Ben is taking his last final today, so you’re stuck with Joe and I again for today’s edition of our podcast/radio show. If you have any questions you want us to answer, send them in via email (our addresses are on the left sidebar) and we’ll get to them on the show. Emailed questions get priority, but we’ll go through the comments here if we have time.
We’re going to start recording a bit later than usual today because I’m going to liveblog the CC/AJ press conference at 1pm (don’t miss it), so this thing should be up on the site for you to listen too around 3-3:30pm. · (10) ·
It’s hard to under-exaggerate just how bad the Yankee catchers were last season. In 608 plate appearances, the various folks who tried to fill in for an injured Jorge Posada hit an anemic .230 with a .290 OBP and a .335 slugging percentage. Even the most stats-phobic among us know that this is a terrible, terrible offensive line.
Overall, these Yankee catchers were the most anemic group in the AL. Their overall OPS+ was 75, worse than Boston and their All Star Catcher Jason Varitek. In fact, this votex of inoffensive offense could have single-handedly cost the Yankees a playoff spot as it was just a year ago that Jorge Posada turned in a 154 OPS+.
Now lately, as we talked about the Yanks adding either Mark Teixeira or Manny Ramirez as their big bat, we haven’t really looked at Posada. But if the Yanks eschew Tex or ManRam, Posada’s return to the lineup might just be enough to give them that offensive edge they need in 2009.
It’s highly improbable that Posada will hit at his 2007 levels. He’s going to be playing his age 37 season in 2009, and 2007 was a career year for him. But would it be unreasonable to expect a 124 OPS+ season in line with his career averages? Could Posada turn in a .277/.380/.477? While we don’t know how his power will respond to his surgically repaired shoulder, there’s no reason to expect a steep decline for Jorge.
In 2007, Posada was responsible for 117 runs created. In 2008, Yankee catchers combined for just over 50 runs created. That swing of nearly 70 would have probably landed the Yanks into the playoff picture last year. Maybe as we talk about Teixeira and Manny, we’re just overlooking Posada. Putting Jorge back into the lineup should be a huge boost for the 2009 Yankees, and we shouldn’t forget that this winter.
Paul Lukas is one obsessive compulsive dude. The man who slaves over Page 2′s Uni-Watch is back this week with a Sabathia sized edition of “who’s the fattest Yankee ever?” Well, at least that’s what it boils down to. Is it CC? The Babe? Boomer? Find out for yourself.
(Oh yeah. We’re totally stretched for Open Thread content these days. H/t to tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside)
Once you’re done checking out the Uni-Watch, use this as your open thread for the evening. There’s really no local sports to talk about, the Knickerbockers are off and the Rangers have a late start out on the west coast. Uh … go Orange I guess. Don’t forget to guard those sneaky half court shots.
Joba news: His DUI arraignment was pushed back to January 26th. It was supposed to be today, and the delay won’t affect anything as far as being ready for ST.
As baseball sits in a holding pattern waiting for the Mark Teixeira chip to fall, I have a question that we can ponder. How exactly does Mark Teixeira fill a need for either the Orioles or Nationals? While he is an elite offensive player, he’s not a Big Name like Barry Bonds. He won’t fill seats in the pathetically empty Nationals ballpark or Camden Yards. Considering the deep-rooted organizational and systematic problems those two teams face, the last thing they need to do is tie up their payrolls with an eight- or ten-year investment in a first baseman.
At this stage, the ideal landing spots for Teixeira are Anaheim, Boston and the Bronx. The Yanks seem to be playing this one close while the Angels and Red Sox are publicly all in. He may very well wind up on the Nationals and Orioles, but then Mark Teixeira would just toil in relative obscurity for a team heading nowhere fast. · (98) ·
Brett Marshall | RHP
Marshall grew up in the Houston suburb of Baytown, where he attended Sterling High School, one-time home of Clyde Drexler and fellow Yanks’ farmhand Brett Smith. He didn’t pop up on the prospect scene until his raw arm strength grabbed the attention of scouts during his junior year, when he was unanimously voted to the All-District First Team. He was then named the All-Houston Area Player of the Year as a senior thanks to his 10-2 record and 2.27 ERA. Marshall lost his final start for the Rangers in the Region III-5A semifinals when he hit a batter to force in the winning run with his pitch count at 146.
Marshall had originally committed to San Jacinto Junior College (Andy Pettitte‘s alma mater), but after seeing his draft prospect status increase exponentially his senior year he switched his commitment to Death to Pitchers University Rice to gain negotiating leverage. The Yanks made Marshall their first pick on Day Two of the 2008 Draft, selecting him 200th overall with their sixth round pick. He is the highest drafted player in Sterling history. Marshall signed for an $850,000 bonus just about a week before the signing deadline, roughly $725,000 over slot.
I have two stadium-related stories to cover today. One is about the increasingly obvious signs of shady dealings concerning the land under the new Yankee Stadium, and another is about two pieces of the old stadium heading to Tampa.
- In the Daily News yesterday, columnist Juan Gonzalez reported on yet another series of e-mails between city officials that may have some legal ramifications. The e-mails detail how the Bloomberg aides, according to Gonzalez, “secretly pressured city tax assessors to inflate the value of land under the new Yankee Stadium so the team could qualify for nearly $1 billion in tax-free bonds.” That’s what politicians call a bombshell. It’s tough to say what this means for the city or the Yankees. Assemblyman Richard Brodsky continues to investigate the issue, and at some point, he may subpoena all of the city’s e-mails concerning the land deal. Perhaps, in the end, he or the IRS can levy finds against the city or the Yankees. No matter the outcome, this is bad government.
- In rosier news, two scoreboards from Yankee Stadium are being shipped off to Legends Field. The scoreboards in question are new LED displays the Yanks purchased two years ago for $1 million. The team sold them to Hillsborough County for $250,000 each, and they’ll adorn the left and right field grandstands in Tampa. As long as they show the words to “Enter Sandman” during Spring Training, I’ll be happy.
Via MLBTR, it sounds like doctors may have misdiagnosed Baldelli with a potentially fatal mitochondrial disorder. Ken Bell of ABC6 in New England says the Baldelli family told him doctors at the Cleveland Clinic have diagnosed him with channelopathy, a very treatable and non-progressive condition. I haven’t seen confirmation of this anywhere else, which leaves me skeptical, but for Rocco’s sake I hope it’s true. It would be a major dick move on Bell’s part if the report turned out to be false. It goes without saying that I hope the Yanks go after him if this is the case, but first and foremost let’s all wish Rocco the best. The guy deserves to have something go his way for once.
Update (12:30pm): Baldelli semi-confirmed this report. · (81) ·
Jon Heyman had a few interesting reports pop up on his Hot Stove News Tracker blog last night. First, he reported that the Yanks are still eying Derek Lowe. Then a few minutes later, he noted that the Yanks still think Andy Pettitte will come back. I still don’t know how these reports don’t contradict each other.
Anyway, Heyman’s post on Andy Pettitte features two intriguing gems. First, Heyman notes that the Yanks have been looking at Ben Sheet’s medical records. That could indicate an impending offer. But of potentially more importance to the team going forward is this:
If Pettitte does say yes, the Yankees will save some money on the final starter, since Sheets and Lowe would cost more — and that could enhance their chances to add a big bat, meaning either Mark Teixeira or Manny Ramirez.
Now, while I’ve been a bit lukewarm on bringing back Pettitte, I really like the sound of adding a bat — and especially adding the bat the Red Sox appear to be targeting.
Maybe Mark Teixeira is just a pipe dream. Maybe the Yanks can shoulder only so many $160-million contracts. But as Ken Rosenthal writes, “If the Yankees want to draw a line, they should draw it with paying Andy Pettitte $10 million to be their fifth starter or Mike Cameron $10 million to be their center fielder. Not with Teixeira, for crying out loud.”
Meanwhile, Mark Feinsand has a different take on things. It’s not Teixeira but rather Manny Ramirez who is on the Yanks’ radar. According to Feinsand, Manny may in fact be causing a Front Office debate of sorts. Hank & Hal want Manny while Brian Cashman is more reluctant to pursue the enigmatic and expensive slugger. There’s nothing like a good old fashioned power play in the Bronx over an issue that has no right or wrong answer.
No matter the outcome, the Yanks seem to be going all in this off-season. They’ve spent a lot of money to improve the team. What’s another $23 million between friends? The right investment in the right bat certainly would make them clear early-season World Series favorites. Now, we just have to see who rules the day and if the Yanks can actually pull the trigger.
There’s been some rumblings about this for a couple of weeks now, but Kevin Goldstein says it’s now official: Hawaii Winter Baseball is kaput. Major League GM’s voted to consolidate off-season leagues to Arizona, so HWB’s second tour of duty comes to a close after three seasons (the league previously operated from 1993-1997). Rumor has it that a second Arizona Fall League will be established, but it’ll be a “junior league” for lower level players, similar to HWB. At least now we won’t have to be jealous of the players assigned to play in Hawaii each fall. · (4) ·