Building a bench to plug a DH hole

Slumping nothing new for the Yankees
The Big Man leads off a small series
Vlad gives it his all. (AP Photo/Brandon Wade)

Vladimir Guerrero played no small role in torturing the Yankees this past weekend. The one hitter the Yanks never signed but should have twice, Vlad knocked out six hits in 13 at-bats and even walked once for a cool .500 OBP. He swung at pitches at which he had no business swinging, but it’s always worked for him. Making just $6.5 million, he’s hitting .305/.348/.503 with 26 home runs, and the Yanks could have had him for $1 million more than Nick Johnson is making.

Johnson, of course, was the Yanks’ choice for the DH spot. With three free agent options — Guerrero, Matsui, Johnson — for that empty hole, the Yanks went with the youngest guy coming off a season in which he played 133 games and got on base 42.6 percent of the time. For $5.5 million, it seemed like the best choice, but Johnson played all of 24 games before coming down with a wrist injury. He won’t be back in 2011.

For the Yankees, though, the designated hitter spot hasn’t been a problem this year. Led by Marcus Thames, A-Rod and, to a lesser extent, Jorge Posada, the team’s DHs are hitting a combined .263/.348/.459 with 23 home runs in 583 plate appearances. Their sOPS+ — the overall OPS relative to the league split — is 114.

In fact, Nick Johnson’s injury allowed the Yankee braintrust to exploit the DH spot as they seem to prefer. Without a full-time designated hitter, the slot became one of rest. The DH hole allowed the Yanks to keep Jorge Posada, banged up and bruised all season, in the lineup more frequently than they could have. It allowed them to give A-Rod’s balky legs some time off the turf. It allowed them to ride a very hot Marcus Thames during the team’s recent eight-game winning streak.

Yet, that rotating DH spot has a residual impact on the rest of the lineup, and through it, we can see the weaknesses in the Yanks’ current roster construction. When, for instance, Alex Rodriguez DHs, someone else has to play third base, and that someone else — Ramiro Peña, Eduardo Nuñez, Kevin Russo — isn’t a very good hitter. In fact, Yankee third basemen are hitting .252/.316/.418 this season with an sOPS+ of 95. A-Rod’s contribution to that is a 116, which just goes to show how bad the rest of the team’s third base options are offensively.

The same problem arises behind the plate. Jorge Posada as a catcher has a .906 OPS and a 156 sOPS+. Francisco Cervelli, a fine player if used properly, has an sOPS+of 96 and nearly 300 plate appearances behind the plate. Against right-handers, in particularly, Cervelli is an offensive liablity, but he’s been pressed into service because Jorge Posada is 39.

For now, this imbalance brought about by the rotating DH is a problem that should plague the Yankees only in 2010. In fact, because of Jesus Montero‘s development and Jorge Posada’s contract, the Yanks have the DH situation largely in hand next year. Montero ought to be the primary catcher with Posada as the primary DH. Francisco Cervelli, then, will serve as the late-inning defensive replacement for Montero who can also start against left-handers when need be.

That three-headed DH/catcher platoon solves half of the problem. The Yankees still need to keep an eye on their bench for 2011, and they should go into and play out the season with a back-up infielder better than Ramiro Peña (and his third base sOPS+ of 12) available to them. Who that will be remains to be seen, but the Yanks have the money to spend on the bench.

Had Brian Cashman used his crystal ball to sign Vladimir Guerrero to a one-year deal ten months ago, we would be pleasantly thrilled with his production. But that was then, and this is now. If they play their cards right, they won’t have a DH problem come 2011.

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Slumping nothing new for the Yankees
The Big Man leads off a small series
  • http://kierstenschmidt.com Kiersten

    Montero ought to be the primary catcher with Posada as the primary DH. Francisco Cervelli, then, will serve as the late-inning defensive replacement for Montero who can also start against left-handers when need be.

    *salivates*

  • Andy In Sunny Daytona

    Man, you BABbi’s really, really, really, really hate Eduardo Nunez. He’s not even an upgrade over Ramiro Pena?

    • http://www.secondavenuesagas.com Benjamin Kabak

      He’s an upgrade over Ramiro Peña, but who isnt?

      • http://twitter.com/SteeeeveO Steve O.

        Tommy Manzella. That’s who.

        • http://twitter.com/SteeeeveO Steve O.

          *We fully understand what you mean, and are answering your question in a mildly sarcastic way, simply to mess with your head.

        • Thomas

          IMO, the worst thing about Manzella is he hasn’t even fielded well (-5 TZ), so he hasn’t even been worthy of being a backup.

          • http://twitter.com/SteeeeveO Steve O.

            The worst thing is his offense. A 500 OPS isn’t going to cut it.

            JMHO

      • Andy In Sunny Daytona

        Reegie Corona?

      • Ted Nelson

        Pena is a terrible hitter even compared to utility infielders, but I don’t see too many utility guys who are necessarily an offensive improvement over Nunez…

        I suppose two solutions are to employ a 3B/1B/DH guy or to trade for a starter from another team. If the Yankees want a traditional UT guy to play 2B, SS, 3B I don’t know you’re necessarily going to find a better bat than Nunez. Jed Lowrie is one guy, but he was one of the Sox better prospects and would probably be starting a lot of other places.

      • Sam P.

        Alvaro Espinoza? His 1990 season was a thing of beauty. I vaguely remember him being pretty bad back then. OPS+ of 50 was pretty awesome. Haha.

        BR link

    • http://twitter.com/SteeeeveO Steve O.

      Maybe they assume his defensive shortcomings will negate a lot of his offensive value over Pena?

      • Ted Nelson

        Why are you convinced Nunez is an awful defender?

        • whozat

          Because the scouting report on him in the minors has always said that he is, and he’s given me no reason to dispute that?

          • Ted Nelson

            Ummm maybe because he has given reason to dispute that this season… He had easily his best minor league season defensive and had only 10 errors at SS vs. 33 last season. His range and arm were never the issue, discipline and stupid errors were. There is a reason now to say he’s gotten over that.

            • Shaun

              That’s right, he was named the best defensive SS in the IL, also he can actually hit (14 hits in his 46 at bats in the majors and has only struck out 2)

    • larryf

      so early in his career. Give Nunez some time. What was Posada doing at 23? Not a star major league catcher.

      Also, how many teams employ a late inning defensive replacement at catcher? Montero will surprise us back there and in a tight game I wouldn’t take his bat out of the lineup for the great Cervelli. In a blowout, who cares?

      • http://twitter.com/SteeeeveO Steve O.

        At age 23, Posada showed a much more advanced approach at the plate than Nunez. He was also slugging respectably for a 23 year old Catcher in AAA. I don’t even know why you compare the two, to be honest.

        Agreed, but I don’t know if the Yankees will carry 3 Catchers when they promote Montero. They might choose to though, to ease Montero in. I wouldn’t take his bat out for Cervelli either, but he needs rest too.

        • Ted Nelson

          I’m not sure why he chose Posada, but you’re exaggerating a lot. Jorge certainly had more power, but their results over their 22 and 23 year old season are pretty close (but reversed, with Nunez only in AA at 22). Nunez looks like he can be a good utility guy or borderline ML starter… Especially because even though C is always a valuable position, you just don’t have many bats in the middle infield these days.

          http://www.baseball-reference......nez-002edu

          http://www.baseball-reference......sada001jor

          I don’t know exactly the solution at C next season, but between Montero’s inexperience and Posada’s “over-experience” I’d bet Cervelli at least gets a lot of Scranton-to-NY frequent flier miles next season. Then again, maybe Posada/Montero is sufficient. As far as roster spot, Yankees could use a spot some teams reserve for a Vlad type pure DH for Posada/Montero… so roster wouldn’t be too thrown off.

          • http://twitter.com/SteeeeveO Steve O.

            Posada’s advanced approach in AAA would make you think he could have a bright future as a ML starter. Nunez is a grade A hacker, which takes his value down a lot. Add in that he’s not a good defender, and you’ve got a fringe starter or a bench guy. The reason he’s a fringe starter is because of the lack of SS in the Majors.

            Posada’s build also left a lot of power projection left, while Nunez is essentially tapped out on power. Posada was just a much better prospect than Nunez in every aspect of the game, especially the most important ones.

            I’d bet they start the season with Cervelli and Posada, with Montero coming up in late May, or early June. I think they’ll sign a full time DH.

            • Ted Nelson

              Again, I don’t know why Posada’s name was the one chosen.

              I’m not saying Nunez is going to transform into a power-hitting C. I’m not even saying that Nunez is as good a prospect as Posada. I do think you’re exaggerating about Posada through 20/20 hindsight. Sure, he was a better prospect at 23 with a higher ceiling. At 22 and 23, though, his overall SLG% and BB/SO ratio was about the same as Nunez. Posada kept getting better and better even in the majors, but not all prospects do that. That’s not the main point here, though. Posada was just a somewhat random example Larry threw out there. Not entirely random, because he flew under the radar–possible best C of last decade, but not top 100 prospect according to BA–but the Yankees saw something in him and he pulled through. Yankees seem higher on Nunez than the average analyst. Posada really broke out in AAA at 24, so it is always possible Nunez gets it all together at 24 (even if his “all together” is worse than Posada’s).

              The main point is that Nunez is a solid prospect as a utility guy. Details about his prospects vs. Posada’s in 1995 aside. There does seem to be a consensus among RAB writers that Nunez stinks. We’ll have to see.

              I don’t think you can just ignore the dearth of SSs when analyzing a prospect. If Nunez can play SS and be a league average hitter… that does make him a starting caliber SS.

              “Add in that he’s not a good defender”

              There seems to be a decent amount of debate on the issue. However, relative to Posada… Posada was also not a good defender by any means. That was a knock against him until 1/2 way through his ML career. If you are arguing Posada v. Nunez–which we’re not–you can’t cite defense as a positive for Posada…

              • http://twitter.com/SteeeeveO Steve O.

                Posada had much more projection left is what you are missing. Posada was like a Carlos Santana with less power at the age. His approach and increasing power numbers gave you a lot of confidence in his future. Nunez has no projection left. He has no plate discipline, which severely limits his ceiling. Nunez is what he is: A light hitting, no plate discipline, average to below average fielding SS.

                Posada’s defense is much different. Catchers don’t get nearly as much chances as SS do. Posada by all accounts hasn’t been a terrible defender, his CS% is in the low to mid 20s.

                This isn’t the argument. What I’m saying is that Nunez’s approach and his frame prevent him from ever being an elite player. An IsoD of .20 doesn’t inspire confidence, it does the opposite. Discipline that bad often gets exposed in the Majors. He doesn’t hit for power either. Nunez is a fringe starter on a bad team, utility guy on a good team.

                • Ted Nelson

                  “Posada had much more projection left is what you are missing.”

                  You are saying this now because he continued to improve. At the time, scouts were not generally saying this. That’s how he missed BA’s top 100 even though he was a switch-hitting, power-hitting C…

                  “Posada was like a Carlos Santana with less power at the age. His approach and increasing power numbers gave you a lot of confidence in his future.”

                  NO! Santana was a consensus top 10 prospect. It’s easy to point to Jorge’s progress as a young player now and say it was obvious he was destined for stardom. At 23 this was not the case, though.

                  “Nunez has no projection left.”

                  Says who? There’s no 23 year old player with no chance of getting better.

                  “Posada by all accounts hasn’t been a terrible defender”

                  Yes, by all accounts he was a bad defensive prospect. Again, hindsight is 20/20. Posada’s defense was not only knocked as a prospect, but his first several ML seasons.

                  “This isn’t the argument. What I’m saying is that Nunez’s approach and his frame prevent him from ever being an elite player.”

                  Who is saying he’ll be an elite player? We’re talking about him as a utility IFer. Elite UT is a contradiction.

                  “Nunez is a fringe starter on a bad team, utility guy on a good team.”

                  And………. the Yankees are a good team!!!! So, why can’t he be a utility guy for them??????????? That’s the issue here. The RAB writers consistently knock Nunez as a utility prospect and act as if he can’t ever play at the ML level or something. Maybe that’s the case. We’ll have to see. It seems a bit harsh to me just like Larry, though.

                  • Ted Nelson

                    Also, you might consider that Nunez just stopped switch hitting last season and give a bit of slack/room for improvement. I don’t know his previous splits, but his two best seasons since he was 18 have come since he stopped hitting lefty… probably not a coincidence.

                    Speed is also one of his better tools.

                  • http://twitter.com/SteeeeveO Steve O.

                    If Posada was in AAA for his whole age 24 season like Santana, he would have been a top ten prospect. He had a Santana like approach, is what I’m trying to tell you. You’re ignoring each of my points.

                    Look up the word ‘depth’ then get back to me ASAP.

                    • Ted Nelson

                      I am not ignoring your points. I am disagreeing with some of them.

                      Santana was a top 10 prospect BEFORE his 24 year old season, so your point is A. incorrect and B. even more incorrect because Santana has no spent his whole 24 year old season in AAA. Santana was also a top 25 type after his 23 year old season. His OPS was 200-300 points higher than Posada’s at 22 and 23.
                      The point is that Posada was not a generally hyped prospect outside the Yankees organization. His defense was often criticized. I am not saying all-hail to the BA Top 100 list, I’m just saying that you’re viewing things through 20/20 hindsight in calling Posada an obviously destined for great things prospect.

                      “Look up the word ‘depth’ then get back to me ASAP.”

                      Really?

                    • http://twitter.com/SteeeeveO Steve O.

                      Yes, really. Depth is why the Yankees signed Randy Winn, Marcus Thames, Dustin Mosely, Jason Hirsh, etc. You are underestimating depth. Does this mean the Yankees have no faith in their minor league guys? No, it doesn’t. It means that the Yankees want more options.

                      Posada was a much better hitter than Nunez at the same age.

                      Nunez never walks. Never. He’s almost Francouerian. When does that ever translate to MLB?

                    • Ted Nelson

                      If they had a Nunez waiting in AAA, maybe they don’t sign Winn. I really couldn’t care less if the Yankees do or do not sign a veteran IFer. My point is that there’s a decent chance Nunez is a better player. This is why I keep asking who the candidates are. There are a lot of OFers out there who can hit the ball, there aren’t nearly as many middle infielders.

                      His AAA BB% of 6.7, if it translated directly to the bigs, would put him ahead of some accomplished ML hitters (Tejada, Reyes, Ichiro, Vladimir Guerrero, Juan Pierre, Alex Rios, Adrian Beltre) and right in the neighborhood of others (Jerry Hairston… a classic utility guy, Victor Martinez, Carl Crawford, Michael Young). He is not some outrageously walk impaired individual, in my opinion. If he can improve a little to 8%… he’s around the league median.

  • The Three Amigos

    The one thing is, with Arod and Posada’s health this year — if they had not Dh’d in those games, pena, nunez or cervilli would still be in the lineup but only with Thames, Berkman or Johnson as DH. The inferior player would still play, but Alex and Jorge would not.

    • http://twitter.com/SteeeeveO Steve O.

      A half day off isn’t as refreshing as a whole day off. With more full days off, they can play more days in the field with the DH bat in the lineup.

    • http://www.secondavenuesagas.com Benjamin Kabak

      That’s for 2010, and that’s why they probably should have devoted more resources to the bench this year. For 2011, the same issue shouldn’t arise again.

    • LarryM., FL.

      I don’t know if Aaron Hill can play SS but I believe he could be a buy low with much reward situation. The guy is a little rough in the field but third and second can be handle without a issue. He has power and I believe his .214 BA is just a bad bad year. Nunez with a small sample does not look polished at the plate or in the field but he gets more hits then Ramiro. There should be a rotation of the entire infield getting at least one day off with Swisher subbing for Teix. and our new super replacement doing the infield merry-go round. So, a good middle infielder trade will be an important piece.

      This past week has shown our Yanks to again show less their inability to manufacture runs. This is basicly because its a good hitting team in a slump. Our guys have trouble stealing and bunting. I guess you can’t ask much for 210 mil p[ayroll.

  • theyankeewarrior

    Juan. Uribe.

    • http://twitter.com/SteeeeveO Steve O.

      Pass. He’d be too expensive, and he sucks. He’ll start for some team.

    • AndrewYF

      Juan Uribe has exactly 2 seasons where he was above league average offensively. One of those seasons came 6 years ago.

      He sucks.

      He’s certainly not worth the multiple millions of dollars it will take to sign him.

      We need to stop being obsessed with shitty veterans who are not that much of an upgrade over shitty non-veterans from the farm making the league minimum and that have options.

      I mean, people are advocating signing Christian Guzman as the solution to our bench ‘woes’? Seriously?

      • http://twitter.com/SteeeeveO Steve O.

        Christian Guzman isn’t a terrible option. If he would take $700,000 plus incentives, he’d be a nice piece considering a weak market. He might be able to find a little more money and a starting job, though.

        • AndrewYF

          In the past two years, Christian Guzman has an OPS+ of 83 and 75.

          His peak came at his normal peak year ages. He’s going to be 33 next year.

          What am I missing here?

          • http://twitter.com/SteeeeveO Steve O.

            Oh no, he’s not a good offensive player by any means. He isn’t a zero with the bat, he plays multiple positions, and his contract demands won’t be crazy. That’s where his value lies.

            Guys better than him are getting full time jobs elsewhere. Hell, Guzman might get a starting job somewhere.

            • AndrewYF

              “He isn’t a zero with the bat, he plays multiple positions”

              You know who also fits this description? Eduardo Nunez.

              • http://twitter.com/SteeeeveO Steve O.

                Depth is key. If Nunez tanks, who is there to turn to? Pena? Corona?

                It’s best to sign a veteran on the cheap, then give the kid a chance if the veteran tanks.

      • theyankeewarrior

        Both of these are valid arguments. But enlighten me as to whom would be a better fit for the bench.

        Keep in mind, the Yankees are the ONLY team in MLB that needs an over-priced, fringe starter who can play SS and 3B. They’re also one of the only teams in MLB that can reasonably afford one.

        • theyankeewarrior

          I’m thinking 1yr/2-3M for Juan Uribe

          • Hughesus Christo

            Juan Uribe is terrible

        • AndrewYF

          Juan Uribe and Christian Guzman aren’t the answer. Juan Uribe and Christian Guzman suck.

          As much as the RABbis hate him, it still makes more sense to try out Eduardo Nunez rather than waste a 40-man roster spot and 3M on a guy who is almost guaranteed to suck.

          • Hughesus Christo

            But Guzman would at least carry Marcus Thames’ torch as designated former prospect returned as broken down bench player.

  • Gonzo

    I know people are gonna hate me for saying this, but what if Montero can’t handle MLB catching duties next year?

    It’s rare that a decent fielding catcher is ready defensively at 21. Just saying because you know KLaw and Callis are gonna say he isn’t ready to catch in the bigs.

    • AndrewYF

      Can Montero do that much worse than Cervelli/Posada? Their defense at the catcher position has been horrendous this year. Everyone’s saying Montero is horrendous at catching, well, clearly it’s not a big roadblock to a contending team.

      • Gonzo

        To answer your question, I’ve heard his defense could be much worse.

        • Shaun

          Montero isn’t as bad as the rumors I will admit the 2010 defense stats don’t look pretty, but there is as big a discrepancy with his defense from the first half and second half as there is with his offense from the first half and second half.

          from the start of the 2010 season to July 9 he had 12 passed balls and was being run on at will, 19 for 87 (21% cs)

          Since July 9th:

          3 pb’s, and caught 11 players stealing out of 12 attempts

          It has also been stated by yankee officials, and scouts (take from that as you will) that his accuracy has improved greatly as well as his footwork and his timing on the throw is consistently at 1.9 seconds.

          This is a small sample size but if you include his time in Trenton where he also flashed good defense I think he will be capable of being at least as good as Posada. Montero struggles in the first half probably played a part in his improvement,

          Like players whose bats take time to adjust to higher levels of pitching it almost looks like Montero does the same thing except with his glove.

      • Ed

        Posada gets away with his defense because he has a great bat.

        If Montero starts off in the majors the way he did in AAA, it’s going to be really ugly. You don’t want a catcher struggling both offensively and defensively.

        • http://twitter.com/SteeeeveO Steve O.

          If Montero starts off in the majors the way he did in AAA, it’s going to be really ugly. You don’t want a catcher struggling both offensively and defensively.

          Like Francisco Cervelli?

          • Gonzo

            This is based on the assumption that Montero would play worse D than Cervelli. Which is what most scouts say will happen.

            • http://twitter.com/SteeeeveO Steve O.

              Yeah, he probably will. Scouts do not like his defense.

              • Gonzo

                So, what if Montero is so horrible on D (like he can’t start bad), but hitting well? Do you keep Montero up as a DH, basically sentencing him to 1b/DH for the rest of the year. That would hurt his catching development to a point where people would no longer consider him a catcher, ever.

                • http://twitter.com/SteeeeveO Steve O.

                  Catch him until his catching is a liability to the team. If teams steal 4-5 bases and Montero passes like 3-4 balls a game, then he’ll probably get moved over.

                  Basically, catch him until his offense/defense at another position drastically outweighs his offense/defense at C.

          • JCK

            Cervelli’s 2009 was .298/.309/.372 and he made 1 error and had 43% caught stealing percentage in 40 games (241 innings). I don’t think you could reasonably say he struggled out the gate offensively or defensively…

            • Hughesus Christo

              He sucks.

              See: Cabrera, Melky

            • http://twitter.com/SteeeeveO Steve O.

              Ed didn’t specify when, he just said struggling both offensively and defensively. Which Cervelli did for the better part of two months this season.

  • Ted Nelson

    I would definitely not discount Nunez as a possible part of the solution to the bench problems.

    • http://twitter.com/SteeeeveO Steve O.

      I wouldn’t either. I’d rather bring in someone for the bench, preferably a proven vet, and keep Nunez in AAA. If the vet bombs, cut him, bring up Nunez. Depth is important.

      • AndrewYF

        What’s the advantage in bringing in a ‘proven vet’? I would argue it’s a disadvantage, because the only way you’re going to get a proven vet is if he sucks enough to accept a bench role. And then, since he’s not used to riding the pine, he’ll likely suck. Look no further than Randy Winn, whose bat was a much better option than any middle infielder who’s going to be out there in this offseason.

        Promote from within and/or give minor league deals, and if that doesn’t work, make trades in the midseason. This is what the Yankees do every year anyway, except they always waste money and a roster spot on one or two ‘proven vets’ at the beginning of the year. So let’s cut that part out and enjoy employing a proven strategy.

        Promoting from within also lets you have more flexibility with your 40-man roster spots. Give a ‘proven vet’ a roster spot over someone from the farm, and a prospect who needs to be protected from the Rule 5 gets the axe. Look at Kanekoa Texeira, who, while not the greatest bullpen option, would certainly be more valuable to the Yankees now than Chan Ho Park or Randy Winn.

        It’s not a huge deal, but it’s a good way to optimize your organization.

        • Ted Nelson

          I think that Nunez is *likely* to be as good as any offseason utilityman acquisition, but I certainly wouldn’t rule it out. Someone may emerge on either the free agent or trade market who is an ideal solution. I would keep an open mind, though I haven’t really thought about candidates (see below).

        • http://twitter.com/SteeeeveO Steve O.

          Signing a guy like Marcus Thames has huge benefits. Look no further than, well, Marcus Thames. Signing a veteran takes pressure off the younger guys and provides more depth and flexibility. Nunez can very well replicate Pena’s stats and I wouldn’t be surprised. A rookie getting limited ABs for the first time in his life probably won’t adjust well to that.

          Plus, it’s better for Nunez’s development to stay in AAA. Eventhough I think this is who he is as a player.

          40 Man roster optimization isn’t important when considering one player that can be cut with no harm. There will be some dead weight on the roster such as Corona, Sanchez, Albaladejo(I say he never gets his chance), Garrison, etc.
          Saving a 40 Man spot isn’t going to stop the Yankees from signing any player they want.

          • Ted Nelson

            ” Nunez can very well replicate Pena’s stats and I wouldn’t be surprised.”

            Yeah, he hit for 100 pts better OPS in AA and AAA than Pena, but he’ll hit the same in the MLs as Pena… Makes sense. It’s only 48 PAs, but he hasn’t exactly been getting killed by ML pitching so far or putting up a Pena like OPS+ of 43…

            “Signing a guy like Marcus Thames has huge benefits.”

            That’s not really an effective argument… You say Thames, Andrew says Winn/CHP/Kanekoa Texeira… Throwing out one example doesn’t prove a point. It depends on the situation as well as luck.

            • All Praise Be To Mo

              Should we really judge a prospects ability to hit based upon a sporadic 48 at bat sample? Didn’t Cano start off his career 1-24 or something?

              • http://twitter.com/SteeeeveO Steve O.

                He was defending Nunez’s production when talking about the 48 ABs. He acknowledged the SSS too.

            • http://twitter.com/SteeeeveO Steve O.

              Yeah, he hit for 100 pts better OPS in AA and AAA than Pena, but he’ll hit the same in the MLs as Pena… Makes sense. It’s only 48 PAs, but he hasn’t exactly been getting killed by ML pitching so far or putting up a Pena like OPS+ of 43…

              Rookies come up all the time and struggle. Why would Nunez be different even considering a limited role? Hackers have a terrible track record in MLB.

              That’s not really an effective argument… You say Thames, Andrew says Winn/CHP/Kanekoa Texeira… Throwing out one example doesn’t prove a point. It depends on the situation as well as luck.

              Because if you never sign those veterans, you’ll never know you can catch lightning in a bottle. Do you think the Yankees are missing Texeira? Hell no. They have much better options. And Texeira was selected in the rule V, those are different circumstances. Year after year, veterans are signed for the reason that they are a proven commodity.

              Teams sign these older guys for their track record. If those players bust, then give the kids a shot. You’re telling me you wanted Golson and Curtis on the bench to begin the season? That’s bullshit, you know you wanted the veterans for the reason explained above.

              • Ted Nelson

                “Rookies come up all the time and struggle. Why would Nunez be different even considering a limited role? Hackers have a terrible track record in MLB.”

                Certainly good players tend to improve with ML experience. I don’t have any numbers in front of me, but I’m not debating that.

                We’re talking about a utility guy, though. The Yankees need someone who can at least back-up Jeter at SS (unless they want to try A-Rod or Cano there). I don’t know that they’ll find a better option than Nunez. He may take some lumps as a rookie, he may fail altogether, but I like him as an option. I would certainly keep my eyes open for a better solution in free agency and trades, and have said as much. I would look to bring some competition into camp and if Nunez is the guy have the Pena’s and Russo’s and others in Scranton waiting.

                I don’t think Nunez is as bad a hacker as you make him out to be. Certainly he’s not disciplined. He’s not Joaquin Arias or something either, though. 6.7 BB% is bad, but it’s not terrible.

                “Because if you never sign those veterans, you’ll never know you can catch lightning in a bottle.”

                Can make the same argument for prospects. If you never bring them up, you don’t know exactly what you’ve got or who can catch lightning in a bottle. I wasn’t saying don’t sign veterans, I was saying that your argument was flawed and Andrew made the same argument in the other direction.

                Texeira is not a different situation. It’s a 40 man roster situation. The point is that you can make a counter argument… maybe something like if the Astros hadn’t signed veteran X they would have protected Johan Santana… That’s no more an argument for never signing veterans than yours is for always signing veterans.

                “You’re telling me you wanted Golson and Curtis on the bench to begin the season?”

                I do not view Golson and Curtis the same way I do Nunez. Curtis has exploded this season as a 25 year old in his 2nd AAA season, but overall those are OFers without major league bats. You can’t simply ignore Nunez’s position.

                • Ted Nelson

                  Following up on veterans… My point is just that they shouldn’t sign a veteran to a ML deal/trade for one and put him in the Bronx just to have a veteran. If the right guy comes along, sure. If not at least let Nunez compete for the job in camp.

      • Ted Nelson

        I’m just curious as to what utility guy people think will be superior to Nunez. I wouldn’t object to bringing in some competition, certainly, but I don’t see hardly any utility guys around the league who are obviously better than Nunez. Jed Lowrie, Bill Hall, maybe Tejada… To get a guy who can play SS and hit on your bench… pretty tough.

        • http://twitter.com/SteeeeveO Steve O.

          It is tough, but Nunez as a rookie will probably come up and play terrible. It’s just the nature of the game. Add in the fact that playing time will be sporadic, and he’ll be in a pennant race for the whole year, he could easily have a terrible year.

          It’s not about being superior. It’s about having depth and a slightly below average, cheap, veteran who can handle playing once or twice a week.

          • Ted Nelson

            He will come up and play terribly in sporadic at bats in a pennant race???????????????????? He’s up right now getting sporadic at bats in a pennant race…

            Does that mean he’ll put up the same numbers next season? (Or even the rest of this season…) No. My question, though, is what utility guy(s) you want the Yankees to acquire who you *project* based on statistical evidence to play better next season than Nunez… Your unsubstantiated predictions of terribleness for all rookies aside. Finding a true utility IFer with an OPS+ above 80 isn’t that easy. The best solution may be to find a 3B/RF/LF/1B/DH guy with a good bat to take some A-Rod at DH ABs and then carrying an additional UT IFer behind him in Nunez… but depending on what avenues are available to the Yankees, Nunez very well may be their best option for a back-up IFer. He can play 3 positions and handle the bat.

            • http://twitter.com/SteeeeveO Steve O.

              It’s not about him being the best option for the bench. It is that there are OTHER options that may replicate, outproduce, slightly under-produce, or vastly under-produce Nunez. That depth is what teams value. You know what depth is. Why are you pretending like depth isn’t real or valued in baseball?

              Nunez has 50 ABs. No statistical analysis can be derived from 50 ABs. In the history of baseball, rookies have a long track record of getting exposed. Look at Wieters, Matusz, Alvarez, etc.. There are multiple rookies struggling every year. Nunez’s approach would lead you to believe that he could be exposed more easily. He will not take a pitch.

              • Ted Nelson

                I just don’t think utility infield depth is that crucial. The Yankees have two options in-house in Nunez and Pena. They appear to be fairly high on Nunez and Pena has to play at least a little better next season. They can pick up a utility IF on the trade market. I don’t think the depth at utility IF is so crucial that you can’t start the season with Nunez there if he’s your best option… If there’s a better option, take it. You are coming across as if it is imperative to sign any utility IF veteran on the market just to have a veteran and some utility infield depth.

                Nunez is not a patient hitter, but he’s also not some historically impatient hitter.

  • STEVIS

    Cervelli is the worst catcher in MLB, can’t hit , can’t throw Anyone out and makes stupid plays constantly…… at best the guy should be in AAA.
    Obviously we are watching the decline of Posada, maybe we should get a better caddy for next year and hope that Montero can fill the bill in 2012

    • http://twitter.com/SteeeeveO Steve O.

      Saying he’s the worst Catcher in the league is an overstatement. Koyie Hill probably deserves that title. Cervelli sucks, but he’s not historically bad, and he has his uses. Posada’s bat is still there, he just needs more rest.

    • Chris

      Cervelli isn’t good, but he’s far from the worst catcher in MLB. From a hitting standpoint, there are a ton of catchers worse than him. He ranks 45 out of 103 in wOBA.

      As for basestealing, he threw out over 40% of baserunners in the minors and over 40% last year. This year he’s at 16%. It’s certainly possible that he’s just forgotten how to throw runners out and now sucks. More likely, this is either just a slump or due to pitchers not holding runners well.

      • http://www.twitter.com/jordan_smed JGS

        or due to pitchers not holding runners well.

        Most likely this. Posada usually catches Pettitte and CC.

  • Avi

    I LOVE Montero and think he has a chance to have a hall of fame career. However, more than likely he will end up playing first base in the majors which means DH with the yankees. While a Miguel Cabrera type DH is wonderful the yankees can easily fill that spot with adam dunn, paul konerko, lance berkman etc..
    An offensive shortstop will be the hardest thing the yankees will have to replace.
    How about Montero, Nunez and Nova to Florida for Hanley? Hanley’s salary is going from 7 mil this year to 11 mil next and 15mil in 2012 and 2013. Florida can put jesus at first and let him mash, slot Nova into their rotation and let nunez play solid defense and steal 40 bags next year. WE then sign Dunn to DH, offer Jeet arbitration and get a first round pick in a VERY deep draft if he declines.

    • Gonzo

      It would take more than that to get Hanley for starters. I agree with one thing. That Montero might just be a 1b/DH if he starts next year in the mojors.

      • Avi

        Not if Florida is looking to move his salary. I realize it’s a big if with them getting their new ballpark in 2012..

        • Chris

          They can’t move salary. They’ve already been dinged by MLB/the Union because they aren’t spending enough on players. They can’t cut salary further.

        • Jobu

          That is possible, but another team would offer more than what you are proposing.

        • Gonzo

          If they want to deal Hanley they can negotiate with other teams. 10 other GM’s could and would beat that offer at the drop of a hat.

          • Avi

            Out of all the teams that can take on a $15 mil contract none has a player as highly touted and as far away from his arbitration years as Montero.

            • http://twitter.com/cephster Ross in Jersey

              Wrong.

              Mike Trout is younger and ranked higher than Montero by baseball america. And, the Angels could take on $15 million.

              • Gonzo

                And, I bet some owners would make an exception to their budget if it meant getting Hanley.

              • Avi

                Trout and the Angels are a good one. Only thing Montero has over him is that he’s ready now and trout has only played as high as A ball thus far. Also if your trading Hanley i’d think you’d want a thumper back and not a potential carl crawford. Erik Aybar is pretty good too. – maybe Aybar and trout for hanley.

              • Avi

                Also if you’re Florida you prob want the 1st baseman over the OF with Morrison/ Maybin/ Stanton out there

                • All Praise Be To Mo

                  Wasn’t Morrison originally a 1B though? I love Jesus, but I’d take Trout over him in a second.

                  • Avi

                    Yeah, they’ve been playing him if left though. I don’t love trout that much. Just doesn’t hit for enough power to project as a superstar. I mean his ceiling looks like something between crawford and Ichiro and he could still stall or at least regress in the upper minors. I like Jesus better.

    • Tim

      Here’s an idea – how about we trade Ramiro Pena, Nova, Cervelli, Sergio Mitre, and an autographed copy of Joe Torre’s The Yankee Years to Florida for Hanley and Josh Johnson. That trade is just about as likely as the one you just suggested, anyway.

      • http://bomberbanter.com BomberBanter.com

        Agreed – although I was going to say an autographed copy of Perfect I’m Not: Boomer on Beer, Brawls, Backaches and Baseball, which I would guess is the superior read, although I didn’t read the Yankees Years

      • Joe West’s Music Career

        Not enough. Gotta throw Gaudin in to seal the deal. If NJ wasn’t on the DL, he could make the package a lock.

    • Jobu

      What do you do when Jeter accepts arbitration?

      • http://www.twitter.com/tomzig Tom Zig

        Kick the table and scream

      • Avi

        He won’t. Especially if you have already traded for Hanley. if he does you don’t sign Dunn and you have him for just one year. If you’re really concerned he accepts arbitration you dont offer it. getting the first rounder for Jeet was just the icing on the cake.

    • http://www.twitter.com/tomzig Tom Zig

      I laughed.

    • http://twitter.com/SteeeeveO Steve O.

      Batshit insane.

  • http://twitter.com/cephster Ross in Jersey

    If Fransisco Cervelli ever starts a game on the same team as a healthy Jesus Montero and Jorge Posada, they will hear my screaming in Florida.

    • http://bomberbanter.com BomberBanter.com

      there will be a game where Posada is the DH and Montero is getting a day off in 2011… the day Burnett pitches? Probably.

      • Hughesus Christo

        Cervelli as personal catcher is working wonders this ye…

    • Chris

      There is nothing wrong with him starting games in the middle of the season to keep everyone fresh. The problem is having him starting too many games or starting meaningful (i.e. playoff) games.

      • http://theyankeeu.com Matt Imbrogno

        I know they made it through with Molina last year, but I really hope they don’t start Cervelli in these playoffs.

        • http://www.twitter.com/jordan_smed JGS

          Odds of Cervelli starting playoff games this year: roughly 100%

          • Chris

            I’m not so sure. He won’t start when CC, Pettitte or Hughes pitches.

      • http://twitter.com/cephster Ross in Jersey

        So we’re carrying 3 catchers the entire year? Batshit retarded.

        • http://www.secondavenuesagas.com Benjamin Kabak

          No, we’re not. As I said in the post, one is the primary DH who also happens to be able to catch now and then.

          • http://twitter.com/cephster Ross in Jersey

            1)What’s “Now and then” though? 30 games? 20? In an injury plagued year, he’s already started 68 games behind the plate. He’ll probably finish around 75 by the end of the year. Is he really going to catch that much less next year? If not, can’t Montero handle 80-90 games catching?

            2)If we still need a backup catcher for more than a few games, then sign someone better than Cervelli who isn’t such a liability on both sides of the ball.

            • Chris

              In my view, the third catcher would only catch about 30 games, plus in the case of injury. The problem with not carrying a third catcher is that Girardi (or any manager) would be reluctant to frequently DH one of his catchers and use the other at catcher. Even Joe Mauer only DHs about half the time that he doesn’t catch.

              If the third catcher is going to play so infrequently, then why waste money to sign a better one? Also, who’s going to come to the Yankees for such a part time role?

              • http://twitter.com/cephster Ross in Jersey

                Your point about not playing both your catchers is a good one. Can’t argue with that.

                But we’re not talking about a major signing. How much was Jose Molina? 1 million? Two?

                Again, I am a strong opponent of Cervelli not because he doesn’t hit, but because he can’t hit OR play defense.

                • Gonzo

                  Look at the people you want to sign for $1mm+. Look at their ages, then look at their stats. $1mm doesn’t buy as much as it used to anymore.

            • http://www.secondavenuesagas.com Benjamin Kabak

              You’re not going to find a true back-up catcher much better than Cervelli. Don’t let a few foolish plays blind you to that fact. He’s an offensively liability who’s been overexposed this year, but I fully expect him to handle the load a real back-up would handle.

              If Jorge’s DHing every day and Montero’s catching, they’re going to need an actual second catcher who isn’t Jorge Posada. And yes, I expect Posada, another year older next year, to catch less than he did this year. It’s an ongoing trend in his playing time as he gets older.

              • Gonzo

                Here’s the big what-if in your scenario. What if Montero is hitting well, but cannot play acceptable MLB defense? Like just cannot play catcher in the MLB yet.

                Do you, a) send him down, b) DH him c) trade him?
                Because if you start to DH him, he will no longer be considered a catcher by anyone. He wouldn’t be working on his defense at all next year.

                • All Praise Be To Mo

                  So you’re saying during the entire season with Posada, Cervelli, and coaches Tona Pena and Joe Girardi on the staff that Montero wouldn’t be working on his defense all year?

                  • Gonzo

                    In game experience>>>>>>>>>working on game while DH’ing.

                    JMHO, but I think most would agree.

                  • Gonzo

                    So yes, I am saying that losing one year of prime (age 21) development game experience would be a big step back for Montero.

                    Let me get this straight though. You are saying that if he couldn’t play acceptable MLB Catchers’s D in ’11, he would be able to the next year without game time experience as a catcher?

        • http://www.twitter.com/jordan_smed JGS

          When one of them is a backup catcher and the third is a backup backup catcher and can’t do anything else? Yes, I agree. That is dumb use of roster space.

          However, when two of them are good enough hitters to insert into the DH spot on a regular basis, then it becomes a choice between taking a third catcher and taking a second utility infielder. How often did Kevin Russo actually play when he was with the team a few months back? The only material difference would be an inability to pull both Jeter and A-rod in the late innings of blowouts and if you really want, you can still do that as long as you work on getting Cervelli to play a passable third base (which he should work on anyway).

          • Chris

            then it becomes a choice between taking a third catcher and taking a second utility infielder.

            Not really. It becomes a question of whether or not to carry a full time DH or have the flexibility of 2 catchers/DHs.

  • http://bomberbanter.com BomberBanter.com

    Montero looks like he’s hitting his way out of Scranton next year, so I expect him to be on the MLB team and that being said, Cervelli will have to be his backup, because catching Posada, at this point isn’t a viable option if you want him to get significant at bats at DH, which is the only way to get much out of him next year, given his health. Or, they could employ Posada at catcher until he breaks – and he will.

    • Chris

      My vision would be to have both Montero and Posada catch and DH about 65 games each. Cervelli would start the other 30 games at catcher and you could rotate the other 20 or so games at DH (there are less DH games because of interleague). It would probably help Montero adjust if you primarily pair him up with 2 starters for the whole season so he can learn what they do rather than trying to have to learn an entire staff as a rookie.

  • Hughesus Christo

    I saw this suggested somewhere…

    All offseason, make Cervelli learn to play 3B and corner OF. If he can’t hit, he might as well absorb two of the crap spots rather than one.

    • Andy In Sunny Daytona

      He can play 3rd now.

      • Chris

        So can Thames!

        • Andy In Sunny Daytona

          But Frankie can play a passable 3rd.

    • http://twitter.com/cephster Ross in Jersey

      Know who said that? It was Axisa and the preface was “Get him the fuck out of here until..”

  • larryf

    I trust in Wynegar/ Girardi/Pena/Posada to get Montero where he needs to be defensively if he is capable. I have seen him play several times and I think he is. It’s not like he will be replacing Johnny Bench back there. His power to all fields is going to be a thing of beauty to watch…

    • Gonzo

      I think the issue is not if they can get him there, but how quickly. I couldn’t find a scout that thinks he could catch next year. Maybe they can turn him into a catcher, but no one thinks it will be by opening day next year. That’s the problem.

  • http://riveraveblues bob

    if the yankees win today and andy goes 6inns of 1 run baseball on sun it would be a good 2and 7 trip yes??????????

  • Adam

    I could not be happier that Montero is getting a chance to start this upcoming year. Sure, a lot has been made of his defensive inadequacies, however, as Posada as demonstrated for the last decade, it’s not going to kill us not having a gold glover behind the plate, provided he’s a valuable hitter. The guy has unbelievable talent and I think he’s proven as much as a 20 year old can at the AAA level, we need to keep the youth movement going if we’re going to keep up with teams like the Rangers and the Rays.