Monday, January 19, 2015

Remembering Bill Werber on this Day

It was this day in 2009 that the oldest ex-major league players and last living teammate of Babe Ruth, Bill Werber, died at 100 years old. Werber was a former infielder who played for the Yankees, the Red Sox, the A's, Cincinnati and the Giants. Werber also became the first player to appear in a televised game when he batted leadoff for the Reds in a game against the Dodgers at Ebbets Field. That game took place on August 26, 1939. MLB lost a great man when they lost Werber, RIP.

Most Popular Article of the Week: Reasons to support the Stephen Drew signing

Well, Stephen Drew's a Yankee again. I know that's not news to any of you, but still, I find it tough to accept. Just over a month ago, it seemed Drew was destined for elsewhere. The Yankees had traded Martin Prado to the Marlins and publicly stated their intentions to let Rob Refsnyder and Jose Pirela compete for the 2015 second base job, so it looked like a sure thing Drew's short tenure with them was over.
Nonetheless, after Drew signed a one-year, $5 million deal with New York on Wednesday, it isn't, and neither apparently is the Yankees' inability to resist acquiring names. But that's not what I'm going to talk about here, because much as I'd prefer giving a youngster a chance, I don't hate Drew. In fact, I think he's an overall solid guy, and though it's a safe bet he'll struggle at times, I think he'll improve the Yankees. Here are a few reasons to support that, and keep in mind, I don't believe Drew will be a star. I simply expect him to contribute.
1. His Defense: I'll be honest, I know little to nothing about the gloves of Refsnyder and Pirela. I assume they're solid, but are they better than Drew's? Probably not. Drew's been one of the best defensive shortstops in the league for years now, and should only be better next season when he's a second baseman instead. Add on the fact Brendan Ryan and Didi Gregorius are also working the middle infield, and it's clear the Yankees have an alright group.
2. He's Better Than Ryan: Not that Drew's a great hitter, but is it really debatable whether or not he's better than Ryan? Drew's batted .256/.322/.425  in his career and Ryan .234/.295/.314, so the former certainly appears to be superior offensively. Granted, Drew was painful to watch in 2014, but most probably wouldn't be great either when their seasons start in late May. Now maybe you could still argue Ryan's the better defender, but how much is that worth when he's never getting on base? With Drew re-signed, Ryan's role with the Yankees will unquestionably be reduced, so it's necessary the two are compared. And when you do so, Drew is no doubt more likable, mediocre as he may be.
3. He Could Start if Needed: This sort of falls into the same category as the last one, but then again, it's different. Sure, having a good bench available when starters take days off is important, but then what about when starters get hurt? Basically, Drew could play everyday if needed. Yes, I'm aware he likely wouldn't be great at it, and yes, I'm aware he might still have the second base job come April. But in my opinion, he won't, so let's all just agree on the undeniable fact at hand: Drew is capable of starting, Ryan isn't. That kind of stuff matters a lot more than people usually acknowledge.
To put it simply, Drew signing this week won't be remembered for long, but for the year the contract lasts, it will definitely affect the Yankees. I'm one of those who assumes it will positively, and encourage those who don't to give Drew a chance. It's possible he'll struggle, but it's also possible he'll flourish. Let's just see what happens before we make too harsh of judgements.

Scherzer, Shields or Bust

Yesterday we took a look at the best of what's left when it came to the offense and came to the conclusion that the New York Yankees were done signing free agent positional players. That same statement cannot be said about the starting pitcher as two of the top five free agents coming into the winter are still on the board in Max Scherzer and James Shields. We have beaten a dead horse enough concerning Shields and Scherzer but what about the best of what's left in the starting pitching market? With a quick look at the list it may have to be Scherzer, Shields or bust.

All of these remaining free agent pitchers are interchangeable in my opinion so I didn't worry about ranking them as much as I worried about looking at their career stats. Ryan Vogelsong, Roberto Hernandez, Chris Young, Kyle Kendrick, Brandon Beachy and Chad Billingsley. All of these men are considered to be back end of the rotation type starters, especially Beachy after coming off another Tommy John surgeries, and have all made their names in the National League with the exception of Young.

I didn't want to spend too much time looking at the stats for all these men because I am not entirely sold that any of them can be any better than what we have, remember the plan for Chris Capuano is to keep the seat warm for Ivan Nova until May or June, but just for fun I did look at their WAR's. It's ugly, see below.


2014 WAR: 1.2
Career WAR: 2.1


2014 WAR: -0.5
Career WAR: 5.5


2014 WAR: 0.9
Career WAR: 1.9


2014 WAR: 0.4
Career WAR: 6.1


2014 WAR: -0.2
Career WAR: 3.4


2014 WAR: 0.2
Career WAR: 16.9

ICYMI: The 2014 Yankees vs. the 2015 Yankees - Offense

We have seen a lot of turnover on this team since the beginning of the 2014 season to now and we still are likely to see some change between now and Opening Day. There are two types of change in this world with the first being change just for the sake of change. Sure you changed but you didn’t really gain anything and now things may be worse. The second type of change is change for the better, which is harder of the two to accomplish obviously. Which one have the Yankees accomplished since the beginning of 2014?

2014 1B: Mark Teixeira
2015 1B: Mark Teixeira

2014 2B: Brian Roberts
2015 2B: Stephen Drew

2014 SS: Derek Jeter
2015 SS: Didi Gregorius

2014 3B: Yangervis Solarte
2015 3B: Chase Headley

2014 LF: Brett Gardner
2015 LF: Brett Gardner

2014 CF: Jacoby Ellsbury
2015 CF: Jacoby Ellsbury

2014 RF: Carlos Beltran
2015 RF: Carlos Beltran

2014 C: Brian McCann
2015 C: Brian McCann

2014 DH: Alfonso Soriano
2015 DH: Alex Rodriguez

As you can see the Yankees have a push at five different positions because the same player donned the position last year. While I am banking on, even if marginal, improvements from all five of those players in 2015 but you cannot really analyze “banking” on players. What you can bank on, with stats like WAR to back you up, are the improvements at second base, shortstop, third base and probably the DH position. If you wanted to take it one step further you can probably count on the Yankees bench being better and more productive in 2015 with power options like Garrett Jones and Chris Young after losing out on the likes of Ichiro Suzuki, Dean Anna and Francisco Cervelli in 2014. This team won’t win 100 games by any stretch of the imagination but the team definitely has a chance for improvement in 2015. 

TGP Daily Poll: Ichiro Comes off the Board This Week

The market for former Yankees player Ichiro Suzuki is beginning to heat up with the Orioles, Marlins, Mariners and others interested and I see him signing somewhere this week, major or minor league deal.

Vote in our poll on knoda.

Happy Martin Luther King Day

Happy Martin Luther King Day everybody. Let's remember why you're getting the day off from work paid, the day off from school or the reason you can come in our comments section and complain about it. Have a great day everyone. Personally I have to work today but that's okay, maybe next year.

This Day In New York Yankees History 1/19: Adios Esteban Loaiza

On this day in 2005 the Yankees lost out on one of their own free agents in Esteban Loaiza. Loaiza agreed to a one year deal with the Washington Nationals worth $2.9 million after going a combined 10-7 with a 5.70 combined with the Yankees and the White Sox. The Yankees traded Jose Contreras, a struggling starter of theirs, for Loaiza at the trading deadline hoping he would get back to his 2003 form in which he went 21-9 with a 2.90 ERA.

Also on this day in 1972 the Yankees Yogi Berra was elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame. On the same day 300 game winner Earl Wynn and Dodgers southpaw Sandy Koufax were also elected to Cooperstown.