Getting the best from everyone

I don’t think I have single thing to complain about today. Analysis is about finding problems and advocating solutions, but everyone is playing well right now. Even Nick Swisher, who I’ve (reluctantly) become disillusioned with, pulled out of his slump with a two-homer day. To quote a line from John Lennon and the Beatles, “I’ve got nothing to say but it’s OK.” (“Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band,” the happiest album about alienation, distraction and disconnectedness.) That’s not quite accurate, now that I think about it — I’ve always got something to say, and it’s not “Billlllly Shears!” Though I wish it was.

jeter250_072809.jpgANOTHER RUN AT AN MVP FOR JETER?
On last night’s broadcast, my fellow YES-man Michael Kay suggested that Derek Jeter is putting together a campaign worthy of the Most Valuable Player award. My first reaction was, “Nah,” first because Jeter’s year seemed to be in the good-not-great category, second because if he didn’t win the award in 1999 or 2006 he’s not going to win it now — voters go wild for RBIs, not runs scored — and third, because there are so many other good candidates. However, on further examination, the idea is not as wild as it at first seemed, though still unlikely.  

Thanks to his .402 on-base percentage, fifth in the American League, Jeter is having one of his strongest seasons. He hasn’t reached base 40 percent of the time since 2006, and has gotten there in only two other seasons, 1999 and 2000. He’s also fifth in batting average and second in hits behind Ichiro Suzuki. He ranks ninth in runs scored. He’s not having the best season of any AL shortstop — Jason Bartlett currently ranks him, but that’s going to change over time. Jeter also has had 120 more plate appearances than Bartlett due to the latter’s stint on the disabled list.

Still, the line in front of Jeter is long, and starts with two Twins, Joe Mauer and Justin Morneau. The latter, a past MVP balloting favorite, leads the league in home runs and RBIs, which is usually enough to nab the award. In fairness to Morneau, he’s having a tremendous year, one that is far superior to his 2006, when he last won the award. Mauer has been the best all-around hitter in the league, but he has come back to the pack a bit in July. If the Twins can come back and win the AL Central, still a strong possibility, the M&M Minnesota boys are going to get an extra push, whereas if the Yankees hang on to win the AL East, Jeter will be perceived as one among a cast of talented performers.

Since an April batting line that was indifferent by his own standards, Jeter has hit .337/.418/.459. He’s going to have to top those rates the rest of the way to make a serious dent in the gaudier statistics put up in the Twin Cities. He seems a long-shot to get serious consideration, though it would be only fair if the voters stiffed Morneau to give Jeter an award just as they stiffed Jeter to give Morneau an award in 2006.

Rumors surfaced yesterday that Brian Cashman has been burning up cell-phone minutes in calls to Cincinnati, trying to get the richly-salaried Bronson Arroyo for the Yankees’ rotation. The Bronse is under contract next year for $11 million, and there’s also a club option for 2011 at the same price, with a $2 million buyout if Arroyo’s presence is no longer desired. Thus the Yankees would get the right-hander for the remainder of his age-32 season, age 33 and potentially, 34. Arroyo is having a very strange year, in that he’s either unhittable or he has no idea how to pitch. That’s no exaggeration: In his wins he has an ERA of 2.19. In his losses, it’s 11.01. I asked the statistical geniuses at Baseball Prospectus if that differential was particularly dramatic, and indeed it is. Among pitchers with at least 10 decisions, it’s the second-largest spread in baseball this year behind that of Brian Moehler, who has an ERA of 2.62 in his wins and 12.13 in his losses. Felix Hernandez, Jason Marquis and Clayton Kershaw round out the all good/all bad top five. Pitchers with fewer than 10 decisions in this category include Brett Cecil, who has a 1.33 ERA in his wins and a 15.43 ERA in his losses, and Rich Hill, who is at 1.86 in his wins and 15.75 in losses.

If you’re the Yankees, which Arroyo are you going to see most often? There doesn’t seem to be much of a pattern to his periodic lapses into incompetence. This is a deal you might make only if Dave Eiland and the rest of your organizational pitching gurus view hours of tape and say, “We see the problem and we think we can correct it.” If not, the aggregate — a quality start half the time, a sure loss the other half of the time — may not be worth the money and the low-level prospects necessary to spring the pitcher from the Queen City.

My take on the Omar Minaya-Tony Bernazard affair can be found in my You Could Look It Up spot.



    can any one really explain to me why Swisher is still a Yankee? we’ve cut players for less then the crap Swisher pulls daily in the field, and yet, Swisher is still here. Why? He drops balls, misplays just about every thing hit his way, strikes out to much, and then, like today, not only does he NOT catch thr ball, but then he stands there looking at it for a moment while the runner advances to third!
    It’s trade deadline time, please get us an out fielder! One who can do two things, hit for average, .250 or better, not Swishers .234 and two, catch the flipping ball and not misplay every thing!!!!
    I’m sure Swisher has a great attitude, but being a clown needs to end when he steps on the field, not bring his act to the field with him! He needs to go!!!


    Re Swisher: because if you only understand average, then you don’t undestand baseball. Swisher walks a lot and when he does hit the ball he usually hit them a long way. in the end , he makes less outs than the average player (a very good thing) and he hits for more total bases than the average player ( a single is one base, a double is 2 , triple 3 , HR 4 obviously), that means he’s better than most hitters in helping you score runs.

    He looks ugly out there in right, but most defensive metrics agree that he’s usually average to above average (slighlty below average so far this year. not surpisingly positive in range but negative in errors). there, you could look silly diving for a ball and have it glance off your glove for a triple like he did today. our you could let it fall in front of you for a double anyway. the later wouldn’t look as ugly. but it’s basically the same result. at least the dives give you a chance that you take a hit away every now and then.

    Nick Swisher looks bad out there, Bobby Abreu didn’t, but Bobby Abreu costed the Yankees 3 to 4 wins on defense alone last year. Nick Swisher isn’t.


    Just for kicks, how about a Steve Goldman-style analysis of Swisher v Abreu thus far in 2009? Seems to me Abreu was a consistent number 3 hitter with about 100 RBI. Even if we argue that Swisher is better defensively (which seems hard to believe), how do they stack against each other? My gut tells me Bobby batting 5th whould be better than what we have, but Steve’s numbers have surprised me in the past…


    I’ll give you that much wisher over Abreau, Nick doesn’t quit on fly balls and will do all humanly possible to come up with catches, even if it results in a three ring circus for him, Bobby usually laid up, played it safe and the pitchers took more hits and had to throw more pitches thanks to Bobby’s safe play. How ever, with the quality hitters that are doing an easy .250-.270 with power and rbi’s surely we can up grade. Question. If Swisher was all that hot a player, Hit,s runs, walks, and of course, K’s, why did both Oakland and Chicago let him go? What is the story with him that we don’t see?
    He is a character, his attitude is positive in an always professional locker room, how ever, he needs to perform daily! Nick is way to streaky, in an RBI situation, he is almost as bad as seeing Robbie Cano up to bat. They both tend to shrink from the situation, ground outs, strike outs,(more Swisher the Cano) and they just go about the at bat differently the with empty bases. They try to hard, do too much, just shorten up your swing and make contact, not swing for the fences all the time!!
    My whole point is, we can surely do better, and must with Boston breathing down our backs.. They haven’t exactly disappeared yet..

  5. sadaharuo

    The most shocking thing about the ’99 MVP award is not that Jeter lost out on it. Roberto Alomar had a pretty strong case, as did Pedro Martinez (if you’re the sort who thinks a pitcher can win an MVP. I’m not, but it’s not as if such a thing is unprecedented).
    No, the most ridiculous thing is that Jeter came in SIXTH.


    Oakland traded Swisher because they weren’t able to contend and he was one of the more tradable commodity they had. Oakland also traded Ricky Henderson in the 80s and I doubt you’d think that’s any reason to doubt Ricky’s ability. He did poorly with the White Sox and they gave up on him too soon. that happens.

    He’s not unreplacable, it’s just that most FAs who are a clear upgrade to him is going to make twice as much as him.

    Guys significantly better (more than 1 win) than swisher so far (RF only)

    Fukudome, Choo, Werth , Cruz , Abreu , Ichio , Justin Upton.

    The only guy who’s likely to be a FA after this year is obviously Abreu again. He’s had a very nice resurgent year mostly because for some reason he seem to have gotten over his wall phobia this year. and actually putting up decent defensive numbers.

    For what it’s worth, Nick Swisher this year is already more valuable than Bobby Abreu was in 08. for half the price that’s a nice upgrade. certainly if we were able to resign Abreu at the Angel’s price it would have been better . but it was difficult at the time to see such a epic bounce back defensively from them.


    Also, Abreu’s 36, Swisher is 29, going foward gambling on Swisher is a considerablly safer bet.

  8. iamanycguy

    Abreu has been a legitimate offensive force in the middle of a lineup for years, and there was no reason to believe in the off season that he would not have been again. This year’s numbers bare that out. He is not the only big hitter that was sat down in the late innings of a close game for defensive purposes. Where would Mark BUERHLE, have been without the defensive replacement in centerfield in the ninth inning of his perfect game ? ABREU on the team would have made life a little easier for Joe GIRARDI this year. As much as I like the CABRERA/ GARDNER tandem this year they have not produced like ABREU.
    Speaking of SWISHER, those of us who live in Chicago understand how difficult it is to play for Ozzie GUILLEN. He’s a jerk and if you get into his doghouse, there is no way out. The recently traded Brian ANDERSON, couldn’t wait to leave here. His players constantly complain about what a pain he is. Admittedly he won a World Series with them, but let’s be honest, the ALCentral ? They had a lot of uncanny luck. They haven’t come close since.


    Are you seriously suggesting that they should play Bobby Abreu in center field? yes there are defensive replacements but a run costed in the 1-8th inning is still a run costed. and Abreu costed a ton of runs last year. (25 + according to UZR)

    And yes, it matters. the Yankees been terrible for most of this decade in fielding is a serious reason why they havn’t won **** in the playoff (though luck is probably the biggest. the Yankees havn’t exactly setup their chances well). remember 2005? when they lost game 3 because Cano and Jeter made some ****** plays behind Wang and Bubba and Sheffield collided in the OF?


    Frauds!!!!!!!! Wait and see when Derek Jeter has to make up an excuse that he only took HGH or some type of steriod to get back from injury. Every doctor said that he would be out 8 to 10 weeks when he seperated his soulder but Jeter came back in 4 weeks stronger than every. Come on don’t come down on everyone else and not come down on Jeter. Lets wait and see.

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