No baseball for old men

Linkage: Yankees remain quiet at MLB Winter Meetings
Yanks shopping Burnett at Winter Meetings

For the past few years, the Yankees haven’t exactly embraced the designated hitter position. In 2009, Hideki Matsui made 108 starts as the team’s primary designated hitter. In 2010, no one had more than 41 starts as DH, and this past year, Jorge Posada‘s 91 starts led the team as 10 other players also took their turns as the designated hitter.

This isn’t a new approach for the Yanks. As their core has gotten older, the club has embraced the idea of a rotating DH. Give one guy the bulk of the playing time, but keep the spot open to spell A-Rod, Jeter and even Teixeira and Granderson. It keeps everyone fresher, but on the flip side, it means more playing time for the likes of Eduardo Nunez. The Yanks are weakening their lineup without someone to fill the DH slot.

This winter, the Yanks are at a crossroads. They aren’t going to bring back Jorge Posada, and the market for DH types is thin. They could have explored bringing aboard an Albert Pujols or Prince Fielder type, but the Front Office feels that they have a fearsome enough offense without overspending for another first baseman. Plus, Jesus Montero lurks.

Once upon a time, I would have loved to see the Yankees pursue David Ortiz. Despite his generally whiny demeanor and the fact that he’s made a career out of beating the Yankees, Ortiz is a lefty power hitter custom built for Yankee Stadium. After a down year in 2009, he’s hit .290/.384/.542 with 61 home runs over the past two seasons. Even as he ages, he’s still an offensive force.

Yet, Ortiz has drawn nary a lick of interest. His signing would cost a team a draft pick, but I figured that an offensively-starved club — the Orioles, the Blue Jays, the Mariners — would eye Ortiz as a potential short-term solution. Instead, Big Papi is likely to accept arbitration from the Red Sox. Unless the two sides work out a longer solution, he’ll earn a small raise over his 2011 salary and stick with the Sox for another season. That is, frankly, one of the bigger surprises of the off-season.

For the Yanks’ one-time catcher, then, this Ortiz development isn’t a good sign. Jorge Posada is a few years older than Ortiz and isn’t quite the hitter any longer. He can still hit with some pop from the left side, and he doesn’t cost a draft pick. But teams don’t seem to be in the market for DH-only types right now. Rather, the DH slot is today reserved for those MLBers playing out the back ends of their long-term deals. It’s not really about finding a spot for a premiere offensive player who can’t field.

So as Ortiz stays with Boston and Posada rides off into the sunset, likely to scrounge up a Spring Training invite if he doesn’t just call it a career, the Yankees will head into 2012 with a youngster and a bunch of older guys as their designated hitters. Montero will get the chance to shine while A-Rod and his balky legs will need some rest. Jeter might DH a bit too as he nears his 38th birthday. This is what the DH has become, and it’s still far better than watching some pitchers attempt to bat.

Linkage: Yankees remain quiet at MLB Winter Meetings
Yanks shopping Burnett at Winter Meetings
  • mbonzo

    This is what the DH has become, and it’s still far better than watching some pitchers attempt to bat.


  • BigDavey88

    “Jeter… nears his 38th birthday.”

    Sigh. Time is a bitch.

  • Mike MzX

    The game of baseball continues to evolve. It makes sense to take this path, especially with an aging core of stars that we’ll be with for a few more years at least. The old school DH could make a comeback, but probably will be more common on teams with younger lineups looking for a power bat (like Baltimore).

    • aluis

      “continues to evolve”? dont you mean now that players are no longer using PED’s to prolong their careers?

  • Shost

    I’d love to have seen the Rays dig for some extra change in their couch and sign Ortiz.

  • Ted Nelson

    You really expected Ortiz to leave the Red Sox and the Yankees to block their best offensive prospect in a decade?

    Jorge should be looking for the league minimum… Not what Ortiz is getting.

    I’m really missing the point of this article… The Yankees will in all likelihood have an offensive force with no position at DH, and so will the Red Sox.

    • Jake S

      It’s a bird! It’s a plane! It’s the point sailing over Ted Nelson’s head!

    • VLM

      You honestly need someone to explain the point of this article to you? Try thinking while reading it next time. It’s not that hard to see.

      I’ll summarize it for you in a rambling fashion: David Ortiz would be an alluring potential signing. It’s surprising that other teams aren’t interested in him. If they’re not interested in him, they’re definitely not going to be interested in Jorge Posada. And the Yankees have learned how to be flexible with their DH while sacrificing some offensive depth but that could change next year. If Montero weren’t around, Ben would want the Yanks to look at Ortiz.

      The end.

    • Bobby Montano

      The point of the article is that the market for DHs dropped dramatically over the past few seasons. If there isn’t much of a market at all for a player of Ortiz’s caliber- the guy can still hit- then there won’t be any of a market at all for Jorge Posada.

  • Rich in NJ

    Although I think Yankees’ ownership might be willing to exceed their self-imposed payroll limit if a young star at a position of need fell into their laps, their lack of payroll flexibility appears to be real. Given that the new CBA will make the acquisition of young talent far more difficult, it makes sense to continue to rely more on their prospects (and less on other team’s high-priced, aging veterans) so that they will have increased payroll flexibility in the relatively near future.

  • Johnny

    No signings for DH this year. That DH spot is to give Jesus Montero 100+ games next season in which he can ‘get loose.’

    Let me say this as well: drop Nunez to AAA or trade him off for some other player, and resign Chavez to fill in both third and shortstop. Yes! He’s a terrific fielder, that’ll give him more playing time, and he should be about servicable at short — certainly no worse than Nuneeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeez. Chavez has steady hands, a strong enough arm, and he gets a good jump off the swing of the bat. There’s enough time in Spring to teach him Shortstopping 101. With any luck Jeter shouldn’t need to take too many games off. Twenty Chavez appearances at short won’t be too damaging.

    It’s a genius plan and it’ll never be implemented. In the meantime, I’ll continue to refer to Chavez as “Shiv-ezz.”

    • Brooklyn Ed

      You do know that Chavez can’t stay healthy even in a bench role, AND he can’t play shortstop. Don’t get me wrong; I like Chavez and all.

      you sir have failed your research.

    • JAG

      You don’t think that if Chavez could play a servicable SS that he would have done that in his early-20s physical prime? We’re not talking about an A-Rod who transitioned to 3B from somewhere else. Chavez has to my knowledge always been a 3B, and has been one for at least the last 7-8 years. The ship has long since sailed on his being a SS.

    • Monteroisdinero

      If Chavez played short, we’d need 3 infielders on the left side. Terrible idea. Keep Nunez.

    • Stan the Man

      This is a joke right?

  • Rich in NJ

    John Harper is a moron.

  • RetroRob

    “The Yanks are weakening their lineup without someone to fill the DH slot.”

    Well, yeah, but no. If they went out and got an Ortiz they’d strengthen the DH spot (maybe), but that means, for example, that A-Rod and Jeter (and some Cano, Grandy and Swish) would be playing less, and their replacements in the field are also going to be weak. So while the team gains in one place, it loses in another place(s).

    Montero DHing 110 games (catching another 35+), with the other 50+ DH days going to A-Rod, Jeter and perhaps Andruw Jones is fine. The Yankees should go into 2012 assuming right up front that they will rest both A-Rod and Jeter 15 games, and then DH each another 15-20 games each, meaning both will not appear in the field more than 130 games. What they really need to do is find a better player to replace Nunez, that’s where the real gain can be made, yet that’s a lot easier said than done.

    I do agree with your overall point, but it’s not necessarily a bad thing having the rotating DH.

    • Monteroisdinero

      Nunez is entering his 24 season. He is young, cheap, fast, has a cannon arm and has pop in his bat. If you can find someone better in all of these aspects AND has an accurate arm-get rid of him. Until then we keep Nunez.

      • Stan the Man

        He will probably be used in the OF as well since they have worked him out there over the last couple of seasons. If he can play 3 infield positions and 2 OF positions he will save the team money over the next couple of years and keep them more flexible offensively and defensively.

        • Monteroisdinero

          Agree. He is a very valuable player. Frustrating at times and far from perfect but a great piece for the Yank$.

      • LiterallyFigurative

        I STILL don’t get the Nunez hate here (not from you btw).

        He’s young and has the skills to be a servicable to decent player. Do we need HOFer’s on the bench too? If every superstar who ever struggled was treated like this in their baseball infacy, they’d never have become superstars. First sign of trouble…”send his ass to AAA! We’re the Yankees! We can’t have young players play bad, but we can pay a guy $5 mil to play bad!”

        As the season went on Nunez got better with his throws. I’m excited to see him progress and he gives Jeter and Alex a rest. Playing OF isn’t that big a deal right now, but adds roster flexibility.

        With bums like Cervelli and Nunez on the team, the Yanks couldn’t possibly have the best record in the AL last season, right?

    • thenamestsam

      Derek Jeter should honestly never DH. When he can’t play short he should be on the bench. Your fourth outfielder is going to hit way more than him, and if Montero doesn’t hit more than him it will be a pretty disappointing season for him. Over the last two years Jeter has an OPS+ of 93, Cervelli is at 87. That’s closer to Cervelli than league average. He is just not a bat that you need to get in the lineup anymore. He’s the best shortstop we have, but he’s below replacement level at DH. This is exactly the problem with the rotating DH. Instead of an extra slugger you end up with a second shortstop in the lineup.

      • Monteroisdinero

        Montero can hit more HR’s in 2 weeks than Jeter can in a season. Jeets is no DH.

      • well you know

        Our regular DH Posada had an OPS+ of 87.

        Our third outfielder Gardner had an OP+ of 89.

        Our fourth outfielder Jones had an OPS+ of 88 against the 2/3 of pitchers who throw with their right hand.

        When Montero gets traded away for a pitcher, most of his ABs againt RHP will go to Chavez and his 79 OPS+.

        So many options with our oh-so-strong offense.

        • thenamestsam

          Don’t see that any of this is really relevant to my point. They have options better than Jeter. If it’s a righty, then Jones, even with his dramatic split is still stronger, and they could easily find a 4th OF(Dickerson for example) who is even better against righties. And all of this is assuming Montero gets traded, which isn’t a certainty at all. If he does, then they should certainly sign someone to fill that role.

  • Brendan

    It’s all a matter of personal preference, I suppose, but I don’t get the attitude that the DH rule is self-evidently better than having a lineup of nine guys who all have to field a position and hit. As big of a Yankees fan as I am and always have been, I like National League-style ball better than AL. I like the extra layer of strategy it adds to the game. It makes managers and bench players more of a factor in the outcome. If I magically acquired dictatorial power over Major League Baseball tomorrow, getting rid of the DH would be one of my first priorities. But that’s just me.

  • Jose M. Vazquez..

    No player with very rare exceptions, becomes better after 35. History has shown us that some have maintained some of their good stats to late in their careers, Ted Williams, Babe Ruth (even though he hit in the low .300s at 38-39. Satchel Paige and Mariano are from another world. That is one reason why I am against the Yankees signing more old ballplayers. Being an old guy myself I am not against old people, but Baseball is and will continue to be a young man’s game.

    • nsalem

      No one becomes better except Barry Bonds. Many great players however have out up numbers comparable to their prime years at 37 plus though. Tris Speaker’s best year may have been as a 37 year old

    • Monteroisdinero

      The point is well taken. We shouldn’t expect the same production from Jeter and ARod the next 3-6 years. It is highly unlikely.

      Montero catching is key in giving these guys rest/DH time.

  • Bronx Byte

    There’s a different approach with DH’s. Teams want flexibility now. The day of watching Ortiz run up the first base line like he was headed for the electric chair are being phased out.
    Teams want to give certain position players an occasional day off to rest their legs. This is what the Yankees will be doing.


    This is why Jorge Vazquez should be on the bench. He can give Tex days off, and mix in with Nunez to give ARod days off, and when Montero is catching and the regulars are playing, he can DH. And it would be for minimum wage, not 2 or 3 mil which Mr. DL Chavez would be paid. And no one better off the bench in the seventh to change a game with one swing, off of middle relievers as good as what he has seen since he was 16yrs old in the AAA Mex lg!! After crushing in Scranton all season, and incredibaly not getting a callup in Sept, Vazquez is crushing in the Mex lg. Last night he hit two absolute mamouth shots off of Loaiza. I know he is not a top tier pitcher, but he is a ML pitcher. He is leading the whole Caribbean in HR(17) and RBI(52) in 43 games and a .365avg/.700slg%. Video game numbers. And he does it every year. Why wont the Yankees give him a shot!! If not, trade him so he gets his chance. Even if you look at the 2012 ZIPS, which everyone does, and compare him and Tex, for the same amount of ab’s(560), Tex is at 32hr and 109rbi. Chato would be at 32 and 106. That would be top 10 in the AL!! Yes he would strike out 170, but so what, he is a producer. A huge bargen for $400,000. How could you not look at him for your last bench spot. He can really help the team. Did you hear that Mr. Cashman!! Say all you want, he has earned a shot. Peace V

    • thenamestsam

      Calling Loaiza a ML pitcher is just silly. The guy last pitched in the majors as a mop-up man in 2008. He was 36 and had a 5.33 ERA. Now he’s 39 or 40, and out of the league for 3 years. I’m pretty sure that doesn’t count.

    • Benjamin Kabak

      You’re talking about Jorge Vazquez who’s going to be 30 in March and struck out 166 times in 500 AAA PAs, and you’re comparing him to Mark Teixeira who’s been in the Major Leagues since he was 23. No.

    • Mike K

      I personally saw Vazquez play many times the last couple of years in Scranton. He’s not a major leaguer. He beats up on 2nd and 3rd level AAA pitching. He isn’t good at recognizing – or connecting with – off-speed pitches. He also has no defensive value. I’ve many times referred to him as Shelley Duncan without the patience or fielding ability. He’s a great bat to have in AAA to help that team win, but will add nothing in the majors.

      • YANKZ1FAN

        Wow, are you a scout. That is some report….What did the pitcher throw on Jorges home run over the batters eye his first ab in ST this year off of Shlitter? What did he hit when he hit a bomb off of Lidge? What did he hit when he hit a bomb off of Lannan? What did he hit off of Peavy off of the scoreboard? Oh, it was a curveball!!! You must have missed that when you were going over the tapes of all his at bats!!!!! Why dont you decide if he can hit in the Majors when and if he ever hits in the majors with your professional opinion. And in 800 chances this year he had a .993 fielding %. Very playable. At least Shelley Duncan got his chance, and I believe he is a bench player for Clev. Not bad. To say he will add nothing in the majors is rediculous!!

  • Monteroisdinero

    I’d give Vasquez a shot. He has amazing power and is serviceable as a backup corner infielder/DH/pinch hitter. He batted cleanup at AAA and has tremendous power. I think he would hit the same 10-12 HR’s that a more expensive guy (Thames etc) would hit in that role.

    • Benjamin Kabak

      He’s 30 with no Major League experience. I’m not sure why that’s not part of your equation.

      • Monteroisdinero

        Because he is worth a 400K chance for the role he provides. If he is horrible, then bring up Laird but Laird’s bat is less than half of Vasquez’s.

      • YANKZ1FAN

        Your right…. I dont know why the ML ever brought over Ichiro and Matsui when they were around 30 and no ML experience. They should never have given them a chance. That was a waste of time wasnt it!!?

        • Benjamin Kabak

          Apples to oranges comparison right there.

          • YANKZ1FAN

            How is it apples to oranges!?!?! Vazquez plyaed 10 yrs in the Mexican lg which is the only sanctioned league under Major League Baseball since when he signed at 16yrs old, and is a AAA league, which he has dominated and is a legend and national superstar. He is to Mexico what Matsui was to Japan. He is on Gatorade ads, etc. What do you mean apples to oranges?

            • Sayid J.

              Japanese leagues >>>> Mexican leagues. Matsui + Ichiro >>>>>>>>>>>>>> Vazquez.

              • YANKZ1FAN

                From Mexico: Adrian Gonzales!!! Fernando Venezuela!!! Andre Eithier, Vinny Castilla, Yovani Gallardo, Jamie Garcia, Ted Higuerra, Joakim Soria, Jorge Cantu, Rod Barajas
                From Japan: Ichiro, Matsiu, Hideki Irabu, Matsuzaka, Hideo Nomo, Kei Igawa, Kaz Matsui, Fukudome, Taguchi
                I think there are just as many good players from Mexico than from Japan, and just as many flops!!!

                • Mike K

                  Right, and all those players from Mexico dominated their league at a young age.

                  • YANKZ1FAN

                    First off, you were comparing who came out of those leagues. And second, Oh My God! Jorge Vazquez was the number one prospect in Mexico when he was 16, and he has dominated in the Mex Lg since. I heard there was a problem with his Mex team letting him go. In 2005 33hr 96rbi in 71g, in 2006 31hr and 98rbi in 75g. If that isnt dominating I dont know what is!


    Ok…… You cant say he cant hit ML pitching or doesn’t have experience because he has been in the WBC, hitting a 500ft grand slam his first ab with Harrison in first, Cantu on second, and AGon on third. Caribbean Series MVP, last year in spring his first ab was a bomb straight center over the batters eye off of Schlitter, and HR’s off of Lidge and Lannan, and lead the Yankees in hitting for the spring. In Scranton, against Chapman he was 1-2 with an rbi line shot single off the wall, home run off the scoreboard on Jake Peavy, two HR’s in one game against Vance Worley and Brian Sweeney, 2-3 with 2rbi and a ground rule double against Volquez, last year hit a game winning walk off hr over the scoreboard and out of the staduim against ROY Kimbrel, and one off of Jake Arrietta. Yeah, I can say he can hit ML pitching!!! The Japanese players still get a shot when they are older, Saito(36), Kuroda(33), Takahashi(35), Matsui(28), Okajima(31), Fukudome(31), why cant Chato get a shot off the bench. I am not saying he should start over Tex, I am comparing ZIPS, which even ML teams do. Why shouldn’t I compare him to Tex, he has as much power, and that is what it says. I didn’t make it up!

    • Monteroisdinero

      Keep up the heat. Chato will work his way into the binder!

      • YANKZ1FAN

        I know M.I.D. he needs to get in that binder!! :) Have you seen what he is doing in the MexPac… He is hitting .365, 17hr, 52rbi in 43 games. In his last 10 games he is hitting .500, 5hr 17rbi, 1.028slg%, and 1.578ops!!!! Rediculous!! And he has an 11 game hit streak and hit in 32 of his last 34 games. “El Destructor” is a monster!!

    • Rich

      Or we can sign Wille Mo Pena!!

      • YANKZ1FAN

        He already signed in Japan for two years, 3mil. And is hitting .210 in the Winter lg……Vazquez .365. Japan is contacting the Yankees for Vazquez also. If I were him I would go too. He would hit 40 plus there. Closer fences.

  • Monteroisdinero

    I saw Vasquez put on a show in BP at ST last year-means nothing I know-but he peppered the ball with power to all fields and it was intentional as he hit about 10 in a row to each field.


      I know, it is fun watching him take BP. And when he really goes off it is amazing. Sometimes he just works on hitting line drives, but when he goes off they are BOMBS!!! In Trenton I saw a BP one time where he must have hit 10 in a row on to Rt 29 over the parking lot. And that is why I am sick of everyone comparing him to Duncan. Duncan was a total pull hitter, and he looked like he would swing with all his might. Chato as huge power to all fields and hits it where it is pitched and it seems effortless. I know he strikes out a lot, but it would be the same as Granderson, and just as much power. That is some bench player!!


    And Mike K…. If you are saying the Japanese lg is so good, how come the record for hits in a season which Ichiro held was broken by an average AAA player Matt Murton. And all AAA players that couldnt hit in the Majors go there and hit 30hr? Tuffy Rhodes 55hr!!! WHAT!!