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:
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. . .
. . . 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.
. . . 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.
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.
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.