The Obligatory Juan Rivera Post

(Photo Credit: Flickr user Keith Allison via Creative Commons license)

It’s hard to believe it’s been ten years since Juan Rivera made his big league debut with the Yankees, when he earned a September call-up in 2001. Baseball America considered him one of the game’s top 100 best prospects before the 2002 and 2003 seasons, and Rivera hit a respectable .262/.302/.427 with eight homers and one golf cart-related injury in 280 plate appearances for the Yankees before being traded to the Expos as part of the Javy Vazquez package.

Rivera bounced from the Expos to the Angels to the Blue Jays in the eight years since the trade, hitting .278/.329/.445 (105 OPS+) during that time. The Blue Jays designated the now 33-year-old for assignment over the weekend, so let’s look to see if he could potentially fill a need for the Yankees…

The Pros

  • Rivera’s value comes almost entirely from his ability to hit left-handed pitching. He tagged southpaws for a .327/.400/.509 batting line in just 65 plate appearances for Toronto this year, but from 2008-2010 he hit .282/.334/.515 in over 400 plate appearances against lefties.
  • Rivera has some serious contact skills, swinging and missing just 7.4% of the time in his career with a 12.9% strikeout rate. Even his 2011 marks of 8.4% and 16.6%, respectively, are better than league average despite been career worsts (min. 200 PA). He’s walked more than he’s struck out against lefties this year (eight to six), and from 2008-2010 it’s 30 walks to 34 strikeouts. Anything remotely close to 1:1 is spectacular.
  • All of the advanced metrics (UZR, DRS, Total Zone) consider his defense to be about average (but no better) in the outfield corners. That’s a win when you consider what his role would be. He’s also dabbled at first base throughout the years.

The Cons

  • Rivera should be considered nothing more than a platoon player. He’s hit just .219/.276/.318 against righties this year (210 PA) and .246/304/.403 last year (293 PA). Last season’s performance isn’t terrible, but he’s clearly at his best when facing pitchers of the opposite hand.
  • He’s not a patient hitter, walking in just 6.7% of his career plate appearances and seeing only 3.51 pitches per plate appearances. It’s worth noting that his 8.0% walk rate this year is a career best.
  • Rivera does not project as a Type-A or B free agent at the moment, and he’s far enough from the cutoff that he probably can’t play his way into compensation pick territory in the second half.

With a $5.25M salary this season, it’s pretty safe to say that Rivera will clear waivers. The Blue Jays figure to find a decent number of teams interested in acquiring him via trade if they’re willing to get some of that money, though in recent years we’ve seen GM Alex Anthopoulos be pretty hesitant to trade within the division. Perhaps that wouldn’t be such a big issue for a spare part like Rivera.

Andruw Jones is hitting .234/.310/.453 in 71 plate appearances against lefties this year, and his numbers over the last few seasons (.219/.352/.428 vs. LHP from 2008-2010) suggest that Rivera is the better platoon option at the plate. Andruw’s not the defender he once was, but he’s probably still better than Rivera, even if it’s just marginally. His $2M salary is not going away, but I think there are legitimate reasons to eat the rest of that salary and bring Rivera aboard if he winds up in the open market. I wouldn’t give up anything of value to acquire him in a trade, nor would I absorb that salary on waivers, but as a free agent for the pro-rated portion of the league minimum? Then go for it. I’ll be surprised if he makes it that far though.

Yanks fall to Indians in Jeter’s return

Ball game.

Hope you had a great Fourth of July, and to everyone outside of the U.S. … I hope you had a wonderful Monday. Let’s recap…

  • That foul ball by Lonnie Chisenhall in the seventh absolutely has to be caught, but it wasn’t. It’s the outfielder’s ball because he’s coming in on it, but for whatever reason (lack of communication?) it bounced between Alex Rodriguez and Brett Gardner. That should have been the third out.
  • I also don’t think A.J. Burnett should have faced Austin Kearns that inning because a) he hit two balls to the warning track earlier in the game and was obviously seeing the ball well out of his hand, and b) Burnett hung some curves to the previous batter and got away with them. He looked like he was tired as his pitch count climbed north of 110. You know what though? Chisenhall, Shelley Duncan, and Kearns came into the game with .300, .270, and .287 OBP’s, respectively. Just one of those guys needed to make an out, but instead four runs scored.
  • Other than that inning, Burnett was actually pretty good. Just two walks and two hits through the first six innings with five strikeouts. It looked like one of those classic games when A.J. pitched well and the offense wouldn’t bother to score.
  • Josh Tomlin managed to take a no-hitter into the seventh (!!!), but Mark Teixeira broke it up with a single back up the middle. Robinson Cano followed that up with an infield hit, and Nick Swisher drove in both of them with an opposite field gapper. Curtis Granderson hit his 23rd homer in the eighth, a solo shot.
  • Derek Jeter reached on an error in his first game back and hit one ball out of the infield in four at-bats, pretty much par for the course.
  • Cory Wade gave up his first run(s) with the Yankee, an opposite field two-run homer to Carlos Santana that gave the Indians some insurance runs in the eighth. Wasn’t even a bad pitch, a curveball on the outer half that Santana muscled out.
  • Here’s the box score and the depressing WPA graph.

CC Sabathia will try to stop the two-game losing streak when he takes the mound in his old stomping grounds on Tuesday night. Carlos Carrasco will go for the Tribe. That’s a normal 7:05pm ET start, and RAB Tickets can get you there on the cheap.

Staten Island’s win streak comes to an end

Jorge Vazquez was activated off the disabled list, he had apparently been dealing with some left shoulder soreness. Jesus Montero was a late scratch tonight because of tightness in his lower back/side. Also, Fernando Hernandez was released, which is entirely unsurprising.

Triple-A Scranton (5-3 win over Lehigh Valley)
Greg Golson, CF: 3 for 4, 1 RBI, 1 K – 12 for his last 37 (.324)
Mike Lamb, 3B: 1 for 5, 1 R, 1 2B, 1 RBI - taken out in the ninth for defense
Jordan Parraz, RF: 1 for 3, 1 R, 1 BB, 1 K
Terry Tiffee, 1B: 1 for 4, 1 R, 1 RBI, 1 K
Jorge Vazquez, DH: 1 for 3, 1 RBI, 1 K, 1 HBP
Brandon Laird, LF-3B: 2 for 4 – got shifted around late in the game
Gus Molina, C: 0 for 4, 1 K
Luis Nunez, 2B: 2 for 4, 1 R
Doug Bernier, SS: 4 for 4, 1 R, 1 2B - seven for his last ten with three doubles … gets to keep the job a little longer with Ramiro Pena not coming down
Shaeffer Hall, LHP: 6.1 IP, 5 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 1 BB, 3 K, 7-6 GB/FB – 54 of 81 pitches were strikes (66.7%)
Eric Wordekemper, RHP: 1.2 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 1 K, 1-2 GB/FB – 11 of 20 pitches were caught
Logan Kensing, RHP: 1 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 0 BB, 1 K, 1-1 GB/FB – 11 of 18 pitches were strikes (61.1%)

[Read more…]

Mariano Rivera day-to-day with a sore triceps

Via Bryan Hoch and Dan Barbarisi, Mariano Rivera was unavailable tonight and is day-to-day going forward because of a sore triceps. There are no tests planned at the moment. “I’m not concerned about it, I can tell you that,” said Mo. Joe Girardi didn’t seem too concerned about it after the game either.

Game 83: Derek’s Back

Here’s the starting nine…

Derek Jeter, SS
Curtis Granderson, CF
Mark Teixeira, 1B
Alex Rodriguez, 3B
Robinson Cano, 2B
Nick Swisher, RF
Jorge Posada, DH
Russell Martin, C
Brett Gardner, LF

A.J. Burnett. SP

The game starts at 6:35pm ET and can be seen on YES locally or MLB Network nationally. Enjoy, and have a happy and safe Fourth of July.

Roster News: Chris Dickerson has been optioned to Triple-A Scranton to make room on the roster for Jeter. I guess Eduardo Nunez‘s hamstring is still acting up and want to keep Ramiro Pena around as a spare infielder.

(h/t to Anthony for the link to the video)