A. The amount of hyperbole about to be thrown around about a player I consider to be one of the greatest Yankees of all-time was soon to hit incredible heights and B. the amount of writers who were going to do everything they could to diminish the level of his greatness was more than any of us could ever imagine.
When Derek Jeter announced his retirement a couple of days ago, I wrote about how amazing it is — in these times of Twitter and 24-hour sports talk and mean-old defensive statistics and smark-aleck bloggers who invent words like Jeterate — that Derek Jeter will walk away from the game almost universally admired. It is a happy fate that eluded almost every great player of his time. Derek Jeter was a fantastic player, a sure Hall of Famer, a man who played hard every day. For the next six months, people will come to dedicate a portion of baseball immortality on him. It is altogether fitting and proper that they should do this.
He was a fantastic baseball player. But you know what? Alan Trammell was just about as good.
Here are Alan Trammell’s and Derek Jeter’s neutralized offensive numbers.
Jeter was a better hitter. But it was closer than you might think. They had similar strengths offensively. At their best, they were .300 hitters with some power and some speed.
Wait, did he just try to compare the speed element of the game as if it was even close between these two?
Trammell didn’t even have a 2:1 SB-CS ratio while Jeter was nearly a 4:1 ratio.
Trammell had one season where he swiped 30 bags. Jeter had 4, and almost a 5th.
The years Jeter stole 30-35 he’d get caught 4-5 times. Trammell was caught 10 times is 30 SB season.
Me thinks the author is being disingenuous while trying to prove his own pre-determined narrative.
I think Trammell was indeed an incredible player, arguably a HoFer himself.
But 30 points difference in career AVG, OBP and OPS isn’t “close”. It’s on the outskirts of the neighborhood, but it isn’t “close”.
Neither provided a ton of pop, but then again their position isn’t one that is traditionally going to do that. That being said, the power numbers aren’t all that close either. If Jeter doesn’t hit another HR this season he’ll still have 70 more than Trammell (256-185) in the exact same number of seasons played.
Then there is the small matter of possessing over 1000 more hits…
…and the big post-season moments.
I know you can’t fault Trammell for not having been to the playoffs more than once, but you also cannot deny the fact that it’s a whole lot easier to have one great post-season run on a “hot team” than it is to maintain a .308/.374/.465/.838 slash line over 158 games, 700 PA’s in the post-season.
Let that sink in for a moment.
Against only the best pitching, the best teams for what equals an entire season’s worth of at-bats Derek Jeter put up the following line:
.308 AVG, .374 OBP, .465 SLG, .838 OPS with 20 HRs 111 R’s 61 RBI’s 200 H’s 32 Doubles 5 Triples 18 SB/5 CS and a bevy of heart-stopping moments.
That is the stuff of legend.
So sorry. Trammell was an incredible player, himself worthy of at the very least HoF discussion and maybe even a bronze plaque of his own.
But to say he is in the some rarefied air as Jeter is almost comcially incorrect.
Once Derek Jeter announced he is retiring after the 2014 MLB season, it came as no great surprise that MLB players flocked to social media like Twitter to heap high praise upon “The Captain”.
And man did they heap some praise.
Some were simple & elegant:
— Jim Henderson (@JimHenderson29) February 12, 2014
Some heaped some “heavenly” praise:
Pujols on Jeter: “On and off field, he’s the way you want your kids to grow up, Only Jesus is perfect, but he’s pretty close to that guy.”
— Mike DiGiovanna (@MikeDiGiovanna) February 13, 2014
Some were downright funny (seriously, look at the last line before the hastags lol):
Some were a brief remider of how these players we idolize are human beings, just like the rest of us:
Might cry when Jeter plays his last game favorite player growing up…did it the right way
— Christian Yelich (@ChristianYelich) February 12, 2014
Some simply reiterated what many of us have already said:
All the best to Derek in his final season. He’s been Nothing but class and I wish him health and much success this year.
— Chris Dickerson (@CDickerson_PFTP) February 12, 2014
Derek Jeter is my idol, and will always be the example that I strive to follow. It’s been an honor to share a diamond with The Captain #2
— Hanley Ramirez (@HanleyRamirez) February 12, 2014
Derek Jeter was my first wow moment on field my first year. Came up to me and patted me on the back & said “welcome and congrats” #rolemodel
— Josh Reddick (@joshreddick16) February 12, 2014
The 1st time I talked to Derek Jeter at 2b he acted like he knew me forever. I wear #2 because of the person he is on and off the field.
— BJ Upton (@BJUPTON2) February 12, 2014
The game wont be the same without him. I wish him nothing but the best.
— BJ Upton (@BJUPTON2) February 12, 2014
Some of them represented MLB’s new guard paying homage to a man they strive to be:
Grew up watching Jeter play. Always aspired to be the player he was on and off the field. #TheCaptain
— Mike Trout (@Trouty20) February 13, 2014
— Bryce Harper (@Bharper3407) February 13, 2014
Some of them came from young players who knew Jeter on a very personal level:
Derek Jeter is my hero. Always has been, and always will be. He is the reason I wanted to play baseball. pic.twitter.com/Tumplbq12Q
— Preston Mattingly (@Pmattingly30) February 12, 2014
Derek Jeter caught my first Major league out, then came up to me in the dugout and gave me some words of confidence that I’ll never forget..
— George Kontos (@G_Kontos) February 12, 2014
… Jete, thanks for being the leader that this game needed for a long time. It’s a pleasure to have shared the field with you.. #Legend
— George Kontos (@G_Kontos) February 12, 2014
Derek Jeter announced on his Facebook page that the 2014 season will indeed be his last and in typical Jeter fashion, he did it will grace and class by thanking the fans for everything they have done for him over the years.
To that I say…
As honored as you feel to have worn the pinstripes it goes the same for me when it comes to having watched you, Mo, Jorge, Bernie, Andy and others along the years.
I know Yankee fans get a bad rap for being “spoiled”, but in some regard we truly have been the last 20 years.
No team, no group of players will ever bring any organization the same amount of joy that you and your teammates did to us. What we saw in the late 90’s, early oughts will never happen again.
So once again, from the bottom of my heart, thank you for everything.
Major League Baseball just issued the following statement:
“We have been informed that Alex Rodriguez has reached the prudent decision to end all of the litigation related to the Biogenesis matter. We believe that Mr. Rodriguez’s actions show his desire to return the focus to the play of our great game on the field and to all of the positive attributes and actions of his fellow Major League Players. We share that desire.”
Hopefully this means that
A-Rod A-Fraud has finally come to the inescapable consclusion that he cannot win this matter.
Even if somehow he pulled his best Johnny Cochrane magic trick off he is still going to lose in the court of public opinion.
For those who want to wade into the legalese, here ya go:
Ah, the best laid plans of mice & men.
For the past two seasons anyone who either follows Major League Baseball closely or is a fan of the New York Yankees heard countless reports of the teams plan to work its way under the magical “luxury tax threshold”, undoubtedly rolling their eyes each time they heard it.
But alas, with the recent signing of Japanese phenom Masahiro Tanaka to a 7 year/155M dollar deal said plan went right out the proverbial window.
That isn’t to say the team won’t revisit the strategy at some point down the road, doing so certainly has its merits, but for the here & now the Bronx Bombers have decided that protecting the brand by putting a better product on the field was the way to go.
The team also surprised a good deal of people by selling a large chunk of its stake in the Yes Network to 21st Century Fox recently, a move that will yield a reported $150M per year, before they even get around to negotiating their new deal with Time Warner Cable.
In the big scheme of things, what exactly does this mean?
Well, for starters it means the team that is usually flush with cash will have even more chips to play with moving forward.
While that certainly doesn’t guarantee much, it is in all likelihood a fairly safe bet to say that barring another season with a record level of injuries they’ll score quite a few more runs because of the return of Jeter and Teixeira, coupled with recent acquisitions Jacoby Ellsbury, Carlos Beltran & Brian McCann.
But beyond that not much is certain.
No, winning the off-season doesn’t guarantee much more than owning the headlines for a while.
More to my point, amidst all the talk, all of the yammerin’ about the Yanks newfound purchasing power there hasn’t been a whole lotta solid analysis.
It seems like most folks have just tended to go for the glossy stuff, the easy byline then moved onto the next “flavor of the moment” story.
That being said, there have been a couple of solid observations, most notably from ESPN contributor Buster Olney.
Olney recently pointed out that while the same injury bug that hit the Yankees big league roster also depleted their farm system (not even kidding, it seemed like just about every big time prospect the team had got hit with an injury lasy season) we should look for the Bombers to be big players at the trading deadline this summer.
Simply put, come mid-July you need one of two things to make some moves.
You either better have some Grade A trade chips or you best have the cash to absorb some contracts other teams are looking to unload. And now that the Yankees have both flown right by that luxury tax threshold and increased their revenue stream they fall squarely in that latter category.
An obvious area of concern for the Yankees is there infield.
Jeter, as great as he has been is on his way out. If he stays healthy he’ll continue to be productive, providing a solid bat for his position, but the Yankees do need to think ahead & second base is just a mystery in the post-Robinson Cano era.
So if somehow the Rockies, Phillies, Blue Jays or Brewers find themselves out of the mix and looking to shed some money come late July then Tulo, J-Roll, Jose Reyes or Rickie Weeks could find themselves being made available.
Granted a lot would have to fall into place for one of these scenarios to take place, but as we’ve seen over the years, stranger things have happened.
Another area where both the front office and the fans are both at least mildy concerned is the bullpen.
Let’s face it. One does not simply lose the greatest closer of all time and not see some sort of a regression.
David Robertson may very well be up to the task. He’s been one of MLB‘s premier relievers for a few years now and has all the tools to handle the job.
But in the end, ya just don’t know if he’ll hold up, either physically or mentally.
So once again, this is where the fat pockets come into play.
Come trading deadline if the Phillies are scuffling or the A’s are feeling bold (as they are prone to) one could easily envision Papelbon or the recently acquired Jim Johnson being dangled on the market.
Additionally, right-handed bats like Billy Butler, Michael Cuddyer & Josh Willingham all have the kind of contracts that team could easily absorb in order to provide financial relief to the small market teams that currently hold them.
If either scenario plays itself out you can rest assured that the “Evil Empire” will, at the very least, be keeping a weather eye on things, ready to pounce if need be.
Obviously it’s all just pie in the sky stuff right now, but some times the moves you make at the trade deadline aren’t just the difference between making the playoffs or missing them, but rather play a sizable role in determining who exactly is the last team standing.
This year, more so than the last few, the Yankees seem positioned to be major players at the July 31st deadline and that always makes things a little more interesting.
Most fans and baseball writers surely expected Hall of Fame pitcher Greg Maddux‘s plaque to feature an Atlanta Braves logo, the team with which he spent 11 seasons, won three Cy Young Awards, and captured the 1995 World Series.
But in a bit of surprise Maddux decided to go with no logo at all.
Here’s how he explained the decision:
“My wife Kathy and I grew up in baseball in Chicago, and then we had just an amazing experience in Atlanta with the Braves. It’s impossible for me to choose one of those teams for my Hall of Fame plaque, as the fans of both clubs in each of those cities were so wonderful. I can’t think of having my Hall of Fame induction without support of both of those fan bases, so, for that reason, the cap on my Hall of Fame plaque will not feature a logo.”
Maddux’s decision was obviously as a surprise to some, but having spent a decade with the Cubs in his career, it isn’t all that shocking that the pitcher had conflicted feelings about which team to represent in Cooperstown.
It is a thoughtful & nuanced move from a pitcher who is widely thought of as the best “thinking man’s pitcher” the game has ever seen.
On a more personal note, Maddux will go down as one of my favorite players of all-time.
I have watched about a dozen no-no’s/perfect games over my life time but none of them will ever top his 76 pitch complete game shutout in July of 1997 (ironically enough, versus the Cubs).
He gave up 5 hits and only struckout 6 batters, but he was in complete control of the game, from start to finish, consistently missing the fat part of the bat and inducing weak ass grounder after weak ass grounder.
It was pure genius & I, for one, am glad that I was fortunate enough to witness it.
It’s no state secret that the New York Yankees farm system hasn’t exactly been cranking out top tier talent since around 2000, nor has it slipped everyone’s notice that once they’ve drafted guys a precious few have actually developed into bonafide stars.
Between playing in the post-season virtually every year and ensuring they are drafting at the bottom of every round, sacrificing high draft picks as compensation for free agent signings, injuries to vital prospects and flat out bust the years have not been kind to the Bronx Bombers on this front.
Over the next week I am going to go through the Top 20 or so prospects in the system, offer a little scouting report and try to prognosticate their future.
Without further ado & in no particular order:
Manny Banuelos, LHP, Starter
Scouting Grades (on 1 to 8 scale, present/future): Fastball: 6/7| Curveball: 6/7 | Changeup: 5/6 | Control: 5/7 | Overall: 5/7
Banuelos was on the cusp of making the Yankees back in 2011 as one of the most exciting left-handed pitching prospects in baseball, but when he reached Triple-A in 2011, he lost some of his feel for pitching and his command disappeared. It turns out he had lost some feeling in his arm and eventually needed, and had, Tommy John surgery. He missed the 2013 season as a result, but he’s still young enough to bounce back from this as many pitchers have done in the past.
When he’s healthy and around the plate, Banuelos boasts three above-average-to-plus offerings. The left-hander’s fastball registers in the 89-95 mph range and seemingly explodes out of his hand. His breaking ball features late, downward bite and generates a ton of swing-and-misses. He also features a great changeup that maintains its decpetion and features a nice downward break.
One of the things you heard people say about the young man before the injury was “the kid doesn’t just ‘throw’, he ‘knows how to pitch'”. Because of that he has as good a chance as any to come back from this setback and be a solid major league pitcher.
Michael Pineda, RHP, Starter
Scouting Grades (on 1 to 8 scale, present/future): Fastball: 7/8 | Slider: 7/8 | Changeup: 4/6 | Control: 4/6 | Overall: 6/7
I know, with a year in MLB already under his belt he isn’t a “true prospect” but with him coming off an injury and some significant time back in the minors rehabbing it’s what he kind of feels like.
He is thick, he is quite the physical specimen at 6’6″/255 pounds and his stuff is good.
His fastball, even after injury is sitting at around 92-93, topping out at 95-96 with a natural cut to it and his slider is just absolutely filthy. It is every bit the “wipeout slider” it was advertised to be.
He needs better feel for his offspeed stuff but everything else is so good we’ve already seen he rack up 170 incredibly solid innings at the MLB level in 2011.
His mechanics were sketchy and unrefined, likely leading to the injury he sustained, but he refined his delivery quite a bit over the course of last season in the minors so now it’s a matter of just being consistent with his motion.
His ceiling is through the roof and the only thing that will hold him back will be his health.
Jose Campos, RHP, Starter/Reliever
Scouting Grades (on 1 to 8 scale, present/future): Fastball: 5/6 | Curveball: 5/7 | Changeup: 4/6 | Control: 5/6 | Overall: 5/6
When the New York Yankees traded Jesus Montero & Hector Noesi to the Seattle Mariners for Michael Pineda more than a handful of folks, myself included, thought that the best player in the deal might be the “throw in guy” Seattle sprinkled on top, right-hander Jose Campos.
And indeed, for the first six months or so of the deal it appeared so. Montero was the 2d worst catcher in MLB (based on WAR), Noesi was the 3d worst starter in the game and Pineda suffered an injury in spring training, cutting his season short before it even began.
But then, tell me where you heard this before, an injury occurred. He suffred from “elbow irritation” and was shut down for the final four months of 2012.
In 2013 he was able to come back and post a quality season, though the Yankees seemed to keep a close eye on his workload.
His fastball, which once sat around 95 and topped out near 97, now sits comfortably at 91-93, topping out around 94-95 with very good control.
His curveball shows flashes of its former greatness but needs more consistent depth and power, something that will come with an increased workload and the opportunity to use it more often.
He is confident in his changeup but it suffers frm the same inconsistency as his hook. The good news is, he isn’t afraid to throw it which means that given enough innings he can get the feel back for it.
While he’s lost some of his upside Campos remains a very polished young pitcher, as evidenced by the fact he walked on 4% of the batters he faced in 2013. He has a good delivery, keeps his balance and rhythm throughout it and does a great just of repeating his release point.
At 21 he can still regain some of his velocity or polish his other skills even more to reclaim his once lofty status as a top-tier prospect.
Gary Sanchez, Bats: Right/Throws: Right, C
Scouting Grades (on 1 to 8 scale, present/future): Hit: 4/6 | Power: 5/7 | Run: 2/3 | Arm: 7/7 | Field: 4/6 | Overall: 5/6
Sanchez has been described as being “from the same forest as Joe Mauer, maybe even the same tree.”
Stuff like that puts you squarely on the radar and once the Yankees gave him $3 million to sign out of the Dominican Republic the kid was sitting squarely in the spotlight.
He has above-average raw power and his approach at the plate has improved, albeit slower than I like, giving him the chance to be an outstanding all-around hitter.
His catcher skills need some work/refinement but his arm and its accuracy have never been a cause for concern. Simply put: He’s got an accurate cannon.
Given time to learn the craft of handling a staff and calling the games there is absolutely no ceiling on this guy, hence his Number 2 ranking among all MLB catching prospects.
Eric Jagielo, Bats: Left/Throws: Right, 3B
Scouting Grades (on 1 to 8 scale, present/future): Hit: 4/6 | Power: 4/6 | Run: 3/3 | Arm: 5/5 | Field: 5/6 | Overall: 5/6
When the one man carnival act known as
A-fraud A-rod is your 3B you just know that everyone will be keeping an eye on your hot corner prospects. Fortunately for the Yankees they’ve got themselves a good one.
Left-handed hitting third basemen are always a hot commodity in the Bronx, so when Jagielo carried over a strong Cape Cod League season into his junior year at Notre Dame, he became a sure-fire first-rounder, one who could eventually man the hot corner for the Yankees in the not-too-distant future.
He has good pop to all fields and should hit for both average and power in the future.
While some thought his limitations with the leather would force a move to 1B, Jagielo showed good defensive improvement in 2013 and answered some of those questions. The Yankees certainly had no plans to move him and he should fit the profile of a run-producing third baseman very well.
Here’s a sample of what others are saying about him.
- Jonathan Mayo, MLB.com: “Another good looking college bat, Jagielo had a very strong Cape League season, finishing second in the summer circuit in home runs. He has legitimate power from the left side of the plate and as he showed with wood bats over the summer and then into his junior year, it should play just fine at the next level.”
- John Sickels, Minor League Ball: “Scouts seem more comfortable with his glove now, but (teams) could still slot him at first base and he’ll have the bat for the position.”
Look for “Evaluating Yankees Prospects: The Good, The (Not So) Bad & The Ugly (Injuries), Part 2 of 4” tomorrow.