January 12th: The Yankees have released Dickerson according to the official site. What a waste, they couldn’t even get a fringe prospect out of him in a trade. I wouldn’t count on the team re-signing Dickerson to a minor league deal, though I suppose it’s possible.
January 4th: Via Chad Jennings: The Yankees have designated Chris Dickerson for assignment to make room on the 40-man roster for the recently-claimed Russ Canzler. They have ten days to trade, release, or waive him.
Dickerson, 30, never got much of an opportunity during his two years with the organization. He’s a .266/.352/.407 (103 wRC+) career hitter in 599 big league plate appearances with a big walk rate (11.6%), a big stolen base success rate (81.8%), strong defense (+13 DRS and +14.2 UZR), and good numbers against right-handers (107 wRC+). His only crime was being a left-handed hitter on a team full of left-handed hitting outfielders.
Dickerson cleared waivers and was outrighted to Triple-A last spring, but he’ll be able to elect free agency if he goes unclaimed again. I’m sure he would do that in hopes of finding more opportunity elsewhere. I’ve always been a fan, so hopefully someone gives Dickerson a couple hundred at-bats as a platoon bat in 2013 so we can see what he can do. · (89) ·
Via Mark Hale: The Yankees have no interest in free agent DH Jim Thome. The 42-year-old slugger still offers power (.209 ISO last two years) and patience (13.3 BB%) from the left side in addition to reportedly elite character and clubhouse skills, but that’s pretty much it. He can’t play defense and needs a platoon partner. Thome is super easy to root for and appears to fit the team’s needs at DH, so it’s disappointing to hear they don’t have interest. Maybe he’ll fall into their laps on the cheap next month a la Raul Ibanez last year. · (69) ·
TGIF, amirite? The Knicks are playing tonight, but use this thread to talk about whatever you want. Have at it.
Via Dan Martin: CC Sabathia started his offseason throwing program earlier this week after having surgery in October to clear a bone spur out of his left elbow. “My elbow is feeling good,” said the left-hander. “I just started throwing on Monday. That’s the time I would normally start my throwing program, and I’ll be ready to lengthen it out and be ready to go for Spring Training.”
Sabathia, 32, has also lost some more weight this winter — “I lost a little bit of weight … Twenty pounds. Coming off the elbow surgery, I just wanted to be able to be healthy and stay healthy all year.” — in what has become an offseason tradition. It was 30 lbs. in each of the last two offseasons, but he did a much better job of keeping the weight off in 2012 than he did in 2011. The most important thing is the health of that elbow after surgery though, and it’s good to hear his rehab is progressing well. · (36) ·
11:47am: Jack Curry says the Yankees called about Morse after the LaRoche deal, but the Nationals weren’t ready to talk trade yet. He says the two sides will speak eventually.
11:30am: Via Chad Jennings: There is “nothing alive” between the Yankees and Nationals regarding Mike Morse. Washington is expected to trade the outfielder/first baseman after re-signing Adam LaRoche, and New York is said to have interest.
Morse, 30, would fit great for the Yankees as a right-handed bat for their DH spot. He’s far too good for a platoon role as I explained the other day, but the team wouldn’t have any trouble working him into the lineup. It’s not all that far-fetched to think he would be their second best hitter in 2013. The Yankees tend to do these things in secret, so I won’t believe the Morse ship has sailed until he’s wearing another uniform. · (36) ·
Got five questions for you this week. The Submit A Tip box (in the sidebar) is the best way to send us stuff.
Conor asks: Would trading one of Tyler Austin, Mason Williams or Slade Heathcott for Nick Castellanos make sense for both teams? The Tigers are going to have him move to right field since they have Miguel Cabrera and Prince Fielder at the infield corners. Seems that trading him for a player whose already demonstrated he can play the outfield is a better idea.
Now that’s interesting. Castellanos is a one of the best prospects in baseball — Baseball America ranked him 11th overall while Keith Law ranked him 18th in their midseason updates — thanks to a career .316/.367/.443 batting line with 17 homers in 276 minor league games. Baseball America recently ranked him as Detroit’s top prospect, saying he’s “[o]ne of the best pure hitters in the minor leagues” in their subscriber-only scouting report. Since Cabrera, Fielder, and Victor Martinez are clogging the infield corners and DH spot, the Tigers shifted Castellanos from third base to right field this past July. Baseball America said “he could be an average outfielder” with experience.
The Yankees have plenty of high-end outfield prospects as you mentioned, as both Williams (#28) and Austin (#39) cracked Baseball America’s midseason update (Williams made Law’s, which was only 25 players deep). New York would probably have to kick in a little something extra, but a Castellanos-for-Williams trade (for example) isn’t outrageous at all. Both have their own red flags (Williams is coming off shoulder surgery, Castellanos strikes out a lot for a guy who hasn’t shown much power yet), but Castellanos doesn’t have an obvious spot with the Tigers while Williams would be coming from a position of depth. Prospect-for-prospect trades rarely happen because every team loves their prospects more than everyone else’s, but I do think a swap like this makes some sense for both clubs.
Jason asks: Just wondering what you would think of a possible Phil Hughes, Ivan Nova, or David Phelps trade to the Rockies for either Michael Cuddyer or Jordan Pacheco. I think Pacheco fits perfectly with NYYs needs. Right-handed outfielder and third basemen and can even fake catcher at times. The Rockies need starting pitching badly.
I wouldn’t touch Cuddyer. He’s 33 years old and he was just barely a league average hitter (102 wRC+) in Coors Field last season. Plus he spent nearly half the year on the DL and isn’t anything special on defense despite the supposed versatility. The Rockies can have fun with that $21M he’s owed over the next two seasons, no way would I want the Yankees to give up something of value for that.
Pacheco, on the other hand, makes some sense. He turns 27 later this month and is a .306/.338/.413 career hitter in 593 plate appearances. Don’t get too excited, that’s only a 91 wRC+ because Coors has turned back into a launching pad. Pacheco always had strong walk rates in the minors (10%+), but it’s dipped to just 4.2% in the show. I’m not sure what that’s about. He can play the three non-shortstop infield spots adequately and catch in an emergency, plus he’s under team control for another five years. I’m not giving up Hughes, Nova, or Phelps for a bench player though, Colorado would have to be willing to take something less.
John asks: Since the Yankees need a cost controlled right-handed outfield bat for 2013 (and 2014) does it makes sense to target someone like Justin Maxwell? He has power and is slightly above average defensively. Sure he doesn’t take a walk and his contact rate isn’t that good but a relatively young, arbitration-eligible (until 2017) 4th outfielder/platoon bat with some decent speed, defense and power doesn’t seem like a bad idea to me…your thoughts?
The Yankees had the 29-year-old Maxwell in camp last season, but he was out of minor league options and they lost him on waivers to the Astros at the end of Spring Training. He put together a 107 wRC+ overall with Houston, but was especially tough on southpaws: .272/.387/.505 (144 wRC+). Maxwell has some Andruw Jones in him (the old version, not the Braves version) because he hits for big power (.232 ISO), will draw a walk (9.1%), and can strike out with the best of ‘em (32.4%). Andruw actually has more favorable rates, but Maxwell will steal the occasional base and is better on defense.
Clearly the Yankees should have dumped Jones and kept Maxwell last year, but that’s a pure hindsight statement. Maxwell is a platoon player on the short-end of the playing time stick and should be treated as such. The Yankees shouldn’t have to overpay to get him back just because. If the Astros will take a Grade-B prospect, sure. I wouldn’t go much higher, we’re not talking about Mike Trout here. Maxwell is under team control for another few years and that’s nice, but I don’t focus too much on years of control when talking about bench guys (and relievers). They rarely stick around that long anyway.
Anonymous asks: Given that college baseballs apparently travel less in the air and have higher seams (which make breaking balls more effective), how would you evaluate college players in light of this? Would you downgrade fly ball pitchers and/or pitchers with less velocity (i.e., more reliant on breaking balls)? Would you give extra credit to hitters who had success against breaking balls?
It’s not just college balls, the balls they use in the minors are different than the ones they use in the big leagues as well. Craig Hansen and Bryce Cox were two guys who threw vicious breaking balls in school but couldn’t get the ball to move the same way as a professional, so they flamed out. Teams are obviously aware of this and I don’t really know how they address it. I’m guessing each club does it a different way. Preferably you’d see a pitcher several times (high school, college, summer league, private workout, etc.) before the draft, giving you plenty of chances (with different balls) to evaluate him. Hitters who can hit breaking balls tend to grade out well anyway, but I’m not sure if you’d give him extra credit for doing it against a college ball. I don’t really know the answer to this question, but the difference in balls (this applies to Japan and Korea as well) is something teams must consider when evaluating a player.
Chris asks: Would you consider new aged sabermetrics a “performance-enhancer”? 25 years ago players were judged based on simple stats which were visible and tangible to the fan. RBI, HR, AVG etc. Now advanced metrics allow us to judge players on a whole new level. Wouldn’t you agree that certain platoon players would have not found jobs 25 years ago but do today because certain metrics say they can still hit lefties or are victims of bad ball in play luck?
“Performance-enchancer” implies that they’re helping the player perform better than they normally would. A player getting a job because some front office executive used stats to determine he was being undervalued doesn’t really qualify to me. Maybe if the player was using stats to improve his performance they would be considered a “performance-enhancer,” but I’m not sure how that would work. It’s not like a pitcher could independently focus on lowering his HR/FB% or something. Looking at stats is the same as looking at scouting reports for me.
Just as an aside: The term “performance-enhancer” itself bugs me because it carries far too many connotations. I wish they’d just stick to calling them banned substances. No need to automatically tag them as performance-enchancing when we don’t know how much they really help. Trust me, there have been plenty of players who improperly used PEDs and wound up hurting themselves more than they helped.
MLB and the players’ union announced an agreement today that will allow for in-season blood testing for HGH. Chad Jennings has the full press release. The tests will be random and unannounced, though players can only be tested three times per season unless they give the league a reason to test more. Baseball will be the first major sport in the country to test for HGH.
Players were blood tested during Spring Training last year as part of the new Collective Bargaining Agreement, but that was just a test of the test. The two sides wanted to see how players responded physically to giving blood before implementing a new policy. Offseason testing began this winter, but it was not random and MLB needed “reasonable cause.” Apparently everything has gone well over the last 12 months and the two sides moved forward with the in-season testing. Great news and a great job by both sides, but obviously this won’t be the end of PEDs in baseball. The drugs are always one step ahead of the test. · (42) ·
The Yankees have hired Marcus Thames as the hitting coach for their High-A Tampa affiliate, the club announced. He joins long-time manager and former Yankee Luis Sojo, the winningest manager in Florida State League history.
Thames, 35, last played with the Dodgers back in 2011. He was originally drafted by the Yankees back in 1996 and broke into the show with them in 2002, famously homering off Randy Johnson on the first pitch he saw as a big leaguer. He’s perhaps best remembered around these parts for being a force off the bench back in 2010 — .288/.350/.491 with a dozen homers. Thames is a super nice guy and incredibly easy to like, so I wish him well down in Tampa. Plus, you know, I get to link to this. · (24) ·
Here’s your open thread for the night. The Knicks are playing and that’s pretty much it, but talk about anything here. enjoy.