Results tagged ‘ Robinson Cano ’

Twenty-five men, 25 goals into one

posada_250_040709.jpgToday we begin our annual look at what each player is looking to accomplish this season — a tradition since whenever I started doing it. I believe it was in 1881, when my friend Clemens yielded this feature to me so he could finish work on Huckleberry Finn.
    
JORGE POSADA — STARTING CATCHER
2008 GOAL, AS STATED HERE:
Repeat his 2007 performance.
DID HE GET THERE? Nope. Injuries intervened.
2009 GOAL: Health, which means not only staying in the lineup and contributing some approximation of his career numbers (.277/.380/.477) but also throwing out 25-35 percent of attempting base stealers.
CHANCE OF MAKING THAT GOAL: He seems to have a fair shot, but it’s asking a lot given his age.
SOMETHING YOU MIGHT NOT BE THINKING ABOUT: Even when struggling last year, Posada was strong with runners in scoring position, batting .250/.392/.425. He’s a career .282/.403/.492 hitter in those situations.
ANOTHER THING YOU MIGHT NOT BE THINKING ABOUT: With 27 home runs this year, Posada can pass YES broadcaster Ken Singleton on the career home run list for switch hitters (Singleton ranks 14th with 246). Kenny is probably safe for another year — Jorge hasn’t hit more than 23 homers in a season since 2003.

JOSE MOLINA — RESERVE CATCHER
2008 GOAL AS STATED HERE:
Hit as well as he did after he joined the Yankees in July ’07 (.318/.333/.439 in 29 games).
DID HE GET THERE? Heck no, but he did play terrific defense.
2009 GOAL: Keep up the glove work while rebounding at the plate from a career-worst offensive season.
CHANCE OF MAKING THAT GOAL: You’d think he’d have to if he’s going to stay on the roster.
SOMETHING YOU MIGHT NOT BE THINKING ABOUT: Believe it or not, Molina’s .263 on-base percentage wasn’t the worst of Yankees history (200 PAs and up). Shortstop Jim Mason’s .210 OBP of 1976 takes the prize, while shortstop Pee Wee Wanninger’s .256 of 1925 is even worse than Mason’s mark when contrasted against the league average.
ANOTHER THING YOU MIGHT NOT BE THINKING ABOUT: Elston Howard. There’s nothing wrong with having an old starting catcher, but as that catcher’s durability declines, you need a tandem starter who can give you good production the rest of the time, not just defense. The Yankees had this situation with Yogi Berra and Elston Howard in the early 1960s. Acquiring a reserve catcher with a bat is of paramount importance to the Yankees.

MARK TEIXEIRA — FIRST BASE
2008 GOAL AS STATED HERE:
N/A
2009 GOAL: Just consistency would be good. Teixeira is a .290/.378/.541 career hitter and Gold Glove fielder.
CHANCE OF MAKING THAT GOAL: There’s no reason why he shouldn’t.
SOMETHING YOU MIGHT NOT BE THINKING ABOUT: You hear a lot about Teixeira being a slow starter, but the flipside of his slow starts are hot finishes. Teixeira is a career .303/.390/.574 hitter after the All-Star break.
ANOTHER THING YOU MIGHT NOT BE THINKING ABOUT: Teixeira is going to see a lot more of the Red Sox this year than he’s used to, and he hasn’t hit them well in his career. He’s a career. 193/.363/.274 hitter at Fenway Park (80 PA) and has hit only .232/.364/.373 against the Red Sox overall.

ROBINSON CANO — SECOND BASE
2008 GOAL AS STATED HERE:
Keep on growing and/or simply hold onto present value.
DID HE GET THERE? Not even close. His season was disastrously poor.
2009 GOAL: Get back to being the guy who hit .322/.358/.504 from 2006 to 2007.
CHANCE OF MAKING THAT GOAL: Reasonably good given his age and a few lucky hits. He might not get all the way back, but he should get close.
SOMETHING YOU MIGHT NOT BE THINKING ABOUT: Five games from now, Cano will pass Jerry Coleman for 10th place on the career list of games played at second base for the Yankees with 573. He still has a long, long way to go to catch the team’s all-time leader, Willie Randolph, who manned the keystone for 1,688 games.
ANOTHER THING YOU MIGHT NOT BE THINKING ABOUT: It might seem like Cano led the Yankees in pop ups last season, but he didn’t. He was fifth, with 33. The leader was Johnny Damon, with 45. Derek Jeter hit 13 pop ups all year.

To be continued…

MAKE IT STOP!
Here’s a literal blast from the past for you: In Tuesday’s Royals-at-White Sox game, the Royals took a 2-1 lead into Chicago’s turn at bat in the bottom of the eighth. The White Sox have the 9-1-2 spots due up: Josh Fields, Dewayne Wise, and Chris Getz. Royals manager Trey Hillman calls on Kyle Farnsworth. The Royals, you see, have decided that Farnsworth is a setup man. We in New York know it ain’t true. They even know it in Detroit and Atlanta, but they’re smarter in Kansas City.

Fields bunts to third base and reaches. Wise flies out to center. Gets singles to right, moving Fields to third. That brings up number three hitter Carlos Quentin. Even Joe Torre would have called for another pitcher by now, but Farnsworth gets Quentin to whiff, so score one for Hillman. Two outs now, future Hall of Famer Jim Thome at the plate. Thome is a left-handed hitter, and he’s getting up there in years, doesn’t hit the portsiders as well as he used to, averaging just .233 against them in 2008 (albeit with a ton of power). The Royals have Ron Mahay in the bullpen, but apparently he’s only hanging around for moral support. You know what happened next. Farnsworth throws, Thome swings, boom — it’s No. 542 for Jim and loss No. one of the 2009 season for Farnsworth.

Nice work if you can get it. Joe Posnanski ruminates on the managerial brilliance of the move.

THE AROUND (AND ABOUT)
In an effort to bond with my cat, I’ve started wearing sisal pajamas… Another year, another pounding for Ian Snell, and the Pirates are off to the races… Khalil Greene so impressed Tony LaRussa with his hot spring that he’s batting fifth; it would be nice to see him complete make that kind of comeback. Of course, any player’s bat is going to perk up after escaping PETCO… The Rays lineup sure looks light with B.J. Upton out. Of course, it’s easy to look light against Josh Beckett when he’s on. They and the Red Sox will go at each other nine times by May 10, a nice quirk of the scheduling for the Yankees; the Yankees have ten total games against both clubs through May 7… As with CC Sabathia, you hope that Tim Lincecum wasn’t burned out by overuse last year… The Marlins drew 11,124 against the Nats in Game 2 of the season, but they did get a terrific start from Josh Johnson, so Joe Girardi, you’re off the hook (so long as he lasts)… The Tigers’ pen tanked their game, but Edwin Jackson’s fine start is the more important omen for them in the long term. Good to see Scott Rolen drag his hot spring into the season… Erik Bedard sort of made it through a start; when does he get dealt? …Dan Haren picked up where he left off for the Diamondbacks (good), but so did Jon Rauch (not so good)…I actually saw Jason Giambi hit a bloop double to the opposite field against the Angels… The Beatles remasters are finally coming!

Magnetic poles, fast grass and other impressions

jeter_250.jpgTHE FIRST “GAME” AT YANKEE STADIUM
In watching Cubs-Yankees on Friday evening, I tried to be alert to any events that would suggest that the park will be dramatically different in its influences than was the old ballpark. Given that we’re talking about one game, the penchant for distortion would have had to be fairly obvious — like a moat in center field. In the event, no moat appeared, but with two home runs bouncing off of them in one game, we might have to classify the foul poles as magnetic attractors.

There was some talk by our YES broadcast crew about the infield playing fast. Again, there is no way to know for sure if this is the case after just one game, but if it’s true, it will represent a double-edged sword for the Yankees. The hitters will benefit, but the pitchers will suffer, perhaps disproportionately to the opposition, because their deficiencies in range will be exacerbated. Fortunately, this can be corrected to some degree should the Yankees choose to do so — they can just let it grow.

The bigger question mark, and one that the Yankees won’t be able to do anything about, is if the open concourses or orientation of the new park have made the building more of a home-run park. The Yankees hit three in the game, and foul poles or not, they seemed to have a little more life in them than what we’ve seen from long flies in the old park. For the third time in just three paragraphs, I will emphasize that you can’t know anything about anything from just one game, and we probably shouldn’t come to any conclusions until the team has spent something like half a season in the new dish, and maybe not then.

I’ll be back with some additional observations after Saturday’s exhibition.

OTHER GOOD STUFF
Derek Jeter pulling two hits. Brett Gardner’s speed both on defense and stretching a single into a double. Four scoreless innings from the bullpen (albeit against Cubs subs). Robinson Cano with two hits, including one into the shortstop’s hole —  nice to see him do something with the opposite field that doesn’t involve popping up to shallow left.

THE AROUND (AND ABOUT)
Injuries mean the Angels’ initial rotation will be Joe Saunders, Jered Weaver, Nick Adenhart, Dustin Moseley, and Shane Loux. No wonder the A’s feel empowered. And R.A. Dickey and his career 5.57 ERA have a spot in the Twins rotation until Scott Baker comes back: spring is a cruel mistress… Mike Lamb went unclaimed and was released. The Twins are paying him this year, so he would be cheap depth if the Yankees want to add a third baseman. That assumes Lamb can find his stroke again. I’m rooting for Cody Ransom, Journeyman, but it never hurts to have insurance. Assuming a modest rebound, Lamb should post a higher OBP than Ransom… One wonders how long Gary Sheffield will be happy with part-time status as a Met. Assuming he has anything left at all, both at bat and in the field, he should help on a platoon basis, with career .308/.407/.540 rates against southpaws. Even last year, which was a disaster overall, he hit six home runs against them in 109 at-bats.

Notes from around the league

german300_031309.jpgRANDOM BITS FOR A RANDOM FRIDAY
… Because I definitely feel 13th after a very busy week.

?    The Cubs signed Esteban German to a Minor League contract, so those that wrote suggesting he’d make a good depth addition for the Yankees and a possibly useful Alex Rodriguez substitute, forget it. I don’t think it’s a huge loss unless he’s going to go back to walking 50 times in half a season.

?    Remember last week I said that A-Rod’s injury wasn’t the last injury, just the first, and the Yankees would have to survive the cumulative weight of those losses? Now, we have Robinson Cano’s sore shoulder and Damaso Marte’s pectoral muscle. In both cases, the injuries could be nothing or could be something. There’s no reason to worry too much about Marte because the Yankees have the pitching depth to get by without any one reliever, but Cano would force the Yankees to fall back on some pretty weak choices. For any team, as ever, the emphasis must be on the farm, the farm, the farm, the farm, or eventually you’re going to get hit and not be able to cope. Thank you, Uncle WBC!

?    Has anyone who was lukewarm on the Mark Teixeira signing before the event yet conceded that in the absence of A-Rod that signing may very well save the offense, and thereby the season? By the way, Chase Utley had the full-on version of the surgery that Rodriguez is splitting in two back in November. He has yet to get into a game.

?    A-Rod replacement speculation: the guy the Yankees should be looking to make a force majeure kind of move on is J.J. Hardy of the Brewers, who may lose his job to Alcides Escobar at some point in the near future. He can hit enough to play third and is young enough to play short after, just in case, you know, the Yankees ever have any defensive weakness at that position.

?    Before someone asks about catcher Rob Bowen, who the A’s are shopping, there is no evidence he would out-hit Jose Molina. Yes, Molina is a better hitter than somebody.

?    Big loss for the Rays in having Fernando Perez hit the bench for three months with a dislocated left wrist. Perez isn’t an impact player but is a nice complimentary part. Matt Joyce hasn’t played yet due to his own injuries, and B.J. Upton is still working his left shoulder back into shape. Gabe Kapler is going to end up playing a lot more than might be good … Too much of Justin Ruggiano and his amazing capacity to strike out, too.

?    Transcript from today’s chat, with lots of Yankees questions, some politics, and scattered other baseball musings.

?    Those of you in the District of Columbia, I’ll be making two appearances there next Wednesday, along with BP compadres, Clay Davenport and Jay Jaffe. First, I’ll be hosted by the Georgetown Lecture Fund at 4:30 p.m. (open to the public). Following closely on the heels of that talk will be one of my favorite yearly events, a trip to the Politics & Prose bookstore at 7 p.m. For address info, see this page.

Yanks need to produce for CC to be effective

sabathia_121108.jpgAS WE GO UP WE GO DOWN

Down in the comments, longtime reader/frequent commenter Louis writes:

If, in addition to CC, the Yankees sign 2 more big name FA pitchers without further upgrading the offense/defense, they’re going to resemble the 2008 Blue Jays: great pitching, mediocre offense (though the Jays were a much better fielding team). That’s probably not going to be good enough in the AL East next year.

I have been wanting to make that point about the Blue Jays and their league-leading 3.77 runs per game allowed for awhile, but somehow keep bypassing it, and I thank Louis for reminding me. The Jays scored just 4.41 runs per game The Yankees were almost half a run better, plating 4.87 runners a game. “Better” isn’t “best;” the Yankees ranked only seventh in the league in runs per game.

The question for next year, insofar as any potential Blue Jayism goes, is if the Yankees offense gets better, worse, or stays the same. Brian Cashman is on record as saying “Better.” He bases this on getting a full season out of Jorge Posada; a fixed Robby Cano; a divorced A-Rod; a healthy Matsui. Is he correct? With all respect, probably not:

 Posada is a year older and very probably won’t be up to his old 140-game workloads. Whereas almost anything Posada is likely to do will be an improvement on Jose Molina, giving one-fifth or more of the starts behind the plate to Mr. Career .237/.276/.339 is potentially devastating. And if Posada’s shoulder isn’t what it used to be and he can’t catch, look out.

Alex Rodriguez hit at about his career levels last year. Sure, he was well down from 2007, but 2007 was not his typical year. Maybe a more relaxed, Maddona-ified A-Rod will hit better in the clutch, but that adds fewer runs than you might thing.

If Matsui is healthy, he should be reasonably productive at DH, but the Yankees actually did quite well at DH last year thanks to Johnny Damon and Jason Giambi. Overall, Yankees DHs hit .282/.378/.461. Matsui is a career .295/.371/.478 hitter  and he’s 35. He’s not likely to give the Yankees a whole lot more than they got last year.

Cashman is probably right about Cano, but we haven’t even gotten to the other aspects of the offense: Johnny Damon will probably lose some production. No one knows what the team will get out of center field. Xavier Nady in right field is a likely step backwards of around 20 runs. Nick Swisher could put first base on a par with what it got last season (.246/.349/.460) or even a little more assuming the return to form we all figure is coming.

So what does that all add up to? Without playing with projected numbers (which I did in a previous entry), it seems like there might be something less than short of a decisive improvement. As for the defense, it’s where it was, and that ain’t good. Figure that if the Yankees want to win 98 games next year, and scoring remains constant or just ticks up a little bit, they would still have to saw nearly 80 runs allowed off of this year’s total. Sabathia replaces Mike Mussina plus (because he pitches further into games) some bullpen innings. Add a healthy Chien-Ming Wang, a full year of Joba Chamberlain, and about 40 starts from pitchers (whoever they are) who should be better than Sidney Ponson, Ian Kennedy, Phil Hughes, and Carl Pavano… It seems doable, but if the offense slips, look out. Things will go backwards as they go forward.