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Breaking down the bench

Posted by: Peter Abraham - Posted in Misc on Mar 22, 2008 Print This Post Print This Post | Email This Post Email This Post

ph_348563.jpgNow that Morgan Ensberg is on the 40-man roster, here is who the Yankees will have on the bench:

Jose Molina (C): Nice trade by Brian Cashman, getting Molina for AA pitcher Jeff Kennard. Molina is the best backup Jorge Posada had had since John Flaherty in 2003 and 2004. Molina is a good receiver and a solid enough hitter to replace Posada once or twice a week and not make you cringe.

Shelley Duncan (1B, RF): Baby Huey will start against left-handers and DH often. He’s a better right fielder than he is a first baseman but he’s getting better in the infield. Duncan will have to hit to keep his place on the roster but his power is tough to ignore.

Wilson Betemit (1B, 2B, 3B, SS): You’d like your utility infielder to be able to double as a pinch runner. That’s not the case with Betemit. But he has some pop and switch hits. He came up as a shortstop and has played mostly third in the majors. The Yankees worked him at first last season. Second base is his worst position but Robbie Cano rarely comes out of games.

Morgan Ensberg (3B, 1B): If Jason Giambi gets hurt, I suspect Ensberg would get every chance to play first base regularly. He’s right-handed, has power and gets on base. Joe Girardi said Enssberg can play second in a pinch. He’s here to provide some offense and the Yankees can easily eat his $1.75 millon if it doesn’t work out.

Strengths: The Yankees will have some dangerous hitters on their bench, which is great. But how many players in that lineup will get pinch hit for? Duncan and Ensberg will likely start against lefties, especially the better ones. Hideki Matsui is not a lineup automatic anymore and Bobby Abreu can stand to miss the Scott Kazmirs of the world. This is a bench designed for lineup flexibility more than changing the game in the seventh inning.

Weaknesses: There’s no speed on the bench and little in the way of defense. Who’s the late-inning first baseman with a lead? Um, Ensberg? If Cano twists an ankle, there’s no true backup for him. Can any of these guys put down a bunt? But the Yankees play in the American League. Bunting, base stealing and defense are National League issues. The Yankees want a bench to help the score runs in bunches.

Little of this matters right now anyway. The roster will change many times over the course of the season as needs arise.

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67 Responses to “Breaking down the bench”

  1. Andrew March 22nd, 2008 at 12:45 am

    Brett.

    Gardner.

  2. Dewey March 22nd, 2008 at 12:47 am

    I was down there 2 weeks ago and it appeared Morgan had his own fan club of about 5 or 6 guys that would yell his name and cheer him on with everything that he did. You could hear it from anywhere in the stands @Legends.

    Any idea who those fans were? Friends & family I assume? They even went to the away game @St. Pete to see Morgan play against the Rays.

  3. Rebecca--Optimist Prime--Mission 2708 March 22nd, 2008 at 12:48 am

    Pete: Better question one of my friends is raising: What happens if Melky or Bobby goes down with a bad injury?

  4. Brandon (Proud supporter of "Alex being Alex" ) (I slay the Anti) March 22nd, 2008 at 12:53 am

    Pete has a point we need the PR on this roster it also would be nice to have defense in the OF

  5. Peter Abraham March 22nd, 2008 at 12:54 am

    Andrew: It would be a disservice to Gardner’s career to have him sit the bench in the majors now. He needs to continue to learn how to hit at AAA.

    Rebecca: That’s easy. Shelley plays right and Damon plays center. Matsui goes to left. Or you call up Gardner to play center. You can’t build your bench around “what if somebody has a serious injury?’ It has to be for function on a daily basis.

  6. bigjf March 22nd, 2008 at 12:55 am

    Good to see Ensberg made it, but there are plenty of options in the minors now so these guys better rake if they expect to stay. I’m kind of surprised Girardi didn’t take Cody Ransom. He’s been impressive, even though Spring performance doesn’t mean too much.

  7. Clare March 22nd, 2008 at 12:56 am

    Rebecca,

    If it’s a short-term injury, Duncan and Matsui can fill in (with Damon moving to center), and if it’s longer term they call up Brett Gardner, no?

  8. Clare March 22nd, 2008 at 12:57 am

    Okay, little late there.

  9. Rebecca--Optimist Prime--Mission 2708 March 22nd, 2008 at 12:58 am

    Thanks guys. That’s what I thought :)

  10. mel March 22nd, 2008 at 12:58 am

    Dewey,

    Ensberg Entourage?

    Pete,

    Great breakdown. This bench needs Gardner’s speed, but I suspect he’ll stay on Girardi’s radar. As for the holes, every team has holes. That’s a pretty good bench. When you’re sending down players and pitchers who are MLB ready that’s a good problem to have. We haven’t always had this problem.

    Ensberg’s a no-brainer at this point, you got a guy who could be starting on some teams sitting on your bench.

  11. Lambchop La La March 22nd, 2008 at 1:03 am

    “But the Yankees play in the American League. Bunting, base stealing and defense are National League issues”

    The playoffs are no excuses baseball…please Giardi complete this “BASEBALL” team with no excuses. Call up Cashman and say hey we gotta good roster to compete with but get me a backup infielder who is the opposite of betemit (runs, bunts and is an athlete).

  12. Lambchop La La March 22nd, 2008 at 1:05 am

    *Girardi*

  13. Mike R. - The Anti-Anti March 22nd, 2008 at 1:06 am

    I love the idea of having Ensberg on the bench. Other than the RH power he brings, there is a serious 3B market out there. If Morgan proves he can still bring it he could be mid season trade bait.

  14. mel March 22nd, 2008 at 1:07 am

    Pete,

    Since you’re up late, could you give your final opinion about what happened with the Red Sox?

    Did MLB promise to pay during the negotiations and then reneg? If so, that means that MLB was willing to make concessions for the Red Sox that they weren’t willing to make for the Yankees, A’s, Tampa, et al.

    Any thoughts or rumblings you heard would be appreciated.

  15. whozat March 22nd, 2008 at 1:14 am

    “The playoffs are no excuses baseball”

    The playoffs are six months from now. Have to get there first. Lineup flexibility in the AL is WAY more important than pinch running.

    Besides, when you’re setting up the playoff roster, you take fewer pitchers, so you can put a Brett Gardner on there for the purposes of pinch running.

  16. Rebecca--Optimist Prime--Mission 2708 March 22nd, 2008 at 1:18 am

    Agreed with whozat. It’s great that we can realistically assume we’ll be in the postseason, but as last April and May showed us, you still have to play the games. No use worrying about October when you’re closer to April.

  17. UtilityMan March 22nd, 2008 at 1:22 am

    Lambchop La La

    backup infielder who is the opposite of Betemit (runs,bunts and is an athlete)

    M I G U E L C A I R O

  18. Brandon (Proud supporter of "Alex being Alex" ) (I slay the Anti) March 22nd, 2008 at 1:24 am

    LOL Miggy :lol:

  19. UtilityMan March 22nd, 2008 at 1:30 am

    Now that the bench is set
    Bullpen will be next

    Rivera
    Chamberlain
    Hawkins
    Farnsworth
    Traber
    Ohlendorf
    Rasner or Kartsens or Bruney or Britton

  20. Jaewon March 22nd, 2008 at 1:32 am

    MIGGY!

  21. Jaewon March 22nd, 2008 at 1:34 am

    I think the Yankees will take Rasner or Karstens Girardi wants a long relief guy.

  22. MikeEff ( Shelley: Everyday ) March 22nd, 2008 at 1:44 am

    Mike R—good point about him having some value at the trade deadline. apparently he loves how kevin long has fixed his swing. we might need some help, hopefully we’ll be all set with guys like Melancon contributing and we’ll keep ensberg

  23. Jimbo March 22nd, 2008 at 2:25 am

    Ensberg? Is pop in the lineup what the Yanks are lacking? Will he get a chance to play more than two games at third base? Does he have more experience at first base than Randy Levine? Does he have more experience at second base than John Sterling?

    And what are they “developing” Gardner for by sending him down? To become a regular in the NYY outfield? When? Damon and Matsui are signed through 2009, Melky is established and Tabata and Ajax are on their way. So what exactly is the plan for Gardner once he’s “developed”?

    “Bunting, base stealing and defense are National League issues.” Anyone recall Dave Roberts?

  24. John Ogre March 22nd, 2008 at 2:26 am

    “Molina is the best backup Jorge Posada had had since John Flaherty in 2003 and 2004.”

    John Flaherty was good? hitting .172 and avg. defensive? What? what? good? No. mediocre? Yes.

  25. Guiseppe Franco March 22nd, 2008 at 2:52 am

    Melky is anything but “established.” He’s a fourth outfielder who happens to be starting for the Yanks. Take away his arm and he’s nothing special.

    Gardner is a much better defensive outfielder than Melky. He just doesn’t have his arm. At the plate, he works the count and can run like a rabbit.

    I was hoping the Yanks would trade Melky a year ago when his value was at it’s peak, but maybe they can move him sometime this season.

  26. crawdaddie March 22nd, 2008 at 2:59 am

    You keep Gardner playing at Scranton so he displays his skills so his value stays viable in any possible trades or replaces Melky if he’s the one traded.

  27. AndrewYF March 22nd, 2008 at 3:04 am

    Flaherty WAS good. An OPS+ of 97 and 93 for a backup catcher is more than you can ask for. Flaherty never really got on base, but he had power and hit some bombs.

  28. Jeff NJ March 22nd, 2008 at 3:19 am

    You know what, why can’t we have an 11 man pitching staff for awhile and take a guy like Gardner. Farnsworth and Joba can both pitch multiple innings. That leaves 3 other pitchers to get some innings and they all have options so the 3 can be transferred out all year to stay fresh. Of course a DL stint for Matsui or Giambi will be easily covered now.

  29. Jerkface March 22nd, 2008 at 4:05 am

    Pinch running is overrated, we’ll win far more games by having our backups post OPS+ over 100 than we will by the extra run or two that a sub 100 OPS+ pinch runner gives us.

    Wicked bench considering Duncan, Molina, Betemit, and Ensberg could arguably be starters on a lesser team.

    Gardner wasn’t very good in AAA last year, so it is understandable that the Yankees would put him in AAA again to see if he is truly ready for the jump.

  30. Jerkface March 22nd, 2008 at 4:05 am

    I forgot to mention that having Gardner in AAA as the starting CFer should be motivation to Melky to perform. More motivation than if Gardner is a glorified pinch runner, especially if he rakes in AAA.

  31. Jeff NJ March 22nd, 2008 at 4:39 am

    I understand the Yankees barely pinch run, but let us not forget how the Red Sox stile the 2004 series, when that pinch runner stole on Mo. That was the beginning of the end. Why can’t the Yankees have a guy like that? I will say however, the Yankees have very underrated team speed. I mean Damon, Jeter, Abreu, and A Rod are all better than average base stealers, but there may come a time where you may want to pinch run for Giambi, Duncan or Melky.

  32. Jerkface March 22nd, 2008 at 5:11 am

    So Jeff, you want to carry an otherwise useless player on the oft chance that we can steal 1 overrated base? I’d much rather have built a solid lead where 1 run scoring doesn’t mean the end of the world with a lineup and bench full of relentless hitters.

    And honestly it was pitching and an offense that puttered out that lost us the ALCS, not a stolen base. You think of Mariano Rivera just nails one of those save opps we’d be in the world series.

  33. crawdaddie March 22nd, 2008 at 6:05 am

    This is the opening day roster not the playoff roster. Some of you need to relax as this roster will change often throughout the 162 game season.

    By the way, the Yankees only have two offdays in April and play something like 19 games in a row which is why they’re carrying 12 pitchers. Remember, arm strength among the starters is still being built on and command could be an issue with some of our starters causing them to be pulled in the fifth inning so a deep bullpen is probably necessary at this time.

  34. Florida Yank March 22nd, 2008 at 8:01 am

    Karstens will have to pitch near flawless for the chances he’ll be given in the next week. Rasner has made a case to stay.
    Brett Gardner will be a final cut but high on Joe Girardi’s radar as a 1st call. He’ll stay ready at AAA.
    Morgan Ensberg is not a given. He can still be pushed out.

  35. Mike S. March 22nd, 2008 at 8:16 am

    The weaknesses that Pete lists are precisely why I wanted Gardner and not Ensberg. The bench looks far too “infield laden” and “righty bat” laden. There really isn’t too much for Gardner to develop. He’ll never develop power; he doesn’t have it. You can’t fatten up the greyhound. He does have speed. Speed you are born with. That can’t be developed. The only thing that can be worked on are leads, reading the pitchers, and jumps, and Gardner is fine there. Personally, I wanted a more diverse mix, and that would have meant Gardner.

    Many guys who have been starters can’t adjust to coming off the bench. You don’t know if Ensberg can adapt, much as you don’t know if Gardner could. Just because Ensberg is a vet doesn’t mean he can do it.

    As far as JD’s noodle arm in CF, I don’t want to see that any more than 15 times this year if that. Between Bernie’s arm his last few years and then JD…sigh.

    It’s not going to be Rasner or Karstens or Bruney or Britton. The person above is comparing apples and oranges. Two Spot Starter/Long Relief types vs. two short relievers. Ohlendorf is battling Bruney and Britton (as well as Veras and Edwar) for one spot. Karstens is battling Rasner for another.

    If Jimbo didn’t write what he did at 2:25, I would have.

    Gardner wasn’t good in AAA last year. Oh really? Yes, he only hit .260. He also stole 21 in 24 attempts in 45 games at AAA. He basically did what he would at the major league level. It’s amazing that people expect spot starters to go 11-2 or the 25th man on the bench to hit .340. They are in the roles they are in for a reason.

    In previous years, the Yanks have been decried (esp. by me) for having too many 1b/dh types. This move shows nothing changed.

  36. Bad Scooter March 22nd, 2008 at 8:18 am

    Everybody relax. The roster will fluctuate throughout the year. Do you remember the playoff roster last year? You don’t need as many pitchers in the playoffs as you don’t need 5 starters. Your 5th becomes a very valuable bullpen guy.

    Sardhina was on our playoff roster last year. I’ll bet that Gardner is on the playoff roster if the Yanks make it this fall and be the pinch runner everbody craves. See Dave Roberts.

    Everyone worries about a backup SS or 2B, but how often do Jeter and Cano sit? If either one gets hurt for an extended period of time, then we’ll bring up one of the guys you’re crying about sending down for Ensberg. Betemit can play SS or 2B here or there, not that big of a deal. I don’t get all talk about Betemit not being able to play SS or 2B, he looks fine to me and he’s slimmed down a ton from last year. Gonzalez is supposed to be this great glove guy and I don’t doubt it, but he’s booted quite a few in his September call-up last year and this spring. Betemit is fine.

    Giambi will play first against RH and Matsui will DH. Against LH’s we can have Ensberg/Duncan at 1B and DH or even Duncan in RF for Abreu and DH Matsui or Giambi against the LH. We have options at 1B, DH and RF. We want to give guys like Abreu, Damon, Matsui and Giambi a day off once in awhile, so Duncan and Ensberg will get their AB’s.

    Don’t forget that A-Rod will play all 162 if he can. A-Rod will play 162 if he can, but maybe DH him once in awhile and let Ensberg play 3B. Jeter will, too, but you’d like to give your aging SS a day of her or there and Cano will play all 162 as well, but it’s nic for these guys to get a break once in awhile. That being said, they’ll still start 150+ games or so, maybe more. No need to worry too much about backup middle infielders.

  37. gayle March 22nd, 2008 at 8:18 am

    FYI we still need one more team for the fantasy league as a team had to drop out if you are interested please post here so you can join.

  38. Bad Scooter March 22nd, 2008 at 8:23 am

    Mike S. I like Gardner a ton and his time will come soon enough. Injuries happen and Gardner will be the first OF called up and there is no doubt he’ll make the playoff roster if we get there. I can’t wait to see him play his first regular season game in pinstripes. If he’s still in the Yankee organization in 2009, he’ll make the roster out of camp. Heck, we’re not even sure he won’t make it this spring. I doubt it, but you never know.

  39. Bad Scooter March 22nd, 2008 at 8:23 am

    When is the draft Gayle?

  40. murphydog March 22nd, 2008 at 8:25 am

    The Yankees were 4th in the AL in stolen bases last year (123 in 2007), behind only Baltimore, the Angels and the Bloody D-Rays.

    http://www.baseball-reference......2007.shtml

    Second only to the US Military as the Worlds’s Most Potent Offensive Force, the Yankees don’t really need the regular services of a speed-only bench player. The guys who stole 123 bases last year are all back this year, with Jeter in better (or different) shape, and with Damon’s wheels in good shape to start the season. Given the same stealers but a more aggressive manager, the SB numbers can go up, but do they need to?

    The Dave Roberts steal will be forever seared into my pinstriped consciousness, but how often will that scenario be replayed?

  41. Mr Flip March 22nd, 2008 at 8:28 am

    Keep thinking that Gardner will have no power in the bigs.

    He’s changing as a hitter look at his last month in AAA-all the all the way through th AFL and even S.T. He’s no longer that slap hitter that he was during his first 2 3/4 years in the System.

    He has gap power and has displayed this during S.T trust me he could hit at the very least 7-14 hr’s especially playing in Y.S

  42. Bad Scooter March 22nd, 2008 at 8:30 am

    I agree murphydog, especially during the 162 game regular season. Once the playoffs start though and Giambi/Posada are the tying runs late and are on first, I’d love to have Gardner pinch run for them. How often does it play out like that? Not much. But all it takes is one time. Like I said earlier, Gardner might not be on the regular season roster that much, but he’ll be there in October if we get there, just like Sardhina, who wasn’t on the roster much during the season, but made the playoff roster last year.

  43. Mike S. March 22nd, 2008 at 8:38 am

    7-14? Are you kidding me? After 5 for Staten Island in 2005, Gardner has ONE HR in the two years since.

    Mr. Flip, I’ve seen Gardner at Trenton and Scranton. Should he make the majors as a full-time player, I’ll be shocked if he ever hits 7 in a season. His “power” comes from his speed. Liners into the gaps or down the lines for doubles and triples.

    …and murphydog, I need to remind you that the guys who stole 123 last year are all another year older and starting to hit their mid-30s.

  44. Mike S. March 22nd, 2008 at 8:39 am

    One last thing. Gardner is 24, 25 in August. There isn’t too much to develop anymore, esp. in terms of power. It’s not like he’s a 20 year old still filling out.

  45. Eternal Optimist March 22nd, 2008 at 8:48 am

    This is clearly a deeper and more flexible bench than the 2007 team.

  46. hmmm March 22nd, 2008 at 8:52 am

    the Yankees won’t need 12 pitchers for the playoffs. they can always add Gardner later in the season, he’ll certainly be up in September.

    “OMG, TEH DAVE ROBERTS!!!111! STEAL”…

    it’s march.

    i’ll bet anyone $1,000,000 that this will not be the roster on September 30th.

  47. hmmm March 22nd, 2008 at 8:53 am

    “Ensberg? Is pop in the lineup what the Yanks are lacking?”

    Right handed pop? yes.

  48. murphydog March 22nd, 2008 at 8:55 am

    True, last year’s Yankee stealers are a year older. But don’t you have to concede that at least Jeter and Damon are in better shape than last year too? So, at worst, doesn’t that suggest a statistical plateau instead of a precipitous drop off in SB?

    In a perfect world, I’d like some more speed on the bench, just for balance. But I don’t think the Yankees need to steal more bases this year to improve their win total. The playoffs are a different matter. I agree that injury or a September call up may give Gardner a cup of coffee and a try-out for designated rabbit on the playoff bench. But there’s 162 to be played first and anything can happen.

  49. gayle March 22nd, 2008 at 9:02 am

    Draft is Tuesday at 830PM EST

  50. Bronxbyte March 22nd, 2008 at 9:39 am

    Murph ;

    Correct analysis with the speed and lost many times is the excellent baserunning ability many on the team possess starting with the Captain.
    Smart baserunning factors in as large with winning games. It’s an art within itself.

  51. arun March 22nd, 2008 at 9:42 am

    Defense is a concern of every team regardless of their league. Pitching and defense win games. I hope you were being sarcastic.

    Otherwise, the bench can do some things but when you think of how many are basically first baseman (pretty much all of them: Duncan, Betemit, Ensberg) it’s kind of alarming.

  52. Jimbo March 22nd, 2008 at 9:43 am

    You don’t need pop at every spot in the lineup – you need a versatile, well-rounded bench – and that goes double for the top-scoring team in the world.

    I will admit that Girardi might know a smidge more about the game than I do (I’m being facetious). And to be fair, while Ensberg’s ONLY role on this team is DH/PH against tough lefties, I don’t see Gardner getting into many more games. He can spell Damon when Damon’s legs need rest, spell Melky on the rare days he will be rested, or pinch run for the likes of Posada, Molina, Giambi, Matsui or Shelley. The certainly Yanks don’t have anything close to a good defensive 4th outfielder.

    But maybe I’m beginning to see how Ensberg will have more opportunities to contribute. It’s just tough to watch the exciting things that Gardner can do, knowing no one else on the team has those skills, and then see him being sent off to wreck havoc on the basepaths of AAA. Especially after being beaten by scrappy speedsters in 2002, 2004 and 2005. The Yanks also lost 8 games to a speed-driven Tampa Bay team in 2007.

  53. bodhisattva March 22nd, 2008 at 9:44 am

    Mike S

    You are absolutely correct. Gardner does not have the ceiling of Ajax and Tabata, and in terms of helping the Yankees, his time is NOW. Furthermore, there is every reason to believe Damon will manage to hurt himself, so concerns about Gardner not getting enough playing time are insubstantial. And I don’t see him supplanting Cabrera, I see him as a specialist in terms of getting on, stealing and complementing Cabrera in later innings, so that our outfield gains a little more defensive respectability.

    Along with mediocre pitching, yes, the collection of DHs posing as position players has been our downfall in recent years. I don’t like this move, either. I’m hoping the Yankees have some other plan to unload some of the dead weight and recall Gardner (“dead weight” would not include Cabrera), but given the salaries of these guys, I think the opportunity would be a limited one.

  54. Mr Flip March 22nd, 2008 at 10:51 am

    Mike S.

    I have seen garnder play in S.I, Trenton and Scranton for more tha just a few games.

    His swing path has changed from the way it way back in S.I to the way that we’ve been seeing him swing down in Tampa right now.

    He’s been using his lower half to drive the ball. Even Gary Denbo(blue jays hitting instructor) agrees with this. He’s much than a reserve outfielder.

    If you knew what kind of hitter he was in college and see the progress he’s made since then you’d understand.

    When your taught to hit the ball on the ground to the left side of the infield it takes years to get away from that habit. It’s not about his body type it’s all in his swing.

    Every year you have seen a rise in his XBH% since 2005 (even with those 5 hr’s) And i posted before his LD% has gotten higher as well.

    but i guess since you’ve seen him and thinks he really has no projection left….. so i’ll take your words and digress.

  55. OldYanksFan March 22nd, 2008 at 11:00 am

    Lambchop La La – Let me get this straight. Last year, LHP killed us. Over the last 3 years, Ensberg has a .950 OPS against LHP. Last year, Jetes, ARod and Cano played 156, 158 and 160 games. So, you want a no-hit UINF on OPENING DAY, who MIGHT be a LIDR in 20 games, instead of 200 ABs from a guy with a .950 OPS, because of the POST SEASON 6 months away?

    Are you aware the our PS roster might not be the EXACT same as our opening day roster?

    People here seem to think that the maybe 5 times a stolen base wins a game is more important then 200 ABs of .900+ OPS (Ensberg vs. Brett) -or-
    a few games with slightly better defense to sacrifice 150 ABs of a far superior bat (Cody vs Betemin?)

    You have to play the numbers. Slightly better D is nice. Speed is nice. But how many games will be won on those things vs hundreds of ABs from vastly superior hitters?

    You don’t build a team based on euphemisms or baseball CW. You base it on the specific talents of the players you have.
    They say defense is part of winning in the PS. Does this mean you choose Gardner over Bonds? Lugo over Jeter? Doug Mientkiewicz over Ryan Howard?

    The collective decisions made by Griardi, Coaches and the FO may just have a little more baseball experience and know-how then our opinions. Maybe we should keep that in mind before calling out Cashman and Girardi.

  56. bottom line March 22nd, 2008 at 11:08 am

    It amazes me how people now assume that OPS is the true measure of a player’s worth. Anyone who has watched baseball for a long period of time knows about the extraordinary impact of runners who are, in a words, pests. Go back to Jackie RObinson, Willie Mays, Maury Wills, Lou Brock, Ricky Henderson, Vince Coleman and our own Mickey Rivers — all of these players had impact that statistics do not capture. Rattling the pitcher, inducing errant throws, taking extra bases on slight nearly imperceptible hesitation by fielders. The point about all this is that in the 8th or 9th inning of a close game the value of these actions is magnified — an extra base in a tie game may well be worth more than mutiple extra base hits and walks that pad numbers but often come when least needed.

    And here’s another reason speed is going to be more impoortant in the future. The steroids era beefed guys up, ingflated stats, and diminished the value of a single strategic one-base advance. If you believe the steroid era is history, then you will also see the growing relative importance of game-changing speed.

    I don’t mind that the Yanks are keeping Ensberg over Gardner now. But by the middle of the season, or sooner, and certainly in the post-season, I want Gardner on the bench as a lethal and disruptive weapon. And, by the way, he can bunt.

  57. CB March 22nd, 2008 at 11:15 am

    Brett Gardner’s entire game is build on speed.

    In AAA last year over 181 at bats he had an OBP of .343 and an OPS of .674.

    To put those numbers in perspective that’s basically what Juan Pierre did last year, though Juan Pierre had a higher batting average, slugging percentage and OPS in the majors than Brett Gardner had in AAA.

    Think about that. Gardner’s numbers in AAA were worse than Juan Pierre’s in the majors. Pierre is considered widely to be amongst the worst starting players in the majors.

    Gardner is not ready. His OBP and ability to draw walks fell significantly in AAA. Guys wouldn’t walk him because they knew the best he would do with the bat is hit a single.

    Gardner has a lot to show in AAA before coming up to the big leagues.

  58. OldYanksFan March 22nd, 2008 at 11:30 am

    ” understand the Yankees barely pinch run, but let us not forget how the Red Sox stile the 2004 series, when that pinch runner stole on Mo.”
    ———————————————————-
    Every year, there are almost 2500 games played. You cite ONE example of when ‘speed’ made a difference in ONE game, and you wan’t to build your roster based on that? Should I go through every box score to find examples of guys who were throw out trying to steal, or guys that won a game with a PH extra base hit?

    Unfortunately, speed and defense alone are NOT enough to make a great team like the Yankees. Add excellent hitting (Damon in his prime) or hitting and power (Carl Crawford, ARod, AJax) and NOW you have something.

    My guess is Gardner is rated SLIGHTY lower then Melky, who is starting only because Matsui stinks on D, and JD and Mats have had injuries. On top of 4 OFers, we also have FrankenShelly. Our OF is 5 deep. Not great on D or speed, but overall, pretty darn good.

    Will Melky get better? Will Gardner get better? If Gardner does get better, maybe we don’t resign Bobby and put that $16m into Tex? Is Gardner + Tex > Abreu? Maybe we trade Melky, who has very good value. Maybe AJax and/or Tabata get hurt or turn into duds? Who knows? We need another year or 2 to really know what our 2009/10 OF looks like.

    And of couse, while JD and Mats are signed through 2009, either could get injured and just begin to stink. Could 2009 Gardner be better then 2009 JD? Again, who knows.
    And there has been talk of trading Mats. He also will have good value (1 yr/$13m)

    So what are we ‘developing’ Brett Gardner for? Simply to see IF he can play a role in our future. That is the question. But that question won’t be answered, and it will also stunt Gardner’s potential, to have him ride the pine 90% of the time in 2008.

    In 2010, Is an OF of Tabata, AJax, Melky and Brett good enough? I guess we will have to wait and see.

    P.S.
    Dave Roberts has been ‘moved’ to 5 teams over 9 years.
    Juan Pierre has played on 4 teams in 8 years.
    How valuable do you think these guys are?

  59. OldYanksFan March 22nd, 2008 at 11:52 am

    Willie Mays – 156
    Jackie RObinson – 132
    Ricky Henderson – 127
    Lou Brock – 109
    Mickey Rivers – 106
    Maury Wills – 88 (excellent defensive SS in the ’70s)
    Vince Coleman – 83 (7 teams, 13 years)

    Juan Pierre – 84
    Dave Roberts – 84

    So you have three super stars who you thinks were starts because they had great speed? 2 Above average players, and 2 below. I was a SS in a diferent era, the other average 2 years per team.

    And then you have Juan and Dave sukatude, although both are better then Gardner is now.

    Really, you folks come up with the most bizarre and cherry picked examples and try to use them to make a point.
    People: OPS >>>> Speed

  60. OldYanksFan March 22nd, 2008 at 11:53 am

    Oops… numbers above are OPS+

  61. george March 22nd, 2008 at 11:58 am

    yeah, the bench lacks base-stealing speed, but overall it seems a much deeper bench than in recent years. for example, Betemit provides much more offense than Cairo did, while Cairo gave some speed. If i need to start my backup IF, Betemit should produce more runs.

    the real issue is modern baseball and the high number of relievers on a roster; carrying 12 pitchers means you almost have to sacrifice some facet of the bench. in this case it was speed.

  62. bodhisattva March 22nd, 2008 at 12:33 pm

    FYI to people who don’t know this:

    CANO BATTED .328 VS LHP. He’s not merely a good hitter vs. lefties, He’s anathema to lefties. Expect that to continue. Therefore, you might not want to include him in your group of “too many lefties” vs. LHP.

  63. G. Love March 22nd, 2008 at 1:06 pm

    I honestly can’t understand the Yankee fan on here who is upset at Ensberg making this team.

    It’s ridiculous. I mean, are you seriously counting on Giambi at age 38 to play an injury free 1b and be in the field every single day?

    Are you?

    If we let Ensberg go for the Cody Ransom, Woodward, Alberto Gonazles of the world, Ensberg will be snapped up and he will hit close to 30 HR’s and destroy LH pitching for another team.

    It will be Carlos Pena all over again.

    Ensberg will play against lefties every game. Mark it down. He will either DH or play 1b (probably 1b).

    This isn’t Josh Phelps. This is a guy who proved himself at the major league level and had his power sapped due to a shoulder injury he’s finally healing from.

    Some of you guys seriously have screws loose.

    You care more about having the defensively perfect emergency SS, 2b OF for the one game we might need him before we can DL the injured player and call up the appropriate replacement, than you do about having a team that is as fierce against LH pitching as it is against RH pitching?

    You’d rather waste a spot on an slick fielding fast running UTIF than a guy who crushes lefties (isn’t terrible against righties) and can play both corners?

    Here’s what happens if Jeter goes down for a long stretch. They try Betemit. If it doesn’t work, Arod plays SS and Ensberg, an accomplished 3b, plays 3rd.

    Here’s what happenes if Cano goes down for a long stretch. They try Betemit. If he doesn’t work out, they call up a 2b from the minors to fill in.

    Here’s what happens if Arod or Giambi go down. They play Ensberg as a replacement.

    Where exactly is this guy hurting our team?

    Is he hurting us because your minor league mascot of the month in Gardner and Ransom have to put some more time in the minors?

  64. bottom line March 22nd, 2008 at 2:00 pm

    Old Fan,

    Sure, a higher OPS is better than a low one. But how good, really, were Robinson, Brock and Henderson if you took speed out of their games? Base running is the most under rated skill in the game. Bunting, second. The juiced-up stats of the last two decades obscured that but it will soon become clear again. I’ll take Gardner over a bunch of lead-legged stiffs with cast-iron gloves and occasional power. Jim Spencer, anyone? Toby Harrah? Mark my words. By May or June, people will be clamoring for Gardner (or maybe even Justin Christian)

    Yeah, Robinson without speed wasn’t as good as Bobby Grich. Mays without speed? Sure, McCovey. and the others were, take away their speed

  65. bottom line March 22nd, 2008 at 2:04 pm

    Completing the last sentence:

    ..and the others were, take away their speed, average or perhaps good players who would be little remembered.

  66. bottom line March 22nd, 2008 at 2:32 pm

    Actually, on second thought Jackie Robinson without speed wouldn’t have been anywhere near Bobby Grich. Maybe Tony Taylor. Anybody remember him?

  67. bodhisattva March 22nd, 2008 at 5:59 pm

    G Love.

    You can’t compare Pena to Ensberg. Pena is younger and a lefty power hitter; much more potent for Yankee Stadium.

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