Friday, December 26, 2008

The Wide Receiver/Lead Singer Matching Game

In honor of the previous post, I present the The Wide Receiver/Lead Singer Matching Game!

A. Randy Moss

B. Terrell Owens

C. Plaxico Burress

D. Chad Ocho Cinco

E. Michael Irvin

F. Keyshawn Johnson

G. Wes Welker

H. Chris Carter

1. Mary J. Blige

2. Aretha Franklin

3. Whitney Houston

4. Mariah Carey

5. Madonna

6. Tina Turner

7. Diana Ross

8. Cyndi Lauper

My suggestions:

A&1 – Randy Moss and Mary J. Blige - After enjoying incredible early career success, and taking some time off (Mary J. circa 2000, Randy with Oakland) both have shown a recent resurgance c/o No More Drama.

B&4 – Terrell Owens and Mariah Carey - Both spent time as the preeminent star in their discipline and both have had some pretty serious mental issues. T.O. was benched by the Eagles and Mariah was bought out by Virgin.

C&3 – Plaxico Burress and Whitney Houston - If only for Burress's game winning catch in Super Bowl XLII and Whitney's legendary rendition of the Star Spangled Banner before Super Bowl XXV. (Both in NYFBGiant victories, of course.)

D&5 – Ocho Cinco and Madonna - It takes a special kind of person to refer to yourself as a corruption of a numeral in another language or a term usually reserved for the Mother of Jesus.

E&2 – Michael Irvin and Tina Turner - Both had incredible talent and emotion but are also remembered for off-field/stage events involving drugs and violence.

F&7 – Keyshawn Johnson and Diana Ross - Both fans of interior design and touching breasts.

G&8 – Wes Welker and Cyndi Lauper - They-ah is no hah-dah warkin lead singah than Cyndi Law-pah. (Cheap shot? Yes.)

H&2 - Chris Carter and Aretha Franklin - Neither have the real negative diva connotation in hindsight comparaed to their contemporaries, but both big roles in inspiring future divas in Randy Moss and Mary J. Blige.

Who To Move

Tim Dierkes of MLB Trade Rumors tells us (via Tracy Ringoslby),
The Yankees are looking to move two from a group of outfielders of Xavier Nady, Nick Swisher and Hideki Matsui. The Angels, Texas, Oakland and Atlanta are considered to have interest.

8< (Snip) ((Scissors, get it? No? Fine, but I'm sticking with it anyway.))

From the emails I receive, Yankees fans would most like to see Matsui dealt. Perhaps he will be, but I believe his current trade value is negative. 34 years old, full no-trade clause, $13MM salary in '09, September knee surgery and a questionable ability to play the outfield.
First, I like the fact that they are planning on keeping Damon. He gets a bad rap because of his weak arm, but out of the attributes necessary to be a solid a left fielder, a strong throwing arm is one of the least important. To my eye, he has above average range and speed for a LF and of course brings a great deal to the table offensively.

I know that from a fans perspective Matsui would be the easiest of this bunch to part with because of his recently sketchy injury history, poor defense and presumably declining bat. Of course, other teams know this and like Tim says, combined with his high salary and the belt tightening around the league, this gives him negative trade value. He also increases the interest in the Yankees in the Pacific Rim, a factor more important to the Yankees than any team they trade him to.

Why not trade Nady, who is one year away from free agency and is unlikely to ever have a higher trade value? He's coming off of a career year in which he batted over .300 for the first time, partially due to a .363 BA/BIP in his time with Pittsburgh. Nady is in his prime and has shown consistent improvement against righties throughout his career. I just don't think Nady will repeat (or out do) last year's performance. At roughly $5 million after arbitration, Nady is affordable to almost any team. Perhaps the Yanks could turn him in a competent veteran CF, something they probably couldn't do with Swisher (coming off a bad year) or Matsui (see above).

The Demise Of Derek

Last year, Derek Jeter had far and away his worse full season offensively as a professional. His batting average, on-base percentage and slugging percentage were all well off his career marks and reflecting this, his counting stats are far below his averages. He only stole eleven bases, and was been caught five times.

For a shortstop who has been a defensive liability for several years, his offensive production has slipped far enough to make him just an average player. Some attributed this slack in production to a May 21st, when he got hit on the hand by Garrett Olsen, but how long can an injury serve as an excuse for meak production. The "bad habits" he's picked up should have probably corrected themselves within a few weeks of the incident.

His OPS+ was 102 and he was only about 50% successful at getting runners in from third with fewer than two outs. He grounded into 24 double plays, the most in his career and behind only Vlad Guerrero, Magglio Ordonez and Jermaine Dye. Somehow, he is both walking and striking out less.

That's what the numbers tell me. My recollection of watching games this past year tells me that he was less patient at the plate, swinging at the first pitch too frequently, and fouling off more of the balls he used to put in play, and making weaker contact on the balls he used to drive.

In a subjective recall, double plays also stand out, not only because they make two outs and erase a hit, but they also kill the mythological "momentum". Similarly, getting runners in from third leave a perceived gimme run on base. These are the kind of stats that fans overvalue. How long is it going to take before fans start turning on Jeter? I know he is the ultimate Teflon Man, for the all reasons that we are all too familiar with. But Bernie Williams, also a homegrown Yankee, here for all of the World Series Championships in the late 90's/2000, former batting champion, World Series MVP, Four Time Gold Glove winner, and a "True Yankee" still saw the fans and the organization turn on him when his power went away and his GIDP's weren't balanced out by the rest of his offensive contributions.

Jeter will make $20 and $21 million over the next two years, respectively. The Yankees decision to backload the contract has left the door open for the media to remark on his lack of productivity in relation to his salary. No question Jeter has been worth the value over the length of the contract, given his value to the club extends beyond the field. I'm not talking about intangibles, but about the marketability he adds to the Yankees. He is a major reason ESPN covers the Yankees so closely, and his gravitas keeps him and the Yankees on the back covers in New York. Jeter and A-Rod, account for the vast majority of the Yankees star power.

After 2010, the organization might have quite the quandary on its hands. Jeter seemingly refuses to acknowledge the erosion of his skills, especially defensively. He's said he doesn't want to move from shortstop, which is okay, in one respect, because aside from catcher, it has the highest tolerance for a below average offensive player. However his defensive skills continue to slide, at a valuable defensive position. In a perfect world, he could switch to center field this coming year, replacing the Melky/Gardner shit burger/poo sandwich combo, and holding the place for Austin Jackson. Of course that would require that the Yankees acquire someone who was significantly superior defensively than Jeter (and serviceable offensively), and there aren't an obvious options that wouldn't require significant sacrifice.

The only somewhat possible target would be Yunel Escobar, who the Braves have shown a willingness to move this off season in a possible Jake Peavy deal. The Yanks could open the door to negations involving Nick Swisher or Xavier Nady, both of whom the Braves have some interest in, and then gauge interest in expanding the deal. They would have to provide an elite level package, something along the lines of Phil Hughes, Austin Jackson and either Swish or X. Not likely at all, but I would have no problem giving up that sort of a package for a young, slick fielding starting shortstop that could hold down the position and hit competently for yers to come.

I've heard people speculate that before Derek Jeter's career is over, he might amass more than 4,000 hits. He currently has 2,535, still 465 short of 3,000. He certainly won't be there by the time his contract expires in 2010. Will the Yankees give him a sweetheart, lifetime achievement contract if he continues to decline? They didn't with Bernie, and although their star status is not comprable, the decision making may be similar, considering the will likely occur in the Brain Cashman Era. Will there be a Brett Farve "player wants to come back but team wants to move on" scenario? Doubtful, but if Jeter wants a contract based on his previous one and past accomplishments and the Yankees want one that more closely reflects his current value as a player, they might find it hard to come together.

I Spy

So the Yankees signed Kevin Cash to play the role of this year's Chad Moeller, a third option behind Molina and Posada who will spend most of the time in AAA ball.

Interesting. The 31 year old catcher, aside from having a sweet middle name (Forrest), is quite a terrible hitter. In 142 ABs with the Sox last year, he had an OPS of .647. He has a major league career OPS+ of 38, which makes Melky Cabrera look like Willie Mays.

So why would the Yanks want this guy? Why not steal a backstop from an NL Central team? Well I think the one fairly obvious thing that Cash brings to the table is an intimate knowledge of Boston's pitching staff. In the spirit of constant oneupmanship that exists between New York and Boston, the clear motivation for this is... espionage!