I’ll be making my final appearance of the season on the YES Hot Stove show tonight at 6:30 EST. After this installment, the show travels to Florida but they won’t take me with them — they couldn’t figure out how to transport the bunker short of hiring a cargo plane. I’m fine with this as long as Bob Lorenz’s library set is staying behind too. I’m thinking that while they’re gone I might sneak into the studio and sit in the plush chairs. I might even sit in Murray Chass’ chair.
You know, the other day I was having dinner with two male friends, and they began discussing thread count in men’s dress shirts. Until that moment, the concept of thread count in dress shirts had not entered my mind in all of my 38 years on this planet. Thread count for sheets, sure, I’ve heard of that, though I’ve never given it all that much thought either. But for shirts? And here’s what I want to know: does Bob think about thread count in dress shirts?
I don’t yet know what topics are on tap for today — I have a sinking feeling the guys might be getting into Barry Bonds and steroids again — but if you have any topics you want to see covered during my glorious one minute of air time, I’d be happy to hear them. I’ll be checking in throughout the day and even during the program — I don’t just keep the laptop open so I can send IMs during the show.
CLARIFIED FRYER OIL
My BP colleague Jay Jaffe, one of those famous Brewers fans from Utah, checked in with some additional notes on yesterday’s Yankees acquisition Eric Fryer. Specifically, the reason that Fryer played in the outfield during the first part of the season was because the Brewers are stacked with catchers, and they had a better prospect than Fryer, Jonathan Lucroy, at the same level to begin last season. When Lucroy moved up a level, Fryer went back behind the plate. He seemed to be a bit raw there, not throwing out many runners and making a ton of errors, but perhaps he was rusty.
To my way of thinking, it’s just as well, because (as I wrote yesterday) the Yankees are in a good place with minor league catching just now, but they could use a corner outfielder in a bad way. As Jay said, if Fryer keeps hitting, he could make Double-A by the end of the year. The Wright trade represents a nice roll of the dice by Brian Cashman.
TWO OTHER BITS AND PIECES
? A final reminder that I’ll be doing a live chat at BP this Friday, February 6, at 1 p.m. EST. If you can’t make it, you can still get your questions in ahead of time at the URL above.
? My pal Allen Barra has a good bit in the New York Observer today as to why Roger Clemens isn’t Barry Bonds.
CHASED, YANKEES INTO FRYER
Today the Yankees consummated a minor deal, in at least two
senses of the word minor, swapping lefty Chase Wright, who had been designated
in the aftermath of Andy Pettitte’s re-signing, in return for
catcher-outfielder Eric Fryer, formerly of the Brewers.
Initially this might look kind of exciting because Wright
was a low-strikeout type who was unlikely to live down the historic 2007 game
against the Red Sox in which he allowed consecutive home runs to Jim Rice,
Carlton Fisk, Carl Yastrzemski, Ted Williams, Felix Mantilla and Don Buddin,
whereas Fryer batted .355/.407/.506 in the Sally League last season. Steal,
right? Wrong. You don’t get a major prospect for Chase Wright unless the
general manager on the other side of the table has a serious drinking problem
and no oversight. Fryer was 22 last year and had spent three years in college,
so he was a bit experienced for Low-A ball. He had a great year, but we should
expect the pitching to catch up to him in a big way as he moves up. According
to Kevin Goldstein of Baseball Prospectus, Fryer’s swing is also very
complicated, which makes scouts skeptical about his future.
The other problem with Fryer, and it’s odd to call it a
problem, is that when we say catcher-outfielder, we really mean “former
outfielder.” That, at least, is how the Brewers viewed him, increasingly
playing him behind the dish as the season wore on. If the Yankees also view him
as a catcher, it’s difficult to see how he’s going to get any playing time in, as
he’s at the same level as the two best prospects in the Yankees organization,
Austin Romine and Jesus Montero, both of whom happen to be catchers. They can’t
all go up to Tampa
this year, be rotating catchers and sing in three-part harmony. The assumption
here is that Fryer gets pushed back to an outfield corner, which puts pressure
on him to keep hitting — assuming he showed decent defensive abilities
as a catcher, he wouldn’t have to post another 900 OPS to make it. A much
greater level of skepticism greets an outfielder’s bat.
All of that said, given that the Yankees had no plans for
Wright, a fringe part, getting someone for him that at least looks good isn’t a
bad thing, particularly since said someone is a position player. The Yankees’
system needs more bats. Adding prospects through trades is something that Brian
Cashman will need to prioritize to the best of his ability in the near future,
as last year’s draft, which eschewed a number-one or number-two pick, was a
disaster, and this year’s draft, which has been stripped of picks by all the
free agent action, promises to be thin as well. You can’t feed the farm system
scraps for two seasons and not have it hurt you, regardless of how many free
agents you sign.
It should be noted that one of the reasons that Mark
Teixeira is such a great signing for the Yankees is that next year’s free-agent
class is largely devoid of Teixeira types, twentysomethings at the top of their
games. Top position players likely to hit the market include Carlos Delgado,
Aubrey Huff, Mark DeRosa, Brian Roberts, Chipper Jones, Jason Bay
(bet on the Red Sox tying him up before then), Vlad Guerrero, Matt Holliday…
and Johnny Damon and Hideki Matsui. The Yankees offense looks like a light
offensive unit now. With little help coming from the farm (Austin Jackson
doesn’t look like an impact player at this stage), little on the free agent
market beyond declining vets and re-signing Damon and Matsui, probably an
multimillion-dollar act of wishful thinking, the unit could achieve a helium-like
quality by 2010…
…Which is to say that Mr. Cashman should keep trading those
extra pitchers for bodies with bats, as many as he possibly can.
WHERE MY FEET ARE
I neglected to mention yesterday that I have a new edition
of my history
column up at Baseball Prospectus, this one talking about the current
free-agent crop and the decline in attendance during the Great Depression. At the same site, my colleague Christina
Kahrl revives the
Jeter-to-center debate. If you’re not a BP subscriber but are an ESPN
insider, then the same piece on Jeter can
be read here.
Finally, for those that would like to ask me a question or
ten, I’ll be doing a live chat at BP this Friday, February 6, at 1 p.m., EST. I hope to see you
then, but if you can’t make it, you can still get your questions in ahead of
time at the URL above.