Link Dump: Catcher Defense, Downs, Greinke

How far will the Yankees go for Cliff Lee?
Is Scott Downs worth the cost?

Need some help passing the time? I got you covered…

Catcher Defense Rankings

Over at Beyond The Box Score, Matt Klaassen posted catcher defense rankings for the 2010 season using a weighted formula that includes stuff like throwing errors and passed balls and what not. Unsurprisingly, both Frankie Cervelli and Jorge Posada ranked near the bottom. Cervelli was tied with Jeff Mathis (Nichols Law poster boy) and Ryan Doumit for dead last at -9.4 runs, while Posada was right behind them at -8.6. Frankie and Jorge placed 119th and 117th out of 120 qualified backstops, respectively. Ho boy.

Don’t expect the Yanks to pursue Scott Downs

We know that Brian Cashman wants to add another lefty reliever to his bullpen this offseason, but Ken Davidoff says not to expect him to pursue Scott Downs. Downs held left-handed batters to a .241 wOBA last year, but he’s a Type-A free agent that will surely be offered arbitration by the Blue Jays. Cashman simply doesn’t want to surrender a high draft pick to sign a guy that will pitch about four percent of the team’s total innings next year. Can’t say I blame him. I’m sticking with my Randy Choate endorsement.

Blue Jays check in on Greinke

Zack Greinke is unlikely to accept a trade to New York, but the Jays are interested in seeing if he’ll go north of the border. Bob Elliott (h/t MLBTR) reports that Toronto has put a call in to the Royals about Greinke as well as Alex Gordon, though nothing is remotely close to happening. Dayton Moore is supposedly asking for a king’s ransom for his ace and with good reason, but if the Jays are willing to part with Kyle Drabek and Travis Snider (my speculation), you’d have to figure they’d get Kansas City’s attention. Imagine a staff headlined by Greinke, Ricky Romero, Shaun Marcum, and Brandon Morrow. Yikes.

Rockies interested in Vazquez

Talk about a match made in what-the-hell-are-they-thinking heaven. Troy Renck (again, h/t MLBTR) says the Rockies are interested in signing two-time former Yank Javy Vazquez to solidify their rotation. Forget what happened in 2010, even if Javy rebounds back to his career norm, he’s still a fly ball pitcher (41.3% over the last four years, skewed by his 34.8% mark in 2009) that would be going to a homer haven park, humidor or not. Vazquez wants to pitch on the East Coast to be close to his family in Puerto Rico, so I can’t imagine he’d entertain the thought of joining the Rockies. Still, what the hell are they thinking? Does not compute.

Baseball America on Yankee prospects

Although the list hit the intertubes last week, BA officially released their list of the top ten Yankee prospects yesterday. Accompanying the list was a chat with author John Manuel and an article on the team’s pitching depth. Both are subscriber only, but here’s the gist: the Yankees have a ton of depth when it comes to middle-of-the-rotation and back-end starters thanks to a strong player development system, but expect them to trade a few guys to maximize value since those kinds of arms have little value to a perennial contender. Adam Warren was mentioned prominently in that scenario. That’s what farm systems are for, to plug holes and make trades, and the Yanks certainly have the inventory for that.

How far will the Yankees go for Cliff Lee?
Is Scott Downs worth the cost?
  • tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside the Elder

    Yorvit Torrealba: #6

    Solid defense, probably equal offense to Cervelli, won’t require a multi-year deal or be expensive, easy to jettison midseason if he bombs and go back to the Cervelli Plan B.

    Anyone interested? Anyone? I’d feel slightly better about a Torrealba/Montero timeshare (with Frankie a phone call away at Scranton) than a Cervelli/Montero timeshare (with P.J. Pilitere a phone call away at Scranton).

    • bexarama

      Agreed with all of this, but he’s probably too expensive. He can get a starting job somewhere, too.

      • tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside the Elder

        Can he? I wonder about that; he’s probably behind Martinez, Olivo, Buck, Ramon Hernandez, maybe Pierzynski as well. He’s probably only getting offers from teams to be in a timeshare, I’d guess.

        • Tom Zig

          How many teams are in need of a starting catcher and would be willing to have Torrealba as the starter anyway?

        • bexarama

          I don’t think he’s behind Hernandez or Pierzyski and even if he is, lots of teams need catchers.

  • tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside the Elder

    It’s also funny that Rod Barajas the Met was in the top 10 of catcher defense, and Rod Barajas the Dodger was in the bottom 10 of catcher defense.

    What does that mean? I have no idea.

    • Sayid J.

      It probably means that rating catchers defensively is very hard to do and subject to a variety of factors that numbers cannot easily measure. As a result, we should take them with a grain of salt. Unless of course they confirm our preconceived notions, in which case they are very accurate readings of true talent.

  • Steve H

    Downs was fantastic against lefties last year. Lefties also had a .175 BABIP against him, so he’s certainly due for some regression there. I certainly agree with going with a Choate like option for the 2nd lefty in the pen.

  • Tom Zig

    If the union were smart they’d address the Type-A status conundrum that plagues relievers. Scott Downs would get a lot more offers and therefore more money if the signing team didn’t have to forfeit a pick. Relievers shouldn’t be given Type-A status, or at least don’t make the signing team forfeit the pick but still give an extra first round pick to the original team. I mean actual first rounder, not sandwich round pick.

    • tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside the Elder

      Relievers shouldn’t be given Type-A status,

      That. We don’t have a special Elias section for utility infielders or 4th outfielders, we shouldn’t have one for relief pitchers either. Lump them in with starters.

      • MattG

        I don’t know–maybe they should just take arbitration. Teams shouldn’t be giving relievers multi-year deals anyway. Do you think the Blue Jays want to pay Scott Downs $4m+?

        The system is a little broken, but in this case, maybe not as much as you’d think.

        • Tom Zig

          accepting arbitration doesn’t fix the system.

      • Ted Nelson

        I know people will disagree, but to just say a top reliever in the entire game is not worth anything seems too extreme for me. Teams that develop top closers and lose them in free agency would get screwed, and then the system would be “broken” in that way. I think the thing to do is just make stricter rules for relievers.

        I also don’t think the comparison to utility players is entirely accurate.

        • Kiersten

          Yeah, but if you lump them in with starters, I think the really good relievers would still get at least Type-B status, no? Maybe not, I’m talking out of my ass here, I have no idea how they calculate these things.

          • Ted Nelson

            Type A is top 20% in position group, type B next 20%. Groups are: Group 1: first basemen, outfielders, and designated hitters
            Group 2: second basemen, third basemen, and shortstops
            Group 3: catchers
            Group 4: starters
            Group 5: relievers

            The system grades pitchers based on some categories that are weighted pretty heavily in favor of either starts or relievers like games, wins, and innings.

            You can say that the whole system is flawed, of course, but within this system why not just limit the % of relievers who qualify?

        • Tom Zig

          Well if you look at my proposed solution it kind of works.

          Under my solution:

          Yankees sign Downs – They get to keep pick #31.

          But since Toronto offered arbitration they gain pick # 31A which is the pick right before theirs.

          So Toronto would technically pick 31st and NY would pick 32nd.

          Toronto still gets a sandwich round pick.

          Boom problem solved.

          • Tom Zig

            but only do this for relievers with type A status.

  • Blee

    shouldnt we factor in that Cervelli caught Burnett a lot.. who threw a lot of.. ‘quality’ curveballs?

    • larryf

      This. Montero catches everybody except AJ.

  • Steve H

    I love that Jeff Mathis and his career .199/.265/.311 line is dead last. Scoscia should keep running him out there over Napoli though.

    • JGS

      Fun Mathis facts:

      Among non-pitchers with 1000 PAs since 1980, Mathis’ .199 batting average is dead last.

      His .265 OBP and .576 OPS are both 8th worst, but dead last since 1992.

      Among non-pitchers with 1000+ PAs, his 53 OPS+ is 29th worst of all time. Everyone ahead of him has been out of baseball since 1984.

      Jeff Mathis is bad at baseball.

      • Clay Bellinger

        He’s absolutely horrendous. I was outraged when he kept roping doubles off the Yanks in the ALCS last year. Just shouldn’t happen!

    • Zack

      I’m still waiting for Scoscia to trade him to Boston for Michael Bowden or some other crap player

  • Section 39

    We would only be giving up a 2nd round pick for Downs though as long as we get Lee. I think that is a bargain for Downs. Are we really concerned about giving up the 61st pick if we get Downs? This should be like 2008 where we load up on Type-A’s if we want to. Giving up 2nd/3rd round picks for Type A free agents is nothing to be balking at.

    • MattG

      I wouldn’t give up the 61st pick either (which will be more like the 75th, after the free agency wheel stops spinning). I’m thinking the Jays won’t offer arbitration. $4.5 million (or so) is a lot of money for a guy that throws 60 innings, and there are plenty of left-handed relievers available.

    • Zack

      I have no problem giving up 2nd/3rd round picks for Type A guys like CC and Tex. But for a 2nd LOOGY who probably wants 2-3 years? Pass

      • Zack

        Not to mention Yankees had a protected pick in 2008. This year they won’t be picking until 90+ if they sign 2+ guys.

    • Ted Nelson

      It’s not just the pick. Downs is old and has logged a lot of appearances recently. He’s coming off a career year that he’s very unlikely to repeat. Even if there’s no compensatory pick, giving him say 3 years $12 mill is still a really risky move.

    • Kiersten

      Every non-Mariano Rivera reliever the Yankees have signed to a long-term deal lately has been horrible. No reason to think this would be any different.

      • Tom Zig


        Kyle Farnsworth
        Damaso Marte
        Paul Quantrill
        Tom Gordon

        • Thomas

          Tom Gordon was excellent for the Yankees over 2 years:
          170.1 IP 2.38 ERA .980 WHIP 2.7 BB/9 8.7 K/9 3.17 K/BB

          Quantrill was doing well, but Torre ran him into the ground.

          • All Praise Be To Mo

            Plus we got Joba from the pick we got from Gordon leaving.

  • MattG

    Checkout the 2014 Yankees. By my count, that’s 6 pre-arb players, one first-year and one second. That’d allow the Yankees to have a payroll of about $130 million, and still be plenty competitive.

    Imagine all the shiny things they could get with the other $70 million!

    • Jerome S

      Imagine what will happen once A-Rod’s 30 million weight is off the books. You could buy two Type-A’s with that money!
      But I digress…

    • Ted Nelson

      I don’t know exactly who you are talking about, but you have got to be making a whole lot of assumptions… Every Yankee prospect is not going to realize their potential.

      • CountryClub

        Along with the top 10, BA projects the roster 4 years down the pike. They only use guys currently on the team and players in the farm system. It’s really just for fun.

        • Ted Nelson

          Oh, didn’t get the reference (not a subscriber… maybe should be, but I’d probably waste even more time then…). I agree that it’s for fun: nice to imagine, but the probability of all those guys getting to the Bronx and performing well is pretty low.

  • vin

    I was going to write that I don’t understand why the Jays would pursue Grienke. Would Grienke really improve their chances of contending over guys like Drabek / Snider / Morrow / etc?

    However, if some combination of Wallace (age 23), Arencibia (24), and Lubanski (25) can contribute, they may not be too far away.

    • Thomas

      The Blue Jays traded Brett Wallace last season to Houston for Anthony Gose (acquired by Houston from Phillies for Oswalt).

  • Ross in Jersey

    You forgot that Cliff Lee Doesn’t Like the Texas Heat!


    • Hughesus Christo

      He’s also having lunch with Amare, Michael Bloomberg, Brian Cashman, and the Statue of Liberty at Tavern on the Green RIGHT NOW.

      • Ross in Jersey

        *golf clap*

  • Jerome S
  • Reggie C.

    You know there’s sick depth in RHP prospects when Adam Warren doesn’t even make the top 10 prospects list. The man posted a sub 1.2 WHIP and boosted his K/9 rate over 8. That’s progress.

  • DH

    Ringing endorsement for offering Wladimir Balentien a minor league deal/spring training invitation. This is something that I think should be seriously considered. Sure, put it on the back burner because in honesty it would be priority #not a priority at all. However, it wouldn’t hurt to make him an offer. The guy was in the Futures Game in 2007 when he hit .291/.362/.509 with 24 bombs and 15 SB’s in 477 AB’s at AAA Tacoma. Then he had some troubles figuring out major league pitching and had some strikeout issues. That shit happens. He went on a tear the second half of the season last year but wasn’t called up because he wasn’t on the Reds 40-man. Not a great fielder, but better than Thames and with a pretty good arm. Give him a chance. How many outfielders did the Yankees use in 2010. Lots! 4th or 5th OF or at the very least OF depth in the minors as he would probably not refuse an option/assignment. Not young at 26, but a very small, intriguing move, very much worth looking at.

    • Ted Nelson

      Agreed. At any position he’s one of the top MiLB FAs, but the fact that he plays positions where the Yankees have a need (on the bench) and not much talent in the high minors means they probably have a good chance of signing him without drastically over-committing.

  • Brian in NH

    Montero really can’t be any worse behind teh dish than JoPo or Cervelli. Even still, if he’s just as bad (practically league worst) as both, he should still provide tons more value over starting cervelli 100 times because his bat is far superior. Hopefully Jorge can adjust to being the mostly full-time DH well and provide nice upgrades with the bat for both C and DH.

    • bexarama

      Montero really can’t be any worse behind teh dish than JoPo or Cervelli

      People keep saying this. Yes, he can.

      (And he can still be extremely valuable despite that.)

      • Tom Zig

        It’s hard to fathom being worse than those two.

        • Ted Nelson

          Yeah… Perhaps the right phrasing is can’t be **much worse** defensively than those two were in the 2010 season.

  • larryf

    Montero will be fine back there. Not as quick as Cervelli but calmer and no fist pumping. Not as slow as Posada and concussion-free.

    What’s the worry?

  • TopChuckie

    I wonder if trade rumors make Greinke anxious…

  • Rod

    Has Montero ever lost track of the count/outs while in the minors?

    And I’ll say it yet again, Montero’s PB and CS% are comparable to JoPo in the minors. Also, Montero was just below league average in CS% in the IL.

    • All Praise Be To Mo

      His CS% will go up, in the minors they worry about pitchers makking their pitches moreso than holding runners.
      Also, having CC, Lee (most likely), and Pettite will only help him with the running game. Let Frankie or Posada be AJ’s personal catcher and deal with that mess and Hughes as well, that way Montero cna catch roughly 100 games, and DH the others while improving defense working with Pena, Girardi, and others at the major league level while his bat helps the big club.