Mailbag: Retired Numbers, Hall of Fame, LyerlyBy
Hooray for Fridays. Believe it or not, there are no questions in this week’s mailbag about potential pitching acquisitions. It’s refreshing, to be honest. Anyway, the Submit A Tip box in the sidebar is the place to go is you want to send in a question.
Matt asks: Does anyone have any idea when the Yankees will start retiring numbers from the 90’s? One would have to think 51, 6 and 20 are no brainers.
I’m not sure when it’ll happen, but it should happens sooner rather than later. Now that Jorge Posada has called it a career, they can have a big ceremony for him and Bernie Williams at the same time. Six or ten or however many years down the line, they can have a big ceremony for Derek Jeter and Mariano Rivera. Then again, these ceremonies are about making money, and the team will make more by breaking it up into four separate ceremonies rather than one or two or whatever.
I expect those four to have their numbers retired and Andy Pettitte as well. I don’t think they’ll retire Joe Torre’s number but I do think they should. All five of those players are homegrown champions and no worse than borderline Hall of Fame candidates, and I do think the homegrown aspect is important. Only three of the team’s 12 retired numbers* belong to players that did not grow up Yankees: Babe Ruth, Roger Maris, and Reggie Jackson. Those three earned their retired numbers by being historically great. So yeah, I don’t see #21 getting retired.
* I’m not counting the two managers (Casey Stengel and Billy Martin) or Jackie Robinson.
Evan asks: In honor of the Hall of Fame announcing a new class [on Monday], I was hoping you could do a post of current Yankees and their odds of inductions.
Jeter and Mo are mortal locks; they’ll sail into Cooperstown on the first ballot without a problem. Alex Rodriguez should cruise right in on the first ballot as well, but some voters might give him the cold shoulder because he took performance-enhancing drugs once upon a time, and we all know those are scientifically proven to make baseball players better. Either way, I expect Alex to eventually get in just because his career is so long and so great. He’ll definitely wear a Yankees hat into the HoF as well.
After those three, the next best candidate is CC Sabathia, who is very likely to win his 200th career game before his 33rd birthday. He’s got the best shot at 300 wins of any active pitcher, and he’s also got a very good chance at 3,000 career strikeouts (2,017 right now). Even if Sabathia falls short of those two milestones — say 280 wins and 2,800 strikeouts instead of 300 and 3,000 — that’s still a HoF caliber career. If the big man stays healthy and the Yankees remain good enough to help him pad that win total, he’ll have himself a pretty damn good case for Cooperstown.
With 314 career homers, Mark Teixeira has an outside chance at 500 for his career, which would be a bit more meaningful for him because he’s a switch-hitter. Mickey Mantle (536) and Eddie Murray (504) are the only switch-hitters over 500, and Chipper Jones (454) is the only other one over 400. Like I said though, outside chance at that and also the HoF. Robinson Cano basically needs to have another five or six years like the last two to get serious HoF consideration, and that’s pretty much it on the active roster. Ask me again in five years and we’ll see what Jesus Montero is up too.
Nick asks: What’s your opinion on Rob Lyerly. Could he be the Yankees next Brandon Laird?
Let’s start with the easy stuff and compare the two using their basic career minor league stats…
The differences are obvious. Laird has hit for substantially more power while striking out less, and he has a much lower BABIP. Keep in mind that the minor league baselines for BABIP, LD%, LOB%, etc. are much different than what we’re used to seeing in the majors, so a .386 BABIP isn’t out of this world insane. Montero’s minor league BABIP is .341, and that’s pretty normal. Laird’s is a bit low while Lyerly’s a bit high.
The two are basically the same age (Laird is less than two months younger) but Laird is way ahead of Lyerly developmentally. He’s also a righty whereas Lyerly is a lefty, and he’s better defensively at the hot corner (and has outfield experience to boot). I’m actually kind of surprised that Lyerly has hit for so little power as a pro — 15 HR in 283 games after hitting 27 HR in 100 games his last two years in college — but I suppose wood bats will do that to guys tucked away in non-elite college conferences.
Ultimately, Lyerly is just another guy in the system, a fringe prospect at best unless he finds his power stroke with wood bats. He’ll start next year back at Double-A Trenton and likely serve as the regular third baseman, but he’ll have to add some power and make some more contact if he wants to carve out his career as a left-handed corner infield bench bat at the big league level.
Patrick asks: Not a Yankees question, per se, but an RAB question. I’m in permanent exile on the West Coast, having abandoned New Jersey for the sunny shores of California. I see the Yanks when I can at the Coliseum (7 games coming up this year!), and am a rabid devotee of both the team, and your site. I’m wondering if you have any data about readership- how many of your readers are in the TriState area around NYC? How many are from farther afield? Is there a significant California contingent? The Coliseum sure looks pretty blue when the Boys come to town…
We don’t have the data handy, but what you can do is look at the World Map feature in SiteMeter. The link is in the right-most sidebar at all times, right under the Work With Pete banner. The last 100 visitors is microcosm of the site’s readership, with most readers coming from New York and the rest of the East Coast, some from further west, and then a handful from overseas. Most of the overseas readers come from Asia, specifically Japan and South Korea, where they actually play organized baseball at a high level. Every so often there will be a hit from South America or Europe or Australia, and that’s pretty neat. If I ever come across some actual percentages, I’ll be sure to let you know in a future mailbag.