Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Yadier Molina in pinstripes?

I'm sure you've all read about the possible contract extension for Yadier Molina (if you haven't click here). It seems as though whenever even a decent player looks to be available, whether now or in the future, there will be some Yankee fans jumping up and down while repeatedly yelling "SIGN HIM". Well allow me to speak my peace before that inevitably happens and say "no thanks".

First of all, Yadier will turn 30 this July, and as I've said before I tend not to trust the health of a catcher at that age. Not that there haven't been catchers that age that could play for a full season, but it's hard for me to feel good about their health. For example, before this past season, Buster Posey was being looked at as the catcher of the future for the Giants (Baseball America posted the Giants Top 10 Prospect list on December 13th, and had Posey listed as the catcher for them in 2014). However, a week before BA posted that, ESPN reported that the Giants planned to give Posey some time at 1B. Anyway, this age issue would be exacerbated by the fact that the deal would probably go for 3+ years.

By the way, I'm well aware of the fact that Russell Martin is not much younger than Molina (about 7 months). But, as I pointed out not long ago, I'm not keen on signing Martin for 3 or so years either. So that last part was basically a vote against both men, more than a "one or the other" thing. But, better the devil you know, right?

Secondly, I'm not sold that Molina would be a better offensive weapon than Martin. Yadier had a great 2011 season, in which he posted a line of .305/.349/.465 with 14 HR, but every one of those numbers is well above Molina's career averages (.274/.331/.377 with 9 HR). On the other hand, Russell Martin put up a line of .237/.324/.408 with 18 HR. The BA and OBP were well below Russell's career averages, while the SLG and HR are right in line with them (.267/.359/.398 with 15 HR). You can take that to mean that Molina would be due for a drop in numbers thanks to moving to the AL from the NL (like Martin did), or that Molina will come down to Earth while Martin will come up (?) to Earth.

Lastly... defense. Man, I'm not a fan of comparing players' defense. I'm a numbers guy, and there is no statistic/metric that's good for such a thing. So I'll simply leave it at this... both men are excellent behind the dish. Hell, Molina might be better, but Russell has done a damn good job back there. So all this leads back to the "devil you know" saying.

There. Now when I hear a Yankee fan talk about going after Yadier, I can either link them to or quote this post. Feel free to do the same.

Spring Training Day 4

Mariano Rivera, which is an oddity, will travel with the team on the road this Spring Training according to Joe Girardi. Mariano Rivera also shared with us today that Derek Jeter was the only non family members that knows whether Mariano was going to retire after this year or not but Derek was not telling when asked by reporters today. I wonder when Mariano is going to let us know his decision instead of teasing us and leading us on like a school boy in high school.

Joba Chamberlain was scheduled to throw off of a full mound today but instead threw off of a 5 inch mound. All signs and reports are that Joba looks ready to go, does not look tentative, etc in his rehab from tommy john surgery. Speaking of tommy john surgery the Yankees signed closer David Aardsma today to a potential steal of a major league deal worth 500K with an option for the 2013 season. David is also coming back from tommy john surgery and is penciled in as "a month" behind Joba in his progression. The Yankees would like to see him for themselves before making such distinctions and time tables for Aardsma but , as my friend Bryan mentioned in his article about the signing, this could be a steal for the Yankees for not only this season but next season as well.

George Kontos says his oblique is not that sore this morning so that is a good sign. Rafael Soriano threw his first bullpen session today and it was described as "routine". Mariano Rivera is still not scheduled to throw a bullpen yet but that is nothing new for MO in spring training.  No new injuries were added so that is always a good sign. So far so good from Yankees camp.

Ninja Cashman strikes again

Earlier today we found out that the Yankees signed David Aardsma to a MLB deal for one year, with an option for a second in 2013. Aardsma had Tommy John surgery back in July, so he wouldn't even be able to help the Yankees until about midway through the season. Therefore the option for 2013 is the key part here, especially since Mariano Rivera could retire... leaving a big hole to fill in the bullpen.

No, I'm not saying Aardsma is the heir to Mo as the team's closer. As of right now I think that will be David Robertson. But even if you move Robertson to closer, and Soriano to set-up man, that still leaves key innings for somebody in the bullpen. That's true even if Joba Chamberlain were to take over the 7th inning role that Soriano currently holds.

Now, if you were to believe Brian Cashman, then this move has nothing to do with Rivera's possible retirement. But I call "bull****" on that. While it may be true that Cash and Aardsma have been speaking to each other all winter, I don't think Cashman was serious about bringing David aboard until it looked like Mariano was indeed on his way out. I believe this is a case where Cashman liked Aardsma, but until recently didn't see a spot or reason to sign him. As soon as he saw a spot possibly open up, Brian jumped on Aardsma.

Seeing that Aardsma can be added right to the 60-day DL, and therefore won't take up a spot on the 40-man roster, then this signing isn't much different than a minor league deal. And at only half a million dollars, which is only slightly more than the league minimum of $480,000, the risk is minuscule (at least for a team with the financial might of the Yankees).

Not really an "out of nowhere" type deal, but it looks like Ninja Cashman has struck again.

Meet A Prospect : Zoilo Almonte

Zoilo Almonte was invited to Yankees Spring Training camp, mainly due to the fact that he is on the 40 man roster, and part of the Yankees AA affiliate the Trenton Thunder. Let's meet a prospect, let's meet Zoilo Almonte.

Zoilo has been in the Yankees system since 2007, being signed as a an international free agent (IFA) at age 16. He has consistently flown under the radar in the Yankees system being overshadowed by Slade Heatchott, Ravel Santana, Melky Mesa, etc. Zoilo had his coming out party in 2011, at age 22, putting up a triple slash of  .298/.373/.522 and instantly putting himself in the discussion of possible replacements for Nick Swisher after the 2013 season. Almonte put himself on the radar with a plus arm, an athletic build, and a will to be a great defender. As a switch hitter Almonte has shown plate discipline ahead of his time and showing maturity which can be seen in his BB% and his power numbers despite a small frame.

Zoilo does not project to be a 30 home run guy, he might not even be a 20 home run guy, but he hits the ball to all fields with extra base hit power. His speed will make him fun to watch on the base paths, in the field, and when at the plate. I fully expect him to reach AAA Scranton Wilkes Barre by the end of 2012.