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Archive for July 30th, 2010

vs. Wade Davis PA BA OBP SLG HR RBI
Derek Jeter SS 9 0.444 0.444 0.444 0 1
Nick Swisher RF 6 0.000 0.333 0.000 0 0
Mark Teixeira 1B 9 0.143 0.333 0.286 0 1
Alex Rodriguez 3B 9 0.500 0.556 1.250 2 4
Robinson Cano 2B 8 0.375 0.375 0.750 1 2
Jorge Posada C 0 0.000 0.000 0.000 0 0
Curtis Granderson CF 6 0.400 0.500 0.600 0 0
Colin Curtis DH 0 0.000 0.000 0.000 0 0
Brett Gardner LF 6 0.600 0.667 0.600 0 0
Total 53 0.370 0.453 0.609 3 8
vs. Phil Hughes PA BA OBP SLG HR RBI
John Jaso C 0 0.000 0.000 0.000 0 0
Carl Crawford LF 6 0.400 0.500 0.400 0 1
Evan Longoria 3B 2 0.000 0.000 0.000 0 0
Carlos Pena 1B 6 0.667 0.833 2.667 2 2
Matt Joyce RF 0 0.000 0.000 0.000 0 0
Willy Aybar DH 2 0.000 0.000 0.000 0 0
B.J. Upton CF 8 0.333 0.500 0.333 0 0
Reid Brignac 2B 1 1.000 1.000 2.000 0 1
Jason Bartlett SS 1 1.000 1.000 4.000 1 1
Total 26 0.400 0.500 0.900 3 5
Yankees vs. Rays
Season: 2010 Season: 2009 Season: 2008 All-Time
TIED: 4-4 NYY: 11-7 NYY: 11-7 NYY: 137-73

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Last 10 Last 20 Last 30
Yankees 7-3 15-5 21-9
Rays 8-2 15-5 21-9

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Road vs. RHP
Yankees 31-20 43-22
Home vs. RHP
Rays 30-20 41-27

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According to numerous published reports based upon even more anonymous sources, which presumably are more reliable than the ones who got the Cliff Lee trade wrong, the Yankees are on the verge of acquiring Lance Berkman from the Astros for a “non-prospect” and the right to pay Berkman the final $7.5 million owed on his contract.

Despite being hampered by an early season knee surgery, Berkman has bounced back to have a solid season, compiling a line of .245/.372/.436 in an Astros lineup with absolutely no protection. The Yankees are probably banking on Berkman being rejuvenated by joining a contender as well as a lineup with ample protection, but even if he were to remain at his early season level, Berkman would represent a significant improvement over the combined production of the “bench players” forced into duty by Joe Girardi’s rotating DH system.

“We’ve used it to rotate our guys and try to keep our guys fresh, but if we have an everyday guy, we have an everyday guy. I can’t tell you what’s going to happen, but it has helped giving Alex a half day, and Jeet a half day, and Tex, and Swish. But if you get an everyday guy that can swing it, that could help our club.” – Joe Girardi, as quoted on the LoHud Yankees Blog

Judging by Joe Girardi’s comments, it doesn’t seem as if he fully embraces the notion of bringing in a full-time DH. Then again, Lance Berkman probably should not be installed in that role. Although a switch hitter, Berkman’s splits have skewed heavily toward the left side, from which he has posted a line of .261/.395/.479. As a right handed hitter, however, Berkman’s line of .188/.278/.281 makes you wonder if the Yankees are really getting a platoon player. Other than his hefty price tag, there really wouldn’t be a compelling reason to play him every day, especially with Marcus Thames on the roster and Curtis Granderson already exerting a drag on the lineup against left handed pitchers.

Another potential problem with the Berkman acquisition is the health of Jorge Posada. If the Yankee catcher can’t take a majority of his starts behind the plate, it doesn’t benefit the Yankees to have Berkman effectively replace him as the DH. In fact, Berkman’s production has closely matched what the Yankees have gotten from their rotating DH, so the only way the Yankees will enjoy an upgrade is if it prevents the likes of Francisco Cervelli and Colin Curtis from playing regularly. With Posada’s health always a concern, that isn’t a given.

So, what exactly will Berkman’s role be? The $7.5 million price tag is not only relevant in that discussion, but also in revisiting Brian Cashman’s offseason decision to let Johnny Damon leave town. The Yankees are basically paying the same amount of money for two months of Lance Berkman as they would have had to pay for an entire year of Johnny Damon. At the time, Cashman’s decision, which he claimed was predicated on a need to cut payroll, seemed to be penny wise, but pound foolish. The acquisition of Berkman is a confirmation of that assessment, especially with Nick Johnson now collecting $5 million to rehab from his latest injury.

Over his 13 seasons as general manager, Brian Cashman has contributed greatly to the Yankees success. This off season, however, he had more than his fair share of missteps. Now, with Lance Berkman, he is seeking to right one of his wrongs. Hopefully, Hal Steinbrenner doesn’t mind writing the extra check.

Lance Berkman versus Yankee DHs, 2010 Peformance

PA R HR RBI BA OBP SLG
Lance Berkman 358 39 13 49 0.245 0.372 0.436
Yankees DH 408 56 13 48 0.250 0.358 0.424

Source: Baseball-reference.com

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After acquiring Roy Halladay from the Blue Jays last December, the Phillies had the chance to feature the best 1-2 punch in baseball. Instead, General Manager Ruben Amaro opted to trade Cliff Lee to the Mariners, citing both a concern over Lee’s impending free agency as well as the organization’s need to replenish its farm system. That line of reasoning was severely flawed at the time, but has since been proven to be even more short sighted.

If we had just acquired Roy and not moved Lee, we would have been in position to have lost seven of the best 10 prospects in our organization. That is not the way you do business in baseball.” – Phillies GM Rueben Amaro, quoted on ESPN.com

The Phillies acquired Roy Oswalt for the stretch run, but would be better off with Cliff Lee.

To get Cliff Lee from Cleveland, the Phillies parted with a quartet of prospects, including Carlos Carrasco, Jason Knapp, Lou Marson and Jason Donald. When they subsequently traded him to the Mariners, however, they received a lighter package of Phillippe Aumont, Tyson Gilles and Juan Ramirez. Still, assuming Amaro was really under a mandate to acquire prospects and trim payroll, you could justify the downgrade in talent as a necessary evil of getting Halladay as well as the cost of reaching the 2009 World Series. Unfortunately for Amaro, when Lee was traded yet again, it further exposed the foolishness of his earlier decision.

When Texas acquired Lee from the Mariners just before the All Star break, they parted with highly touted 1B Justin Smoak. What’s more, they also had their pick of another top prospect, the Yankees’ Jesus Montero. In other words, in the three deals involving Cliff Lee in one calendar year, the Phillies brought back the smallest return.

As you can see, it’s one thing to replenish the farm with quantity, but quality is what really matters. Besides, a veteran team like the Phillies should be concerned about winning now, not trying to cultivate middle-level prospects. After getting off to a slow start this season, Amaro finally came to that conclusion and pulled the trigger on a deal for Roy Oswalt. This time, the cost was J.A. Happ and prospects Anthony Gose (later traded by the Astros to the Blue Jays for Brett Wallace) and Jonathan Villar.

So, after an eventful seven months, the Phillies are back to where they started: a formidable 1-2 punch atop their rotation (really1-2-3 with Cole Hamels resurgence). To get there, however, they had to endure a bumpy road. What’s more, they are now on the hook for an additional $14 million in guaranteed money owed to Oswalt, and likely will not be in a position to offer him arbitration when he departs after 2011, meaning they will not recoup two draft picks, as they would have done with Lee.

The bottom line for the Phillies is they simply should have held onto Lee. Had they made that decision, they’d have wound up with a better pitcher (and a lefty at that), less of a financial commitment, potentially better prospects in their farm system, two draft picks in the 2011 draft and perhaps a lead, instead of a deficit, in the NL East. By anyone’s math, Amaro’s decision backfired, so now he has to hope Oswalt can help balance the equation.

Balancing the Ledger: The Net Cost/Benefit of the Phillies’ Lee and Oswalt Trades

From the Phillies:

  • Cliff Lee (Could have traded for Justin Smoak [9], Jesus Montero [10])
  • J.A. Happ
  • Anthony Gose (Could have traded for Brett Wallace [20])
  • Jonathan Villar
  • Loss of 2011 draft picks
  • Lee’s guaranteed $9 million salary removed from payroll

To the Phillies:

  • Roy Oswalt
  • Phillippe Aumont
  • Tyson Gilles
  • Juan Ramirez
  • Oswalt’s guaranteed $14 million salary added to 2010-11 payroll

Note: Number in brackets is Keith Law’s Top-100 Preseason Prospect Ranking

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