Hip Hip, Jose!?…

October 7, 2009
Jorges been a bit up tight of late, but no doubt, he will get over this. Molina (right) will get the nod when AJ throws.

Jorge's been a bit up tight of late, but no doubt, he will get over this. Molina (left) will get the nod when AJ throws.

Earlier this week, the Yankees announced that Jose Molina would catch AJ Burnett in the playoffs.  This comes after a season where hitters batted 50 points higher against Burnett when Jorge Posada caught him than when Molina was his backstop.  So the decision comes as no surprise, but Posada’s reaction may surprise some people.

Jorge was visibly distressed when asked about the topic.  The switch-hitting catcher seemed angry about the choice, but, in a rather childish tone said he “saw it coming.”  Jorge and Burnett have had trouble all season.

Burnett and Posada have had some gems, but a lot of indecision as well this season.

Burnett and Posada have had some gems, but also a lot of indecision in 2009.

If you have seen the games where Posada has caught the lanky righthander you can tell that it is an oft stressful relationship.  There are more mound visits and more shaking off of signs than any other Yankee battery, and when something goes wrong, you can tell that each one blames the other party.

Posada is a solid catcher and much more of an offensive threat than Jose Molina, but Jorge has to take this and see it as a day off for the knees more than anything.

He will still get his at bats, most likely taking over the role of designated hitter from Hideki Matsui (who had a great year, by the way), but Jorge would be a great bat to have off the bench.  I am sure Girardi would love to replace Molina in the lineup with #20 when Burnett’s night is done.

It is likely that Posada has gotten over this.  He is just a competitor who wants to be out there for every pitch.  Also, it may be hard for him to take this news when it comes from the guy who Jorge took the starting role from.  It must still be odd for the few remaining Yankee veterans to have to hear from Joe.  Surely the man demands some respect, but still he was a former teammate.  Girardi was key to the ’96, ’97, and in a diminishing role, with the ’98 championship teams.

Joe Girardi was in a tough spot after missing the 08 playoffs, but has pulled the rights strings thus far in 09.

Joe Girardi was in a tough spot after missing the '08 playoffs, but has pulled the rights strings thus far in '09.

Jorge was ultimately the reason that the perennial homerun threat (by that I mean he hit one homerun a year) became expendable.  Posada, who came up as an infielder, owes a lot of the talent he has behind the plate to his current manager.  He should take this decision and move on, and do all he can to support Jose Molina.

Jorge is a veteran, and a guy who, despite his .236 career postseason average, knows how to get it done in October.  By 6PM tonight, this is a non-issue.

Steve Phillips Needs To Stop Talking

July 22, 2009
Steve Phillips is another sportscaster who just doesnt have credibility.

Steve Phillips is another sportscaster who just doesn't have credibility.

So I was just watching Baseball Tonight on ESPN, and the topic of trading for Roy Halladay came up.  Karl Ravich asks Steve Phillips his opinion on the situation.  He proceeds to say that if he was a GM in the game, he would sell the farm for Halladay.  Now I have no problem saying “I’d trade almost anything for him,” because Halladay is among the best pitchers in the majors.  But Phillips didn’t stop there.  He proceeded to name every single top young pitcher in the bigs and offered them to Toronto.

This isn’t shocking, coming from the former New York Mets GM who has a long track record of trading future stars for short-term help.   He obviously doesn’t value prospects, which is fine to an extent, because they are not guaranteed to succeed.  But he didn’t name just prospects.

Steve Phillips named the Dodgers as a team that needs to trade for Doc, offering Clayton Kershaw and others for the Blue Jay’s star.  Another team Phillips feels should trade for Halladay is the Phillies, offering every prospect in their system.  He even said that the Yankees should give Toronto, a division rival, anything they wanted including Phillip Hughes and Joba Chamberlain.  He went as far as saying, “if I was the Yankees, I’d pack his bags and drive Joba to the airport.”

My problem with his thinking is that its not practical, and it perfectly showcases the reason he’s the former GM of the Mets.  Consider his Dodgers proposal: trading 21-year old lefty Clayton Kershaw (8-5, 2.95 ERA, 104k, 1.22 WHIP) for 32-year old Halladay (11-3, 2.73, 113k, 1.07).   We’ll leave out a breakdown the “others” Phillips would give up (Tony Abreau, Blake DeWitt, James Loney, Andre Ethier, Matt Kemp to name players sure to be requested by Toronto).  Let’s just compare the pitchers that would be swapped.  What exactly do the Dodgers gain in this?  Sure, Halladay’s peripheral numbers are slightly better.  But when you consider the cost, both in terms of talent and cash, does this deal make sense?  Halladay is on the hook for the remaining of his $14m+ for this year, and $15.75m for next year, after which he’s free to go as a free agent.  Kershaw, on the other hand, is under team control for another 5 years at very cheap salaries.  Common sense tells us that Kershaw is on the upslope of his promising career, while Halladay is at the top of his game but 11 years older.  How much longer does he have before decline?  Sure, the Dodgers are World Series favorites (along with Philly) in the senior circuit, but does Halladay improve their odds in October?  He’s got the same number of October starts as Kershaw, ZERO.

As Philly is running away with the NL East, do the defending World Series Champs need Halladay?  At the cost of a starting fielder and top prospects Kyle Drabek and Jason Donald?  As is, they are on their way to a deep October run.  Do they mortgage the future hoping that Halladay wins them the title, something that nobody can guarantee?  Do the Yankees, already short on starting pitching, deal Joba and Philthy Hughes (shout out to carebear) for a pitcher with several times more wear on this tires than the two players offered for him?

When we consider Steve Phillips track record on trades of any kind, he loses all credibility.  Let’s take a look:

He traded Carl Everett (MVP candidate 2 years after being traded) for John Hudek (1-4 for the Mets). –> Lose

Sure, when he traded AJ Burnett for Al Leiter, he got 85 wins and 2 playoff appearances, including a World Series           appearance from the old guy.  But Burnett is younger and has won 95 games since then, including a World Series Title.  –> PUSH

Jason Isringhausen (283 saves since) was traded for Billy Taylor, who was 0-1 in 18 Mets appearances with an ERA over 8.0.  — > Lose

Looking for a short-term fix in 2000, Phillips nabbed Mike Bordick for 56 games and a .260 average.  Ironically, he traded a young Melvin Mora, who was hitting .260 at the time of the trade.  Unfortunately for the Mets, Mora has gone on to hit over 150 home runs with a .281 batting average over the past 10 seasons for the Orioles, including a couple of all-star appearances, a Silver Slugger award in ’04, and an MVP candidate in ’04.  Bordick left after his lone season, returning to the Orioles.  –> Lose

In ’02, Phillips gave away Gary Matthews Jr. for John Bale (who?).  ‘Nuff said.  –> Lose

Phillips traded a minor league Jason Bay for middle reliever Steve Reed.  Bay is a top corner outfielder, which is a historically weak spot for the Mets,  Steve Reed was decent but a free agent after the year.  –> Lose

Sure, he had a couple good trades (Piazza, maybe Mo Vaughn), but overall, Steve Phillips was the meth addict of baseball general managers; he traded long-term pieces for short-term fixes.  In the end, he had 2 playoff appearances to show for all of his awful trading.

So Steve, stop doling out the advice to GM’s who still have jobs in the game.  Nobody has even interviewed you for a GM position since you were canned, so perhaps they agree that you were a terrible judge of talent.  Just stop giving us your opinion on trades just because you are on ESPN.  Only talk about subjects which you have credibility with, like what kind of hair product I should use to get a ‘do like yours.

Philthy Hughes

July 18, 2009

On Friday night, the Yankees beat the Tigers 5 to 3 in a pretty ordinary game.  AJ Burnett started the game for New York, and was relieved by Phil Hughes at the start of the 7th inning.  Hughes gave up 3 hits in two innings, but struck out the other 6 hitters he faced.

It was just another good appearance out of the pen by Phil Hughes who is looking more and more comfortable in that role.  He has quieted the Joba to the pen cries as well, and has shown a power fastball and harder breaking stuff in the shorter stints.

He is a toolbag, but he may be the bullpen savior the Yankees need.

He is a toolbag, but he may be the bullpen savior the Yankees need.

Since going to the pen Phil has pitched 20 1/3 innings, given up just 10 hits, struck out 25 batters, walked only 5, and given up just 2 earned runs.  If you discount his first appearance out of the pen, where he relieved Chien Ming Wang in the 3rd inning of a game against the Red Sox, Hughes hasn’t given up a run.

Hughes’ Bullpen Line: ERA: 0.88, WHIP: 0.73, K/9: 11.08

Hughes could be a huge commodity for the Bombers either in the pennant race or in a deal for ace sinkerballer Roy Halladay.