Sunday, February 11, 2007

Bye Bye Bernie

The discussion around the Yankeesphere the last couple of days has been the situation of Bernie Williams. It's quite simple. He's old. He can't field. He isn't a very good hitter against left handed pitching. The Yankees want him to retire, but he's hanging on. The Yankees want to give him a graceful way out so they offered him a minor league deal and a Spring Training invite. Bernie declined and now everyone wonders what it means, if it's right, and what happens next.

In my opinion, the Yankees have done Bernie due diligence. Over the last two years the Yanks have done right by the aged center fielder, to allow him his chance at retiring gracefully. They feted him as he finished his 6th consecutive season making over $12 million, despite his 81 OPS+ in 2005. They gave him a last shot at a title by signing him to a $1.5 million one-year deal, and he delivered a fair 2006, to the tune of a 101 OPS+. The problem is, anytime he was in the field, he was a train wreck. Not only a bad player, or an occasionally ineffective player, but an absolute bomb. Just think back to the time he allowed David Ortiz second on a routine ball hit in front of him. His FRAA last season in center was -6. His EQA was a league average .260 and if you believe in PECOTA forecasts, you can expect a .255 EQA and a -5 FRAA for him in 2007 to go along with a batting line of .258/.320/.388!

I love Bernie Williams. He was the first player I inducted into my COH Monument Park. At this point, if he's unwilling to play on the Yankees' terms, I wish him the best of luck. 2 years ago I would have been up in arms if someone had told me that Bernie Williams would be forced to play out the end of his career in a different uniform, but the way things have worked out in the end, I think it's a real possibility. I don't know who would take him, but I'm sure someone would give him a spot to win. I don't believe, in 2007, that the Yankees are the team. If he ends up in a different uniform, I wish him the best of luck. I would hate to see it, but he's earned the right to do whatever his heart tells him is the best for BW. So have the Yankees after their generous one year deal in 2006. We're at a crossroads.

Cashman is trying to go young. He's trying to go cheaper. Some may disagree with the way he's gone about it, and some may question the roster moves he's made in the process. I'm not one of those people. What the Yankees are doing today makes all the sense in the world. It just hurts to see it end this way. We'll be waiting for you on Bernie Williams Day #51. See you then.


singlessss said...

Hey Mike,

I agree. Bernie's been treated about as well as the Yankees can afford. Why he didn't start working out at 1B at the beginning of Spring Training last year, or maybe even the year before, I don't know. It was obvious to everyone that Bernier could NOT play OF anymore, and that Giambi was heading towards a fulltime DH role.

If he could have been a league average fielder at 1B, he might be on the team now.

I guess his ego won't let him take the MiLB deal. An injury to an OF'er or a 1B'man, might have him being called up. It's a shot, and the best he can do to still be a Yankee.

I don't think there is any team that will start Bernie, and aside from possible fan attraction, I'm not sure who needs him.

He should announce his retirement, active AFTER the first home game of 2007. Put him in CF for one inning timed to get him one AB, let him trot back out to CF, and then take him out after the first pitch.

That's 3 standing ovations, 2 as a CF'er. What more could we want... or for that matter, what more could Bernie get?

brockdc said...


Well said. And I love your idea of having him get one more game (or, at least a few innings) in CF for opening day. I'm just wondering how they could work this out logistically, in terms of their roster.

Jason McAdams said...


I posted this at my website and I can't really say it any better than this so I'd like to add it to your comment section:

"Personally, Bernie Williams is my second favorite player behind only the great Don Mattingly. I don’t think he’s a washed up ballplayer. He can still play. Just not for the Yankees. They simply don’t have a spot.

Even though I would rather have him retire, I’ll understand if he goes and plays somewhere else. I won’t like it, but I’ll understand.

So many athletes have gone down this road. Bernie joins a long line of them that were unable to give up their passion. He’ll realize soon enough that although his passion may be just as strong as it ever was, his physical skills won’t allow him to continue.

I love Bernie Williams. I was in 9th grade when he made the bigs in 1991. Ill never forget following his career in my college years.

He’ll truly be missed".

It's a sad day.

Chris V said...

I actually got into an argument with my mom about this. She thinks the team owes Bernie for all of his service with the team, and she believes he should have been given the opportunity to try and play first base, if he wanted. I tried to explain how Melky is the 4th outfielder, how there's not really any room for him on the team, although I didn't argue the first base point except to say he's too old to try and learn first. I mean, it's not like we have anyone better at first. First base is so bad I'm convinced we're going to make a trade for a first baseman before the deadline. For some reason, this seemed to work for her.

Then we made homemade cannoli.

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