"A New York Treasure" --Village Voice

Sherman and Mr. Peabody set sail for 1997

I recently picked up a used copy of Baseball Prospectus 1997, which was the first mass-produced annual from Messrs. Sheehan, Davenport, Kahrl, et. al. (The 1996 edition was self-published).

Here are some of the player comments based on the 1996 seasons for the now “Core Four”, and the current manager:

Derek Jeter:

Impressive debut, overshadowed by the historic season of Alex Rodriguez. Jeter hit a little better than expected and his defense, questioned in the minors, was steady all year. Odd development during the year: he hit .277 with a good walk rate and very little power in the first half, .350 with more power but few walks in the second. I expect him to keep the average and power, improve the strikeout and walk numbers and be a great player. . .

Mariano Rivera:

. . . quite possibly the most important player in baseball in that his dominance, or more accurately the threat of it, dictated the flow of the postseason. Rivera has a great fastball and not much else, which is why his current role may actually be perfect for him, allowing him to go through the lineup once but still be used more than a typical closer.

Recent history tells us that 100-inning relievers disappear quickly, but there are reasons to believe Rivera will be an exception: 1) despite the high IP total, he wasn’t used in an abusive way. No 70-pitch outings or being used for 25 pitches four straight nights; 2) he was a starter, so he’s used to a higher workload than the relievers who have burnt out and 3) he doesn’t throw a dangerous pitch, like a split-finger or slider.

Andy Pettitte:

. . . improved across the board, but threw a lot of pitches—five postseason starts on top of a heavy workload—and fought arm tenderness in midseason. I expect him to get injured this year, and return in mid-1998. Good long-term bet, lousy in the short term.

Jorge Posada:

Yummy. Posada also has a good defensive reputation to go with the numbers above, and deserves at least a share of the catching job in New York. What the Yankees do at catcher will tell us a lot about their chances in 1997 and beyond. Posada is much cheaper and . . . better than Girardi.

Joe Girardi:

A truly horrific signing . . . Yes, he had, by his standards, a good year. Yes, Torre loves him. But he’s 33, has a history of execrable hitting and is, no matter what you may read, a bad defensive catcher. Trade for Chris Hoiles. Play Jorge Posada. Sign Darrell Porter. All better options than Girardi.

(Image: tvacres.com)

8 comments

1 OldYanksFan   ~  Dec 26, 2010 9:38 pm

What's it say about Bernie?

2 Diane Firstman   ~  Dec 26, 2010 10:06 pm

[1]

"Pssst…he’s good. Bernie’s been improving since the Yankees finally gave him a full-time job in 1993, but it took a monster postseason to get him some attention. He’s better than Kenny Lofton, but you’d never know it. Two completely different hitters: left-handed, he’s Luis Gonzalez; right-handed, Mike Piazza."

3 Chyll Will   ~  Dec 26, 2010 11:20 pm

Ha! All of them still underestimated, including and especially Mo. Yet, they are on the right side of history. Not too certain about Girardi's review; the numbers may bear closer to what they said, but he definitely brought spirit. And would Jorge be just as good without Girardi leading the way? Maybe, but he definitely had a strong impact on him. And not to rehash the whole Cliff Lee Thing, but the main reason I would have liked to have seen him in pinstripes was for the halo effect he could possibly have on an AJ or Joba. This season will tell if that would have been a factor or not, but I'm looking forward to seeing what Larry Lar can do...

4 Mattpat11   ~  Dec 27, 2010 7:42 am

[3] I never understood why any one person screaming "STOP THAT" at Burnett would be any different than anyone else.

5 Chyll Will   ~  Dec 27, 2010 12:20 pm

[4] Maybe because it worked in Toronto and his first year here? His problem before was always injury, not sucktitude. Somebody will have the magic words to refocus him, why not Rothschild?

6 steve s.   ~  Dec 27, 2010 2:49 pm

Apparently Girardi was too busy to sign the young Mr Sheehan's baseball.

That'll teach em!

7 Bruce Markusen   ~  Dec 27, 2010 5:50 pm

I'm sorry, but when I read things like "Joe Girardi is a bad defensive catcher" in 1997, that just completely lacks credibility. Girardi couldn't hit, but he was a solid, above-average defensive catcher.

8 derekbaseball   ~  Dec 27, 2010 10:16 pm

Bruce,

To be fair, this was written coming off the 1996 season, and Girardi led the NL in steals allowed in 1995 (tied with Mike Piazza), and finished third in steals allowed in 1996, nabbing maybe a quarter of basestealers against him in that two-year stretch. He also had a ton of passed balls in '96. He had the reputation as a great game-caller, and the Yankees' and Rockies' pitching staffs contributed to folks running wild against him (he was much better controlling the running game in '97), still, there wasn't much evidence that he was "above-average" behind the plate when this was written.

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