Observations from a Disastorous ST

Tex's wrist injury leaves the offense punchless

Tex’s wrist injury leaves the offense punchless

Spring Training is supposed to be an uneventful month of games where veterans get their work in, pitchers build up their arms and young players show off their skills. But for the Yankees, this ST has been a war of attrition. Injuries have now knocked out their two biggest power hitters for at least the first 5 weeks of the regular season and the team has little in the way of depth to help.

You can’t blame Brian Cashman for the injuries to Granderson & Teixeira but he does bear some responsibility for the predicament they are in now.  Consider the following:

  1. By failing to acquire a MLB-caliber  hitting Catcher or a legitimate RH hitting OF, the lineup was lean to begin with and could ill-afford any losses.  I’d feel a lot better with a lefty power hitting Catcher like Pyrzynski and/or a strong RH hitting OF like Gomes or Soriano.
  2. By letting Eric Chavez leave via FA and not bringing in a solid replacement, the team has no legitimate hitter (or fielder) to step in at 3B or 1B much less one that hit .281 with 16 HRs in 313 ABs last yr with a 126 OPS+
  3. By bringing in a DH who doesn’t even own a Glove, he further crippled the team’s depth and eliminated a number of options.  Last year when starting LF Brett Gardner was lost for the season after 2 weeks, DH Raul Ibanez was able to step in and play a lot of LF enabling Girardi to use his best available hitter as DH or to use that slot to rest his aging veteran position players. This year, Travis Hafner will be clogging up that DH spot so he had better be a very productive hitter

I didn’t intend to make this a bash Cashman article but I had to point out the poor construction of this roster. The injuries have allowed us to see what the team has in terms of veteran options and minor-lg depth.  So far, the young OFs have shown some promise while the vets have looked brutal.  In the infield, it seems there is no depth at the corner spots.  Here are some random observations on certain players and positions:

  • Melky Mesa & Zoilo Almonte have shown some skills.  Mesa is a very good OF who can play all 3 spots and Zoilo looks like a solid defender in RF.  Offensively, both have power but have the same problems with strikeouts.  I like Zoilo better as a hitter but they may make a decent platoon.  Juan Rivera is an absolute disaster in the OF and brings back memories of Marcus Thames.  I really hope he doesn’t make the team because he isn’t a good hitter and is a zero in the field. I haven’t seen a lot of Diaz in the OF but I think I’d take him over Rivera.
  • Slade is the WildCard. I love his game but I don’t know if it’s right to bring him up for just 5 weeks. I like to see him stay healthy and hit the ball in AA before bringing him up
  • Ronny Mustelier can hit and looks serviceable in the OF.  He’s played the IF before, i wonder if they could try him at 1B.  At this point they need to get guys who can hit on the team.  if Musty can play LF, RF and 1B and/or 3B he’d be a valuable asset with his bat.  I’d rather see him hit than Juan Rivera.
  • Dan Johnson & Corban Joseph have gotten a lot of time at 3B and both are butchers there. It’s a shame that David Adams is hurt again because he’d have a legit chance to make the team if he proved he could play 3B.
  • Eduardo Nunez has looked good at SS.  He’s gotten a lot of innings there and looks much more confident.  The work on his throwing motion seems to have helped and I think he has to get a lot of playing time this yr at SS and DH.
  • Jayson Nix is a solid utility-man and I’d rather play him at 3B than Johnson
  • The bullpen arms look great. They are deep there as usual. Joba looks strong and some young arms like Chase Whitley and Francisco Rondon have been impressive.  I was a little concerned with Mark Montgomery‘s last outing.  He had bad body language and his stuff lacked crispness. I thought they should have taken him out right away and I’m concerned he may be injured.  I hope I’m wrong.
  • Vidal Nuno has been a pleasant surprise. He’s had several good outings and threw 4 no-hit innings against us yesterday with 4 Ks. He is aggressive and throws 4 pitches for strikes in any count. He’ll be good depth in AAA this year and I wouldn’t be scared to give him a start in an emergency.  With Warren and Brett Marshall, they have 3 solid starters at AAA and they are still looking for a veteran like CM Wang to stash in Scranton.
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About fishjam25

Was a 4-yr Pitcher and Communications Major at Seton Hall University in the 90s. His knowledge & opinion of the game comes from his background as a player and ardent lifetime Yankee fan. However, Fishjam also incorporates sabermetrics and statistical support to form a well-rounded view of the game.

Posted on March 7, 2013, in Notes & Links. Bookmark the permalink. 15 Comments.

  1. Nice thoughts fish. I doubt that Slade gets a chance since the injury is holding him back some time now. Hopefully Musty starts proving himself and comes to the Bronx with the team. IMO he should have been up last year.

    • fishjam, Cashman was the one singing the pharses of Slade over a week ago on WFAN. He said Slade could surprise people and make the team in so many words. He said some scouts in the Arizona Fall League saw Slade as another Grady Sizemore. Then Slade went diving with reckless abondon in the outfield and hurt his thumb. The kid has alot of raw talent. The Yanks would be foolish to bring him up until after June, to get the extra year of control on him. I would keep Musty and Ziolio.

  2. Here is a link to an article I’d like you guys to read and comment on here. Would like to see what you guys think. http://www.grantland.com/story/_/id/9025135/the-evil-empire-new-york-yankees-to-fall

    • It seems to imply that the Yankees are going to go back into a decade full of failure. That I don’t buy.

    • The article made a couple of salient points to me:

      1) While the Yankee run of greatness since 1994 has been supported by a heavy payroll (starting in the 2002 really) the real reason for success has been an insanely great homegrown Core made up of 5-7 Hall of Fame or near Hall of Fame talents. The team has to start producing it’s own talent more which it has gotten away from. Gardner is the only starter developed since Cano in 2005.

      2) While the team spends more $$ than anyone they have not raised payroll since 2005 while revenues have skyrocketed and while payroll around the league has risen 37%. That tells me Hal is pocketing more money than George ever did and that the Luxury Tax and Revenue Sharing has worked to reign in the team’s spending. Other teams are spending more and more so the gap between the Yanks and the rest of the league has shrunk, further emphasizing the need to develop it’s own talent.

      Since bidding big and losing on Cliff Lee, the team has sat on its hands and not bid on ANY of the high-talent FAs on the market lately whether it be Pujols, Fielder, Hamilton, Reyes, CJ Wilson, Greinke, etc.. While there are reasons for not going after any of those FAs they should have been players on the IFA market.

      They failed to sign any of the YOUNG and supremely talented International FAs like Cespedes, Chapman, Darvish, Soler, Hechevarria, Puig, Alexi Ramirez, etc. and we all know they got little in return for trading away several promising young players which would help make up the young core of the team today.

      All of these reasons along with the under-performance and injuries to ARod & Tex and the self-imposed budget cuts at a time when the youth isn’t ready to step in make a poor recipe for the immediate future. HOWEVER, it doesn’t mean they will suck for the next decade. They can turn things around but they may go through 2-3 tough years here unless this year is bad enough to get Hal to scrap the $189 plan in 2014.

      • Good thoughts Fish. The failure of developing new talent within the system or them trading away talent in my opinion is what now is hurting this team. Our talent in the minors this year will all be in A and AA. Our Triple A roster to start the season will not impress at all.

      • fishjam, all you said is true but let’s remember that the Yanks were a poor team before 1994 which made it possible to get such top notch talent. The biggest enemy for the Yanks is the 189 cap. It would be interesting to look at how many of the superstar players today are drafted after the 15 pick in the first round, I would say not a high percentage.

        • Definitely makes it easier to pick at the top of the Draft as many of the blue-chip prospects come from there. But the Yankee dynasty wasn’t built that way. Of all the Homegrown players, only Jeter was a top pick. Posada and Pettitte were drafted in the 16th Round or later. Bernie, Mariano, Mendoza and Cano were Intl Free Agents. And key players like O’Neill, Tino, Cone and Brosius came from savvy trades at the MLB level.

          Yanks can build from within and still field winning teams today although it will now be tougher with the spending restrictions on IFAs and draft picks. all the more reason why they should have gobbled up a few guys before the cap. Right now, the team with the best Farm System in baseball has also been winning on the field for the last 5-6 yrs so they’ve built it without top picks…..the St. Louis Cardinals.

          Sent from my iPhone

          • fishjam, I have to differ, the Yanks were built in the 90′s on pitching most of which was not home grown, similar to todays team. Yanks don’t win without pitchers like Key, Cone, Wells, El Duke, and Clemens. Two of those guys threw perfect games as Yankees. Pettite as good as he is never was a number one pitcher. Savay trades yes, but trades none the less.

  3. fishjam, good article, I think Musty did a good job today at 3rd, he could be the wild card the Yanks are looking for. Gameday had him making 3 assists and turning a DP. Plus he scored a run, and got a hit. I like this option right now.

  4. Matt, this article is a bunch of hogwash. The Yanks couldn’t have planned on all the injuries they are getting this year. They are an easy mark at this time. The job of a GM in today’s game is to make the playoffs, the Yanks have done that better than any team in history. Since the addition of a massive playoff system the Yanks and Cashman have been the most successful team. The Yanks will have anywhere from 50 to 70 million to spend next year to rebuild the team, depending on whether they keep Cano. If this team has to miss the playoffs one year to reload I have no problem with it. This article is all fantasy land.

  5. I never liked Cashman. He gets too much credit for putting together that dynasty team of the late 90′s. A team whose best players carried the team for the next decade. Cashman didn’t put that team together, Bob Watson did that. Cashman was just some overprivilieged kid who was in the right place at the right time. (where have we seen that before?)

    Cashman is nothing but a spreadsheet wonk, with no feel for the intangibles that make a team great, ordinary or disastrous. A glorified bookeeper who’s been braying loudly that he’d rather run a small budget team than a big one. Well Cashman, you got your wish………… except (woops!), you have no youth to fill in the gaps.

    How much would Ibenez and Chavez have cost you, Cashman? 2 million? 4 million? You treated the best players the game has known like a miserly mill town boss. But you have no problem jacking prices until only rich people can afford to go to the stadium the city’s citizens bought for you after you threatened to bolt to NJ.

    Spreadsheet morons and cheapskate, corporate billionaires. That’s what the Yankee leadership looks like to me. Now that I think of it, those are the same people who are destroying America.

    Enjoy your empty stadium!

    • Just for heck of it…
      Mediasavvy, you do have some very salient points in your diatribe against Cashman but, me thinks you are reading too much junk, from other bloggers that have their own agenda.
      1)–Cashman was being groomed to take Watsons place at the time so he had input. Should he get any credit for the teams make-up…yes but, it was “Stick”, Watson, Showalter and Cash also.
      2–As for being at the right time at the right time goes…you are right but, “Stick” and Watson picked him to take their place! Do you really think their were no others around that were adequate replacements for them? They were great talent hunters right, well they picked the guy they wanted…good or bad!
      3–Being a bookkeeper is not even close to the truth.
      4–Cashman was given the task of building the Farm system and signing stars for the greedy fans. He has done a good job at both! Yes, I said good job, maybe not perfect but hell, name me one GM that hasn’t made a wrong choice. When Cash took over as GM he had about 7+ years of NO 1st round picks at all and the last pick in the 2nd round. Constantly over ruled by the Tampa Cabell. In that scenario, where is your star players going to come from…South of the USA, that’s where!
      5–Cash has nothing to do with ticket prices or sales!
      6–Corporate Billionaires are the ones that own almost every team in the country and they are the ones that have built company’s that employ many thousands of people, along with the small business owners.
      Those destroying this country are…the weak Congressman and Senators and a want to be “King” running this country into the ground.

      Please, enjoy your empty outlook on life, everyone has the right to an opinion!

    • Mediasavy, you have no clue!

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