Prospect Profile: Dan Brewer

(Photo Credit: Flickr user paul.hadsall)

Dan Brewer | OF

Raised just outside of Chicago in Brookfield, Illinois, Brewer comes from an athletic family and has three siblings that played sports at the collegiate level. He starred in three sports at Lyons Township High School, playing both baseball and football all four years while wrestling for the first three. Named to the All-Conference First Team three times and twice receiving All-State honors (once First Team, once honorable mention), Brewer helped the Lions to IHSA Class AA State Championship as a sophomore, and hit .460 with 13 homers and 57 runs driven in as a senior.

[Read more…]

A quick look at Oscar Salazar

With Freddy Garcia now on board, the Yankees have just about finished their offseason shopping. It hasn’t been an ideal or even a fun winter, but it is what it is and life goes on. The Andruw Jones signing solidified the bench, but the Yanks are still one man short unless they plan on carrying both Eduamiro and Penunez. That’s why I want to talk about Oscar Salazar.

Just when you thought uniforms couldn't get any uglier... (AP Photo/Denis Poroy)

The 32-year-old Salazar was designated for assignment by the Padres yesterday, having been made redundant by Jorge Cantu. The former Mexican Leaguer first broke in with the Tigers way back in 2002, then battled a bunch of injuries before resurfacing with the Orioles in 2008. Baltimore shipped him to San Diego midway through the 2009 season in exchange for Cla Meredith.

So what does Salazar do that he’s worth talking about? Well, for one he can hit, at least better than most bench players. His .237/.318/.336 (.289 wOBA) batting line in 148 plate appearances last season won’t show that, but he was suppressed a bit by Petco Park (.258 wOBA at home, .322 on the road) and hit .295/.367/.500 (.373 wOBA) in 248 trips to the plate as a reserve player in 2008 and 2009. He never had an ISO worse than .190 until he got to Petco, and his career walk rate is very strong at 10.3% (10.8% last year). Even if Salazar drops to say, a .150 ISO and an 8.0% walk rate, he’s Babe Ruth compared to a who’s occupying that last bench spot now.

Not only can Salazar hit a little, but he’s also pretty versatile. He played every position other than pitcher, catcher, shortstop, and centerfield for the Padres last year, though most of his work came in the outfield. The sample sizes aren’t large enough for the advanced metrics to be meaningful, but the fans’ scouting report has him below average in leftfield. We can safely assume he’s below average everywhere else. What can you do, one game a week with a below average defensive player in the field won’t kill ya.

One of the problems with the Yankees’ bench right now is that it’s very right-handed. Jones, Frankie Cervelli, Nunez, even Greg Golson, they all bat right-handed. Pena is a switch-hitter, but he’s not scaring anyone with the stick. Salazar is a righty batter as well, so it’s not a great fit, but he does have a reverse platoon split for his career (.350 wOBA vs. RHP, .333 vs. LHP). That’s in a small sample though, so the data isn’t reliable. The Yanks are going to end up carrying a bunch of righties anyway, might as well carry one that can outhit the others and at least fake defense all over the field.

The 40-man roster is full at the moment, so full that the Jones signing isn’t even official yet. They’re probably waiting for Spring Training to start before finalizing it so they could clear a spot by sticking Damaso Marte on the 60-day DL. If the Yankees want Salazar, they won’t have to claim him off waivers. They could simply wait until he clears and elects free agency, then sign him to a minor league contract. If someone claims him or he chooses to remain with San Diego or doesn’t want to sign with New York, then so be it. It’s not the end of the world.

I still prefer Willy Aybar because he’s a switch-hitter with power, but Salazar would be an upgrade over Nunez or Pena or Golson or whoever else the team has in-house for that last bench spot. They don’t even have to give him the job outright, let him compete for it in Spring Training. It’s not a big upgrade, just a marginal one, but every little bit helps. Given the cost, it makes a ton of sense. Which means it probably won’t happen.

The calming influence of Brian Cashman

The past few months have not been the most kind to Brian Cashman. After watching the Yanks get dispatched in the ALCS by the Rangers, he was powerless to stop his his prime off-season target from heading back to Philadelphia. Meanwhile, he took gruff from the unscrupulous among us for his charity work which included scaling a building in December and tending bar in Midtown for three hours last week and heat for putting together a “Best of the Early 2000s” slate of back-end rotation candidates.

Meanwhile, as Andy Pettitte stews — and in a certain sense, holds the short-term fate of a few key organizational cogs in his hands — Cashman has had to defend himself from New York columnists as well. Bill Madden’s baseless speculation that Cashman wanted to test his hand at team-building with a budget earned a sharp rebuke from the Yanks’ GM who denied the entire story.

Lately, then, the Yankees owners have taken to publicly defending the team official often viewed as the ultimate scapegoat in New York. Anything that goes wrong is Cashman’s fault, and anything that goes right is a result of the Yanks’ fiscal might.

A few hours ago,’s Peter Gammons issued a different take on Cashman and his role with the Yanks. As Gammons sees it, Cashman isn’t a divisive figure in the club’s hierarchy. Rather, he is the calming influence amidst a Front Office. He writes:

Hal is private, and we all think he is tough. He also knows what his father once told me, that, in the end, Brian will do what’s in the Yankees’ best interest, not just his own. Cashman proved it in 2005 when his contract was up and, in the best long-term interest of the organization, would not do a back-page cosmetic deal in the pennant race. He proved it again in 2006 when the Yankees lost in the playoffs to the Tigers, when George Steinbrenner and Levine wanted to fire Joe Torre and were well down the line toward hiring Lou Piniella, and Cashman stood his ground, talked his bosses off the ledge and saved Torre’s job…

When Hal Steinbrenner admitted to Sherman that he orchestrated part of Cashman’s response in the Jeter negotiations, it was evident that even with Levine’s occasional imitation of the organ at St. Patrick’s Cathedral, there is a sense of stability around the Yankees that will remain in place as long as Cashman is in charge of the baseball operations.

It is also very clear that if Cashman were to leave, Hal Steinbrenner can see the rush for power that would take place below him, which, with the contracts for some of their older players outstanding, might send the Yankees into the kind of chaos Cashman has been able to avoid. Had Torre been fired in 2006, would the Yankees have won a World Series championship three years later? My point, precisely.

As the Hot Stove League has worn on, Cashman has opened his mouth more frequently than ever before this year. Some of that is in response to his critics, and some of his comments have been about the need to keep the organization focused on its player development path. It makes reporters used to silence from the normally tight-lipped GM uncomfortable, but it’s not a sign of his weariness of being a Yankee. After all, it’s the only organization and work place he has ever known.

I don’t think Brian Cashman is the best GM out there. I’ve been critical of his bench-building skills, and I find that he doesn’t use the Yanks’ financial might to improve the team around the edges. The signings of Andruw Jones and, to a lesser extent, Russell Martin could change that this year, and the bullpen certainly won’t suffer from having Rafael Soriano around. Right now, though, Cashman’s the best guy for the job, and as long as he wants to stay, I believe Hal Steinbrenner will keep him.

Open Thread: Mike Lowell

(Photo Credit:

If you blinked, there’s a chance you missed Mike Lowell’s career as a Yankee. A 20th round draft pick in 1995, Lowell received a grand total of 15 plate appearances in pinstripes, picking up four singles in 1998. With Scott Brosius coming off a .300/.371/.472 season, the Yankees traded a then 24-year-old Lowell to the Marlins for three young pitchers: Todd Noel, Ed Yarnall, and Mark Johnson. Yarnall had been ranked as the 60th best prospect in the game by Baseball America before the 1998 season, and he was the only one to ever make an appearance in the Bronx (20 IP, 5.40 ERA). He was later traded to the Reds for Denny Neagle while Noel never made it out of A-ball and Johnson went to the Tigers in the 1999 Rule 5 Draft.

Lowell, meanwhile, went on to have a long and productive career first with the Marlins and then with the Red Sox. He doubled off Andy Pettitte in Game Six of the 2003 World Series, and during his career he hit .314/.377/.506 with a dozen homers in just over 300 plate appearances against the team that originally drafted him. Brian Cashman later said he wishes he could have a do-over on the Lowell trade, a trade that took place 12 years ago today. Pitching prospects, eh? They’ll break your heart.

Anyways, here is the open thread for the evening. The Devils, Isles, and Rangers are all back in action now that the All Star break is over, so hooray for that. Talk about whatever your heart desires.

KLaw’s Top Impact Prospects for 2011

Keith Law posted his list of the top 20 impact prospects for the 2011 season today (Insider req’d), with Freddie Freeman, Jeremy Hellickson, and Kyle Drabek leading the way. Jesus Montero is the final name on the list simply because of the uncertainty about how much he’ll play this season. “I have little doubt that he’ll hit if he plays,” said KLaw, “but don’t have a good sense of when he’ll play — or if he’ll end up traded for a starting pitcher.” Fair assessment, I don’t think anyone, not even the Yankees, has a concrete idea of how much Montero will play for the big league team this summer. Remember, it’s not a top prospect list, just a list of which guys will have the most impact at the Major League level in 2011.

As an added bonus, Dan Szymborski ran down his ZiPS projections for all 20 players on the list (also Insider), and he came up with (get this) .273/.334/.503 with 28 homers for Montero next season. Forget Rookie of the Year, if he does that while playing behind the plate regularly, he’s an MVP candidate.

The RAB Radio Show: February 1, 2011

Who would’ve thought that signing Freddy Garcia would spur endless conversation? The Yankees picked up the veteran right-hander on a minor league deal yesterday, but unless something catastrophic happens in camp he’ll break in with the team as the No. 4 or 5 starter. There are worse things. Mike and I dive into Garcia’s stuff.

Then we get into some Jesus Montero projections, and somehow it turns into our upbringings as Yankees fans. You can’t predict the RAB Radio Show. You just can’t.

Podcast run time 30:46

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: “Smile” by Farmer’s Boulevard used under a Creative Commons license