"A New York Treasure" --Village Voice

Javy Been?

Javier Vazquez, 2005 ToppsI always thought Javier Vazquez got a raw deal in his one season as a Yankee. When he was traded, I wrote on my old blog that “the Yankees were giving up on a 29-year-old pitcher who had pitched like an ace for four and a half seasons because of a mere three months of poor pitching.” That his results with the Diamondbacks and the White Sox the next two seasons were underwhelming soothed my ire, but I still viewed him as a missed opportunity right up until the Yankees reacquired him from the Braves yesterday.

To be fair, Vazquez isn’t an ace, which was part of the problem in 2004. In his final four season with the Expos, Vazquez posted a 3.65 ERA, 1.21 WHIP, 8.2 K/9, 2.1 BB/9, and 3.91 K/BB, numbers that, coming from a 26-year-old pitcher, looked like the early work of a developing ace, which is exactly what Vazquez was acquired to be, arriving in the Bronx in the wake of the departures of Roger Clemens, Andy Pettitte, and David Wells. In the first half of the 2004 season, Vazquez came close, going 10-5 with a 3.56 ERA, 1.15 WHIP, 7.2 K/9, 2.4 BB/9, and 2.97 K/BB, enough for him to make his first All-Star Team.

Then Vazquez’s shoulder began to ache (though he wouldn’t admit it until years later), and his season went off the rails. In the second half, he posted a 6.92 ERA, 1.49 WHIP, and lost another strikeout per nine off his K rate while giving up 14 home runs in as many starts, or 1.6 HR/9, enough to earn him the derogatory nickname “Home Run Javy.” Things didn’t get better in his ALDS start against the Twins as he put the Yankees in a 5-1 hole that they nonetheless climbed out of thanks to Ruben Sierra’s game-tying homer in the eighth and Alex Rodriguez’s self-made run in the 11th inning. At that point, Joe Torre, who had put Vazquez on the All-Star team just three months earlier, pulled him from the ALCS rotation. Vazquez pitched in relief of Kevin Brown twice in that series, both times without much success. In the latter instance, he was brought into Game Seven with the bases loaded and gave up a first-pitch grand slam to Johnny Damon that drove the final nail in the 2004 Yankees’ coffin.

Leading up the trading deadline that season, the big rumor was that the Yankees were going to trade for Randy Johnson, but the Diamondbacks wanted Vazquez and the Yankees refused. After that brutal second half, the Yankees softened on their stance. In what might have been the last big player transaction motivated by George Steinbrenner, Vazquez was traded to Arizona with lefty Brad Halsey and catching prospect Dioner Navarro for Johnson.

The irony was that, over the next two seasons, Johnson and Vazquez were nearly identical in terms of results. Dig:

Johnson: 100 ERA+, 8.0 K/9, 2.2 BB/9, 1.3 HR/9, 430 2/3 IP
Vazquez: 99 ERA+, 8.1 K/9, 2.2 BB/9, 1.2 HR/9, 418 1/3 IP

Neither was an ace. Both maintained their good stuff, but a showed propensity to give up the long ball and a frustrating inconsistency. Vazquez spent the second of those two seasons as a member of the White Sox, having been obtained by the defending World Champions for past and future Yankee pitchers Orlando Hernandez and Luis Vizcaino (whom the Yankees acquired when they dealt Johnson back to the desert), and center field prospect Chris Young.

Vazquez shaved a run off his ERA in his second season in Chicago without a meaningful change in his overall performance, then gave most of that back in his third and final season on the South Side, after which he was dealt to the Braves with LOOGY Boone Logan for a quartet of prospects led by slugging catcher Tyler Flowers. The return to the weaker, non-DH league worked expected wonders for Vazquez as he posted career bests in ERA, WHIP, and his strikeout, homer, walk, and hit rates, garnering his first-ever Cy Young votes (he finished fourth).

Despite the variations in his results, Vazquez has actually proven to be one of the most consistent pitchers in baseball over the last decade. Aside from his lone Yankee season, when his struggles led to early exits leaving him at just 198 innings pitched for the year, Vazquez has thrown more than 200 innings every other year this decade and started 32 or more games in each of the last ten seasons, a streak unmatched in the majors. In those ten seasons, he has only twice had a K/9 below 8.0 (2004 again being one of the two exceptions) and has never walked as many as three men per nine innings over the course of a full season. Over those ten seasons, he has posted a 3.98 ERA (113 ERA+) with a 1.22 WHIP, 8.3 K/9, 2.2 BB/9, 3.79 K/BB, and a fairly pedestrian 1.1 HR/9. Brought back to the Bronx not as a potential ace, but as an overqualified mid-rotation innings eater, he has a much greater chance of success, both because of the lowered expectations, and because of his additional five years of experience, maturity, and conditioning.

In essence, Vazquez is A.J. Burnett without the injury history or the excessive contract (Javy’s actually entering the final year of an extension he signed with the White Sox that pays him $11.5 million for 2010). Burnett trumps Vazquez in that he’s spent several years in the AL East and is more of a groundball pitcher, but again, Vazquez isn’t being asked to replace Burnett as the number-two. He’s merely being asked to give the Yankees quality starts from the third or fourth spot in the rotation, a task of which he should be perfectly capable.

Now the question is, did the Yankees give up too much for one year of an above-average innings eater with a fly-ball tendency that could be exposed in the new Yankee Stadium? Maybe, but probably not. The players being sent to Atlanta for Vazquez are Melky Cabrera, lefty reliever Mike Dunn, and teenage pitching prospect Arodys Vizcaino.

Dunn was a fungible bullpen arm, ostensibly replaced by Boone Logan, who was again acquired with Vazquez. Not that Logan is any good. He’s basically a left-handed Kyle Farnsworth, but minus the effective slider and all those pesky strikeouts. Logan has a mid-90s fastball that’s straight and thus very hittable, a curve he rarely uses, and an unimpressive slider. The less we see of Logan in 2010 and beyond the better this trade will look. Fortunately, Logan still has an option remaining and can be stashed at Scranton. As for Dunn, he was nothing special. Besides, when was the last time the Yankees were burned by trading a theoretically promising relief pitcher, particularly one in his mid-20s with alarming minor league walk rates?

The key to the trade will be the future path of Vizcaino, who was just rated as the Yankees’ top pitching prospect by my man Kevin Goldstein over at Baseball Prospectus. Here’s Goldstein’s scouting report:

Vizcaino’s combination of stuff and refinement is rarely found in a teenager. His clean arm action leads to effortless 92-94 mph fastballs that get up to 97 when he reaches back for a bit more, while his smooth mechanics allow him to harness his pitches and pound the strike zone. His power curveball already grades out as big-league average with the projection of becoming a true wipeout offering. . . . Vizcaino’s ceiling tops that of any pitcher in the system, by a significant margin. It will take time, but the skills are there for him to become an All-Star starter.

The trick is that Vizcaino won’t turn 20 until next November and has yet to pitch in a full-season league. I’m not saying he’s not going to fulfill his potential, but he’s so far away that he’s more of a dream than a reality right now. The odds seem just as good that the Yankees traded him at the peak of his value than that he will turn into the pitcher he’s projected to be. Still, there’s a legitimate risk that the Yankees just gave up a young home grown ace for a year of Javy Vazquez.

As for Melky, he made a nice comeback this year, but it only brought him back to the level of his rookie season, which was a strong effort by a 21-year-old rookie, but was underwhelming if not outright disappointing coming from a 24-year-old in his fourth full big league season. Cabrera is merely average in the field, doesn’t walk much, doesn’t hit for much power, and though he steals at a high percentage, he only swipes about ten bases a year. He’s out of options and into arbitration, and though I doubt anyone thinks he’s a future star, he’s still somewhat overrated. (I wonder, if Melky was named “Jose” and didn’t have the dimples, would anyone miss him?)

I might overrate Brett Gardner, but I honestly believe that a Yankee outfield with Gardner in center and Curtis Granderson in left is better than one with Granderson in center and Melky in left. Gardner is a superlative defensive center fielder and, given his superior on-base skills and base stealing prowess, is at least Melky’s equal on offense. He also hits lefties as well or better than he hits righties. With Granderson’s center-field ability in left and Gardner’s tremendous range in center, the Yankees would have two-thirds of a tremendous defensive outfield, which would suit Vazquez particularly well.

Of course, it’s widely believed that the Yankees will leave Granderson in center and sign a mid-priced left fielder to replace Cabrera, though given the available options (Johnny Damon, Jermaine Dye, and Jason Bay are brutal fielders), there’s no guarantee that doing so wouldn’t actually do more harm than good. Signing Mark DeRosa as a right-handed bench player capable of spelling Granderson against lefties, spelling Gardner by pushing Granderson to center, and spotting around the infield would be a good move provided he’s limited to that role, but while he’s a fine defensive outfielder, he’s a terrible infielder and could nonetheless likely land a starting job elsewhere. I still hold out some hope for Matt Holliday, but given the $11.5 million they’re now paying Vazquez for 2010 that seems less likely than ever.

The biggest decision prompted by this trade will be which pitcher out of Phil Hughes and Joba Chamberlain winds up with the fifth spot in the rotation and which winds up back in the bullpen. It sounds right now as though that will be a decision decided based on Spring Training performances, but it’s worth remembering that Chamberlain would be able to throw as many as 200 innings in the coming season, while Hughes would likely be limited to no more than 150. For all of the frustration that Chamberlain caused the Yankees in the rotation last year, he’s now closer to becoming the starter the Yankees hoped he could be than Hughes, who spent most of last year in the bullpen and needs to be stretched back out and to reintroduce the whole of his repertoire while facing a lineup multiple times. Remember that Chamberlain seemed to turn a corner coming out of the All-Star break last year only to have the Yankees’ clumsy efforts to enforce his innings limit derail him. Goldstein is among the prospect hounds who believe that Chamberlain has a higher ceiling than Hughes, though both still have front-of-the-rotation potential.

That last gets us to the most significant aspect of this entire deal. As much as the Vazquez trade seems like an easy win for the coming season, deepening the Yankee rotation and, in turn, the bullpen, and perhaps even improving their outfield at essentially no immediate cost, it’s frustrating to see Hughes and Chamberlain continue to be jerked around, particularly while the Red Sox are on the verge of having established both Jon Lester, now clearly their ace, and Clay Buchholz in their rotation. I understand why the Yankees, as defending champions, don’t want to devote 40 percent of their rotation to player development, and I understand why they might be gun shy after Hughes and Ian Kennedy’s failures in 2008 (Hughes’ problems that season were almost entirely due to injury, but that doesn’t make them any less likely to reoccur), but the organization needs to figure out how to develop its young starting pitching prospects or they might as well start making those Johan Santana trades when they come up. Maybe dealing Vizcaino is an indication that they’re headed back in that direction. If so, enjoy the winning while it lasts, because there will be more than just Javy Vazquez to remind us of 2004 in the coming decade.

Tags:  Javier Vazquez  Transactions

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Show/Hide Comments 1-100
1 williamnyy23   ~  Dec 23, 2009 1:06 am

Gardner essentially has two-thirds of one season worth of innings in CF, so I am not sure you can come to any definitive conclusion on just how good he is out there. If the Yankees view Granderson as a long-term part of the team, it makes sense to at least start the season with him CF because eventually Gardner's lack of a bat will require that he be replaced. Also, if you are going to go off of limited stats, Gardner is an even better LF'er than CF'er.

As for developing young pitchers, the Joba experiment was clearly sloppy, but it did accomplish the goal of limiting his innings in preparation for 2010. Regarding Hughes, there would be absolutely nothing wrong about him fulfilling a bullpen role with an occasional spot start. In fact, that's the very role the Twins took with Johan Santana. At age 23 and 24, he pitched 108 and 158 innings in that hybrid role before becoming a full fledged starter. At 23, Hughes threw 86 innings, so it makes perfect sense to try and get him to about 140 in some form of a hybrid role.

I don’t really see the relevance in how the Red Sox have handled Lester and Buccholz (nor do I think it’s fair to say they have established the latter). In 2008 at the age of 23, Buccholz pitched about 134 innings, first as a failed starter in the majors and then in the minors. In 2009 at age 24, he ramped up to 180 innings split between the majors and the minors. So, it is only in his age 25 season that Buccholz is being given the chance (a second one, in fact) to be a full time starter. As for Lester, his case is obviously unique, but he did gradually build innings at ages 22 and 23 before becoming a full time starter at age 24. Had Hughes not missed his entire age 22 season, he would also be on the same track.

2 Cliff Corcoran   ~  Dec 23, 2009 1:16 am

[1] I would assume any good CF would be even better in left field where there's less ground to cover due to the foul line, thus the appeal of putting Granderson there, who is the lesser center fielder of the two.

3 monkeypants   ~  Dec 23, 2009 1:20 am

[1] Had Hughes not missed his entire age 22 season, he would also be on the same track.

True. But it's hard not to conclude that his handling last year has cost him an extra season before he settles in as a full-time starter.

4 Mr. OK Jazz TOKYO   ~  Dec 23, 2009 1:22 am

Will they get draft picks if Vasquez leaves after this year?

5 Cliff Corcoran   ~  Dec 23, 2009 1:25 am

[4] Only if he's a Type A or B free agent (likely) and they offer him arbitration (less likely). Type A yields a first-rounder from the player's new team and a pick from the supplemental round between the first and second round. Type B yields only the supplemental round pick. Rankings are done by Elias.

6 monkeypants   ~  Dec 23, 2009 1:26 am

[2] They should start Gardner in CF and Granderson in LF, at least until a replacement for Gardy is obtained. But I suspect that they won't because Granderson was signed to be the CF, and it seems (to me anyway) that star players get to play "their" position. In the end, I don't think it matters much either way.

7 Cliff Corcoran   ~  Dec 23, 2009 1:27 am

[6] Granderson was traded for, not signed and seems like the sort of player who will do what ever the team asks of him.

8 williamnyy23   ~  Dec 23, 2009 1:30 am

[2] Granderson has about 5,000 more innings in CF than Gardner. Again, I don't see how one could argue Gardner is better based on less than one season (Granderson has had two full seasons as good as Gardner's abbreviated 2009). Considering how shaky defensive stats can be, it is a risky proposition to come to conclusions based on insufficient samples.

[3] Perhaps...but then again, it might not have been wise to have him pitch that much more than 100 innings away...just like the Twins did with Johan (and that worked out well).

[4] It's likely he'll be a Type-A, so yes (assuming they offer arbitration and he doesn't accept).

9 Mr. OK Jazz TOKYO   ~  Dec 23, 2009 1:30 am

[5] Thanks. The whole type A & B system seems absurd..who gave such power to Elias?

[6] I really really really do not want to ever ever ever watch another Gardner "at bat"..really...ever...

Vazquez will do fine, but this is why I don't bother following any of the Yankee minor-league teams..the intriguing guys all seem to get traded. Unless they make the roster like JobaPhil, I just ignore it..

10 Cliff Corcoran   ~  Dec 23, 2009 1:36 am

[9] You know Gardner had a higher EqA than Melky or Granderson last year, right? I'm not saying he's necessarily that good, but he was hardly an embarrassment.

11 monkeypants   ~  Dec 23, 2009 1:36 am

[7] Traded for v. signed is a distinction without a difference in this case. He was obtained by the Yankees to play a premium position---it doesn't matter how they got him. Now, your second observation (that he is the kind of guy who will do anything asked of him) is indeed relevant. If so, then he it would cause no problems to ask him to shift to lF.

Again, I don't think it will matter much, because (I suspect) 1] the difference in defense between Gardy CF/Grandy LF and Grandy CF/Gardy LF will not bear much over the course of the season, and 2] I am still convinced that they will not go into the season with Gardy as starter (starty??).

12 Cliff Corcoran   ~  Dec 23, 2009 1:39 am

[11] I think the distinction matters, because a free agent is often told "we want you to come here and play this position" and he consents to that by signing, whereas a player obtained in a trade is sent to the new team without discussion or, generally, his approval and is thus given no promises about how he will be used.

13 Mr. OK Jazz TOKYO   ~  Dec 23, 2009 1:45 am

[10] Can't argue the stats..but so many of his ABs looked like he had zero chance of getting a hit. Doesn't mean he won't improve, but..

Meanwhile, the Mets continue to raid the NPB bargain-bin..I think it's their fourth Japanese player already. No one on the Banter would remember Shinjo Tsuyoshi, he played a few seasons for the Mets and Giants. HUGE star here, known for his "style" and "coolness". Very little written about his actual baseball skills...good fielder but just so-so in the MLB.

14 Mattpat11   ~  Dec 23, 2009 1:46 am

[12] The Joba "map" was sloppy? I hadn't noticed.

15 williamnyy23   ~  Dec 23, 2009 1:46 am

[11] Even if they do start the season with Gardner, the Yankees will likely always be looking for his replacement, so it makes little sense to displace Granderson for a temporary option, especially when there is little evidence to suggest that he is better. Also, if the Yankees want to limit Gardner's role, they would have to yo-yo Granderson between CF and LF, which is probably not the best way to get him acclimated to the team.

16 williamnyy23   ~  Dec 23, 2009 1:49 am

[13] Because Gardner has had so few PAs, I think it is more than fair to judge his ability more with the scout's eyes. Besides, while is 290 PA season in 2009 was decent, his 141 PA 2008 was awful. Gardner will be playing in his age-26 season, so this isn't exactly a kid.

17 monkeypants   ~  Dec 23, 2009 1:49 am

[8] I'm not sue Santana is such a good comparison to Hughes, or rather, that Santana's handling is a good comp to Hughes' handling.

The Twins accelerated Santana much more quickly as a MiL (1997-1999): 40 INN, 92 INN, 160 INN. He was limited in 2000 and 2001 at MLB level (injuries at least one season, correct?): 86 INN and 43 INN. But then in 2002 they bumped him up over 100 INN, to 156 INN (108 at MLB, 48 at MiL). Then they held him down to 158 INN the following year.

In other words, to compare to Hughes, Phil has never been allowed to throw as many as 160 INN in a season, and he was not pushed as hard after an injury-lost season. So, he looks to be around two or even three years behind Santana's development.

18 Cliff Corcoran   ~  Dec 23, 2009 1:49 am

[13] Oh, I remember Shinjo. I worked next to a Mets fan who was obsessed with his glamor-over-game style.

19 williamnyy23   ~  Dec 23, 2009 1:51 am

[13] Who could forget Shinjo and his bright ornage wrist bands!

20 monkeypants   ~  Dec 23, 2009 1:51 am

[12] Fair enough.

Also, I am on board with you that Gardner would be a fine CF and hold his own offensively (I do not share the abhorrence of some here about watching bat). I just think that the organization will not go into the regular season with Gardner as a starter. We'll see, I guess.

21 Mattpat11   ~  Dec 23, 2009 1:53 am

[18] Wasn't it Shinjo that supposedly "ruined" Joe McEwing?

22 Mattpat11   ~  Dec 23, 2009 1:56 am

[20] Didn't you also admit that you rarely get to see Gardner at the plate? I find it physically exhausting.

23 monkeypants   ~  Dec 23, 2009 1:57 am

[22] Very true...follow most of the games on the radio. Perhaps you should do the same? It's much more relaxing. ; )

24 Mr. OK Jazz TOKYO   ~  Dec 23, 2009 1:58 am

[21] ?? Don't get that reference. Shinjo is super popular here with the ladies, despite his obvious..er.."feminine" characteristics..

[20] I'll come around on Gardner only if he tries to steal every single time he gets on base.

25 Mr. OK Jazz TOKYO   ~  Dec 23, 2009 1:59 am

[23] John & Suzy W more relaxing?? Too many LaBatts Blues up there in Canada??

26 monkeypants   ~  Dec 23, 2009 2:00 am

[24] Will you come around if he gets on base 36% or 37% (unlikely, I think) of the time, even if he doesn't always try to steal?

27 williamnyy23   ~  Dec 23, 2009 2:02 am

[17] Hughes may not have reached 160, but he did hit 146 at age 20. By my count, Hughes is right on pace with Santana (see below). The only difference is the Twins really ratcheted him up after his injured age-22 season, whereas the Yankees were more cautious with Hughes. Of couse, the Twins than had Johan repeat the 150 innings level at age 24, if Hughes hits that mark this year, they'll be right on pace.

19 86
20 146
21 111
22 69
23 105
24 ?
19 93
20 160
21 86
22 43
23 156
24 158

28 monkeypants   ~  Dec 23, 2009 2:02 am

[25] Well, it prevents one from having irrational reactions to how players "look" when they play.

29 Mattpat11   ~  Dec 23, 2009 2:03 am

[24] I can't hold not stealing against Gardner or anyone on the field. I'm sure the master of the pinch stand there has the red light on.

30 Mr. OK Jazz TOKYO   ~  Dec 23, 2009 2:04 am

[26] I can live with .360OBP for guys who don't clog the bases...

31 Mr. OK Jazz TOKYO   ~  Dec 23, 2009 2:05 am

[28] Nothing irrational about not wanting to watch bad hitters get fooled or blown away!

32 thelarmis   ~  Dec 23, 2009 2:06 am

before i even read this long post - which i'm sure is most excellent - and comments, i just wanna say: GREAT title, Cliff!!!

oh, and i LOVE the '05 Topps cards. '04 was even better. those 2 years were really excellent. i haven't really cared for the last 3 seasons, though last year was better than the previous two...

33 monkeypants   ~  Dec 23, 2009 2:08 am

[27] The Twins also added around 70 innings to Santana's total in his age 25 season, to 228 INN . I somehow doubt the Yankees will do this, but who knows, maybe they take the gloves off after 150 INN.

34 monkeypants   ~  Dec 23, 2009 2:10 am

[31] Not at all. But something is possibly wrong with greatly exaggerating a players badness (or goodness) because of the way he "looks" or "seems".

35 williamnyy23   ~  Dec 23, 2009 2:13 am

[34] The only fair way to judge Gardner is based on how he looks because he only has 400 PAs in his career. Of course, if you want to use stats, you can't wipe out 2008. When take in total, Gardner's career major league line is 256/.325/.352. That's pretty bad, regardless of how many bases he steals.

36 Mattpat11   ~  Dec 23, 2009 2:16 am

[28] When he's not hitting a lick, like in the second half of last year and that fucking performance in the World Series, his approach at the plate is noteworthy.

I mean, Gardner looked so bad at the plate that Damon actually commented on it and Gardner had to answer questions about it.


37 monkeypants   ~  Dec 23, 2009 2:20 am

[35] The only fair way to judge Gardner is based on how he looks because he only has 400 PAs in his career.

No. You look at his MiL stats. You use real evidence rather than visceral impressions.

Of course, if you want to use stats, you can’t wipe out 2008. When take in total, Gardner’s career major league line is 256/.325/.352. That’s pretty bad, regardless of how many bases he steals.

THAT is a fair analysis.

38 monkeypants   ~  Dec 23, 2009 2:26 am

[36] *Yawn.*

I don't know what his "approach" is. I can't see into the souls of men. I don't know how much to value questions that Gardner (but apparently no one else) had to answer about a poor performance by---according to the same article---Gardner, Hinske, Harston and also Swisher and Cano in one World Series game.

We should not fall back on wildly exaggerated claims ("all he does is strike out looking or pop-up".

We can and should, however, look at his statistics. You have pointed out well that he stunk it up in the second half of last season. William points out that his overall MLB numbers are poor. Those are fair observations and the basis for rational judgment and evaluation.

The rest is just so tiresome.

This is sooooo triesome.

39 williamnyy23   ~  Dec 23, 2009 2:29 am

[37] Good luck with the minor league stats. Considering his advanced age at every level (21 years old in SI!), you can pretty much throw those them out the window (even though they aren't eye popping by any stretch). Bad data is worse than a viseral impression.

40 williamnyy23   ~  Dec 23, 2009 2:30 am

[38] Are you suggesting that there is no room for observation in evaluating Gardner?

41 thelarmis   ~  Dec 23, 2009 2:33 am

[38] go to Rivendell. get council from Elrond. you'll be able to see into the souls of men, no problem. prolly take an hours...tops! ; )

i love following the 'banter' back 'n forth on this, but i really don't suspect Gritner will be a starting outfielder on the club. hoffmann is rule 5, right? so, we need to keep him on the 40-man the entire season or he's offered back, right? i guess for now our bench will be: brett (after we get a LF'er), Hoffmann, Frankie Brains and Pena (or Russo, et al)...

42 monkeypants   ~  Dec 23, 2009 2:34 am

[39] Why are you wishing me luck? *I'm* not the one *trying* to prove anything.

I'm just tired of hearing the same tired, silly, exaggerated arguments about Gardner (among others) "looks" bad. It's the same shit reasoning that gets players like Miguel Cairo (who "looks" good, apparently) an appalling number of MLB ABs and accolades like "the best .200 hitter you ever saw." It's the same reasoning that promotes silly notions like trading Swisher because, you know, he's not good or something.

43 Mattpat11   ~  Dec 23, 2009 2:35 am

[37] Minor league stats can only take you so far. For years we heard people insisting that Andy Phillips was "a pure hitter" and such, and used his minor league numbers to make their case for him. But if you actually watched the man play, it was obvious that regardless of how hard he hit AAA drek, he couldn't identify a major league curveball.

If, hypothetically, Brett Gardner built his minor league OBP up by waiting out crappy minor league pitchers, it might not be realistic to expect him to hit against major league pitchers with any control, which might be why he totally fell off the table last year. I've said it here before, but watching him, it certainly seemed like his plan was often to go up there and take the first two pitches, regardless of what they were. In AAA, that might get him a 2-0 count facing Casey Fossum. In the majors, it often left him behind in counts and swinging wildly at drek to try and make up for it.

44 monkeypants   ~  Dec 23, 2009 2:36 am

[40] I am suggesting that the room for such subjective observation is minimal at best, in all cases (including but not exclusive to Gardner). I don't trust the "eye test."

45 williamnyy23   ~  Dec 23, 2009 2:42 am

[42] I wasn't being literal...just trying to emphasize context regarding Gardner's minor league numbers.

Some of the anti-Gardner opinions may be extreme, but I can honestly say that I've never seen a hitter with an approach as bad as Gardner's. He doesn't use his legs, swings late and has poor bat speed. Now, I am not a professional scout, so I could completely wrong on those observations, but Gardner has really done nothing to make me think that's the case (as noted, his career line is pretty bad). Considering that he doesn't have an extensive record, I think it is very fair to evaluate him based on observation. I am not sure about your Cairo reference, so I can't speak to that.

46 monkeypants   ~  Dec 23, 2009 2:42 am

[43] All true. But of course, one never knows a player's ability at the MLB level until he is allowed to see a good amount of real action at MLB. An Andy Phillips may be Andy Phillips, or he may be Matt Stairs. We won't know until he gets a reasonable chance.

What constitutes a reasonable chance? I don't know. But I trust looking at the results of a few hundred PAs rather than trusting what you (or anyone else, including myself) thinks is "obvious."

Again, I am not defending Gardner per se. I have always argued that he is a marginal major league OF at best, better as a LIDR/PR. But I base this looking at his MiL and, now MLB stats. Not by exaggerating every flaw he *seems* to have when I watch him in given at bats.

47 williamnyy23   ~  Dec 23, 2009 2:45 am

[44] Then we completely disagree. Until a player has an established track record, I think the role of subjective observation is substantial (that's pretty much what scouts do). It may have its flaws, but relying solely on stats that really have no context is, to me, a worse option.

48 monkeypants   ~  Dec 23, 2009 2:49 am

[45] I am not sure about your Cairo reference, so I can’t speak to that.

One of Sterling's favorites.

The exact same sorts of discussions were had on these discussion threads back when Cairo was haunting the Yankees clubhouse, as I'm sure you remember.

49 williamnyy23   ~  Dec 23, 2009 2:50 am

[46] That's true, but then I guess I could argue that we don't know my ability at the MLB level until given the chance. I am pretty good at fast pitch softball, so maybe I deserve a chance? Of course, a scout would likely look me over and realize that I didn't have the talent to hit in the majors, which is a reasonable way to screen candidates.

In Gardner's case, we have underwhelming minor league numbers (considering his age at each level) and bad major league numbers. For some reason, some people look at those "objective stats" as potential. I see a validation of my observational analysis.

50 williamnyy23   ~  Dec 23, 2009 2:52 am

[48] People have argued that Cairo is scrappy or gritty or some other intangible, but I never recall anyone arguing that he "looked' good.

51 monkeypants   ~  Dec 23, 2009 2:55 am

[47] stats that really have no context

I'm not sure I understand what that means. ALL stats have a context, which of course shapes the way we interpret the stats. Did you mean "to evaluate stats without regard to context"?

Otherwise, yes, we will have to agree to disagree. I don;t know how scouts do their job. I had always assumed it involved some egree of statistical analysis, charting pitches, timing the speed around the bases. Maybe I'm wrong. If they just sit there in the stands and make wild claims ("he just stands there every at bat") or evaluate largely on aesthetics ("he sure looks like a ballplayer, I like the cut of his jib"), then what can I say.

52 monkeypants   ~  Dec 23, 2009 3:03 am

[50] "Look" in a more general sense: his scrappiness, grittiness, etc. are all intangible qualities ascribed to players who "look" like ballplayers. Heck, his swings were probably more assertive, he may have struck out looking less than Gardner or handled a curve ball better than Phillips, but it sure didn;t help him get on base.

[49] I guess I could argue that we don’t know my ability at the MLB level until given the chance.

Reductio ad absurdum. Obviously an organization could not afford to give every human being 500 ML ABs. They have to make reasonable choices. You have not played at every level of MiL baseball and had at least some modicum of success at each level, so you would likely not be given much of a chance. But a marginal player like Gardner has obviously been evaluated positively at each level, or else he would not have advanced. Such a player warrants reasonable time at ML to determine if he can hack it.

And all of this is besides the point that we are arguing. I am not going to make any claim whatsoever about YOUR ability at the ML level based on the way you look playing softball, I must concede that I have no reasonable basis to maek any such evaluation. Similarly, I will not make an evaluation about Gardner (or Swisher or Melky or Cano or anyone else) based on the way they look. I will instead rely on their ML stats and, if they have not yet established a ML track record, their MiL stats.

53 williamnyy23   ~  Dec 23, 2009 3:05 am

[51] Yes...I meant that stats need to be evaluated in proper context. Gardner's minor league numbers need to be considered in light of his advanced age, which make them unimpressive.

As for scouts, I'm pretty sure they incorporate measurements, but somethings can be noted by mere observation. For (an extreme) example, if a batter comes to the plate with his hands criss crossed on the bat, it would be a fair assumption that he can't hit. That's part of scouting and it's not as facile as liking the cut of one's jib. Rather, it is subjective visual comparison to other approaches that have been successful.

54 monkeypants   ~  Dec 23, 2009 3:11 am

[53] minor league numbers need to be considered in light of his advanced age, which make them unimpressive.

And speaking of context, this somewhat misleading statement needs to be put to rest. He was of advanced age in single-A because he played college baseball and so started MiL late. However, he then moved relatively quickly through MiL so that he was promoted to AAA at 23 and had a very successful full season campaign at AAA at age 24.

A 23-24 y.o. guy with success at AAA may not bespeak a superstar, but surely is not someone who is "too old" for MiL.

55 williamnyy23   ~  Dec 23, 2009 3:13 am

[52] I wasn't being literal. Regardless of my chances at getting a crack, there are dozens if not hundreds of players like Gardner in the minors. All of them can't get a chance (at least not if the team wants to be successful). Eventually, subjective analysis has to be done because not all stats are created equal. So, while one person can look at the prodigious minor league stats of a Shelley Duncan and scream major leaguer, another might observe certain actions and tendencies that would make him vulnerable in the majors.

Finally, while I disagree with the philosophy that only stats can be reliable, what I don't get is why you would even consider MiL stats without knowing how the numbers of an advanced player like Gardner translate. If one is going to rely soley on stats, they should have a full understanding of their context and meaning.

56 monkeypants   ~  Dec 23, 2009 3:15 am

[53] if a batter comes to the plate with his hands criss crossed on the bat, it would be a fair assumption that he can’t hit.

Perhaps. But then observation would be borne out by statistics. But what if that same player with the criss-crossed hands actually succeeds in hitting well? Surely the more valuable information is the hard data---his OBP and SLG and the like---not his unorthodox batting style.

57 monkeypants   ~  Dec 23, 2009 3:17 am

[55] what I don’t get is why you would even consider MiL stats without knowing how the numbers of an advanced player like Gardner translate. If one is going to rely soley on stats, they should have a full understanding of their context and meaning.

Huh? When did I ever make such a claim. However, for the statement about Gardner's advanced age, see [54].

OK, I'm off to bed.

58 williamnyy23   ~  Dec 23, 2009 3:19 am

[54] He was 21-22 at single-A; 22-23 at double-A; and 23-24 at triple-A. Those are all average to advanced ages for "prospects".

59 williamnyy23   ~  Dec 23, 2009 3:22 am

[56] Eventually, observation would be borne out, but we are talking about cases in which there isn't a large enough sample. While you seem willing to wait until that sample is accumulated, I would prefer to move onto the next guy.

[57] See [58]. Gardner was old for A, above average aged for AA and average for AAA, but that's tough to assess because many older players are housed there.

This horse has probably been beated to death, but that's just a feeling. I haven't statistically evaluated whether the topic has been exhausted :)

60 monkeypants   ~  Dec 23, 2009 3:23 am

[58] That's silly. Nick Johnson, for example, was one of the *top* prospects in baseball and hit AAA at age 22.

Gardner's age at AAA is far more typical. A triple-A player who is 23 or 24 (and has success) stads a very good chance of a solid ML career. We're not talking about a guy who spent 10 years in the minors and then clobbered AAA pitching at age 28.

61 monkeypants   ~  Dec 23, 2009 3:24 am

[59] He's not pining, he's passed on...This is an ex-horse!


62 williamnyy23   ~  Dec 23, 2009 3:26 am

[60] Nick Johsnon hit the MAJORS at 22. He spent time in AAA at 22 because he missed his age 21 season to injury. Still, 22 is a far cry from 24. Furthermore, NJ was tearing up AA at age 20. Gardner was decent in AA at age 22-23. There is no comparison.

Gardner isn't a journeyman, but then again he hasn't exactly posted impressive numbers.

63 Mr. OK Jazz TOKYO   ~  Dec 23, 2009 3:49 am

MAJOR props to william and monkeypants for the late-night debating..usually just me and thelarmis round this time riffing about great Grant Green albums rather than the (de)merits of Gritty Gutty Gardner!

Just about 6pm here..more "G" time..

64 thelarmis   ~  Dec 23, 2009 3:54 am

[63] i've been listening to Renee Rosnes tonight. another great female pianist on blue note! but that said, i'm off to bed...

cheers, buddy!

65 Mr. OK Jazz TOKYO   ~  Dec 23, 2009 3:58 am

Have a good one man, get that music library set up in the new pad. Tonight going with some heavy stuff, Sonny Sharrock "Guitar".

66 thelarmis   ~  Dec 23, 2009 4:01 am

[65] i need to get me some sonny sharrock. lotsa avant stuff i wanna get. but not just yet...

i'm out

67 Chyll Will   ~  Dec 23, 2009 7:41 am

For (an extreme) example, if a batter comes to the plate with his hands criss crossed on the bat, it would be a fair assumption that he can’t hit.

Ahem. You might want to read up a little bit about some guy named Henry Aaron. I myself found the cross-handed style personally more comfortable, and the hits much easier to make than the "normal" style, but then I would look at Aaron's career track long before mine >;) I don't advocate the cross-hand batting technique for major leaguers, but I hardly ever assume a guy who bats cross-handed can't hit; he might even be your best hitter on the team, from what I've actually seen. It's a "correctable defect" if it's that important.

[65],[66] I came to Sonny Sharrock by way of Space Ghost Coast 2 Coast. Unfreakinbelievable...

68 Paul   ~  Dec 23, 2009 7:48 am

Hughes:Santana doesn't work because the Yankees have shown no willingness to give Hughes spot starts out of the pen. We just went through an entire season where they had plenty of opportunities and didn't once. Forget Gardner, I'm going to lose my mind if they give Gaudin and even Aceves starts before Hughes....again.

69 Chyll Will   ~  Dec 23, 2009 7:54 am

(dibs on Paul's hat...)

70 Mr. OK Jazz TOKYO   ~  Dec 23, 2009 8:03 am

[67] Chyll, I hang my head in shame but I have never seen the cartoonm nor heard the soundtrack..got to check them both out. Sonny Sharrock was an all-time great! Very very few musicians can play at both the maximum volume, freak-out end of jazz on one track, then on the next play a ballad so beautiful as to make you cry..check out Sonny's "Ask the Ages" and the last two tracks Many Mansions and Once Upon A Time for an example of that.

10pm here..time for a glass a sherry and some reading time.

71 monkeypants   ~  Dec 23, 2009 9:04 am

[62] The point stands that you exaggerate Gardner's "advanced age" throughout the minors. He started MiL late because he played in college. Yet despite his late start, he was a very good player in AAA at age 24. That is a legitimate prospect---not necessarily a top level prospect, but certainly worth a legitimate look.

Gardner isn’t a journeyman, but then again he hasn’t exactly posted impressive numbers.

If I told you the Yankees were looking at trading for a 24 y.o. CF who had hit .837 OPS at AAA and even saw some time with the big club (but was overmatched) had blazing speed, played good defense, and consistently had a high OBP in the minors, you would think the Yankees were looking at a legitimate prospect. Those are fine numbers for a AAA player, even one at the ripe old age of 24.

That would be a player worth a serious look. Now how long is a serious look? 400 PAs? 600 PAs? 200 PAs? I don't know. But certainly I would not discount his MiL numbers, especially his more or less full season at AAA at age 24, with the wave of a hand, and then base the bulk of my analysis on how he "looks" at the plate.

Finally, none of this is really addresses the initially point of the discussion (or at least touches it only tangentially), which is some people around here make wildly exaggerated statements about Gardner based largely, as far as I can tell, on aesthetics and anecdotal memories, often disregarding statistical evidence.

72 monkeypants   ~  Dec 23, 2009 9:43 am

A New York Times article from 2005, discussing whether kids are "rushed" to the major leagues more often than in the old days. Of interest: the average age for a ML player to make his first appearance is 24 (24.4 in 2004), a figure that hasn't changed much in the last century.


In other words, that Brett Gardner was playing in AAA at age 23-24 and called up during his age 24 season is completely...typical. Not a super-young gun, but not an old fogy, either. Average age for the level.

73 Horace Clarke Era   ~  Dec 23, 2009 10:09 am

Props to willy and the monk for a late night riff, and I see mp is back early for more. Winter on the Banter, the gift that keeps giving! We really don't have enough opinions 'round here, y'know.

On JobaPhil, I have to note that Phil messed himself up a tad by pitching badly in the rotation, no? Then he raised eyebrows and HELPED the team a lot by gaining confidence and becoming actually intimidating in the 7th/8th. I don't see how that counts as a Yankee error in a WS season ... though his playoffs suggest worrisome elements ... including possible fatigue, which would be odd but not impossible given how relievers arms work even with short innings. I'd say Javy's signing makes it a lot easier for Phil to get his 130-140 innings in various roles and as a one year deal (with drafts to follow, possibly) that makes it MORE impressive, to me. But I'm one of the guys here who don't go crazy for 19 year old pitchers - and I point to our 22/23 year old ones as an example of the trickiness of their getting them to front of rotation levels.

As for Gardy, the endless go-around ... visuals are really tricky, too. I mean, Damon looks steadily and consistently AWFUL at the plate, until he makes contact. Vlady is hideous/spectacular in equal measure. There are so many. Yes, these guys DO hit enough to make us forget the uglies, but Gardner doesn't have to get a whole lot better to be a really legit defensively stellar MLB OF at the bottom of an order. And that's what he IS on this team. If he's anywhere near average at the plate, he's dandy on the team. One of the issues is, still, how we undervalue D until we start looking really closely, and even then the numbers can be ... perplexing. I'll refer back to that startling RAB exercise on the Glory That Is Molina ... william dismissed it outright (data may have flaws, though no one's done the digging) but even if you reduce the impact statement (Molina is as much over Posada as Jeter is over Pena) by half, or MORE, even if it gets all the way down to 'pretty close in overall value' this is still noteworthy and speaks to the importance of D.

74 williamnyy23   ~  Dec 23, 2009 10:20 am

[67] Aaron's cross handed style was corrected in his late teens. As a youth, Aaron had immense apparent ability, so he was able to make the style work for him until a higher level made the correction necessary. Aaron may be an exception, but those usually prove the rule. I am sure guys like Arod and Pujols could be decent major leaguers if they batted cross-handed, but that's only because they have such incredible talent that they can overcome a handicap. I'd guess that most players do not start out with that advantage.

[71] You may think I am exaggerating Gardner's age, but I don't think I am. The fact that he started late because of college doesn't detract from my point...it enhances it. 21-22 year old players with college experience should perform well in A ball against 18-19 year olds out of high school. Gardner has had an advantage in his minor league seasons because of his relative experience. That is a real factor when projecting performance. Do you not think it makes a difference?

We don't need to use hypotehticals with Gardner. We know that he had an .837 OPS in AAA at age-24 (not impressive by any stretch, even though you think they are) and also know that he has had a pretty bad first 400 PAs in the majors. At age 25, he is not a legitimate prospect...he is nothing more than a 4th outfielder type who gets by on his speed. The only reason he would merit more PAs is because the Yankees can't find someone better. As soon as they can, he should be returned to a pinch runner/backup role. Wasting PAs on Gardner when there are better options would be, well, a waste.

I also don't agree with your main point...I think the impressions of Gardner have been formed thanks to a combo of aesthetics and anecdotal memories as well as his poor performance.

75 williamnyy23   ~  Dec 23, 2009 10:29 am

[72] That average includes all players, many of whom are not very good (relatively speaking). Being the average age in AAA is old because the real prospects are younger. At age 24 in AAA, Gardner was an experienced player. The stats of someone like Melky, who was 20-21 at AAA, are much more impressive.

[73] The RAB study was incredibly flawed. I honestly don't think anything can be taken from it. At the very least, the study would have to add some controls to be relevant.

76 monkeypants   ~  Dec 23, 2009 10:29 am

[74] ...and also know that he has had a pretty bad first 400 PAs in the majors. At age 25, he is not a legitimate prospect…he is nothing more than a 4th outfielder type who gets by on his speed.

Thank you. A relatively sound, even handed, rational evaluation, which summarizes pretty much my sentiments exactly.

No need to rely on visceral, anecdotal and/or aesthetic arguments. No need to posit that he was some old man in AAA or that he's an enormous black hole on offense or that he always strikes out looking or pops-up. No need to try to divine his "approach" ("he just goes up to the plate not even TRYING to get a hit").

No need to make him more or less than what he is. No need to look beyond the statistical evidence, nor dismiss it.

Thank you for coming around to my way of doing business.

77 OldYanksFan   ~  Dec 23, 2009 10:32 am

I said the best thing about this trade was that it might finally end the great Melky-Gardner debate, which crossed into deadhorse territory long ago.

Aside from Death and Taxes, it is difficult to determine ABSOLUTE facts. However, I will try to present some facts... or something at least close.

1) Gardy does not have a lot of MLB experience, and what he has had, has not been really consistant.
2) Gardy is at least a top 20% (18th or better of 90) defender.
My feeling is he is a top 10% (top 9) guy.
3) Gardy is VERY fast. Top 5% fast.
Gardy is a 39 of 45 base stealer... or 86.6%
Supposition: This should go up with more experience, more confidence, and better knowledge of the pitchers.

Note: Since Fangraphs wOBA includes SBs and CS%, and weights OBP more heavily than SLG, I think it a better/more accurate stat then OPS+, especially for a speed guy like Gardner.

Stat: Melky is a career .316 wOBA guy (.340 is average)
Stat: Ellsbury is a career .349 wOBA guy.

Factual Supposition (I know!): ALL Yankee prospects are extremely valuable, especially to a team whose payroll is usually maxed out. ANY kid who cracks the lineup represents a savings of tens of millions. If Joba or Phil develops into an Ace, it could save us close to a hundred million. Furthermore, If Gardy or any kid, can fill a position, that is one less position to fill over the winter. One less chance of trading away guys like AJax, IPK and Arodys. One less roll of the dice.

Brett has an average or slighly below average arm strengthwise, but has very good throwing mechanics, and so far has been very accurate with his throws. In a SSS, his 'Throwing Statistics' rate very well.

The guy has some obvious skills. He does not project to be a great OPS guy. He will never be a star.The only question is will he be GOOD ENOUGH to be a starter, and save us those tens of millions.

We can debate this past ad neuseum (we hit neuseum long ago), but we probably can't determine what he might offer until he gets a reasonable chance to show us. He won't get 3 years, like Melky did. The question is will the Yankees give him ONE year, or even a 1/2 year (until the ASB).

78 Paul   ~  Dec 23, 2009 10:33 am

"he is nothing more than a 4th outfielder type who gets by on his speed."

That's not true in general. In Boston, and I would bet at least 4-8 other teams, he's the starting CF. He's not a great CF, but he has the tools to be at least an average one.

"The only reason he would merit more PAs is because the Yankees can’t find someone better."

That's the rub. Finding someone better is always the problem. Swisher isn't a great RF, but find someone better. Nick Johnson isn't a great DH. Find someone better. Gardner isn't a great CF. Find someone better...

The plain fact is the Yankees could easily have a more offensive outfield. They could sign a no-glove LF (see Damon, Johnny.). But it all depends on cost and benefit. I know I would rather have Grander in LF and Gardner in CF and outstanding defense with room to improve on the offense side, than sacrifice defense and little room to improve on the offense side.

79 williamnyy23   ~  Dec 23, 2009 10:34 am

[76] I'll give you the last word after this, but if a player with Gardner's suspect stats exhibited some visual signs of hitting ability, I'd be more willing to give him a more significant chance. Because he doesn't exhibit those signs, I don't think the Yankees should waste too many ABs on him. I understand that you don't think the human eyes and brain can process observation (which, after all, is a statistical approach, if you consider the brain is identifying, cataloging, comparing and assessing observations), but stats alone can’t tell the whole story, especially when they lack context.

80 ms october   ~  Dec 23, 2009 10:42 am

mp - i don't wish to eat burnt horse all day - but i will just add something to clarify our discussion from over the weekend and the one that has been going on from last night until today - me complaining about gardner watching strike 3 is not an evaluation of him nor is it trying to be - it is just a complaint

81 Paul   ~  Dec 23, 2009 10:42 am

[79] I don't see suspect stats. I see a guy who gets hurt trying to go the other way in his home park(s).

Career Road Stats:

Gardner: .288 .350 .397 - 207 PA
Ellsbury: .286 .333 .381 - 735 PA

Career Home Stats:
Gardner: .225 .300 .309 - 218 PA
Ellsbury: .308 .368 .450 - 692 PA

If Gardner used the exact same approach in Fenway, he'd be an All-Star. The question is whether he can hit for enough power in Yankee Stadium - either going the other way into gaps or by pulling the ball.

82 williamnyy23   ~  Dec 23, 2009 10:43 am

[77] All fair points, except I think we can make a judgment on him right now. I would try as hard as possible to not give the chance you suggest because I think he will fail. I think the Yankees should have seen enough to determine he wont hit major league pitching. They don't need to suffer the ABs. I hope they don't, unless they really don't have the money for an upgrade.

83 monkeypants   ~  Dec 23, 2009 10:46 am

[75] The stats of someone like Melky, who was 20-21 at AAA, are much more impressive.

I'm sorry, who is this Melky person you are talking about? If he did what you say he did at age 20-21, that must have been impressive indeed.

But I am not making a specific comparative evaluation (Gardner is better than X or worse than Y). I am arguing about a general principal, that Gardner should be evaluated based on hard evidence using rational discourse. Melky is not relevant to this discussion.

[75] That average includes all players, many of whom are not very good (relatively speaking).

Indeed, yes. And some are younger. Hence "average."

[71] The fact that he started late because of college doesn’t detract from my point…it enhances it...Do you not think it makes a difference?

Of course it matters, but I would think that how a player performs at AAA (relaitve to age) is FAR more important than how they did in A or AA (relative to age), since it is possible the player was well coached or developed physically, etc such as to improve his game (or conversely, got worse through injury, poor coaching, poor work ethic, etc.).

That Gardner seems to have "caught up" by AAA at the standard age for a AAA player might even be taken as a sign that he has a fast learning curve. Be that as it may, his AAA numbers at the standard AAA age suggest a potentially serviceable MLB player, certainly more than his first year playing with a wooden bat.

[71] an .837 OPS in AAA at age-24 (not impressive by any stretch, even though you think they are)

Well, compare his age 23-24 AAA numbers to other marginal CFs in the league, say Michael Bourn or Jacoby Ellsbury or Marlon Byrd , and his numbers and age stack up just fine. In fact, most everything would suggest that he could develop into a decent player with one or two nice seasons at age 27 or 28 or 29 or even 30-31. No more, and possibly less.

I'm not arguing he's the second coming of Joe DiMaggio. I'm saying that:

1. He's not as bad as people say
2. He was not as bad last year in particular as people say
3. Most of the negative evaluation is based on subjective rather than objective evidence
4. His AAA numbers and age suggest a potentially useful player who warrants a legitimate chance at MLB.

No more, no less.

84 OldYanksFan   ~  Dec 23, 2009 10:47 am

[73] Hoss... I didn't read your post until after I posted [77]. As usually, your opinions are very reasoned. I don't have a problem with various posters opinions, but I do have some issues with the process that goes into some of these posts.

I wish any post that included 'Look at his PS stats', any analysis based on SSS, or any analysis based on 'I sees it with me own eyes'... could just get caught in the filter and magically get eaten byt the system. We who have been here a while should really know better.

And William... since I believe both SSS and 'my eyes' have very little analytical value, I just love how you used SSS as a rationaliztion to give VALUE to 'your eyes'. Clever Dude! You are a true SpinMeister! (I look forward to your rebuttal, MP rebutting your rebuttal, and then Hoss making another of his typical rare appearances to smooth over the sheets!)

85 williamnyy23   ~  Dec 23, 2009 10:47 am

[81] I don't think Gardner tries to go the other way...he just has a hard time pulling the ball (that's something that I observe...and something that scouts look at in making evaluations). The splits hold some interest, but ultimately the tiny samples make it very hard to draw any conclusion from them.

86 monkeypants   ~  Dec 23, 2009 10:51 am

[80] Fair enough....you got caught in the undertow.
Dead horse undertow? Yuck.

87 williamnyy23   ~  Dec 23, 2009 10:55 am

[84] If there isn't a large enough sample of data, and you disregard observation, how would you make an evaluation. Where's the spin in the argument that observation is a useful tool when data is either unavailable or incomplete?

88 Paul   ~  Dec 23, 2009 10:56 am

[85] He doesn't have a pull swing. And no doubt as a lefty with speed he's been regularly coached to slap the ball the other way. In Fenway, and many other stadia, that approach does well enough. In YS (both versions) that's where hits go to die.

As for sample sizes, it's not that small. And after another half season we'll see more. But you're contradicting yourself. You can't both definitively claim what he is (a 4th OF) and also say the sample is too small. Either we need to see more or we don't. I'm in the "see more" camp, especially if the alternative is an old no-glove LF.

89 williamnyy23   ~  Dec 23, 2009 10:58 am

I'll give my wingman Keith Law the last word on Breet Gardner:

Chip (NYC)

Have we seen enough of Brett Gardner to conclude that he can't hit major league pitching?

Keith Law (1:54 PM)


90 Paul   ~  Dec 23, 2009 11:00 am

[89] And yet what has KLaw said about Ellsbury?

They're almost identical players. One benefits from his park. The other gets hurt by his park.

By the way, I'm not the KLaw camp. Seems like a guy with alot of opinions, but I'm never impressed by his homework.

91 williamnyy23   ~  Dec 23, 2009 11:01 am

[88] It's not a contradiction because I think I've "seen" enough to determine that Gardner will not hit enough to justify a spot. I firmly believe that more ABs will only prove that out, so I'd prefer not to waste them. Unless Gardner is re-taught how to hit, his speed will not be worth the playing time, in my opinion.

92 Paul   ~  Dec 23, 2009 11:06 am

[91] So you've "seen" enough, but when stats are presented that disagree with your interpretation, you say you haven't seen enough!? How does that make sense?

There's no reason to re-teach Gardner how to hit. He does it just fine in every other park. The only question is whether he'll find gap power in Yankee Stadium. If not, he'll start for someone else. Lord knows there are many equivalent and even inferior players starting in CF in the majors. One of them starts for our biggest rival.

93 OldYanksFan   ~  Dec 23, 2009 11:07 am

Do people understand that facts like:
He started playing baseball early -or- Late...
He came to MLB early -or- Late...
He was young -or- old for a MiLB player

Have ZERO analytical value.
Over baseball's history, there are many, many players who fall into one of these categories. And of those players, my guess is the final results of the players quality are all over the board.

This is great intellectual fodder for grabbing a bag of quality weed, and staying up all night in debate. Ya with me Thelarmis? But it has NO predictive value. This is intelectual mind-fucking. You might as well try and prove what the weather will be like in February.

And William.... as far as 'your eyes'.......
The Yankees have litterally MILLIONS of dollars worth of professional eyes. Yet Gardner is on the team, albeit barely.
Does this tell you anything?
If he is replacement level, he can be replaced for chump change.
If Gardner has NO chance (al though you mostly agree with [77])...
Why the hell is he in NY and not Scranton?

94 Paul   ~  Dec 23, 2009 11:11 am

"If he is replacement level, he can be replaced for chump change."

That's exactly it. He's certainly above replacement level or the Yankees would have replaced him. The plain fact is: Who would any doubters here replace him with. Damon was a poor solution. And Holliday is overpriced for LF/DH.

Gardner's skills are undervalued even still. With the new cameras for defense I have no doubt that the OF range, and less so in the infield, is going to be the next big thing.

95 monkeypants   ~  Dec 23, 2009 11:13 am

[93] Have ZERO analytical value.
Over baseball’s history, there are many, many players who fall into one of these categories. And of those players, my guess is the final results of the players quality are all over the board.

That's a bit of an overstatement, or perhaps better it misses the point. Such statements do have PREDICTIVE value. A 25 y.o. tearing up A-ball is not the same as an 18 y.o. tearing up A-ball. One would tend to predict that the 25 y.o. has very little chance to advance far. However, if the 25 y.o. had never played organized baseball before and then made an immediate jump to AAA and continued to tear things up, one's prediction about his chances at MLB might change.

96 williamnyy23   ~  Dec 23, 2009 11:15 am

[92] I've visually seen enough. The stats presented, however, are in a sample too small for me to give them weight (even though they actually support my low opinion of Gardner), leaving me to rely on my observations. There is no contradiction. Until I can trust the stats (I don't put much stock in a 200 PA split), I prefer to use my observation (which tells me that Gardner's hitting mechanics are poor).

[93] I wasn't suggesting that my eyes are better than the Yankees' scouts, just that they are an important contributor to MY opinion of Gardner. Also, I don't think the Yankees approach to Gardner differs much from the one I would have: a 4th or 5th outfielder. The fact that Gardner is barely on the team does tell me something...that my assessment of him might not be too far from what the Yankees think. Otherwise, there would be no talk about finding a LF'er.

I'll turn the tables on you and ask the following: if Melky was given the starting CF job after such an awful 2008, what does that tell you about how the Yankees view Gardner?

The bottom line is Gardner is in NY because he can play defense and has great speed...not because he can hit. The former are valuable in a bench player, the latter is needed for an everyday player.

97 OldYanksFan   ~  Dec 23, 2009 11:19 am

[87] But there IS data. Both from MiLB and a small amount from MLB. So you use ALL the scout eyes, all the data you have and maybe a little suppositon.. You make assessments on mental makeup, growth potential and other esoteric and 'intangible' factors.

And you do NOT only look at offense.
Defense and Speed enter into the equation.
You understand that many, many can't miss prospects do indeed fail.
You understand that a number of nothing special prospects, like Piazza and Pujols, end up succeeding.
You understand that evaluating prospects is not an exact science.
You understand that there is a place for average, and even slightly below average players in MLB.
You understand that finances, payroll and salary play a part in the final equation.
You understand that a LOT of this whole process is a CRAP SHOOT and that by rolling the Dice, you sometimes come up with with an unexpected outcome.

98 Horace Clarke Era   ~  Dec 23, 2009 11:21 am

[84] If I'm "The Cleaner" I want Harvey Keitel to play my part in Bronx Banter: The Movie.

99 OldYanksFan   ~  Dec 23, 2009 11:22 am

[89] Oh....jeez... Keith Law..... well.... THAT SETTLES IT!
Wait. WAIT! My Aunt Agnus says he can hit ENOUGH to be useful.
I know my Aunt Agnus... and Keith Law is NO Aunt Agnus.

100 Paul   ~  Dec 23, 2009 11:23 am

[96] Sorry, but that makes no sense. And worse, it draws on the most closeted of scout logic while dismissing the one thing that could contradict said logic. Either you've seen enough to accurately judge the player or you haven't and can't.

Seems you're also trying to have it both ways with the stats. Either you reject them out of hand as too small or accept that they suggest a MLB hitter who struggles at home.

"if Melky was given the starting CF job after such an awful 2008, what does that tell you about how the Yankees view Gardner?"

Melky wasn't given anything.

Let me ask this: Is Ellsbury a MLB hitter? Or Michael Bourn? Or Nyjer Morgan? Or Colby Rasmus?

Show/Hide Comments 101-151
101 monkeypants   ~  Dec 23, 2009 11:25 am

[99] Not a fan of the argumentum ad verecundiam, I see, unless of course it's your Aunt Agnus who ipsa dixit.

102 williamnyy23   ~  Dec 23, 2009 11:25 am

[97] His small amount of MLB data show that he can't hit, while his MiLB data is skewed by his advanced age at each level (and certainly at single-A). Because neither sample suggests he should hit in the majors, I see no reason to contradict my observation (especially when others, whom I respect, have the same assessment).

Also, selecting players may be a difficult task, but it is my no means a crap shoot.

103 monkeypants   ~  Dec 23, 2009 11:31 am

[102] MiLB data is skewed by his advanced age at each level

This is BS. He was not at an "advance age" for AAA no matter how many times you repeat it. You continue to ignore reasonable comps, such as Marlon Byrd or Jacoby Ellsbury or Michael Bourn. They put up basically the same numbers at AAA at the same age, and have gone on to (so far) marginal to reasonable MLB careers as (sometimes) starting CFs, with soem nice seasons mixed in.

104 Paul   ~  Dec 23, 2009 11:31 am

"His small amount of MLB data show that he can’t hit"

That's a false statement. The (limited) data shows he can't hit at home. Across the variance of many parks, he hits just fine for his position.

Given a chance, he's a ML player - especially relative to others with the same skill set.. Whether he gets that chance with the Yankees remains to be seen.

105 Paul   ~  Dec 23, 2009 11:34 am

"his MiLB data is skewed by his advanced age at each level"

Yes, that is BS. He was old, then advanced quickly and soon caught up to his counterparts. I'm willing to guess that the average age in AAA in decidedly higher than 25.

106 monkeypants   ~  Dec 23, 2009 11:37 am

[105] Indeed, see also [72].

107 williamnyy23   ~  Dec 23, 2009 11:51 am

[100] I am sorry...but that makes no sense. Observation assesses the method; stats assess the results. If I saw a sprinter hop on one leg in a race, I would immediately determine that he would never win a race unless he changed his method. It would take a significant sample of stats to prove to me otherwise.

There are two valid ways to make an assessment: observation (it's biggest flaw being bias) and stats (it's biggest flaw being random variation in small samples). Until the samples are large enough to make them more reliable, I like to incorporate my own observations, bias and all. That is a complementary approach, not a contradictory one.

I haven’t seen enough of Bourne to make an observational assessment of his ability, but I think Rasmus, Ellsbury and Morgan all exhibit more hitting ability than Gardner. Also, the latter two have a much larger sample of statistics from which to make conclusions.

[103] No matter how many times you contradict it doesn’t make my statement untrue. Age-24 in AAA is considered advanced for a prospect.

As for your comps, all of them have extensive major league samples, so I don’t see the point in taking three random players and trying to use their AAA stats as a basis for an argument suggesting that Gardner will hit major league pitching.

[104] Again, I don’t put stock in a 200 PA split. Apparently you do, which is fine.

108 williamnyy23   ~  Dec 23, 2009 11:54 am

[105] The advanced age at AAA very well could be higher...because AAA is a holding place for journeyman minor leaguers. So, statistically, Gardner may have been an average age for a AAA player, but in reality he was old for a prospect. You and monkey might think that's BS, but it IS taken into account when projecting and assessing minor league numbers.

109 OldYanksFan   ~  Dec 23, 2009 12:01 pm

[95] Sure. Predict away. But you can guess... and forecast... and predict all you want. However, you will not KNOW which way Brett, or any SINGLE INDIVIDUAL player will ultimately fair until they prove it one way or another.

Of couse it depends on 'the odds'
Given Bretts EXACT circumstances, what are 'the odds' he can become an average player? 10:1? 5:1? 3:1? While all these minor predictive circumstances might blow one way or another, who can guess the odds?

These ODDS are about rick assessment.
What do the Yankees lose if they play Gardy and he fails?
What do the Yankees gain if they play Gardy and he succeeds?

All things considered, I believe the difference and downside between Gardy playing over Dye? DeRosa? JD? is WORTH the upside of having a position filled by a kid.... which as I said above... is tens of millions of dollars.

110 monkeypants   ~  Dec 23, 2009 12:01 pm

[107] As for your comps, all of them have extensive major league samples, so I don’t see the point in taking three random players and trying to use their AAA stats as a basis for an argument suggesting that Gardner will hit major league pitching.

Pay attention...I did NOT do that. I merely poited out that there are starting CFs in the league right now whose MiL careers (especially their AAA age/performance) were more or less similar to Gardner's. I use these to illustrate your exaggerated claim that his AAA performance should be dismissed because of his supposed "advanced age" at AAA, your implication that his AAA performance was not "impressive". Leaving aside the malleability of the word "impressive", the basic thrust of your arguments dismissing his AAA performance is flat wrong.

Gardner was not old for AAA, he was average. His numbers for a AAA CF were not poor, but rather they stack up well with several other starting CFs in the league. Thus, his AAA performance, far from suggesting that he cannot hit ML pitching, in fact suggests the opposite: a potentially useful ML player, albeit probably not a star.

That said, I have no idea how he *will* turn out. That's another discussion.

No matter how many times you contradict it doesn’t make my statement untrue. Age-24 in AAA is considered advanced for a prospect.

At least I have given some comps and cited average ages. You have fallen back on the passive voice. My evidence is thought to be stronger.

111 williamnyy23   ~  Dec 23, 2009 12:02 pm

Another thing to consider is that Brett Gardner's MiL stats were bolstered by walks, and some studies have shown that walks and strikeouts are the least projectable elements. Again, this is more context that needs to be considered. It seems like you guys are "considering his minor league numbers" without really knowing what they say (or maybe you do, in which case, I'd welcome a presentation about how to accurately translate the stats).

112 monkeypants   ~  Dec 23, 2009 12:06 pm

[110] You and monkey might think that’s BS, but it IS taken into account when projecting and assessing minor league numbers.

Of course age is taken into account. Who said it wasn't? I'm claiming that your assessment of 24 y.o. as somehow "old" (read: "too old") for a AAA player---so old in fact that his performance at that age should be dismissed--is BS.

Is the average age for a player to hit the bigs. AVERAGE age. Scroll through the rosters of teams right now: plenty of guys---many of them marginal to be sure---hit the bigs at 23-24-25-26.

You're simply invoking "24 as old" as rhetorical devise, in order to eliminate positive evidence with respect to Gardner. It simply doesn't stand up.

113 monkeypants   ~  Dec 23, 2009 12:10 pm

[111] and some studies have shown that walks and strikeouts are the least projectable elements.

Aha! That is a legitimate argument, based no doubt on larger sample sizes and some real statistical data.

Not based on how those players "looked".

Again, this is my only point: we should base arguments on hard evidence, not anecdotes and visceral reactions to how we think a player "looks."

114 williamnyy23   ~  Dec 23, 2009 12:16 pm

[109] The difference between a Gardner who really is as bad as I say, and a Damon, who has a track record, could be a win or two (or more). If that is the difference between not making a short run/no run and a long run in the playoffs, that could also cost tens of millions.

[110] So, based on three comps, you think there is evidence that Gardner may be a "potentially useful ML player". Also leaving aside the malleability of the word “iuseful", your argument has done nothing to contradict my statement, which is that his statistical record does not translate into him being able to hit major league poitching on a regular basis. You want to point out that he had a .780 OPS in AAA at the age of 24. I say that his high walk total and advanced age (you can protest, but my understanding is that 24 is advanced for a prospect and wont change without evidence) make that unimpressive. We can debate what impressive and useful mean, but ultimately, I see Gardner has nothing more than a defensive replacement/pinch runner/4/5th outfielder.

115 Paul   ~  Dec 23, 2009 12:17 pm

[107] Stats are nothing more than a collection of observations. If you have a problem with small sample sizes, by definition you have a problem with the exact type of analysis you now claim to be using. It's not either observation OR stats - they're the same thing. It just depends on what you choose to measure. The difference between science and religion? Science deals with the measurable.

"I think Rasmus, Ellsbury and Morgan all exhibit more hitting ability than Gardner"

Except they don't - not in neutral contexts.

"Age-24 in AAA is considered advanced for a prospect."

By whom? The distribution of rosters ages in AAA surely shows that 24 year olds are less than the average age.

"Again, I don’t put stock in a 200 PA split. Apparently you do, which is fine."

It's more informative than saying, without context, that he's not a ML hitter. That's bias disguised as analysis.

[110] "Gardner was not old for AAA, he was average. His numbers for a AAA CF were not poor, but rather they stack up well with several other starting CFs in the league. Thus, his AAA performance, far from suggesting that he cannot hit ML pitching, in fact suggests the opposite: a potentially useful ML player, albeit probably not a star."

You've nailed it and with a stronger case than the alternative.

[111] I haven't even presented the MiL numbers. I think his ML sample is good enough to draw some preliminary conclusions from. And those conclusions match what almost everyone else here is saying.

116 OldYanksFan   ~  Dec 23, 2009 12:18 pm

what are the odds that Gritner can post a .330 wOBA in MLB?

117 Paul   ~  Dec 23, 2009 12:23 pm

[114] "The difference between a Gardner who really is as bad as I say, and a Damon, who has a track record, could be a win or two (or more)."

Except, they don't play the same position. And even if they did (LF), Gardner's 2009, projected to a full season of not-ML ABs, would have been worth 1 win more than Damon's 2009.

As it was, Gardner was worth 2.2 wins last year (in 284 PA). Damon was worth 3 wins last year (in 626 PA). And that's with you saying how bad Gardner was. Imagine if he actually improved!

118 williamnyy23   ~  Dec 23, 2009 12:25 pm

[112] My statement is age-24 is old for a propsect to be in AAA. If you read the various scouting websites, that will be a common theme.

A worthwhile test of that statement would be to average out the ages of the top-100 prospects in the game (either in total or by classification). Simply stating that most major leaguers debut at age 24 isn't relevant because many if not, most of those players aren't very good.

[113] My point is that you seem so free to "trust the stats", even when you might not be sure what they really mean. My point is that until I can trust the stats, I am not willing to allow them to overwhelm my observations. Besides, observations are hard evidence (a lot of the defensive metrics are, in fact, based on observations).

119 monkeypants   ~  Dec 23, 2009 12:31 pm

[114] So, based on three comps, you think there is evidence that Gardner may be a “potentially useful ML player”. Also leaving aside the malleability of the word “iuseful"..."

Really, "potentially" is the far more malleable word in my proposition.

As I stated before, the three comps are mere illustrative of the falsity of you still unsubstantiated claim that 24 is "old" for a AAA player such that his performance at that age should be dismissed.

You want to point out that he had a .780 OPS in AAA at the age of 24.

I believe that he had a .837 OPS at age 24 in AAA. Are you referring to his combined numbers for age 23-24? His total AAA numbers are, not surprisingly, lower since his performance at that level at age 23 was not as strong.

but my understanding is that 24 is advanced for a prospect and wont change without evidence

What evidence could you possibly accept? You won't accept average age, which seems to be the largest sample size possible. Are you looking for some sort of definition of "prospect" by Keith Law?

Rather, I think the burden of proof is you to show that 24 is advanced age for a prospect, given my evidence that the average age for first-time MLers is in fact 24.

But whatever, this does not bear much on the trajectory this discussion seems to be taking (see below).

We can debate what impressive and useful mean, but ultimately, I see Gardner has nothing more than a defensive replacement/pinch runner/4/5th outfielder.

Again, I have no problem with this conclusion, and I largely share it---though I am obviously more wiling to give him another half season to full season to see if he has made the adjustment to MLB.

Rather, I have a problem with making such evaluations based on exaggerated claims, aesthetic judgments about how a player "looks", out of hand dismissal of statistical evidence including AAA numbers, etc.

I'm glad to see once again that you have come around to my point of view. We have dispensed with the silly "he's a black hole"/"he looks bad" stuff, and have settled in to a reasonable analysis of statistical data in context.

Thank you.

120 williamnyy23   ~  Dec 23, 2009 12:33 pm

[115] Stats are collections of OTHER'S observations. When there isn't a sample of other's observations that is large enough to trust, I prefer to go with my own. You prefer small samples of externally collected data...I prefer my own collection of observations. I think my approach is likely to be more accurate, but you are free to keep yours.

So, do you have a translation for Brett's minor league stats, or do you think they stand on their own merits without some kind of adjustment?

[116] The question can't be answered. All I can say is that Gardner looks to me as if he lacks the physical ability to be a productive major league hitter. Unless forced to do so, I would not give him the chance to prove me wrong. I'd rather give a more talented player that opportunity.

[117] Yes...if Gardner's small sample from only 2009 is projected and his defensive numbers are accurate (which is a whole different issue), then he might be more valuable. Of course, that's settling the issue on your terms. I think he is more likely to produce at his 400+ PA sample and think defensive metrics require a lot more than 700 innings before one can confidently declare Gardner to be an outstanding defender.

121 Paul   ~  Dec 23, 2009 12:33 pm

[118] "A worthwhile test of that statement"

Not really. Those lists are always biased young. They're never about realism, they're about projectability. Yes, a younger player has more room to grow. But the lists would do better if they realistically tried to discern the major leaguers from those that simply peaked early. The busts are always those who did well when they were young then sputtered at higher levels.

By the way, from your definition, Andrew Brackman has never been a prospect.

"observations are hard evidence"

Only to the extent they produce data. Your argument about a difference between stats and observation makes no sense in any other context. Go into any science lab and try to claim that you don't need to analyze the results of the experiment - that you saw the results with your eyes. Scouts can only fall back on this logic for so long. Soon the new cameras will render old-fashioned defensive analyses moot and mute - just like the pitch f/x data did for "stuff".

122 Paul   ~  Dec 23, 2009 12:38 pm

[120] "I think my approach is likely to be more accurate, but you are free to keep yours."

That's the problem right there. By me relying on the collection of other people's data, my biases never come into the picture so long as I stick to that data. By contrast, your biases never leave your analysis. They're intricately tied to it.

"I’d rather give a more talented player that opportunity."

And who is this mystery player?

"if Gardner’s small sample from only 2009 is projected"

That's not a projection. Based on his actual performance in 2009 he was worth 2.2 wins. Damon was worth 3 wins in more than twice as many at-bats.

123 williamnyy23   ~  Dec 23, 2009 12:42 pm

[119] The three comps don't disprove anything. Whether the statement is correct or not, three players would not contradict a general trend.

The evidence I would accept would be a study showing that various sources' top prospects over the years have been X-age at each level. Or, if you really wanted to do the work, take the average age/level of pre-defined major league success criteria. Telling me that the average AAA age is 25 or most players debut at 24 isn't convincing because ignores what else is being measured (the minors, especially AAA, probably have more filler than prospects). Neither of us really has any burden of proof here...at least not unless they really want to convince the other. If I had the time and access to the right data base, I'd do it, but what I wont do is throw out an irrelevant number that seems to support my point.

In any event, I'll take your closing paragraph as a sign that this thread should finally come to an end because it seems to be the starting point of taking this down a somewhat childish path.

124 Paul   ~  Dec 23, 2009 12:44 pm

"I would accept would be a study showing that various sources’ top prospects"

Now you're moving the goal posts. Who here has said Gardner was ever a top prospect?

125 OldYanksFan   ~  Dec 23, 2009 12:45 pm

Just Wow....
Let's be honest.
There's only one way to settle this.

I didn't want to resort to this, but....
It's OldPoll Time!
If given 400 AB this year....
what are the odds that Gritner can post a .330 wOBA in MLB?

126 williamnyy23   ~  Dec 23, 2009 12:47 pm

[121] Go into a science lab and try to claim that the fire isn't hot because the broken thermometer tells you so.

[122] Because of defense...which is based on observation.

127 monkeypants   ~  Dec 23, 2009 12:47 pm

[123] The evidence I would accept would be a study showing that various sources’ top prospects over the years have been X-age at each level.

Ahhhh....now you're moving the goal posts---it's "top prospects". Clever trick. But of course, I never claimed that Gardner was a top prospect. In fact, I doubt that many (maybe even most) ML players were "top prospects."

128 monkeypants   ~  Dec 23, 2009 12:48 pm

[124] [127] Whoa, that was weird.

129 monkeypants   ~  Dec 23, 2009 12:50 pm

[126] Go into a science lab and try to claim that the fire isn’t hot because the broken thermometer tells you so.

Huh? I'm not sure that analogy works at all. It seems to me that the person relying on "looks" is the broken thermometer. Or are you saying the stats are "broken"---you mean, like Gardner didn't really get the number of hits or walks or strikeouts that were recorded by the scorekeepers?

130 williamnyy23   ~  Dec 23, 2009 12:52 pm

[124] That's not moving the goal post. You can make tally up the top-100, top-200, whatever. Eventually, you have to come up with a way to weed out the organizational filler that abounds in the minor leagues. If you have a better approach, I'd love to hear it.

[125] If given 400 PAs, I would predict that Gardner would be decidedly below average on any metric that doesn't skew SBs, and would probably still be well below average in a stat like woBA.

131 OldYanksFan   ~  Dec 23, 2009 12:52 pm

People.......... ANSWER [125] Please
And If NOT, what do you project his wOBA to be?

132 williamnyy23   ~  Dec 23, 2009 12:55 pm

[129] I am saying that Gardner's minor league numbers are like a thermometer without a conversion to C, F or K. Because I can't translate them to a known reading, I'd rather rely on my observation of the fire's warmth and glow.

133 monkeypants   ~  Dec 23, 2009 12:56 pm

[130] The best approach would be to look at the average age of players when they first enter MLB, which is 24. That would included the largest set of players, both good and bad.

Given that, Gardner producing good numbers at age 24 in AAA and then being promoted to MLB at age 24 seems to fit right into the ML average. Ot a top prospect, not a likely superstar, but certainly not well behind the curve such as to dismiss out of hand his age 24 MiL statistics when trying to decide his probable future development.

134 monkeypants   ~  Dec 23, 2009 1:00 pm

[132] Well, if you simply cannot find any way to interpret his MiL numbers, then I guess the conversation ends here. I agree with you on many things, and disagree on others. But in this case I have to say that you *seem* (my "feeling", I have no evidence) that you are being particularly obstinate. I really have a hard time believing that you truly believe that the performance of a 24 y.o. AAA player is beyond projection or consideration, that the context is so foreign or skewed as to render the numbers meaningless or untranslatable.

135 Paul   ~  Dec 23, 2009 1:01 pm

[126] I don't know what that means. The type of observation you're arguing for has no place in science. In religion, well, there are plenty of examples of that type of observation. In general, they're known as miracles (small samples, few worthy observers).

[128] Ha! Great minds...

[130] By your age-based definition, Brackman could never be a prospect. Yet, he's been consistently rated a "top" prospect.

[132] Funny, that's how many "saw" fire...pre-Maxwell.

136 Paul   ~  Dec 23, 2009 1:07 pm

"I would predict that Gardner would be decidedly below average on any metric that doesn’t skew SBs"

WAR doesn't skew SBs and there he's above average.

137 williamnyy23   ~  Dec 23, 2009 1:12 pm

[133] Using the "average age" continues to ignore the previous concerns I mentioned, so there'll be no agreement here.

[134] No...the conversation could continue if you could find away to interpret his MiL numbers, but that's not the case. While you choose to just look at the numbers, even absent an understanding of them, I prefer to substitute my own observation. If that's being obstinate, so be it, although I think that is more fitting your position as you seem incapable of accepting that one could actually make an assessment on what they see. I, on the other, hand can accept your desire to only rely on stats…I just can’t accept taking them at face value without considering all of the mitigating context.

138 williamnyy23   ~  Dec 23, 2009 1:14 pm

[134] More specifically, yes, I don't think a high walk OPS of .837 by a 24 year old in AAA projects to anything more a below average major league hitter, epsecially when that is his only minor league season that approaches that level.

139 Paul   ~  Dec 23, 2009 1:18 pm

"Using the “average age” continues to ignore the previous concerns I mentioned, so there’ll be no agreement here."

Average can have three meanings: mean, median, and mode. It sounds like you want the median. But even then I think you'll be disappointed. The vast minority of players reach the majors, and stick, before their their 24th birthday.

"I just can’t accept taking them at face value without considering all of the mitigating context."

Except when it comes to using the stats to understand the contexts, you ignore the stats? How does that make sense?

"I prefer to substitute my own observation."

The observation of one is always more limited and more biased than the observations of many. And that's even if you've seen every at-bat and every play he's made in the field. Your eyes can't see everything.

"even absent an understanding of them"

That's needlessly inflammatory.

140 monkeypants   ~  Dec 23, 2009 1:20 pm

[137] even absent an understanding of them, I prefer to substitute my own observation.

I'm not sure I understand what that means. I am more than wiling to discuss the numbers in context. I have expressed openness to consider that walks are not as transferable, that Gardner was not young for his level, and so forth.

I have a perfectly fine understanding of the stats, as I see it, and more importantly a willingness to discuss and try to interpret what they mean.

You on the other hand have admitted no understanding of the numbers: they are so befuddling and untranslatable that you prefer---indeed, insist---on dismissing them out of hand and relying on personal observation.

[138] How can you make that argument if the numbers are untranslatable...if the age 24 AAA season is analogous to the a broken thermometer?

Which is it? Are the numbers completely useless, or are they useful when interpreted properly in context (as you hint at here)?

141 Paul   ~  Dec 23, 2009 1:21 pm

By the way, based on the age to prospect ratio, Melky was always an outstanding prospect. That's what's truly weird about this analysis. On the one hand the numbers don't mean anything if the samples aren't big enough (whatever that means). On the other, let's use just one number - age - to accept or dismiss what a player does in the minors.

I have no idea what you actually believe, william.

142 51cq24   ~  Dec 23, 2009 1:23 pm

wow i'm missing a big time debate. someone pick me for his team!!

143 monkeypants   ~  Dec 23, 2009 1:25 pm

[142] I need to know how old you are first.

144 51cq24   ~  Dec 23, 2009 1:28 pm

[143] haha. older than gardner.
actually, i have no role in this debate. i think we just have to see how good gardner is, and if he's no good we have to get someone to replace him.

145 williamnyy23   ~  Dec 23, 2009 1:54 pm

[140] I am glad you are willing to discuss the numbers in context, but then what does Gardner's .837 OPS mean? Until you can answer that (I can't, except to say that Gardner has two strikes against them being impressive), I don't see what value they have. They are the readings of a broken thermometer. Maybe it's 10 degrees off...maybe 50. Without that answer, we are guessing, so I'd rather stick my hand high over the fire.

146 monkeypants   ~  Dec 23, 2009 2:12 pm

[145] I can't say for certain, but I cited cited three current MLB CFs---albeit not stars but nonetheless credible players---who had very similar numbers at age 24 in AAA. This suggests, I think, that the thermometer is not as broken as you want it to be, that there i SOME basis to use his AAA numbers as a baseline for a discussion of his potential.

147 monkeypants   ~  Dec 23, 2009 2:12 pm

[144] i think we just have to see how good gardner is, and if he’s no good we have to get someone to replace him.

I agree entirely.

148 a.O   ~  Dec 23, 2009 3:06 pm

He deserves a shot, especially with this offense.

149 randym77   ~  Dec 23, 2009 3:57 pm

You know, I agree that Gardner sometimes looks really bad at the plate. But I see that as a good sign. It means he has room for improvement.

It's true, he does seem to swing only from the waist up, rather than using his legs. But if he fixed that...maybe he could hit a lot better.

I am not as enthusiastic as Cliff about Gardner's defense. He's got very nice speed, but often seems to jump the wrong way.

I'm willing to give Gardy a shot. Melky had his chance, and, well, wasn't exactly Melky Mantle. However, I am pretty sure the Yanks will sign a left fielder. Damon? Bay? Hollliday? Dye?

150 Horace Clarke Era   ~  Dec 23, 2009 3:59 pm

[138} More specifically, yes, I don’t think a high walk OPS of .837 by a 24 year old in AAA projects to anything more a below average major league hitter,

Boys, boys, let 'The Cleaner' through ...

But this one has gotten messier than usual, I'd say. William, deep breaths! You aren't being ganged up on, but you ARE digging yourself in hard.

My cleaning up point is the simple one I seem to have to keep making: Gardner's worth on the team, batting 9th and running is NOT tied to being 'above average' as a HITTER. Indeed, the 'top prospect' line WAS a moving of goalposts. I haven't seen/read anyone here alleging 'top' about Gardy. The discussion is if he's a 4th or a fairly classic case of so-so batting, vg fielding OF. It almost always has been that, with a few outliers saying 'if he could bunt/hit grounders/stop popping up he could even be a star because of his speed' ... but those ARE outliers, here at any rate.

OYF has been (ably) making the case that on this team, a league average starter (thinking D and offence, both) dirt cheap opens up opportunities to invest in flamboyantly expensive stars ... and he's dead right. It is also worth reminding ourselves that value is not only at the plate, and this whole discussion seems to have locked in on that. We are supposed to be fans in the more enlightened age, that notes the value of good D, and cites Texas's era improvement as one example thereof.

THIS team can carry Gardner at #9 hitter and either CF or a (difficult) LF comfortably if he performs at reasonable projection levels that involve only modest improvements. Cashman decided that as between OF and P his need this month/winter was for a solid starter ... and I think he was as dead right as OYF (and that's high praise!).

Now everyone grab a brush and start scrubbing.

151 Horace Clarke Era   ~  Dec 23, 2009 4:04 pm

Slight topic shift (Cleaners do that). MLBRumors.com:

The San Francisco Giants have offered Mark DeRosa a two-year deal worth $12MM, according to Jon Heyman of SI.com (via Twitter).

MarkyD we Never Knew Ye.

No chance at 6 million a year. They say he's even hoping for more...

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"This ain't football. We do this every day."
--Earl Weaver