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Thursday, April 10, 2008

N.Y. Sun: Goldman: On the Mend, Posada Should Move to DH

and stay in the meatus of the lineup…as Goldman takes a look.

In Posada’s injury there have been disturbing implications that Girardi could reside among the group of blinkered skippers. Posada’s shoulder strain, which apparently will not force him to the disabled list, was said to interfere with his throwing, not his hitting. The possibility existed, then, that even if the injury prevented him from getting behind the plate for an extended period of time, he would still be able to swing the bat as the designated hitter.

Girardi apparently rejected this suggestion, not wanting to remove Hideki Matsui from his DH role. By extension, this also means that he did not want to move Matsui to left field (a position he has proved healthy enough to play) and bench Johnny Damon. This would have been a tremendous misjudgment. In his career, Damon has rarely been much more than a slightly above-average hitter at the best of times, and a below-average hitter at his worst — and the minimum contribution expected from his bat has only risen as Damon has shifted to left field, more of a power position than center. Last year, major-league left fielders batted .277 AVG/.347 OBA/.453 SLG. The year before they hit .278/.354/.464.

It is doubtful that Damon’s hitting will rise to that level. It did not last year, it has not over the course of his career, and it has not during the present season. Posada, however, should reach those numbers with ease, though he is older and unlikely to repeat last year’s .338 batting average. A .277/.380/.478 hitter, he is more likely to come closer in failing to reach them than Damon. The Yankees would also gain an additional benefit from shifting Damon to the bench, adding the pinch runner and outfield substitute they are lacking.

Repoz Posted: April 10, 2008 at 12:17 PM | 37 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: yankees

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   1. Repoz Posted: April 10, 2008 at 12:56 PM (#2737659)
From the Giambino...

Hey, it’s early. But quotes like this one from Jason Giambi are worrisome, even if he was smiling as he said it. Comparing the Yankees to the Royals, he said, “You look around and you’ve got young kids over there running around like maniacs, and we’re playing like a bunch of old men right now.”
   2. Cowboy Popup Posted: April 10, 2008 at 01:32 PM (#2737674)
I can't imagine why Goldman left this out, but I think the defense and baserunning edge makes up for Matsui's bat. Even if it doesn't, they are likely to produce similar value, and there is nothing like the discrepancy Goldman claims in his article.
   3. Cooperstown Schtick Posted: April 10, 2008 at 01:43 PM (#2737679)
Damon has rarely been much more than a slightly above-average hitter at the best of times, and a below-average hitter at his worst

Who has been an above-average hitter at their worst? You'd have to have some pretty productive outs.
   4. AROM Posted: April 10, 2008 at 01:50 PM (#2737684)
Who has been an above-average hitter at their worst?
A-Rod? Pujols?

CP is right. Damon is at least 20 runs better than Matsui in left. Using Posada at DH doesn't help the team, it just pushes an equivalent hitter to the bench. Maybe they should play Posada at first and bench Giambi. I think he could handle 1st better than the Piazza experiment, as he is a former infielder.

Still leaves a big hole at molina, though if Posada proves to be incapable of molinaing this year, they could probably get another Molina that hits better than the current Molina. That is, if the Giants are realistic about rebuilding and willing to accept a prospect in return for Bengie's contract.
   5. SG Posted: April 10, 2008 at 01:53 PM (#2737687)
I can't imagine why Goldman left this out, but I think the defense and baserunning edge makes up for Matsui's bat. Even if it doesn't, they are likely to produce similar value, and there is nothing like the discrepancy Goldman claims in his article.


Yeah. There's probably something like 15-20 runs of projected difference on offense between the two. Add in 15-20 runs difference on defense and it's a wash.

I just don't understand why some analysts completely ignore defense and baserunning.

edit: What AROM said...
   6. villageidiom Posted: April 10, 2008 at 02:07 PM (#2737699)
Still leaves a big hole at molina, though if Posada proves to be incapable of molinaing this year, they could probably get another Molina that hits better than the current Molina.

Molina = Marklar?

Comparing the Yankees to the Royals, he said, “You look around and you’ve got young kids over there running around like maniacs, and we’re playing like a bunch of old men right now.”

You go to war with the army you have, not the army you wish you had.
   7. AROM Posted: April 10, 2008 at 02:10 PM (#2737703)
Molina = Marklar?


Molina is spanish for catcher.

I once saw a long Gammons-type trade rumor post. It ended with the suggestion that Marklar be traded for a Marklar to be named later.
   8. Cooperstown Schtick Posted: April 10, 2008 at 02:17 PM (#2737710)
Who has been an above-average hitter at their worst?

A-Rod? Pujols?


A-Rod's Golden Sombreros are made of real solid gold. They're not plated like other league-average hitters.
   9. AROM Posted: April 10, 2008 at 02:53 PM (#2737759)
Worst season, not worst game (or worst playoff series).

A-Rod's 2006 was bad for him but I think more than a few players out there would be proud to call it their career year.
   10. Cooperstown Schtick Posted: April 10, 2008 at 03:17 PM (#2737786)
I know that's what you meant with your response, and I was just being obtuse. However, when the writer says

a slightly above-average hitter at the best of times


it sounds to me like he's talking in "stretches" not "seasons." That's what I was responding to -- I'd guess A-Rod and Pujols had a month or so in their careers where they hit below .250.
   11. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: April 10, 2008 at 03:22 PM (#2737790)
This does look like a team full of DHs trying to play the field. I don't really get the roster construction of this team. This could be a long year in the Bronx.
   12. PS is probably out of his league Posted: April 10, 2008 at 03:33 PM (#2737806)
They don't need fielding, they have three young pitchers who could be aces, or could put up BABIPs in the high .350s.
   13. Cowboy Popup Posted: April 10, 2008 at 03:40 PM (#2737812)
This does look like a team full of DHs trying to play the field. I don't really get the roster construction of this team. This could be a long year in the Bronx.

The Yanks have two DHs, an injured catcher and a SS who is stretched at that position. Everyone else on the team is average or better in the field. The Yanks defense sucks line is a thing of the past. Every team looks a bit worse when they have two star players up the middle injured.
   14. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: April 10, 2008 at 03:45 PM (#2737819)
The Yanks have two DHs,

I was counting Damon, Giambi and Matsui. Which of those three is average defensively? I don't know their metrics, so I am curious if maybe their numbers are better than their reputations.
   15. akrasian Posted: April 10, 2008 at 03:48 PM (#2737830)
As a left fielder, even with his weak arm, I'd say Damon was average or better.
   16. The Good Face Posted: April 10, 2008 at 03:48 PM (#2737831)
This does look like a team full of DHs trying to play the field. I don't really get the roster construction of this team. This could be a long year in the Bronx.


The fielding isn't what's hurting them so far... it's the fact that only a couple guys on the team are hitting at all, and even those guys aren't off to the kind of red hot starts that can carry an offense. A-Rod, Abreu, Melky and Matsui have all been pretty good, but hardly spectacular. Meanwhile the entire rest of the team is making Neifi look like Barry Bonds. Giambi, Posada, Betemit and Cano have an aggregate OPS of around .400.
   17. Kiko Sakata Posted: April 10, 2008 at 03:49 PM (#2737832)
Every team looks a bit worse when they have two star players up the middle injured.


Well, but most teams don't actually have two star players playing up-the-middle defensive positions. Really, one of the big keys to the Yankees success over the past decade+ is the offense they get from shortstop and catcher. The offensive downgrade from Posada to even an average catcher is probably worse than the downgrade they'd get from trying to replace A-Rod.
   18. Cowboy Popup Posted: April 10, 2008 at 03:50 PM (#2737834)
Which of those three is average defensively? I don't know their metrics, so I am curious if maybe their numbers are better than their reputations.

I was unaware anyone perceived Damon as a DH. He projects to be a plus LFer (AROM and SG point out that he's about 20 runs better than Matsui in LF upthread) and I don't see any reason to not expect him to be. He could probably still hack it in center if it came to it. He played respectably there when Melky was suspended.
   19. The Essex Snead Posted: April 10, 2008 at 03:56 PM (#2737845)
Oh, Damon would be hacking in center, all right. Or maybe I mean hocking.
   20. SG Posted: April 10, 2008 at 04:00 PM (#2737851)
The fielding isn't what's hurting them so far...

Nope. By zone rating so far the team is exactly average overall.
   21. Cooperstown Schtick Posted: April 10, 2008 at 04:09 PM (#2737859)
He played respectably there when Melky was suspended.

Upton's sac fly to center last Saturday would not have been a sac fly if Melky had been in center, and Damon's poor judgment in throwing home allowed the runner on second to advance. I don't know what you're position is on "respectable," but Damon is a huge defensive downgrade in center field.
   22. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: April 10, 2008 at 04:10 PM (#2737860)

I was unaware anyone perceived Damon as a DH.


Its probably the fact he DHed 47 times last year. I know a lot of that is because they have four outfielders, but it lends one to believe that perhaps his defense isn't all that great.
   23. AROM Posted: April 10, 2008 at 04:14 PM (#2737867)
Damon's arm is truly pathetic, but his range is still a bit above average in center. Compared to left fielders, his range is great. How many left fielders in the AL have more range than Damon? I count one in Crawford, maybe 2 if David DeJesus is playing left.
   24. PASTE does not get put on waivers in August Posted: April 10, 2008 at 04:14 PM (#2737868)
Yes, and that was to stroke Hideki Matsui's ego. If you have Johnny Damon and Hideki Matsui on your team, and your open spots are LF and DH, Damon is the better fielder, so he plays left and Matsui plays DH. That seems pretty simple.

With Posada? He's a better bat than either, so yeah, if his hammy's going to stop him from catching, you want his bat in the lineup. Whether to sit Damon or sit Matsui depends on how much Damon's extra defensive skill is worth. I'd be inclined to mostly play Matsui in left. Do the Yankees have any pitchers with notable flyball tendencies? If they did, putting Damon in left for that pitcher might make some sense.

They could always just play Matsui at shortstop... his defense isn't likely to be much worse there than Jeter's...
   25. Cowboy Popup Posted: April 10, 2008 at 05:08 PM (#2737940)
I don't know what you're position is on "respectable," but Damon is a huge defensive downgrade in center field.

Damon's play was respectable for him, you know he's not going to throw anyone out, you know he'll cost you a base or two every now and then with that arm. He still has the range to play the position though. Even with his arm, I bet he's a better CFer than most of the corner OFers in the league and doesn't kill you out there if you need to slide him over.
   26. My name is Votto, and I love to get blotto Posted: April 10, 2008 at 05:41 PM (#2737999)
Just on a whim, I checked Pujols's monthly splits: his worst month was in July of his rookie season, when he hit .241 with a .793 OPS. Other than June '06 (when he was injured, IIRC) and April '07, he's been over a .900 OPS in EVERY month since then. That's pretty much slump-proof.
   27. Mister High Standards Posted: April 10, 2008 at 05:52 PM (#2738016)
I just don't understand why some analysts completely ignore defense and baserunning.


Because Goldman isn't an analyst.
   28. villageidiom Posted: April 10, 2008 at 06:01 PM (#2738033)
He projects to be a plus LFer (AROM and SG point out that he's about 20 runs better than Matsui in LF upthread)

"Plus" meaning above zero, right? Matsui was a -15 two or three years ago, so I'm guessing he's probably getting closer to -20 now. That still puts Damon close to average doesn't it?
   29. AROM Posted: April 10, 2008 at 06:08 PM (#2738044)
I'm trying to be conservative here, so I'm counting Matsui as -10 and Damon +10 (equivalent to average CF) per full season. If Matsui is a true -20 fielder, then the gap is bigger than their hitting and he shouldn't play left field at all. I don't see why the Yankees don't try and have Matsui learn 1B. Didn't work for Sheffield but Damon could handle it. Damon at 1st and Matsui in left makes no sense in the field though.
   30. AROM Posted: April 10, 2008 at 06:09 PM (#2738046)
I guess in 2009 they'll follow up the Giambi 7 year deal with a 7 year, 150 million deal for Mark Teixiera.
   31. PASTE does not get put on waivers in August Posted: April 10, 2008 at 06:13 PM (#2738049)
A sound guess, AROM. I'm expecting them to sign Teixeira and Sabathia both, but that assumes that both want to go there. I think Teixeira is a slam dunk to be a Yankee in 2009 (due to him being a Bora$ guy), Sabathia more of a wild card. If Hughes does wind up having shoulder surgery, I think that makes the Yankees more willing to pay whatever it takes to bring Sabathia in. Andy Pettitte isn't lasting much longer, either.
   32. SG Posted: April 10, 2008 at 06:17 PM (#2738052)
I'm trying to be conservative here, so I'm counting Matsui as -10 and Damon +10 (equivalent to average CF) per full season.

Yeah, my zone rating projection for Matsui was around a -15 as a LF, and I had Damon projected as about average in CF which should translate to something in the +5-10 area in LF. You do have to dock Damon for his arm, although Matsui's arm isn't great either, so that's probably another 2-4 runs in Matsui's favor.

I guess in 2009 they'll follow up the Giambi 7 year deal with a 7 year, 150 million deal for Mark Teixiera.

I think Sabathia's going to be their first target if he follows up his 2007 with anything close in 2008. I guess they'd have the money for both...
   33. Cooperstown Schtick Posted: April 10, 2008 at 06:20 PM (#2738054)
With Posada? He's a better bat than either

Overall, I think Posada and Matsui are pretty close. The only edge I really see in Posada is that he's a switch-hitter. Otherwise they're the same hitter.

Do the Yankees have any pitchers with notable flyball tendencies?

I would say Mussina, only, in his case, it really doesn't matter who's in left field. If you get my drift.

Just on a whim, I checked Pujols's monthly splits: his worst month was in July of his rookie season, when he hit .241 with a .793 OPS. Other than June '06 (when he was injured, IIRC) and April '07, he's been over a .900 OPS in EVERY month since then. That's pretty much slump-proof.

Of course, this limits "month-long slumps" to periods between the first and last days of calendar months. But, still, that's pretty frickin' impressive.
   34. Textbook Editor Posted: April 10, 2008 at 06:41 PM (#2738067)
Wait--I think I missed something; what's this about Hughes possibly having shoulder surgery?
   35. PASTE does not get put on waivers in August Posted: April 10, 2008 at 06:47 PM (#2738077)
Pure speculation on my part. I'm pessimistic about Hughes' shoulder; I have no actual information whatsoever to back that up.
   36. John Lynch Posted: April 10, 2008 at 07:04 PM (#2738098)
If Hughes does wind up having shoulder surgery

Dude, my diet is way too high in saturated fat for you to be giving me shocks like this based on your own somewhat glib speculation. =P

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