It looks like Yankees fans won’t have to worry about seeing Jorge Posasda in a different uniform this season. WFAN’s Sweeny Murti reports that Jorge will announce his retirement within the next two weeks. We’ll surely have a riveting tribute to Jorge once he does make the announcement. For now we can reminisce about our favorite Jorge memories — I’m sure his double off Pedro Martinez ranks highest for many. We can also get a head start on making arguments for his Hall of Fame candidacy. Remember, he still has the highest WAR of any catcher since 2000.
Dylan asks: What happened to Pat Venditte? I know the Yanks didn’t protect him, so he could have been snatched up by some other team, but I never heard if that happened? Do the Yanks still have control over him, and where will he spend this season?
The Yankees didn’t lose any players in the Rule 5 Draft last month, so Venditte is still in the organization. He spent the last few months pitching in winter ball in Mexico, striking out 46 batters and walking just seven in 42.1 relief innings. He did give up six homers though (1.28 HR/9), which is very uncharacteristic for him (0.44 HR/9 in the minors). Overall, Venditte threw 132.1 IP in 2011.
Like big leaguers, minor league players need six full years of service time to become minor league free agents. The Yankees drafted Venditte in 2008, so they still control his rights through 2014. There’s a pretty good chance that he’ll be sent back to Double-A Trenton this year just because of the numbers crunch in the Triple-A Scranton bullpen, though he did perform fairly well there last season: 8.8 K/9 and 3.1 BB/9 in 90 IP. Pretty good, but not nearly as good as what he did from 2008-2010: 11.2 K/9 and 1.9 K/9 in 174.2 IP.
We all know Venditte does the switch-pitcher thing, but it’s worth noting that he does have a pretty significant platoon split. He’s held left-handed batters to a .191/.238/.253 batting line with 33.4% strikeouts and 6.1% walks since 2009, but right-handers have gotten him for a .240/.286/.367 batting line with the same walk rate but just 22.6% strikeouts. Venditte’s stuff from the right side — low-90’s fastball with an over-the-top curveball — has always been considered better than his stuff from the left side — mid-80’s heat and a slider — but so far he’s gotten better results as a southpaw. It could just be a sample size issue; we’re only talking 400 or so plate appearances as a lefty and about 500 as a righty.
I figured that some team would pop Venditte in the Rule 5 Draft just to take a look at him in Spring Training, but ultimately no one decided he was worth the $50k draft price (only $25k if he ends up being returned). He’ll probably go back to Double-A to start the year before a midseason promotion comes into play, but as always, he remains a fringe prospect. The ambidextrous thing means more attention, but not more ability.
Bernie Williams headlines the pack of 13 newcomers on this year’s Hall of Fame ballot, though the nerdsheet indicates that he’s unlikely to get inducted. Over at FanGraphs, Jeff Zimmerman looked at Bernie’s case for the Hall by factoring his postseason performance into his career fWAR. He had more than twice as many playoff plate appearances (545) as any other player, and amount that basically equals a full extra season. Ultimately, it’s still not enough for Bernie to be considered a Hall of Fame caliber player, but make no mistake, he was great. Just not great enough for long enough.
The 2012 Hall of Fame inductees will be announced on Monday.
Do you remember just how bad Angel Berroa was with the Yankees? They signed him on this date three years ago, sent him to Triple-A to start the season while Ramiro Pena got a chance to backup Cody Ransom at third, who was filling in for Alex Rodriguez while he got his hip repaired. Berroa was called up after Ransom blew out his quad, then reached base a whopping seven times in 31 plate appearances. Three singles, three walks, one double for a .174 OBP and a .164 ISO. That’s a -8 OPS+ and a -16 wRC+. Thankfully, he was jettisoned once Ransom got healthy in late-June.
I know most people think Berroa stole the 2003 Rookie of the Year Award from Hideki Matsui, but that’s not really the case. Godzilla hit .287/.353/.435 with 16 homers as an average (if not a touch below) fielding left fielder, but Berroa hit .287/.338/.451 with 17 homers as an average fielding shortstop. The second player is more valuable, and it’s not particularly close. Heck, you can make a case that Jody Gerut was a better RoY candidate than Matsui since he hit .279/.336/.494 with 22 homers and solid glovework in all three outfield spots.
That said, we know RoY awards do not guarantee future success, and the only player who got AL RoY votes that year and has gone on to have a better career than Matsui is Mark Teixeira. He hit .259/.331/.480 with 26 homers and finished fifth in the voting.
* * *
Here’s your open thread for the night. All five hockey and basketball locals are in action, but Time Warner customers are still MSG-less because of the Dolans. I sure hope this gets resolved soon. Anyway, you folks know what to do, so go nuts.
Via Ben Nicholson-Smith, the Yankees did not check in on left-handed reliever Darren Oliver before he signed with the Blue Jays for one-year and $4M. Coincidentally, that’s how much the Yankees will pay Pedro Feliciano to rehab from shoulder surgery this year.
Oliver, 41, has enjoyed the four best seasons of his career — in terms of ERA and FIP — in the last four years. I don’t know how he did it, but the guy suddenly became a shutdown lefty reliever. He’s pitched to a 2.63 ERA and a 3.10 FIP in 253.2 IP during those four years, with solid overall strikeout (7.8 K/9 and 21.3 K%), walk (2.24 BB/9 and 6.1 BB%), and ground ball (44.6%) rates. Lefties have hit just .231/.270/.353 off him during that time. The Yankees brought in Hideki Okajima, Cesar Cabral, and Mike O’Connor on the cheap this winter an effort to maybe find a second lefty reliever to pair with Boone Logan.
Although just about all of the focus has been on the starting rotation this offseason, the Yankees still have a few spots in their bullpen to address. Five of the seven relief spots belong to Mariano Rivera, David Robertson, Rafael Soriano, Boone Logan, and Cory Wade, but the last two spots are undecided. Unlike a number two starter, the Yankees have viable internal solutions for the sixth and seventh reliever.
One of those last two spots figures to go to a long man, someone capable of going the distance in extra innings or when the starter exits the game early. The Yankees have a small army of young pitchers capable of filling that role, including Adam Warren, David Phelps, Brad Meyers, and D.J. Mitchell. Hector Noesi did the job at times last year, but Brian Cashman ruled him out for it next year.
“I have no intention of Noesi doing that again,” said the GM at the Winter Meetings. “I just think Noesi is a starter, so one way or another, that’s where he needs to be. I don’t want to waste his time as a long man if we can avoid it.”
As a Rule 5 Draft pick, Meyers can’t be sent to the minors without first being offered back to his original team, the Nationals. He’s cut from a similar cloth as Phelps, Warren, and Mitchell, but the Rule 5 stuff doesn’t necessarily give him a leg up on the competition. It could serve as a tiebreaker though. George Kontos worked 2+ innings in 25 of his 40 relief appearances for Triple-A Scranton last year, but he’s considered more of a one-inning reliever long-term. Same with Kevin Whelan, though he’s a candidate to be taken off the 40-man roster.
The other unclaimed bullpen spot is a bit of a wildcard. The Yankees have made it no secret that they’d like a second left-hander for matchup situations, and you can be sure the trio of Hideki Okajima, Mike O’Connor, and Cesar Cabral will get a chance to compete for that spot. The first two are signed to minor league deals, but Cabral is another Rule 5 Draft pick. Since it’s his second time going through that process, he doesn’t have to be offered back to his original team (the Red Sox) to go to the minors, but he will have the option of electing free agency first. Since Logan is effective enough against righties, a true lefty specialist wouldn’t completely ruin any flexibility.
Last year we saw Luis Ayala basically come out of nowhere to sign a minor league deal and win the last bullpen job in Spring Training, which could easily happen again. Ayala himself is still unsigned, but I’m sure he’s looking for a big league contract after having a solid year. Matt Daley and the intriguing Adam Miller are signed to minor league deals, and someone like the still unsigned Michael Wuertz or Juan Cruz could fit the bill at the right price. MLBTR has a partial list of unsigned right-handed relievers (min. 20 IP in MLB in 2011) while Baseball America has all the minor leaguers. Peruse as your leisure. Maybe one of those guys pulls an Ayala and surprisingly makes the club.
As of today, a month and a half before Spring Training starts and three months before Opening Day, I’m guessing those last two bullpen spots will go to Meyers and Okajima. Meyers allows Warren, Phelps, and Mitchell to work as starters in the minors, where they’ll be waiting for the inevitable call-up. Okajima brings some serious veteran presents as a second lefty, and he’s also easily disposable. Ultimately, one of those spots will go to Joba Chamberlain once he’s healthy, and the other will be a revolving door with new bodies being shuffled in an out as needed.
It’s been a while since we last broadcast, so that should mean there’s plenty to talk about. The Yankees have made a few moves, and they remain involved in a few situations. Here’s the rundown.
- Did you know that we haven’t broadcast since we heard of the Yu Darvish winner? Crazy. We talk about that situation and what it means for the Yanks.
- That leads us to pitching. There are a couple of names left, but neither appears likely. That is, if you believe that Brian Cashman gets his way this off-season.
- The Yanks did beef up the bench. Could they make another move or two in that department before they convene for spring training?
- This year’s crop of minor league signings has some upside. We’re talking Adam Miller and Hideki Okakima, mostly.
Podcast run time 45:14
Here’s how you can listen to podcast:
- Download the RAB Radio Show by right clicking on that link and choosing Save As.
- Listen in your browser by left clicking the above link or using the embedded player below.
- Subscribe in iTunes. If you want to rate us that would be great. If you leave a nice review I’ll buy you a beer at a meet-up.
Intro music: “Die Hard” courtesy of reader Alex Kresovich. Thanks to Tyler Wilkinson for the graphic.