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Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Goldman: Yanks don’t need All-Star in center, just better than Melky

Safe as Melk: Or as I like to call him…The Zig-Zag Defender

Meanwhile, since coming off the disabled list, Brett Gardner has hit .333 in sporadic playing time and has showed superior range to Cabrera’s. Melky putters on. His season will culminate in something of a draw. He’s not the abject failure that he was last year, when he had to be sent back to the Minor Leagues, but he still hasn’t established himself as more than a placeholder starter. He’s hitting .273/.335/.415 right now. The average centerfielder is hitting .267/.335/.415. Cabrera isn’t hurting the Yankees, but he’s not a major asset. Now that he is 25, it seems clear that any growth he might experience is going to be incremental rather than exponential, if it happens at all. Cabrera’s swing generates too many ground balls for him to add much in the way of real power outside of Yankee Stadium II, where he has hit eight of his 12 home runs.

It would be unrealistic to expect even a team with the financial capabilities of the Yankees to field an All-Star or MVP candidate at every position, but that’s not a reason to keep striving to get better wherever you can, however you can. It is axiomatic that a team that accepts that it is “good enough” at a position will not win consistently, or at all. Complacency will kill a nascent dynasty faster than hamstring pulls and cigarettes combined.

If Cabrera were flanked by Charlie Keller and Tommy Henrich, his neutral nature wouldn’t be so big a deal, but right now, the Yankees’ 2010 outfield is an unknown. If the club retains Johnny Damon, they can’t control for the fact that he’ll be 36—the age will either show in his work or it won’t. The same goes for Hideki Matsui. They also can’t pretend that Nick Swisher will be any more than what he is, which is very good but inconsistent. They can’t make Austin Jackson into more than what he is, which is a guy who, whatever his other qualities, hit only four home runs this season. They also can’t make Gardner more than what he is, which is probably better than Cabrera but only fractionally. Perhaps the one thing they can do is prioritize center field in the offseason.

 

Repoz Posted: September 22, 2009 at 01:47 PM | 46 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: sabermetrics, yankees

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   1. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: September 22, 2009 at 02:15 PM (#3328796)
Swisher is a fine, fine RF. 125 OPS+ with above average defense. WTF do you want!?

The Yankees will either get Holliday or bring back Damon to play left. A CF platoon of Gardner and Melky should be an improvement, if Gardner gets 2/3 of the time. His plus defense and speed make him a very nice player. They will also add another OF/DH type.

There are no good CFs available.
   2. aleskel Posted: September 22, 2009 at 02:19 PM (#3328801)
jeez, what is this, Piss on the 95-Win Team Day?
   3. Van Lingle Mungo Jerry Posted: September 22, 2009 at 02:24 PM (#3328811)
Swisher is a fine, fine RF. 125 OPS+ with above average defense.


I know his UZR is positive for the season, but my eyes tell me he's below average - lumbering after fly balls and often taking poor routes. Who am I supposed to believe, the statistics or my own two eyes? /Chico Marx

Seriously, though, does everyone accept that Swisher is an above average defensive RF?
   4. JRVJ (formerly Delta Socrates) Posted: September 22, 2009 at 02:25 PM (#3328812)
Melky is what he is, but I think the Melky haters are also unfair when they fail to mention that Melky's numbers look horrible because Girardi kept on playing him and playing him when he was clearly winded in August (when Gardner was injured). Really, the only game Melky "sort of" rested was the August 29th game,where Hairston played CF and Melky came in late as a defensive replacement.

Arguably, Girardi is doing the same in September, except Gardner is back.....

Melky's game logs, should anybody wish to check them out:

Melky's game logs
   5. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: September 22, 2009 at 02:29 PM (#3328824)
I know his UZR is positive for the season, but my eyes tell me he's below average - lumbering after fly balls and often taking poor routes. Who am I supposed to believe, the statistics or my own two eyes? /Chico Marx

Seriously, though, does everyone accept that Swisher is an above average defensive RF?


Believe the statistics, and the managers. Both the A's and CWS gave him significant time in CF. He's not graceful, but he covers the ground out there. He's always been a + in RF/LF in the statistics.
   6. Best Regards, President of Comfort, Esq. Posted: September 22, 2009 at 02:36 PM (#3328830)
Seriously, though, does everyone accept that Swisher is an above average defensive RF?
My opinion is that he's the kind of outfielder who would be great if he had any instincts. When he gets older he'll be really, really terrible.
   7. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: September 22, 2009 at 02:58 PM (#3328856)
DOOMED!!!!
   8. TVerik, who wonders what the hell is "Ansky" Posted: September 22, 2009 at 03:04 PM (#3328864)
Yes, he's the weakest offensive contributor to this year's team. If an upgrade presents itself, I think the Yankees should jump on it. But eight very good offensive players may make the other one look worse, but having all nine get to 125 or so in OPS+ is way too much to ask.

IMO.
   9. Handle's Messi-ah Posted: September 22, 2009 at 03:12 PM (#3328871)
No numbers on his defense? Pass, no, I mean punt.
   10. plim Posted: September 22, 2009 at 03:36 PM (#3328888)
It would be unrealistic to expect even a team with the financial capabilities of the Yankees to field an All-Star or MVP candidate at every position,


why? given 200mm a year, you can average 8mil for every roster spot. toss in a couple rookie contracts, backups, middle relievers, and you're looking at like $180m for 15 roles, or 12m per slot.
   11. cardsfanboy Posted: September 22, 2009 at 03:40 PM (#3328890)
He’s not the abject failure that he was last year, when he had to be sent back to the Minor Leagues, but he still hasn’t established himself as more than a placeholder starter. He’s hitting .273/.335/.415 right now. The average centerfielder is hitting .267/.335/.415. Cabrera isn’t hurting the Yankees, but he’s not a major asset.


Really? is this as silly as it looks?
   12. TVerik, who wonders what the hell is "Ansky" Posted: September 22, 2009 at 03:43 PM (#3328893)
why? given 200mm a year, you can average 8mil for every roster spot. toss in a couple rookie contracts, backups, middle relievers, and you're looking at like $180m for 15 roles, or 12m per slot.


Simply because of variation - realistic options for above-average performers have bad years/get old/get hurt. Who would have pegged Robinson Cano and Hideki Matsui to be offensive sinkholes in 2008?

The guys who can have good or great years back-to-back-to-back are of sufficient scarcity that finances or no, a single team in a market of thirty teams which more or less value the same things won't be able to collect enough of them to have no vulnerabilities.

I mean, look at the OPS+ numbers on the 2009 Yankees. Sure, Melky sticks out like a sore thumb, but everyone else in the lineup has a number between 124 and 145. That's unbelieveable.
   13. bigboyinbroward1980 Posted: September 22, 2009 at 03:56 PM (#3328910)
What the hell more do they want? These writers are unbearable...
   14. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: September 22, 2009 at 04:01 PM (#3328914)
why? given 200mm a year, you can average 8mil for every roster spot. toss in a couple rookie contracts, backups, middle relievers, and you're looking at like $180m for 15 roles, or 12m per slot.

Well, the real superstars cost more. $30M for ARod, $22M ea. for Tex and CC, $18M ea. for AJ and Jeter, $15M for Rivera. So that's $125M right there. You've got $75M to fill the remaining 19 spots. High class problem, no doubt, but that's not going to buy 10 more All-Stars.
   15. Textbook Editor Posted: September 22, 2009 at 04:01 PM (#3328915)
I suppose the pitchfork-and-torch crowd will not accept anything less than an 11-0 run to the WS. Go 11-1 and it will be deemed a failure, and the team not nearly as good at the 1998 version of the Yankees.

If all these sportswriters in NYC were genuinely mounting the ledges in panic, I wish the hell they'd all jump off, so the world would be spared this kind of asinine "journalism."
   16. Kiko Sakata Posted: September 22, 2009 at 04:02 PM (#3328919)
There are no good CFs available.


Milton Bradley should be available for the right price!
   17. Textbook Editor Posted: September 22, 2009 at 04:03 PM (#3328920)
In fairness, I probably should have posted this in the Pearlman thread, since I don't mean to call out Goldman re: my #15 post.
   18. cardsfanboy Posted: September 22, 2009 at 04:06 PM (#3328922)
why? given 200mm a year, you can average 8mil for every roster spot. toss in a couple rookie contracts, backups, middle relievers, and you're looking at like $180m for 15 roles, or 12m per slot.

well Arod = 25mil, Jeter = 20mil, just curious, how much do you think the average post arbitration all star makes?
   19. TVerik, who wonders what the hell is "Ansky" Posted: September 22, 2009 at 04:07 PM (#3328925)
I suppose the pitchfork-and-torch crowd will not accept anything less than an 11-0 run to the WS. Go 11-1 and it will be deemed a failure, and the team not nearly as good at the 1998 version of the Yankees.


I think the recent play of the Yankees and the likelihood that at least one team that plays them extremely well lurks elsewhere in the AL playoffs has lowered expectations quite a bit. I can't speak for the pants-pissers, but that's my feel.
   20. Yeaarrgghhhh Posted: September 22, 2009 at 04:08 PM (#3328926)
I didn't think it was possible to hate the Yankees more than I already did, but Goldman, Pearlman, et al have persuaded me otherwise. God forbid they should have a league average player at one position!

I haven't complained that much in the past about the Yankees' payroll or FA acquisitions, but the Sabathia, Burnett, and Tex signings really rubbed me the wrong way for some reason. It just felt wrong somehow. If the Yankees sign Lackey and Holliday this offseason I'm going to be really upset. I don't think baseball needs a salary cap, but it might need a type A FA cap.
   21. Harveys Wallbangers Posted: September 22, 2009 at 04:10 PM (#3328928)
I agree with the folks at FanGraphs that Felix Pie would be a fine "buy low" candidate for 2010.

He looks to be a different hitter these days and can always play defense.
   22. Best Regards, President of Comfort, Esq. Posted: September 22, 2009 at 04:29 PM (#3328946)
but it might need a type A FA cap
Um...
   23. RB in NYC (Now Semi-Retired from BBTF) Posted: September 22, 2009 at 04:30 PM (#3328951)
I don't think baseball needs a salary cap, but it might need a type A FA cap.
There already is one:

If there are 14 or fewer Type A or Type B free agents available, no team can sign more than one type A or B player. If there are between 15-38, no team can sign more than two. If there are between 39 and 62, there's a limit of three. However, teams can sign as many Type A or B free agents as they've lost, regardless of the limits above.

I believe the exception is that you can resign as many of your own guys as you want, and you can add to that total for each Type A or B player you do not resign.
   24. Yeaarrgghhhh Posted: September 22, 2009 at 04:51 PM (#3328962)
ok...duh. Maybe that cap needs to be refined somehow. Anyway, don't expect a lot of accuracy from me when I'm ranting.
   25. The Yankee Clapper Posted: September 22, 2009 at 04:54 PM (#3328964)
The Yankees get a lot more hitting out of their infield (including catcher) than most teams, so they don't need that much out of CF. When Melky & Gardner were both available, competing against each other while also limiting the workload, the Yanks looked prettty good. I don't see the Yanks giving up much to upgrade a position that doesn't really need it. So unless something falls into their lap, look for some combination of Melky, Gardner and/or Austin Jackson in 2010.
   26. cardsfanboy Posted: September 22, 2009 at 05:00 PM (#3328966)
Seriously, though, does everyone accept that Swisher is an above average defensive RF?

I think everyone still doesn't remotely understand how poor an average defensive right fielder actually is. This is a position that Matt Holliday qualifies as a good defensive player (and going by eyes, that is all the evidence I need to understand that the quality of defense at that position isn't that high)
   27. RB in NYC (Now Semi-Retired from BBTF) Posted: September 22, 2009 at 05:04 PM (#3328969)
Swisher has probably caught a half a dozen balls at the wall that Abreu would have let fall, but since he looks ingraceful doing it, people have decided he's not a good RF. Of course.
   28. CFBF Was Killed By The Mad Queen Posted: September 22, 2009 at 05:17 PM (#3328980)
He’s hitting .273/.335/.415 right now. The average centerfielder is hitting .267/.335/.415.


I actually think this is pretty cool.
   29. villainx Posted: September 22, 2009 at 05:23 PM (#3328986)
Swisher has probably caught a half a dozen balls at the wall that Abreu would have let fall, but since he looks ingraceful doing it, people have decided he's not a good RF. Of course.

Not disagreeing, but Abreu as a comparison point is kinda setting low expectations.
   30. RB in NYC (Now Semi-Retired from BBTF) Posted: September 22, 2009 at 05:30 PM (#3328993)
Not disagreeing, but Abreu as a comparison point is kinda setting low expectations.
I know, he just happens to have been Swisher's predecessor in RF, so he's the obvious comparison.
   31. Drew (Primakov, Gungho Iguanas) Posted: September 22, 2009 at 06:01 PM (#3329035)
In the same day, we have two articles about rival CFs. One of them calls Melky a disappointment. The other gives props to Ellsbury.

They have virtually the same numbers.

What am I missing here?
   32. DCW3 Posted: September 22, 2009 at 06:09 PM (#3329045)
What am I missing here?

The 50 extra stolen bases from Ellsbury?
   33. JPWF13 Posted: September 22, 2009 at 06:14 PM (#3329051)
I agree with the folks at FanGraphs that Felix Pie would be a fine "buy low" candidate for 2010.

He looks to be a different hitter these days and can always play defense.


forgot about him, he's hitting 280/.345/.500 post all star game

small sample size and all that, but considering how badly he hit before this is a terrific sign.
   34. wickedwitch Posted: September 22, 2009 at 06:36 PM (#3329074)
Not that I had forgotten, but articles like this remind me just why I hate the Yankees.

And I doubt that the Orioles are going to be willing to send Pie to NY for cheap.
   35. Fred Lynn Nolan Ryan Sweeney Agonistes Posted: September 22, 2009 at 06:38 PM (#3329077)
Didn't RTFA, but at least the headline recognizes that a guy doesn't always have to be the best baseball player in the world, just better than a team's other options.
   36. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: September 22, 2009 at 06:48 PM (#3329087)
As Goldman establishes, Melky is a solidly average player. Average is useful, average is not a problem. If a great CF or a bargain, above average CF is available, sure, go for it, but identifying an average player as a problem is a path to a lot of misallocated resources.

The Yankees have weaknesses going into 2009: pitching. Also, pitching. If they want to upgrade somewhere, they should probably pick the position where they're running out Chad Gaudin every week.
   37. The Original SJ Posted: September 22, 2009 at 06:53 PM (#3329096)
I didn't think it was possible to hate the Yankees more than I already did, but Goldman, Pearlman, et al have persuaded me otherwise. God forbid they should have a league average player at one position!

Pearlman hates the Yankees.
   38. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: September 22, 2009 at 06:55 PM (#3329099)
It would be unrealistic to expect even a team with the financial capabilities of the Yankees to field an All-Star or MVP candidate at every position, but that's not a reason to keep striving to get better wherever you can, however you can. It is axiomatic that a team that accepts that it is "good enough" at a position will not win consistently, or at all.
I can find ways to agree with this, but it doesn't follow at all that the team should "prioritize" upgrading in CF from that. I can agree, that is, that all teams should be open to possible avenues of improvement, but I think that "prioritizing" an upgrade at a position where you're already solidly average is a very bad idea, unless you think you already have at least a 100-win roster.

Unless the 2010 Yankees project to be one of the greatest teams in the history of baseball, they must have larger problems than their average center fielder, and they should prioritize those problems over finding a new CF. In this case, the Yankees will need to get better pitchers, and I expect that will be their top priority.
   39. SG Posted: September 22, 2009 at 07:01 PM (#3329109)
Unless the 2010 Yankees project to be one of the greatest teams in the history of baseball, they must have larger problems than their average center fielder, and they should prioritize those problems over finding a new CF.


Yep. I'm not sure why the bar is average instead of replacement level. This entry just reads like an excuse to complain for complaining's sake.

An average CF is two wins better than replacement level over the course of the season. Considering the dreck the Yankees got out of their fifth starters this year (Wang + Mitre are somewhere in the neighborhood of 30 runs BELOW replacement level), that would be a much more important area to upgrade, whether using someone in the organization (Hughes or Kennedy?) or going out and getting someone.
   40. nick swisher hygiene Posted: September 22, 2009 at 07:07 PM (#3329121)
and given that the Yankees, in fact, currently have not one but TWO average CFs, this whole notion of "striving" is even sillier. #25 gets it right.
   41. GeoffB Posted: September 22, 2009 at 07:28 PM (#3329157)
The Yankees don't need to upgrade, they simply need to get younger. When 4 of their 9 starting position players are 35 or older, and two of them -- Jeter and Posada -- are pretty much entrenched, the last thing the Yankees need to do is focus on the centerfield position, manned by a 24-year-old and a 25-year-old. It's fine to tread water with the Melky/Gardner combo for a year or two, until a real opportunity to upgrade presents itself. In the offseason, they need to figure out how to get younger at another corner outfield spot and/or at DH. They don't really need to get any more offensive production out of the corner outfield position and DH, but it would help to get more defense and flexibility from those positions, even if at the expense of some offensive production.
   42. Joe OBrien Posted: September 22, 2009 at 07:28 PM (#3329161)
The 98 Yankees gave over 500 PA to Chad Curtis. I think they managed to survive.
   43. Walt Davis Posted: September 22, 2009 at 08:09 PM (#3329214)
It is axiomatic that a team that accepts that it is “good enough” at a position will not win consistently

Yes, clearly the Yankees haven't a clue as to how to win consistently.

If Cabrera were flanked by Charlie Keller and Tommy Henrich, his neutral nature wouldn’t be so big a deal, but right now, the Yankees’ 2010 outfield is an unknown.

Alas, here the logic pretty much goes off the rails. The Yanks' 2010 LF/RF are "unknown" ... so the offseason priority should be replacing your league-average CF?
   44. jwb Posted: September 22, 2009 at 10:37 PM (#3329327)
And the corner outfield free agent crop is pretty thin this year, too. mlbtr lists Gary Sheffield as a FA. Also Dave Roberts. Sure, Jose Cruz would listen if the Yankees called. . .
   45. cardsfanboy Posted: September 22, 2009 at 10:50 PM (#3329337)
Alas, here the logic pretty much goes off the rails. The Yanks' 2010 LF/RF are "unknown" ... so the offseason priority should be replacing your league-average CF?

didn't read the article, but thanks for the laugh. That is an absurd proposition.
   46. calhounite Posted: September 23, 2009 at 12:52 AM (#3329406)
Seen Pujols? I'd get rid of Tex.

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