Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Yankees And Chavez Make It Official

From our friends over at MLBTR, the Yankees have signed Eric Chavez to another 1 year deal worth 900K plus incentives. Offseason complete!! here is the write up

Yankees, Eric Chavez Agree To One-Year Deal

The Yankees have agreed to terms with third baseman Eric Chavez on a one-year, Major League contract, pending a physical, according to Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com (Twitterlinks). The deal is worth $900K and also includes incentives, tweets Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com.

Right Field Options for 2013

Being borrowed from our friends over at Yankees Fans Unite who want to look at our options for RF in 2013. It really is a great read from a great site so I suggest that you check out both. Anyway, here is the write up.

New York Should Be Saluting You Back Nick

On November 13, 2008 Brian Cashman made one of his finer trades as the Yankees GM. He traded Wilson Betemit and minor league pitchers Jeff Marquez and Jhonny Nunez to the White Sox in exchange for Nick Swisher. Swisher had the worst season of his career in Chicago batting .219, with 24 HR’s 69 RBI, and a .743 OPS. Swisher clashed with White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen who played Swisher out of position by playing him in center field. He also had him out of position in the lineup by having him lead off in 29 games. Swisher has revitalized his career with the Yankees, but some are questioning whether his postseason struggles will leave him looking for a new team in 2013.
Swisher has been a really solid player for the Yankees for the last 3 years. He has provided the team with great energy, has hit for good power, and has gotten on base a lot. He is a fan favorite among many and I think upper management has a real affinity for him as well.  I have sat in right field for some games and he is quite entertaining out there. It is hard not to love him. However, the big issue with him has pretty much been an automatic out in the postseason. He has hit .169 in his career in the postseason with 4 HR’s, 6 RBI, and .617 OPS.  Whether to give up on a guy who produces in the regular season but not in the post season is always a hot button issue with fans and is a really tough issue. 
Brian Cashman said after this year’s bitter postseason exit that decisions are not made based solely on playoff performance.  It is hard to base decisions on a few AB’s when you have over 500 AB’s as a sample size in the regular season. Even some Hall of Fame players have had postseason struggles. I can give you two of the greatest hitters ever as examples in Barry Bonds and Willie Mays. Bonds had a career .200 batting average, hit 1 HR, and 6 RBI until he had a monster postseason in 2002 to help the Giants get to the World Series. Mays is a career .247 hitter in the playoffs with 1 HR, and 10 RBI. Now obviously I am not comparing them with Swisher please do not get me wrong. The point I’m making is you really do not know how a guy will perform in the playoffs compared to the regular season. You have no idea of knowing how Swisher or anybody will perform when they get in the playoffs because it is unpredictable. Sure he has a bad history, but that doesn’t mean he cannot turn it around.
I cannot give you an answer as to why Swisher has struggled in the postseason because like I said it is really tough to know. My best guess is the obvious one and that is that he is putting to much pressure on himself. His personality would strike me as someone who would get to hyped up for postseason games and try to do to much.  Some have said he struggles against elite pitching. However, during the regular season he hit .367 against the Rangers, .273 against the Tigers, and .233 against the Rays last year, which is not bad against last year’s playoff teams.
The big issue with replacing Swisher next year is that there are limited options to replace him. They have no outfielder in the upper minor league levels ready to step in.  Everybody’s dream scenario of Matt Kemp got ruined this offseason. The only corner outfield free agent’s next year who are even in Swisher’s league are Josh Hamilton, who is a notch above, and Andre Ethier, who is probably a notch below.  On the field Hamilton is a great fit. He has a swing fit for Yankee Stadium and he would be good enough defensively, since he would be playing in the shallow part of the park.  He won the MVP in 2010 and has proven he can hit elite pitching. The problem is that he is a recovering alcoholic, which stunted his career in the beginning, and there would probably be to many temptations for him in New York. Hamilton just recently had a slight relapse, which he apologized for.  He has also had injury issues as he has only played in 121 games, 133 games, 89 games, and 156 games in the last 4 years respectively. Ethier has played pretty well the last 2 years, but not like his breakout year in 2009 when he hit .272, hit 31 HR’s, and had 106 RBI.                                                             
It will probably come down to Swisher’s year this year as to whether he will be signed again or not. If he hits at the pace he has for his 3 regular season for the Yankees and performs in October then I believe he stays. However, if he does not perform again in October the Yankees may look for a replacement.

Spring Training Day 3

"Injury" Is The Word

Today Joe Girardi announced that Joba Chamberlain would throw from a full mound for the first time tomorrow and remains on schedule to be back before the all star break, a mere 12 months since Tommy John surgery. For those that do not know 12 months is way ahead of schedule for a guy to be back in the big league after a Tommy John surgery so I think that should show everyone just how much Joba has worked hard to get back to the team. 

George Kontos felt some stiffness in his oblique while throwing a bullpen session which is not good for him since he was in line for the last bullpen slot, which is wide open right now. He is going to sit and rest it for a week and see how it feels after that and hopefully that does not set him behind schedule too much because he is already 27 years old, holds a valuable 40 man roster spot, and not earning it thus far. The clock is ticking for George Kontos and this season is definitely his last hurrah. He knew this also and it shows because he came into camp ahead of about everyone else since he has been throwing for months before camp. 

Bill Hall and Chris Dickerson were the two newest Yankees to arrive at Yankees camp for spring training. While I wrote here that I was not crazy about the signing of Bill Hall I do follow the guy on twitter and he has a great attitude, especially about being a Yankee. According to his twitter he has lost 20 pounds this offseason so he can be better in the field and specifically he wants to steal more bases for the Yankees. He is also a great person to interact with, retweeting his fans and talking to them. He seems to be quickly becoming a fan favorite (on twitter anyway) although I do not really see a position for him on the team when Eric Chavez signs. He does have the ability to go to the minors for a very short time but I do see him exercising that opt out clause if he is not called up by May 1.

The Russell Martin Extension

"Would you extend me? I'd extend me."

Yesterday we saw reports that the Yankees had spoken to Russell Martin about signing an extension (you can read the one from River Ave Blues here). Which got me thinking... should they? Personally, I don't think so.

One reason is that Martin just turned 29, and would be 30 years old when the extension starts. I'm sure you've heard many people talk about a player's prime, which usually comes between the ages of 27-29. That would mean that the Yankees would have signed Russell to an extension starting the year after his prime. That doesn't seem like a great idea. What could make it worse is that Martin has started 735 games behind the plate, and it's no secret the the game is harder on catchers than any other position. It may not be as bad as signing somebody at that age to a contract of 5+ years, but that reason does make me think it's something the Yankees should not jump at.

Also, keep in mind that Russell Martin did only hit .237/.324/.408 last season (although the 18 HR were pretty sweet). I'm expecting a boost in those numbers to occur in 2012 (Bill James predicts a line of .256/.355/.400 with 14 HR), but it's not as if he's blowing people away with his bat, and therefore should be locked up for 2-3 more years. I may eat those words if Martin is able to replicate his 2007 season (.293/.374/.469, with 19 HR), but again... I see no reason for the Yankees to jump the gun here.

As for an option, Austin Romine could at least turn into a serviceable catcher. He's pretty much on the same level as Martin defensively, as Austin was ranked by Baseball America as the team's best defensive catching prospect. And remember that Joe Girardi values defense in his catchers above offense. However, due to Romine's offense (he's struggled above AA), I don't expect him to be a long-term solution. But I believe Austin could be a stop-gap to Gary Sanchez.

And of course there's the austerity budget looming. I don't believe the Yankees would sacrifice their on-field product to get there, but it's something for the team to keep in mind. And every little bit counts when it comes to the team's payroll, and getting to $189 million for 2014. Especially if the team wants to sign a Cole Hamels after this season.

So my hope is the team has put off an extension for good, and will wait to see how 2012 plays out. If Austin Romine improves with the bat, and keeps up his defense, then I'd like to see them let Russell Martin walk. But if Romine takes a step back, while Martin improves or at least maintains solid numbers, then bring Russell back. But no need to jump on anything right now.

The 2012 Payroll and Roster Page

We've been working hard to create a great payroll and roster page. I want it to be a page that fans bookmark in order quickly get information regarding player contracts, team payroll, roster updates, as well as links to each players' Baseball Reference page (I believe B-R is the best resource for player and team statistics). However, I don't expect that page to replace Cot's Baseball Contracts when it comes to detailed information on player contracts.

I like where the page is at, but I wanted to ask our readers if there was anything you believe would be a good addition to the page. On the right side, below our Twitter feed and the picture of Joe Girardi looking at the Steinbrenner plaque, you can contact us four different ways.