Need some help getting through the rest of the work day? I’ve gotcha covered…
Mauer on Montero
While we discussed the merits of using Jesus Montero as the backup catcher this morning, Joe Brescia of The Times was busy talking to Joe Mauer about the Yankees’ uber-prospect and the perils of being a big catcher. “Too big. Not quick enough. I heard everything under the sun,” said Mauer, who stands 6-foot-5, two inches taller than Montero. “My advice to him is try and learn as much as you can. He’s lucky he has Jorge Posada, a pretty good catcher to learn from. And he has Russell Martin there now, too, another good one to help him. Those two guys that have been around the block. He should follow those guys around and learn as much as he can.”
The former AL MVP also emphasized the importance of getting to “know your customers,” meaning the pitching staff. “Know your staff and the little things that they respond to. You have to learn the pitchers and what they are capable of doing and not doing. Try to put your pitchers in the best situations they can to succeed.”
The Pitch to Damon
Before he signed on with the Rays, we heard that the Yankees had expressed some interest in bringing Johnny Damon back to the Bronx, presumably as a part-time outfielder and part-time designated hitter. RAB fave Ken Davidoff spoke to Johnny recently, who informed him that the Yankees pitched the idea of using him twice a week in the outfield and once a week at DH. Damon just wasn’t ready to commit to being a glorified bench player yet, so to Tampa he went.
The Yanks still would have needed a right-handed power bat for the bench if they had signed Damon, but not necessarily an outfielder. If Johnny had agreed to that arrangement, perhaps it would have opened the door for Montero to break camp with the team even more. Who knows.
BA’s Top 150 Prospects & More
The crew at Baseball America published their annual list of the top 100 prospects in the game last week, and a whopping six Yankees prospects made the cut. But you knew that already. What you may not know is how the list is compiled, which is what Jim Callis explained in this week’s Ask BA. Their six editors each put together a personal top 150 prospects list, then they mash ‘em all together in a spreadsheet and talk out the individual rankings. In addition to the guys that cracked the top 100, three other Yankees farmhands appeared in the personal top 150′s: Slade Heathcott (two ballots, peaking at number 133), Hector Noesi (4, 92), and Eduardo Nunez (4, 109).
Within the same piece, Callis says the Yankees have the best group of catching prospects in baseball, and that’s even if Montero ends up having to move off the position. That’s some hefty praise right there.
I know I’m not usually allowed out of my cage on a Monday, but I thought I oughta drop in a little plug for something that caught my eye. Eephus League, a sort-of-blog (more like a collection of cool graphics and general baseball miscellanea with a side of blogging), has created a baseball scorecard book that I personally think is the most amazing thing around. It is, as they said in the 90′s, the bomb. The shizznit. The cat’s meow. You get the point.
I’ve personally been unable to find a scorecard book that I actually like (I’m about two web shopping trips from printing something out, going to Kinko’s with it, and making my own) and have instead been growing a messy, unwieldy pile of scorecards from baseball programs. This scorebook totally appeals to me, and it should appeal to you too, if you love baseball scorekeeping. It’s a nerd thing, but hey, I’ve spent Saturday nights compiling spreadsheets.
I don’t know how many of you are familiar with Kickstarter, but the basic gist is is that the owner of a project posts a brief, hand-made video and text synopsis, then says they need X money in Y days. People pledge money to the project. If enough money is pledged, the project goes through. If not enough money is put in before time is up, no money is paid out at all. The more money you donate, the cooler gifts you get (I went for the pins). Sadly, no Paypal allowed.
You should all put in five bucks because baseball scoring is awesome. $15 nets you a scorecard and a feel-good vibe in your gut. Click here for the Kickstarter page.
Walking away on your own terms is something few players get to do. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)
It’s Andy Pettitte day, so let’s round up some links…
The official statement
Chad Jennings posted the team’s official press release about Andy’s retirement. “According to the Elias Sports Bureau,” says the release, “Pettitte, a three-time All-Star (1996, 2001, ’10) and 2001 ALCS MVP, holds the distinction of being the only pitcher in Major League history to post a record of .500 or better while making at least 15 starts in each of the first 16 seasons of his career.”
The press conference is tomorrow morning at 10:30am ET and can be seen on YES, mlb.com, and yankees.com. We’ll liveblog it one way or another.
Andy’s place in recent history
I don’t think any of us really considers Pettitte to be one of the greatest pitchers in baseball history, but he’s certainly one of the best in recent history. Joe tackled that very topic at FanGraphs, finding that just a dozen pitchers can lay claim to a better career than Andy over the last 30 years. When it comes to recent Yankee history, no starting pitcher is even in the same ballpark.
The Hall of Fame?
Over at his new digs, Rob Neyer broke down Andy’s case for the Hall of Fame, which is borderline at best. I don’t think he should get in, but Rob states his case and shows that if nothing else, Pettitte will probably stick around on the ballot for a number of years. Maybe the Veteran’s Committee voted him in eventually, but sheesh, that’s two decades away.
Here’s a few links as the workday draws to a close…
The Boss on Twitter
Twitter has undeniably changed the media and access to information over the last few years, but Buster Olney says the world missed out on what could have been the greatest Twitter account in the history of man: George Steinbrenner. Olney put together dozens of 140-character, Boss inspired one liners in his blog today, all worth a read if you have Insider. My faves: “Mattingly’s hair has gotten so long that he looks like one of the Beatles — one of their girlfriends, I mean.” and “AARON BOONE!!!!!! He is A WINNER!!!!!! The third baseman of the future for the Yankees!!!!!!!” I laughed.
The recent history of Yankees’ fifth starters
As we all freak out about Sergio Mitre potentially starting the season in the rotation, Paul Swydan at FanGraphs points out that the recent history of Yankees’ fifth starters is rather ugly. That group includes Shawn Chacon and Chad Gaudin and Kei Igawa and Sidney Ponson and a whole bunch of other forgettable guys since 2006, a group that combined for just 1.6 fWAR since 2006. Despite that, the team has been to the playoffs four times and won a World Series, mostly because their offense and bullpen have been good enough to get them to the October. Once you get there, the fifth (and sometimes fourth) starters go out the window.
Joba’s stuff as a starter
Much has been made of Brian Cashman‘s recent comments about Joba Chamberlain not being the same guy since his 2008 shoulder injury, specifically as a starter compared to a reliever. Dave Allen at FanGraphs looked into the matter and found out that yes, Joba’s stuff isn’t the same as it once was, but notes that it declined across the board. It’s no better in the bullpen than in the rotation. This dead horse than been beaten into a bloody pulp, and I blame the media blamers.
Mike on the Beyond The Box Score podcast
I made an appearance on Beyond The Box Score’s podcast yesterday, which you can listen to right here. We talked about the state of the Yankees, touching on the bullpen, Jesus Montero, the starting rotation, the whole nine. Give it a listen, there some other great non-Yankee stuff in there too.
It’s raining cats and dogs in the Tri-State Area, but at least it’s better than what’s going on in Minnesota. Here are a few links to check out before the Jets kick off…
The Last Time The Yankees Didn’t Get Their Man
As the Cliff Lee circus continues to play out, it’s tough for many young fans to remember the last time the Yankees failed to sign a free agent they coveted. Ben Shpigel recapped the courtship of Greg Maddux, in which then-GM Gene Michael went above and beyond the normal call of duty only to be left in the dark. It’s also easy to forget that the Yanks were turned down by David Cone, Doug Drabek, and Barry Bonds that offseason, instead settling for Jimmy Key and Wade Boggs. Given how the late-90′s played out (especially against Maddux’s Braves), I’d say things worked out in the end.
Romine Trying To Keep The Family Business Alive
The Romine family is a baseball family, with father Kevin playing for the Red Sox back in the day and son Andrew suiting up for the Angels this past September. Austin is still trying to work his way up the minor league ladder, but Anthony McCarron caught up with the Yankee catching prospect about his upbringing. It’s a really interesting read, little did we know that Austin’s first steps came wearing a Red Sox shirt on the field in Fenway Park. Make sure you check it out.
Farm System Discussion
John Sickels at Minor League Ball is hosting a discussion thread about the Yankees farm system, part of his annual look at each team’s top twenty prospects. The comments can be both informative and borderline insane, but it’s worth a scroll through.
Oh, and Nick Swisher got married yesterday. Congrats, Swish.
Here’s some links to check out before the Jets take on the Mangenius, the Giants sack Jon Kitna 17 times and the Pats find a way to beat the Steelers.
Mike Fish at ESPN.com has a piece on Roberto Alomar’s life since his career ended. I knew it was bad, after reading this column it’s worse than I thought. Alomar who will get into the Hall of Fame this year was an amazing ballplayer. I think because he played for 7 teams and didn’t play any of his peak in a big baseball market he’s a little overlooked, but he was special. Alomar was a very similar player to Derek Jeter and I can’t imagine how he’d be viewed had he spent his whole career in the Bronx, Boston, Philly or another good baseball hotbed. He certainly would have gotten into Cooperstown on the first ballot with room to spare. His career fell off a cliff in 2002, but what he did as a second baseman for a 10 year stretch was pretty amazing.
Former Yankee prospect Brandon Weeden is finding success on the football field. Weeden was the first player selected by the Yankees in the 2002 draft He showed some early promise but his baseball career was derailed by injuries. I enjoy stories like this so I’m glad to see he’s having success. Weeden is 27 years old, so I wonder if his coach Mike Gundy considers him a man or not?
Marc Carig wrote on his blog about the difficultly he can run into writing for different audiences through different mediums. It’s a very good piece and while I’m sure many have you have seen it, if you haven’t I suggest doing so. Like now. Also take a look at Craig Calcaterra’s take on Carig’s post which is also informative and thought provoking. Pretty good stuff in both posts.
Here’s a good piece over at Yahoo by Kendall Rogers on Karsten Whitson and why he spurned a couple million bucks to go to college. I think we can often interject ourselves into players lives’ without truly knowing how they feel so it’s good to see Whitson’s explanation. It’s definitely something to consider when free agents don’t sign where you hoped or expected, or when draftees decide not to sign.
Need some help passing the time? I got you covered…
Catcher Defense Rankings
Over at Beyond The Box Score, Matt Klaassen posted catcher defense rankings for the 2010 season using a weighted formula that includes stuff like throwing errors and passed balls and what not. Unsurprisingly, both Frankie Cervelli and Jorge Posada ranked near the bottom. Cervelli was tied with Jeff Mathis (Nichols Law poster boy) and Ryan Doumit for dead last at -9.4 runs, while Posada was right behind them at -8.6. Frankie and Jorge placed 119th and 117th out of 120 qualified backstops, respectively. Ho boy.
Don’t expect the Yanks to pursue Scott Downs
We know that Brian Cashman wants to add another lefty reliever to his bullpen this offseason, but Ken Davidoff says not to expect him to pursue Scott Downs. Downs held left-handed batters to a .241 wOBA last year, but he’s a Type-A free agent that will surely be offered arbitration by the Blue Jays. Cashman simply doesn’t want to surrender a high draft pick to sign a guy that will pitch about four percent of the team’s total innings next year. Can’t say I blame him. I’m sticking with my Randy Choate endorsement.
Blue Jays check in on Greinke
Zack Greinke is unlikely to accept a trade to New York, but the Jays are interested in seeing if he’ll go north of the border. Bob Elliott (h/t MLBTR) reports that Toronto has put a call in to the Royals about Greinke as well as Alex Gordon, though nothing is remotely close to happening. Dayton Moore is supposedly asking for a king’s ransom for his ace and with good reason, but if the Jays are willing to part with Kyle Drabek and Travis Snider (my speculation), you’d have to figure they’d get Kansas City’s attention. Imagine a staff headlined by Greinke, Ricky Romero, Shaun Marcum, and Brandon Morrow. Yikes.
Rockies interested in Vazquez
Talk about a match made in what-the-hell-are-they-thinking heaven. Troy Renck (again, h/t MLBTR) says the Rockies are interested in signing two-time former Yank Javy Vazquez to solidify their rotation. Forget what happened in 2010, even if Javy rebounds back to his career norm, he’s still a fly ball pitcher (41.3% over the last four years, skewed by his 34.8% mark in 2009) that would be going to a homer haven park, humidor or not. Vazquez wants to pitch on the East Coast to be close to his family in Puerto Rico, so I can’t imagine he’d entertain the thought of joining the Rockies. Still, what the hell are they thinking? Does not compute.
Baseball America on Yankee prospects
Although the list hit the intertubes last week, BA officially released their list of the top ten Yankee prospects yesterday. Accompanying the list was a chat with author John Manuel and an article on the team’s pitching depth. Both are subscriber only, but here’s the gist: the Yankees have a ton of depth when it comes to middle-of-the-rotation and back-end starters thanks to a strong player development system, but expect them to trade a few guys to maximize value since those kinds of arms have little value to a perennial contender. Adam Warren was mentioned prominently in that scenario. That’s what farm systems are for, to plug holes and make trades, and the Yanks certainly have the inventory for that.
Just a few links to tide you over this Saturday afternoon.
Tim Marchman lays out the facts about Derek Jeter. As usual, Marchman hits on the most important points. The takeaway:
You can futz with the math a bit, but even after you apply a standard aging curve, even after you weight 2010 more heavily than 2009 and 2009 more heavily than 2008 and do all other good things backed by actual research rather than one’s vague sense that the man’s bat has slowed and that time has crept upon his face, he projects as a very good player for next year and even beyond, one whose declining offense is offset by his ability to play a lot, to run the bases well, to field a difficult position tolerably and so on.
Beyond the Boxscore takes a look at Joba Chamberlain using PitchFX. It’s a neat look at how things have changed, but I’m not sure how much the article itself helps — the author fails to take into account Joba’s shoulder injury from 2008. That seems particularly important when evaluating his progression as a pitcher.
William of The Captain’s Blog makes a cameo at The Yankee U to discuss MLB and NFL ratings. He does an excellent job of putting the issue in perspective.
A few links for your Sunday morning.
Ronald Monestime takes a look at Andy Pettite and says that he deserves to be considered this generations Mr. October as much as Derek Jeter and Mariano Rivera do. I love Pettitte and what he has done for the Yankees all of these years, but he’s the same pitcher in the regular season as he is in the playoffs. Jeter is the same player in the regular season as he is in the playoffs. If you’re going to label someone Mr. October simply for stepping it up in the playoffs, it has to be Rivera. As great as he has been in the regular season, his postseason numbers are even further off the charts.
Speaking of Rivera, heres a pretty cool piece in which Kerry Wood compares Rivera to Greg Maddux. It’s probably not a comparison made often as one is a starter, one a closer, but it makes sense and it’s pretty cool to hear it from someone with Wood’s perspective. Rivera and a PED accusation free Maddux could end up going down as the greatest starter and closer of their generation (and obviously in Mo’s case G.O.A.T.). It’s just too bad we never got to see Rivera close out a game for Maddux, despite the Boss’ best efforts. Speaking of which, here’s a link to when the Yankees struck out with Maddux (and Bonds) and signed Jimmy Key. The last line is classic Steinbrenner, and would soon ring true.
Sam Borden took a look at A-Rod and how he heads into October without the pressure he’s had in the past after his heroics last season. The best part for me is that Borden made sure to point out that A-Rod had plenty of good playoff moments with the Mariners and wasn’t really the choker we had all been led to believe. Many of the glowing A-Rod articles after last season neglected to mention this, and I’m glad Borden pointed it out.
Sid Hartman of the Star Tribune briefly talks about his history with George Steinbrenner and how it feels different in the postseason without him around. The further away we get from his death I think the more we’ll appreciate that the 2009 team was able to win the World Series in his last full year alive.
Running out the clock on the work day, aren’t you? Here’s some links to help pass the time…
Yankees Sign Breland Brown
Via Baseball America’s minor league transactions, the Yankees have signed outfielder Breland Brown to a minor league deal. Based on what I can find, the 25-year-old hasn’t played in affiliated ball and has just been bouncing around between independent leagues for the last few years. It’s just a minor league depth move, but if nothing else, Brown has a pretty active Twitter account. He’s even got some pics of his contract posted there.
Blast From The Past: Lance Berkman
In honor of his big game yesterday, Baseball America posted a scouting report of Lance Berkman from 1999, when he was the Astros top prospect. Most people don’t realize how dominant of a player he was at Rice, when he hit .431 with a 1.032 slugging percentage during his draft year, scoring 109 runs with 41 homers and 134 runs batted in in a whopping 68 games. Amazing, he was only the second Rice player taken that year before first overall pick Matt Anderson. Anyway, my favorite part of the retro scouting report was when they talked about Puma’s big league debut depending on the status of … wait for it … Derek Bell. Too funny.
Cliff Lee Wants CC Sabathia Money
This one is completely unsurprising, but MLBTR passes along a report indicating that Lee will seek something like the $161M the Yankees gave Sabathia two years ago. There’s no doubt that Lee is every bit as good, if not better than CC was when he hit free agency, but his track record isn’t nearly as long and he’s also two years older. Shooting for Sabathia money is just good business on their part, but I expect him to sign for something well below that.