Better or Worse: Hitting Edition

Today and tomorrow I’m going to take a look at some core Yankees and whether I think they will be better or worse in 2011 than they were in 2010.  I’ll start with the hitters today, come back tomorrow as I review the pitchers.

Jorge Posada

2010: .248/.357/.454, .357 wOBA, 18 HR.

2011 Outlook:  As a full time DH that is certainly a line we can live with from Posada.  Despite his advanced age I think he has a shot to improve on that line as he won’t have the same wear and tear he did as a full time catcher.  While the final line was a little subpar for Posada, it’s easy to forget he was OPS’ing over 1.000 heading into June (though with limited time due to injury).  The one issue I could see is that Posada will have trouble adjusting to the DH position as many players have in the past (and he has struggled in 90 games as the DH in his career).  Overall I expect a slightly better performance from Jorge if he is, as expected, the full time DH.

Mark Teixeira

2010: .256/.365/.481, .367 wOBA, 33 HR.

2011 Outlook:  2010 was the worst year of Tex’ career since his rookie season.  He’s turning 31 just after Opening Day so there’s no age related concerns.  He’ll be better next year than he was this year, book it.

Robinson Cano

2010: .319/.381/.534, .389 wOBA, 29 HR

2011:  I can’t see Cano improving much on his 2010, it was truly a special season, but if he can sustain his walk rate he just might do it again next year.  His BABIP on the year was consistent with his career levels, his power was very similar to his 2009 season and he continues to remain healthy.  I would guess he’ll have a slight regression in 2011 but still put up the second best season of his career.  If the walk rate sustains or even improves though, look out.

Derek Jeter

2010: .270/.340/.370, .320 wOBA, 10 HR

2011:  While Jeter’s age is working against him I expect (hope) him to improve in 2011.  While I don’t know if he’ll return to his 2009 level ever again, I think he can definitely be better in the next few years than he was in 2010.  I guess somebody should have told him it’s a contract year.  Seriously though I think he’ll improve, but he’ll be 37 in June so there’s no guarantee.  Players like Jeter have fallen of a cliff before, let’s hope he doesn’t for a few more seasons.

Alex Rodriguez

2010: .271/.341/.506, .363 wOBA, 30 HR

2011:  While A-Rod’s 2010 was great, it was pretty poor based on the insane standards he has set.  He’s regressed every year since his monster 2007 but I’d expect a little bit of a bounce back in 2011.  He may never bat .300 or slug .600 again, but I would expect him to get on base at a better clip than he did this year.  The good news is he continues to move further away from his serious hip injury but the bad news is that he’s getting up there in age.  I don’t think he’ll be an MVP candidate, but he’ll be better.

Brett Gardner

2010: .277/.383/.379, .358 wOBA, 47 steals

2011: Gardner did all that could have been asked of him in 2010.  I do worry that what we saw last year was pretty close to his ceiling though.  If he can plateau there for a few years I’ll be thrilled, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see him regress to the .265/.350/.360 range next year. While I don’t advocate trading Gardner I certainly would see what his value is on the trade market.

Curtis Granderson

2010: .247/.324/.468, .346 wOBA, 24 HR

2011:  Aside from his big early season homerun off Jonathan Papelbon, Granderson was a disappointment for quite a while with both ineffectiveness and injury.  It also didn’t help that while Granderson was struggling, Austin Jackson was off to a great start in Detroit.  Once Granderson took a few days off in the summer to work with Kevin Long however, he turned it on in a big way.  Something clearly clicked (some may even say #cured) and I expect big things from Granderson next year.

Nick Swisher

2010: .288/.359/.491, .377 wOBA, 29 HR

2011:  As we all know, Swisher seemed to substitute some walks for hits this year on his way to one of the best seasons of his career.  Swisher, aside from his one year in Chicago has been pretty consistent throughout his career so I would expect something similar in 2011.  I don’t see him getting a lot better than this year, nor do I see him getting worse.

Yankees interested in J.C. Romero

Via MLBTR, the Yankees have expressed interest in free agent lefty reliever J.C. Romero. The 34-year-old spent the last three-plus years with the Phillies, but he’s battled elbow and back issues over the last two seasons. He’s also walked (42) more guys than he’s struck out (40) since 2009, and lefties have gotten him to the tune of a .362 wOBA during that time. Given the injuries and declining performance, I sure hope the Yanks don’t sign him. At least not to a guaranteed contract, anyway.

Open Thread: Help Wanted

Do you want to write for RAB? Well here’s your big chance. We’re looking to add one or two weekend writers to our staff. Apparently Steve has this thing called a “life” that’s getting in the way of his blogging time. Doesn’t even sound like a real thing if you ask me.

Anyway, the idea is that you would contribute two posts each week, one on Saturday and one on Sunday, preferably for the 10am or 1pm ET time slot. We’re looking for someone that’ll fit right in with RAB. A casual writing style, no cursing in the posts (family blog), and most importantly some creativity. We don’t want someone that will just blockquote three paragraphs of a MSM article and add two sentences of commentary at the end. Originality is a must. To get an idea of what we’re looking for, just browse through Steve’s archive.

If you want to apply, here’s what to do…

  • Email us at riveraveblues (at) gmail (dot) com and put “RAB Weekend Writer” in the subject line to help us stay organized.
  • Tell us a little bit about yourself in the email. Background info, how long you’ve been a Yankee fan, how long you’ve been writing/blogging, why you think you’d be a good fit for RAB, the usual.
  • Send us samples of your writing, but please no attachments. Just send us a hyperlink (several, preferably) or embed it in the text of the post.

Unfortunately this is not a paid position. The only thing we can offer is a great amount of exposure (~40,000 hits a day and growing) and of course promotion of any of your work found elsewhere. Trust us, we wish it could be more. I honestly have no idea how many people will inquire, so I can’t give you an exact time frame for when you’ll hear back from us. With Thanksgiving coming up I wouldn’t expect to hear anything next week, so the Monday after that (Nov. 29th) is probably the earliest we’ll get back in touch with people. Thanks in advance to everyone that applies, and good luck.

* * *

Here’s tonight’s open thread. The Rangers and Knicks are both in action, but not until a little later because they’re west of the Mississippi. Talk about whatever you want, so have at it.

Minor Moves: Betances, Laird, Pope, Johnson

Don’t the Yankees know that 4pm ET on a Friday is no time to break news? After announcing that Larry Rothschild will be the new pitching coach, the following minor league news made the rounds…

  • Dellin Betances, Brandon Laird, and Ryan Pope were all added to the 40-man roster, protecting them from the upcoming Rule 5 Draft. I thought that George Kontos would get protected as well, but the Yankees must feel that he isn’t capable of sticking on a big league team’s 25-man roster for a full season yet. He, along with Craig Heyer and Lance Pendleton, are candidates to be selected.
  • The Yanks acquired minor league outfielder Cody Johnson from the Braves in exchange for cash considerations. Johnson, 22, was the 24th overall pick in the 2006 draft but it hasn’t clicked yet. He’s got big time power (career .233 ISO) but is a whiff machine (39.0% strikeout rate), and in fact 49.9% of his 1,813 career plate appearances have ended with a homer, walk, or strikeout. Three true outcomes FTW. Johnson is likely to begin 2011 with Double-A Trenton.

Larry Rothschild named new Yankee pitching coach

Larry Rothschild, the new Yankee pitching coach, signals the start of the Cubs Spring Training in 2010. (AP Photo/Paul Connors)

Updated (5:20 p.m.): The Yankees have signed 37-year Major League vet Larry Rothschild to serve as the club’s pitching coach. Rothschild, who most recently had served as the Cubs’ pitching coach from 2002-2010, served as a coach on two World Series teams: the 1990 Reds where he served as the bullpen coach and the 1997 Marlins where he worked as the pitching coach.

“Larry will be a welcome addition to our pitching staff. He comes with an impressive resume as a former Major League manager and a world champion pitching coach. He has a great reputation with his players, who know they can trust him and rely on him to put them in a position to succeed,” said Yankees General Manager Brian Cashman.

Rothschild, 56, seems to be a strike out-oriented coach. His Cubs clubs led the majors with 11,604 strike outs over the last nine seasons, and set a Major League record with 1404 K’s in 2003. He signed with the Reds as a non-drafted free agent in 1975 and spent 11 years in the minors. He made just seven career relief appearances with Detroit in 1981 and 1982 and allowed 5 earned runs on 8 hits and 8 walks while striking out just one in 8.1 innings. His coaching career has been far more successful.

His first job on the bench came with the Reds where he served as a roving minor league instructor for four seasons before he joined the club in Cincinnat as the bullpen coach. He was a Reds pitching coach from 1992-1993, worked with the Marlins in the same capacity from 1995-1997 and managed the Tampa Bay Devil Rays from their inaugural season in 1998 through April 18, 2001.

“Larry brings a wealth of invaluable experience to our team and to our pitching staff,” Yankees Manager Joe Girardi said. “He’s a championship pitching coach, and I’m excited to add Larry’s abilities to our staff. He is above all else an excellent teacher, who brings a professional attitude and a keen sense of preparation to his craft. I’m very much looking forward to working with him moving forward.”

Rothschild: A.J. can still be ‘very effective’

During an press conference with reporters shortly after the announcement, Rothschild spoke about the hiring process and his views on the Yanks’ pitching staff. Cashman put the candidates through a rigorous interview process which included approximately eight hours of video including two A.J. Burnett appearances and a CC Sabathia and a Phil Hughes appearance.

Rothschild spoke specifically of the need to straighten out Burnett. “I think he can be a very effective Major League pitcher,” the new pitching coach said. He certainly has his work cut out for him in that regard.

The RAB Radio Show: November 19, 2010

It’s been a fun inaugural week, and we close it with perhaps the most newsworthy day. Derek Jeter has an offer on the table. He’ll surely reject it, but that won’t stop Mike and I discussing what this means for the negotiations.

Then we move on to Mo, who reportedly wants a two-year deal. That sounds fine. It does, however, bring up an interesting point. How differently would we be viewing these Jeter negotiations had he produced another elite season?

Bye bye Jon Albaladejo. Please don’t say hello to J.C. Romero.

And, finally, to cap the week, we bring you: The Mystery Pitcher.

Podcast run time 33:55

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Yankees release Jon Albaladejo

Updated (4:51 p.m.): The Yankees released righty reliever Jon Albaladejo today so he could pursue a contract in Japan. He probably requested the release after an NPB team expressed interest, and the Yanks obliged. The 28-year-old has thrown 59.1 unspectacular innings for the Yanks since being acquired from the Nationals for Tyler Clippard after the 2007 season, though he was a monster in Triple-A. Albie was out of options, so he would have had to clear waivers to go back to the minors next year. He’ll be getting a deal from the Yomiuri Giants, so good for him.

The move frees up another 40-man roster spot. By my unofficial count, there are just 30 players on the team’s 40-man at the moment, but they have a full offseason ahead of them.