Monday, November 5, 2012

Joakim Soria Interested In Setting Up For Mariano Rivera

Joakim Soria kind of showed his cards today when he came out and said that he would be interested in being the Yankees set up man, setting up Yankees (unofficially) closer Mariano Rivera. Soria's agent Oscar Suarez confirmed Joakim's interest in an interview with ESPN earlier today. Soria is not expected to be ready until May of 2013, although June of 2013 would not be out of the question given our luck, so I do not know if this is posturing for a bigger contract elsewhere to close or if he is sincere but either way I think this is worth kicking the tires on. It is not like he is going to sign for a huge deal, a multi year deal, and if he wants to be on the Yankees that bad maybe even would settle for a non guaranteed contract. Wishful thinking I know but either way I at least give Soria a call. Could you imagine a bullpen with Joakim Soria, David Robertson, Joba Chamberlain, Boone Logan, and the great Mariano Rivera? That's greedy.... and I like it.

Yankees Claim Giants Catcher Eli Whiteside

BREAKING NEWS: Francisco Cervelli just got put on suicide watch, and in other news the Yankees claimed World Series Champions San Francisco Giant's catcher Eli Whiteside. Whiteside is a 33 year old catcher is definitely a defensive first catcher with very little to offer with the bat, much like Chris Stewart who we also got from the Giants last season for George Kontos, but this is nothing but a depth move so you can overlook the downsides. Since 2009 Eli has compiled a 3.32 catchers ERA which is the lowest for any catcher in that span with at least 1200 innings played. Maybe he can be our 2009 version of Jose Molina in 2013?

Are The Yankees Interested In Scott Hairston

David Lennon of Newsday, who took over for Ken Davidoff when Ken left for the NY Post, published an article a couple of days ago talking about the top free agents. Lennon makes his predictions on where the top free agents will end up, including Swisher becoming a Padre, Kuroda returning to the Yankees, Soriano going to Detroit, Ichiro putting on the pinstripes again, and the Russ Bus staying parked in New York. But it's his prediction that the Yankees sign Scott Hairston to a 2-year deal worth $6 million that caught my eye.

At first I thought "cool", remembering that Jerry Hairston was a key bench player leading to a World Series title for the Yankees (Jerry hit .237/.352/.382 in 45 games after being acquired by the Yankees mid-season, while filling in at 2B, SS, 3B, LF, and RF). So I looked at Scott's Baseball Reference page to see what he could bring to the table. I wasn't impressed.

Scott Hairston batted .263/.299/.504 with 20 home runs for the Mets last season. Don't get me wrong, 20 home runs is no small feat. The problem with that number is that I wouldn't bet anything that he replicates that power production. Hairston's career line drive percentage is 18%, and last season he put up 21%... the highest it's been since 2006 with Arizona. And that's after putting up a LD% of 13% and 11% in 2010 and 2011. Add on the fact that Hairston is a right-handed batter, and therefore won't be able to take advantage of the short porch in right field like Ibanez could. Frankly, if Hairston doesn't square up the ball as much or more than he did last season, then his home run total is going to suffer with the Yankees.

Can you hit it here?

Those looking for positives in Scott's game will point out his career-low walk percentage of 4.8% last season, after having numbers of 9.2% and 7.6% in 2010 and 2011. So perhaps that low OBP of .299 last season is not a true indication of Hairston's ability to get on base. Unfortunately he hasn't had an OBP above .313 in a season since that 2006 year I mentioned in the previous paragraph.

Hairston can play any of the three outfield positions, although he mainly played in LF or RF the past two seasons with the Mets. But before you go thinking that Scott could replace Raul Ibanez on the roster, let me point out that Scott is a right-handed batter while Raul was a lefty. So we're not talking about a guy that could platoon against right-handed pitchers.

So maybe Scott could platoon against left-handed pitchers. Well, perhaps, but do we really want to give a guy a two year deal because he can hit left-handed pitchers? It's not as if the majority of pitchers are left-handed (last season the Yankees had 4,037 plate appearances vs. RHP, and 2,194 vs. LHP). But maybe Scott's numbers are just that good against lefties, so that when we do face them he'd be a big weapon. Well, last season, Hairston hit .286/.317/.550 with 11 home runs in 199 plate appearances vs. LHP. So there is value there, although I'm still not sure it's worth 2 years.

Remember when I hated on Dickerson, well that's about to change... a bit.

Even though his power falls off a cliff against left-handed pitchers (it goes from .424 against RHP to .316 against LHP), I'd rather have Chris Dickerson play before Scott Hairston versus lefties. Other than his SLG dropping significantly against same-sided pitching, Dickerson's batting average and on-base percentage remains relatively equal (BA - .269 to .253, OBP - .354 to .344). Toss in the fact that Dickerson would cost the team about $4 million less over the next two years, I see no reason to bring in Scott Hairston.

Another Team In On Kuroda

Everybody needs a Hiro.

Not surprisingly, the Yankees aren't the only team that would like to bring in Hiroki Kuroda next year. MLB Trade Rumors is reporting that the Dodgers, particularly, would like a reunion with Mr. Kuroda. The Dodgers surely have the money to sign Hiro, even after taking on a lot in the infamous Red Sox trade that occurred in late August.

Hiroki is a very loyal player, as can be seen by his desire to ends his baseball career with his original pro team in Japan... the Hiroshima Toyo Carp, so news of the Dodgers being interested has me concerned. Kuroda has until the end of the week to accept or decline the qualifying offer made by the Yankees, which would be a raise of $3.3 million (Hiro made $10 million in 2012, and the qualifying offer was for $13.3 million) from last season.

TGP Yankees Awards : Most Outstanding Hitter

The Yankees most Outstanding Hitter goes to... Robinson Cano!

No brainer here, right? Who else hit the ball better then Robinson Cano in pinstripes this season? If it were not for a triple crown winner in Miguel Cabrera and a perpetual hard on for Mike Trout who has done nothing all that special that has not been done before (see Andruw Jones) Robinson Cano would be right in the thick of the MVP discussion for 2012. Let's dive deeper into Cano's season:

In Cano's age 29 season he put up a triple slash of .313/.379/.550 while posting a .929 OPS to go with his 33 home runs, a new career high, 94 RBIs, 48 doubles, 105 runs, and 196 hits for the Yankees. This was also Cano's 4th All Star Game appearance in 8 seasons with the Yankees. Cano put up a well above average 8.2 WAR this season, also a new career high, all while putting up his second lowest error total of his career in the field with 6.

Congratulations to Robinson Cano for winning TGP's first annual Most Outstanding Hitter award!!