Tag Archives: Pierre

If no Gardner, could Pierre be an answer?

Brett Gardner won’t be back until after the All-Star Game. The speedy LF, who (in my opinion) should have won the last two Gold Glove awards and who (fact) led the AL in SB last year, has only played in nine games for the Yanks this year. .321-0-3, 2 steals in 2 attempts, OPS+ 122. 9 for 28.

He has had two setbacks so far. He has his elbow in a brace, has received that platelet therapy, and a cortisone shot. Without him, there is a huge difference in the Yankees lineup. They are a bunch of sluggers. There isn’t as much littleball. Heck, right now A-Rod (6 for 6 in SB) is tied with Nunez for the SB lead on the team, and Nunez was sent down a while ago for his defensive miscues (and Nunez is currently on the minor league DL). Not only that, apparently Andruw Jones can’t play CF anymore despite 10 gold gloves out there. The backup for Granderson was Gardner. So Granderson can’t get a day off.

Now Ronnier Mustelier has been hitting, hitting, hitting since defecting Cuba. He hit well in a short stint in High A Tampa last year. This year, between AA/AAA he is at .328-11-43 as I type this up. But he’s only played some 8 games in CF in the minors, another handful at 2B. For the most part, LF/RF and 3B. He still might be better than Andruw Jones at this point, esp. in the corner OF positions. But could he backup the Grandy Man once in a while?

The thing is this. With Gardner out, LF has been played mostly by 40 year old Raul Ibanez, with a little of Nix and Jones. Ibanez was signed to be a DH. Defensively, Ibanez isn’t that good. The Yanks have gotten by for a while (some 50 games) without Gardner, and may need to do so for some 25 or so more.

Gardner is expected back after the All-Star break. But what if he cannot come back this year? What if there is another setback? How much longer do the Yankees wait? SHOULD they wait?

Carlos Quentin is available, but it is being reported that the Yanks have no interest in him and don’t see him as a fit. I can see it. Quentin, 30 in August, is a .255 hitter with an OPS+ of 119. The corner OF doesn’t help defensively, and the Yanks feel as if they have enough of his type in the lineup. Sluggers (Quentin’s 162 g. average? .255-33-101, nice, but very Xavier Nady like? Remember the X-Man?)  but average D, no speed. Quentin, of course, could not fill in for Granderson in CF. Swish has played CF, but you prefer he not.

Instead, they are looking for a “Gardner clone.” Someone who will provide good D. Who’ll bat at the bottom of the lineup. Who will provide a slow lineup with a bit of speed. Someone Gardner-like who’ll play LF, but who, now and then, could give Granderson a day off in CF.

Having read what they are looking for (on the Bronx Baseball Daily Blog, where I post the Classic Yankees series) in an article by friend of the blog Rob Abruzzese, one man immediately came to my mind as far as being a “Gardner clone,” who, if Gardner can’t come back, would provide the Yanks what Gardner does. Speed at the bottom of the lineup. A SB threat. Someone who hits lefty that would play LF, run down balls, and fill in at CF once in a blue moon.

That man? Juan Pierre.

Think about it and let me know what you think. I would appreciate your comments. Say, in mid- to late July, the Yanks find out Gardner can’t make it back, and the Phloundering Phils are still some 10 games out and are sellers. Pierre is only getting $800,000 this year. He won’t break the Yankees’ bank. He was hitting .326 entering tonight’s action. He has postseason experience, having beaten the Yanks while a member of the 2003 Florida Marlins. He has the speed to cover LF at the Stadium, having been a former CF.  Pierre, besides the .326 average for the Phils right now, has 11 SB in 13 attempts. He is the active SB  leader with 565.

Pierre doesn’t walk enough for my liking. Despite his .297 career batting average, his OPS+ is 85 due to his lack of power and his lack of drawing walks. But he’d cover the ground. He’ll be 35 in August, and hasn’t played CF since 2009. His arm isn’t that great but neither was Johnny Damon’s. Heck, another speedster without much of an arm was in CF when the Yanks won a couple World Series in the 1970s—Mickey Rivers, who was a skinny greyhound much like Pierre. It’s not like Pierre would be playing CF that often anyway (where he played from 2000-2009)—just enough to spell Granderson, what, once every 3 weeks?

Here is a 162 g. comparison:

Gardner .265-5-43, 47 SB in 57 attempts, OPS+ 92
Pierre .297-1-44  51 SB in 68 attempts, OPS+ 85.

Time will tell what happens. I sure hope that after the All-Star break, Gardner can come back, go back into LF, provide Gold Glove defense, and give the lineup the infusion of speed it needs.

But if he can’t, then I’d look to deal with the Phils and get the person who may be most like Gardner. It shouldn’t cost much. You’d want him only from late July through the end of the year, wouldn’t have to give up much, and you’d get him cheap.

That sounds like it could be Juan Pierre.

Do Yanks have interest in Ibanez?

There are a number of free agent DHs out there. Rumor has it that Johnny Damon desperately wants back with the Yankees. Matsui, Vlad, Derrek Lee, Fukodome, and Raul Ibanez are others. Heck, Juan Pierre is out there (not that anyone would want the all-speed, no-power Pierre as a DH).

For a time, it’s been reported that the Yanks only had $2MM left to spend…on a DH and also on another backup infielder (Eric Chavez return?). Brian Cashman was suggesting trading a pitcher (dumping A.J.’s contract, eating some $$$, thus freeing up $$$) to acquire a bat. If not A.J., then Hughes or a youngster not named Banuelos or Betances (Warren, Phelps, Mitchell).

The tide could be turning, however. Now, the best thing may just be to wait out the above, aging list and to see whose salary demands drops all the way down to the level that Cashman and the rest of the Yankees’ hierarchy feels comfortable with.

Today the N.Y. Post reports that the Yankees could have interest in Raul Ibanez. Even ESPN’s Buster Olney chimed in on Twitter:

Raul Ibanez would be a good fit for the Yankees: they’d get him cheaply, he’s got a nice swing for the park,can play RF-LF, and a great guy.

Ibanez could even play 1B. (Swisher can, too, also Chavez if the Yanks re-sign him). Ibanez has been working with hitting guru Rudy Jaramillo, and thinks that he has fixed holes in his swing that led him to hit just .245 last year (.289 OBP). In the bandbox that is CBP, Ibanez still had 20 HR and 84 RBI. But his OPS+ dropped to a 91. Of course, Yankee Stadium’s RF would be a nice target for Ibanez’ lefty swing. Also obvious is that Yankee Stadium would NOT be as generous as CBP was to Ibanez if he drove the ball the other way.

If the deal is a Kuroda-like deal, for one year only, then I can see getting Ibanez (or, for that matter, Damon or Matsui). The concern is that Ibanez turns 40 in June. Heck, he’s only 9 1/2 months younger than the just-retired Posada.

Ibanez had a lower B.A. than Damon or Matsui (I’ll leave out the righty hitting DHs, like Vlad & Lee for now), and is older than both of them. Of course, Damon as the most speed of the trio. Ibanez also had more HR and RBI than either Matsui or Damon did.

I don’t know if the Yanks are favoring one over the other or if Ca$hman is just waiting for one of the trio’s price to drop into his range so he could pounce on the first one who becomes affordable. It appears that Ibanez, a .280 hitter, could (and I’m taking his age into account) post a .265 average, 17-25 HR, and say, 75 RBI. Which would be just fine for what Ibanez probably would be in the Yankees’ lineup—the #7 hitter.

Those are numbers that Posada (.285-21-81 in 111 games in 2009, OPS+ 125) would put up in that spot in the batting order. From 1998-2007, Jorge averaged 136 g., .279-21-84…then throw in the 2009 numbers, and you can see that those are numbers very similar to what you would hope to get from Ibanez. Ibanez probably would walk a bit less than Jorge did.

For his career, Ibanez is a .280 hitter, 252 HR (same total as Bobby Murcer), with an OPS+ of 112. He was an All-Star once (2009) and drew MVP consideration twice, with Seattle in 2006 and 2008 (finishing 21st and 20th).

The question with all the available DH’s is this: how much is left in the tank?

Update: A few hours after I mentioned Juan Pierre above, he signed a minor league deal with the Phillies.

Gardner, part II.

Last year Gardner had an OPS+ of 93.

Yet people, hung up on beer league softball stats and refusing to value speed and defense (remember the catch in Game 5 of the WS, despite the Yankees loss in that game?) seem to knock him.

1962. Kubek spent most of the year in the service. Tresh spent most of the year at SS, not LF. Berra was platooned. Hector Lopez, OPS+ 99 spent most of the year in LF.

1963. Mantle and Maris were both out with injuries for most of the year. Lopez again was the primary LF. OPS+ 95.

The 1980 Yankees won the AL East, lost in the ALCS. Primarily LF? The beloved “Sweet Lou”. .287-2-27 in 355 AB. Now, I ask you, think Gardner in that amount of at bats could do as well, with better speed, than Lou did in 1980? Lou’s OPS+ that year was just 96.

In 99 games in 1996, before he was traded, Gerald Williams had 233 AB, .270-5-30, 7 steals in 15 attempts, OPS+ 88. Think Gardner in 2010 could do better? Hell, Ruben Sierra’s OPS+ that year (before being traded for Fielder) was just 83.

In 1998, LF Chad Curtis had an OPS+ of 90.

Before the Yanks got David Justice in 2000, Ledee was an OPS+ of 90.

Heck that SAME YEAR, PAUL O’NEILL (who some wanted #21 retired) had an OPS+ of just 92! I wonder if the same people who are criticizing Gardner’s OPS+ of 93 but who want to annoint O’Neill as a saint and retire #21 realize that Gardner’s OPS+ of 93 in 2009 was better than Paulie’s OPS+ of 92 in 2000???

In 2001, Soriano had an OPS+ of 90 at 2B. Knoblauch, moved to LF, had an OPS + of 82. 82.  In 521 AB, Knoblauch hit .250-9-44 with 38 SB as your full-time LF. Yet people are bitching about Gardner as a full-time LF today?

In 1956, the Yanks primary LF was Ellie Howard. OPS+ 80.

I really think some people in the comments sections at various blogs really need to check out baseballreference.com and compare various years—especially PENNANT-WINNING YEARS. 

The power is there. Yes, I’d like Damon back. But if Gardner can produce a mid-90’s OPS+, provide 35-40 SB and provide defense (with a .270 average), he’ll be fine.    

Hey, I know it was a different era, but the 1969-1971 Orioles did quite well with a defensive guy at SS who DIDN’T steal or have a high OPS+—Belanger. OPS+ 95, 56 and 97. Funny thing is, in the years where Belanger was in the 90’s, the Orioles LOST the WS. When they won (1970), is the year Belanger was flat out pathetic. The 56.

People knocking Gardner—just off-base for now. If BG hits just .230 in 2010, then knock him. But if he starts, plays every day, has an OPS+ in the mid-90s and steals 35-40 while hitting 9th (putting up .270-2-40 with 35 to 40 steals)? Then fine.  

Let me add one thing. Here are the stats of someone who was in a far less potent offense than Gardner would be in in 2010.

The 162 game average of this player? .262 (we would hope Gardner does better than that) with 2 HR, 50 RBI and 37 SB. Gardner-like. OPS+ just 87.

But since this guy was a SS and not a LF, more emphasis was placed on his speed and defense.

The guy is in the HOF.

Ozzie Smith.

People who criticize Gardner right now don’t realize what lack of offense REALLY is. They didn’t see the Gene Michael/Jerry Kenney Yankees of the early 1970s.  

Update: Interesting arguments on Gardner last night. Some don’t think he can hit .275 in the majors, even though he hit .270 last year in what was his first full year in the majors. Another argument was that he doesn’t walk enough. Interesting. Yes, I’d like Gardner to walk more in order to take advantage of his speed. But let’s look at something.

Gardner 26 walks in 248 AB in 2009. Let’s double the ABs (496) for a full-time player, and you’d have 52 walks. Remember that Gardner had an OPS+ of 93 in 2009.
Player A had 13 walks in 590 AB in 1976. OPS+ 122 because of a .312 BA. 
Player A had 18 walks in 565 AB in 1977. OPS+ 115 because of a .326 BA.
Player A had 29 walks in 559 AB in 1978. OPS+ 98 because he dropped to .265.

Let’s look at Player B.
380 AB last year. Just 27 walks. OPS+ 105.
2008? 22 walks in 375 AB. OPS+ 75.
A 162 game average of 38 walks per year in 626 AB. Career OPS+ of just 85.

Player A is Mickey Rivers. Player B is Juan Pierre, and although Gardner doesn’t have a cannon, his throwing arm is better than Rivers was or Pierre’s is.  

 

The Halladay-Lee deal involves 4 teams. Pierre to Chisox. Boston not done?

Halladay (17-10, 2.79 in 2009) to the Phils, along with $6M cash. Halladay signs a 3-year extension. The Phils send 3 prospects to Toronto, including much sought-after Kyle (son of ex-MLB and CYA winner Doug) Drabek and Michael Taylor. Drabek, 22, was 12-3, 3.19 between A+ and AA this year. Taylor, who turns 24 this week, hit .320-20-84 between AA/AAA this year, with 21 SB. MLB.com reports that the Jays are then sending Taylor to Oakland for Brett Wallace, who between STL and Oak AA/AAA hit .293-20-63. Wallace is 23, a lefty hitting 1b/3b.

Cliff Lee (14-13, 3.22 combined CLE/PHI 2009) to Seattle. The Phils get 3 prospects back.

I heard that the Chisox and Royals inquired about Gardner. I would guess that the Chisox’s interest is dead now after they traded for another speedster today, Juan Pierre. Pierre went .308-0-31 with 30 SB for the Dodgers in 2009. His 162 g. average is .301-1-44, 52 SB. I’m not a Pierre fan, because despite the .301 average and the great speed, he averages only 38 walks a year. Thus an 85 OPS+. Great speed, doesn’t walk is something I hate. Going to the Dodgers are two prospects.

I see this from MLB.com:

The Cardinals want Matt Holliday back as their left fielder, and according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, they’re willing to commit about $16 million a season for the next eight years to make sure it happens.   …    to easily the most lucrative deal ever offered by the Cardinals.

Somewhere, Albert Pujols must be salivating. The report also states that Holliday prefers going back to St. Louis. Put it this way…Boston loses Bay, doesn’t get Holliday, gets Mike Cameron to platoon with Hermida in left. That doesn’t really help Boston, does it? Lackey in the rotation does, and ESPN reports that the rotation depth may mean that (should the Lowell to Texas deal go through) Boston may trade a pitcher to SD for Adrian Gonzalez to play 1B. (Youkilis moves to 3b). Gonzalez, a GG, hit .277-40-99 for SD this year and led the majors with 119 walks. The lefty hitting slugger is 27.  

      

Game 48. Yanks beat Indians 3-1, take over first place.

After two, the Yanks lead 2-0. They surely haven’t been without their chances against last year’s CYA winner, Cliff Lee.

In the first, the Yanks loaded the bases with one out but Cano and Posada both struck out. Andy gave up a hit in the first, nothing else.

The Yanks struck for two in the second. Swish walked. Gardner (heating up, .284 after that hit, see the game preview) singled and Jeter singled in a run (his 2nd hit put him at .304). Damon singled to load the bases and Teix hit a soft grounder to bring in the “Road Runner”. After putting the first two runners on in the second, Andy got a flyout and DP.

If you didn’t hear it already, Rockies’ manager Clint Hurdle got the boot today. 19 months ago the Rockies were in the WS. Jim Tracy (the ex-Dodger/Pirate Mgr.) gets the job.

Have you seen what Manny’s “replacement” is doing for the Dodgers? With Manny suspended, Juan Pierre is playing LF. He is hitting .407. I remember someone arguing for the Yanks to get Pierre last year or so. I argued no. Why? Pierre does have a .302 career BA. His 162 ga. average is .302-2-46 with 54 SB. But his OPS+ is just 85. He earned $8M last year. I felt that if Gardner could hit .270, he might steal 35-40—not quite Pierre, but at a much lower cost.

The Yanks get a run in the 3rd on a SF by Swish. 3-0.     

Still 3-0 in the 5th. Posada has two hits. It’s amazing what he is doing offensively at his age. .325 after starting 2 for 3 tonight. Let’s throw out an injured 2008. He hit .338 in 2007. Let’s not forget that Jorge doesn’t get any “leg” hits either.

3-0 after five.

Andy had a problem and came out after five. In the sixth, he left a two on, none out situation for Aceves, who came out of it with only one run allowed. Andy 5 IP 1 R; Aceves (with a brilliant job) 3 IP and Mo closed it out. 3-1 YANKEES.

I love Aceves right now. Hate Veras.

Pete Abraham compared Aceves to a 1998-1999 Ramiro Mendoza. We can only hope. So far, so good and a great comparison.

Pettitte did get #220 tonight, which ties Jerry Reuss on the all-time list.

Rivera save #492.

I ran into a buddy tonight. He’s known me since we both 12 or so. We were in the same graduating class in high school. If I ever needed a tag-team buddy for baseball trivia, “Huffy” is my guy.