Scouting The Free Agent Market: Ryan Doumit

(Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)

While free agency has just started and few players have inked contracts, the Yankees’ offense seems to be fairly close to complete. There are not many areas of their offense they can upgrade in a cost effective manner, with DH the only position that is technically open. Jesus Montero is available to fill that role. Instead, the bulk of the work on the Yankees’ offense will come on the bench, as Brian Cashman attempts to supplement an aging lineup with a versatile and powerful group of reserves. They will likely look for a player in the Andruw Jones/Marcus Thames mold, a righty bat who can mash lefties and can play corner outfield. Assuming Eduardo Nunez remains in the utility role, the Yankees are also likely to bring in a replacement for Eric Chavez, a market that has a number of available options (I discussed this in greater detail last week).

If the Yankees carry 14 position players, that leaves two more slots available for bench players, one of which might be filled by a pinch runner/defensive replacement from the Chris Dickerson/Greg Golson family. The other slot should go to a third catcher, who is made necessary by the fact that the backup catcher (Montero) is also the regular DH. The problem with this plan is that carrying a guy like Gustavo Molina practically wastes a roster spot, as he would never be used in any context other than to catch a few innings if Martin has been pinch-run or hit for and Montero is in the game at DH. This seems like a fairly inefficient use of roster space for a team that could afford a more creative alternative. Enter Ryan Doumit.

Pros

  • In terms of the roster inefficiency I mentioned above, Doumit gives you many more options than a traditional backup catcher might. He can play first base and right field as well, which would allow Joe Girardi to use him occasionally to rest Nick Swisher and Mark Teixeira.
  • Most importantly, he does not hit like a catcher. Doumit is a switch hitter with a .336 wOBA for his career, and his numbers have been dragged down by some injury plagued seasons. When healthy, he provides a strong bat for someone who would be a part-time player.
  • Considering that their other two catchers and their other back-up outfielder are all going to be righties, it helps that Doumit is a switch-hitter who hits better from the left side. He is not unusable against lefties, with a .315 career wOBA against them, but he hits righties to the tune of a .344 wOBA and most of his power comes from that side.
  • Doumit played in just 71 games last season due to an ankle injury that came in late May, but did hit .303/.353/.477 for a 129 wRC+.
  • Doumit is just 30 years old, so he should have a few effective seasons left in his bat.

Cons

  • Doumit can play a number of positions, but he does not play any of them particularly well. He is adequate in right field, poor at first base, and atrocious behind the plate, which is a problem considering that his primary defensive role is as the extra catcher.
  • Ryan is frequently injured, spending time on the DL in every season since 2005.
  • As I mentioned above, he is not a great hitter against lefties.

Personally, I think Doumit is a perfect fit for this Yankees’ roster. He would serve as the extra catcher, but brings other skills to the table that would allow him to accumulate a reasonable number of at-bats.  He could be the primary pinch-hitter against righties, and would allow Joe Girardi more flexibility in terms of how he uses Russell Martin and Jesus Montero, as well as when he rests Nick Swisher and Mark Teixeira. For an illustration of the sort of situations in which an extra catcher who can hit lefties well would be useful, see Russell Martin’s at-bats against tough righties in big spots in the ALDS. He could also be a hedge against injuries at a number of positions, and the Yankees would not be hurt too badly if he was forced into regular duty. Furthermore, while he does have flaws, those can be mitigated by the role he would play on the Yankees. He would not be counted on to play catcher for any extended period of time, and his brittle nature could be offset by being used less frequently. If the Yankees could get him on a short-term deal with an AAV of $4-5 million dollars, he would be a strong addition to the club and would represent excellent and efficient use of a roster spot.

All that said, the reasons that I like Doumit are the same reasons that other clubs might offer him good money to start for them. There is supposedly a healthy market for his services, and he might find a club willing to take a chance on his health or his defense and offer him something more than the 250 or so at-bats the Yankees could guarantee. If so, he is unlikely to take a bench role and would end up being too expensive for the Yankees anyhow.

Fan Confidence Poll: November 14th, 2011

2011 Record: 97-65 (855 RS, 657 RA, 102-60 pythag. record), won AL East, lost to Tigers in ALDS

Top stories from last week:

  • Jorge Posada acknowledged that his Yankees career is over, though he is unsure if he still wants to play next season. “I will always be a Yankee,” said Posada. “The Yankees for me is my second family. It would be tough to put on another uniform for real and learn another set of rules and all that stuff, but that’s one of those things. I have to see if I want to keep playing.”
  • Brian Cashman told reporters that he’s been in contact with several other teams about pitching help, and also said that other clubs have inquired about the availability of his young catchers. The GM confirmed that Ivan Nova‘s strained flexor is 100% healed.
  • The Yankees held a private workout for 26-year-old Cuban outfielder Yoenis Cespedes, and they have their eye on two other Cuban players. Cashman has reached out to the agents for Mark Buehrle and Edwin Jackson.
  • Jonathan Papelbon fled the Red Sox and the AL East, agreeing to join the Phillies on a four-year contract.
  • Jesus Montero still plans to go home to Venezuela this winter despite the Wilson Ramos kidnapping.
  • The 2012 Spring Training schedule was released.

Please take a second to answer the poll below and give us an idea of how confident you are in the team. You can view the interactive Fan Confidence Graph anytime via the nav bar above, or by clicking here. Thanks in advance for voting.

Given the team's current roster construction, farm system, management, etc., how confident are you in the Yankees' overall future?
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Yanks still trying to bring NHL’s Winter Classic to Yankee Stadium

Yankee Stadium hosted its third college football game this weekend, as Rutgers beat Army by a score of 27-12 on Saturday. While at the game, Mark Herrmann asked Lonn Trost about possible future non-baseball sporting events at Yankee Stadium, to which the team’s CEO responded “Hopefully, we’ll have hockey here.”

The Yankees tried to bring the NHL’s annual Winter Classic to the Bronx three years ago, but conflicts with other events at the Stadium prevented it from happening. The Rangers are playing in this year’s outdoor exhibition, but it will be played at Citizen’s Bank Park in Philadelphia on New Years’ Day. There are rumblings that the 2013 Winter Classic will played at Michigan Stadium on the campus of the University of Michigan, so Trost might not get his wish until 2014 at the earliest. Whenever the Yankees do get the game, I will totally be there.

Open Thread: Melky Cabrera

The greatest Melky moment.

I was never much of a Melky Cabrera fan, mostly because the hype got completely out of control early in his career. People were calling him the next Bernie Williams, and that was nothing short of insane. But just because I wasn’t the guy’s biggest fan doesn’t mean I won’t acknowledge that he was a useful player. He played fine defense in the corner outfield spots and was passable in center, plus he made lots of contact and would run into the occasional mistake pitch. Melky was the perfect fourth outfielder, he just ended up playing everyday most of the time.

The Yankees signed Melky out of the Dominican Republic on this date ten years ago, paying him a $175k signing bonus. He was a fan favorite because he played with a lot of energy and had a knack for walk-off hits, plus the cool name didn’t exactly hurt his cause. As far as I’m concerned, there’s not a damn thing wrong with that.

In other historical Yankees transactions news, today is also the 20th anniversary of Ramiro Mendoza signing as 19-year-old free agent out of Panama, and it’s also the third anniversary of the Nick Swisher trade heist. So hooray for that.

* * *

Here is your open thread for the night. The late football game as the Patriots at the Jets (8:20pm ET on NBC), and the Islanders are playing on the west coast a little later on. You can talk about anything you want here, the thread is all yours.

Noesi continues to dominate in winter ball

Jose Quintana signed a minor league deal with the White Sox. (UPDATE: He’s on their 40-man roster, so apparently it was a big league contract.) The 22-year-old southpaw broke out with High-A Tampa this year (2.96 FIP in 102 IP), but became a free agent after the season. For shame, I was looking forward to seeing the follow-up performance. Oh, and Jeff Marquez signed with the Mariners, but I don’t think anyone will lose any sleep over that one.

By the way, the Arizona Fall League season ends next Thursday, with the Championship Game scheduled for Saturday. Phoenix has the worst record in the league and has already been eliminated from postseason play.

AzFL Phoenix (5-0 win over Scottsdale) Wednesday’s game
Rob Segedin, LF: 0 for 4, 1 R, 1 BB, 1 K – threw a runner out at third
Ronnie Mustelier, 3B: 0 for 4
Dan Burawa, RHP: 0.2 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 0 K, 2-0 GB/FB – 13 of 19 pitches were strikes (68.4%)

DWL Licey (5-1 win over Gigantes) Wednesday’s game
Hector Noesi, RHP: 6 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 4 K, 11-1 GB/FB – damn Hector, way to go … 17 IP, 10 H, 2 R, 0 ER, 4 BB, 12 K, 27-3 GB/FB in his last three starts

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Mailbag: Trading Soriano

(AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)

Kevin asks: Does Rafael Soriano have a no-trade clause? If he doesn’t, his $9 million a year contract might look good for other teams in the market for a closer after seeing what Jonathan Papelbon got for his contract. Is that feasible? And what kind of value can the Yankees get back?

Soriano’s contract does not have any kind of no-trade protection, but it’s also not worth $9M per year. He’ll make $11M in 2012 then another $14M in 2013. Papelbon’s contract (four years and $50M with a fifth year vesting option) is pretty ridiculous, but I don’t think it makes Soriano more attractive to other teams for a number of reasons.

For one, Papelbon is just straight up better than Soriano, he’s better and he doesn’t come with the same injury concerns. Remember, Rafi is coming off a disappointing season that included nearly three months on the shelf with an elbow problem. Secondly, the two contracts are worth just about the same amount of money in average annual value, so you’re getting a lesser reliever for the same amount of cash. The only difference is that you’re getting two years of Soriano instead of four years of Papelbon. Thirdly, instead of giving up a draft pick, you’re giving up some kind of non-useless player in a trade, and that non-useless player has more value than a draft pick, even a first rounder.

You don’t see too many high-end relievers get traded these days, but we do have a decent comparable in Mike Adams. The Rangers gave up two pretty good (but not elite) Double-A starting pitching prospects for a year and a half of Adams, but his salary is about a quarter of Soriano’s, maybe a third if he gets a big arbitration raise this winter. He’s also better than Soriano, and has been healthier in recent years (he’s definitely had his own injury problems though). You’ve got to adjust down a bit because of those two factors, so instead of two pretty good Double-A prospects, you’d be getting what … one good Double-A prospect? Maybe a useful Triple-A player that figures to be a bench player or something? I really don’t know, I’m just thinking out loud.

Either way, I can’t imagine the return will be enough to justify a trade. I’m no fan of Soriano’s contract, but he can definitely be a valuable member of the team when healthy. If anything, I’d say wait until Joba Chamberlain comes back from Tommy John surgery to trade him. If they end up moving Soriano this offseason then lose David Robertson (or even Mariano Rivera) for a period of time, suddenly the bullpen is real short and we’re looking at Boone Logan, Eight Inning Guy™. We didn’t see the real Soriano this season, but let’s hope we do in 2012.

Montero talks Wilson Ramos, still plans to go home this winter

By now you’ve heard about the ordeal endured by Nationals’ catcher Wilson Ramos, who was kidnapped from his home (at gunpoint) in Venezuela before being rescued two days later. Jesus Montero grew up near Ramos and played with him as a kid, so the incident hit a little closer to home for him. “He is my friend,” said Montero to Roger Rubin. “I felt sad because I’ve known him for a long time. I was really worried when I saw the news. I was crying a little bit. It’s not an easy situation he was living. Thank God everything is fine and the police, they took care of it.”

Despite Ramos’ incident and several others in recent years, Montero is still planning to go home to Venezuela for about a month in December. “You’ve got to be careful where you go or where you are,” he said to Dan Martin. “Venezuela is not easy. You’ve got to know where you’re at and you’ll be good.” Montero hasn’t hired any kind of private security, he just plans to stay at home and with his family a lot, and be extra cautious when he goes out. After his trip home, he’s heading to Miami to train with Alex Rodriguez and Kevin Long.