Nov
03

Finding Thames version 2011

By

Pat Burrell would be excellent in Thames's role (Eric Risberg/AP)

As Mike wrote earlier, Marcus Thames was one of the best finds of the 2010 off-season. The Tigers non-tendered him after a disappointing season in which he saw his greatest asset, his power, drop off considerably. For two months Thames waited for the right call, and he finally got it in February. The Yankees signed him to a minor league deal, though as we learned it might as well have been a major league one. Despite a poor spring the Yankees added Thames to the active roster. It was a move that would pay off better than anyone expected.

Part of Thames’s allure was that he came so cheap. The Yankees paid him a base salary of just under a million for production that, according to FanGraphs WAR, amounted to about $2.3 million. Even with the performance bonuses Thames couldn’t have reached that level. It was a great deal for a bench player, and it’s something that the Yankees should seek to repeat this winter. Unfortunately, Thames himself probably won’t present the same value. The Yankees could still bring him back on a reasonable one-year deal, but I’m sure they won’t match a multi-million dollar or multi-year contract.

Unless the Yankees plan to pursue a righty outfielder and trade Brett Gardner, they’ll again need a right-handed bat for the bench in 2011. Given the current payroll structure and the expected additions this off-season, they’ll probably seek a bargain in the same mold as Thames: a veteran with historically decent numbers who is for some reason not gaining much attention.* The two obvious spots to look here are the free agent pool and the non-tender candidates.

*And you can forget Elijah Dukes.

It’s too bad that Pat Burrell’s resurgence in San Francisco will land him a solid major league deal, because he seems to fit the Thames mold. He had a poor season-plus in Tampa Bay before they released him, but found his groove once he started playing the field again in San Fran. Could he do it as a bench player? I’m not sure. But he’d be worth the gamble. But given the current outlook, he’ll probably land a gig with an NL team, perhaps with those World Champion Giants.

It might be hard to remember, but Bill Hall was once a promising player. In 2005 and 2006 he produced wOBAs of .360 and .369 while playing good defense all over the infield. He produced a combined 8.7 WAR in those two seasons. But in 2007, with the arrival of top prospect Ryan Braun, the Brewers moved Hall to center field, a move he vocally opposed. He played solid D out there, but his offense tumbled. His wOBA for the next three seasons: .317, .297, .261. The Brewers eventually traded him to the Mariners, who traded him to the Red Sox last winter. Hall did improve, a .342 wOBA while playing every position except first base and catcher — he even pitched an inning. His versatility does make him an attractive target.

Andrew Jones has recovered his power over the past few years, but chances are he’s in line for a bigger gig. But he has essentially played part-time in the past two years, either because of injury or slumping, so perhaps he’ll take a bench role on a team like the Yankees, knowing that he’ll get more time if Brett Gardner slumps or Curtis Granderson continues to hit lefties poorly.

Two familiar faces could also be options for the Yanks: Austin Kearns and Xavier Nady. I doubt the Yanks would bring back Kerans after his case of the whiffs in September, but there’s still a chance. Then again, he hasn’t posted an ISO north of .200 since 2006. Nady would be the true bounce-back candidate, since he had quite a horrible year in Chicago. He might even have to settle for a minor league contract, which would be even better for the Yanks.

Among the non-tender candidates there doesn’t appear to be many attractive names. In fact, the best fit among them would be Jeff Francoeur. The guy can certainly hit lefties and play defense, so he wouldn’t be the worst signing. I just don’t think many fans would enjoy the idea of Frenchy on the Yankees, even if he sat on the bench most of the time.

After that there are possible trades, so the Yankees won’t lack options to fill the bench gap. There are plenty of players available; so many, in fact, that I’m sure the Yanks can find one on a reasonable deal. After doling out two or three big contracts, they’ll need that kind of value from the bench.

Categories : Hot Stove League
  • pat

    PtB didn’t do himself any favors in the playoffs. 22k in 49 AB.

    • UncleArgyle

      Worst World Series hitting performance since David Justice in 2001

      • James

        And that Alfonso Soriano really raked in the ’03 classic!

        /Sarcasm

        • Chuck

          Pat Burrell is a bad idea.. homeboy is lucky Edgar Renteria picked him up with the 3 run shot.

  • http://www.newyorkstateofsports.com Adam

    Although the thought of Frenchie in pinstripes scares me, he’s by far the best candidate on this list. any team that can hide his biggest weakness, right handed pitcher, can make him a great 4th outfielder, especially with that cannon compared to swish’s noodle

  • Not Tank the Frank

    I would take Thames back over any of the other candidates mentioned.

    Oh… except Bill Hall. Having him on the bench would be awesome. Though I find it hard to believe he won’t be offered a starting job somewhere.

    • LarryM.,Fl.

      Agree Bill North best all around candidate of the bunch.

    • Ted Nelson

      Besides the market for him, might also come down to his personality… What value does he assign $/location/playing time/winning…

  • Brian in NH

    Someone will pop up here in the coming months. This is a roster spot we can afford to wait a long time on, unlike landing another starting pitcher.

  • theyankeewarrior

    I’d be a big fan of Bill Hall. He can fill in for Alex, Derek, Grand, Gardy, Swish, Cano, Tex, pretty much anyone but Posada. And I wouldn’t be surprised if he was better back there than 2011 Sado either.

  • BklynJT

    A little part of me died inside after reading the title of the article and seeing Pat Burrell as the main picture.

  • Thomas

    An interesting option would be Lastings Milledge. He may get non-tendered by the Pirates or would be an easy trade target. He is first year arb eligible, but still should make less than $1M.

    His stats against lefties in his career are .289/.363/.435/.798, but are .320/.414/.512/.926 and .327/.383/.436/.820 in 2010 and 2009, respectively (about 200 PAs). Though he is pretty awful in the field -33 runs (TZ) in his career.

    Of course, he is a clubhouse problem.

    I’d probably pass, but he is an option.

    • Ghost of Scott Brosius

      Interesting option. Maybe the Yankees veteran clubhouse would be the right influence on him? And he can’t be any worse in the field than Thames.

  • UncleArgyle

    Count me as in favor of a Bill Hall Signing. He defines the term “super utility guy”. Unfortunately I’m pretty sure he’ll resign with the Red Sox.

    • Ted Nelson

      Or get a starting job somewhere if he wants one.

  • Johnny O

    If the Yankees sign Francouer then they clearly have the lead in signing Cliff Lee because they became so tight during their time in Texas and they really love it there but they’d love it anywhere and their wives are best friends and they even swing sometimes (not baseball swing) after walking their empty shopping carts through the grocery store.

    /MSM

  • Fair Weather Freddy

    Pat Burrell? Are you serious? He strikes out more than Kearns. Why not give Brandon Laird a shot at the job assuming he isn’t traded this winter?

    • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside the Elder

      Did you read the article? You didn’t, did you?

      • BklynJT

        His reply seems reasonable considering this exerpt… “Could he do it as a bench player? I’m not sure. But he’d be worth the gamble.”

  • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside the Elder

    Hensley Meulens. Pop off the bench, he can play all three outfield positions and all five infield positions, he can hit lefties, righties, and switch-pitchers, and he can double as our new pitching coach.

    There’s nothing Hensley can’t do.

    • UncleArgyle

      Meulens does have a Ring now. He also has a Yankee Pedigree. I’d say anything less than CC Sabathia Money is a bargin. Do it Cash!

      • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside the Elder

        (drives a dump truck full of money up to Hensley’s house)

        • UncleArgyle

          Have to say, I found it disturbing that Bam Bam Muelens, Roberto Kelly, and Dave Riggetti are all “Champions” now. I knew Stump Merrill couldn’t manage….

  • rek4gehrig

    Heck no!!!!!!!!! OMG. You cannot be serious

  • Thomas

    Another non-tender possibility is Scott Hairston. He sucked last year, but has been very good vs. lefties in his career. He also has been about average defensively and running the bases in his career.

    Career vs lefties 634 PA .278/.331/.498/.829
    2009 144 PA .318/.378/.543/.920
    2008 152 PA .280/.316/.580/.896

    • http://twitter.com/AndrewLeighNYC Andrew

      He’d be worth looking into if available. In his career he has almost identical rates vs. LHP as Thames in terms of OPS, ISO etc. And he is what, 4 or 5 years younger? I wouldn’t mind it, plus Hairston has played the OF better than Thames in his career, so him filling in in left or right if necessary wouldn’t be as much of a disaster.

      • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside the Elder

        Yeah, there’s never anything wrong with getting either Hairston as a bench guy, if you he’s desperate enough to accept the bench role, of course.

        • http://twitter.com/AndrewLeighNYC Andrew

          Coming off how bad he was in 2010, I don’t know how many teams are going to come knocking with a great role on their team. If he’s non-tendered, Cashman can point to Granderson’s career numbers vs. LHP, the uncertainty at DH pending Montero and the C situation, and the fact that Gardner is so gritty that he hurts himself with his excessive grititude from time to time.

          JHJr. seems like less of a need since I don’t know how much better offensively he would be compared to even Nunez should he be forced to play at all regularly.

          • Klemy

            “excessive grititude”

            priceless. lol

  • http://kierstenschmidt.com Kiersten

    Pat Burrell is a Cane.

    /obligatory

    • Andy In Sunny Daytona

      Buster Posey is a Nole.

      • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside the Elder

        Christine O’Donnell is an unemployed witch.

        • Mickey Scheister

          Oh Delaware…

        • candyforstalin

          the thing about christine o’donnell is this: how the hell can you be conservative and oppose masturbation?

          • Mickey Scheister

            Oh and I was born in Delaware…there really is nothing else to do.

            Knuckle-children. Sleep. Repeat.

            • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside the Elder

              Post of the Day, and it’s only 1:33 EDT. Well done.

              • Mickey Scheister

                I’ll be here all day!

  • kosmo

    No to all the above mentioned.

    possibly someone like Doumit .Can catch ,play 1b and OF.None he does very well but he can hit a little.

    • Ted Nelson

      He’s worth considering, but he’s not necessarily a specialist against lefty pitching and he’s not cheap either ($5 mill next season, team options for $7 and $8 mill after that which could be declined… but then you’re giving up whatever you trade and risking one season of Doumit).

      His career his OPS is 100 pts higher hitting righties. His one really good offensive season in 2008, though, he hit lefties better than righties… Maybe a project for Kevin Long. I don’t know that the Yankees need 3 terrible fielding Cs, but I guess some people would argue after this season that they have that anyway with Cervelli.

      • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside the Elder

        Signing one of the above risky options >>>>>>>>>>>>>>> trading something of value for risky Ryan Doumit

        • Ted Nelson

          Yeah, I said “worth considering” not “worth acquiring.”

          I sort of doubt he’s worth acquiring, actually, given his contract and that he’s one of the better things the Pirates have going for them. At the same time, the Pirates might look to dump him for a marginal prospect given his contract and lack of value (especially to them)… which makes him at least worth a look at.

          • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside the Elder

            If I’m the Pirates, I would only move Doumit for at least a B+ prospect, and if I’m the Yankees, I’d never acquire Doumit for anything more than a C- prospect.

            It’s worth considering, sure, but there’s probably not a match.

            • Ted Nelson

              I agree that there probably isn’t a match, especially since the Yankees potentially 2 good/very good hitting Cs already and zero good defensive Cs (some team with zero good offensive Cs might be more intrigued). The Yankees also probably don’t have much extra space in their budget once the FA period shakes out, and if they do probably don’t spend it on a bench player.

              I guess the situation where I could see if being worth it is if KLong and others look at tape from 2008 and say, he needs to get back to doing X… I think we can get him back to doing X… If he hits the way he did in 2008 he’s an asset. If he hits the way he has since, he’s not a great value.

              The other time I could see him being a value is mid-season or next offseason if he’s not doing great (but the Yankees feel he can correct it) and the Pirates are not going to pick up his option. Obviously if he’s a good value as a non-Type A free agent that’s great. By mid-season maybe the Yankees have more of a need for him (maybe less).

    • http://www.teamnerdrage.com dr mrs the yankee

      I know that Ryan Doumit’s position is listed as C but he is horrible. Hands down the worst in MLB, and one of the worst I’ve ever seen including minor leaguers.

      He’s not just Posada/VMart/Napoli back there.

      That takes a lot of the interest in him away since he’s making a good amount of money (5.1 million next year) and doesn’t hit all that well.

      • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside the Elder

        Your opinion is invalid, ponytail lady.

        • http://www.teamnerdrage.com dr mrs the yankee

          You wound me, TSJC :~(

  • larryf

    We’re not gonna need anybody once KLong and his new contract get to workin’ in the Arizona desert with Nunez/Pena/Golson/Cervelli.

    /Swishful

    • murakami

      I would like to see these guys get at it with Long, also.

      Nunez is a talented hitter who can adjust mid-swing to pitches, but the rest can really use the mentoring.

      Golson is utterly intriguing to me. He is hands down the best defensive OF on the big club, which is saying something, since I feel Granderson was, at times, brilliant in CF.

      Golson has no perceptible weakness defensively, and his arm is fabulous. He does have some pop in his bat, and can hit line drives, but his penchant for K-ing is the area where he requires the most work, and his OBP rates are poor.

      If they could somehow cull some offense out of his bat, he becomes a major weapon in the OF, and of course a base stealing threat. Can’t sleep on Golson, if there’s anything to be gotten out of him offensively.

      • Ted Nelson

        “Golson is utterly intriguing to me. He is hands down the best defensive OF on the big club, which is saying something, since I feel Granderson was, at times, brilliant in CF.”

        Brett Gardner was arguably the best fielder in the entire major leagues… but I guess so. Third best on his own team, first best in the league…

        • CP

          Golson only played a small amount this year, so he’s not going to win any awards as the best defensive player in the league. I don’t know whether he’s better than Gardner or not, but it’s not ridiculous to argue that he is.

          • murakami

            Saw a bit of Golson in the minors, too.

            After watching him in the OF, I would say he is one of a select few really fast guys who also has natural instincts for the OF. He reads the bat off the ball well, getting a great jump, and tracking the ball. He also closes extremely well on the ball, meaning he runs “through” the ball. On top of this, he has a powerful AND accurate arm.

            To me, he is extraordinary.

            • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside the Elder

              I agree wholeheartedly.

              Once Bud Selig creates the position of “Designated Fielder”, I’ll start to care.

            • Ted Nelson

              My issue is not with your admiration for Golson, but with completely ignoring Gardner’s defense. Gardner is extraordinary in his own right. Maybe over a season Golson *could* be the best fielder in the Major Leagues, over the 2010 season Brett Gardner *was* the best fielder in the Major Leagues according to a widely excepted defensive stat. Maybe you disagree that he was *the best*, but he is definitely really good. You have said that Golson is “hands down” better and that Gardner can’t be “trusted” in CF. I have issues with both those statements.

              • Ted Nelson

                excepted = accepted…

                As far as fast guys with instinct… Brett Gardner is really slow, right? He doesn’t play the shallowest LF in baseball, right? He doesn’t close well on the ball. His arm is not accurate… oh, wait… he does all those things. The only subjective advantage to Golson is his arm strength, but to say that through your powers of observation you can quantify how much that will help a ML team over a season or playoffs compared to any discrepancies in range, consistency, and other abilities… that’s just a huge stretch.

                • murakami

                  Difference between having great speed and getting a great jump.

                  Gardner’s arm is fine for LF. He doesn’t have a quality arm from CF, which is why no one is afraid to take the extra base on him. But since he’s not playing CF, it’s not worth discussing.

                  He does certain things well, but he is not a great defensive OF. He’s fine in LF, where his range comes more into play than in CF, where he has to chase balls hit directly over his head (his weakness).

                  If you’d like to believe he is the second coming of Paul Blair with more speed, and feel people like Pete Gammons have it right, have at.

                  My original comment was about Golson, and not to disparage Brett Gardner, which apparently you take personally. That’s on you.

                  • Ted Nelson

                    It’s not Peter Gammons. I don’t think you’ll find many other people who agree with you that Brett Gardner is not a great defensive OFer.

                    You are right that it’s not worth discussing. You are out on an island and clearly wrong.

                    • murakami

                      I actually know several of them. Yes, they REALLY exist.

                      OK, we have worn the subject out.

          • Ted Nelson

            It’s very hard to argue that he’s “hands down” the best. Since Gardner was the best in the major leagues, it would be arguing that Golson is by far the best OF in all of Major League Baseball. It’s possible, but it’s unlikely that you’re going to stand out that much in anything at this competitive a level.

            Your small sample size argument also works the other way… If you’ve seen the 26 chances and 1 assist he had this season in the bigs, it’s hard to say “I saw so much skill in those 26 plays that I am sure he would be hands down the most amazing OFer in the major leagues on a regular basis. There’s a lot that goes into that. Probably a lot more than you saw in 26 plays spread across May and September, or probably even than the human brain can process (range, consistency over a season, etc.).

            murakami also seems to just outright ignore Gardner’s defensive prowess, since he later posts that (besides Golson) Curtis Granderson is the only Yankee who can be “trusted” in CF. He continues to hype Granderson and Golson (who are good fielders) based on what he saw, and not mention Gardner’s defensive prowess once.

            • murakami

              You obviously uncritically buy into defensive metrics.

              I don’t. In fact, I would say Gardner being passed off as the “best defensive OF in baseball” is less a reflection of his abilities and more one of the deficiencies of such metrics that make that conclusion.

              • Ted Nelson

                I am citing that metric only because it is the most widely accepted one. Any scout is going to tell you Gardner is a great fielder. I guess you are smarter than everyone who analyzes baseball statistically and every scout in baseball. Makes sense. Sorry to have doubted that you are “hands down” the greatest baseball mind of all time.

                Gardner is not fast, you are right. He doesn’t play the shallowest LF in baseball because he can go back on balls better than anyone, you are right. He didn’t have 12 assists last season, you are right. He didn’t have 1 error in 300 chances. Wait, he did all those things.

                • murakami

                  He is fine in LF. He was unable to play a shallow CF in center, which you might have noted. They tried it, and he could not track the ball on back flight, because he does not read it well off the bat. He does have astonishing speed, so when the play requires him to move more at an angle, he is better able to catch up or track the ball down, even making the spectacular play. But he is not the second coming of Andruw Jones – he can’t play a shallow CF and catch up to balls hit to the wall.

                  That probably means he is not the Greatest Defensive Outfielder In Baseball. To be that, he would not have to have been moved to play deeper, with the Yanks admitting they had to split the difference.

                  He is also, BTW, not the Yankees CF. There’s a reason for that.

                  • Ted Nelson

                    I never said he has no weaknesses. I responded to your comments that Golson is “hands down” the best defensive OFer the Yankees have and that Gardner cannot be trusted in CF.

                    As much as anything one can argue that the reason he in not the Yankees’ CF is because Granderson was a big-ticket acquisition they paid a high price to get in hopes of boasting his confidence. Not to say that Granderson isn’t one of the better CF in baseball, but that even if Gardner was as good or a bit better it would be a marginal improvement that might hurt Granderson’s psyche and value by a more than marginal amount.

                    When Gardner did play 628 innings of CF in 2009, he showed some of the better range at the position in baseball and a solid arm. I know you think stats are dumber than you, but his UZR/inning was 2nd in the league at the position.

      • http://youcantpredictbaseball.wordpress.com/ bexarama

        I don’t mean this in a rude way but this whole post is cray-cray

        • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside the Elder

          Pretty much, yeah.

          I think Long is a great hitting coach, but he’s not going to fix Nunez/Pena/Golson/Cervelli, they’re unfixable.

          Even a great sculptor can’t make a statue out of bad clay.

          • Klemy

            Or in this case, slightly dried poo.

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

          I mean this in a rude way: If Greg Golson never threw out Carl Crawford, murakami’s post would not exist.

          • murakami

            That is incorrect. It’s also highly assumptive on your part. I have always liked Golson’s defense, and my admiration for it does not hinge on a single dramatic play.

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

              Well I was just being an asshole, but I don’t think you can blame me when Golson played so few innings in 2010 that someone who overrates him might just be basing it off the one memorable defensive play he had ;)

              • murakami

                Hey, I don’t have some emotional investment in convincing you or anyone else that Golson is the goods in the OF. Not exactly a stretch.

                You can watch him, hopefully, more for us in 2011 and see for yourself.

                My hope is the Yankees make an effort to salvage his bat. Only 25 and a pristine defensive OF with nary a weakness.

          • http://youcantpredictbaseball.wordpress.com/ bexarama

            I think you mean “While I agree ponytails are a great hairstyle, I mean this in a rude way: If Greg Golson never threw out Carl Crawford, murakami’s post would not exist.” Obviously, Ross. ;)

            • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside the Elder

              Is Murakami a woman? Probably. That would explain why she’s so dumb.

              Sincerely,
              Josh Z.

          • murakami

            Also, not to be rude :D, but Pilliere and his ilk were rhapsodizing about Golson’s defense in January of last year.

            He was rated an “80″ of 80 arm and IIRC, 80 speed in 2008 in BA, before he made the dramatic throw-out of Carl Crawford. That arm has been touted since he was drafted in 2004.

            He’s here because of his celebrated defense. As already has been pointed out, his K rates and low OBP are not the reason he’s currently in the majors.

            The Carl Crawford play is not a singular or aberrant event. Rather, he was able to MAKE such a play BECAUSE of his ability.

            • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside the Elder

              Most of us aren’t disagreeing with you that Golson is a great defensive outfielder. We’re taking issue with the fact that his defensive prowess is fairly irrelevant because he can’t hit a lick.

              • Ted Nelson

                And, speaking only for myself, I take exception to hyping up Golson and Granderson while in the process taking a shot at Gardner by saying you don’t “trust” him in CF.

                • murakami

                  Hey, bud, it’s not my problem if you have a low threshhold for Brett Gardner criticism.

                  And you saying I’m taking a “shot” at him by praising someone I think is better is frankly sounding a little paranoid and Gardner-centric.

                  I am not overly impressed with Gardner’s defense. You are. Dandy.

                  • Ted Nelson

                    You are right and everyone else in baseball is wrong. Gardner is unimpressive in the field and Golson has a good enough chance of being a ML hitter that the Yankees should invest all of Kevin Long’s time on him. Forget all the other guys in the organization. Golson is the next Ken Griffey Jr.: “good pop in his bat.” His being a 24 year old who couldn’t hit AAA pitching is a good thing, you are right. Please enlighten me with some more of your wisdom.

              • murakami

                No, this comment of mine got protracted into a larger discussion because Brett Gardner was somehow “slighted.” Interesting that no one from Granderson’s family took offense.

                In few: yes, he has sucked offensively. I want the Yanks to see if there is something in that piece of wood to mine.

                • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside the Elder

                  I want the Yanks to see if there is something in that piece of wood to mine.

                  TWSS

            • http://youcantpredictbaseball.wordpress.com/ bexarama

              That’s great. I’m sure he is really great defensively.

              He still flat-out cannot hit, cannot get on base, and cannot hit for power. His minor league lines are miserable. As others have said, Kevin Long is fantastic but he’s not a miracle worker.

              • murakami

                SInce I’m the one to have originally pointed out his dismal K-rates and poor OBP, and since I presented my comment as a project – or Long-shot – worth the Yankees’ attempting, you are not debating his offense with me.

                I think his DEFENSE, however, and age, warrant the Yankees taking a Longer look.

                • http://youcantpredictbaseball.wordpress.com/ bexarama

                  If this was circa 2005 when we had three statues who mashed the crap out of the baseball out there, maybe. Wouldn’t do it, but there would be enough of a difference that you could make that point. But it’s 2010. We have three guys who play at worst good and at best excellent defense in the OF. Oh, and they can actually hit too.

                  • Ted Nelson

                    No bexarama, Golson is hands down the best fielder ever to play the game. I don’t think you understand how much smarter and more observant than everyone else murakami is.

    • Mike HC

      I love this blog. Nowhere else can you find such a passionate discussion about guys like Greg Golson and Melky Mesa.

      Gotta love it.

  • Ted Nelson

    I’m not sure Thames will be all that expensive this winter, but you never know. More expensive than last winter at least I guess. It’s just that not playing the field (passably) and being viewed as only hitting lefties (though he hit righty relievers well this season in limited PAs) has got to limit his market value pretty considerably. Maybe he’s not a huge bargain (and maybe he’s a sort of fluke year candidate who will regress a bit next season), but since he’s done it for the Yankees once they might shell out $2 mill or something for him…

    If you’re talking minor league deal I’d sign Milledge and maybe even Dukes (unless he’s incarcerated or something that I don’t know about… I mean I would want to talk to the guy before signing him and probably have him talk to a shrink too).

    Francoeur is definitely worth a look, but I wonder if he doesn’t still have enough fans out there to make him not a great value…

    If the price is right I would look to bring back Kearns… The Yankees will presumably carry 5 OFers. Kearns slumped with the Yankees, but he can hit lefties or righties and at the right price I think he’s a good bench player (assuming he breaks out of the late season slump, which I have no idea what caused).

    So, yeah, I think there are options out there. Hopefully the Yankees pick up/”luck” into a Thames or two and no Winn’s.

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

    I could live with Frenchy if he shaves his homeless person beard and never opens his mouth unless pre-approved by the 5 Rings Club®©™

    Plus he has a cannon for an arm.

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

      Although the only problem with Frenchy is that I can see some fans taking an irrational liking to him and mistakingly think he would be great as an everyday player.

      fun fact: I once met a girl who was a Mets fan said she was disappointed about the Mets trading away Jeff Francoeur. I no longer talk to her.

    • http://youcantpredictbaseball.wordpress.com/ bexarama

      Also, IIRC, he’s not terrible against lefty pitching, just abysmal against righties.

      I still think I’d barf if I saw Frenchy in pinstripes. D:

      • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside the Elder

        I still think I’d barf if I saw Frenchy in pinstripes.

        http://media.nj.com/mets_main/....._large.jpg (safe)

        Oh, you meant real pinstripes? Nevermind, then.

      • http://www.teamnerdrage.com dr mrs the yankee

        Maybe he would change up his game since OBP is on the scoreboard at Yankee Stadium.

        Of course, it’s on the scoreboard at Citi Field too but lol whatevs

  • UncleArgyle

    Chris Denorfia might make some sense. Minimum salaried, decent fielding outfielder who hits righty. Perhaps he could be the 2011 version of Austin Kearns, except not as shitty… And he went to one of the more kick ass colleges in the country, so that has to play in his favor

    • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside the Elder

      Career v. LHP: .290/.368/.376

      Meh.

      • UncleArgyle

        Kearns Career Vs LHP.252/.345/.395 Almost the same, I’ll take the extra times on base over an extra double or two. Plus I think Denorfia is more likely to remain what he is, why I think Kearns is declining (And Yes I realize they are the exact same age.)

        • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside the Elder

          Saying he’s better than Kearns is damning with faint praise. Kearns was a good acquisition because it was midseason and better options weren’t available.

          In the offseason, not so much. I’m not saying Denorfia (or Kearns) would be horrible choices for the 4th OF, but I think we can find better ones.

          • UncleArgyle

            Like Jamie Hoffman?

          • Ted Nelson

            Better like which ones… I mean probably, but it’s hard to say that any not mention any options. Value is also an issue.

  • murakami

    Like to add that Golson is the only Yankee OF, other than Gardner and Granderson, who can play a credible LF.

    He is also, IMO, the only other OF other than Granderson, who could be trusted in CF. And IIRC, he’s only 25 years old.

    • Ted Nelson

      Yeah, Gardner is a terrible CFer… Best defensive player in the major leagues this season, but can’t trust him in CF.

      • murakami

        Not terrible, but flawed. Very, very fast, though :D

        • rbizzler

          Are you making the ‘takes bad routes’ argument here with Gardy?

        • Ted Nelson

          Right. Flawed because you say so without giving a single reason why… I will blindly accept the analysis of some poster on an anonymous cite named murakami over the best available defensive metrics and the word of professional scouts. This makes a lot of sense.

    • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside the Elder

      Non-fun Fact: Greg Golson has never had an OBP higher than .350 in any season or partial season with any team at any level of any professional baseball organization ever.

      He also has never had an OPS higher than .800 at any level in any season or partial season.

      His career minor league tripleslash of .263/.309/.398 is worse than Adam Kennedy’s minor league numbers. Or Wily Mo Peña’s. Or P.J. Pilittere. Or Bubba Crosby. Or Yuniesky Betancourt. Or Alex Cora.

      I could go on.

      Every useful piece of information we have tells us that Greg Golson cannot hit enough to ever be anything more than a 5th outfielder.

      • murakami

        I know, I know.

        I think I mentioned his poor OBP rates. But he is only 25 years old, which means his “prime” years are in advance of him. If Long can help him find something, he has just tremendous defensive ability.

        I’m just saying that I would make every effort to see if Long can make him into a two-way player.

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

          By all indications, Greg Golson’s best is a below replacement level hitter. Which is tsjc’s point.

          Kevin Long is a great hitting coach because he helps hitters reach their maximum potential. He didn’t reinvent Swisher or Granderson, he merely kept them playing at their high level.

          Golson’s ceiling, unfortunately, just isn’t good enough. He may be a great defensive OF, but hoping his bat will become anything approaching major-league capable is a pipe dream.

          • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside the Elder

            Kevin Long is a great hitting coach because he helps hitters reach their maximum potential. He didn’t reinvent Swisher or Granderson, he merely kept them playing at their high level.

            That.

            He helped Cano/Swish/Granderson/ARod/etc. by getting their hitches and ticks out of the way so they would be still, see the ball better, and put their hands in better position to let their natural hitting talent put the bat in the happy zone.

            Golson/Nuñez/Peña/Cervelli don’t really have much natural hitting talent to speak of. Any improvements Long could make would probably take them from utterly shittastic to merely craptastic but still unplayable as everyday players.

            • Ted Nelson

              I would take Nunez out of that group. Even if you want to call him “craptastic” you have to compare him to major league SS… which as a group are “shittastic.” He may not be a very good hitting prospect, but Nunez is a good SS prospect.

              I don’t understand why the predominant group think on this site is that Nunez is totally worthless. His high minors numbers are far better than Pena and right up there with just about any (non-elite) SS prospect right now, and again look at the starting SS out there around the major leagues… I would not group him in with Pena and Golson. You can make a similar arguments with catchers, but not to the extent that I would group Nunez with Frankie either.

    • RalphieD

      Gardner can’t be trusted in cf?

      • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside the Elder

        Otter: Germans?
        Boon: Forget it, he’s rolling.

        • rbizzler

          I am pretty sure that he thinks that Gardner is not a good CF because he takes poor routes or something to that effect.

  • Jonathan

    I’m not sure I can even talk here because I wanted Reed Johnson as our 4th OF last year but look what happened. I too would be in the Bill Hall camp. How many stupid trades can the Mariners make? The whole thing is are we talking about getting a guy to do what Thames did? Or are we talking about a 4th OF? Thames was just a platoon DH so certain guys would be better suited for that than to actually play the OF. Which one are we talking about?

    • JobaWockeeZ

      RJ wasn’t a bad option. Against LHP he posted a .301/.324/.466 line with a 17 UZR in 400 innings.

    • Ted Nelson

      “Which one are we talking about?”

      I would say you can talk about either. I guess the point is getting a lot of bang for your buck. That doesn’t have to be a righty DH (especially if Jesus is spending all season in the majors and/or Thames is back). Joe did sort of focus exclusively on righty corner OF/DH types with the idea that Thames will get more money elsewhere and the Yankees need another righty bat to offset their lefties… With the Montero and DH questions pretty open at this point, I don’t know that the Yankees NEED a righty hitting specialist. We’ll see. They could have Brandon Laird waiting in Scranton in case Monetero and/or Thames/acquisition flop, and then make a trade if Laird flops too…

      The Yankees should almost definitely have some sort of 4th guy on their roster who is at least an average-ish defensive OFer. That’s a pretty easy argument to make. Gardner’s ability to play CF and Swisher’s range to play LF potentially make it easier for the Yankees to get away with a RF only 4th OFer if that’s the best value they find… Someone like Francoeur (mentioned in the article and comments above) could be a fit as a defensive 4th OFer and offensive righty specialist if he’s cheap enough.

  • dan l

    Matt Diaz or Conor Jackson if they are non tendered could be decent options as they both play the field better then Thames.

  • Jimmy McNulty

    Bill Hall’s the obvious choice, no doubt…but since he an likely find a major league deal elsewhere, I’d lean towards someone that can play the outfield too. Not just strictly a lefty masher at DH. If were looking for someone to fill the DH role, Jesus Montero…they kept him away from Seattle it’s time to see what he can do at the ML level. Back up outfielders are hard to find, if they can platoon and play good defense they’re probably miscast as starters elsewhere. Burrell sucks in the field and will likely go back to San Francisco, Kearns left a bad taste, I guess Nady is probably the best available option if he’ll sign a minor league deal.

  • MikeD

    The choice to replaced Thames should be Thames. He’ll cost more than he did in 2010, but not that much more. DH-type players in their 30s who can’t field are not expensive.

  • Mickey Scheister

    I hear Damon might be available.

    • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside the Elder

      It’ll be hard to get him away from Detroit, though; it’s “where he always wanted to be”.

      • Mickey Scheister

        He’s a damn liar, he will go with whomever pays him the most. After last years performance he should take a 1 year deal from a contender with a good lineup to increase his value. I seem to remembering him hitting well at a certain stadium in New York.

        On an unrelated note, when I want to improve my public speaking I watch Johnny Damon interviews and do the opposite.

        • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside the Elder

          You: preaching
          Me: the choir

        • Thomas

          He always wanted to be in NY, because he thought it was the best city. Then he went to Detroit and has learned first hand just how great of a city Detroit is. Now, Johnny knows that no place could be better to live in than Detroit.

    • http://youcantpredictbaseball.wordpress.com/ bexarama

      Not as a bench player, he’s not

    • Mike HC

      Unless he accepts like a one year 6 million dollar deal tops, then I doubt the Yanks are interested.

      • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside the Elder

        1yr/6M is probably TWICE the budget we have in mind for the 4th OF. Possibly three times as much.

        • Mike HC

          I was thinking more like a DH/fourth outfielder.

          • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside the Elder

            Both those budgets COMBINED are probably 3-4M, tops.

            The only players this winter we sign to anything more than 2M per year are probably Lee and Pettitte. Everybody else is getting chicken feed.

            • Mike HC

              If there is useful player out there the Yanks will definitely go over chicken feed to sign him I think. They are willing to overpay and take on millions in mid season trades. It would be stupid to pass up a player just because it is the off season and not a mid season trade. And you get him for the full season.

              Waiting until mid season allows you to see what you need, but that should not stop you from using some foresight during the off season if the right player is available. Not saying Damon is that guy.

              • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside the Elder

                They are willing to overpay and take on millions in mid season trades.

                And they’re able to do that because they stick to budgetary limits in the offseason.

                The Yankees go overbudget for the Sabathias and Lees and Teixeiras of the world, not for Johnny Damon the part-time DH/4th OF.

                • Mike HC

                  That does not and should not be a hard and fast rule though. We should not avoid signing a player we think can be very useful and valuable for the entire season just so we can save the money for possible mid season trades. It should depend on the specific off season and circumstance.

                  The Yanks signed Johnson last offseason and expected to have him at the DH. Are the Yanks really willing to go until next season with even less hitting than we went in with last season?

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

                    The reason they have a hard cap is so they can adjust and fill holes when the Nick Johnsons of the world get hurt. If you max out your budget before spring training you’re throwing all your eggs in one basket.

                  • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside the Elder

                    The Yanks signed Johnson last offseason and expected to have him at the DH. Are the Yanks really willing to go until next season with even less hitting than we went in with last season?

                    Cliff Lee and his 20M+ salary say “Yes”.

                    • Mike HC

                      fair enough.

            • Mickey Scheister

              What about that Jeter guy and some dude named Mo..?

  • Mark L

    Andruw Jones – he has Thames’ power and he can actually play the field and run the bases

    • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside the Elder

      Jones, 2008-2010: .204/.312/.411

      I know BA is overvalued, but two-oh-four?

      Two-oh-four? That’s insane.

      • http://youcantpredictbaseball.wordpress.com/ bexarama

        to be fair, take out an ABSOLUTELY ABYSMAL 2008 and that line is a significantly better .222/.332/.472/.805. Thing is, at this point in his career, no, he can’t play the field. And I don’t know if he’d want to be a bench player, either, and he’d probably be looking for more money than someone like Thames, even after Thames’ really good year.

        • Mark L

          He can play the field, just not center — his UZR in RF was quite good, he had a tiny sample size in LF but I imagine he is still passable out there. A .931 OPS vs. LHP is very attractive — as is his ability to draw a few walks.

    • Mike HC

      I would prefer to stay far away from Jones.

  • Mike HC

    I like Thames again as the lefty DH/bat off the bench. That guy is the man on and off the batters box (lets face it, he shouldn’t be anywhere near the field). Pay the extra million to bring him back in my opinion.

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

      I wouldn’t overpay him, and I think he’s due for regression against RHP, but I don’t see any reason why he couldn’t OPS 800 against lefties again next year. If Thames is willing I’d bring him back on the cheap.

      • Mike HC

        Just to be clear, when I say pay the extra million, I mean pay the extra million form last years deal. Not overpay more than other teams. I guess one year 2 million would be the going price for him.

  • larryf

    Golson has had 30 AB’s in the majors and turned 25 in September. He can fly and has a great arm. He was a minor league allstar and did hit .270/280 before he came to Scranton. I’m not saying he is as good a hitter as we could get/have but you can’t coach speed and throwing but you can coach a better approach at the plate.

    /just sayin’

    • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside the Elder

      He sucks at the plate.

      /just sayin’

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

      What is more likely:

      1) Golson is capable of hitting .280 in the majors along with his great defense, but he’s wasted away in the farm system through age 25 because of lack of coaching or because the Yankees have underrated him or…

      2) Golson is not a major league bat and merely a good defensive outfielder who’s been in the minors so long because defensive outfielders who are automatic outs are rarely carried on major league clubs. And Kevin Long, who is a great hitting coach, cannot reinvent the wheel or make bad hitters good.

    • Clay Bellinger

      If Golson gets 200+ plate appearance next year we’re probrably in trouble…he can’t hit and for all of his speed it’s not like he lighting up the basepaths in the minors, he’s never stolen 30 bags.

  • Mickey Scheister

    How about Russell Branyan, he had 25 homeruns in 376 PA and just mashed in Yankee Stadium. I know it would be more of a DH/1B versus OF option like Thames, but that production at the right price would be nice.

    • Mickey Scheister

      He wasn’t as good against lefties with 6 homeruns in 100 PA and a .190 average, research fail. Still he has some pop at a low price.

    • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside the Elder

      I think the ability to put that righty bat in the OF on occasion (even if he’s a traveshamockery) is a very important ingredient in the player we choose.

      JMHO.

      • MikeD

        That is one of the advantages Thames brings. While he was brought in to hit lefties, he holds up quite well against righties, especially in the HR department.

    • rbizzler

      It will be interesting to see what Russell gets on the open market. Last offseason, he was looking for a monster deal and signed a one-year contract late in the FA period. If he has more realistic contract demands, I can see him being a platoon player of interest.

      • http://www.facebook.com/maddoniz Mickey Scheister

        He has those back issues to go along with the high contract demands, plus he kinda seems like a dick. Russell the Muscle can mash but the M’s got the next Mark Teixiera in Smoak at 1B, Russell could play DH full-time with the M’s or be a bench guy on a good team. I say 2M, 1 year at the most, maybe with a mutual or player option or something pertaining to PA’ or AB’s.

  • steve (different one)

    Speaking of non_tenders, Melky Cabrera. That just happened.

    Just kidding.

    • http://www.facebook.com/maddoniz Mickey Scheister

      I hope not. Let’s just hope the Melky ship has sailed. I enjoyed his time but after watching him on the Braves, he was pretty bad.

    • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside the Elder

      (locks first time lawng time in a straitjacket)

  • Wil Nieves #1 Fan

    Pat Burrell could possibly be the worst baseball player and human being in the history of mankind. Obviously he’s not (the worst baseball player of all time) but he’s still pretty terrible. I’d rather hang with Thames. Also, I like hearing his minor lisp in the post-game interviews.

  • http://www.blogs.thetenthinningstretch.com the tenth inning stretch

    Eric Hinske’s a FA. Obviously he’s not Thames 2.0 because he’s left-handed, but I thought he was solid in his time here, and he can play the corners in the outfield and infield.

    • http://danielslifka.wordpress.com Jerome S

      And he’s the clutchest man in baseball (besides, of course David Ortiz).

      Sincerely, ESPN.

  • RobC

    At what point does the Yankees pay roll become high enough they cannot not win?
    How much does another $10-20 million matter?
    Jason Werth? Carl Crawford? Adam Dunn?
    why look for the Thames type players?

    • Ghost of Scott Brosius

      I don’t think that point exists actually. The players who actually hit the market in today’s day and age are almost always flawed in one way, even if that way is only that they’re on the wrong side of 30. The kind of guys who hit the market are great players who can help you win, but they’re not the types to almost guarantee titles because of their sheer brilliance. This is especially true of pitching. Plus, the necessity if signing all these over 30 players to long term deals creates a huge risk of eventually having an entirely aging and decrepit roster. At that point, you’d have to actually eat massive salaries and then pay new players equally high salaries to continue to be good. And not even the Yankees have anywhere close to the amount of financial clout required to bring that off.

    • http://danielslifka.wordpress.com Jerome S

      BUY THE LEAGUE.

  • cranky

    Pat Burrell looked 47 years old in the post-season. Just awful. I’d HATE to see the Yankees spend money on him. And the last thing the Yankees need–yes, the LAST thing!–is another DH.
    Bill Hall and Ty Wigginton, both guys with defensive versatility and decent RH bats with some power, would be MUCH better fits. They’re both free agents.
    The Yanks don’t “need a RH bat off the bench.” They need a “RH bat off the bench who can spell A-Rod at 3B.”

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