010, it is time, oh Joba, oh Joba!
    Tip your straight cap and show us what you can be!
    Oh Joba, oh Joba, we tithe our love to thee.

  19. This House episode is way too fucking depressing.

  20. The Artist says:

    Help me out, folks. Name me some good hitting Catchers who’ve retired in the past 10 years or so. Piazza, Javy Lopez, Mike Stanley, and. . . .?

  21. Mike HC says:

    I need 11.5 points out of Kevin Walter in a .5 per reception league.

    I need a miracle.

  22. AndrewYF says:

    The Yankees were certainly competitive when they had Bernie at CF and Miguel Cairo at 2B in 2004. They even had Mr. 95 OPS+ himself, Tony Clark, at first base that year. I’m actually having a really hard time believing that offense actually scored 897 runs.

  23. Mike Pop says:

    The Islanders.

  24. DonnieBaseballHallofFame says:

    Anybody else hear anything about Craig Counsell? From Buster Onley’s twitter:

    “# Craig Counsell has attracted interest from 12 teams. Possible he will leave Milw. for a multi-year deal. Possible fits: NYY, Boston. 8:51 AM Nov 16th from web ”

    I like the lil guy and his grit and hustle and decent on base percentage, but do we really need an old Craig Counsell on a multi year deal? I do not see the need. He would be a great bench player for a one year but what kind of $ would he get for a multi?

  25. Teix is the Man says:

    Serious question….people are up in arms about Teix getting second place in the MVP voting– understandably so. However, he had a very good year statistics wise.
    My question is this; by the logic of some people, what qualifies a first baseman to win the MVP (I’m not being snarky, just genuinely confused)?

  26. Accent Shallow says:

    What do we think about Phil Hughes’ ability to translate his success this year to next? It sure seemed like half his PAs this year looked like this:

    Fastball down and away, called strike
    Fastball up and away, swinging strike
    Fastball middle up, swinging strike

    All 93-96. As awesome as it was to watch, it was a little worrying, like watching a non-obnoxious version of Papelbon — he can’t sustain that amount of whiffing, can he?

    • Well, it probably won’t be as high as it was as when he was relieving, but Phil could definitely rock out a K/9 between 7.5-9.0. He may not be blowing dudes away with the FB, but if he can mix in the deuce and change, he’ll be able to be effective.

  27. Okay so I went to a pizza place during my break at work today, right? I walk in and ask the girl behind the counter for a slice of regular. She proceeds to tell me that the place is out slices. Seriously. Out of slices. How in the fuck does a pizza place run out of slices?

  28. Evil Empire says:

    Isn’t it ironic that Lowell turned down 4 year deals to sign with the Red Sox? That’s why you go for the money every time, its not like the team actually gives a shit about you.

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