Scouting The Trade Market: Marco Scutaro

Embracing the flawed, first place Yankees
Kuroda makes a month-long statement
(AP Photo/Barry Gutierrez)

Eduardo Nunez‘s inability to make the routine play and Jayson Nix‘s generally inability to handle shortstop should have the Yankees in the market for a utility infielder prior to the trade deadline. The Rockies are one of the worst teams in baseball this season at 28-44, due in large part to an ineffective pitching staff that has allowed 5.6 runs per game. Although we’ve seen speculation about the availability of Carlos Gonzalez, a much more realistic trade target is Marco Scutaro.

We’re all familiar with Scutaro from his days with the Blue Jays and Red Sox, and I’m sure we all remember the walk-off three-run homer he hit against Mariano Rivera while with the Athletics years ago. He went to the Rockies in a salary dump trade this offseason and with Colorado out of contention, he could be available in another salary dump deal in the coming weeks. Let’s take a look to see what, if anything, he could offer New York…

The Pros

  • A high contact hitter, Scutaro has the second lowest swing-and-miss rate (5.4%) and ninth lowest strikeout rate (9.2%) in baseball over the last three seasons. That has allowed him to consistently hit for a solid average (.284 with a .300 BABIP since the start of 2010).
  • In addition to putting the ball in play, Scutaro has a good eye and will supplement his average with walks. His 7.6% walk rate over the last three years is about league averge and he’s swung at just 18.9% of the pitches he’s seen outside of the strike zone during that time, the seventh lowest rate in baseball.
  • Versatility is a major plus, as he’s played every position other than pitcher, catcher, and center field during his 11-year career. His career UZR marks are right around league average at all positions except first base, which is a super small sample (15 defensive innings).
  • Scutaro is obviously familiar with the AL East and its various pitchers. There is a benefit to that experience but I’m not sure how significant. If nothing else, he’ll know what to expect in this division.
  • Scutaro is a pure rental player, due to become a free agent after the season. He’s making $6M this season, so approximately $1M a month the rest of the way.

The Cons

  • At 36 years old, Scutaro is having his worst offensive season in years. He’s hit .276/.328/.385 with four homers in 301 plate appearances, an 86 wRC+ that is the worst full season mark of his career. His walk rate (6.3%) is his lowest since 2004, his first full season in the show.
  • Although he has experience as a bench player, Scutaro has been a full-time player for the last five years. Sticking a guy who has been accustomed to regular at-bats on the bench and expecting similar production is always a tricky proposition.
  • All of that versatility is a thing of the past. Scutaro has played the middle infield exclusively for the last four seasons, so it’s unclear what he could contribute in the outfield. I’m sure third base wouldn’t be much of a problem though.
  • Thanks to the new Collective Bargaining Agreement, the Yankees will not be able to recoup draft pick compensation should Scutaro sign with another team after the season.

Now things got slightly complicated last night because Scutaro took a Stephen Strasburg fastball to the head. He left the game under his own power and will be re-evaluated today, so we don’t know how much or if he’ll miss any time. Right now he’s listed as day-to-day. Obviously a DL stint of any length would throw a wrench into any team’s plans to acquire him. We’re all in wait-and-see mode at the moment.

Assuming he’ll be fine just for the sake of argument, Colorado acquired Scutaro for a pittance (Clayton Mortenson) from the Red Sox because they assumed all of his salary, and the same should be true at the deadline. They need pitching so perhaps a Grade-B pitching prospect fits the bill — Mikey O’Brien? Brett Marshall? — though I suppose it’s worth noting that the Yankees acquired Jerry Hairston Jr. for a Grade-D prospect (catcher Chase Weems) back in 2009. That’s not a perfect comparison since Scutaro is the better player and makes three times the money, but we’re in the same ballpark.

Joe Girardi and the Yankees emphasize rest — both half-days at DH and full days — for their older players and Scutaro would allow them to sit Alex Rodriguez and Derek Jeter without missing a beat. He would also be able to step right in should an injury arise, an underrated quality. The Yankees could use a little more contact in their offense and Scutaro would certainly help in that regard as well. There is no indication that he is or available or that the Rockies are ready to sell, but if and when the do, the Bombers should get involved and quickly. Replacing Nix with Scutaro is a clear upgrade and one that is unlikely to cost an arm and a leg.

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Embracing the flawed, first place Yankees
Kuroda makes a month-long statement
  • Robinson Tilapia

    It’s time for another edition of “Guys my mother-in-law likes.”

    She LOVES Marco Scutaro. I think that, because she saw him get some timely hits against the Yanks, she’s under the false pretense that he’s a superstar.

    Trade deadline upgrade over Nix? No-brainer. I’m on board, and then some.

    • Peter North

      And here I thought you were making fun of me yesterday with the mother-in-law comment.

      • Robinson Tilapia

        No no no. This is a very real thing. My mother-in-law became a big Yankee fan in order to have something to bond with me on at first. She just developes strange attachments to scrappy underdog types and misremembers things. Therefore, I have to convince of things such as “John Lackey never pitched for the Yankees. He pitched AGAINST them in the playoffs.”

        • Peter North

          That’s pretty funny. Holiday dinners must be awesome.

  • crawdaddy

    I would hate to give up a Brent Marshall for part time player for three months.

  • crawdaddy

    Brett Marshall.

  • Betty Lizard

    Well, I love Scutaro’s name, which makes me laugh and I want to put him on a team with Slowey and Loney etc but the fastball to the head thing? This is a clear upgrade?

  • Bartolo’s Colon

    i think this is a good move, but i’m not so sure it is smart to have mo’s kryptonite in yankee stadium

    • William

      The only guy who could hit Mo regularly.

      • Brian S.

        Yeah he was fucking annoying last year against CC.

      • MannyGeee

        Jason Kubel takes offense

        • gc

          Edgar Martinez sheds a tear.

    • jjyank

      Heh but Mo isn’t playing this year anyway, and Scutaro would likely be gone by the time Mo gets back. It’s all good.

  • Fernando

    The comparision to the Hairston trade is fair – a utilityman traded for salary relief. Plus, the Rockies got a pittance for assuming Scutaro’s contract, so they can’t expect to get BOTH a good prospect AND salary relief.

  • Kosmo

    I´m ok with Scutaro. I wonder if NY could land Lowrie for the right price, he´s 8 years younger than Scutaro and can play SS,3B and 2B.

    • http://www.riveraveblues.com Mike Axisa

      You’d be buying very high on a guy who hasn’t come to the plate 500 times since 2008.

      • BK2ATL

        In this scenario, wouldn’t Lowrie just be a utility guy??? No 500 PA to worry about.

        • Brian S.

          Lowrie isn’t a utility guy. He’s better than Jeter.

          • BK2ATL

            You’re suggesting Lowrie to replace one of Derek “The Captain” Jeter, Alex Rodriguez, or Robinson Cano??? You’re gonna find 500 PA for Jed “freaking” Lowrie from amongst these 3…..

            On the Yankees, Lowrie is ONLY a utility guy. he’d be a great one, and we could build Nunez value back up into a useful trade piece.

            • Need Pitching

              he’s only a utility guy on the Yankees, but he’d have starter value to other teams. I doubt the Yankees give up the talent to get a starter SS having a good year just to fill a utility role.

          • Brian S.

            And probably A-Rod too.

            • BK2ATL

              Yeah, so much so that Boston brought in Marco Scutaro to “challenge” him. Oh wait….

              You’re comparing A-Rod to this.

              • Will (the other one)

                Your sarcasm meter, presumably, is in the shop?

                • BK2ATL

                  Missed it, my bad. Need to go find that darn repair ticket.

          • RetroRob

            There’s a reason why the Red Sox let him go and the Astros are looking to sell high on him right now.

            He’s not that good.

        • http://www.riveraveblues.com Mike Axisa

          But you’re paying a starter price to acquire him.

          • BK2ATL

            Then the answer is definitely no.

            Scutaro or our old buddy Jerry Hairston Jr would work fine for minimal cost as a backup to Jeter and Cano.

      • Ross

        You’re right but, I know Jed a little and he’d be a good addition to the team because he’s smart (Stanford), level headed, and understands his abilities.
        I believe he’s thriving because he knows he’s starting every day. That might not happen in NY.
        That said, Houston would have to be expecting a ton in return. They gave up Melancon and got two pieces back. Would handing them Betances (+ a High A player) work?

        • Thomas

          Unless that A level player is Sanchez or Mason Williams, you aren’t getting Jed Lowrie. Betances value has plummeted.

  • Ross

    Scutaro had a major brain fart the other day … popped up from a slide into second base and assumed he was out although he had been called safe, walked off the bag, got tagged …
    We can’t afford simple mistakes like that.

    • http://www.riveraveblues.com Mike Axisa

      And what makes you think he’ll do that again?

      • Ross

        He’s a veteran and making kid mistakes. What makes you think he won’t?
        Maybe having his bell rung shook out the cobwebs?

        • http://www.riveraveblues.com Mike Axisa

          Does he have a history of making these mistakes? Derek Jeter hit a grand slam once, that doesn’t mean he’ll do it again.

          • Ross

            As for DJ, probably not, huh?
            But, I seem to remember something about Scutaro not keeping his head in the game previously. It just wasn’t a big enough situation for me to remember the exact details.
            I get your point … He doesn’t have that reputation but, I think there’s better quality available than Scutaro.

          • Jobu

            In his defense, there is a question of opportunities and ability. Jeter doesn’t come up with the bases loaded often and doesn’t had have the power to hit a lot of home runs, so the probability of a grand slam is very low. Scutaro has the ability to walk away from the base and be tagged out any time he is on base, or about once a game. The only question is if he has the ability to be completely boneheaded consistently. Having said that, this is a stupid thing to be talking about.

      • Robinson Tilapia

        Altzheimer’s?

  • Fernando

    Hey Mike, what about the Twins Jamey Carroll. Cheaper than Scutaro, he can play the infield, makes good contact and could fill in as a regular if needed. Have to think he would come just as cheap with Twins in even worse shape than the Rockies.

    • http://www.riveraveblues.com Mike Axisa

      He’s alright, but he’s old as dirt and has a multi-year contract. Plus he has zero power, Scutaro can still run into one.

  • Brian S.

    He just got hit in the head by a Stephen Strasburg fastball yesterday. Any word yet on if he’s injured? Also I’m not down for trading Brett Marshall.

    • Brian S.

      You already mentioned that. Nevermind.

  • E-ROC

    I’m probably in minority, but I’m content with Jayson Nix.

    • BK2ATL

      If there’s no clear upgrade over Nix and at a minimal cost, I’m with you on that. We’re talking about a start here or there, between SS and 2B once a week.

  • Chad Gaudin the Friendly Ghost

    “Now things got slightly complicated last night because Scutaro took a Stephen Strasburg fastball to the head.”

    I’m surprised his head didn’t explode.

  • Rush Stern- megarobothead

    I once slept with this guy named Marco and it was the absolute worst experience ever. I’d stay away from this one also.

    • Brian S.

      Good point.

    • Robinson Tilapia

      I would love for this to become a regular meme.

  • Reggie C.

    Scutaro is a Far more realistic addition than Joel Sherman’s not-so-private thoughts on CarGo. A scutaro addition would also be palatable, though I think Brett Marshall is too much to give up given he’s the org’s most promising AA starter.

    Nice writeup Mike. Scutaro might be hoping for a return to the AL.

    • jjyank

      Yeah I agree. I like Scutaro, but I wouldn’t feel comfortable giving up much value. I’m hoping for a salary dump.

  • Greg

    I still think Trevor Plouffe would be a good bench piece. This is a guy who is very versatile which is helpful when we have a bunch of old players. He can play short, third, and the corner outfield positions.

    He is hitting .247/.325/.545 with 15 homers and 27 RBIs.

    Plus he’s hitting .196 with RISP. He fits right in!

    Seriously though, I think he would be a nice piece to have.

    • MannyGeee

      talk about buying high… and he strikes out a shit ton.

  • MattNC

    For all the talk about Carlos Gonzalez:

    Career OPS at Coors Field: 1.073
    Career road OPS: .753

    Scutaro would be a decent solution. Reluctant to lose Brett Marshall to get him, though Marshall’s K/9 is worryingly low.

    • Greg

      A perfect player for the Twins.

    • BK2ATL

      Playing in Petco (SD), BankOne (Arizona), and AT&T (SF) multiple series each year would depress anyone’s OPS, but that doesn’t fit into the CarGo narrative.

      I think we could get Scutaro for less than Marshall, esp. if we’re picking up salary.

      • eephus_pitch

        A .320 difference is a LOT.

  • Robinson Tilapia

    I missed the Marshall part. We can really just switch him and Schaeffer Hall in the trade. They won’t notice.

  • vin

    Whenever I think of Scutaro, I think of my fellow Italian-American friend…

    We were at lunch, and the A’s were playing, and my buddy (also named Marco), saw Scutaro’s name on the TV as he was coming up to the plate, and asked if his name was pronounced Skoo-tahhh-row? He obviously wasn’t a baseball fan, despite being from Boston. Which is the only reason he and I could be friends.

    Great story, I know.

    That said, I’d love to have him on the team.

  • tyrone sharpton

    Just call up Nunez!

  • LiterallyFigurative

    I would give Jayson Nix a few more games at SS before going to the trade market.

  • LiterallyFigurative

    How about we pick up the entire salary and give em some low quality prospect or two in return?

  • Jensen

    What’s wrong with Jayson Nix’s fielding?

  • Captian Crunch Sabathia

    I know this has nothing to do with this post, but why not go after a pitcher like Jordan Lyles on the Astros? They said that everybody is basically available and he’s a good young pitcher. Maybe put him in AAA for a little while then bring him up in September. Then he and Pineda would be ready for 2013.

    • king of fruitless hypotheticals

      Also has nothing to do with this post, but I have to be honest: I LOVE the Chinese buffet down the street. It’s pretty cheap, the food is decent, and they have both a hibachi cook-to-order grill and, while it doesn’t have a large selection, they do have a sushi bar too. There’s nothing great on the sushi bar, but I don’t like a lot of the nigiri anyway.

      Aardsma replaces Eppley and Scutaro replaces…whom?

      • Cris Pengiucci

        Scutaro replaces Nix. Need him to be able to play 2B, don’t need him at 3rd right now, as Chavez hasn’t been injured (hope it stays that way for the season).

  • NYCSPORTZFAN

    I wanted to get Keppinger last yr, and still wish we had em. He’d of fit like a glove, and his ability to flat out “hit” and put ball in play would of meshed well at the bottom of our order.. Im pretty sure hes doing well in Tampa right now, but wish he was here.. Don’t care about Scutaro.. Would just assume have Nix be the guy, like he has been.. I got no problem with Nix getting a tad more playing time…

    I really wish we could figure a way to get Mustellier up here.. I’m sick of not knowing about these guys.. I look around at other teams, and guys are on the roster playing.. Were always looking for a retread instead of using our own guys(not always, but u know what i ys mean).. I mean, Quintana would of been in our system another 3yrs before getting a chance to pitch in big club, and in that time, the guys gotta pitch sensational like all the time, or they think he was a flash in the pan.. U keep even the best guys in the minors for to long, and there gonna how down trending stats at some point…