Nov
14

Scouting The Free Agent Market: Ryan Doumit

By

(Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)

While free agency has just started and few players have inked contracts, the Yankees’ offense seems to be fairly close to complete. There are not many areas of their offense they can upgrade in a cost effective manner, with DH the only position that is technically open. Jesus Montero is available to fill that role. Instead, the bulk of the work on the Yankees’ offense will come on the bench, as Brian Cashman attempts to supplement an aging lineup with a versatile and powerful group of reserves. They will likely look for a player in the Andruw Jones/Marcus Thames mold, a righty bat who can mash lefties and can play corner outfield. Assuming Eduardo Nunez remains in the utility role, the Yankees are also likely to bring in a replacement for Eric Chavez, a market that has a number of available options (I discussed this in greater detail last week).

If the Yankees carry 14 position players, that leaves two more slots available for bench players, one of which might be filled by a pinch runner/defensive replacement from the Chris Dickerson/Greg Golson family. The other slot should go to a third catcher, who is made necessary by the fact that the backup catcher (Montero) is also the regular DH. The problem with this plan is that carrying a guy like Gustavo Molina practically wastes a roster spot, as he would never be used in any context other than to catch a few innings if Martin has been pinch-run or hit for and Montero is in the game at DH. This seems like a fairly inefficient use of roster space for a team that could afford a more creative alternative. Enter Ryan Doumit.

Pros

  • In terms of the roster inefficiency I mentioned above, Doumit gives you many more options than a traditional backup catcher might. He can play first base and right field as well, which would allow Joe Girardi to use him occasionally to rest Nick Swisher and Mark Teixeira.
  • Most importantly, he does not hit like a catcher. Doumit is a switch hitter with a .336 wOBA for his career, and his numbers have been dragged down by some injury plagued seasons. When healthy, he provides a strong bat for someone who would be a part-time player.
  • Considering that their other two catchers and their other back-up outfielder are all going to be righties, it helps that Doumit is a switch-hitter who hits better from the left side. He is not unusable against lefties, with a .315 career wOBA against them, but he hits righties to the tune of a .344 wOBA and most of his power comes from that side.
  • Doumit played in just 71 games last season due to an ankle injury that came in late May, but did hit .303/.353/.477 for a 129 wRC+.
  • Doumit is just 30 years old, so he should have a few effective seasons left in his bat.

Cons

  • Doumit can play a number of positions, but he does not play any of them particularly well. He is adequate in right field, poor at first base, and atrocious behind the plate, which is a problem considering that his primary defensive role is as the extra catcher.
  • Ryan is frequently injured, spending time on the DL in every season since 2005.
  • As I mentioned above, he is not a great hitter against lefties.

Personally, I think Doumit is a perfect fit for this Yankees’ roster. He would serve as the extra catcher, but brings other skills to the table that would allow him to accumulate a reasonable number of at-bats.  He could be the primary pinch-hitter against righties, and would allow Joe Girardi more flexibility in terms of how he uses Russell Martin and Jesus Montero, as well as when he rests Nick Swisher and Mark Teixeira. For an illustration of the sort of situations in which an extra catcher who can hit lefties well would be useful, see Russell Martin’s at-bats against tough righties in big spots in the ALDS. He could also be a hedge against injuries at a number of positions, and the Yankees would not be hurt too badly if he was forced into regular duty. Furthermore, while he does have flaws, those can be mitigated by the role he would play on the Yankees. He would not be counted on to play catcher for any extended period of time, and his brittle nature could be offset by being used less frequently. If the Yankees could get him on a short-term deal with an AAV of $4-5 million dollars, he would be a strong addition to the club and would represent excellent and efficient use of a roster spot.

All that said, the reasons that I like Doumit are the same reasons that other clubs might offer him good money to start for them. There is supposedly a healthy market for his services, and he might find a club willing to take a chance on his health or his defense and offer him something more than the 250 or so at-bats the Yankees could guarantee. If so, he is unlikely to take a bench role and would end up being too expensive for the Yankees anyhow.

Categories : Hot Stove League

59 Comments»

  1. JohnnyC says:

    Likely he gets a 2 year deal from someone (he turned down a 1 year deal from the Dodgers for $3 million). I don’t see Cashman giving Doumit, say, $5-6 million on a 2 year deal to be essentially the 3rd catcher. Also, Girardi prefers catch and throw guys.

    • Moshe Mandel says:

      As I noted in the post, the issue with catch and throw guys is that they tend not to hit, so in this particular role, it is a wasted roster spot. Doumit could actually be used in other capacities when not being the 3rd catcher.

      • Paul from Boston says:

        The problem with this analysis is that it ignores how the yankees work. A catch an throw guy is exactly how they’ll handle it and likely in the form of the Cervelli suckfest. That’s not how they should but how they will. Otherwise Doumit is worth it, even on a two year deal.

  2. JU says:

    I have been targeting Doumit for 4 yrs to play this role on the yankees – even back when I was staging my own campaign to move Posada to DH full time. I don’t know if Doumit will go for this type of bench role, but he would be an ideal fit to play some RF, 1B, and emergency catch. Switch hitter with power off the bench would also be nice. And while this will incite the Swisher fanatics, it could make the possibility of trading him (in a deal for Sean Marshall maybe?) much more bearable.

    • whozat says:

      Wait…you want to trade an RFer with average D and .360 – .370 mOBA over the last three years for a relief pitcher? When we just saw over the weekend that the bullpen is the least of the Yanks’ worries?

    • Mike Axisa says:

      There’s no need to trade an above-average everyday player for an above-average reliever. It’s a backwards move for the Yankees.

      • JU says:

        Did I say “FOR” or did I say “IN A DEAL FOR”? I would slap Cashman in the face if he made a Swisher-Marshall trade straight up. But what if it was Marshall and Tyler Colvin for Swisher and a B Level pitcher? Would that warrant this reaction? Exactly why I referred to the Swisher “fanatics,” because in an effort to combat all the people who want to throw him away like trash, they overcompensate and value Swisher like he’s Justin Upton.

        Do you honestly think the Yankees chances of making the playoffs are that greatly affected by Nick Swisher?

        • Mike Axisa says:

          Considering that he’s one of only four above-average hitters in the lineup capable of playing 150+ games a season, yes, he does have a big impact on their ability to make the playoffs.

          And Tyler Colvin? WTF. Sub-.300 OBP corner outfielders that can’t play defense are beyond useless.

          • JU says:

            You’re operating under the assumption that guys like ARod and Teixeira are going to continue their downward trends, which is a fair assumption. Call me guilty of being positive.

            I understand the sample size issue when comparing Swisher and Doumit’s 2011 seasons, but look at the numbers – the differences are negligible:

            wOBA: S= .358 D= .360
            OPS: S= .822 D= .830
            ISO: S= 188 D= 174

            My point being, I can’t accept that the loss of Swisher (an awful situational player, btw) is going to be the determining factor in whether or not the Yankees make the playoffs, if you are replacing him with Doumit and other supporting cast members like possibly Nunez, Colvin (and I wasn’t insinuating he was Jay Bruce, btw), and maybe even Andruw Jones (ehh maybe not).

            Marshall would be more than just a LOOGY, and you would be getting your RFer for half the price. WHile you may want to just not trade Swisher, I’d be curious to know what you think would be a fair return for him in a trade.

            I’m not saying it’s a no-brainer, but you reacted as if I wanted to release Swisher and make Greg Golson the everyday RFer.

            • theyankeewarrior says:

              Nick Swisher will get us 2 first round draft picks when he leaves via free agency next off-season. So whatever we (hypothetically) trade him for has to outweigh those as well as his 2012 production.

  3. David Ortiz's Dealer says:

    If he can play RF he can play LF, 3B likely isnt unthinkable. This isnt a bad idea for the right price. This would likely end the Fist Pump Era.

  4. Mark L says:

    I’ve been a big Doumit supporter for years. Unfortunately, I don’t see him coming to the Yankees if they can’t promise more than 200-250 PAs. Jake Fox would be a cheaper, less capable, alternative (although he can fake it at 3B, which is nice). Brandon Inge is still owed $6 million but could also fill that role. I can’t imagine the Tigers are too desperate to hold onto him.

  5. JonSnc says:

    How about just not PH/PR’ing for Martin?

  6. Genghis says:

    Nice idea, butI think you are ignoring the obvious alternative, which is that if Martin is pinch hit or run for, Girardi can put Montero in at catcher and lose the DH for the rest of the game. It’s likely that if this wre to happen, we are into the later innings where the starter is out and Girardi can pinch hit for the relievers. What fraction of a WAR are you really losing by sacrificing a handful of DH ABs over a season, and is it worth giving up other roster flexibility to save this? Assuming Cervelli and Romine are at SWB, if Martin really goes down, an excellent substitute will be just a few hours away.

    • Moshe Mandel says:

      This is true, but I don’t know that positioning yourself in a way that can turn you into an NL team every couple of games is the smartest way to go.

      • Genghis says:

        “Every couple of games” would be a radical departure from 2011. Prior to Sept call-ups, Martin was only pulled early once in a game that wasn’t a laugher. And even in that one instance, he was pulled in the 9th.

        http://www.baseball-reference......;year=2011

        • Moshe Mandel says:

          Well, my thought is that they could do it more often if they had a viable and worthwhile alternative. Russell Martin really should not be batting late in games in big spots against the Joaquin Benoit’s of the world.

      • Cris Pengiucci says:

        I see your point, but I don’t think it’s likely that Martin would be PH’d for “every couple of games”. How many times did it happen last season? What’s the likelyhood that Girardi changes his tactics? Given the roster flexibility, he could, but I don’t think the Yankees are going to go out of tehir way to make that happen.

  7. Grover says:

    My concerns are two fold. Firstly, taking available money from a potential upgrade of the pitching staff and potential at bats taken from other part timers who generally play better when given more at bats. Doumit or someone like Doumit is more of a trade deadline acquisition in my mind. I would like to see Cervelli stick around and Nunez see some time in right. A lefty bat will be required if Chavez does retire but I would rather Matsui, Damon or even Abreu on a one year deal than Doumit for two. Cashman has an opportunity to prime the payroll before the next free agency period and I think it will include several one year deals or acquisitions and perhaps finding takers for Soriano and Burnett.

  8. Jorge says:

    If the plan is to go with a third catcher, then that third catcher is going to be that waste-of-a-roster-spot kind of guy Moshe speaks up, and not someone like Doumit. I don’t see how he fits.

    • Jimmy says:

      I agree, it seems like poor resource management. 2/10 seems like a lot of money for a 3rd catcher who admittedly doesnt stay healthy and is a poor defender. If you already have an Andrew Jones type (as was alluded to in the article), Doumit really isnt going to be used very much in the OF. I’d rather put that money toward a pitcher, or a Cuban outfielder… someone who has a chance to make an impact. We have relative depth at catcher already, why don’t we just use it?

      • Moshe Mandel says:

        I would only go 1/5 or 2/8, for what it is worth. And the idea is that it wouldn’t be for a 3rd catcher, he’d also be the primary pinch hitter against righties and can be used to rest Swisher and Tex if there is a righty on the mound (as opposed to only against lefties).

  9. Jose M. Vazquez.. says:

    It is well known that Doumit can hit. It is also known that he was not a good defensive catcher. My question is why are the Pirates letting him go if he can do all the things you say? Is it for his injuries or because they do not want to pay what he may be worth? Lastly do you think that he would approve a supportive role with the Yankees. If the answer is yes to the last question, and the price is right then he should be signed.

  10. Andrew says:

    Sounds like Doutmit’s role would be similar in some ways to the role Jorge Posada played after Montero came up, which begs the question…why not just bring Jorge back on short money?

    • Mark L says:

      Because Jorge can’t play the outfield and his splits were generally pretty unimpressive.

      • David Ortiz's Dealer says:

        as a part time catcher, LH bat, on the cheap, why not Jorge, if you want this bench spot to be something more, some OF innings/3b then Jorge is the wrong guy.

      • Andrew says:

        Saying Doumit can play OF is like saying Posada can play 2B.

        If the Yankees are serious about targeting someone to spell folks at C/1B/DH and pinch hit against right-handed pitching, Posada is capable.

        If you want OF to be part of the equation, I’d rather have a guy like Dickerson in RF in late innings than Doumit. If the Yankees are going to take Swisher out of a game for any reason, they should get an upgrade in the field at least. Doumit doesn’t provide that, at all.

        • JU says:

          “Saying Doumit can play OF is like saying Posada can play 2B.”

          Blatant exaggeration. Doumit would probably be no worse than Bobby Abreu was in RF at YS. Comparing that to Posada playing a position he hasn’t played since he was 19 is patently ridiculous. Posada can’t even fake his own defensive position. Doumit would be passable out there in small doses, and would conceivably improve with more exposure to the position – kind of like Swisher did.

          • Andrew says:

            It was meant to be a blatant exaggeration.

            I don’t see Doumit having value as a corner OF. In reality, he’s more likely to help as a C/1B/DH type against RHP, which means he’s a younger, more expensive Posada. So, I’m not sure what the Yankees gain by adding Doumit and letting Posada go.

            Posada was effective against RHP last season. If the Yankees truly have a need for a guy like Doumit, then the door shouldn’t be closed on Posada. My guess is that the Yankees don’t need either Doumit or Posada, making this whole exercise moot.

            • Urban says:

              …and I agree. The most likely area for Doumit ABs is from the DH slot, which will be manned by Montero for about 100 games, with A-Rod, Jeter and some rest to the other regulars coming in the other 50-60. Montero should be catching around 40 games next year, which also substantially limits Doumit. Doesn’t make much sense to take ABs away from Swisher in RF, who is one of the most durable players on the team. Swisher did hit worse against RH pitchers last year, but odds are he’ll be more productive against righties next year than will Doumit and he’ll be a better OF.

              I like Doumit as an option, but considering what value needs to be delivered from the bench players, he doesn’t actually address the area of the team that will generate most of the ABs off that bench. That’s actually going to come from Nunez, who will probably play at least 80 games in the field with the bulk coming at SS and 3B. The Yankees should plan to rest both A-Rod and Jeter at least 15 games right up front, while also DHing both another 20 games, meaning both are in the field for less than 130 games each. The question should be can the Yankees find a better option than Nunez, not is there a way tho shoe horn Doumit into a limited number of ABs.

    • Jose M. Vazquez.. says:

      Jorge is 40 and Doumit is 30. Doumit can hit lefthanders and can be acceptable in the outfield as well as first.

  11. Need Pitching says:

    likelihood that the Yankees carry 14 position players = 0

    Yankees will, as they always do, carry 12 pitchers and 13 position players for most, if not all, of the season.

    • JU says:

      Exactly… All the more reason you can’t waste a roster spot on a guy who’s only value would be as a 3rd catcher…cough cough…cervelli…cough

    • Moshe Mandel says:

      Probably true. In which case you cut the Dickerson type and maximize your roster by bringing in a guy who can help in a number of areas.

      • Need Pitching says:

        not sure its really necessary though, Doumit brings the ability to back up maybe RF and 1B, but really a quality 4th OF does the same thing, with Swish backing up first. I don’t see where Doumit would get many AB’s if the have a quality 4th OF (Jones or otherwise). Tex and Swish will likely start 150+ games, and 4th OF could fill in the remaining, and it seems like they want Nunez to play some OF as well (for some unknown reason). I like the concept, but with a strong 4th OF, I just don’t see where Doumit would get enough AB’s to be worthwhile.

  12. Ted Nelson says:

    Probably right that he gets a starting role somewhere, but maybe if the money’s equal he’ll take winning.

    This is a similar role to what Posada could do if he’s willing to come back as a bench player. Can’t play RF, but will probably be cheaper.

    The big assumption is that Montero is the Yankees back-up C. If Cervelli is the back-up C it changes the situation a bit.
    Despite popular belief, Cervelli is also not a zero with the bat: wOBA of .322 and .315 the past two seasons.

    • JobaWockeeZ says:

      A big assumption how? Cashman said he’s better than Cervelli. And since he’s never wrong….

      • Ted Nelson says:

        A big assumption because when they called him up he hardly caught at all.

      • Need Pitching says:

        better offensively, not defensively, and with DH spot open, Montero will likely get most of his AB’s there

      • Urban says:

        I’m not sure Cashman’s comment about Montero (“he’s better than Cervelli”) is fully understood. I took it to mean he’d provide more value as a back-up catcher, but they kept him in AAA so he could play everyday and to continue to develop his skills. I didn’t take it to mean he was endorsing Montero’s defensive skills, or saying Montero was better defensively than Cervelli. I’d be shocked if he really thought that. He was just saying overall Montero could provide more value as a back-up catcher because of his bat.

    • Genghis says:

      And of course, Cervelli has shown incredible proficiency as a third-string infielder, ;) He even got an Assist last year!

    • Moshe Mandel says:

      Yeah, if Cervelli is the backup catcher, Doumit doesn’t fit.

  13. LiterallyFigurative says:

    Seeing as how he isn’t a strong defender, Doumit would be a waste on the Yankees, especially if he’s getting paid $2-3 mil a year to in essence be the emergency catcher. Cervelli isn’t that bad behind the plate, plays with energy and is a good athlete for the position. I do worry about the concussions though.

    The Yanks will carry 13 position players, so the bench should be

    Cervelli backup C
    Nunez backup INF
    Andruw Jones backup corner OF
    A wildcard player. Could be Chavez, should be a superutility guy.

    I don’t worry about bench offense too much on this team. The #8 and 9 hitters on just about every other decent team are defense first players on teams that win 90 games, so we could live with Nunez for a month, or whatever. If the enough of the big 6 hitters do their jobs, we’ll be fine.

  14. Rockdog says:

    Nice article, Moshe, and some good comments here too (as usual). I wonder if the bench might become a bit more important over the next few years, given the age of Jeter and Arod.

  15. David Ortiz's Dealer says:

    In Concept I like having a 3rd guy skilled with the tools of ignorance, especially with the looming 15/15 team al/nl split, meaning far more games without a DH.

  16. Soriano Is A Liar says:

    I like this idea a lot. In a vaccuum, yes Doumit is a relatively crappy player. But as a bench player, he is a player who happens to provide several skills that the yankees need, and his shortcomings are less important because he mostly only be playing in situations that favored his strengths.

  17. Kurt says:

    Jesus Montero = no need for Doumit.

  18. Kosmo says:

    If you want a super utility guy, why not Prado ? He plays corner OF, 3B,2B,1B and if called upon could more than likely play SS and he is reasonable sound with the glove.

    • Jose M. Vazquez.. says:

      At what price? Surely Prado is better than Doumit although he cannot catch but he would earning much more than Prado and probably would not accept a part-time role.

  19. Jose M. Vazquez.. says:

    It should have readhe would be earning more.And Prado probably would not accept a part-time role.

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