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January 29, 2007

Move Over Marv Gomez, Alberto Gonzalez Is The New Leather Man?

Kevin Goldstein at BP lists his verison of the Yankees Top Ten Prospects -

Excellent Prospects

1. Philip Hughes, rhp
2. Jose Tabata, rf

Very Good Prospects

3. Joba Chamberlain, rhp
4. Humberto Sanchez, rhp
5. Dellin Betances, rhp

Good Prospects

6. Kevin Whelan, rhp

Average Prospects

7. Tyler Clippard, rhp
8. J. Brent Cox, rhp
9. Ian Kennedy, rhp
10. Alberto Gonzalez, ss

Sticking on #10, Baseball America recently said this about Alberto Gonzalez:

He's a tremendous defensive shortstop with well above-average range and a strong arm. Though he has improved offensively, he doesn't offer much in the way of power, speed or walks. He spent most of 2006 in Double-A, hitting .290/.356/.392 with six homers and 50 RBIs in 129 games. If it all works out, he could become an Adam Everett-type player.

Man, if he is "Adam Everett good" with the leather, then, maybe it's time to think about my plan from last November with a small tweak: How about moving A-Rod to 1B, Jeter to 3B, and letting Alberto Gonzalez play SS once he proves himself at Triple-A?

Posted by Steve Lombardi at January 29, 2007 11:43 AM

Comments

"How about moving A-Rod to 1B, Jeter to 3B, and letting Alberto Gonzalez play SS once he proves himself at Triple-A?"

Steve... you're joking right? (or on acid?)
How about moving Jessica Biel to my bedroom at the same time.

If Jete's goes anywhere, it should be CF, where at least he inherits the 'mantle' of Mantle. But Jete's ain't moving anywhere except maybe 1B in the next decade.

Posted by: singledd [TypeKey Profile Page] at January 29, 2007 12:24 PM

I love Deej, in a manly way of course. But why does it seem as if he'll only vacate SS about 20 years after he's dead? I like that idea of moving all those guys around. Though this time, I think Alex will want a dinner & a movie. Still, first base ain't 3rd base by any definition. . ..

Posted by: Twanger [TypeKey Profile Page] at January 29, 2007 12:26 PM

FWIW, A-Rod's idol was Keith Hernandez. So, maybe you could sell 1B on him.

Posted by: Steve Lombardi [TypeKey Profile Page] at January 29, 2007 12:47 PM

"How about moving Jessica Biel to my bedroom at the same time."

LOL!

Posted by: brockdc [TypeKey Profile Page] at January 29, 2007 01:16 PM

Why are people always rearranging the Yankees' infield when we KNOW it will never happen? Outside of Ripken, who was the last superstar to change positions while still a healthy, productive player? (I'm not saying it hasn't happened since then; I just can't think of anyone off the top of my head.)

A-Rod could very easily move to first base soon (he's getting bigger and bigger, and first base is a much less demanding position). But Jeter? I just don't see it happening.

And he's not moving so some slick fielder with no bat can fill the void he leaves. More than likely, Gonzalez will replace the worthless Miguel Cairo and become our utility man this year or next. If he can play short and has a strong arm, then he can probably play the entire infield. Having talented, capable people on your bench cannot be underestimated.

As for the above list...

I haven't seen his rankings of other teams, so I can't compare what he thinks of as an "average" prospect, but Tyler Clippard, J.B. Cox and Ian Kennedy are not "average" prospects. Especially not Clippard and Cox. In what warped world is Whelan better than Cox? Cox dominated AA, and he was an absolutely lights-out closer in college. It's amazing how much negativity people have toward Cox and Clippard because of their average velocity.

Also, putting a gloveman like Gonzalez on the same level of the guy who led AA in strikeouts (Clippard) seems a little ridiculous to me.

Clippard will only be 22 in AAA next year. If he put up identical numbers with two more miles an hour on his fastball, he'd be considered one of the best pitching prospects in baseball. Results are results, as far as I'm concerned. Until he fails -- which he never has -- then I think Clippard is a 3/4 big-league starter in the future.

Posted by: baileywalk [TypeKey Profile Page] at January 29, 2007 01:17 PM

~~Outside of Ripken, who was the last superstar to change positions while still a healthy, productive player? (I'm not saying it hasn't happened since then; I just can't think of anyone off the top of my head.)~~

Off the top of my head: Robin Yount, Rod Carew, Willie Stargell, Pete Rose, Harmon Killebrew, Ernie Banks. These aren't that recent, but they are all Hall of Famers (not withstanding Rose, of course).

It seems like position switches are much less common than they used to be. Teams don't even seem to want to move guys to 1B anymore. I don't think that the Yankees ever considered signing one of the aging OF bargains (Floyd, Nixon, Delucci, etc.) and moving that guy to 1B. I don't understand why position moves have fallen so much out of favor.

Posted by: jonm [TypeKey Profile Page] at January 29, 2007 02:20 PM

Before the DH, 1st base was the only place for a guy who still hit but couldn't run or field (Mantle, Killebrew). With the DH, these moves are no longer as needed. Also... lets face it... since FA appeared, players are more ME oriented, and less team oriented. Used to be a better then even chance you stayed with a team for your career... so you were more prone to do what the team wanted and needed.

Posted by: singledd [TypeKey Profile Page] at January 29, 2007 02:34 PM

Outside of Ripken, who was the last superstar to change positions while still a healthy, productive player?
================
Ask the guy playing 3b for the Yanks :)

Posted by: Raf [TypeKey Profile Page] at January 29, 2007 02:58 PM

Ha, ha. Oh, yeah -- THAT guy...

Good catch, Raf.

Posted by: baileywalk [TypeKey Profile Page] at January 29, 2007 03:25 PM

~~Before the DH, 1st base was the only place for a guy who still hit but couldn't run or field~~

I think that you're right about this. Aging National Leaguers, rather than staying with one team, move over to the AL to DH. The one player who should move to 1B is Griffey (he's finally relinquishing center apparently).

Still, I do think that moving a guy would have been the smart thing for the Yankees to do this off-season for 1B. There never should be such a "shortage" at 1B that leads to Doug Mientkiewicz as the main viable alternative.

Posted by: jonm [TypeKey Profile Page] at January 29, 2007 03:28 PM

All you DJ fielding bashers (yes I'm talking to several of you).....You tend to key on one area where he is, admittedly, below average. That is, his range going to his left. On the other hand, he: 1) tracks fly balls as well or better than any SS in the game, 2) turns the DP just fine, 3) is the best SS cutoff man in the game (his relay throws are extremely accurate, way, way underrated and have helped limit problems with the Venus De Milo outfield), 4) charges slow rollers and bouncers with the best of them, 5) handles the 6-5 force out about the best in the game, and, oh yeah, 6) when was the last time he was out of position/not covering the right base on a play? His range to his right isn't exceptional, but it's adequate. He usually takes a month into the season to get his rhythm on throws to first down, but after that they are fine. A first baseman that can pick it will help him, as it would any other middle infielder. I get to see Everett play regularly. He's good, but not Vizquel good, and his bat kills 2-4 rallies per week, at a minimum. Everett's career FPCT is .978 (with an OBP of .290!!!!!), Jeter's FPCT is .975 (with an OBP of .417!!!!!). One of the SS fielding stat heroes is Michael Young. His career #'s: FPCT .976, RF 4.49, ZR, .820; DJ's career #'s: FPCT .975, RF 4.20, ZR, .821. Don't forget that Young's had a better glove to throw to at first base for several season.

DJ’s had 3 sub par fielding seasons, 1996, his first full in the bigs, 2000 (no excuse), and 2003, when he was hampered by that nasty shoulder injury courtesy of the Huckaby collision. Have you forgotten the basketball-sized ice pack he wore on his left shoulder after every game that year?

Stop reading the stat sheets and start watching the game, the whole game, not just what will tally in the box score. Jeter does a fine overall job covering the SS position. They'd be crazy to move him.

Posted by: #15 [TypeKey Profile Page] at January 29, 2007 04:34 PM

Arod didn't 'change position' as much as he placed himself in a market that had no desirable SS jobs available. All his travails stem from his choice to hire a certain agent in the belief that the most money was all that mattered. He was quite wrong.

Posted by: susanmullen [TypeKey Profile Page] at January 29, 2007 04:42 PM

~~~Jeter does a fine overall job covering the SS position. They'd be crazy to move him.~~~

Even if the new guy was 50% better than him in the field?

Posted by: Steve Lombardi [TypeKey Profile Page] at January 29, 2007 04:50 PM

'Venus De Milo outfield'. LOL!

In reality, Hideki should be playing (or trying to play) 1b this year (he couldn't be worse than Giambi, right? with a full off-season to prepare). he's the worst defensive OF we have, and the guy waiting in the wings (Melky proved he could play a stellar LF).

i just realized that the only reason the Yankees have the best pitching prospect in baseball is because Andy Pettitte became an Astro. We got their 23rd pick in 2004 (used on Hughes). Now they're both on the same team (or will be soon). Funny how life works...

But they shoulda offered arbitration to Clemens too that year. We could've had another top prospect.

Posted by: Travis G. [TypeKey Profile Page] at January 29, 2007 04:53 PM

Stop reading the stat sheets and start watching the game, the whole game, not just what will tally in the box score.
=================
Usually, people tally in the box score what they saw in the game...

Posted by: Raf [TypeKey Profile Page] at January 29, 2007 05:35 PM

Arod didn't 'change position' as much as he placed himself in a market that had no desirable SS jobs available.
====================
No, he could've stayed in Texas and played SS there. Or he could've insisted on not changing his position after he was traded here.

He moved to 3b on his own free will.

Posted by: Raf [TypeKey Profile Page] at January 29, 2007 05:37 PM

Would this unlikely shift create the best infield in baseball, Steve?

Posted by: jesseharoldkreist [TypeKey Profile Page] at January 29, 2007 06:57 PM

~~~ Even if the new guy was 50% better than him in the field?~~~

Steve,
I just don't think that kind of incremental improvement is anywhere near possible. What current major leaguers would meet that standard?


~~~Usually, people tally in the box score what they saw in the game...~~~

Raf,
When was the last time these things were discernable in a box score: 1) the length and accuracy of a relay throw (or, more often, the third base coach deciding to hold the runner anticipating a strong relay), 2) making the correct snap judgment to pass on a futile play at the plate and instead nailing the runner trying to stretch that run-scoring single into a double, or 3) the successful, over the shoulder nab of a pop-up with the SS’s back to the infield? The PO's and A's make the line, but they don’t tell the story.

Posted by: #15 [TypeKey Profile Page] at January 29, 2007 07:26 PM

#15,
Many different people, who watch just as many baseball games as you and I, have spent a great deal of time devising advanced fielding metrics. In every single one of them, Jeter comes out as below average. If it was just one metric that said Jeter was below average, I would tend to give him the benifit of a doubt. But, they all have him as below average.

The Fielding Bible is probably the best system available to the public; they look at tape of every major league game and would see the types of plays that you describe. I have read it and I could come up with no discernible flaws in the system. They have Jeter as the second or third worst SS in baseball. Where there's this much smoke, alas, there has to be a fire.

Posted by: jonm [TypeKey Profile Page] at January 29, 2007 09:17 PM

Raf,
When was the last time these things were discernable in a box score: 1) the length and accuracy of a relay throw (or, more often, the third base coach deciding to hold the runner anticipating a strong relay), 2) making the correct snap judgment to pass on a futile play at the plate and instead nailing the runner trying to stretch that run-scoring single into a double, or 3) the successful, over the shoulder nab of a pop-up with the SS’s back to the infield? The PO's and A's make the line, but they don’t tell the story.
==================
Over the long course of a season, they even out.

Last year DJ had 214 PO's & 314 A's. I'd be willing to wager that some were routine and some were spectacular.

The way the season is set up, it doesn't really reward flukes. If a player can't play defense, he won't be out in the field much.

Posted by: Raf [TypeKey Profile Page] at January 29, 2007 10:25 PM

And just to be clear, Jeter ain't going nowhere unless he says so...

Just saw that Billy's drinking buddy Art Fowler passed today.

Posted by: Raf [TypeKey Profile Page] at January 29, 2007 10:33 PM

~~~Steve,
I just don't think that kind of incremental improvement is anywhere near possible. What current major leaguers would meet that standard?~~~

Adam Everett

Posted by: Steve Lombardi [TypeKey Profile Page] at January 29, 2007 11:01 PM

~~~Would this unlikely shift create the best infield in baseball, Steve?~~~

With the gloves, maybe.

Posted by: Steve Lombardi [TypeKey Profile Page] at January 30, 2007 12:54 PM

That's the craziest thing I have ever heard. THERE IS NO WAY JETER WOULD BE MOVED TO FIRST. He is the #1 shortstop in the game and you are going to limit him to a more immobile position?

Posted by: Russell [TypeKey Profile Page] at January 31, 2007 12:00 AM