Archive for Juan Miranda
With Nick Johnson stuck on the disabled list for the foreseeable future, the Yankees’ lineup is lacking two things: a regular designated hitter, and a productive lefthanded bat. Curtis Granderson‘s absence makes the latter even more obvious. We can dream about Jorge Posada DH’ing most of the time with Frankie Cervelli assuming starting catcher responsibilities, but the team appears to have no interest in doing that. Adding a third catcher (likely Chad Moeller) to a team with a (usually) four man bench is less than ideal as well.
In an effort to correct that missing lefty bat, the Yankees summoned Juan Miranda from Triple-A Scranton today. There’s still no word on who’s going down to make room, but hopefully it’s one of the 13 pitchers. Preferably Boone Logan, but I digress.
Once upon a time Miranda was expected to be the Yanks’ first baseman of the future, but Mark Teixeira hitting the open market changed those plans. Instead, he’s been stuck in the minors for most of the last three years, save for September call-ups in each of the last two seasons. He’s actually hit pretty well in his limited big league at-bats, a .430 wOBA with one wallop of a homer and a walk-off single in 23 plate appearances. Overall, Miranda’s got a .371 wOBA in over 1,000 plate appearances at the Triple-A level, and has proven all he could at the level.
Miranda’s arrival does several things for the Yanks’ roster. For one, it helps settle the DH and leftfield situations, plus the overall lineup picture, all of which have kind of been in a bit of flux over the last week because of injuries both minor and major. Now, Joe Girardi can employ a straight platoon of Miranda and Marcus Thames at DH and in the 7th spot of the lineup. Randy Winn can’t hit, but he catches everything he should and then some, so now he’ll get regular playing time in the outfield. It’s not the prettiest picture, but at least now everyone has a defined role and we all have some peace of mind.
An added benefit is that the Yanks will now get an opportunity to evaluate Miranda for an extended amount of time at the big league level. It’s not just an audition for a possible DH job with the Yankees next season, it’s an audition for the other 29 clubs. If Miranda performs well and the Yanks deem him expendable – remember, he’ll be out of options next season, so he has to stick on the big league roster or go through waivers – they can use him in a trade to shore up another area of the team. A fringe benefit is that it also keeps Thames from being exposed against righthanders (dude’s got just four singles since Granderson got hurt).
I said during the offseason that I didn’t think Miranda could be a productive full-time designated hitter for the Yankees this year because of his troubles against lefthanders, but in a platoon situation he’s an acceptable option. CHONE projects a .341 wOBA with 17 jacks, and I’m willing to bet he could top that wOBA with limited exposure to southpaws. Even if not, it’s still more than we could ask for at this point. The Yankees just need Miranda to come in and help restore a semblance of normalcy to the lineup and roster. The constant juggling is no way to run a contender.
In the past few days the Yankees have had to deal with a number of injuries. Most of them have been mild in nature, but that still causes problems for the roster. In fact, mild injuries can cause more problems than DL trips in some cases, because the player is not available and there is no one to take his place on the roster. Right now the Yankees have three players nursing injuries who won’t hit the DL, so that’s three inactive roster spots. It can make managing the lineup and bullpen a bit tricky.
The Yankees do have options, though, and will likely make a number of moves during the next few days to keep their roster up to speed. The moves will include recalling an infielder tomorrow, and then probably an outfielder early next week. They’ll need an extra OF if Marcus Thames is going to take more reps at DH. Let’s start with what they’ll do tomorrow.
Marc Carig reports that the Yankees have scheduled no tests on Robinson Cano‘s knee, so chances are he’ll just sit out a day or two. The Yanks could probably get by with just four infielders, but it’s probably advisable to have a backup. Kevin Russo makes the most sense, since he can play all infield positions and is already on the 40-man roster. I’d be very surprised if this didn’t happen tomorrow.
The Yankees currently have 13 pitchers, which is two too many. Logan and Robertson pitched last night, so they’re the most likely to go on an optional assignment. Mike wrote about demoting Robertson yesterday. Boone Logan writes about his own demotion every time he walks a batter.
The Yankees sent down Golson before today’s game, meaning that under normal circumstances he’d have to spend 10 days in the minors. With the injury to Johnson, though, the Yankees can bring him right back. If, as Carig reports, they’ll use Thames at DH, they’ll need a reserve outfielder. Golson is the best option right now.
Possible alternative: Moeller instead of Russo or Golson
Both Golson and Russo are really just emergency options. They’re nice to have around, and the Yankees have the flexibility to keep them around as insurance. They could, however, opt to give Jorge some reps at DH. That way they can get his bat into the lineup without risking his legs by playing him at catcher. That would require a third catcher, which would be Chad Moeller.
This is something I can see happening after the need for Russo expires. Once Cano is back to playing the Yanks don’t need two utility infielders, so Russo will likely head back to Scranton. That does leave a roster spot free. The Yankees could opt to recall Chad Moeller as Francisco Cervelli‘s backup and give Jorge reps against righties at DH. They could even ease him back into catching, making sure that his leg issues really are behind him.
Alternative two: Option Russo, recall Miranda
If the Yankees are prepared to let Jorge return to catching full-time, they could opt to replace Russo with a platoon partner with Thames at DH. I like this just about as little as I like carrying a third catcher. Miranda can back up Teixeira at first, and Thames can play the OF if need be, but neither presents a good option. Then again, with these injuries that doesn’t come as a surprise.
I’d probably support recalling Moeller more, because it provides the added bonus of getting Jorge’s bat into the lineup while making sure his calf is ready for the rigors of squatting for an hour and a half each night. Also, Miranda hasn’t played since May 4, so there might be something there.
Rain? That might help
There is rain in the forecast today, and while I’m not normally one to hope for a washout, it might not be the worst thing in this case. Rescheduling this afternoon’s game as a doubleheader later in the year accomplishes a few things.
- It pushes the whole rotation back a day. CC would pitch on Sunday, and then Burnett would go Monday against the Tigers. Vazquez could then go Tuesday as scheduled, followed by Hughes on Wednesday. Could Andy Pettitte pitch on Thursday? I doubt it, but there’s a non-zero chance.
- It gives Jorge and Robbie a free day. It sounds like Jorge could catch today, but giving him another day couldn’t hurt, especially if there’s no game to win that day. Cano won’t play today, so a rainout will only help there.
- It means no Joe Buck and Tim McCarver.
No one likes to see injuries, especially ones to key players. The Yankees have weathered a few trips to the infirmary this year, but they’re in an even tougher spot now. They do have options, though they’re starting to get a bit thin.
The Yankees have three main holes to fill this offseason: leftfield, designated hitter, and number three starter. Sure, they can – and probably will – look to upgrade some other positions as well, but the team is generally in good shape there. The Bombers seem pretty intent on bringing Johnny Damon back to play left, and I think everyone believes the Andy Pettitte situation will work itself out and solidify the rotation.
That leaves DH as the biggest question mark. It’ll be tough to replace Hideki Matsui‘s 2009 production, even if they bring Godzilla himself back. The popular thought is that the Yanks can use the DH spot to rest Alex Rodriguez, Johnny Damon, Derek Jeter, Jorge Posada, etc. on a rotating basis, but I can’t see the team actually going through with that. If they did, that means more at-bats for the Ramiro Penas and Brett Gardners and Frankie Cervellis of the world, and that’s not a formula that will win the cut-throat AL East.
There are always more DH types available than DH spots open, so the Yanks certainly have options. However, the team is said to be looking to scale back the payroll a bit, and if they can’t retain Matsui on favorable terms, the team might be better off filling the DH spot from within rather than dropping seven figures on a guy in the decline phase of his career. I’m not talking about that silly rotating DH thing when I say filling the spot from within, I’m talking about Juan Miranda.
The Yanks signed Miranda back in 2006 after he defected from Cuba and gained citizenship in the Dominican. He signed a four year Major League contract worth $2M, and the idea was that he’d take over first base on an everyday basis near the end of Jason Giambi‘s tenure. After splitting 2007 between High-A Tampa and Double-A Trenton, Miranda’s spent the past two seasons with Triple-A Scranton. In 2008 he hit .287-.384-.449 with 12 homers, and his .371 wOBA ranked 14th in the league (min. 400 plate appearances). One problem was that Miranda couldn’t hit lefties, like at all. In 125 PA against southpaws, he hit just .200-.264-.287 with a grand total of six extra base hits. The second problem is that the Yanks brought in Mark Teixeira in the offseason, putting Miranda in baseball purgatory.
Sent back to Triple-A in 2009 because there was no spot on the big league roster for him, Miranda improved in almost every way. He hit for a higher average (.290) and more power (.498 SLG, IsoP jumped from .163 to .208) in his second stint in the International League, but most importantly, Miranda improved considerably against lefthanders. In 169 PA against southpaws, he hit .291-.367-.507 with 18 extra base hits. It’s an amazing turn around in just one year, but you have to be a little careful because it’s not a huge sample and it could very easily be a fluke. For what it’s worth, he was pretty bad against lefties in 2007 (.216-.293-.371, 12 XBH in 133 PA).
Even though he used his three option years in 2007-2009, Miranda qualifies for a fourth option because he still hasn’t played in his fifth pro season. Brian Cashman confirmed it. That means the Yanks could easily stash him away in Triple-A for a third straight year if they so choose, there won’t be any consequence. That also gives them some flexibility, because if Miranda starts the year in bigs but needs to be demoted because he isn’t performing, they can do it without worrying about losing him on waivers.
Not that the sample size is meaningful (23 PA), but Miranda’s actually hit big league pitching pretty well: .368-.435-.579. He collected a walk-off single off old buddy Kyle Farnsworth on Sept. 29th of this year, then three days later he took Dale Thayer way deep (someone he’s surely faced numerous times in Triple-A over the last two years) for his first career homer. In limited action, Miranda’s certainly been productive at the Major League level.
Using the wonderful MLE Calculator, we can see that Miranda’s Triple-A batting line this year would have translated to .249-.318-.412 with 15 homers in the big leagues, though I don’t think the MLEc has been updated to reflect the homer happy New Yankee Stadium yet. For the sake of context, that’s basically what Aaron Rowand hit this year. The same Aaron Rowand whose .323 wOBA ranked 68th among all outfielders with at least 400 PA in 2009. Need more context? Melky Cabrera was 63rd with a .331 wOBA. So yeah, it’s not very good.
Of course that’s just one look at it. Part of me is curious to see what Miranda could do with a full season of at-bats in the big leagues, but at the same time I don’t think the Yanks can afford to experiment at such a crucial offensive position. I don’t think his massive improvement against lefties is sustainable, nor do I think he’s as bad against them as he was in 2008. In reality, he’s probably somewhere in the middle, which means the Yanks would need to pair him with a righthanded caddy (tying up another roster spot) for all the lefty starters in the division (Lester, Price, Matusz, Cecil, Romero).
So, getting back to the original question about Miranda possibly being the full-time DH in 2010, I’m going to say no. Not for a team trying to win a championship. Lefty hitting first base/DH types that have historically struggled against lefthanders aren’t exactly a rare commodity, and given the Yanks’ current roster construction and needs, Miranda doesn’t really have a place. He’s a better fit for a rebuilding team or an NL club that can live with below average defense at first or needs a bat off the bench. With all due respect to Mr. Miranda, I hope the Yankees look elsewhere for a DH should Matsui move on.
Photo Credit: Kathy Willens, AP
The standings might say that these are meaningless games, but the Yankees aren’t acting like it. They started to surge last week by taking two of three from the Angels in Anaheim and haven’t let off the accelerator, even after clinching everything. Early last night it looked as if they’d let up a bit, but they mounted yet another late-inning comeback to steal a win from the Kansas City Royals.
The Royals staged the first rally, in the top of the seventh, though it had more to do with Phil Coke than the Kansas City offense. He came with a man on first and one out, to face Alex Gordon, Josh Anderson, and Mitch Maier, three weak-hitting lefties. For Coke, a guy who’s faced tight situations in meaningful games, it should have been a cakewalk. It was anything but.
Alex Gordon bunted the first pitch back to Coke, but the latter hung on too long and allowed Gordon to reach and Mark Teahen to reach second. Anderson handed Coke instant atonement with a bouncer right to him, but Coke again muffed the play, this time throwing way behind Derek Jeter and into center. Teahen scored and the Royals had runners on second and third with one out.
The lead lost, Coke got ahead of Maier 0-2, and again got a grounder right back to him. Gordon had already broken for home, but Coke paid no mind. He fired over to first as if there were two outs. The announcers couldn’t believe it, the crowd couldn’t believe it, and the replay showed that Molina couldn’t believe it. Coke had three consecutive plays and managed to botch each one. What should have been an easy appearance turned into a two-run deficit.
Had the game any real meaning, maybe Coke wouldn’t have even been in. Girardi pulled A.J. Burnett after recording the first out of the seventh and having thrown 108 pitches. It was one of A.J.’s better performances. He allowed six baserunners, but kept the Royals at bay with his favorite weapon, the curveball. It helped him strike out eight. With 6.1 innings of one-run ball, three walks, three hits, and eight strikeouts, I’d say Burnett had himself a fine game.
The Yankees used four pitchers last night, and Coke was the standout disappointment. Dave Robertson came out for the eighth and retired the first two batters he faced, including one strikeout, before walking the third batter. That was apparently his limit, as Girardi went with Bruney to finish things off. He allowed a hit and walked a guy, but also fanned two Royals and didn’t allow a run to score. He also had the benefit of Jerry Hairston, who turned a pop up bunt into a double play, teaching rookie Josh Anderson a lesson that will stick with him.
The story of the ninth inning dates back to Sunday. Trey Hillman’s team was up 4-1 against the Twins, and Zack Greinke was in line for the win. Instead of taking a chance with one of his unpredictable setup men, Hillman went to closer Joakim Soria for two. It paid off, but after 46 pitches Soria apparently needed a few days off. He surely wasn’t available last night, given Hillman’s decisions.
Taking the hill to preserve the one-run lead was Kyle Farnsworth. Signed to replace Tom Gordon in 2006, Farnsworth was a disaster from the start. Only when he hit a streak of semi-reliability were the Yanks able to deal him, in a contract swap with the Tigers for Pudge Rodriguez. Both players were horrible to finish out the year, but that didn’t stop Royals GM Dayton Moore from handing Farnsworth a two-year, $9 million contract. Had he waited, he could have had Fanrnsworth for a song later that winter.
With one out in the ninth, Frankie Cervelli bounced one back up the middle. It was out of Farnsworth’s reach, and Alberto Callaspo couldn’t get a handle on it. Eric Hinske pinch hit for Ramiro Pena, and it looked like he wanted the walk-off right there, putting his home run swing on the first pitch but missing. As Farnsworth is apt to do, he missed with the next two pitches and then gave Hinske something he could hit. The ball landed in right, and Cervelli hustled to third. The walk-off was already in the air.
For a guy who can’t hit with runners in scoring position, Robinson Cano sure has driven in a lot of runs lately. After a grand slam last night he got another chance in a tight spot — tight, at least, in the context of this one game. He unloaded on a 3-0 pitch, but just missed. It was deep enough to score Cervelli and tie the game, though. Blown save, Farnsworth.
The last thing the team wanted last night was to go into extra innings. Everything’s clinched. They’d already used a ton of their bench players. I’m sure the regulars just wanted to get on with it. Eric Hinske must have felt that vibe. Otherwise, why would he have have tried to steal second with two outs? Not only did he make it, but he also scampered into third on an errant throw.
The Royals decided they’d rather face Juan Miranda than Johnny Damon, but at that point it didn’t seem to matter. The Yanks were walking off with that win one way or another. Miranda hit a grounder back to Farnsworth, but it was just hard enough to bounce off the pitcher’s shins and into foul territory. The Yanks swarmed from the dugout just as Miranda touched first, and the Yankees had recorded their 15th walk-off victory.
That was a lot of writing for a meaningless game, eh? Well, sometimes big things happen in the least likely games. Coke’s blunders, A.J.’s solid performance, the late-inning heroics. It added up to another quality game in a time when they’re supposed to be boring. Ladies and gentlemen, your 2009 Yankees: the team that can make even the most drab game a thriller.
Chad Jennings has the news. Triple-A Scranton’s season ended tonight, so the Yanks are going to raid their roster for at least one more player, recalling Juan Miranda. I assume he’ll meet the team in Seattle. Jennings mentions that Austin Jackson and Zach Kroenke – the two other serious callup candidates – weren’t told anything definitive, and are just going home for the time being. Neither player is on the 40-man roster, making it a little tricky to bring them up. For now though, the Yanks have an extra lefty bat off the bench, and won’t have to play Jose Molina at first base anymore.
Via Marc Carig, the Yanks have recalled 1B Juan Miranda, putting David Robertson on the Chris Britton Memorial Shuttle back to Scranton. Miranda makes the most sense as a replacement for Xavier Nady right now, because he can backup Mark Texiera at first while keeping Nick Swisher in the outfield. He’s also a nice bat off the bench, but he won’t help much agaisnt southpaws. Carig also notes that Tex feels “ten times better” following yesterday’s cortisone shot, but that Hideki Matsui has fluid in his left knee that will need to be drained.
Just a couple bits of actual Yanks news for the early afternoon:
- The MRI results are back for both Robinson Cano and Damaso Marte. Cano has shoulder bursitis (didn’t they know this before?) and will be out until Friday. Marte is day to day with shoulder inflammation. So while it’s not great news, it certainly could have been worse. The extended nature of this year’s Spring Training should have these guys back on track soon enough.
- The Marlins returned Zach Kroenke to the Yanks. He hasn’t had a great spring, and after getting shelled in his last appearance was nowhere to be seen for the Marlins. His return is unsurprising.
- Juan Miranda has been optioned back to AAA. It would have taken a monster spring from Miranda for him to take a bench role, and that clearly wasn’t happening. He’ll get more at bats this way.
Chad Jennings – who else? – has the news. Miranda signed a 4-yr, $2M ML deal prior to the 2007 season, so he’s already on the 40-man and there’s no need for a roster move. The lefty swinging Cuban defector pounded RHP to the tune of .332-.436-.534 this year, but managed only .195-.258-.280 off southpaws. I suspect we’ll be seeing a little less of Giambi the rest of the season.