"A New York Treasure" --Village Voice
Tag: Cody Ransom

Observations from Cooperstown: Cody, Jerry, Chad, and Thurman

The great Yankee mystery of the month finally came to an end this week. I must confess that I’m as clueless as everyone else as to why Cody Ransom occupied space on the 25-man roster for as long as he did before finally being thrown into the baseball limbo known as being “designated-for-assignment.” Ransom has never hit curve balls, now struggles to hit waist-high fastballs, and has shaky hands on the infield. So what else is there? Even the explanation that the Yankees simply wanted a second utility infielder (to go along with the newly acquired Jerry Hairston, Jr.) fell short of justifying Ransom’s presence on the roster. If the Yankee high command believed that another utility guy was required, Ransom should have given way to rookie Ramiro Pena, currently playing a jack-of-all-trades role at Triple-A Scranton-Wilkes Barre. Pena is a better defender than Ransom, has a touch more speed, and now has the same level of versatility, considering that he’s been learning to play the outfield at Scranton. When a team is involved in a dogfight for a division title, every roster spot counts; it’s about time the Yankees either sent Ransom back to Triple-A or perhaps let him loose to try his wares with one of the weak sisters in the National League…

Speaking of Hairston, the reaction to his acquisition from Cincinnati has drawn a tepid reaction in these parts, but I’m slightly more enthusiastic. At the very least, he’s a major upgrade on Ransom, who had become the 2009 version of Mike Fischlin. Looking deeper, Hairston provides six-position versatility, can steal a base in the pinch, and has a modicum of power. He’s also highly regarded as one of the game’s most intelligent players, which is not so surprising considering his family’s baseball heritage. With grandfather Sam Hairston (a former Negro Leagues catcher and longtime coach and scout) and father Jerry, Sr. (a longtime backup outfielder and accomplished pinch-hitter with the White Sox), Hairston has received a good baseball education. And on a team that doesn’t always play the game smart (see Jorge Posada tagging a baserunner with an empty glove or failing to slide into home plate), that’s a nice attribute to have coming off the bench…


Kansas City Royals III: Things That Make You Go Hmmm Edition

Let’s get right into it. The Yankees just made three roster moves. The first was obvious: Dan Giese, who left Wednesday’s game with shoulder tendonitis, has been placed on the DL and replaced with Chris Britton, who will reprise his role as roster filler until the Yankees are forced to call up a fifth starter, likely Phil Hughes, next weekend.

Untitled The second was somewhat overdue. Melky Cabrera, who has hit .226/.274/.293 since May 1, was optioned to triple-A and replaced by Brett Gardner. In fairness to the Yankees, they tried to motivate this exchange in early July by calling up Gardner and giving him 16 starts in an 18-game stretch (enabled by Johnny Damon’s shoulder injury), but Gardner made Melky look like Mickey Mantle by hitting .153/.227/.169. As I reported in my Farm Report this morning, Gardner got back in the grove after his late-July demotion, hitting .339/.429/.390* in his return engagement in Scranton. He also returns to the Bronx coming off a 3 for 4 day (with a triple) and on a seven-game hitting streak. After his July performance, it’s difficult to say Gardner couldn’t be worse than Melky, and there’s legitimate concern that his total lack of power will allow major league pitchers to challenge him and thus negate his ability to draw walks, which is a huge part of his game, but desperate times call for desperate measures, and this doesn’t even qualify as the latter.

Gardner will start in center tonight and bat eighth ahead of Andy Pettitte’s new personal catcher, Jose Molina. It remains to be seen if Joe Girardi will platoon the lefty-hitting Gardner with the right-handed Justin Christian, though one suspects he will. The way I see it, if they’re going to give Gardner a second chance, they might as well let him play full time, though certainly Gardner’s performance will play a large part in determining how much playing time he loses to Christian. As for Melky, he’ll be back when rosters expand in two weeks.

Untitled The third and final transaction saw the Yankees call up Cody Ransom, whom I also discussed in my Farm Report, and release Richie Sexson. I have to say, I’m confused about this one. Sexson was hitting .250/.371/.393 as a Yankee, which isn’t season-changing, but if nothing else, gave the Yankees a solid on-base performance from a bench player. Against lefties, Sexson hit .273/.393/.455 as a Yankee, which meant he was doing what the Yankees picked him up to do. Ransom, as I said in my Farm Report, is essentially a right-handed Wilson Betemit, but five years older and with a fraction of the big league experience. Originally a shortstop, Ransom can play all four infield positions and spot in the outfield. He transitioned to third base in 2006, but in the wake of the Alberto Gonzalez trade was moved back to short in Scranton a couple of weeks ago. He’s got some pop in his bat (22 homers in 116 games for Scranton this year, 49 in 257 games over his last two minor league seasons), but his plate discipline is ordinary at best and he strikes out a lot and hits for a low average.

Other than position flexibility, I’m not sure what Ransom offers that would be enough for the Yankees to pass on having Sexson on the bench earning the major league minimum. Derek Jeter’s in the lineup tonight at shortstop, so it doesn’t seem as though his bruised instep is enough of a problem to motivate a roster move that costs the team a productive player. The only thing I can think of is that having the extra infielder on hand will allow Joe Girardi to apply some pressure to Robinson Cano, whose play over the past two weeks has become downright problematic as he’s made numerous mental mistakes on the bases and in the field, enough so that his effort and concentration have been called into question (Cano’s also hitting .210/.279/.323 since the end of the Yankees’ eight-game winning streak coming out of the All-Star break). Still, I’m not sure it was necessary to release Sexson in order to give either Betemit or Ransom some starts at second base. Besides which, Cano’s in the lineup tonight in his usual spot.

Still, it seems to me that these last two moves are designed primarily to make the C + C Music Factory sweat, while giving Girardi some viable alternatives in the meantime. Sexson’s departure doesn’t represent a huge loss, particularly with Jason Giambi having heated back up (.288/.447/.515 since the day before the All-Star break, .364/.533/.773 on the just-completed road trip), but Cody Ransom, a career .236/.331/.364 hitter in 140 major league bats at age 31, is still a downgrade, no matter what positions he can play.

*the stats in my Farm Report don’t include Thursday’s games; these do


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