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Archive for November 9th, 2010

Mark Teixeira and Derek Jeter earned their third and fifth Gold Glove, respectively.

The 2010 American League Gold Glove awards were announced today and a record three Yankees took home the hardware. Although not the trophy they were hoping to possess, Mark Teixeira and Derek Jeter both added another Gold Glove to their mantle, while Robinson Cano earned the honor for the first time. Although the selection of Cano and Teixeira were both widely accepted, the choice of Jeter was predictably met with derision in many quarters.  That discussion has already been dissected by many others, so let’s push it aside and focus instead on the historic nature of the Yankees’ gold rush.

Since the gold glove award was created in 1957 (that first year, one selection was made for the entire major leagues), the Yankees have had three selections only two other times: in 1985, when Don Mattingly, Dave Winfield and Ron Guidry were honored, and in 1965, when Joe Pepitone, Bobby Richardson and Tom Tresh won the award. This year, however, marked the first time that three Yankee infielders took home the gold. The only other American League clubs to also have three infielders win the award were the 2000 Indians (Roberto Alomar, Travis Fryman and Omar Vizquel) as well as five Orioles’ teans from 1969 to 1975 (Mark Belanger and Brooks Robinson along side Davey Johnson for two and Bobby Grich for three).

Most Gold Gloves All Time, American League

Team Total Leaders
Yankees 62 Don Mattingly (9), Several (5)
Orioles 58 Brooks Robinson (16), Mark Belanger (8), Paul Blair (8)
Tigers 42 Al Kaline (10), Bill Freehan (7), Alan Trammell (4)
Twins/Senators 41 Jim Kaat (11), Kirby Puckett (6), Torii Hunter (6)
Mariners 38 Ichiro (10), Ken Griffey Jr. (10), Several (3)
Red Sox 36 Dwight Evans (8), Carl Yastrzemski (7), Fred Lynn (4)
White Sox 35 Robin Ventura (5), Jim Landis (5), Nellie Fox (5)
Rangers 33 Ivan Rodriguez (13), Jim Sundberg (6), Buddy Bell (6)
Angels 31 Mark Langston (5), Bob Boone (4), Several (3)
Indians 29 Omar Vizquel (8), Kenny Lofton (4), Several (3)
Blue Jays 25 Roberto Alomar (5), Devon White (5), T. Fernandez (4)
Athletics 19 Eric Chavez (6), Dwayne Murphy (6), Joe Rudi (3)
Royals 18 Frank White (8), Amos Otis (3), Several (1)
Brewers 9 George Scott (5), Cecil Cooper (2), Several (1)
Other* 3 Vic Power (2), Kim Kaat (1)
Rays 4 Evan Longoria (2), Carlos Pena (1), Carl Crawford (1)

* Vic Power won the award in 1958 while splitting time with the Athletics and Indians, and in 1964 while splitting time with the Twins and Angels. In 1973, Jim Kaat won the award while splitting time with the Twins and White Sox.
Source: Baseball-reference.com

Don Mattingly's nine Gold Gloves are the most ever by a Yankee.

With their three honorees, the Yankees also extended their American League leading gold glove total to 62, four ahead of the second place Orioles. Although the Yankees hold the top spot overall, they only lead in total awards at two positions (pitcher and first base), while the Orioles rank ahead in three (2B, SS and 3B). The other positions are led by the Rangers (16 at catcher) and Mariners (24 in the outfield).

Most Gold Gloves All Time, American League (by Position)

Team P   Team C   Team 1B   Team 3B
Yankees 12   Rangers 16   Yankees 15   Orioles 16
Twins 12   Tigers 11   Brewers 7   Athletics 6
Orioles 8   Angels 6   Orioles 5   Rangers 6
Angels 5   Yankees 5   Red Sox 4   Yankees 5
White Sox 4   Twins 5   Angels 4   White Sox 5
                     
Team 2B   Team SS   Team OF      
Orioles 9   Orioles 11   Mariners 24      
Royals 9   White Sox 9   Red Sox 22      
Yankees 6   Indians 8   Tigers 16      
Blue Jays 6   Yankees 5   Yankees 14      
Tigers 6   Blue Jays 5   Blue Jays 13      
Mariners 6   Tigers 5   Twins 13      

Source: Baseball-reference.com

On a personal level, by winning his fifth gold glove, Jeter joins only Guidry, Winfield, Mattingly and Bobby Richardson as Yankees with at least that many awards. With the exception of Mattingly, who has nine, all of the others are tied at five. Jeter also remains the only Yankees shortstop to win gold, while Cano joins Richardson and Teixeira remains in the company of Mattingly, Chris Chambliss and Pepitone at first base

All-Time Yankee Gold Glovers, by Position

Player C   Player 2B   Player 1B   Player OF
Munson 3   Richardson 1   Mattingly 9   Winfield 5
Howard 2   Cano 1   Pepitone 3   B. Williams 4
            Teixeira 2   Murcer 1
Player P   Player 3B   Chambliss 1   Tresh 1
Guidry 5   Nettles 2         Mantle 1
Shantz 4   Boggs 2   Player SS   Maris 1
Mussina 3   Brosius 1   Jeter 5   Seibern 1

Source: Baseball-reference.com

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As the Yankees continue to lay in waiting for the services of Cliff Lee, the Captain’s Blog continues the exercise of crafting a blueprint for the 2011 roster. In part one, I advocated a deal of A.J. Burnett for Carlos Zambrano, so now it’s time to turn to the offense.

Trade Option 1: Joba Chamberlain and Brett Gardner for Colby Rasmus

Brett Gardner’s hustle has made him a fan favorite, but it may be time for the Yankees to sell high (Photo: NY Post).

One of the nicest surprises for the Yankees in 2010 was the play of Brett Gardner. According to fangraphs.com, Gardner was worth a whopping 5.4 wins above replacement. Regardless of how much credibility you place in WAR, Gardner was an above average offensive performer playing an all-world left field in 2010.

Looking behind the numbers, however, one can see the beginning of a disturbing trend. In the second half of the season, Gardner posted a line of .232/.364/.330,which wasn’t much better than his performance in the second half of 2009 (albeit in many fewer at bats). Although some have defended Gardner’s second half swoons by citing the hand injuries he suffered in both seasons, that actually speaks to the concern. Gardner’s game is built upon speed and hustle, and that no-holds barred style has a tendency to wear a player down late in the season. Without any noticeable power, Gardner’s productivity rests solely on staying healthy and getting on base, something he hasn’t been able to do over the course of a full season.

It’s been a while since the Yankees have seen the “fist pumping Joba”, so perhaps a change of scenery is in order?

What more can be said about Joba? In the span of three seasons, he has gone from a potential top of the rotation starter to Mariano Rivera’s heir apparent to an afterthought in middle relief. Despite being only 24, it sure seems as if the ship has sailed on Joba’s days in pinstripes.

Once again, however, we need to take a closer look. In 2010, Chamberlain’s nine-inning hit and strikeout rates of 8.9 and 9.7, respectively, were both impressive. Again according to fangraphs.com, his FIP of 2.98 suggests that the right hander was more unlucky than erratic. What’s more, Chamberlain also rediscovered some of his lost velocity in relief, increasing the speed on his fastball from 92.5 mph to 94.6 mph. The talent is still clearly there, but where are the results?

Colby Rasmus was drafted by the Cardinals with the 28th selection in the 2005 amateur draft (a pick awarded to the Cardinals as compensation for the Red Sox’ signing of Edgar Renteria). After being selected, he quickly shot up through the ranks of highly touted prospects before making his major league debut at 22 in 2009. Despite struggling in his rookie season, Rasmus was given the chance to start in 2010, and he rewarded the Cardinals with a line of .276/.361/.498 in 534 plate appearances. However, for some reason, the young outfielder’s relationship with manager Tony LaRussa went bad. As a result, it was reported that Rasmus demanded a trade. Although he later denied doing so, it was no secret that the tension between player and manager was real.

Why the Trade Makes Sense for the Yankees

Colby Rasmus’ left handed swing would fit right into the Yankees’ lineup for years to come.

Although they would be selling low on a talented arm like Chamberlain, he may simply need a change of scenery. On the other hand, Gardner’s value may never be higher, so unless the Yankees believe he still has room for improvement at the plate, it might be time to cash in on his 2010 season.

As the core of the Yankees’ offense ages, a commodity like Rasmus would be exactly what the Yankees need to replenish their lineup. Adding a left-handed centerfielder with power to a second baseman like Cano and catching prospect like Jesus Montero could give the Yankees an up-the-middle foundation similar to what they had in Bernie Williams, Derek Jeter and Jorge Posada at the start of the recent dynasty. Even if Gardner proves his 2010 was just the beginning of an ascent, and Joba rediscovers his earlier promise, adding such a component would still be well worthwhile.

Why the Trade Makes Sense for the Cardinals

Once again, a big part of the rationale behind this trade stems from the rift that may or may not still exist between LaRussa and Rasmus. If it does, the Cardinals may have no choice but to put their talented young centerfielder on the market. Although there would be plenty of competition for Rasmus, acquiring two major league ready players like Gardner and Chamberlain (who combined had a much higher WAR than Rasmus in 2010) would probably be of interest to an older Cardinals team that will be seeking to resign Albert Pujols in the offseason. In particular, one area of desperate need for the Cardinals’ offense is at leadoff hitter (.306 OBP in 2010), and Gardner would certainly fit that bill. Meanwhile, with Dave Duncan as pitching coach, St. Louis could either mold Chamberlain as a starter or turn him into their closer, replacing the 37-year old Ryan Franklin.

Because of the potential clamor for Rasmus, the Yankees might have to add a solid prospect to the deal, which shouldn’t be off the table, assuming it isn’t someone like Montero or Manny Banuelos. If that still isn’t enough to pry Rasmus away, Cashman would probably be better off turning to our second option.

Going to WAR

Player WAR
Brett Gardner 5.4
Joba Chamberlain 1.4
Colby Rasmus 3.7

Source: fangraphs.com

Trade Option 2: Gardner and Chamberlain for Matt Kemp

Before the start of the previous two seasons, one popular rumor was a potential trade of Robinson Cano for Matt Kemp. However, after the latter’s disappointing 2010 campaign, it’s hard to imagine both players in the same class.

Not only did Kemp regress in just about every meaningful offensive category, but by most metrics, he also performed extremely poorly in the field. Adding further insult, Dodger’s GM Ned Colletti repeatedly criticized Kemp’s play, even insinuating that his commitment may have lessened after signing a new deal. In other words, the Dodgers, whose finances have been ravaged by a divorce dispute, may be very eager to part with Kemp, whose 2011 salary escalates to $7 million before heading to arbitration in 2012.

Why the Trade Makes Sense for the Yankees

Matt Kemp’s development took a step back in 2010. Could a rebound in pinstripes be in the offing?

Like Rasmus, Kemp is still a young and talented centerfielder who could be a centerpiece on the Yankees for years to come. Unlike Rasmus, however, Kemp would be a buy low candidate, meaning the Yankees would face less competition from other potential suitors. Furthermore, Kemp’s higher salary would also make his acquisition more prohibitive to other teams. As a result, the Yankees would be the team demanding that a prospect be included in the deal. Of course, considering the dysfunctional state of the Dodgers, it might even be possible for the Yankees to steal Kemp without including both Chamberlain and Gardner in the trade, but for now, we’ll assume some level of sanity in LA remains.

Why the Trade Makes Sense for the Dodgers

Even if the Dodgers were confident that Kemp would rebound from his disappointing 2010 season, the chance to acquire two cheaper players would still be compelling. Also, keep in mind that Don Mattingly was sitting in the dugout when Joba Chamberlain was dominating opposing batters in 2007. Therefore, the new Dodgers’ skipper may be more willing than most to take a chance on Chamberlain’s dominance returning.

Matt Kemp’s 2010 Season of Discontent

Year PA SB% BA OBP SLG OPS+ UZR* WAR*
2009 667 81% 0.297 0.352 0.490 124 3 5.0
2010 668 56% 0.249 0.310 0.450 107 -24 0.4

Source: Baseball-reference.com and (*) fangraphs.com

Money Matter$

Option 1

Brett Gardner and Colby Rasmus each have one more season of cost control left, while Chamberlain can go before an arbitrator for the first time this off season. Considering his near minimum salary and less than stellar performance in 2010, Chamberlain probably wouldn’t be in line for much of a raise.

Option 2

Matt Kemp is the only player with a price tag included in the two potential deals. In 2011, he will make $6.95 million, after which he has one more year of arbitration eligibility before heading to free agency. In other words, even with only a solid season, Kemp could be looking at a 2012 salary of around $10 million.

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The Hall of Fame’s inaugural “Expansion ERA” ballot has been released and the Yankees are well represented. Ron Guidry, Billy Martin and Tommy John are all eligible for consideration, but the headliner is George M. Steinbrenner III. When the new “veteran’s committee” process was announced back in July, I suggested that the revised rules seemed intended for the purpose of expediting Steinbrenner’s election, and that still appears to be the case.

The appearance of Steinbrenner and Martin on the ballot together is almost too good to be true considering how inexorably the two were linked from the time Steinbrenner bought the Yankees until Martin’s untimely death on Christmas in 1989. However, an even more intriguing pairing involves one of the men who will be voting on Steinbrenner’s candidacy.

Billy Martin and George Steinbrenner in happy times. The two men are reunited as the only deceased candidates on the Hall of Fame's new Expansion Era ballot.

In order to get the posthumous nod, Steinbrenner will need a vote from 75% of the16-member panel, which the Boss would be pleased to know includes long-time friend and White Sox owner Jerry Reinsdorf. Steinbrenner would probably also be greatly amused by the irony of Reinsdorf sitting in judgment over his legacy because before the two became friends they were professional enemies.

Kemp caused a war of words between Steinbrenner and Reinsdorf in 1983.

The Reinsdorf/Steinbrenner feud began in the 1982 offseason when the Yankees made an aggressive play for White Sox outfielder Steve Kemp. When the ink dried on Kemp’s new five year, $5.5 million contract with the Yankees, Reinsdorf decried Steinbrenner’s fiscal irresponsibility and derisively stated that the Yankee owner was collecting bad contracts.

In addition to his public criticism, Reinsdorf also took aim at Steinbrenner by signing free agent pitcher Floyd Bannister to a five year, $4.5 million contract. The Yankees were rumored to have great interest in Bannister, so when Reinsdorf and fellow White Sox co-owner Eddie Einhorn had the last laugh with the signing, the Boss was not amused. In response to the Bannister contract, Steinbrenner fired back, telling AP, “[Reinsdorf and Einhorn] are the Abbott and Costello of baseball…a couple of pumpkins who should get their thinking straight”.

As thanks for turning that offseason’s winter meetings in Hawaii into a battle ground, baseball commissioner Bowie Kuhn fined Reindorf and Einhorn $2,500, but doubled the penalty for Steinbenner. Not surprisingly, the Boss bristled at being fined twice the amount as his adversaries, stating to AP, “I’m sorry to see that Kuhn is bowing out by bearing down on the owners as usual, especially me”.

Steinbrenner would eventually see justice delayed during the 1983 season when Reinsdorf was fined another $5,000 by Kuhn for once again taking a swipe at the Yankees’ owner. While attending a party for the All Star Game, which was being played at the White Sox’ Comiskey Park, Reindorf, who had a little too much to drink, entertained the attendees by explaining how to tell when George Steinbrenner was lying. “When you see his lips move,” Reindorf informed the crowd, which included Kuhn.

The Boss had his buddy beat on World Series championships (7 to 1), but Reinsdorf evened the score with the Bulls’ six NBA titles. In 1985, Reinsdorf purchased the Bulls from an ownership group that included Steinbrenner.

Kuhn wouldn’t last as commissioner for much longer. In August 1983, he eventually resigned, washing his hands of Steinbrenner and Reinsdorf, but in his absence, the two battling owners formed a strong friendship that would last for over 25 years.

Of course, just because they were friends, didn’t mean they still didn’t enjoy taking a dig at each other. The two teams were still fond of sabotaging each other in trades (the Britt Burns deal being an excellent example), and on a personal level, Reinsdorf always enjoyed flaunting his success with the Chicago Bulls, not the least of which was because one of the men from whom he bought them was Steinbrenner.

Very few men have a greater insight into Steinbrenner’s contribution to the game of baseball than Reinsdorf. As both an enemy and a friend, he has seen the best and worst of him. It remains to be seen which side will win out when Reinsdorf weighs the balance, but either way, you can bet the Boss is keeping a close eye on his buddy from up above.

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