Friday, January 30, 2004

Stupor Bowl (a.k.a. Sub-par Bowl) 

Allow me to focus on another sport for one post.

Quick background (feel free to skip this): After baseball, football is my favorite sport to watch. It's also the only one I played in high school. I'm a Giants fan (in accordance with the Yankees/Giants/Rangers, Mets/Jets/Devils-Islanders split) but have had a hard time rooting for the boys in blue ever since they unceremoniously dismissed Phil Simms to clear the way for . . . Dave Brown! Even now my blood is starting to boil. Anyway, that was 1993. In 1995 the Yankees started playing meaningful games every September and October, thus delivering another blow to my interest in the NFL (which now begins its season in June, or so it seems). Still, I never fail to get hyped up for the playoffs, Giants or no (the nature of the sport--single game playoffs, not series--makes it easier to get involved in games featuring two random teams). At the same time, I don't dissect the minutiae of the game the way I do with baseball. I don't spend the two weeks between the championship games and the Stupor Bowl ingesting every last column, prediction or panel show. Rather I busy myself with more important things (like Jeff Reboulet's Zone Rating), rewatch a few of those NFL Films half-hour Super Bowl highlight shows and worry about this years edition on Sunday only.

That said, there have been three Super Bowl-related columns on worth reading. The first, and perhaps most obvious, is Bill "The Sports Guy" Simmons' week-long quasi-blog (much laughing aloud).

The second, is this sourpuss piece by Eric "I Love LA" Neel. A fan of sporting couture, I particularly like this passage:

These teams sport some terrible uniforms. On some level, you have to look like a champion. Steelers, Cowboys, 49ers, even the Colts and Eagles, have classic looks befitting world title holders. The Patriots and Panthers look like they're getting ready for a guest spot in "Any Given Sunday II."

Plus, the logos on their helmets look disturbingly similar (Ooooh, let's make the little heads lean forward to suggest aggressiveness ... and, ooooh, let's put little tails on them, to suggest speed and motion) and they're each sporting metallicized silver domes, which means all the good-guy/bad-guy, night and day, black and white tension is missing from this thing. You won't know which team's got the ball, which team's made a play, or even which team's won, and you won't care.

Seriously, is this the least contrasting, least compelling uniform clash in Super Bowl history? Are these guys even going to want to hit each other?

Though I have to point out that he's dead wrong on the Eagles, who replaced their classic swooping eagle logo (see sleeve) with a triangular, forward-leaning, tail-having eagle head when they redesigned their uniforms for the 1996 season. In my opinion, the Eagles should switch back to the old logo (or some approximation), drop the grey shadow from the wings on their helmets, and replace the black on their uniforms with their old-school grey. The 49ers are likewise guilty of the ultimate uniform evil: black as a highlight color.

The last . . . crap. Well, the last was a great article comparing the NLF's parity to MLB's supposed lack thereof, which did a nice job of revealing that baseball has had just as much parity, but without actively fostering it, and has still managed to have a dynasty worth loving/hating. Of course now I can't find it and it's driving me nuts. (I'll update this if I do find it. If not maybe I'll just write a post of my own about it.)

Anyway, be sure to hop on over to Seth Speaks this weekend to catch Seth's collection of baseball bloggers' predictions for the big game, which should be up on Saturday

My take: Pats by two touchdowns.

**Update** Thanks to commenter extaordinare and newest Yankee blogger in town Steve Bonner for locating that parity article for me. It's by Sean McAdam and can be found here. Steve's new blog is called The Midnight Hour. He hasn't really gotten the ball rolling that fast yet, but my money says it'll be worth a read once he does.

posted by Cliff at 3:20 PM

I'll Tell You When You've Had Enough! 

Want more on Aaron Boone and third base? Sure you do!

Start here, where Aaron Boone professes his desire to return to action for the Yankees sometime during the 2004 season. Sez Aaron, "I plan on being back this year. Definitely. I'm going to be back. I can do it. I'll be back."

Sez Cashman, "I can't go full-throttle trying to find a replacement until I know for sure what sort of time period we're talking about. [Aaron]'s a battler. He's hoping for the best situation, just like we all are."

Any new word on those potential replacements?

Well Milwaukee's Wes Helms has made some appearances in the rumor mill, but his GM, Doug Melvin, sez, "I'm not interested in moving Helms, or anyone really."

Loyal BRB reader Rich Lall sez Fernando Tatis is buried behind Geoff Blum and Jared Sandburg (and perhaps Damian Rolls and Aubrey Huff when he's not DHing), maybe he's available.

Bruce Markusen in the latest edition of Cooperstown Confidential posted over at Bronx Banter sez Jason Kendall is:
very available given Pittsburgh's desire to shed his oversized contract. As discussed on one of the recent "Clutch Hit" threads on Baseball Primer, Kendall's an intriguing possibility for New York. Although a catcher by trade, he's a terrific athlete whom the Pirates have pondered converting to the outfield or to second base in past years. It's not unreasonable to think that Kendall could play third, especially if he's given an entire spring training to make the transition. It's a possibility the Yankees hould give some serious consideration...

Hmmmmm, very intriguing. Kendall is younger than Boone and has a career .385 OBP (helped by the fact that he's a contact hitter who is 13th all time on the hit by pitch list). Of course, he's never spent a single major league inning at third base. And he's due $34 million from 2005-2007. The Yankees would have to hope that he turned into a real gem of a third baseman, otherwise that's money that would be better spent on Eric Chavez.

I can't see any reason why the Brewers would part with Helms, other than the fact that they're the Brewers.

As for Tatis. Ain't that a sign of the times. If the Yankees are that desperate (his numbers have been in free fall over the past five years, let me repeat that, five years), they can probably pick him up after the D-Rays cut him toward the end of spring training.

Bah. Enough of this boonehockey. Remember those three tryouts attended by Yankee scouts last week (El Duque, Maels Rodriguez, Scott Erickson)? Well, Rodriguez didn't top 90 on the radar gun (his calling card is supposedly a 100 MPH heater). Duque was at a self-confessed 85 percent and failed to top 80 MPH on the gun (he can junk it with the best of 'em, but c'mon). But Scott Erickson . . . well guess what? The Yankees are interested! Check the last three paragraphs here. Hey, why not?

Finally, here's some more on Lieber and Karsay. I had forgotten that Lieber started three games in the minors at the end of last season. Lieber sez: "I feel probably as good as I've felt in two or three years," and has "no doubt" that he'll be ready on opening day. Karsay is progressing, though he's further behind.

Another nice note from that article, among the players participating in workouts in Tampa: Derek Jeter (of course), Tom Gordon and Gary Sheffield. Between volunteering to play third and attending early workouts, Gary seems to be making a concerted effort to go above and beyond the call. Gotta like that from a guy that knows he's got a reputation to live down.

posted by Cliff at 2:29 PM

Thursday, January 29, 2004


There are a few things that slipped through the cracks of my last few posts. Most of these have been dealt with in other blogs, but I thought I'd condense them all here anyway.

The first, and perhaps most significant, is Brian Myrow, the Yankees AA third baseman. Believe it or not, he's actually passed AAA third sacker/quarterback Drew Henson on the Yankee depth chart. Myrow has been an on-base machine over the past two seasons and bats from the left side. Sounds good. The catch is that he's 27 years old, has never played above AA, and is supposedly no great shakes in the field. Still, the Yankees would be fools not to invite him to spring training.

The second is the fact that Todd Zeile took a few shots at the Yankees upon signing his minor league deal with the Mets. Basically, Zeile's comments boiled down to this: "I thought I was going to get more playing time - as it turned out, I didn't." Joe Torre thought you were going to get more hits - as it turned out, you didn't.

Next up, the Yankees have politely declined Gary Sheffield's offer to play third. Classy move by Cashman, praising Sheff for the offer while nipping that potential circus act in the bud.

Here's one item that hasn't made the rounds yet. Joe Girardi has apparently signed a minor league/non-roster spring-training-invitee deal with the Yankees. If he fails to make the club (no, he's never played third in the bigs) he'll take a position with the YES Network. In other words, Joe Girardi agreed to join the YES Network for the 2004 season.

Lastly, I realized that despite giving an extremely brief history on Donovan Osborne, who hasn't even signed with the Yankees yet and has about as much chance of making the club as you do (so what are the odds that Derek Jeter reads this blog?), I never really introduced Tyler Houston. Allow me to remedy that. First off, Houston's deal with the Yanks hinges on his ability to make the 25-man roster by April 1. If he fails, he can asked to be released. If he succeeds, he gets a one-year deal worth $900,000. That said . . .

Tyler Sam Houston, who is actually from Long Beach, California, was drafted second overall by the Braves in 1989. The top four picks in that draft were Ben McDonald, Houston, Roger Salkeld, and Jeff Jackson. Oops. Frank Thomas went seventh, Mo Vaughn 23rd, future Yankees Chuck Knoblauch and Chad Curtis went in later rounds.

It took Houston six years to make it to the majors, where he hit just .222 in 27 at-bats for the Braves, most of them as a first-baseman, before being traded to the Cubs in June 1996 for Ismael Villegas. As a Cub, Houston split time between catcher and third base going .261/.309/.388 (.236) over two and two-half seasons, including a home run against his old club in the 1998 NLDS. Midway through 1999 he was dealt to the Indians for minor leaguer Richard Negrette.

Prior to the 2000 season, Houston signed with the Brewers, with whom he finally began to show some of his potential at the plate at age 29. Over two-and-a-half seasons in Milwaukee, Houston posted a .279/.326/.475 (.265) line in 774 at-bats , including a three-homer game in 2000 and a five-hit game in 2001. Just before the trading deadline in 2002, Houston was dealt to the Dodgers for Ben Diggins and Shane Nance. After a miserable 65 at-bats in Los Angeles, Houston signed with the Phillies for the 2003 season. Dispite proving to be a useful pinch hitter (putting up numbers similar to those he posted in Milwaukee, though with less power), Houston was dumped by the club at the end of August after a much publicized falling out with fall-out-prone manager Larry Bowa.

One last note. Happy two-week birthday to Yankees, Mets and the Rest, if this croquet post is any indication, this two-man, two-team blog will be worth a regular visit.

posted by Cliff at 7:59 PM

In Other News 

Lost in all of the Aaron Boone hoopla was this encouraging report about John Lieber's progress in rehab. Supposedly, Will Carroll has good things to say about Lieber as well in his most recent "Under The Knife" column (I say "supposedly" because I refuse to pay for web content and thus am not a Baseball Prospectus Premium subscriber). One thing's for sure. Lieber has got a solid lead on Steve Karsay.

Meanwhile, in addition to Tyler Houston (read more about his fall-out with Larry Bowa here), the Yankees have been handing out minor league contracts left and right, signing Homer Bush last week, Darren Bragg this week, and offering one to Donovan Osborne for good measure. Barring the remote possibility of a rejuvinated Homer Bush beating out Enrique Wilson or Miguel Cairo in spring training, I would not expect to see any of these three in a Yankee uniform on opening day, if at all. Nonetheless, for those with a sketchy knowledge of borderline major leaguers, here's some quick background on each:

Homer Bush played 55 games for the 1997 and 1998 Yankees, arriving from the Padres system in the Hideki Irabu trade and departing to Toronto in the David Wells/Roger Clemens trade. Primarily a second baseman (don't get your hopes up, he's only played 3 games at third in his major league career), Bush's primary skill is his speed, which was supposedly blinding prior to a leg injury in the minor leagues, but remained formidable after. Bush doesn't have much in the way of plate discipline, but often makes up for it with high batting averages. After being traded to the Blue Jays, Bush was installed as the Jays' starting second baseman and posted the following line in his only full season in 1999: .320/.353/.421 (.264) 32 SB (80%). Injuries, a see-sawing average ('00-'02: .215, .306, .227), and the fact that he was making $3.375 million in 2002 led to his release in May of that year. The Marlins quickly picked him up only to release him in September after his batting average failed to improve. After failing to make the Padres in spring training, a then-30-year-old Bush retired prior to the 2003 season citing chronic hip pain, but leaving the door open for a comeback in 2004.

Darren Bragg is another ex-Yankee, having played in five games with the 2001 squad after being selected off waivers from the Mets in June of that year. A ten-year veteran, Bragg, now 34, spent the past two seasons with the Altanta Braves posting numbers very close to his career line of .258/.343/.382 (.250) in 374 at-bats. A left-handed outfielder who has greater success against left-handed pitching, Bragg's primary claim to fame (or infamy, depending on your rooting interests), is that he was the Red Sox's sole compensation for sending Jamie Moyer to Seattle at the trading deadline in 1996. Moyer has since gone 119-55 (.684) for the Mariners. Bragg bounced around the Boston outfield for three years before leaving as a free agent.

Donovan Osborne, also 34, was a part of the Cardinals' early-'90s youth movement, arriving in the bigs when the team was under Joe Torre's watch in 1992. As a left-handed starting pitcher he was a moderate success over his first four seasons (38-31, 3.70 ERA against a 3.98 league average), but injuries began to take their toll on him and after starting just six games in 1999 he didn't pitch in the majors again until 2002 when he posted a 6.19 ERA in 11 relief appearances with the Cubs. He signed a minor league deal with the Mets prior to 2003 but never made it to the big club. The most interesting thing I could find about Osborne is that he injured himself on the play resulting from his very first major league pitch. The Mets' Vince Coleman bunted at the pitch and Osborne sprained his ankle covering first. Fittingly, Coleman suffered a strained hamstring on the same play.

posted by Cliff at 10:43 AM

Wednesday, January 28, 2004

I Don't Know. Third Base! 

Yeah, so what if the Abbott & Costello thing has already been beat to death. It can take it.

Speaking of things I'd like to beat to death, let's talk Aaron Boone. Or at least his potential replacements.

My previous post, which took a look at the third base options available on the open market, failed to include Jose Hernandez because I thought he had signed a minor league deal somewhere. Turns out I was wrong. Then. Hernandez has since signed a minor league deal with the Dodgers (a good gamble if they are looking at him to challenge Izturis for the shortstop job). Nonetheless, I added a note on Hernandez in the comments section for my previous post late yesterday.

Meanwhile, the Yankees have already taken the first step toward replacing Boone by signing Tyler Houston to a minor league contract. As discussed, Houston is a capable lefty bat, but not much of a fielder. He's been without a job since the Phillies released him on August 30 of last year after he and Phillies manager Larry Bowa had at it. Although Houston may never make it past spring training with the pinstripers, this the sort of '80s-Yankees move that we've seen too much of recently. The Yankees need a glove man at third. Instead, their first reaction is to get a bat with a bad attitude (not that anyone can really be blamed for having a blow up with Larry Bowa).

Meanwhile, amid the wacky ideas such as moving Gary Sheffield back to third (where he hasn't seen so much as an inning of play since 1993), are several intriguing ideas involving actual thirdbasemen.

[Update: It turns out that Gary Sheffield has actually volunteered to return to third base! Thanks, but no thanks, Gary. You weren't that great at third when you played there full-time in your 20s (.933/2.59/.721), what makes you think you'll be better than awful now that you're a decade removed from the position in your mid-30s?]

The first is that the Yankees might be able to pick up Edgardo Alfonzo from the Giants in a salary dump. Alfonzo has $21 million left on his contract, which lasts through 2006. If the Yankees were willing to pick up that tab, the Giants may let them have him for a non-prospect or two (as if the Yankees have anything else). San Francisco could then install Pedro Feliz at third and use the money they save to go get Greg Maddux for their rotation. That is to say, the Giants just might be up for it. For what it's worth, Alfonzo has expressed interest in returning to New York.

The biggest catch would be whether or not the Yankees could unload Fonzi and his remaining two years at $15.5 million after the season, or if taking him on would eliminate them from the Chavez/Glaus sweepstakes next winter. This becomes a larger question when you look at how inconsistent Alfonzo has been in recent years. His GPAs since 2000 have been .327, .246, .291 and .248. Of course, that pattern sets him up for a big year in 2004, and even that worst-case scenario of .246 has to look really good to the Yankees right about now. But can they trade Alfonzo and his contract if he puts up a .246 GPA in 2004? There's also the fact that Fonzi is a constant injury concern. That contract becomes even more difficult to unload if other teams are afraid that Alfonzo will miss significant time. Still, this is a very intriguing possibility.

The other idea being bandied about is a similar, financially-motivated deal for the Dodgers' Adrian Beltre. This one seems far less likely, as Beltre is a free agent after 2004 and is due only $5 million in 2004. Thus, it seems apparent that the Dodgers would be more interested in getting value in return than in simply dumping Beltre on the Yankees. The Dodgers have Robin Ventura and now Jose Hernandez to play third should they get rid of Beltre and with Jose Cora having just broken his arm playing winter ball in Puerto Rico, the Yankees could offer Miguel Cairo, whose natural position is second base.

But then Cairo, a new free agent signing, would have to approve a trade much in the same way that Robin Ventura would have to approve a trade to the Yankees. What's more the Dodgers could sit pat and have Beltre, Ventura, Hernandez, Cesar Izturis and Jolbert Cabrerra to fill third, short and second and Cora, despite his injury, should only be out four-to-six weeks, which would put him back on the field prior to opening day. Frankly, I just don't see the Beltre trade happening. I think a deal to bring Ventura back to the Bronx is far more likely. So does Ventura's agent, John Boggs.

The last, and most far-fetched idea I've come across involves Mike Lowell. Lowell signed a four-year extension with the Marlins this offseason, but the final three years can be voided if the Marlins do not get approval for a new stadium. The city of Miami is having a referendum on the Marlins' stadium proposal on March 15. If the stadium idea is struck down, Lowell could be on the block. Let me get this straight. So, not only would the Yankees need the stadium proposal to be killed by the city of Miami, but they'd have to wait until March 15 to find out if Lowell is even available? That's just two weeks prior to opening day. Never mind how much Lowell would demand in a trade. Nice thought, but it's not gonna happen.

Returning to Yankeeland (from Fantasyland), the Tyler Houston article linked above includes word that the Yankees have declared Drew Henson "not an option" at third. What's more, according to The Sporting News, Henson is working out with a quarterback coach in Florida and the Associated Press reports that the Yankees are trying to buy out the remainder of his contract, which amounts to $12 million over the next three years. Although the Yankees officially deny that report, I would be surprised if Henson, who didn't spent a single day working out at the Yankees' complex in Tampa this offseason, reports to Columbus for the 2004 season. It's about time.

Bringing things full circle, Boone will likely have an MRI next week (once the swelling in his knee, which was actually injured more than a week ago, goes down). Hopefully we'll have an official diagnosis soon after that. There still remains a possibility that he will return this season, but the Yankees seem to expect the worst. There's also the issue of them voiding his contract. The union seems ready to fight the Yankees on this issue, though I can't imagine Boone has a leg to stand on (harharhar). I've also heard suggestions that the Yankees void Boone's contract and immediately resign him at a lower salary in the hope that he will return later in the season. I'm not sure if there are rules against that sort of maneuver, but I am fairly certain that we'll find out as things progress.

This sure is one awful mess. At least I finally have something worth writing about.

posted by Cliff at 11:14 AM

Monday, January 26, 2004

Third Base "Options" 

Having calmed my nerves with South Park and marshmallows (mellows), I'm now ready to take stock of the Aaron Boone situation.

To begin with, the Yankees first have to figure out if they are going to be without Boone for the entire year, or just part of it. If Boone's injury isn't a complete ACL tear, the fact that it occurred a full two months before the start of the season could be a positive and might tempt the Yanks to patch the hole with what they've got (which ain't much, but we'll get to that), much like the did when Derek Jeter went down on opening day of the 2003 season. However, if it is a complete tear, they should void his contract and look for outside help. Actually, they should probably look outside either way.

First, let's take a look at what the Yankees have on hand.

The Yankees' major-league-level back-up infielders for 2004 are Enrique Wilson, Miguel Cairo and Erick Almonte. As we saw when Joe Torre used him in place of Boone against Pedro Martinez in the ALCS, Enrique Wilson is simply not an adequate fielder at third base. Despite the fact that he's played more innings at third than at any other position over the course of his career (almost half of them coming when he filled in for an injured Travis Fryman with the Indians in 1999), his fielding percentage at third is significantly lower than it is at second or short. What's more, Wilson has become an absolutely abysmal offensive player (or offensively abysmal, take your pick). After hitting .293/.340/.427 (.260 GPA) over his first four seasons (239 at-bats), Wilson has hit .209/.249/.308 (.189) over his last three (468 ABs)--yet the Yankees resigned him for $700,000 in 2004. WTF?

Miguel Cairo is an improvement over Wilson at the plate (which says very little), but is actually much worse with the glove at the hot corner. In essence, although Tony LaRussa played him at first, short, third and both corner outfield positions, Cairo is a second baseman. In 62 career games at third (his second highest total at any position, some 400-plus games behind second base), Cairo has a .871 fielding percentage. Simply put, he's awful at third. So awful that his iron glove at third convinced the Cubs to allow their arch-rival Cardinals to claim him off waivers in August 2001.

Erick Almonte did a capable job of filling in for a far more valuable player under similar circumstances last year when Jeter went down, starting 29 games at short for the eventual AL Champions. But he's never played a major league inning at third base. Worse yet, the biggest hole in Almonte's game is his fielding. He made a staggering 13 errors in a total of 31 major league games at short in 2003. Although Almonte projects as a third baseman down the road, sticking him at third, where the balls arrive faster and often harder and the throws are longer, just isn't a viable option for opening day 2004.

The reason Almonte has not yet moved to third in Columbus is none other than Drew Henson. When Brian Cashman traded for Aaron Boone last year he told the press, "With this move, we recognize that there's a position of need for this organization. The move on Aaron Boone speaks volumes about where Drew Henson is in terms of his development at this time." Quite simply, Henson can't field and can't hit on the AAA level. The sad fact is, the Yankees' AAA third baseman ranks behind both of the team's major league futility infielders, despite all of their shortcomings, and their AAA shortstop on the organization's third-base depth chart.

To recap, Wilson is the best defensive option at third by default. Almonte the best offensive option, also by default. Since Boone was expected to be the Yankees' weakest offensive performer in 2004, they should not worry about replacing his mediocre offense as much as they should his glove in an otherwise below average (to be kind) infield. Clearly, none of their in-house options will be able to do the job, which means the Yankees will have to turn to outside help.

The third base market was particularly weak this offseason. With Boone and Mike Lowell resigning with their 2003 clubs, the top free agent on the market was Joe Randa--who also resigned--followed by Robin Ventura, Tony Batista and Vinny Castilla (of course, I'd take any one of those guys right about now, even Batista and his career .302 OBP). So thin was the market that virtually every available third baseman has found a team. After doing a little barrel scraping, I've only been able to pull together five names, six if you count the recently retired shortstop who may actually be the best option. The two most compelling, based on name alone, are Mark McLemore--who could be a valuable utility man should Boone return, provided the Yankees are willing to cut bait on Enrique--and former Yankee Ron Coomer. The retired shortstop is Mike Bordick, who played 22 games at third for the Blue Jays in 2003 with decent results. The other three are Keith Lockhart and Jeff Reboulet, both of whom may be contemplating retirement themselves, and Tyler Houston.

Since the Yankees need a glove man at third, let's take a look at how these six stack up defensively at third base.

PlayerFielding Pct.Range FactorZone RatingGames

*all numbers are career totals except Bordick's, which are for 2003 only, thus eliminating his 11 games played at third in 1990 and 1991 with the A's. Also note: there is some disagreement of the range factor numbers between ESPN and Baseball-Reference/The Sabermetric Baseball Encyclopedia. I used the range factor numbers from the latter two sources here.

In fairness, McLemore's range factor should be a bit higher than it is, but it's dragged down by nine games played at third over the 1988, 1990 and 1993 seasons. McLemore has spent the bulk of his time at third over the previous three seasons, posting range factors of 2.03, 1.43 and 2.21. It should also be pointed out that Keith Lockhart has played a grand total of eight games at third over the past three seasons. That combined with his poor numbers above take the 39-year-old lefty is out of the running. Jeff Reboulet, who turns 40 in April, has played a total of fifteen games at third over that same span.

Ron Coomer, whose defensive stats are similar to Reboulet's--save Reboulet's bizarrely low range factor--is an enticing option as he can hit lefties quite well (.275 GPA over the past three years) and performed well during his 2002 turn in pinstripes. Unfortunately, the majority of the pitchers in the majors are righties, against whom Coomer has hit .227/.285/.315 (.207) over the past three seasons. Since his glove is not spectacular enough to warrant keeping his Enrique-Wilson-like bat in the line-up against right-handers, he would require a platoon partner. Mark McLemore is a switch hitter, but is stronger from the right side. That leaves lefty Tyler Houston. Houston hit .285/.331/.442 (.259) against righties over the past three years. A Houston/Coomer platoon would sufficiently replace Aaron Boone's offense, but the Yankees would suffer in the field, particularly with Houston getting the majority of the starts. That leaves Mike Bordick. Despite his limited time at third, Bordick--should the Yankees be able to coax him out of retirement--is a very attractive option. In addition to being an excellent fielding shortstop who displayed his ability to bring that quality glove to third base just last season, Bordick is also a veteran major league hitter who posted a .274/.340/.382 (.249) season last year (albeit in the offense-happy Skydome).

Although Almonte can outslug him, Bordick can out-hit Wilson and Cairo. More importantly, he's a vastly superior defender to all three. For fun, lets take a look at Wilson and Cairo's fielding stats at third (remember, Almonte's never seen any major league action at the hot corner):

PlayerFielding Pct.Range FactorZone RatingGames


Before I leave you with Mike Bordick as my official "this is the best we can do" replacement for Aaron Boone. Let me at least nod in the direction of a trade or some of the pie-in-the-sky suggestions already making the rounds.

Some have suggested that the Yankees sign Ivan Rodriguez and convert him to third base (Pudge had once talked about moving to second later in his career, and he has the arm, the reflexes, the glove and the footwork to play third). Others have suggested that the Yankees swoop in and grab Alex Rodriguez from Texas (despite his recent captaincy), moving Jeter to third. Both are enticing options, but massively improbable, not to mention impractical. Whom exactly would the Yankees trade for A-Rod now? If I were Texas I'd demand Soriano, Vazquez and cash. If I were Cashman, I'd say no deal. And why would Pudge, who just won a ring three months ago, leave a 4-year $40 million offer from the Tigers on the table (or the possibility of similar money from the Mariners) to go learn a new position with the Yankees, who would likely offer him a two-year deal at best. Heck, even a two-year deal would be foolish. Remember, Eric Chavez and Troy Glaus are due to become free agents after the season.

A more realistic trade option would be sending a bat like Ruben Sierra or Tony Clark to the Dodgers in exchange for our old buddy Robin Ventura, who is caught in a five man/three-position squeeze with Paul LoDuca, Dave Ross, Adrian Beltre and Jeremy Giambi in Los Angeles. Robin can at the very least pick it and will also provide the odd clutch hit and a few handfuls of homers along the way, even if his offensive game does emit a massive sucking sound in the second half. The problem here is that all of the Yankees' expendable/replaceable major league hitters (Lofton, Clark, Sierra, Wilson, Cairo, Flaherty) were signed or resigned as free agents this offseason, meaning they can veto any deal prior to July whatevertheheck [it's after 3am, forgive me for fudging here]. Perhaps Almonte could be used in a deal for Ventura. The Dodgers sure could use some offense at short (Cesar Izturis's GPAs for 2002 and 2003: .190, .206). Another option would be to move Jeter to third and install Almonte at short. Of course, judging by Erick's defense last season, that's not preferable to brining in a guy like Bordick.

And since we're digging up corpses from opening day 2003, I think the severity of the Yankees third base situation can be perfectly summarized by saying that in light of the existing options, it would not be a terrible idea for Cashman to inquire about reacquiring *cough* Todd *hack* Zeile (himself stuck behind a 1B/3B/C glut with the Mets and Piazza/Phillips/Wilson/Wigginton).

Once again, just for yucks, here are Ventura and Zeile's numbers at third:

PlayerFielding Pct.Range FactorZone RatingGames

No matter what the Yankees do, I think the story of Aaron Boone, who went from Babe/Bucky/Buckner/Boone to Smalley/Trout/Whitson/Rodgers/Boone in just over three months will be one we'll all be telling our kids and grandkids.


More on Aaron Boone from the BRB archives:

11/06/03: "Thoughts on thirdbase and shortstop:" A look at Aaron Boone in comparison with Miguel Tejada and Mike Lowell.

12/01/03:How I Stopped Worrying and Learned to Love Aaron Boone:" Rationalizing the Yankees resigning of Boone.

posted by Cliff at 10:33 PM

Holy Crap is this bad news 

Read it and weep. Aaron Boone may miss all of the 2004 season with a torn ACL suffered when he was playing basketball in violation of his contract, thus further testing the limits of what one historic home run is worth. Considering the fact that the Yankees have no legitimate third base options (nor are their any available on the open market, but we'll look at this more closely once my eyes stop bleeding), I think he's found them.

I'm going to go do some breathing exercises, more later.

posted by Cliff at 6:47 PM

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