Mailbag: Marcus Thames

Mo will try to convince Pettitte to return
Food For Thought: Curtis Granderson

(AP Photo/Chris O'Meara)

So the Yankees have extra cash, and need a 2011 Marcus Thames. I love the case for Scott Hairston, but what about … Marcus Thames?

(Here’s my case for Scott Hairston in case you missed it)

I don’t think you’ll be able to find a Yankee fan that doesn’t appreciate the job Thames did for the Yankees in 2010. He did what he was brought in to do against lefties (.354 wOBA) while far exceeding expectations against righties (.382 wOBA) and providing big hit after big hit after big hit. Plus he was extremely easy to like, at least based on his interviews and stuff. Sure, his defense was so bad that Joe Girardi simply refused to play him in the outfield in the second half (understandably), but the man hit, and that’s what he was hired in to do.

Now, as good as Thames was this season, let’s not forget that it was the second best offensive season of his career, behind his age-29 season in 2006. His wOBA and OPS+ in 2010 were just .005 and 1 off from his career highs, respectively, and if you go by wRC+ this season was actually the best year of his career. Either way you look at it, the point stands. Thames’ 2010 season was not a level of performance we should expect him to repeat going forward, especially against right-handers and especially when you consider that he’ll turn 34 in Spring Training.

That’s not to say that Thames can’t be a valuable contributor off the bench, because he certainly could be if his exposure to righties is limited. His 2010 performance against southpaws is almost dead even with his career average (.358 wOBA career), so we can expect that skill to remain. No so much against righties however, he outperformed his career average against same-side pitchers by more than 50 wOBA points. There’s no reason to believe that at his age, the light bulb just came on. There’s also the issue of defense. Thames is basically a platoon DH, so the Yankees would be wasting one of their bench spots on a guy that can’t play the field.

I like Thames and he’d be a fine choice to fill a similar role next season, but preferably he’d be a fall back option. Guys like Hairston and Reed Johnson can also play the field, giving the team that much more flexibility, and will probably cost less coming off down years. Thames did fine work for the Yankees, but are there are players available that could be even better next season.

Mo will try to convince Pettitte to return
Food For Thought: Curtis Granderson
  • The Three Amigos

    The way the Yankees are constructed this year, Thames doesn’t make sense. Posada at the DH, and eventually Montero as another bat at catcher or off the bench, means with Thames outfield limitations, he just doesn’t fit.

    The Yankees needs lies with a righty bat, who can also PLAY the outfield.

  • Max

    Give me Scott Hairston.

    and why not Fred Lewis while they’re at it?

    –> I love Gardner as much as the next guy, but it’d be nice to have some insurance in case he falls off a cliff.

  • Granderslam

    I know that Hairston is available, but is there a Righty OF Bench Bat that can be had via trade? Like Keppinger, I am sure it wouldn’t cost the Yankees much- so someone on that level possibly?

  • MikeD

    Cash picked up Thames late last year because he was available at a low price. I suspect he’ll do something similar again this year.

  • James

    Righty bat who can also play the outfield? Sounds like Andruw Jones is a perfect fit. Can still play the corners competently and kills lefties. I mean, if the Yanks are throwing away 9 mil to a LOOGY, why not pony up for the opposite too?

    • YankeesJunkie

      Jones’s numbers don’t look bad but he has been terrible outside of the month of April the last two years so that is a pass for me.

    • Yanko

      But $10m per maybe a bit steep for a bench guy. Is Jones looking for more than 1 year and would he sit the bench? It would be a niiiice addition to the bench though.

      • James

        I’m not saying 10MM per year necessarily, he’d never get that on the market (then again, how much did Pena get?) just pointing out that if the Yanks will overpay on a one-dimensional pitcher, then paying for Andruw Jones (a one-dimensional hitter) makes a lot more sense.

        In fact, Jones had the highest ISO vs. LHP last year among OFers with at least 100 PAs.

  • mikebk

    isnt the real problem for Thames as opposed to what he ended up last year that the Yankees are planning on Jorge being the DH so he has to play the OF to be on the team?

    • MikeD

      With Posada as the DH, and Montero in the wings as a right-handed power bat that would also DH, it does reduce Thames’ opportunities. If he could field, I’d bring him back, but since it makes more sense to get a righty who can also play the field, then Johnson or a Hairston makes more sense. That said, if Thames remains unsigned and he could be had cheap, I can see Cash bringing him back.

  • jerry

    Manny to the bench. F!@# it.

    • pete

      meh. thames 2.0. Just as bad in the field, better hitter all-around, much more expensive. I’d rather sacrifice a little bit of hitting talent (we’re talking about a platoon bench bat) in favor of a cheaper player who can also play the field.

      • jerry

        Manny is slighly better than Marcus in the field, and he mashes righties as well as lefties. I dont think Girardi would kick Manny off his bench. Its not going to happen, but if Posada gets hurt again, who is going to dh full time? No Nick Johnson, no Randy Winn this time. I guess if Posada is hurt than Montero dh? Whats wrong with Manny coming off the bench? how much would it cost? Whats the market like for Ramirez anyway? Is he going to play in 2011? I know RAB kicked the tires on this a month or so ago. You dont find a stick like that in either Hariston and from last off season, its obvious that CMoney does not like Reed Johnson.

  • Aaron S.

    Isn’t discussing Thames as an option a moot point considering he signed to play in Japan in what you guys called “a good deal for him because he’ll be getting paid more there than he would have here”?

    • jsbrendog

      he was offered but nowhere does it say he signed

  • OldYanksFan

    We should allow for the possibility that Montero does not hit -or-does not make the team until July or at all, and Po is able to Catch 40-50 games (if it’s desired for flexibility). Thames is too much a liability in the field. 1 of 2 Hairstons seems like a smarter get.

  • king of fruitless hypotheticals

    There’s no reason to believe that at his age, the light bulb just came on.

    light bulb = kevin long


  • Dave

    Oooh, did you say Reed Johnson is available? That guy is actually pretty versatile. And his bat is decent enough. Not as powerful as Thames obviously, but very useful.