• First You Say It, Then You Do It, Players

    Posted by on December 22nd, 2008 · Comments (21)

    A colleague asked me today if the Yankees should sign Mark Teixeira. My answer: “I dunno. He wants $20 million a year for something like 8 years or more. That’s alotta money and seasons.”

    “Exactly” answered the colleague. He continued with “If you’re going to make $20 million or more a year, then you better be the best in the game at your position. Is Teixeira the best first baseman in baseball?”

    Quickly, I answered “Not as long as some guy named Albert Pujols is around.” To that, my colleague added “I’m not even sure that Teixeira gives you more than Ryan Howard too.”

    Now, I know that defense counts, and Teixeira has Howard beat there. But, what about Kevin Youkilis and/or Lance Berkman? Is Teixeira a better player than them? Tough call. How about Justin Morneau or Adrian Gonzalez? Yeah, he’s probably better than those two – but by much?

    This got me thinking back to Manny Ramirez. I’ve always said that when Manny came to the plate, against the Yankees, my first reaction was always “Oh, crap!” He’s that kind of hitter. When he comes to bat, first you say it and then you do it. Same thing as when you’re going into a Blue Jays series and you see that Roy Halladay is going to be pitching one of those games. Your reaction? “Sh*t!” First you say it and then you do it.

    The more I thought about this, the more I could not say that Mark Teixeira is a “First you say it, then you do it” player. I respect his tools and game. But, when he faced the Yankees, I never thought, in any At Bat, that he could wreck a game like someone such as David Ortiz or Manny Ramirez. (Or, even Jim Thome in his prime.)

    And, now, I’m thinking “Do you really want to spend $20 million a season, for several years, on a player who’s not a ‘First you say it, then you do it’ player”? If you put a gun to my head, at this moment, and requested an immediate answer, I’m probably going to say “No.”

    Maybe I’ll feel differently tomorrow. But, then again, maybe not…

    Comments on First You Say It, Then You Do It, Players

    1. December 22nd, 2008 | 9:17 pm

      The more I think about it, the prospect of him going to Boston is my only ‘real’ motivation for possibly wanting him. You’re right, he’s not Manny or Ortiz scary, but putting him in the lineup with guys like Youkilis, Bay et al is not something I want to deal with either.

    2. thenewguy
      December 22nd, 2008 | 10:33 pm

      I also think it is worth factoring that by getting Teixeira we would be blocking the Red Sox from getting him. Not the same can be said with Manny. So getting Teixeira would be a gain on both ends.

    3. Corey
      December 23rd, 2008 | 12:23 am

      interesting take…when manny was on the sox, i remember always having the feeling that they were up…or coming up…mentally u’d skip the other players in the lineup and think ok, 7th inning they are coming up…i’d also put pre-testing era tejada on that list

    4. propesh
      December 23rd, 2008 | 12:49 am

      First time poster.

      You are totally right. When it comes to value Manny is the better investment. The last year of either one is gonna be tough,but with Manny is less commitment,more power,and post-season battle tested. It would be scary to have A-rod Manny.

    5. jmeisner
      December 23rd, 2008 | 8:26 am

      Manny was scary, but no one made me crap my pants as thoroughly as David Ortiz would from 2004-2007. I mean, with Manny you could at least bust him up and in, but Ortiz was just absolutely terrifying.

    6. Justin
      December 23rd, 2008 | 8:41 am

      Now, I know that defense counts, and Teixeira has Howard beat there. But, what about Kevin Youkilis and/or Lance Berkman? Is Teixeira a better player than them? Tough call. How about Justin Morneau or Adrian Gonzalez? Yeah, he’s probably better than those two – but by much?
      ====================================

      I understand where you’re coming from, but Teixeira is almost certainly better than every one of those players you mentioned (with the exception of Pujols, of course, who’s otherworldly).

      Youkilis has gone from being underrated to overrated. Howard, as you mention, can’t play defense. Berkman’s older and, I believe, a poor defender. Morneau isn’t as good a defender or hitter. Gonzalez is interesting because he’s young, but he’s also not available and has never had as good a season as Teixeira’s last two.

      In all, I think it’s fair to say that Teixeira’s the second best first baseman in the league. Is that worth $20 mil a year? I’m not sure, but probably.

    7. Justin
      December 23rd, 2008 | 8:46 am

      Plus, I generally hate this “Is he feared?” stuff. Who cares if he’s feared? What’s that have to do with anything? In fact, wouldn’t being feared put the hitter at a disadvantage, as the pitcher would pitch him more carefully?

    8. YankCrank
      December 23rd, 2008 | 9:17 am

      That’s an interesting way to put it Steve. Of course, whether you need to be fearful in the eyes of your opponent’s fans couldn’t and shouldn’t be a prerequisite to earning $20 million a year, but I really do see what you mean. I wonder if any Red Sox fans actually think that way when A-Rod comes up to bat? I bet they did in 2005 and 2007.

      I’m still a believer that Tex would be a good signing and a luxury for our team, but not a necessity. The Yankees went out and got frontline starters because they are not only hard to come by, but very rarely hit the free agent market anymore. In other words, the Yankees were in “need” of top quality arms. Is Tex an amazing 1b? Of course, but the Swisher deal gave us some leverage. If Tex signs elsewhere our team will be fine, obviously not as good as it could possibly be, but it doesn’t ruin Yankees baseball for the next few years.

    9. Raf
      December 23rd, 2008 | 9:36 am

      In fact, wouldn’t being feared put the hitter at a disadvantage, as the pitcher would pitch him more carefully?
      ————–
      Not really. Depending on his discipline, it would probably mean he has a ridiculous OBP, as Barry Bonds showed.

    10. Raf
      December 23rd, 2008 | 9:41 am

      “If you’re going to make $20 million or more a year, then you better be the best in the game at your position.
      —————-
      Unfortunately (fortunately, depending on your POV ;)) it doesn’t work that way.

      Having said that, superstars will always get their $$. All stars usually do. It’s the mediocrities that are paid like superstars or all stars that are the problem :)

    11. butchie22
      December 23rd, 2008 | 9:56 am

      Teixeira is scary good like Big Flappi or Manram? Hell no! But is anybody worth their weight in gold? Burnit has spent 11 times on the DL in the last 8 years, has never pitched a big game and is inconstitent and got 5 for 82 mill, that is quite excessive given the fact that the Yankees primary adjustment is offense.AND only one other team really made a bid on him. With Teix it is a case of why he will get top dollar. There is the demand argument that many teams want his services and need a hole filled. The Yanks in particular need clutch hitting, defense and a youth injection and Teix fits that bill properly. The thing is that other teams have holes (the Orange County Angels) , need a potential megastar to draw people(the Nats or the Blackbirds) or one more piece to make them invincible( the new Evil Empire:the Red Pox). The Yanks are the old Evil empire and are trying to regain their crestfallen status so Teix would be a welcome addition albeit an overpaid and overrated one that is essential given last year’s offensive debacle.

    12. YankCrank
      December 23rd, 2008 | 10:35 am

      “Teix would be a welcome addition albeit an overpaid and overrated one that is essential given last year’s offensive debacle.”

      This is just ridiculous. Why does every Yankee fan take last year’s offensive output and automatically correlate it with a 2009 team that hasn’t had a chance to hit yet?

      “Oh no, Giamibi and Abreu are gone and we were already bad enough last year, our offense is going to be terrible unless we get a Teixiera or a Manny! Cashman bought pitching? What an idiot!!”

      Last year’s offensive problem was injuries. We lost significant time from Posada, Jeter, A-Rod and Matsui during the season. However, our big loss was Jorge. Consider this: Jorge’s 2007 VORP (For those who don’t know, it’s measured in runs contributed above a replacement player at that position) was 4th best in the AL at 73.4. 4th…that’s insane, obviously a career year. Now, look at the 2008 contribution from Yankee catchers…

      Jose Molina: .216/.263/.313
      Chad Moeller: .231/.311/.330
      Ivan Rodriguez: .219/.257/.323
      Francisco Cervelli: .000/.000/.000

      You’re looking at, probably, the biggest reason for why the 2008 Yankees didn’t score as many runs as projected. Jorge was the biggest loss to the team because the dropoff from Jorge to the others was giant, We get him back in 2009. We also get Matsui back as our DH and for his career as a DH he has this line: 296 with .369 OBP and .489 SLG. — with 22 HRs and 90 RBI. That’s pretty damn good, and being a DH will limit his chance of getting injured.

      Please everyone, stop the “we need Teix or Manny” talk. Last year’s offense was a problem, I agree, and the main contributors that were missing will be back. Like I said yesterday, the team is projected to put up 5.8 runs a game…that’s pretty damn good. Does a Manny or Teix help the offense? Yes, but our offense isn’t “anemic” or “terrible” without them. It won’t score 1,000 runs, and that’s ok…you don’t “need” 1,000 runs to win. 2008 was a season where our most irreplaceable hitter was lost for the season and it really hurt us. He and Matsui are back in 2009 and we’ll be fine so stop making the Yankees sound like teeball team.

    13. butchie22
      December 23rd, 2008 | 11:21 am

      Look, Crank your argument is fallacious , shortsighted and missing the point because you can take statistics , projections etc and postulate that the offense will be better bur it is clearly hypothesis given what happened last year. I disagree with your assertion that defense has improved(not that much if at all) and that the GM should be applauded for the pitching( he should be derided for the signing of that pitcher from Toronto) and a lack of movement on a big clutch hitter(like Manram).There were times where the Yanks looked like Bronx Bums not Bombers in the hands of lesser teams like the Pirates. Matsui and Posada are in the twilight years of their respective careers, what makes you think they will continue or even get better at this point especially in this post steroids era where careers won’t be as elongated. Secondly, projections are hypothesis, pure and simple. They are a possibility , not a future written in stone. Based on last year, would Jeter project to be number one in GIDP this year? I can only go on the Yankees last movie, the new one doesn’t look so so good yet based on the last one. Given the fact that two OBP/RBI productive players are lost like Giambi and Abreu, one can only question the offense.

      Arod didn’t have an Arod like season last year, did he? Jeter’s GIDP rate and range factor went up etc son.Jorge and Godzilla are older.In essence, this is an older team with mediocre(given the star power) offense. Where was the clutching hitting? Just because certain pieces are coming back, other pieces are being subtracted as well.From a scouting perspective(not a VORP/sabremetric perspective), Matsui and Posada are liabilities in the field AND their hitting will diminish. How do we know that Jorge will 100% given his age? That’s a variable that has to be taken into perspective. Given those facts, their defense hasn’t improved much if at all . Damon is center field so far(with Leche and Gardner as reserves) and Swish as first baseman(who is just ok at that position). Swish is an upgrade from Giambi BUT not Tino, Johnson, Doug M and the recent spate of Yankee first baseman.

      One last time, great GMs evaluate what is ailing their team and what they need to get to the next level. Theo did this in 2004 with the addition of Foulke and Schill the Shrill. Gillick did it with Lidge in 2008 and they have a championship. The Yankees’ weakness in 2008 was offense and (one can say defense), not pitching even though the Hughes/Kennedy experiment failed. Cash Man still has time to get an impact bat that can be clutch like Teix or Manny.

      In essence, projections are a tool, but a snapshot of what might be.Players are not statistics BUT rather human beings that actually age(Posada, Matsui) and have personalities. As much as I love Posada (despite the passed balls and his arm behind the plate) and Godzilla, I have to see what they can do at this point of careers. As it stands, I saw the 162 game film(not a snapshot) of the “2008 Yankees” and they need hitting based on that performance.

    14. YankCrank
      December 23rd, 2008 | 11:26 am

      “Look, Crank your argument is fallacious , shortsighted and missing the point because you can take statistics , projections etc and postulate that the offense will be better bur it is clearly hypothesis given what happened last year.”

      Statistics are the name of the game butch, success is measured by them and the experts we read about live and die from them; like Bill James. I’ll believe Bill James’ assertion that the Yankee offense will be good over your random, biased opinions that I read every day about.

      I also am having trouble believing you’ll look at an injured 2008 squad minus some of our most productive hitters and project the 2009 version to be the same or worst. It just doesn’t follow the line of common sense.

    15. thenewguy
      December 23rd, 2008 | 11:28 am

      Last year’s offensive problem was injuries. We lost significant time from Posada, Jeter, A-Rod and Matsui during the season. However, our big loss was Jorge. Consider this: Jorge’s 2007 VORP (For those who don’t know, it’s measured in runs contributed above a replacement player at that position) was 4th best in the AL at 73.4. 4th…that’s insane, obviously a career year. Now, look at the 2008 contribution from Yankee catchers…
      ———————–

      If you are going to chide fans for overreacting, then you must not under react. Posada is not the only reason the Yankees lost offense. Even if Posada had played all of last year, his numbers would have been much worse than his career best VORP from the year before.

      And you are just going to ignore the loss of Abreu and Giambi, our 4th and 5th hitters? Abreu was the only player besides A-Rod to get 100 RBI and 100 Runs, and was 3rd in HRs behind Rod and Giambi. The Giambino was 2nd in Hrs and RBIs.

      Also, Jeter only missed 12 games all year and A-Rod 24, not “significant time” for either.

      I certainly understand that Abreu and Giambi’s numbers are related to the fact that they batted on either side of A-Rod, but replacing them with Nick Swisher and Xavier Nady IS a big deal. Those two are much worse than Abreu and Giambi, and simply having Posada come back won’t do very much. Posada will more likely fall back to a .270/.374/.490 from 2006 than his 2007 line of .338/.426/.543. And having an additional 12 games from Jeter and 24 from A-Rod won’t really be a huge upgrade either.

      Matsui coming back should help, assuming he is healthy. But we had a decent DH last year in Damon, so Matsui would only be replacing already decent numbers. An impact offensive bat DOES need to be added. Who else besides A-Rod has any pop in this lineup? Are there any other 30+HR guys or 100 RBI guys? When the lineup struggled last year, and you lose your 2nd and 3rd best offensive players (production-wise), you cant just ignore it like you seem to want to do.

    16. thenewguy
      December 23rd, 2008 | 11:31 am

      And you are just going to ignore the loss of Abreu and Giambi, our 4th and 5th hitters?
      ———-

      …obviously meant 3rd and 5th hitters.

    17. thenewguy
      December 23rd, 2008 | 11:35 am

      Statistics are the name of the game butch, success is measured by them and the experts we read about live and die from them; like Bill James. I’ll believe Bill James’ assertion that the Yankee offense will be good over your random, biased opinions that I read every day about.
      ——————–

      I actually generally like statistics, even as a projection tool. However, by your calculations, we shouldn’t have even bothered to sign SPs, because doesn’t Bill James have Phil Hughes at something like a 3.34 ERA for this season? Projections can be good, but I think Bill James would have thought a rotation of Wang, Pettitte, Joba, Hughes, and IPK would have been acceptable based on his “ERA Projections.” We know how that worked out…

    18. YankCrank
      December 23rd, 2008 | 11:35 am

      newguy, I never said Posada was the only reason. I said he was the largest reason. Even if his vorp fell to the 50s, and we take into consideration the assumption that every 10 runs scored is a win, Posada was 5 wins better than his backups. 5 wins would have put them at 94 wins instead of 89. Not in the playoffs, but a lot closer.

    19. Raf
      December 23rd, 2008 | 11:57 am

      Last year’s offensive problem was injuries.
      ———-
      As well as off years from Jeter, Cano & Cabrera.

    20. Raf
      December 23rd, 2008 | 11:59 am

      When you are, in effect giving away outs in 4 of 9 spots in your lineup, don’t expect to score many runs, or win many games.

    21. YankCrank
      December 23rd, 2008 | 1:49 pm

      “In essence, projections are a tool, but a snapshot of what might be.Players are not statistics BUT rather human beings that actually age.”

      They consider age in projection butchie. Bill James also doesn’t put “Burnit was Toronto’s A-Rod!” into his projections, rather statistics that matter instead any personal biases.

      Lets put into consideration that Cashman, no matter how much all of you hate him, is a lot smarter and a lot better at his job than we would be. The Yankees are a business, and if Cashman was as bad as everybody ripped him over, he wouldn’t be GM of the Yankees. With that in mind, he didn’t make Teix or Manny either of his offseason priorities; rather backup plans if they fall into a specific lower price range (for all we know). That should tell us something.

      Whether you want to call the offense “anemic” or not butchie, it is not in any way as poor as you think it is. It is NOT an epic offense, rather one that can put up 5-6 runs a night. Where I agree with you is that last year’s offense underperformed, but it wasn’t due to a lack of Teix or Manny…it was injuries and off years. This year’s offense will be fine so unless Teix drops into the Yankee price range or Manny begs for a one-year deal everyone should stop getting their hopes up.

      You can kid, scream, call Cashman or AJ Burnett all the childish names you want but it won’t change anything. Prepare to be pleasantly surprised with the 2009 Yankee offense.

      (Of course, if i’m wrong and one of them sign i’ll be the first to admit I was wrong.)

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