Saturday, January 23, 2010

Why We're Lucky To Have Brian Cashman

Our GM discussing the current free agent market for outfielders (via LoHud):
“How long it’s taking certain people to wake up and smell the coffee, that’s what surprises me,” Cashman said. “When you get on the phone with agents, they tell you one thing, and certain agents (cough)ScottBoras(cough) can’t honestly believe what they’re trying to convey. Do they think I’m stupid?”
Okay, I added the italics. But I love the fact that there is someone in charge of the Yankees who can correctly gauge the market and sees through the bullshit. He doesn't rush or panic and is impervious to the games that agents try to play.

So to answer your question, Steve, yes I think Cashman "would be an effective and successful G.M. of a major league baseball team if he had a team payroll budget to work with that was in the range of $100 to $120 million (and no more than that)".

25 Days Until Spring Training: Mark Teixeira

There are 25 days until pitchers and catchers are due to report to George M. Steinbrenner Field in Tampa so we begin our countdown to Spring Training, as we did last year, with Mark Teixeira.

While Jason Giambi was a valuable player during his career with the Yankees, the franchise made a major upgrade by replacing him with Mark Teixiera last winter. Better both defensively and at the plate, the Maryland native and Georgia Tech alum started of the Pinstriped portion of his career on the right foot.

Teixeira cleaned up the postseason awards by finishing second in the MVP vote, and being awarded both the Gold Glove and Silver Slugger among American League first baseman. Depsite the accolades, Teixeira's first season in the Bronx didn't quite measure up to the two previous ones he split between in Texas, Atlanta and Anaheim. However, being shuttled between the AL and NL midseason prevented him from getting credit for his robust production in the award voting.

In both 2007 and 2008 he batted over .300 and got on base at better than a 40% clip but in 2009 he did neither - hitting .292/.383/.565 - but did record a slugging percentage 20 points above his career average. He tied for the AL lead in home runs with 39 and led the Yanks in slugging percentage and OPS (.948) but he by no means reached his ceiling last year.

Part of this can be attributed to an an awful April which put him in a hole that took until the end of May to climb out. However, even in that terrible month, he walked 17 times in 90 plate appearances and had a respectable on-base percentage of .367.

Teixiera's defense is well-regarded by fans, broadcasters and scouts alike, but it doesn't seem to show up in UZR. He posted a below average rating last season and his defense over the the previous three comes out to be almost exactly neutral. Tom Tango acknowledges that there is likely something that UZR might be missing about Teixeira's defense. What might that be? Well for one, infield line drives aren't counted by UZR, and those go a long way in determining who the best defensive first basemen are.

Teixiera hit for a higher batting average and on-base percentage from the right side of the plate while slugging better as a lefty in 2009, which could be attributed to playing half of his games in the Bronx if it wasn't a patten that has been evident over his entire career. Of course, Yankee Stadium probably enhanced those splits, as 24 of his 39 long balls were hit at home and his numbers were better there across the board.

Partially lost in the Yankees' World Series victory was the fact that Teixeira struggled during the postseason. He made some sparkling defensive plays including one that helped David Robertson wriggle out of an 11th inning jam in Game 2 of the ALDS which he followed with a game-winning home run in the bottom half of the inning. But his overall line was .182/.282/.311, walking only 6 times in 71 plate appearances.

Similar to his funk at the beginning of the season, Teixeira could have been rusty from all the days off that the Yanks had during the postseason. He's said in the past that batting from both sides of the plate makes it harder to find his rhytym. While many players didn't seem to mind it, the inactivity might mess with Teix's timing more than it does with other players'. He's a notoriously slow starter, so there is likely some truth to that notion.

Odds are, Teixeira will have many more Aprils and Octobers in Pinstripes to try to sort these problems out.