Sunday, June 30, 2013

Trade Possibilities

As the Yankees continue to play terrible baseball, the trade deadline seems to be further and further away after each passing loss. Although as we speak, its about one month away exactly. I've done some digging and found some intriguing trades with only about seven teams really out of it so far.

Paul Konerko- 1B White Sox- Konerko is 37, and is hitting .253 and only has seven home runs this year. Although, I believe he could be a good fit with the Yanks. He is right handed and still has power (he hit 26 home runs last year.) He is a high character guy as well. The only problem is the no-trade clause, that doesn't mean he wouldn't waive it to play with the Yankees, but it is an obstacle. Also he plays great defense so you wouldn't miss much at first.
What it would take: Corban Joseph 3B, J.R. Murphy C and Cash

Justin Morneau- 1B Twins- Now I know all the Francesa haters won't like this trade because Mike has been calling for Morneau since spring training. He's another guy who hasn't produced as much as he usually does (only three home runs.) which might make it easier to bring him in. He has only one year left on his deal which we know the Yankees like, and I think a change of scenery will do him some good, especially putting him in Yankee Stadium. Also his health, which has always been a question, seems to be okay for now. He's played in 72 games, which is encouraging.
What it would take: Brett Marshall P, Addison Maruszak SS

Brian McCann- C Braves- This one confuse you? I figured, why would a 1st place team trade their starting catcher? Well Evan Gattis, that's why. Even though he's on the DL right now he should be off it soon and the Yankees had been linked to McCann for a little while now. Another lefty hitter yes, but would you rather have him or Chris Stewart as your starting catcher? Exactly. He also has one year left on his deal, makes perfect sense for the bombers.
What it would take: Nik Turley P. Brett Marshall P

Also Michael Young, he is top on my list and he would be the guy I want, can play third and first and he just hits. If you know me, you know I like guys who hit for average over power, and Young is the prototypical guy for that type of player. Also liked Justin's idea of Johnathan Lucroy as well, wouldn't give up Slade Heathcott for him, but that's just me.

Saturday, June 29, 2013

How to Improve the Yankees Offense

If being down 4-0 in the first inning with David Phelps at 30 pitches doesn't give you incentive to write about how to improve the Yankees pitiful offense, I do not know what does. Seriously, what does? Any suggestions? There's a lot of fixing needed here. Brett Gardner and Robinson Cano have done a damn fine job considering how pathetic this offense has been. So, let's give this a shot, shall we?

UPDATE: Down 9-0 in 3. You can't win if your SP does that.

Catcher - Acquire Jonathan Lucroy from the Brewers for C Gary Sanchez, OF Slade Heathcott, P Brett Marshall

If you know me, I am not a Chris Stewart fan. He's had 4, count them, 4 extra base hits this year. Francisco Cervelli had 6 in 17 games. He should not be starting daily. Enter a legitimate Top 10 MLB catcher who hits and leading an MLB team in RBI: Milwaukee's Jonathan Lucroy. Tops on the Brew Crew with 42 RBI, hardly strikes out and has pop. He won't be easy to get, but with the Brewers desperate for pitching and/or young prospects in a bare farm system, he could be had, in my opinion for the right price. Doug Melvin will ask and the Yankees should oblige: they have catchers in the system, and OF's. Giving up the top prospect and a top 5 in Sanchez and Heathcott is a lot, but 27 year old catchers who hit and with team friendly contracts don't come around often.

Shortstop - Acquire Danny Espinosa from the Nationals for Phil Hughes

Espinosa strikes out....a lot. And he demoted to AAA for a rookie (albeit a really good in Anthony Rendon). But, he's a legit SS who can be a 20/20 player. He's also a switch hitter. He's got much more offensive talent  than Jayson Nix, and could replace him as the UTIL IF once Derek Jeter is back. Hughes is in the Yankees' doghouse as much as Espinosa's in the Nats', who need some SP depth. This makes sense for both teams.

Corner Infield - Acquire Michael Young from the Phillies for Ichiro Suzuki and Austin Romine

I'm being a little creative, here. I think you can substitute OF Ramon Flores for Ichiro to make it more legitimate. But, if the Phillies are going to sell, C Carlos Ruiz can very well be a on a new team, and I think they'll want a young C in return. The Yankees clearly don't believe in Romine and with Lucroy on board and JR Murphy in AAA, they don't need him. I also believe the Phils want to upgrade an OF spot to go with Dom Brown and Ben Revere. Young can play, though not too well, 1B/3B.

Post Trade (and Injury returns, so figure late July, August 1st Lineup) : 

CF Brett Gardner
DH Derek Jeter
2B Robinson Cano
LF Curtis Granderson
3B Alex Rodriguez
C   Jonathan Lucroy
1B Michael Young
RF Zoilo Almonte
SS Danny Espinosa

Much better. Never going to happen, but GM Justin is here to help. Let's chat this up on Twitter, shall we? Hit me @JMFlorio

Monday, June 24, 2013

What can we reasonably expect from Zoilo Almonte?

Happy Monday, everyone! I've been away lately at work, car shopping and I had my graduation party this weekend, but glad to be back! I'm gonna make sure I post more often. Over the last week, we've had a new, popular player in the Bronx: Zoilo Almonte. He's gotten off to a terrific start in New York and the question is: what can he do the rest of the way? Can he be a solid OF, and considering the awful options, the AL Rookie of the Year? Let's take a look:

Almonte So Far

His stat line as it shows so far: .538/.643/1.000. That's not sustainable, clearly. But, let's look a little deeper. Of the seven hits Almonte has had so far, 3 of them have gone for multiple bases: 2 doubles and a home run. He's been driving the ball, not some cheap hits. He's brought in 4 runs, as well, and scored two of his own. His BB-K ratio is even at 2 a piece. Just based on his demeanor at the plate, Almonte looks very comfortable in his own skin: he's not trying too hard. That's a big problem with rookies, as we've seen with David Adams: trying too hard to keep up with the first 2 weeks of his call-up.

Almonte's Minor League Stats

Batting average-wise, we can see Almonte translates out roughly to a mid-.270's hitter. The last 2 years were .276 in 2011, .277 in 2012. His plate discipline has been a little up and down. Almonte has been susceptible to strikeouts in the past, with his last 3 years at 130, 105, and 103. But, there has been improvement in his K rate: 27.9% in 2010, 24.1% in 2011, 24.5% in 2012 and down to 18.1% this year. He's cut it down by almost 10% over 3 seasons: that's a remarkable improvement by any hitter. He was also drawing walks at the highest rate of his career with 30 in only 68 games in AAA. Over 162 games, that would be 71 walks, a nice rate. Consider this: Adam Jones is on pace for only 17 this year and he's one of the AL's best OF. He'll steal bases, around 15 a year. He also did not have a massive platoon split, as a switch hitter, that's good (.281 against lefties, .303 against righties).

Almonte's Competition

We know Brett Gardner will play everyday. He's improved his hitting, especially against lefties and has been the Yankees MVP so far, by far. As will Curtis Granderson upon his return in about a month. That's two. Almonte's gonna play if he hits, and Ichiro and the Vern-Dog will platoon. Unfortunately, and oddly enough, Ichiro and Wells have tattooed lefties. If Tex were healthy, I would have did an Overbay against RHP and Wells/Ichiro against lefties platoon. Someone on this team has to hit righties. Almonte tattoos them. Joe Girardi can't play Wells (at sub .200!!!!) and Ichiro (at under .230!) against righties. Please, just hit, Zoilo.

Almonte's projections

Let's give him 350 at-bats the rest of the way, a .297 average (his AAA batting average) and at 42% of hits going for extra bases, at 104 hits, 44 would be for extra bases. Realistically, he's probably a .270 hitter with mid-level power. If the rates he had in AAA (Higher BB's, lower K's) are legitimate, he can be closer to that .297 hitter. I would project .270/10 HR/40 RBI the rest of the way. If he improves the average, he's the Yankees starting LF next year, a hope most Yankees fans (youth, productivity) and the front office (CHEAP $$$$) have.

Follow me on Twitter @JMFlorio

Friday, June 14, 2013

Yankees call up Thomas Neal

Change is a-brewin'; according to Mark Feinsand of the NY Daily News, the Yankees optioned David Adams back to AAA and called up OF Thomas Neal. Adams started to be bunched behind Nix and Overbay when he came up but with Tex and Youk back, Adams was rarely going to see playing time. He needs the everyday development at AAA. But, let's welcome Neal to the team! If you're not familiar with him, I gave a scouting report of him back in April, which you can see here. Let's recap:

Neal will probably play as at least a RH DH, or OF against lefties, and with CJ Wilson on the hill tonight, could presumably start. But Neal's not just a platoon bat: he's hit both sides equally well (he's a righty, in case you could not deduce).

Overall line: .339/.426/.446/.872/2 HR/24 RBI/2 SB playing out of the leadoff spot since his DL stint.

Against Lefties: .333/.435/.436/.871 with a solid 7 BB to 6 K's
Against Righties: .341/.423/.450/.872 in roughly triple the amount of plate appearances against lefties

He hits righties better but works lefties better (13 BB to 30 K's against righties). Is he playing over his head a little? Probably, but Neal's consistently made contact in the minors. Could he be better than Wells and Ichiro? The bar's low, so hell yeah. As I do with all call-ups, I wish him luck.

Follow me on Twitter @JMFlorio

Monday, June 3, 2013

Where do the Impending Yankee Free Agents go?

Happy Monday, gang. Hope you had a solid weekend. It's never too early to think about the trade deadline and impending free agency. General Managers have to set their teams for not only one year plans but 3,4,5 years down the road. So, let's take a look at the impending free agents of the New York Yankees and see where they end up, via my best estimation.

2B Robinson Cano
He's not going anywhere. The Yankees need him, and if he wants the money, he needs them. Expect him to retire in Pinstripes.
2014 Destination: Right back in the Bronx. Wild Card: Los Angeles Dodgers

SS Derek Jeter
He's technically a free agent, but his option will be picked up and I think he'll play his last year as the 40 year old Yankees SS.
2014 Destination: Back at Short in the House that Ruth Built. Wild Card: Tampa Bay Rays

INF Jayson Nix
Nix is easily replaceable, though I can see Girardi pushing Cashman to bring him back at least as a MiLB FA (Minor League Free Agent). I give it 50/50 chance of returning, with the Yankees being outbid by a team who could use him a little more.
2014 Destination: Miami Marlins. Wild Card: Houston Astros

1B (and now OF) Lyle Overbay
Some team will give Overbay a nice rotational bench/DH spot. He hits righties well, and in the right platoon, can be a solid contributor. I can see him replacing Carlos Pena's role in Houston.
2014 Destination: Houston Astros. Wild Card: Cleveland Indians

OF Brennan Boesch
I can see the Yankee giving Boesch a bigger role next year, particularly as a part of the DH rotation, OF rotation and possibly a starter if they dump Ichiro like I want them to.
2014 Destination: New York Yankees. Wild Card: Kansas City Royals

SP Hiroki Kuroda
It's either Japan or the Bronx for the Yankees #2 starter. They might be able to squeeze another year out of him, but I also place this at 50/50 return, with a slight lean to Japan.
2014 Destination: Hiroshima Toyo Carp. Wild Card: New York Yankees

1B/3B Kevin Youkilis
I think Youk stays in the American League because he needs the DH time. A team desperate for offense will come a calling; i.e. the Twins.
2014 Destination: Minnesota Twins. Wild Card: Chicago Cubs

RP Joba Chamberlain
He's as good as gone from the Bronx. Some team desperate for relief help will give him a ring to close. Its up to him to take probably more money from a contender to set-up or less to close and possibly play that into a multi-year deal.
2014 Destination: Houston Astros. Wild Card: Milwaukee Brewers

RP Boone Logan
I can see the Yankees bringing Logan back, but considering his 4 above average years in the Bronx, a team, much like ones for Joba, will call for help.
2014 Destination: New York Mets. Wild Card: Chicago White Sox

DH Travis Hafner
He'll DH somewhere, but probably not in the Bronx. They need the bench spot for younger players and the DH spot for A-Rod.
2014 Destination: Seattle Mariners. Wild Card: Baltimore Orioles

RP Mariano Rivera
He is technically a free agent.
2014 Destination: Panama's lovely beaches. Wild Card: Yankees Spring Training Instructor

OF Curtis Granderson
He can come back to the Bronx; I can see it happening, but at a low percentage, maybe 20-25%. At 32, it's his last big payday of his career.
2014 Destination: Chicago White Sox. Wild Card: Chicago Cubs

SP Andy Pettitte
I think Andy hangs it up. If he wants to come back, he'll be back with open arms, but his son Josh will be a top draft pick in this week's draft and it's time to be Dad and just sit back and cheer the next great Pettitte (hopefully).
2014 Destination: Yankees Spring Training Instructor. Wild Card: Guest appearance on Swamp People. (He is from Louisiana, you know).

SP Phil Hughes
Yankees fans will run this guy out of town. He needs to go to a big park and San Francisco is a perfect fit with Lincecum's impending free agency.
2014 Destination: San Francisco Giants. Wild Card: San Diego Padres

Whaddya think? Hit me up on Twitter @JMFlorio

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Dilemma Deciphering: Solving Top MLB Position Problems

Happy June! We're about a third of the way through the MLB season, with some outbreaks (Pittsburgh) and some really bad teams which ended up being worse than we thought (Miami) and many teams right around where we thought they would be - Yankees, Tigers, Cardinals. As with the game, injuries are a part of them. But, some replacements are doing very well. So, how do we solve these dilemmas? Let's take a look at a few:

Marlins Outfield

They are really bad, I know. Yet, the outfield really has not been too awful. Marcell Ozuna has done well since his call-up, hitting .330. Chris Coghlan might have figured it out again. Justin Ruggiano leads the team in HRs, Giancarlo Stanton is on his way back and they have veteran Juan Pierre. Clearly, Stanton will play RF everyday, so that's one. The best solution would be some kind of platoon with Pierre and Coghlan versus righties and Ruggiano and Ozuna versus lefties. I think it would be best for Miami to play the younger, more talented Coghlan and Ozuna, but that won't happen until after the trade deadline, presumably Pierre and Ruggiano actually having some trade value.

The Evan Gattis Problem

The Braves have an elite catcher in Brian McCann. They have a talented OF in the brothers Upton and Jason Heyward. They also have a talented 1B in Freddie Freeman. They also play with no DH. Yet, they have Evan Gattis, a human power stroke. Consider this: if Gattis had 550 at-bats, he would be on pace for 47 home runs this year. If I'm Fredi Gonzalez, I get Gattis in the line-up somehow everyday. I've been saying for years how much BJ Upton is incredibly overrated and now overpaid. You sit the guy who isn't hitting. Sure, it is incredibly tough to sit an OF making $15 million this year, but they need him to be right for the next 4 years of his deal. If they fix him now, he and Gattis (presumably at C if McCann leaves via free agency) can hit dozens of home runs for the Braves for years.

Should the Tigers platoon Andy Dirks and Avisail Garcia?

Short answer, Yes. Dirks has historically struggled against lefties and against LH starters, he does not have a hit. Garcia's only hitting .200 against RH starters, but he's a better long-term option for an OF spot over, say Matt Tuiasosopo, who is playing way over his head at hitting .315 this year. Send the best lineups out there when you can.

Yankees log jam at everywhere that they don't actually need help at

You know what and who I mean here - Kevin Youkilis, David Adams, Lyle Overbay, Jayson Nix, Mark Teixeira, Vernon Wells, Brennan Boesch, Ichiro Suzuki, Travis Hafner. Oh, and Curtis Granderson and Alex Rodriguez in 2 months, give or take. Where do they need the help at? SS and C. Where don't they have help at? SS and C. Leaving Granderson and A-Rod off the the table temporarily, the most standard lineup here on out is going to feature Youk, Nix (at SS probably), Tex, Wells, Ichiro and Pronk in it most nights. As much as I like Adams, I'd rather he play everyday in AAA versus bench-warming. Overbay is going to have to be cut eventually, and I would love to send he and Ichiro off in a package somewhere (Mets?!) to get Boesch more playing time and ease the jam. It's a good problem to have, but it would be nice if the other weak spots had this depth, too.

How do you solve these problems? Tweet me @JMFlorio