Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Detachment

In a way, it's strangely freeing to watch the Yankees fall apart this dramatically. For years we've watched this same core group of players win 90-100 games and fizzle out in the playoffs. They were in it every year, and they always had a chance at the whole enchilada. We, as fans, became a bit jaded by expecting the club to win the World Series every year and got angry when they failed over and over despite the excellent regular season position. 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006. All very good teams. All fell just a bit short. 2004 was the killer.

Now, it's painfully obvious that the run is over. I'm not giving up on the season, but this group has clearly found its last leg and is quickly losing the battle to age and perhaps complacency. No fire. No drive. No real sense of identity or spirit. I'll get into the fixes for the franchise later, but my initial thoughts are that these players should stay or go.

Stay
Posada
Jeter
A-Rod
Matsui

Go
Nieves
Mientkiewicz
Phelps
Giambi
Cairo
Abreu
Melky

???
Cano
Damon

The stays are still well above average performers at their positions. The gos are either below average or in serious decline. The question marks are basically stays, who are on the bubble, Cano for tradability and Damon as a player in decline. Both are almost certain to return. Cano could end up being too good, so the trade would have to be something big. Now pitchers.

Stay
Pettitte
Wang
Hughes
Bruney
Britton
Proctor
Mariano

Go
Mussina
Pavano
Igawa
Myers
Villone
Vizcaino
Farnsworth

The problem you see immediately with this scenario is that the offense is still in pretty good shape. You are essentially trying to upgrade the bench and the 4th outfield position in particular. Melky has been a concrete boot on the team when we've struggled on offense, and he probably needs to be at AAA. The real changes on offense are DH and right field. Both Giambi and Abreu have almost no value when they aren't hitting. It's nice to get some walks in there and get on base, but you are paying both men too much money for their services unless they are 900+ on the OPS. They are probably in enough of a decline that a high 800 would be a reasonable expectation, but those players come cheaper than our boys.

The pitching is a mess. Clemens clearly picked the wrong horse in this race and I wonder how much he privately regrets choosing the Yankees now that things are so dire. If we can get the wild card, he will be overjoyed, but no playoffs would have been easily doable in Houston and a lot closer to the family. Igawa is bad. Pavano is toast. The guys in the pen haven't done anything for us and should be gone. Moose is the big question mark. He has another year, I believe, but do we really want him out there every 5th day now? I'm not sure. What he does in the remaining run for the wild card will determine whether we really want him back in 2008. As of today, I just don't know.

Highest on my wish list for 2008 are:

1. One more brilliant young(ish) arm
2. A top corner ourfielder in right
3. A cheaper DH
4. A good all around 1B
5. A younger BUC who can hit a little
6. Anyone who can hold a lead from the pen

Chances are, we can accomplish #s 2, 3, and 4 without too much difficulty. #s 5 and 6 are possible with a little creativity. #1 is the tricky part. There just aren't all that many brilliant young arms available.

8 comments:

Steve R said...

I agree with your assessment. I think Giambi is the biggest problem in terms of roster flexibility. He's always hurt just enough to hinder performance, but not enough to go on the DL. Having a DH only player who can't field really hurts the team on so many levels. I would like to see the Yanks go into next year with no set DH and just give it to the hot bench player at a given time and give Matsui many days off in the field considering he looks so lost out there lately.

I hope something is done soon to shake it up a bit. Abreu getting benched is on the top of my list. Even though it looks like they won't make the playoffs, I would like to see some kind of worthy performance out there for the remainder of the season. The lesson should be learned to not trust these old players who are past their prime.

RollingWave said...

Look mike , i'm perplexed on how down people generally are on Melky, you got to realize that at his age, most kids would be doing well if they can hit in AA, yet he's already had a year in the major where's he's league average. that's VERY rare. to the tune of about one rookie player every 2 to 4 yaer or so and the vast majority of them are either incrediable or at least solid for years.

Jacob Ellusbury is the highest rated prospect in the sox system, and he's 1 month younger than Melky, just made AAA, struggling to hit for any power, and is generally rated as Damon with less power (Damon average 14Hr in his career with a ISOP of around .130 or so, less than that doesn't seem anythign more than what Melky did LAST YEAR) I know Melky's body size will limit his power, but if a kid can smack around 9 in a full season at his age (he's got abotu a full season at bat right now) there's at least a reasonable chance for him to average 12-15HR a year.

People complain on him not being able to play CF, how about actully letting him play there for awhile? he did play CF almost all his minor league career until last year (and that was because they signed Damon and Sheff got hurt). his arm is clearly well above average for center. the only question is his range, how about actually playing him there for a few month before jumping to conclusion based almost nothing?

I clearly dont' think he is a perinial allstar, but a kid that can hold down a key up the middle postion that can also hit for league average with some speed are rare and actually quite vaulable. i'm completely amazed how people are now speaking of Melky as garbage and want him to be replaced by Kevin Thompson (who's not even hitting in AAA) and even compare him to Bubba Crosby (that's just wayyyyy too far.)

I just like to point out that when Damon first hit the big leagues around the same age, his numbers are almost identical to Melky, no power, decent walk, ok contact (Damon actually had less contact, but clearly more speed)

Kids bounce back all the time, you might want to check out what Jeff Francouer and Jhonny Peralta is doing right now, both of them had a very disaapointing season last year after breaking out in 05, if they were on the Yankees, based on your (or the general fan's) logic, they be gone by now, and the Yankees would be very sorry. very soon.

Do the Yankee fans have 0 patience for any kids in their own system? do the continue to bash their own product unless they have immediate and prepetual sucess? if that's the case, no wonder they havn't gotten any good players out of their system in a long time, even if you give them a young Koufax or Pedro now, they probably trade them for nothing long before they broke out.

As for the rest of the list their's clearly some guys who are very difficult to move (Giambi Damon Mussina). some who your giving up way too soon (like Igawa, and your a Japanese ball watcher?) and to whom you replace them with is anothe big question mark.

For the record, the Yankees choices for 1B last season was limited to Shea Hillenbrand and Rich Aurrila aside from Doug Mienkiewitcz, both of them signed a bigger contract, and both is hitting worse than Doug. it's not a ideal solution in any way, but it's clearly a good choice from a very bad crop.

Permanent solutions are difficult to find. you trade away Giambi, i would like to know where you could replace tht sort of production, you could try Dunn I suppose, Dunn is like a lesser Giambi that's younger and healthier, I just don't think you realize that the Giambi level of production some are taking for granted is incrediablly hard to replace.

If you look at the crops of FAs this year, the OFs aren't too hard to replace, you miiiight get Dunn or some sort of ok cheap DH solution or simply just rotate it between your main players anyway. (which i feel is usually a better solution if possible. having a guy that can't field at all is a major strain on your roster) and even in the FA crop, the better once all carry their own risk anyway (Jermaine Dye, he's going to ask for at least 4 year, his 33 already, he's got a track record of bad health, and belive it or not his career OPS+ is 25 points lower than Bobby Abreu.) the grass isn't REALLY greener on the other side of the fence.

1B 's crop next year is almost indentical to this year (i.e utter crap, th best hitter in their is Kevin Millar and Sean Casey basicallyed summed it up) how you propose we trade for Teixira without giving up Hughes or Wang + another big prospect +Melky is beyond me. we could of course try Fukedome, but oh wait, Japanese are all piece of shite right?

As for the relievers, a lot of times its a lot of luck, Boston gamble and won big time on Okajima so their pen suddenly went from putrid to good.. (imagine if they need to expose Pinero / Donelly/ Romeo every day!!!.. oh and their SP being able to you know, not pull a hamstring and/or killed by comebacker to actually pitch innings help too). is there anything we could do here except putting live young arms in there, reputation usually are just that. Vizcaino is the perfect example. in this department the Yankees actually havn't done too poorly, with all the pitchers that's doing alright now, some could/should be coverted to relieving and could help the team . (I like DeSalvo's slurve a lot, if only hed could consistently throw strikes he would make a exellent reliever) I hope this time they finally move away from signing old junks and just let the kids stick it out. Kyle Farnsworth is the perfect example why throwing money at reliever is risky at best, he's arm is just incrediable, it's the best in the AL minus Joel Zumaya, (he was second in the league last year in pitches that hit 100) but his result is just terrible overall.

I don't completely disagree with your direction, but i think your puttign it way too simply and your starting to view our prospect that don't immediately suceed and is continually sucessful as garbage again, the key trait that got us into this mess in the first place.

Mike Plugh said...

Rolling,

There are two points that you mention in your long post that I'll try to address.

1. Melky

Melky is young. Great. It means that he COULD get better in the future. Why should he do it on the Yankees dime when we have plenty of room at SWB? Every time he bats for the Yankees now and makes out, that's one more at bat that a player with a proven track record could be taking in his place. He's capable on occasion, but at his age he's overmatched at the Major League level. The maturity to produce consistently is not there and on a $200 million team like the Yankees, we can't afford to give away enough at bats on a regular basis to help him mature.

That's the very essence of what AAA is for. Last season when everyone fell in love with Melky he produced a 100 OPS+, which is exactly league average. Over his complete 176 game MLB career, including this season, he has an 88 OPS+, which is about AAA quality. Why should the Yankees give 350-400 at bats to a guy with an 88 OPS+? Melky could be a good player one day, but why continue to press him into duty as a Major Leaguer when we are dying out there every night? It's not good for us, and it's not good for him. I'd rather have a veteran get those at bats at this point. Taking your point that he might get 12-15 home runs a season, I think that would be a disaster. You can't field a team of players in this day and age with an outfielder that weak, unless he hits .325 and steals 50 bases. Melky will never do either.

2. Igawa

Yes, I'm a Japan-watcher. I watched Kei Igawa pitch for 3+ years in Japan and saw him fall apart. Hanshin fans hate him and laughed when the Yankees picked him up. He could be a serviceable Major Leaguer, but probably a #4 or 5 at best. That's cool when you're the Orioles, but the Yankees are in competition with the Red Sox for the division and the Red Sox aren't fucking around. They are going to spend and they are going to be aggressive. Look at what it got them in 2007. Igawa needs a lot of work and the Yankees are the kind of team that can string a guy along while he figures things out. He'll get eaten alive in New York and what good will that do. He's already a marked man after a month of the first season of his 4(!) year deal.

Who knows? Maybe he'll contribute during the course of his deal. Maybe he'll figure out how to stop throwing chest high 86 mph fast balls to cleanup batters. The most dangerous thing about Igawa's failures in New York is that the Yankees may get turned off permanently to Japanese pitching, which would be a huge mistake. There are MLB contributors in the ranks and there are a few kids that could be MLB aces in a few years, but the Bombers might get scared off by having brought in Irabu and Igawa. 3 times may be prohibitive.

RollingWave said...

The reason is that at this point, you your self admit that the Yankees are toast, so why not try to play some of the guys that might actually help you going forward? for next year, i agree with you that at Melky's current pace he should be our 4th OF or in the minors, but come on, in your post you sounded like you want to flat out release him for nothing (as in the case of a lot of rants on other boards.)

I know Igawa is a odd individual, but let's be real here , Boston carry their share of bad pitchers ,they started most of this season with Julian Taverez as their 5th guy, who has no upside no nothing. their bullpen have exactly two quality pitcher, and they have maybe one true quality arm that might happen in the minors (Hansen) it's not good, it's just not exposed. (not having every SP pulling their hammy and / or killed by comebacker helps)

Schiling somehow manage to be healthy dispite looking more and more like David Wells. Wakefield's back will eventually act up one time or another and both of them would be gone in a year or two (and if not it'll be the Yankee's turn to laugh). their off season acquistion are all playing well below thir pay /expectation so far except or Josh Beckett (and when you give up Hanely Rameriez, who's looking like the next generation of A-rod, you better get something out of it.)

Boston takes a riskier approach than the Yankee over the last couple of years, and this year it's not really that their gambles worked (only Beckett did ) it's simply that the Yankees are having a record setting collaspe. even with all their underperforming guys, their python record is still a couple of games over .500, so yes, the Yankees managed to undershoot their Python by 10+ games after only 50 game, that's just one for the books if the rate contiues it woudl mean that the Yankees will undershoot 30 games !!! that's just amazing in so many ways and completely odds defying.

Again, I don't disagree with your basic choices, i just have a hard time seeing how we can make those moves and properly restock at the same time all in one season. there's a couple of guys that's simply unmovable. Moose is 10/5 and he loves NY, unless the trade is to Phillies or the Pirates (i suppose with the NL wild ard and how amazingly bad the NL central is this year, it might be possible..) Giambi's contract is almost as bad as Helton's though i'm guessing that if we really are determined we probably could move him. Damon has a NTC (though you pointed out that he probably can't move too)

And in the end, this is NY, i doubt they will or can raise the white flag, though i abosaltuely agree that this should be the time to do a firesale, but i'm not sure the boss have enough confidence in Cashman now to pull it off even if he's willing, and if we're going with the GM by commitee approach again we're going to be the Knicks for a loooong time

RollingWave said...

Just to add a few thought on some of the trade possibilities.

1. Dodgers: they are REALLY struggling to hit a thing right now. There's quiet a few exciting arm the Dodger have and is roting away for the likes of Brett Bomko and fake RJ Hendrickson. I'm guessing the only one they might be interested is Abreu... or that possibiltiy of A-rod again. but either way, this is clearly a place where we might be able to unload someone and get soemthing worthwhile in return. their two youngish SP in Chad Billingsly and Hong Chih Kuo both have incrediable stuff but are benched for inferior pitchers (Kuo had a mild shoulder inflamtion early on) i'm not sure if the Dodger office is simply down on them, if they are, they'd at least be worth a gamble with little to lose.

2. Angels: the Giambi trade, I havea guy in mind actually, Jeff Mathis, they have no use for him, he's pretty young, at least he could be a usable backup catcher and he can't possibly hit worse than Nieves.

Seriously though, the RF and 1B/DH area look pretty grim, the biggest name in RF is Dye, and i already said why that would be a very bad idea unless it's a one year deal. you could try Ichiro. but he's clearly not a power hitter and it just doesn't feel right in many ways.

It is clearly possible to look at Teixira, if its him, the only two guys i'm completley off limits to is Wang and Hughes, everything else i can accept (well and Cano, but they don't need Cano with Kinsler and Young...) as long as it's not everyone else all thrown together (surely Yankees won't trade Beteance / Joba / Kennedy / Sanchez etc all in one package would they?

ChrisV82 said...

Why would you want Damon to stay? He's slugging .371

By the way, your boy Matsuzaka has an ERA+ of 100. Ho hum.

Mike Plugh said...

I don't really want Damon to stay, but he's here whether we like it or not. He signed a 4 year deal and no one is going to take him off our hands.

Matsuzaka has a below 100 ERA+ after today's start. He'll be fine. In some of the games he's pitched unbelievably, and principally against the Yankees and Indians he's been bad. For a guy that just arrived from Japan to have posted the great games he has so far is amazing. It's hardly amazing that he's also struggled. Get back to me after the 2008 season and let me know how ho hum he is.... ;)

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