Thursday, May 26, 2005

Get Off A-Rod's Back (And Some Other Stuff Following A Quality Win)

Just a few notes and links, since I’m dead tired and can only manage a coherent sentence after staring at the computer screen for five minutes.

It’s still an issue, and it’s going to be for the remainder of the season and into the postseason (considering we make it). Yes, I’m talking about A-Rod’s at bats in key situations. Something is beginning to really bother me about this situation, and it’s that a faction of fans have adopted the theory that A-Rod can never hit in the clutch, and only a bottom of the ninth walk off homer against the Red Sox in September or October can prove otherwise. A lot of guys were talking about how he went down looking with the bases loaded in the third, but since when is the third inning crunch time? Yes, it would have been nice to add to a 1-0 lead early in the game, but it certainly wasn’t a clutch situation. And what does A-Rod do in the bottom of the sixth with the game tied? Yeah, he hits a rocket to the wall and breaks the tie.

John Harper of the Daily News penned a nice piece on the Quantrill bean ball from two nights ago, specifically about Sheff’s reaction to it. He makes a great point right towards the end:

It's not about A-Rod suddenly being accepted as a Yankee, either, even if that seems to be a popular media theory. It's about baseball law and order.”

Absolutely, 100 percent. And I’m sick of this “A-Rod isn’t a real Yankee” crap. When are fans going to get off the back of a guy hitting .318/.415/.642 with a league leading 16 HR and 47 RBI?

I’m wondering if there’s another Scott Brosius out there to be acquired around the trade deadline. A guy who has had a solid year in the past – like Brosius’s .304/.393/.516 1996 for the A’s – has slipped up since – his .203/.259/.472 ’97 – but still has it in him for another .300/.371/.472 season (’98). And thanks to Retrosheet, I know that Brosius hit into a mere four double plays in a career high 530 at bats. At what price did this .300 season – and an 8 for 17, 2 homer World Series performance – come? Kenny friggin’ Rogers and cash.

You know who would be a superb pickup in July? Mark Kotsay. I’m not saying that he’ll be available; actually, I’ve heard that Billy Beane will go to lengths to get this guy signed (he’s a free agent following this season). But if you think about it, Kotsay is in the prime of his career (he turns 30 in December) and it doesn’t look like 17-28 A’s are going to contend this year. If Beane has doubts about getting a deal done with Kotsay, he’ll surely hear a few inquiries about him.

There are two other problems in acquiring Kotsay or any other major league ready talent before the trade deadline. First is the asking price of such a player. Yes, Kotsay would be a quality addition both offensively and defensively, but I just don’t think he’s worth a Cano of Wang (and thankfully Cashman is on the record saying that these guys are staying – but we all know that can change in an instant). There are a couple of outfield prospects in Columbus right now, and Eric Duncan’s name will surely come up as the season progresses. A third party would probably be required for any trade with Oakland involving Duncan, since I’m sure Beane isn’t very keen on acquiring a prospect that plays the same position as one of the only big money guys on the roster (Eric Chavez).

The other problem is how to juggle the lineup. Acquiring a player before the deadline, and especially an everyday player like Kotsay, would mean further complications in the Tino-Giambi-Bernie-Womack-Cano situation. I have a little mock solution. Once again, this should all be taken with a grain of salt, since there is absolutely no guarantee that Kotsay becomes available (though should he, I’m obviously an advocate of pouncing on him).

I like playing Tino three, four days a week because that’s exactly what he was signed to do. He’s not the every day guy he used to be, and he’s not going to hit another home run tear, so you might as well get what you can out of him. So at worst he plays three days a week, at best he plays five or six because Giambi defines inconsistency (and sucking). So you’ve got Giambi playing some first, some DH, and you’ve got the Bernie-Womack thing going on in the outfield. Add Kotsay to that, and Bernie looks like the odd man out. But not so fast…there is one particularly striking question we all need to ask: why the hell do we need Tony Womack? Seriously, we have Cano playing a solid second base, and since he might be the guy of the future, I’d obviously like to see him there every day, meaning Womack is stuck in the outfield. As is evident by this point, I’d take Kotsay in a heartbeat over Womack. So what about the Yanks playing an unfamiliar role in July and shopping Womack to an NL contender for prospects? The only problem is that most of the NL contenders have solid second basemen, and you don’t want to dish him to an AL contender and have him bite you in the ass – though the only AL contender that shows a need at second are the Twins.

Regardless of the mid-season acquisitions (or, hopefully, lack thereof), the Yankees need to work out some consistency in the lineup by August. Joe’s going to have to figure out if Giambi is going to be consistent enough to warrant playing almost every day, and if he is, how are they going to balance Bernie, Tino, and Womack? If Joe’s still trying to figure this situation out in August, we’re going to have some problems.