There are a bunch of story lines and discussions that have been floating around the blogosphere over the last few days that I wanted to address. Let’s run through them:
1) Mike Axisa of RAB wrote an interesting post on Jorge Posada’s diminished bat speed, which set off a conflagration in the comments regarding Jorge’s value. While Jorge’s overall numbers have been atrocious, his performance against righties has been solid, to the point where I think it likely that a strict platoon of Posada and Andruw Jones is the Yankees’ best option at DH. Posada has a .349 wOBA against RHP, which would place 5th overall among all DH’s, while Jones is hitting lefties at a .371 wOBA clip. Still, calling up Jesus Montero would give the Yankees the opportunity to have one player fill that role, which would deepen the bench and give the team more roster flexibility. All that said, Posada does deserve a spot on the roster, but it is up to the manager to utilize him properly and stop letting him bat against lefties when superior hitters are available.
2) It seems like every five days, we go through the same discussions regarding AJ Burnett. He pitches at a mediocre (or worse) level, and then we get to talk about how much money he makes and bemoan the fact that he is not a #2 starter. We hear that he should be better, that his stuff is so super and that he must be underachieving. It seems that on some level, people are stilling holding out hope that he will bounce back, and still have some measure of expectation that his status as a 16.5 million dollar player will force him to improve. When the expectations vastly outstrip the results, frustration is certain to follow. It is time to come to terms with the fact that he is not very good, and he is not going to get better. He’s a decent (at best) back-end starter, and the fact that he signed a fat contract two years ago should not cloud our judgment when we set our expectations. Maybe if we can all accept what he is and move on, there will be less frustration when he pitches to his mediocre talent level.
3) I am not going to dignify the story with a link, but I am sure you have heard something about Alex Rodriguez possibly being in trouble with Major League Baseball for gambling in house poker games with other celebrities (his attorney has since called the report factually inaccurate). He was warned in 2005 about playing in underground games, and Bud Selig is apparently upset about Alex ignoring his warnings. Regardless of what you think about the criminality of these actions (the games may not actually be illegal, depending on California law and certain details about the games that have not been revealed), Selig has no grounds for suspending Alex. For a league that has never suspended anyone for DUI or domestic abuse to turn around and crack down on poker games would come off as patently absurd.
Furthermore, any such suspension would likely be reviewable by an arbitrator under a “just cause” standard, and arbitrators have generally read the commissioner’s “best interest of the game” power narrowly when it comes to off-field conduct that does not directly impact the sport or the fans. The only issue that Selig might be able to grab onto is the “connection to gamblers” angle, but there is nothing to indicate that Alex associated with bookies or did anything that would implicate him in gambling upon baseball. Until evidence to that end is released, this is likely nothing more than baseball trying to show that they are on top of all matters regarding player conduct. A possible suspension makes for a sensational headline, but it is almost certainly a toothless, empty threat passed along by officials and reporters looking to make a splash by taking aim at the easiest of targets.
4) Derek Jeter is hitting a whopping .333/.380/.495 in 108 PA since coming off the DL, and is at .290/.349/.405 since May 1st, which would put him in the top 10 for OPS among shortstops for the season. It is obviously folly to adjudge a player to be fixed while he is in the midst of a hot streak, but Jeter is at least back to 2010 levels in terms of offense, leaving at least a glimmer of hope that he will not drop to replacement level until the last guaranteed season or the option year of his current contract.
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