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The New York Yankees Should Sign Derek Jeter (If You Follow Another Team)

This sure got ugly, didn’t it? Who could have seen this coming?

The Yankees arguing about money with their captain. Everybody knows money doesn’t mean anything to the Yankees, just get him signed already Cashman!

Funny thing is if money really doesn’t mean anything to the Yankees it makes signing Jeter long term even worse. When you take money out of the equation it comes down to an even more precious commodity in baseball: playing time.

If it’s not what can the Yankees do with the money, then it’s what can they do with those 600 at bats. There is no salary cap, but there is still a limit of 27 outs a game and 162 games a year. The truth is that last year Derek Jeter didn’t do all that well with those 600 ABs.

If you are following this, I am sure you have heard the numbers so I won’t waste your time repeating them here. I’ll just say that last year Jeter had the lowest slugging percentage and second lowest on base percentage among Yankee starters.

For those who hope it was just a one year slump consider this: in 2009, despite hitting at a .334 clip, his slugging percentage of .465 was ahead of only Melky Caberra of those on the starting line up. If you’re hoping the captain will revert back to his 2009 form, I guess it’s possible. But, then again, what’s the value in that?

The real question is whether or how you can quantify his leadership qualities and his value in the club house?

I’m a great believer in chemistry and leaders are often the hardest thing to find; however, there comes a point where the same qualities that make someone a leader also become a hindrance to the team. For example, the low slugging percentage is a far worse factor because Jeter rests at the top of the line-up. Put that bat at the bottom of the line-up and those are decent numbers, but because it’s Jeter you can’t do that.

Suppose it’s the sixth inning and the Yankees are down a couple of runs; the opposing pitcher is showing some signs of faltering by letting a couple of guys on base. Next up is Jeter, but you really want to give one of those left handed pinch hitters you have on the bench a shot, because you know a hit here could turn this whole game around. But it’s Jeter, and even though he hadn’t stung the ball his first couple of trips to the plate, you have to leave him in there.

What about late in a game and the Yankees are ahead by a run or two? Can you put in a defensive replacement? Sure, I know he won a Gold Glove last year, but anyone who follows those things knows that Jeter has been an average at best fielder throughout his career.

What if Jeter has been struggling a little? Does the manager leave him in there a bit longer, hoping he can hit his way out of it?

Another thing we hear is Jeter may have to play another position. My question is this: Wouldn’t that make it worse? Finding a better option at shortstop is a lot harder than finding a better outfielder or designated hitter. With the way the Yankees can spend money, finding a DH who can hit better than Jeter isn’t even a question. If the Yankees have a better option at shortstop, then the best place for Jeter is on the bench.

If we take all the emotion out of it, the whole question comes down to whether the Yankees have that better option at shortstop.

I guess plan B would be to play Eduardo Nunez, which might not seem like much of a plan after all. Just remember that there is no doubt Nunez is a better fielder and, with Jeter’s production in a downward path, his hitting might be as good. This fact would be especially true if the Yankees can hide his bat in the 8 or 9 hole and pinch hit when ever they feel the need. Adding a veteran back-up, the sum could easily equal the on field contribution of Jeter.

Of course, we know the Yankees wouldn’t sit there with Nunez. Maybe the biggest cost to signing Jeter long term is that it doesn’t allow the Yankees to fill the shortstop position whenever a decent opportunity comes along.

This doesn’t mean that Jeter doesn’t have some mystical value; obviously, he does. I don’t know if I buy the increased attendance for his chase to 3000 hits. Most of the fans this makes a difference to are Yankee fans first, indicating that it may not have an effect on how many extra games they would attend.

The presence in the locker room is real, but how big is it if he’s not producing on the field or sitting on the bench? If Jeter is getting time based on his name rather than statistics, then that presence will turn negative in a hurry.

Obviously, we all know this will eventually get done; Jeter will be the starting shortstop on opening day in 2011. But what happens after that? Will Jeter accept a reduced role or can we expect to see a weak singles hitter near the top of the Yankees line-up for a while longer?

Come to think of it, the Yankees should up their offer today. Why not five years Cashman?

Come on, it’s Jeter. You guys owe him.


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What Would Ernie Say About the Galarraga Saga?

Terrible call?

No doubt.



Who can fix it?

I guess Selig, maybe the official scorer and maybe an executive order from the President. Note: Don’t you guys have something else to do, I don’t know, world peace or something.

Can we find some good out of it?

Certainly, from the way Joyce has stood up from the start to the way Galarraga accepted the apology there are plenty of life lessons here.

Will Galarraga feel like he was robbed for his entire life?

I don’t know, let’s ask him when he stops to gas up that brand new Corvette.

But as Tiger fans the question we should ask ourselves is what would Ernie say?

Most of us learned to love baseball by listening to Ernie and never again will anyone touch our hearts and souls while describing a game like Ernie. He always knew the proper perspective to put on all things baseball and if there is anything this needs is some perspective.

So what would he say?

Would it be a long diatribe about how tough the umpires have it?

Ernie was always sympathetic of the tough job they had, maybe the only analyst who ever made the umpires part of the game without all the criticism. He was loved by the umps and a great friend with many of them. But no, this isn’t the time to talk about the trials and trivials of being an umpire.

Would it be about what a shame it was that Galarraga won’t be remembered for a perfect game?

Sure, Ernie would tell the story, no one has ever passed the lore of baseball down to the next generations like Ernie and I wish we could have heard him tell this story someday. But not today, this was history and history is best told when it’s actually history and not fresh in our minds.

Maybe he would use it to cry out for instant replay or how the human element was part of the game.

I don’t know what Ernie’s opinion of instant replay was, he was old school but never stuck in the past. Probably would have liked it, anything that makes the game better was fine by him. But Ernie never used his position for a soapbox, he was there to inform us, not to persuade us,

No, I don’t think it would have been any of those things.

You see, Ernie was a wordsmith, always able to explain everything you needed to know without all the noise that passes for analysis these days. When Ernie explained it you understood it and it didn’t take charts and graphs.

Ernie would have loved the reaction by the fans and the class that everybody involved had when Galarraga brought out the line-up card to home plate umpire Joyce. But he would have described it with a minimum of words, he always assumed the listener followed baseball so no reason to set the stage.

I only hope we made Ernie proud with the fan reaction, I’m sure he pointed it out to everybody in heaven.

But no, Ernie would have said any of that stuff today.

Ernie would have put the perfect answer to the question and an answer we all should remember. Simply put, Ernie would have said, “That’s baseball.”

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What Would Houston Want for Oswalt? The Tigers Fit the Bill To a Tee

It’s time to make the move guys.

Don’t be fooled by Scherzer, it looks like he is back but he will still be a little up and down.

Same with Porcello.

Encouraging signs, but I want to win now.

This team is ready to strike and let’s hope Dombroski doesn’t go down like Inge on a called third strike. Take your swings Dave.

You guys know what I want, you read my two articles about it.

First I told you why we need him with the Does Two Plus Three Equal Oswalt article.

Then I told you why it should be Oswalt with the Maybe but Just Maybe So Far article.

Now I am going to tell what it will take to get him and it is not as bad as you might think.

First off, I doubt they have that big of an interest in Boesch. I know you guys love him but he will settle down into a nice solid hitter soon and nice solid hitters might not be a dime a dozen but you can get them three for a nickle in free agency.

The reason the Astros would have luke warm interest is where would they play him right now? Their Left Fielder is Carlos Lee who is stinking it up right now but the Astros are on the hook for another year after this at around $15 million a year so you know he is going to play.

The other two outfielders are 27 and hitting a little bit at least and after selling them to the fans as part of the future they are not going to sit either of them down,

The first baseman is Lance Berkman who is also in serious decline, but he is a fan favorite and while he is a switch hitter he hits much better left handed, just in case you were thinking they might platoon him this year.

The hitter they might have interest in is Ryan Strieby, the 24-year-old right handed first baseman who is tearing it up right now in the minors. It would make a lot of sense for them to platoon him with Berkman and ease him in for next year when Berkman’s contract is up.

What about pitchers, you know they want a top line pitcher and we don’t want to give up Turner and probably not Crosby either.

Yes, they would want some top pitching prospects back but they are in desperate need of a young closer, Ryan Perry should do the trick. The Tigers are deep in young bullpen guys so they could afford to give Perry up.

Wouldn’t they still want a starting Pitcher?

Sure, but if Perry is the headline pitcher we can offer say Andrew Oliver, the 22-year-old left hander who was the second-round pick last year and no, I doubt they would be interested in Gallarraga.

We do have to give up good prospects but that is okay. Shoot, I wouldn’t be opposed to throwing in Sizemore if need be.

The point is the pieces match, we have good young prospects where they need them and we have an abundance in those positions. I mean really, Strieby is just about useless to us with Caberra around.

Oswalt would put this team right among the top and a real threat in any series.

Let’s make the deal and let the fun begin.

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Roy Oswalt To the Detroit Tigers? Maybe, but Just Maybe So Far

I wrote an article the other day hoping that the Tigers would have interest in Roy Oswalt, so you know I am glad to hear that the Tigers may in fact have an interest.

It has been reported that the Tigers have contacted the Houston Astros about his availability, and I want to take that as a sign that Mike Illitch has answered my question with at least a maybe.

Maybe is a very good answer right now if the question was, can Illitch find Dombroski a spare 10 million or so?

Maybe could be a 50/50 thing, like “sure Dave, I can find five million if you can find a way to trim the other five million.”

Or maybe could be, “Let’s do it, the added revenue from more playoff games, larger crowds because we are in a pennant race, and additional jersey sales will off set a lot of that anyways.”

Either way maybe means maybe.

Maybe, just maybe, Roy Oswalt could be coming to Detroit.

In the last article I discussed how the Tigers had a huge hole in their rotation and how adding a top pitcher should be on Dombrowski’s mind.

But why Roy Oswalt?

Isn’t he 32 years old and doesn’t he have a 2-6 record this year?

Coming off a season where he was 8-6 with a career-high 4.12 ERA, why would we be willing to make that kind of commitment?

Leave it to you guys to ask the hard questions; let’s see if I can find some answers.

First off, let us put that won-loss record thing to bed.

The Houston Astros are 15-29 and the bottom of the National League ranking in BA, R, HR, SLG Pct, and OBP, along with about 10 other offensive categories. That just might have something to do with it. The offense wasn’t much better last year, so the won-loss record doesn’t concern me.

What about that 32-year-old thing, do we really want someone in his declining years?

Baseball Reference does a thing where they compare a player to other players based on their stats throughout history and the top three matches were Roy Halladay, Mike Mussina, and Tim Hudson. Actually his career has closely tracked Mussina since both were 26, and the comparisons don’t have to end there.

At the age of 32, Mussina was in his first year with the Yankees after 10 years in Baltimore. That was in 2001 and Mussina proceeded to average a 15-9 record over the next eight years.

A quick glance of the leader boards shows plenty of pitchers doing just fine in their 30s, and the number of postseason successes are pretty impressive. From Schilling to a couple of old teammates of Oswalt in Clemens and Pettitte, a veteran pitcher has made plenty of difference in the playoffs—after all, Kenny Rogers was 41 in 2006.

Even that 4.12 ERA in 2009 doesn’t bother me.

While that was his career-high in ERA and the 181 innings were the fewest he has pitched since 2003, the rest of the numbers were right in line with what he has always done.

From the WHIP to the SO/W, ratio none of the results were a career-low and he is on pace to challenge his career bests in WHIP and SO/9 innings this year. He obviously still has good stuff.

Wasn’t he injured last year?

He did only start 30 games last year after having some back and hip problems.

A MRI revealed a small disc issue in 2008 but these kind of issues are controllable and the problems he had were in late July last year and through the end of 2009 and into this season the only injury problem he has had was a little hamstring issues in training camp.

Oswald is old school, when it is his turn to pitch he wants the ball. Remember, this guy was electrocuted before he ever made the big leagues. Check out this interview .

Okay, that was the bad, what about the good?

How about a career average of 17-9, a 3.21 ERA, and 3.58 SO/W ratio?

In the nine years of his career. he has finished in the top five for Cy Young voting five times and, oh yeah, he is 4-0 in his seven playoff starts with an ERA of 3.66 and the 2005 NLCS MVP.

Oswalt is that bulldog, give-me-the-ball-type pitcher that seems to step up their game in a pennant chase and the perfect guy to hand the ball to if you need a win in a playoff series as he has pitched in big games and met the challenge head on numerous times.

A factor that shouldn’t be overlooked is the steadying influence he should have on the rest of the staff. This is a very young rotation and a veteran can settle an entire staff.

Just think how much he could teach Porcello, who has very similar stuff. If he helps get Porcello out of his slump just five games sooner, that is still five more games the Tigers could win and the long-term impact on Porcello could be huge.

If Dombroski sat down and listed exactly who he would want to add to this pitching staff, Roy Oswalt would be in the top five, and that is without considering availability.

We hear Cliff Lee might be out there, but really, why would you prefer him over Oswalt anyways?

Just because he is a lefty?

He might not ever be available anyway, and he is a free agent in the offseason. Oswalt is due some $15 million next year, but do we really think Lee will sign for less?

Oswalt is available and the Tigers need to close the deal. An opportunity like this just doesn’t happen very often.

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Does Two Plus Three Equal Roy Oswalt? Lets Ask Mr. Illitch, Pretty Please

Whenever I look at how well a baseball team might fare in the regular season and then play-offs, this is usually my thought process:

#1) Who is your ace? Must have that stud guy who the team can rally around.

#2) Who is the closer? If you can’t finish games, don’t tell me about how well you start.

#3) Do you have a big bopper? Need that guy that the other teams have to work around.

#4) Who are the second and third starters? Need some pitchers to keep things going after the ace.

#5) Got any table setters? Need some players on base for the big guy.

#6) What about bullpen depth? Can’t be losing the game in the seventh inning.

#7) Any protection for the clean up hitter? Got to make them pay if they don’t want to pitch to your big guy.

#8) What about the defense up the middle? Can they make the plays they need to make?

Somewhere after these 8 questions I start thinking about the bottom of the line-up or the 4th and 5th starters. We might argue about the order a bit, but you have answers for those first 8 questions, the rest will play out just fine.

At the start of the year, the Tigers thought they had a lot of the answers. The biggest doubt concerned the matter of setting the table rather than questioning the defense up the middle with a couple of rookies in key positions.

So now it’s time to invoke the “Sparky rule” and see what we have after 40 games. (okay, make that 43 games, I was a little slow out of the box)

Their report card looks pretty good, almost made the Dean’s list:

4 A’s with Ace, Closer, Big Bopper and Bullpen Depth.

2 B’s for the Table Setters and Line-up Protection

1 C+ for Defense Up the Middle

1 F for No. 2 & No. 3 starters.

Yikes, where did that come from?

At the start of the year, we expected the second and third starters to be at least a C, if not a B. Maybe I can now raise them to a D because Porcello seems to be picking it up a little.

But then again, Scherzer is in the minors, so let’s keep it at an F. You have to have both spots filled.

Look, we can talk about trades for a good-hitting catcher or how inconsistent Bonderman and Willis are but truth be told, we can win without that changing.

What we can’t win without is better production out of the second and third starters.

The rest of the answers can have you playing pretty well, maybe even winning the division if Minnesota falters a little.

But you are going to need those pitchers to vie for a pennant or ring. Those two spots are too important to ignore.

A championship quality team wins about three-quarters with the ace starting, and about half of the games out of the fourth and fifth and spot starters.

The Tigers are fine with that, it’s those 60 or so starts between the ace and the back end.

If we figure Verlander for 34 starts at a 750 clip that’s 25.5 wins. Now add in around 62 starts for the fourth and fifth and spot starters at 500 and it adds up to 56.5 wins.

If you win two-thirds of those last 66 starts you reach 100 wins: champagne and confetti time.

Win half of them and you have 88 wins. Close but no cigar.

But that’s just the math, the real issues go deeper than that.

First, your second and third guys need to be inning eaters. They don’t have to be hogs, but they can’t leave a lot of left overs for the bullpen.

When they consistently do not make it into the seventh inning, it puts a huge strain on the bullpen that over the long haul, and it will bring a pitching staff down.

You know you will need the bullpen when Bonderman and Willis start, any time they get into the sixth inning it’s a good start out of them.

The problem is, you can’t bring in the pitcher you want if he had to throw the night before. So now your chances to win that game are way down.

You can get away with that once in a while, which is why you have a dozen or so pitchers on the staff.

But you get in a habit of it and you’re getting too many innings pitched out of your set-up guys and depending on the 10th, 11th, and 12th pitchers too much. Next thing you know your bringing in Valverde in the eighth inning.

The Tigers are pretty deep in the bullpen with some good spares in the minors, so maybe they can struggle through that with some well-placed roster maneuvering.

Where they are going to need Porcello and Scherzer to fill their role is with momentum.

Teams need a handful of those five- to 10-game winning streaks during the season and those come from your No. 2 and No. 3 starter.

When they are winning by the time they pile on a win by the ace, you’re halfway there. Get a little lucky at four and five and you have a chance with the one, two, and three pitchers coming back up to have a nice little streak.

At the same token, if the two and three split their starts, even with a win out of the ace you have to get a win out of four or five to go above 500, and remember, you have to do that with your 10-12 pitchers filling key relief roles.

So is there any chance this turns around?

There are encouraging signs, like the seven shutout innings by Porcello against the Yankees. But then again, that was in between two pretty bad starts.

We might have to accept that Porcello will be around .500 this year, maybe a little better by the end of the year.

We really should have expected that. This is his second year and most pitchers go through that.

Hitters have seen and adjusted to him, and until he counters he will have some struggles. This is normal. Even Verlander went through it.

He’ll bounce back and be a solid No. 2 or No. 3 starter down the line, just maybe not this year.

The bigger concern is of course Scherzer; the best news we have heard from him lately was a minor league start. We had him penciled him in as a two or three at the start of the year but it was with our fingers crossed.

He has great stuff and there were some great numbers in Arizona, like his 214 hits given up with 240 strike outs in 226 innings. Those kind of numbers are All-Star status.

The problem is he had a career record of 9-5 and only two years experience. Maybe we should have expected this, better figure him for another year, too.

So what do you do?

Chance are the Porcello and Scherzer combination look like a .500 combination all year and that leaves the Tigers out of the play-offs. Just short again.

Dombroski has to make a move and not just any move. The Tigers need a frontline starter, or this season will be lost.

You can add all the good hitting catchers or even replace Inge, it won’t matter if they don’t get some help for the rotation and not just another .500 guy and the closer to an Ace the better. We have to make up for the No. 3 being only 500.

They say Oswalt might be available and yes, that contract is pretty scary and his numbers say he is in decline a little, though he has some nice numbers this year, like a 2.66 ERA and 49/60 Hits/SO ratio.

32 years old is a little iffy but many pitchers like him have had a lot of great seasons after 32. He’s been effective in the playoffs (4-0 3.66), and he’s a solid locker room guy.

We have to assume the Astros would want young players, and they should be interested in young relievers especially. Their top six bullpen guys based on appearances are over 30 and young relievers are right up the Tigers alley.

I would seriously consider any trade built around Zumaya or even Perry. If it took Zumaya or Perry plus Boesch with a minor league pitcher, thrown in as long as it’s not Turner, I’m going to make that deal.

Of course, it’s not my money, and Oswalt gets a lot of money. He might be worth it but can the Tigers afford him?

That’s a fair question, Illitch has spent plenty of money already and upped the budget for top talent before, but there is a line somewhere.

The Tigers have some money coming off the books for next year, so Dombroski can probably fit the money in next year, but that’s next year. Still leaves some 10 million for this year that the Tigers would have to take on.

That’s quite a question for Dombroski or really Illitch to answer.

Do they spend $10 million to put them squarely in contention for the World Series? If you have Verlander, Oswalt, and whomever is pitching better out of Porcello and Scherzer as your rotation going into a playoff series you got a real chance against anyone.

Maybe the variables change like Cliff Lee instead of Oswalt, but the question is clear.

Two plus three plus $10 million could equal World Series rings, but take out the cash and it probably means another less than satisfying season.

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