Mailbag: Marcus Thames

(AP Photo/Chris O'Meara)

So the Yankees have extra cash, and need a 2011 Marcus Thames. I love the case for Scott Hairston, but what about … Marcus Thames?

(Here’s my case for Scott Hairston in case you missed it)

I don’t think you’ll be able to find a Yankee fan that doesn’t appreciate the job Thames did for the Yankees in 2010. He did what he was brought in to do against lefties (.354 wOBA) while far exceeding expectations against righties (.382 wOBA) and providing big hit after big hit after big hit. Plus he was extremely easy to like, at least based on his interviews and stuff. Sure, his defense was so bad that Joe Girardi simply refused to play him in the outfield in the second half (understandably), but the man hit, and that’s what he was hired in to do.

Now, as good as Thames was this season, let’s not forget that it was the second best offensive season of his career, behind his age-29 season in 2006. His wOBA and OPS+ in 2010 were just .005 and 1 off from his career highs, respectively, and if you go by wRC+ this season was actually the best year of his career. Either way you look at it, the point stands. Thames’ 2010 season was not a level of performance we should expect him to repeat going forward, especially against right-handers and especially when you consider that he’ll turn 34 in Spring Training.

That’s not to say that Thames can’t be a valuable contributor off the bench, because he certainly could be if his exposure to righties is limited. His 2010 performance against southpaws is almost dead even with his career average (.358 wOBA career), so we can expect that skill to remain. No so much against righties however, he outperformed his career average against same-side pitchers by more than 50 wOBA points. There’s no reason to believe that at his age, the light bulb just came on. There’s also the issue of defense. Thames is basically a platoon DH, so the Yankees would be wasting one of their bench spots on a guy that can’t play the field.

I like Thames and he’d be a fine choice to fill a similar role next season, but preferably he’d be a fall back option. Guys like Hairston and Reed Johnson can also play the field, giving the team that much more flexibility, and will probably cost less coming off down years. Thames did fine work for the Yankees, but are there are players available that could be even better next season.

Mo will try to convince Pettitte to return

Via Erik Boland, Mariano Rivera indicated that he will soon try to reach out to Andy Pettitte and attempt to convince him to return for another year. “I might try to reach him soon,” said Rivera. “I want to hear what he’s doing, what he wants to do. If he wants to continue playing, then I think we will have a good shot.” Mo stressed that this was Andy’s decision, but he’ll certainly do his part to help bring his long-time teammate back for another year.

Open Thread: Fonsy

(AP Photo/Ron Frehm)

Alfonso Soriano was one of my most favorite players back in the day. The first thing I and I think a lot of people noticed about him was how damn skinny he was. The dude was built like Ramiro Pena, but he could launch some absolute bombs. Soriano hit what could have been one of the biggest homeruns in Yankee history in 2001, when he took Curt Schilling deep to lead off the eighth inning of Game Seven of the World Series to break a 1-1 tie. Had those final six outs gone as planned, we’d be sitting here talking about Fonsy as a Yankee legend and a clutch machine. The baseball gods had different plans, and after flirting with 40-40 in both 2002 and 2003 he was traded to Texas for Alex Rodriguez. I was sad to see Soriano go but that’s a deal you don’t pass up. It’s been a long time since the Yankees have had a player that exciting, who could wow you with his power and speed. It sure was fun to watch, even if he’d swing at sliders off the plate until the cows came home.

Anyways, here is tonight’s open thread. The Devils, Nets, and Knicks (against the Heat!) are all playing tonight, but it is Friday night you know. Not a bad night to go out and do something you’ll regret in the morning. Talk about whatever, enjoy.

Food For Thought: Derek Jeter

One’s a surefire first ballot Hall of Famer, the other has yet to receive more than 22.4% of the vote in his nine years on the ballot. It’ll be interesting to see where Jeter’s line heads in 2011 and beyond.

(related graphs)

Yankees claim Jordan Parraz off waivers

Via Chad Jennings, the Yankees have claimed outfielder Jordan Parraz off waivers from the Red Sox, who claimed him off waivers from the Royals earlier this offseason. The 26-year-old posted a .341 wOBA in 501 plate appearances with Kansas City’s Triple-A affiliate in 2010, playing rightfield exclusively. He dabbled in center a few years back.

Baseball America ranked Parraz as the 19th best prospect in the Royals system coming in this season, saying he’s a “gap-to-gap hitter with below-average usable power,” although they note that he shows very good power in batting practice. A cannon throwing arm is Parraz’s best tool. It sounds like he’s a classic ‘tweener, without enough bat for a corner or enough glove for center. It’s a depth pickup, because the Yankees have very little outfield depth at the Triple-A level.

The RAB Radio Show: December 17, 2010

The Yankees have nabbed their lefty. This morning we learned that Pedro Feliciano will join the team in 2011 and 2012, pending the results of his physical exam. We discuss how he fits with the team.

Then we move on to what could be Cashman’s next move, which is to upgrade the bench. It’s not a necessity, but it’s something they can afford to do now. The Astros just signed Bill Hall to play second base, which should make Jeff Keppinger available. We take a look at how he could help the team.

Could the Yankees expand the conversation to include Wandy Rodriguez? He’s a lefty with a good strikeout rate, and he reaches free agency after next year. I’m not sure the Astros would be so hot to trade him, but if they’re willing to listen I’m sure Cashman will make a pitch.

Podcast run time 40:18 (and no, that’s not just a copy/paste from yesterday)

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Yankees looking at Jeff Keppinger

Via Ken Rosenthal, the Yankees have spoken to the Astros about infielder Jeff Keppinger with regards to their seemingly never-ending search for bench help. Rosenthal says a trade is not close, but where there’s smoke, there’s fire.

I wrote all about Keppinger over the summer and nothing’s changed. He’s a big time contact guy, walking more than he’s struck both last year as a full-time player and over his entire career. He’s unquestionably an upgrade over Eduamiro Penunez, and the only thing Jerry Hairston Jr. has on him is the ability to play the outfield and familiarity. The prospect cost should not be high, either. Keppinger is arbitration eligible for the second time this offseason ($1.15M salary in 2010), so he’d be under team control through 2012.