2013 Midseason Review: Grade F’s

A-Rod will join Triple-A Scranton tomorrow to continue rehab
Klapisch: Yankees aren't particularly interested in Marlon Byrd

We’ve spent some time dissecting the team’s performance through the first half of the year. Mike wrote about the A’s, the B’s, and the C’s while I covered the D’s. Let’s wrap this up with the F’s and incompletes.

(Mike Stobe/Getty)
(Mike Stobe/Getty)

Every championship-caliber team has a group of individuals who go above and beyond, who perform incredible feats in incredible moments. These are the players who carry the team on their shoulders through thick and thin. Unfortunately, the players listed in this post are not those guys!

No, instead we’re going to discuss the “F” team. These are the retreads. These are the players that we, as fans, wish we did not have to watch on a daily basis. These guys are the ones who make us cringe, curse, and grind our teeth for three hours or so a night on a daily basis.

The Shortstops
Ah, yes, the shortstops. Jayson Nix. Alberto Gonzalez. Luis Cruz. Reid Brignac. Eduardo Nunez*. You’ve all been awful. For simplicity’s sake, let’s refer to the old table.

2013 NYY SS

It’s sad, really. The Yankees shortstops have collectively posted a .241 wOBA and a 44 wRC+ (-1.2 fWAR). Relative to the rest of the league, this production (or lack there of) is ranked second worst in all of baseball.

While power is certainly a bit of a rarity from the shortstop position, it is both saddening and mildly surprising (at least to me) that this group, together, has only managed two (!) homeruns thus far. Hell, even the Marlins have three (though to be fair, the Cardinals and the White Sox both have one, and the Rangers none). I think, more than anything, what this tell us is a) how fortunate the Yankees are to have had Derek Jeter all these years, and b) how even a super-star in decline (like Derek Jeter or A-Rod perhaps) can still be a really preferable option to the alternative much of the time.

If the Yankees expect to reach the playoffs, they’ll need more from these guys, plain and simple. We’re not talking Troy Tulowitzki production (though that would be okay too), they just can’t be well-below replacement level. Right now, the shortstop position is a black hole in the lineup and it’s noticeable.

* I was a little torn about whether Nunez belonged in the “Grade F” group or with the “Incompletes.”  At the end of the day I chose to throw him in with this lot which is probably a bit unfair. Nunez had a really great opportunity to prove his valuable to the team early on when it became obvious that Jeter would not be available for much of the year, and simply has not capitalized on his opportunity. Anyway you look at it, Nunez’ season has to be deemed a disappointment thus far. Of course, if you feel it’s unfair to give him a letter grade given his limited playing time, that’s fine too.

The Third Basemen

2013 NYY 3B

Next stop on the depressing infield tour is third base. It’s ugly. Really ugly. The good news is that the Yankees third basemen ranked higher relative to the league than their shortstop counterparts. The bad news is it’s not by much. They rank fourth worst in all of baseball with only the Twins, Blue Jays, and Brewers trailing. The group has managed to hit six home runs collectively (over 625 plate appearances) and has batted to a .219/.279/.295 (.256 wOBA, 56 wRC+) line. They haven’t taken many walks (6.2 BB%) though they have struck out at fair pace (25.8 K%), and as already mentioned, power has been a scarcity.

(Elsa/Getty)
(Elsa/Getty)

The culprits hear are pretty obvious. Kevin Youkilis was the super non-durable (and super desperate) backup plan to Alex Rodriguez. Even prior to his back injury, which ultimately sidelined him for the year, he looked pretty shot. He was getting an awful lot of weak ground outs down the third base line.  His patented patience never really surfaced and he basically looked uncomfortable at the plate from moment one. I suppose if you’re generous you can give him a pass if you want to call his season “incomplete” too. I’m not that generous though. He’s getting an “F” in my book.

From there you can talk about Nix, who really has been used way more than he probably should be in an ideal scenario. Frankly, he was getting exposed out there. He’s an adequate fill in on occasion, but he’s not a starter. If the Yankees keep throwing him out their day in and day out, they should expect below replacement level production. As for Adams, I wrote a while back that we should temper our expectations. Well, our expectations certainly have been tempered. After an impressive hot streak following his big league arrival, he’s basically looked lost at the plate for months. There was a pretty clear reason why was he was optioned to AAA.

Austin Romine
I hate seeing the young guys come up and struggle even though they do it most of the time. I mean, it has to be tough making the transition. After a lifetime of hard work, a prolonged stay in the Majors simply doesn’t pan out for many. For others, it’s a precious window that closes quickly. Very few stick around for an extended period of time, and even fewer make a big impact. That’s not to say Romine won’t enjoy a successful MLB career, but he’s had a pretty rough start.

At this point, Romine has batted .160/.182./.213 (.176 wOBA, 0 wRC+) and has been worth -0.4 fWAR.  He’s taken basically no walks (1.3 BB%) and has struck out 22.8% of the time. This includes zero home runs. Of course, he’s only had 79 plate appearances. Joe Girardi‘s been unable to play Romine because he’s been awful in limited opportunities. It seems like this has probably been fairly detrimental to Austin’s confidence (and the team’s confidence in him). Romine, on the other hand, really hasn’t been able to bounce back because he rides the bench almost full-time. On the plus side, when he is in the game, he puts forth solid defense for the most part.

When I think about Romine’s predicament, I ultimately arrive at one point: the Yankees were not adequately prepared at catcher, and Romine was probably not ready to be a big leaguer when he was brought up. He missed substantial time during his minor league development due to back injuries in 2011 and 2012, and really never had the chance to progress at a typical pace. He was thrown onto the big league roster when Francisco Cervelli went down, and backup catcher Chris Stewart became the primary backstop. Maybe we should be apologists for Romine. Maybe we shouldn’t be. Either way, he’s been pretty abysmal through the first half.

(Presswire)
(Presswire)

Joba Chamberlain
It appears as though the Joba Chamberlain saga is finally coming to a rather inglorious end. The once heralded prospect turned elite setup reliever, turned failed starter, turned back into not-quite-so-elite reliever will likely be gone by the trade deadline, or if not, most certainly by the off-season. Although Joba spent some time this season on the disabled list with a strained oblique, there were no massive setbacks to deal with like Tommy John surgery or an ankle dislocation.

As for Joba’s pitching stats, they speak for themselves (negatively). Through 22.1 innings pitched, he’s produced a 5.24 ERA (5.03 FIP). Joba’s strikeout rates are definitely respectable, as they generally are (8.87 K/9), but he’s given up way more walks (4.3 BB/9) than normal. He’s also seemed way more prone to the long ball (1.61 HR/9) than he has in the past. While I’m sure Joba wasn’t delighted about losing his eighth inning gig to David Robertson a couple seasons ago, I’m sure he’s been pretty disheartened this year about losing the seventh inning job as well. In fact, he’s no longer really being used in any high leverage situations, mostly just mop up duty at this point. Instead of responding to the challenge positively, Chamberlain has taken a step backward. As David Cone noted on Sunday afternoon’s brutal loss to the Twins, he looks like isn’t throwing with any conviction.

I do believe Joba is a better pitcher than what we’ve seen this season, and I wouldn’t be surprised if he turned things around in the second half whether with NY or somewhere else altogether. Not to bludgeon a dead horse much further, I also believe the Yankees have mishandled Joba for a few years now, which in turn has hindered him to some degree. Ultimately though, Chamberlain needs to be accountable for his production, which has been pretty lousy. Basically, this seems like a sad ending to what otherwise could have been a promising career in pinstripes. In any event, I think the relationship between Joba and the organization has soured, which is a shame.  Such is life.

(Elsa/Getty)
(Elsa/Getty)

The Incompletes
Mike and I were originally thinking of dedicating a separate article to the walking wounded. This includes Derek Jeter (ankle, quad), Mark Teixeira (wrist), Curtis Granderson (forearm, hand), A-Rod (hip), and Cervelli (hand, elbow). What is there really to say though? Injuries have decimated this team.

Would the Yankees be six games back out of first place if these guys weren’t all injured? Maybe. I have to believe though they’d be much more formidable. I suppose it’s appropriate to throw Zoilo Almonte into the mix as well. While he’s been a breath of fresh air offensively with all the quality at bats, he hasn’t been around all that long. After a torrid start, he’s since cooled somewhat, and who knows what he’ll happen from here (though if I had to guess, I’d say he’ll turn back into the AAAA guy I expected).

The team could have absorbed extended injuries to one or two of these guys perhaps. Having them all out basically all season has been a nightmare though. Who knows how long Jeter will be sidelined with this most recent setback, or whether A-Rod will face a big suspension. Granderson’s basically a non entity at this point. All we do know is that the guys who have been brought on board to supplement the production of these big names aren’t getting it done. While we can’t grade these players on game performance, I think we can say it’s been a very disappointing season for them (and the team) in terms of injuries.

email
A-Rod will join Triple-A Scranton tomorrow to continue rehab
Klapisch: Yankees aren't particularly interested in Marlon Byrd
  • RetroRob

    If you question the Yankees on Joba, then you totally have to question them on Romine. Once a top 100 prospect and one of the top ten catching prospects in the game, he has now had two lost years. Last year because of the back issue, and this year because of not proper planning on the Yankees part. There is no excuse for him sitting on the major league roster. They should have picked up a scrub and send Romine back to AAA where he could build his skills, confidence and endurance.

    Sadly, he probably will be an acceptable MLB backstop. I don’t see it happening on the Yankees. They’ll sell low and some other team will get the benefit.

    • Frankie

      Romine playing everyday could outperform Stewie. Yankees management of Romine is an F. His Defense is a B/B+, his hitting is not great but he gets 3 at bats a week, what can you really expect? in AAA it was an A/B+.

      So combine his Major League defense with his AAA everyday hitting and you get a better player than Stewie. Too bad Joe Girardi loves him some Stewie.

      • WhittakerWalt

        But there’s been no evidence that Romine will become a better hitter. You’re just engaging in wishful thinking, because it’s something different.

        • mitch

          I haven’t given up on Romine becoming a solid backup, but his bat isn’t going to improve until he starts getting regular ABs in AAA.

          • trr

            We don’t really know what Romine is capable of until he plays regularly. Granted, what we’ve seen so far is unimpressive, but again, he needs to be playing more either here or (more reallistically), at AAA. If our overall offense wasn’t so putrid, we could more easily carry a bat like his without having to worry about his production.

  • Andrew

    Is it ever going to be possible to discuss Chamberlain’s performance without the “the Yankees mishandled him” qualifiers? What I mean is, at this very moment, and really for the last 3 seasons, I find it hard to pin Joba’s lack of performance on the Yankees’ handling of him. 2010, meaning the largely-staged competition for a rotation job, was the last time I see a legit case for the Yankees screwing him up. Him blowing out his elbow ligament and hurting his ankle, can’t see how those were caused by the organization’s handling. And this year, his ineffectiveness can’t really be chalked up to an undefined role or bizarre usage rules. He just isn’t pitching well, and will soon be on another team.

    • WhittakerWalt

      Yeah, it just sounds like TalkRadio-speak at this point.

    • The Bastard

      The BS is calling Joba a failed starter. Hughes is a failed starter. He’s started 161 games in the majors with 681 innings to the tune of a 4.67 ERA, and that’s after 65 starts in the minors with 344 innings. So add that up and Hughes has had 226 starts and over 1000 innings to hone his craft as a starter. He’s had more than enough of a chance to prove he could be a league average starter and he’s failed.

      Joba on the other hand got 43 starts and 221 innings to put up a 4.18 ERA in the majors and that was after only 15 starts in the minors, all by his age 23 season. That 2009 year he put up a 97 ERA+ in 31 starts and 157 innings (Joba Rules FTW!).

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

        Hughes has a 94 ERA+ since 2010, including the disaster 2011 season. That’s not a failed starter. Get a new dead horse to (incorrectly) beat.

        • WhittakerWalt

          Hughes has certainly been a disappointment, but to call him a “failed starter” implies he shouldn’t even be in the league. Which is insane. I guess in some people’s you’re either Justin Verlander or a complete failure.

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

            There’s a whole world of players between “above-average” and “failed” that often gets ignored.

            • LK

              Unfortunately we haven’t been able to ignore that world this year as it comprises almost the Yankees’ entire lineup.

            • The Bastard

              Except that failed in this case means he should have been in the bullpen two years ago. His most valuable season was as a reliever. Given his homerun rate, that’s not surprising.

        • Guns

          “He’s had more than enough of a chance to prove he could be a league average starter and he’s failed.”

          A 94 ERA+, while objectively not a “failed” starter, is a below average starter. So yes, even though he’s well below average as a starter over his career (if you exclude his 2009 year mostly as a reliever he’s at an 88 ERA+), I guess the fact that he’s technically a starting pitcher means he’s not a failed starter.

          • The Bastard

            Again, 94 ERA+ is not representative. He’s about a 90 ERA+ career wise. That’s 10% below average. That’s distinctly not average in the same way a 110 ERA+ is not average.

          • Deathstroke Heathcott

            94+ ERA is actually probably not a below average starter if you consider that ERA for starting pitchers is higher than a reliever. A starter with an ERA of 4.0 is better relative to other starters than a reliever with an ERA of 4.0 relative to other relievers.

        • The Bastard

          Nice job leaving out the rest of his career.

  • WhittakerWalt

    I would like to see a detailed, objective, comprehensive analysis on the way the Yankees “mishandled” Joba. I’ve never really understood this line of discussion. He was given multiple opportunities in different roles. If had excelled at any of them, they would have kept him there. Maybe they should have kept him as a starter? I don’t know. I just think this idea that “Joba is confused by the way the Yanks shuffle him around so much” is silly. If you’re a good pitcher, pitch. Don’t complain about your role. Go out there and get it done.

    • LK

      I think the “Joba was mishandled” story is pretty overblown at this point, but I don’t think your characterization is correct either.

      “He was given multiple opportunities in different roles. If had excelled at any of them, they would have kept him there.”

      I don’t really think this fits the facts. He excelled as a starter in the minors, and then they had a need in the BP at the end of ’07, and he excelled there. Then in ’08 they put him in the BP, transitioned him to starting mid-season (where he did in fact excel), then he got hurt and they put him back in the BP. In ’09 he got to start the whole year until the playoffs, but they also did those weird abbreviated starts at the end of the year. His results were mediocre, though certainly as good as other starters in the org who have been given multiple chances to stay in the rotation. Then in ’10 when he was free from innings limits they staged that fake competition and put him in the BP permanently, and he’s struggled with injuries, inconsistency, and ineffectiveness since.

      I think Joba definitely deserves significant blame in his struggles, and perhaps virtually the entirety of the blame. However, when you actually map out his career, it’s clear the Yankees either had no plan at all or changed it in the middle of execution several times over. It’s impossible to know how much that damaged Chamberlain’s development (if at all), but I for one would be surprised if it didn’t.

      • WhittakerWalt

        Maybe he should have been kept a starter. Maybe the Yankees just got tired of hearing Mike Francesa’s “JOBBER NEEDS TO BE IN THE BULLPEN” horseshit. If that’s the case, and they just bowed to the idiotic ramblings of fans who don’t know any better, then they did fuck up.

        • LK

          Yeah, I don’t pretend to know what the best course of action would have been, and no one can be sure whether or not it would’ve made a difference in the end. But, I’m pretty sure the way the Yankees handled him was sub-optimal, which is disappointing for a guy who was arguably the best pitching prospect in baseball at one point – even if he would’ve flamed out regardless.

    • Wolfgang’s Fault

      Certainly Joba has some responsibility in all this, no question, but your request for a “detailed, objective, comprehensive analysis” of all this, is quite frankly, horse shit, unless you’re working for the NSA or some such, & if they do have such analytical logarythyms, they’re probably not pitching performance specific. There’s no numeric way to quantify the impact of the decisions/choices made regarding him on his overall performance & career.

      All we know is that he had a challenging upbringing at best, that he was drafted 41st overall by the Yankees out of U. of Nebraska in ’06 having thrown 89 innings in 14 starts. He’d been a heavy (as in overweight) kid in college up to his senior year, lost the weight before his senior year, and pitched impressively during that year although he did have a bout of triceps tendinitis in his pitching arm earlier in his senior year season.

      He signs w/the Yankees, blows all minor league hitters he faces away w/his “stuff,” & is fast-tracked through the Yankee system, Tampa, Trenton, Scranton, pitching 88 minor league innings before arriving in the Bronx that same year, anointed as the latest Yankee savior, or at the very least, the “bridge to Mo.” Despite the gnat attack in Cleveland, a helluva debut season!

      In May of ’08, after starting the year in the bullpen, they transition him to starting pitcher, and he starts 12 games out of his total 42 appearances under the “joba rules,” compiling 118K’s & 39bb’s in 100+ innings w/a 2.60 era in total for the year, but the critical moment of the year happens in Texas in August when he’s forced to come out of a game in the 5th inning, an inning after ducking a throw down to second from Ivan Rodriguez. He finishes the year w/3 relief appearances in September. In ’09, he’s a starting pitcher. With 31 starts out of his 32 appearances, and compiles 133K’s & (a rather unflattering) 76bb’s in 157+ innings w/a 4.75 era.

      After a not unpromising 2009, in 2010 he’s back in the freaking bullpen, putting in 73(!) appearances, all in relief, compiling 71+ innings, 77K’s, 22 bb’s, and being, for the most part, inconsistent.

      In January of ’11, Cashman is quoted as saying about Joba, among other things, that “Since the injury in Texas, his stuff is different now. We’ve seen over time that his stuff plays so much better as a reliever since he hurt his shoulder.” Continuing, he said he believed Joba’s stuff became “watered down” when starting, based on the fact that when he started in ’09, his velocity trended down as the year moved on and also trended down during each of his starts. According to Fangraphs.com, Joba’s fastball lost 2.5 mph as a starter from 2008 to ’09, w/the % of swinging strikes dropping from 6 to 3. His strikeouts as a starter dipped from 10.3 in 08 to 7.6 in ’09. Cashman’s comments are not his finest moment, particularly considering how little Joba had pitched up to this point since coming out of college.

      Basically, my take is that ironically, Joba’s early & immediate success damaged his long term best interests because he was unwisely & too quickly fast-tracked through the Yankee system without giving him the chance to stretch out his arm by pitching more innings, & giving him the time, instruction, and game conditions to work on his secondary stuff and overall craft. By making him a reliever right away, & then having him try to stretch out as a starter at the big league level, he never had a place where he could safely “fail” & just worry about working on parts of his game, both mental & physical, that could prepare him for a successful long-term career in the big leagues, be it as a starter or reliever. While he could blow hitters away w/his fastball & slider initially whenever & wherever he was pitching, eventually, big league hitters made adjustments, caught on to what he relied on to get them out, & the inevitable happened. Likewise, w/time & injury, Joba’s arm wasn’t as electric as it had been right out of the chute. When he needed to fall back on something other than just trying to throw harder, there wasn’t anything in the cupboard to turn to. Had he developed the other pitches, maybe a more effective 2-seamer, an off-speed curve, change up, whatever, we probably wouldn’t be having this discussion now. Had he pitched more innings before pitching in the big-leagues, perhaps he would have had more endurance and his velocity wouldn’t have fallen off so quickly. While not provable, certainly not an unreasonable conclusion.

      Another thing about development is consistent mechanics & release points, and all pitches being thrown the same way. Does Joba “tip” his pitches? Are there “tells” when he’s throwing that slider as opposed to his heater? I sure as hell don’t know, but I’ll betcha there are hitters/entire ball clubs out there who do. Do the Yankees know? A guy coming out of college w/Joba’s ability, he should have had the most capable pitching guys around him who meshed well w/him & worked w/him to help him throughout the process of transitioning from young phenom to polished major league starting pitcher, w/mechanics and release points precisely tuned & consistent.

      When this kid arrives in Yankee land in ’06/’07, the Yankees “needed” pitching, & this kid’s arm is exploited for an immediate jolt rather than his longterm development. If they blow the kid’s arm or self-esteem out, well, there’ll always be somebody else they can buy or who’ll show up out of the draft. His best interests were sacrificed on the altar of the ’07 season.

      He should have started the ’08 season back in the minor leagues, been assigned a pitching mentor who he meshed with and could watch him throughout the ’08 year, someone who could work w/him and help him make adjustments with, and they should have left him there to pitch innings, develop his stuff, stamina, endurance, etc., and seen what they had following that year. Choosing to develop him at the major league level was flat out irresponsible of the Yankees.

      This kid never pitched more than 80-90 innings in his life until he was drafted, and a year later, he’s setting up Mariano Rivera in a major league pennant race, and the next year, he’s relieving and then transitioning back to starting games while at the major league level. Just flat out insane. They flat out did everything they could that was guaranteed to ruin him. The only thing is, he’s not really ruined; not yet, anyway. He still throws hard!

      It’s probably too late, but who the hell knows. Maybe if he got the chance to work on some things now, away from all the scrutiny, he could still salvage a pretty damn good career. Say what you will about him, he can still throw the ball hard, still has that nasty slider, and still has a few undeveloped but promising secondary pitches. I wouldn’t give him away for just nothing, I tell you that, & I really do wonder if he’s tipping his pitches, something that can be corrected w/a little skillful oversight.

      Somewhere in Joba Chamberlain there still lurks the beast of a great freaking pitcher trying to figure out how to get free. It’s a shame it had to come to this for him, & a shame that pitcher probably won’t arrive as a NY Yankee. If I was Cashman or the Yankee F/O, I’d still try to hold onto him, try to resign him over the winter, and try to have him work over the winter or even in the minor leagues w/someone capable of helping him harness the still considerable ability he possesses. Well, that’s my talk radio rant for the day. Bonjour!

      • toad

        +many

  • mitch

    Nuney gets an F for sure. He’s been horrible and I no longer think he has any spot on a decent MLB roster. His defense sucks and he can’t stay healthy. Whatever little bit of value he brings to the table with speed and occasional bat isn’t enough to make up for that.

    • Stan the Man

      The Yankees are a decent MLB roster and Nunez is on it so I guess you’re wrong about that.

      • LK

        If you separate the roster into position players and pitchers he might be right though.

    • Wolfgang’s Fault

      Sorry, Mitch, but also bullshit! He gets an incomplete because he was seriously drilled in the ribcage twice early in the season w/serious heat on both occasions. Not too many people brush that off too easily, & the damp/cool weather & then injury totally crapped his season up to this point. Is Nunez a quality big-league shortstop? I think so. However, only time & his playing enough will tell. He hasn’t played enough, hasn’t been healthy, and nobody knows. If they don’t jerk him around and he plays consistently, we’ll get a real good idea. I think the guy can play!

  • JLC 776

    If there’s one relief to someday, supposedly, having Joba off the team, it’s that the ‘Yankees mishandled him’ drama can finally go away and live only in the past. Some things just don’t work and that’s that.

    What, no paragraph of vitriol for Ben Francisco? Or is the F-minus list coming?

  • Kiko Jones

    51-44, 7 games over .500; 4th place, 6 games out of 1st, is how the Yankees wrapped up the official first half of the 2013 season.
    Obviously this is not the preferred outcome, but this injury-ravaged bunch has fought the good fight. Hopefully, the cavalry’s comin’ to the rescue. But what does that mean, exactly? Will Jeter and Granderson be productive after a second—and in Jeter’s case, a third—time going down? Will A-Rod be able to contribute or even come back at all? Are there feasible solutions via trade out there? Might not be a bad idea to brace ourselves for 2008 redux.

    • Stan the Man

      I think if the Yanks finish with 89 wins this year like they did in 2008 it will be a great accomplishment. When you have $100+ million on the DL and can still be in contention then as an organization you are doing a lot right.

  • entonces

    Very disappointing assessment. Unjustifiably harsh, especially on two groups:
    Young players who performed either exceedingly or pretty well and better than expectations but were given Cs or Ds (Warren, Claiborne, Hughes, Phelps).
    Also far too harsh on young players who were simply getting their feet wet and not allowed to play with sufficient regularity to make anything but superficial assessment possible (Adams, Romine). Incompletes, I would say. Reluctantly (because I like this blog) I have to give the reviewers an F for this effort.

    • FIPster Doofus

      Hughes has “performed exceedingly or pretty well and better than expectations”? Come on.

      Also, ‘C’ isn’t even a bad grade relative to these rankings – it means average and most of the players you mentioned have been pretty average. There’s no shame whatsoever in being an average young player. It’s a good thing for an organization to accumulate some. They’re cheap and playable.

      • SDB

        “Hughes has “performed exceedingly or pretty well and better than expectations”? Come on.”

        If your expectations were one home run per inning pitched (which I’ve occasionally feared), then he’s been way above expectations.

        • entonces

          3.38 ERA on road. Last three starts very good. Inconsistent, yes. But most starts by Hughes have been good. Catfish Hunter gave up a lot of HRs too. But I would agree that of the four I mentioned, Hughes performance is most dubious.

    • LK

      I would focus less on the specific letters and more on the groups. Do you agree the A’s are better than the B’s? The B’s and the C’s? And so on. If you’d rank them differently, then tell us how.

      If your criticism is basically “All the F’s should be D’s and C’s and all the D’s should be C’s and B’s” then you basically just want to read about how the Yankees are awesome.

      • King of Fruitless Hypotheticals

        Folks today are so acclimated to grade inflation nobody even wants to hear about anybody getting F’s anymore. It’s like grad school: A, B, F. And nobody gets F’s.

    • Need Pitching & Hitting (but mostly hitting)

      I don’t think the reviews were meant to be relative to expectations. They were relative to the player’s role. For example, Stewart has performed at least as well or even better than expectations, but as a MLB starting C, he’s below average. If he were the BUC, he’d probably earn at least a B (though maybe not from Mike). Hughes and Phelps have probably pitched about to expectations (I would argue slightly worse), but as MLB starters their results have been below average (though Phelps peripherals were much better than his overall results). I would have rated Warren and Claiborne a bit higher. For Adams as a starting 3B or Romine as a BUC, if you grade their actual performance, it’s a clear F. Doesn’t mean they can’t get better, but for what they’ve actually done this season, F seems fair. Unfair in some cases because players were thrust into roles they normally wouldn’t serve, but if the point is to grade based on the role actually played instead of expected role, most of the rankings seem pretty fair to me.

  • Jigga

    Suzyn Waldman does not approve of this post

  • LarryM Fl

    I understand the rational to lump all players at a given position a letter grade. The Yankees have had to extend down the depth chart below the water table at third and shortstop. It was a simple deduction on a very weak bunch. None of players are starters.

    In fact Cashman and Girardi affirming that Eduardo’s position is at shortstop. Is one assessment that may lead this kid right out of baseball. He has excellent speed but the other tools are so raw even with his years in the minors. His ability to stay healthy is an aspect that will follow him around IMHO. Nix should get a C just performing daily and the team being 7 games above .500. You might argue that the team was higher in the standings when he was playing. Cruz, Gonzales, and Brignac were/are just horrible. Third base is no different.

    Joba is an employee of the Yankees. The team did not go out of there way to mishandle his career. Its Joba’s responsibility to play his best when ever he is placed in the game. Whatever the situation is. We may get a bucket of balls for him. This is because of his maturity not Yankee handling of his situation.

    Romine was sacrificed to the baseball gods. He missed most of the AA season in 2012. He was rushed up to the majors before his ability to deal with the pitching was qualified. Even if he was not hitting. The Yankees should have gotten him some at bats with starts at least 50% of the games. Stewart is no Russell Martin with power or defensively so Romine would not have hurt the club.

    Adams should have been left out there to play. He has a decent glove. He had to work out his offensive struggles but sat the bench now optioned to AAA to pick up the pieces. Adams and Romine have been mishandled during the Yankee desperation to stay a float. If you bring up a kid from AAA to fill spots then you must play them. Its OJT. The worse way to learn but at times you have no choice.

    I hope there is a front office and ownership rating.

    • LK

      Romine and Adams are employees of the Yankees. The team did not go out of there way to mishandle their careers. It’s their responsibility to play their best whenever they are placed in the game. Whatever the situation is. This is because of their maturity not Yankee handling of their situation.

      • LarryM Fl

        LK, no player’s maturity can surmount picking splinters from their a$$. In other words if you sit you can not improve. Since Adams and Romine were called up then they should have played. Their was no one of better quality to keep them out of the lineup.

  • King of Fruitless Hypotheticals

    I didn’t know wRC could be negative…

    • LK

      I think it goes to -100 (someone correct me if I’m wrong). A wRC+ of 0 indicates 100% below average (i.e. half as valuable as an average hitter), and then -100 is .000/.000/.000. So anything below 0 means you’re closer to one of us (literally) than an average hitter.

      • King of Fruitless Hypotheticals

        Thanks much!–btw, you don’t need to say ‘correct me if I’m wrong’ because folks around here will correct you even if you’re right…

        • LK

          Good point.

  • Dan

    I think you’re a little harsh in your grading for some guys. Jayson Nix everyday infielder is a D or an F, but Jayson Nix utility infielder is a C. Same thing goes for Chris Stewart (which you obviously mentioned).

    • LK

      Yeah but Jayson Nix isn’t a utility IF for the 2013 Yankees; why would we evaluate him that way?

    • Darren

      Agreed. Mike is yelling at a dog for farting after Cashman fed it a bowl of beans.

      • FIPster Doofus

        Hahaha.

      • LK

        While I see your point, how else do you evaluate this roster? A’s for everyone because they’re all good backups?

      • vicki

        are you people worried about hurting jayson nix’s feelings? he’s failed as a major league startin shortstop. for the purposes of these blog posts why does it matter whose fault it is?

        • WhittakerWalt

          Well, he’s a baseball player, and “he does something to help the team win every game,” so let’s just pretend that’s good enough.

      • The Bastard

        +100

  • Need Pitching & Hitting (but mostly hitting)

    My rankings, relative to role:
    #1 Starter – CC, D
    #2 Starter – Hirok, A+
    #3 Starter – Pettitte, D
    #4 Starter – Hughes, D
    #5 Starter – Nova/Phelps, C+
    Closer – Mo, A
    Setup – DRob, A
    Middle Relief, Kelley – B, Joba – F, Logan – B, Claiborne – B
    Long Relief/mop up – Warren – A-
    C – Stewart, C
    1B – Overbay – C-
    2B – Cano – A
    SS – various, F
    3B – various, F
    LF – Wells, F, Almonte – Inc
    CF – Gardner, B+
    RF – Ichiro, B-
    DH, Hafner, F
    Bench – various, D-

    • LK

      I’d go higher on CC, lower on Stewart, Overbay, and Ichiro, but that looks pretty decent to me.

      • Need Pitching & Hitting (but mostly hitting)

        A 4+ ERA and 4+ FIP seems distinctly below average for a #1 starter to me. I guess I could see maybe a D+/C- for him instead, but that’s as high as I’d go. I could see an argument to go slightly lower for the other 3 you mentioned.

        • LK

          I think given that he still throws a ton of innings I’d have him in the C/C- range, but if you wanted to say D+ I’m not going to lose to any sleep over it.

          • The Bastard

            The fact that he throws a ton of innings makes it worse, not better. He’s getting paid $23M. He’ll end up giving them 2 WAR this year, in spite of all of the innings. That’s below average – a D – relative to where he should be.

            Stewart and Overbay seem properly valued to me, taking into account their salaries and expected roles. And while I hated Ichiro, he’s going to wind up giving them 2-3 WAR. That’s a B relative to what he’s being paid (and so expected to produce).

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

              Yes, fewer innings from Sabathia and more innings shitty middle relievers make him more valuable.

              • The Bastard

                You assume. It seems ridiculous, but then Aaron Small went 10-0. And if CC is injured, better to rest him and hope he recovers than throw him at 80%. He has thrown a shit-ton of innings in his career.

                Plus, they do need to actually develop arms. Unless next year’s shit show features a bunch of Ponson/Erickson types.

                • LK

                  Yes, Aaron Small went 10-0. Then the next year he got his brains beat in.

                  • The Bastard

                    Duh.

                    • LK

                      Perhaps you’ve missed the point.

                      “You assume. It seems ridiculous, but then Aaron Small went 10-0.”

                      It seemed ridiculous because it WAS ridiculous, because Aaron Small was a terrible pitcher who got lucky for a couple months. If you actually think that CC throwing more innings is bad because the team will be able to plug an atrocious pitcher into his slot and have that scrub magically not suck, then you’re out of your mind.

                    • The Bastard

                      You missed my point. To take the prevailing view here to the logical extreme, imagine throwing CC for 300 innings. I’m saying to you don’t get the same CC with more innings pitched. That’s naive to assume so. Plus, there’s the opportunity cost of what someone else might give. Yes, it could most certainly be worse in the form of a middle reliever. Or it could be a “breakout” performance. There’s no way of knowing unless you try. In addition, the 2014 rotation is shaping up to be pretty laughable. Trying to squeeze every last inning from CC likely means getting a less effective CC (esp in his current form) *and* not seeing what else you have. The fallacy is assuming more CC is necessarily a good thing.

                    • LK

                      I’m now less sure than ever of what point you’re trying to make.

                      Yes, of course there are diminishing returns to the innings that CC throws, and obviously him throwing 300 innings would not be good.

                      No one has advocated that.

                      You took the position that the team would benefit from CC throwing fewer innings than he is at his current usage rate (“The fact that he throws a ton of innings makes it worse, not better”), which has not been particularly taxing. There is no evidence that CC would actually improve significantly from throwing fewer innings relative to his current rate other than your conjecture.

                      You are also correct that the value provided by the replacement pitchers is unknown, but just because it is not known does not mean that nothing is known about its distribution. The replacement pitchers are very likely to be bad (with Phelps hurt and Marshall being a disaster I’m not even sure who a viable candidate would be).

                      I don’t think it’s possible to construct a logical case that the Yankees, so far this year, would have been better off with CC pitching less.

                    • The Bastard

                      Lemme speak slowly.

                      CC is likely hurt (call it a “tired arm” if that word – hurt – throws off a red flag).

                      300 innings is the logical extreme. No one is advocating that. But they are advocating that more innings from CC is better for the team. Given his results this year, that’s not a given. In fact, there’s evidence to suggest (his velo, his homerun rate), that it is likely a bad thing.

                      Opportunity cost is the failure to develop arms. Next year’s rotation w/o Hiroki or Pettitte or (thankfully) Hughes is CC, Nova, Phelps, Nuno ???

                      You wanna bet the Yankees go for Ponson/Erickson types? It is the same GM who signed those turds. Throwing CC more means failing to evaluate what else you have.

                    • LK

                      I still have yet to see any evidence that he’ll start pitching better if he pitches less other than your conjecture. He’s getting old. The velocity is probably not coming back. I also notice you didn’t give examples of who you want starting in his place to “see what they have.”

            • LK

              “The fact that he throws a ton of innings makes it worse, not better”

              This is just demonstrably false when you have a pitcher performing above replacement level. I’d also be willing to bet you CC ends up with more than 2 WAR since he has 1.8 already.

              “Stewart and Overbay seem properly valued to me, taking into account their salaries and expected roles”

              I’m not taking their salaries or expected roles into account in the least. I’m taking their performance and their actual roles into account.

              “[Ichiro]’s going to wind up giving them 2-3 WAR”

              Neither ZiPS nor Steamer have him clearing 2 WAR by the end of the year. He’s a good 4th OF, but a below average starter (which is what he is on this team). That’s not getting you a B from me.

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

                There’s no logical reason to consider salary when judging performance, they’re two completely separate things. The salary structure in the game makes it so players earn less when they’re at their best and more when they’re declining.

                • The Bastard

                  Ummmm, that’s the definition of “value”. Just because you don’t think so doesn’t make it true. Yes, there is a sunk cost element here. But you don’t pay CC to give you 2 WAR. Better to trade him and reap the prospects for more value.

                  That’s the problem with the Yankees. They don’t take value seriously, so they let Russell Martin and Eric Chavez go and give their money to Wells and Hafner. Trade the former for the latter and there’s the six games keeping them out of first.

                  • LK

                    So you give CC a D and then think they can trade him for prospects?

                    • The Bastard

                      You don’t? Just because he’s underperforming, doesn’t mean he still doesn’t have valeu on the open market.

                      If he were a free agent you don’t think he’d get $23M AAV from some team?

                      Honestly, I think he’s pitching hurt. It may not be DL-hurt, but the velo drop is real. The problem is he pretty damn well needed in this shit show.

                    • Need Pitching & Hitting (but mostly hitting)

                      I actual don’t think he could match the remainder of his contract on the open market. He likely would still have some trade value if he’d waive his NTC, but I think the Yankees would definitely have to eat some the contract to make it happen, and quite a bit of the contract to get a substantial return. If the Yankees put him on waivers right now, I suspect he might pass through unclaimed (maybe the Dodgers would bite, I’d be shocked if anyone else did).

                • LK

                  Yeah I don’t see why people want to factor salary/intended role into this exercise. It’s a look back at the team. If a guy making peanuts was supposed to be a mop-up guy and somehow ended up the closer and has 25 blown saves, he’s getting an F. It’s fine if you want to criticize the front office for relying on a guy too much, but that doesn’t change the fact that he sucked when relied upon.

                  • The Bastard

                    Again, because they didn’t sign Overbay or Stewart to be stars. A “C” from them is about what you could have expected, given their role and salary. That’s their value. If they exceeded expectations, you give them an A or B.

                    Where I thought NPH nailed the exercise is in balancing these things. Ichiro is slightly exceeding expectations. That’s a B, etc.

              • Need Pitching & Hitting (but mostly hitting)

                Ichiro’s been on a better pace than that so far, which is what I’d evaluate him on now. I’m not entering expected production for the rest of the year into any of the rankings. By fWAR, Ichiro’s middle of the pack among RF. By bWAR, he’s 10th. I’d say overall, he’s been average to slightly above average so far, so somewhere between C and B- seems fair to me. Upon further review, I’d revise my ranking to C+.

                • LK

                  I can get behind that.

              • The Bastard

                I prefer bWAR. There:

                CC is at 1.0 bWAR
                Ichiro is at 1.9 bWAR

                As for value, to me expected value is best summarized by what a team is willing to pay on the open market. Market forces and all that. That’s salary + role = value. I’d argue that’s a far better definition of value than any thing else available. Of course, pre-arb players are vastly undervalued…

                • Need Pitching & Hitting (but mostly hitting)

                  I’d say rating value and performance by role are two entirely different things. Value wise, Overbay might be an A or B. In terms of role, as a starting 1B, he’s definitely below value. They are two entirely separate rankings, imo.

            • mitch

              CC is at 1.8 fWAR right now. Unless he gets injured he’ll be closer to 4 than 2 at the season’s end.

              • The Bastard

                See also, bWAR.

    • The Bastard

      +1

  • Shittyshittybangbang

    Murphy replaces Romine in second half ? Thoughts …,

  • Mike HC

    Well, that was a depressing article to read.

  • Dick M

    No way Romine deserves an F. He gets like 5 ABs a week. The handling of this young talent is part of what is wrong with the Yankees right now.

    The Matt needs to step away from the advanced metrics and see the forest for the trees.

    • Need Pitching & Hitting (but mostly hitting)

      It’s F or incomplete. He’s been the backup C for almost 3 months now. In that role, he’s been very bad. That there may be reasons beyond his control that affect his performance doesn’t change what his performance has been, it just provides an excuse for that performance.

      • Dick M

        First of all, he looks like a major league catcher to me.

        And offensively, a young kid gets 5 ABs a week? He’s got a decent swing, looks like he recognizes pitches, etc. Are they trying to ruin his development?

  • Robinson Tilapia

    Late to this party. Wouldn’t have lumped everyone together, would have given Nix a C/D and Cruz an INC with a hold star next to it. Nuney’s INC would come with a giant fart next to it.

    I’d have thrown caution to the wind and given Zoilo a solid B. My F’s would be reserved for Youk, Francisco, Romine, and Joba.

    Then again, it’s Mike’s list and Mike’s criteria. He could judge them on whatever criteria he wishes.