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Posts Tagged ‘Austin Romine’

Hal and Hank Steinbrenner (Hal is on the left)

The Daily News reported this morning that the Steinbrenner family may have the Yankees up for sale.

“Rumors are flying in Major League Baseball and New York banking circles that the family that has owned Major League Baseball’s premiere franchise since Cleveland shipbuilder George Steinbrenner purchased the club for $8.8 million in 1973 is exploring the possibility of selling the Yankees.”

Later this morning, the Yanks issued a flat denial. Via Bryan Hoch of MLB.com:

“‘I just learned of the Daily News story. It is pure fiction,’ (Hal) Steinbrenner said in a statement. ‘The Yankees are not for sale. I expect that the Yankees will be in my family for many years to come.'”

Is this a case of the Daily News, forever locked in a back-page battle with the New York Post, creating a story to spur readership? Or are the Yankees actually on the block? If this were any other tabloid, my gut would be to dismiss the story outright. But this one has Bill Madden in the byline, and over the years I’ve come to respect Mr. Madden’s ability to unearth behind-the-scenes information. So…

The answer may not lie in the perceived value of the Yankees franchise, currently reported to be around $3 billion. Instead, it might be better to examine the current ownership group for any signs they may want out of the baseball business. The two principles, Hal and Hank Steinbrenner, are near polar opposites in terms of their personalities. Hank is much more the fan and fiery competitor. Like George, he also has something of a mercurial temperament – this is the son who lambasted the NL for not having the DH, called out Derek Jeter for building a mansion in Tampa, and stoked the Yankee – Red Sox rivalry by memorably deriding “Red Sox Nation.” Hank even looks more like his father than his brother. Hal, on the other hand, is far more concerned with the bottom line. Hal once referred to himself as a “finance geek.” While it should be obvious to anyone that while he may have been one, I can’t ever picture the bombastic George referring to himself that way.

There is also the fact that Hal is beginning to realize that while Hank was probably overzealous in giving Alex Rodriguez a ten year, $260 million extension going into his age 33 season, his preferred method of building from within isn’t exactly as easy as Gene Michael made it look in the 1990’s. None of the top prospects he anticipated being part of the team’s core by now – Phil Hughes, Jesus Montero, Eduardo Nunez, Dellin Betances, Austin Romine, Ian Kennedy and Manny Banuelos – has been able to establish themselves as major leaguers. Of that list, only Hughes is a regular contributor; Montero and Kennedy are now elsewhere, Nunez is back in the minors and Betances, Romine and Banuelos have been plagued by inconsistency and injury while in the high minors. He understands that the Yankee fan base won’t stand for losing. In order to keep the seats filled at Yankee Stadium (and ad revenue on the YES Network peaking), he needs a winning product on the field. At the same time, Hal has made it a goal to have payroll below the anticipated $189 million luxury-tax threshold by the 2014 season – a season in which the Yankees already have $75 million in salary committed to four players and will likely be well over $100 million if they decide to resign any combination of Robinson Cano, Curtis Granderson, Ivan Nova, Nick Swisher and Russell Martin.

While I find it hard to believe that Hank would be willing to part ways with the Yankees, it isn’t hard to see Hal wanting to leave the circus and go home to heading Steinbrenner Properties. If this season’s on-the-field troubles continue, I suspect Hal may begin earnestly looking for a way out. He’ll be pressured to do something that really doesn’t work well in the New York market: find inexpensive talent to replace popular (and productive) players jettisoned for contract reasons. He got to preview the way a frugal owner gets treated in the situation when negotiating Derek Jeter’s contract last year. Imagine him playing hardball over money with Cano and Granderson, two popular players entering their prime and the resulting back page fallout from that.

The big question is whether the rest of the family trusts Hank to run the financial side of the team and keep his temper in check. Those of us old enough to remember George Steinbrenner from the 1980’s shudder a bit at the thought of Hank reprising that role. Still, if Hal actually does want out (that $3 billion price tag is awfully enticing to a “numbers guy”), I can see the family giving Hank first shot at forming a new ownership group. It would certainly be interesting, in an All My Children kind of way.

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Are we talking a matter of days here? A couple of weeks? A September call-up?

“According to sources close to organization, Trenton catcher Austin Romine, then Dellin Betances, will be next to board the SWB shuttle, with top overall prospect Jesus Montero expected to join the Yankees’ lineup in the very near future.

The summer fo 2011 marks the first time since 1999 the Yankees have not made a July trade, and Cashman told reporters in New York today that he was never close to a deal with anyone, including the Colorado Rockies for Ubaldo Jimenez.”

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On his blog, Bryan Hoch reports that in the greatest upset since the St. Louis Browns 1944 World Series win, neither Jesus Montero nor Austin Romine will break camp with Yankees. Instead, the backup catcher (at least for now) is Gustavo Molina. In other news, the primary back-up infielder for the past two years, Ramiro Pena, is on his way to Scranton. His roster spot is taken by Eduardo Nunez.

You can read all the details here.

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As we head into the homestretch of Spring Training, many fans are wondering which of the Yankees highly touted prospects will make the team. My best guess is that only two will be on the Opening Day roster – and one won’t be the guy everyone seems to think. Here’s a quick run-down, beginning with pitchers and catchers.

Pitchers – Coming into camp, there were six youngsters on the radar. All have demonstrated that they’ll be in the majors someday and a few have shown glimpses of top of the rotation talent.

Photo Courtesy of Mark Lomoglio

Dellin Betances: Headed to AA Trenton. Although he impressed at times, those moments were mostly in the early spring. As the competition began to stiffen, his lack of command and inexperience began to show. Don’t worry, though. He has all the tools to be an ace one day. My best guess is he gets a cup of coffee in 2012 and is a full time Yankee in 2013.

Manny Banuelos: See above, although he’s shown more poise. He may actually fast track to the boogie down faster than Betances; he has better command of more pitches at this stage and he’s left-handed.

Andrew Brackman: Remember how Randy Johnson frustrated the Expos early in his career, as his 6’10” frame got completely out of kilter with men on base? Brackman is at that stage now. He throws hard and has a wicked breaking ball, but his mechanics need a lot of fine tuning. He’s headed for AA Scranton, but we may see him in pinstripes sooner than the other Killer B’s.

Ivan Nova: Yankee fans, meet your number 4 starter. It isn’t official yet, but he has proven himself capable this spring. He is combining a plus fastball with a “cut-slider” and improved change to make hitters look foolish at times.

Adam Warren, David Phelps and D.J. Mitchell: All three are proving that they may be serviceable as middle of the rotation or relief type pitchers. A lot of teams would drool at this trio, but with the Yankees, they’re merely trade pieces.

Catchers – Most teams have trouble finding one young catcher. The Yankees have 3 kids who are pushing for a MLB spot. The back-up spot on the Yankee roster will be open until early May with Francisco Cervelli’s injury. Which one goes north?

Jesus Montero

Jesus Montero: The kid can hit, but his defense…well, no one is going to confuse him with Thurman Munson just yet. I really hope the Yanks send him back to AAA to start the year – to allow him to play every day and work on it. Catcher is still a defense-first position and having an all-offense catcher isn’t a luxury the team can afford. I suspect that the manager understands that, having been a catcher during his MLB career.

Austin Romine: The most polished defensively of the trio, his odds of being the heir to Jorge Posada are pretty low. By bringing him north and letting him play 2-3 times a week, he can show off those skills and hopefully hit well enough that the Yanks can set him up as a big-time trade piece – or that he plays so well that Cervelli winds up on the trading block. He is good enough to start for about 20 teams right now, including a few with hopes of contending.

Gary Sanchez: With only 47 pro games under his belt, the 18 year old is near the top of Baseball America‘s Top 100 prospect list. He is still at least two, and more likely four, years away from being ready for the majors. But if the scouts are right, this kid is the next coming of Johnny Bench.

Coming tomorrow, I’ll look at the minor league infielders and outfielders trying to make the Opening day roster.

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 Jesus Montero #83 Of The New York Yankees Works

Francisco Cervelli fractured a bone in his foot and will be out for at least four weeks, leaving the backup catching position wide open for Jesus Montero. Yankees fans have anticipated his arrival at the major league level for a while now, but he won’t be handed the job. He’ll have to battle it out with Austin Romine during spring training, but he’ll definitely be the favorite to take the job. According to Bryan Hoch, there is no plans for Jorge Posada to strap on the gear and will remain the team’s designated hitter.

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The One that Got Away

For those of you haven’t heard, Cliff Lee surprised just about everyone by deciding to sign with the Phillies. The move is an unqualified disaster for the Yankees and Brian Cashman, who had bet the farm (and the team’s immediate future) on signing the ace lefty. Combined with Boston’s wheeling and dealing, and Andy Pettitte’s possible (and likely) retirement, the Yanks may not be in serious contention for a playoff spot: Boston hasn’t only improved themselves, but so have the Tigers, Twins and White Sox. The Yankees look like they’re headed into the season with a two man rotation. (CC Sabathia and Phil Hughes),  a depleted bench and shaky bullpen. Ouch.

So, what to do now?

1. Trade for for a starter: use some of the Yankees minor-league depth to acquire a proven, front-end starter. Unfortunately, two best rumored to be available, Zack Greinke and Carlos Zambrano, are both head cases. Greinke is a former Cy Young winner. He’s rumored to want out of Kansas City. He’s young. He’s also had problems handling stress – and suddenly being cast as the “savior” of the 2011 season for the New York Yankees has a good chance of stopping his 2011 season before it starts. Not too mention that KC would want half of the Yankees farm sytem in return. Zambrano has top of the rotation stuff and the “Big Z” certainly has delivered both wins and quality starts in the past. But he’s also the poster child for petulance – and does anyone really think Larry Rothschild wants to be reunited with the Cubs ace?
2. Promote Ivan Nova and Hector Noesi: the last time the team slotted two rookies into the rotation was in 2008. Enough said on that idea. Although it may be the only option left.
3. Sign Carl Pavano: stopped laughing yet? Remember, this is the same front office that sent a popular outfielder and LH relief prospect to bring in a past failure who would eat innings, coming off a good season. That didn’t work out so well, but Cashman may well be considering the idea. After all, none of us thought he’d bring back Javier Vazquez, either.
4. Put Joba Chamberlain back in the rotation: no matter how much they say otherwise, this team loves jerking the kid around. He’s been everything from Mo’s heir to doghouse sitter so far. As much as they’ve been saying that Joba is in the pen for 2011, no doubt the brass has to be seriously reconsidering that idea at the moment.
5. Ride it out and wait for 2012: there are some big time prospects headed this way in 2012. Players like Dellin Betances, Andrew Brackman, Austin Romine and Brandon Laird. It smacks of the late 80s Yankees, who kept buying stop-gap major leaguers while waiting for the farm to deliver. (Anyone remember how Roberto Kelly was going to save the franchise?)

6. Stockpile relievers, realizing that half of the team’s innings need to come from the ‘pen: great idea, except free-agent relievers rarely work out as intended. The only high-upside reliever left on the market is Rafael Soriano and it’s hard to see the Yankees singing another closer.

Then, there’s my personal favorite…

7. Bring in a player personnel guy. Cashman has proven astute on the business side of baseball and made the Steinbrenner family a ton of money, so its no wonder they love the guy. But his personnel moves leave a lot to be desired. Its simply insane that the team with the highest payroll has holes, and this one now needs a 4th and 5th starter, a set-up reliever, a 4th outfielder and utility infielder. When you look at the players he’s brought in versus who he’s let go, well… that’s a whole other post.

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A bit late on this, but Baseball America has released the New York Yankees Top 10 Prospects for 2011. And here it is:

1. Jesus Montero
2. Gary Sanchez
3. Dellin Betances
4. Manny Banuelos
5. Andrew Brackman
6. Austin Romine
7. Hector Noesi
8. Eduardo Nunez
9. Slade Heathcott
10. Brandon Laird

No real surprises on the list. Montero ranking #1 makes sense, considering he could very well be holding the starting catcher position out of Spring Training at the start of next season. As you can tell by the list, some prospects have made considerable improvements. Sanchez (#7 in ’10) and Brackman (#10 in ’10) have moved up the ranks. The thing that has to catch your eye is Dellin Betances ranking #3 on this list. It just shows how good of a year he’s had, considering he was left off the top 10 list all together in 2010.

With Zach McAllister and Arodys Vizcaino leaving the team, it opened up some new spots for other propsects. New additions to this year’s list include: Noesi, Nunez and Laird.   (more…)

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I thought about this for a long time, but Rebecca Glass’ blog post about Posada urged me to get this up:

When you think of all the Yankees great players from the 1995-2010, some of the names that come to mind are Derek Jeter, Mariano RiveraBernie Williams, Andy Pettitte, etc. One name missing from that list would probably be Jorge Posada. He’s always been overshadowed, with the constant sluggers coming and going in the Big Apple (Giambi, Sheffield, Abreu). When you look at a team filled with superstars, sometimes people get left out of certain discussions, and it’s about time Posada is given credit for all that he’s done.

Posada is a 5X All-Star, 5X Silver Slugger and a 4X World Series champion (5X if you count ’96..where he played only 8 games). I’m not going to analyze all of his numbers, and start comparing him to each and every player, because you already know that he’s one of the greatest offensive catchers of all-time.

When Posada took over the starting catcher’s role in 1997, the fans didn’t know what they really had. Over the next thirteen years, Jorge became an offensive force in the American League. You can tell me that he can’t run, he calls a bad game behind the dish and he doesn’t have a very good arm. It almost sickens me to hear all the complaining about him. How often do you get a catcher who can both hit for power and play great defense? Not very often. Posada has one of those qualities, and he’s good at what he does.

Finding a solid catcher in the major leagues isn’t a very easy thing to do. Georgie is a switch-hitting catcher with power, which is considered a rare commodity. Watching Molina, Cervelli and Moeller hit over the last few years has been painful. It gives you a greater appreciation for what Posada has done, and how long he has done it. I’m well aware that the Yankees have great catching depth in the minors, with Montero, Romine, Sanchez and Murphy coming up through the system, but prospects don’t always pan out.

With Posada’s career winding down, you really shouldn’t take him for granted. He ranks right up there with Elston Howard and Yogi Berra in the record books, and will go down as one of the greatest to wear the pinstripes. Hopefully, one day he’ll be inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown. When Posada hangs up his cleats, fans will look over his career and really start to appreciate all the things he’s accomplished in his career.

Jorge’s Career Statistics: .276AVG 259HR 1013RBI .378OBP .480SLG .858OPS (more…)

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121 games into the 2010 season, the Yankees have a record of 73-48. It’s the identical mark that the team had at this point in 2009, but anyone who’s watched this season is well aware that this year’s team seems to lack the same “clutch” ability displayed last year. It’s far more than that this year’s squad has far fewer walk-off wins than last year; this team has simply not hit as well when it counts the most: when men are on base. This year, the American League average with runners in scoring position is .259; the Yankees actually are better than that at .264. But last year the league hit .269 with RISP and the Yankees hit .272 as a team in the same situations. In this “Year of the Pitcher,” the Yankees decrease in “clutch” ability hasn’t been as dramatic as the overall league rate – but there is a statistical drop in production. One that is frustrating to fans and, I’m sure, to the players.

So why the drop, other than that the influx of young pitching over the past few seasons is finally starting to step up? At the other end of the spectrum are the older hitters in the league. Those players are watching their skills erode – in some cases slowly; in others, more dramatically. One of those players is undoubtedly Jorge Posada.

The 16-year veteran has been the Yankee’s primary catcher for the past 13 seasons. Ask anyone familiar with the game and they’ll tell you the same thing: 13 years behind the plate places an incredible toll on the human body. It’s the primary reason most catchers don’t enjoy long careers. Jorge has not only had a lengthy catching career, he is probably a Hall of Fame candidate. His 241 career home runs as a catcher places him 9th all-time and his 1,003 career RBI place him 12th. He has more home runs than HOF’ers Gabby Hartnett, Roy Campanella and Bill Dickey; he has more RBI than HOF’er Ernie Lombardi. But Posada is definitely on the back-end of what has definitely been a great career. The question is, has that career basically come to an end?

There are two troubling aspects to this phase of his career. First, Posada has spent considerable time on the disabled list the past three seasons. The dings and dents that he played through as a 30 year old are not so easy to dismiss when you’re a 36 year old catcher. Second is his decline in clutch situations, which brings me back to the points at the beginning of this article. Posada is essentially a fixture in the 6 spot in Joe Girardi’s standard line-up (this season, 92.5% of Posada’s plate appearances have come from the 6 hole). That is a key RBI spot, especially in the Yankee line-up. In fact, this season Posada has come to bat 97 times with men in scoring position, in 80 games played – better than once per game. So it’s rather disheartening that Posada has accumulated only 29 RBI in RISP situations.

Based on his career, it’s also well below what the team has come to expect from Posada in those situations. As figure 1 shows, Posada is well below his career pace in RISP situations, and his past three seasons are trending down.

Jorge Posada RISP
Year SO% BA OBP SLG OPS DP%
2008

0.176

0.250

0.392

0.425

0.817

0.020

2009

0.210

0.328

0.399

0.603

1.002

0.051

2010

0.268

0.195

0.299

0.390

0.689

0.021

3 yr avg

0.224

0.269

0.364

0.500

0.864

0.035

career avg

0.192

0.281

0.397

0.495

0.893

0.034

2010 LG AVG

0.171

0.259

0.343

0.398

0.742

0.029

Figure 1

Clearly, the trends are alarming. Posada is making less contact each season in these situations, as evidenced by the escalating strike-out rates (.176 in 2008, .210 last year and .268 this season). Sadly, opposing pitchers are probably licking their chops when they see Posada come to the plate, given that he is more likely to strike out than get a hit with men in scoring position. 2010 also marks the first time in his career that Posada’s RISP metrics are all worse than league average. And not a slightly worse than average, but by significant margins. Jorge was once one of the most feared clutch hitters in the game; now, any fear is more out of respect for the past than actual production.

So the question remains, is this the beginning of the end for Jorge Posada’s greatness? It most likely is. Catchers are not known for aging gracefully – when the end comes, it usually comes pretty quickly. The first tell-tale signs are readily apparent: the increasing injury frequency and being overmatched in situations Posada once owned – often by guys who were in junior high when Posada first assumed the regular catcher’s spot for the Yankees. I’m loathe to write off anyone as finished, but I think we fans (and certainly the Yankees as an organization) need to face the reality that Jorge Posada is no longer a viable 6 hole hitter (unfortunately, I don’t think the team has many other options for that line-up spot, either). I also think that with next season being the last on Posada’s contract, 2012 is likely to be a transition year as Yankee fans get accustomed to seeing Jesus Montero or Austin Romine assume the tools of ignorance on a full-time basis, with Posada relegated to being a third catcher and DH type of role.

Author’s note: All statistics are courtesy of Baseball Reference.com and all career rankings are courtesy of the Baseball Encyclopedia.

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Graham Stoneburner/ Courtesy of Mark LoMoglio

2010 MiLB Season Statistics:

Scranton

Jesus Montero: .271AVG 11HR 47RBI .346OBP .460SLG .806OPS

Brandon Laird (TRN & SWB): .300AVG 25HR 94RBI 2SB .361OBP .547SLG .908OPS

Ivan Nova: 125.1IP (W-L, 10-2) 2.80ERA 39ER 94K .257BAA

Zach McAllister: 115.1IP (W-L, 7-8) 4.76ERA 61ER 71K .305BAA

Eric Wordekemper: (TRN & SWB) 53.0IP (W-L, 4-0) 3.23ERA 19ER 53K .237BAA

Trenton

Austin Romine: .272AVG 7HR 51RBI 1SB .340OBP .410SLG .751OPS

Andrew Brackman: (TAM & TRN) 103.0IP (W-L, 7-10) 4.81ERA 55ER 98K .275BAA

George Kontos: (TAM & TRN) 27.1IP (W-L, 0-2) 3.95ERA 12ER 19K .265BAA

Hector Noesi: (TAM & TRN) 120.0IP (W-L, 11-5) 3.00ERA 40ER 116K .225BAA

Ryan Pope: 41.1IP (W-L, 2-6) 4.25ERA 37ER 66K .256BAA

D.J. Mitchell: 114.2IP (W-L, 8-4) 4.32ERA 55ER 78K .265BAA

J. Brent Cox (TAM & TRN) 22.0IP (W-L, 1-1) 6.95ERA 17ER 11K .343BAA

Tampa

Zoilo Almonte: (CSC & TAM) .265AVG 11HR 48RBI 12SB .331OBP .429SLG .760OPS

Dellin Betances: 57.0IP (W-L, 6-1) 1.26ERA 8ER 15BB 68K .153BAA

Jonathan Ortiz: 45.0IP (W-L, 5-1) 18SV 2.60ERA 13ER 50K .196BAA

Adam Olbrychowski: 52.0IP (W-L, 2-2) 2.60ERA 15ER 41K .215BAA

Pat Venditte: 58.0IP (W-L, 2-0) 1.71ERA 5SV 11ER 71K .179BAA

Graham Stoneburner: (CSC & TAM) 109.1IP (W-L, 6-7) 2.47ERA 30ER 112K .192BAA

Charleston

Slade Heathcott: .270AVG 1HR 17RBI 10SB .364OBP .335SLG .700OPS

Brett Marshall: 44.0IP (W-L, 1-2) 4.09ERA 20ER 39K .244BAA

GCL

Gary Sanchez: .376AVG 4HR 26RBI 1SB .450OBP .612SLG 1.062OPS

Cito Culver: .276AVG 2HR 11RBI .336OBP .382SLG .718OPS

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I think one of the irrefutable facts from this Yankees season is that Alex Rodriguez is aging – painfully so for Yankees fans. It’s become obvious that the All-Star third baseman would perform at a higher level if he could get a day off every week. The skills are still there, but take it from somebody who crossed the age 35 threshold a while ago: the body just simply doesn’t recover at 35 the same way it did when you’re 25, or even 30. The little aches become more urgent, the bones creak a bit more, the tendons aren’t quite as flexible. As anyone who’s felt fatigued can attest, when the tired reaction time is lengthened. The mind may be willing, but the body just can’t respond the same way it does when you’re feeling fresh. Not such a big deal if you’re a desk jockey – but a millisecond makes a big difference when swinging at major league pitching. Fortunately for the Yanks, A-Rod is a gamer and will never use not feeling 100% for less than 125% results. Unfortunately for the Yanks, A-Rod is a gamer and will never use not feeling 100% for less than 125% results. It’s up to the manager to say, “it’s time for a blow.” 

Joe Girardi isn’t an idiot (although sometimes, his game decisions leave me wondering) and he surely realizes that A-Rod could use some time to rest. His problem with giving A-Rod rest is there is no substitute in the South Bronx for winning and Girardi doesn’t have anyone on his bench who even comes close to matching A-Rod’s production. The only infield reserve at the moment is Ramiro Pena, and the drop-off in production between he and A-Rod is ridiculous. Here’s how their seasons would look if each received the same number of plate appearances, over all 162 games this year: 

Player R H 2B 3B HR SO BB BA OBP SLG OPS+
A-Rod 83 164 42 3 26 112 68 .264 .335 .467 117
Pena 90 132 7 0 0 125 28 .204 .242 .215 27

In short, even in a down year, A-Rod’s production so far outstrips that of Pena’s that comparing the two isn’t really any comparison at all. More than that, Pena simply shouldn’t scare any pitcher in the majors, while A-Rod is always a threat. Replacing A-Rod in the line-up with Pena doesn’t just reduce the Yankees chances of winning; it virtually eliminates them.

A reserve infielder who at least carried a league-average bat was on Brian Cashman‘s wish list this trade season and he may still find one via the waiver wire. But then again, the Yankees may need to look no further than Scranton-Wilkes Barre to find a solution. Ladies and gentlemen, Brandon Laird may be wearing the big club’s pinstripes sooner than anyone thought at the beginning of the year. The 22 year old third baseman has posted a .300/.361/.547 slash line in 109 games this season, mostly with AA Trenton, with an impressive HR ratio of 16.7. In his first action at AAA, he has homered twice and is slugging an insane 1.750. 

At this point, I’d say he will definitely be part of the September call-ups. But if he keeps raking like this, it may not be far-fetched to see the Yankee’s bring him up before August 31st, making him eligible for the post-season roster. In any event, while all eyes have been focused on Jesus Montero and Austin Romine it may not be a bad idea to peek in on Laird’s progress over the next 2-3 weeks. 

 

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  Adam Dunn #44 Of The Washington Nationals HitsWith the non-waiver trade deadline now only two weeks away, this seems an opportune time to look at some of the current rumors surrounding the Yankees. Below are the players most recently linked to the Yankees by various sources, including MLB Trade Rumors, River Avenue Blues, ESPN and FOX Sports. I’ve included some personal thoughts on whether I think the player would help or hurt the drive for 28. By the way, I suspect that with AJ Burnett‘s tantrum yesterday and Andy Pettite‘s injury meaning he’s likely lost for at least a month, this list will be changing rapidly.

Adam Dunn (1B/OF, Washington Nationals): Easily the most controversial player on the board, but it may be a moot point. Nationals GM Mike Rizzo is pretty much asking for the moon for a guy that would essentially be a rental, since his contract ends this season. What Dunn brings is home runs and a lefty bat, but that’s about it. The guy runs as well as a fire hydrant and strikes out at a seemingly impossible pace (he owns three of the top five strikeout totals in ML history). And forget about that “1B/OF” designation; the only position he can field adequately is Hot Dog Stand. The reality is, Dunn is this generation’s version of Dave Kingman. Still, the Yankees can pencil him in as DH, hit him 7th or 8th in the order and learn to live with his all-or-nothing approach. Only thing is, Dunn has made it abundantly clear he doesn’t want to DH. That stance would pose a real headache for Joe Girardi. Opinion: Skip him. A one-dimensional player with the ability to turn into a clubhouse cancer isn’t what the team needs and besides, the asking price is likely outrageous.

Joakim Soria (RHP, Kansas City Royals): If you can pry him loose, this one may be a no-brainer. Soria is currently the closer for yet another woeful Royals team and possesses a 93mph cutter and devastating change. (Remind you of anyone currently on the roster?) Unusual for a closer, he also features two other secondary pitches – a sharp breaking slider and a curve. He’s only 26 and under team control for another two seasons after this one. He not only fits as a terrific 8th inning guy, but projects as Mariano Rivera‘s heir apparent. (Hey, he is 25 for 27 in save opportunities for a horrible team). The problem is with prying him away from KC – they are likely to ask for half the roster from Scranton-Wilkes Barre. Still, it might be doable. KC is well stocked at catcher, 3B and 1B and would likely want outfield and/or pitching help. Opinion: If he can be had for anything less than Jesus Montero or Austin Romine, Brian Cashman needs his head examined if doesn’t trade for him.

Wes Helms (3B/1B, Florida Marlins): I have to admit this one has me scratching my head. Yes, he can play third and the Yankees have spent all season looking for a suitable backup for Alex Rodriguez. But the guy is hitting .243 this year with a .690 OPS. While those numbers do represent an upgrade from Ramiro Pena and Kevin Russo, it isn’t by an overwhelming amount. Helms is 36, has been declining for the past few years and would represent a rental – his contract expires at the end of the season. Bringing Helms aboard would also mean wasting a roster spot for a guy to back up third base – the Yankees can play either Nick Swisher or (gulp) Marcus Thames at first, if needed. Opinion: skip him. He doesn’t offer enough versatility to be a bench player on this team.

Leo Nunez (RHP, Florida Marlins): Nunez is an interesting player. Over the past 1 ½ seasons, he’s racked up 47 saves for the Marlins. Prior to that, he pitched to a 1.4 WHIP and 4.92 ERA in 106 appearances for the Royals. He features a plus fastball but can be a bit wild at times. In other words, he represents more upside than most of the relievers on the trade market, but is still somewhat typical of why trading for relievers can be a roll of the dice. If he winds up in the Yankee pen, does he replicate his Marlins numbers? Or does he revert to his KC form? If the former, he would easily be the 8th inning guy for Joe Girardi. If not, then the Yankees have an older version of Joba Chamberlain on their hands. Since at this point the Marlins aren’t conceding the NL East, you have to wonder why they would put their closer on the market. Opinion: Nunez could be a good play for the Yankees, provided the asking price isn’t too high. If he can be had for, say, Jonathon Albaladejo, I say make the trade.

Cody Ross (CF/RF/LF, Florida Marlins): So, how much would you pay for a 29 year old outfielder who is not exactly known for plate discipline, but has shown some power in the past and is having down season? Ross would essentially replace Thames on the Yankees roster and despite his down year, represents a significant upgrade over the incumbent. While he will never be mistaken for Willie Mays, Ross isn’t a defensive liability, having played a slightly better than major league average OF, regardless of which position he’s slotted. I would imagine of particular interest to the Yankees is Ross’ career .950 OPS against left-handed pitching, since he most likely would slot into a semi-platoon with Curtis Granderson. I can also understand the Marlins wanting to move Ross; they’ve had a logjam in the outfield ever since they recalled Mike Stanton. Opinion: Getting Ross would be a good move for Brain Cashman, but getting the Marlins to agree on a price could prove difficult. They still view him as a starter while the Yankees would use him as part-timer. Could a Nunez/Ross deal be swung for Albaledejo, Reegie Corona, Zach McAllister and another low-minors prospect? That would be worthwhile, I think.

Well, there’s my take on the rumors as of Sunday afternoon. As always, your feedback is welcome – let me know if you agree or disagree!

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