Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Roundin Third and Headed for Home

Third base is by far the most overlooked position in baseball history.  Name a great 3B before Eddie Mathews.  I dare you.  If you said Pie Traynor, you’re going to hate me in a few minutes.  If a player isn’t good enough to play SS, he gets shifted to third.  If someone’s bat isn’t good enough for first, he gets put at third.  So, it doesn’t get much flash.  It seems like there are only a few third basemen every generation that rise to the top, much lower than the number of catchers or first basemen.  It is, so far, the smallest list of players in the HoF that I have had to work with.  I mean, look at this thing.  There have only been a dozen or so third basemen inducted, and that list probably won’t grow until Chipper gets on a ballot.

Well, on to the data.  The average HoF 3B played about 15.5 years (smallest total so far), and put up an average of 74.5 wins in their careers, with an average of 4.73 WAR/yr for our baseline.


The purists are gonna hate me on this one.  First off, while I don’t agree that Molitor is a third baseman (rather than a DH), he is listed as one.  I compensated for this by cutting his DH years in half for counting purposes and rounded down.  He probably could have adequately played first, and I don’t see a need to malign people for being a DH in terms of the Hall (Oh Edgar, where are you?).  Second of all, Traynor is in the F tier.  This may seem harsh for a guy that hit 320 in his career, but think about it for a moment.  Does his production and value really compare to guys like Mathews and Schmidt and Boggs?  If you said yes, I would need someone to explain it to me.  He hit 320 yeah, but had a 107 OPS+, which is a crude but quick way to state that he was mostly a league average hitter.  It took until 1978 with Mathews induction that we had a truly tremendous 3B.  Baker was pretty good, and remarkably so compared to his league, but after Mathews we had a swarm of 3B talent in Schmidt, Boggs, Brett, Robinson, etc.  I honestly don’t think Traynor belongs in that group.  For the rest of them, kinda where I would expect them to be.  Brett’s a little lower than I would guess, but he probably was hurt a bit by a quick decline phase.  It’s also nice to see Santo so high on the list, just to rub it in the writers faces about how dumb they were not to vote him in when he was still alive.  Eat it!

So far, we have a total of:
6 S Ranks
6 A Ranks
13 B Ranks
17 C Ranks
4 D Ranks
18 F Ranks

Of the 18 F Ranks, 16 were voted in by the old Vets Committee, and the one here that wasn’t, obviously, was Pie Traynor.  I actually don’t have a problem with him being in the HoF, more as a testament of how 3B has evolved over time.  It really hurts him when you look back and see all these great powerful guys and then see Traynor and think “what is going on with this guy?”.

Upcoming Ballots:
Pre-Pre 2013:
I just wanted to address this one W/R/T Santo.  A lot of people comp him to Ken Boyer.  Same league, same time period, same position, Cards/Cubs rivalry so it is to be expected.  Well, how would Boyer rank in that group?  WAR+ of 96.  So yeah, he probably should be a HoF inductee.

And, for my grandfather the die-hard Tigers fan...Lou Whitaker.  WAR+ of 87.  Closer to no than yes, but much more of a discussion than people realize.

2013-2016: Literally no one worth calculating is coming up.  This is amazing to me.

Well, I’ve talked about him enough, let's actually calculate some stuff for Larry Wayne Jones Jr.  His WAR+ (which could still change since he is active) is 106.  He’d be a B tier HoF player, and if you don’t agree with that I would point you to his defensive score of -37.9 which brings down his offensive value some.  If you don’t think that Chipper belongs in the HoF, may I suggest you go get your head examined and stop watching baseball, as you are ruining it for us all.

Next up will be SS and LF.  I have a feeling like those may take some time.  I’ll do them as quick as possible, and we may be seeing some additions to the D rank depending on how many are inducted.

This One Goes Out To All The Little People

Second base has always been a strange one to me when it comes to the HoF.  It’s obviously a defense first position and any offense is a boon, much moreso than the catcher position.  But, as one of my friends on StL Legends put it recently, it’s such a blah position in terms of great players.  You’ve got the one in Hornsby, then everyone else is just kinda....there for the most part.  Just off the top of your head, besides Joe Morgan and Eddie Collins, can you name a HoF second baseman that was a dynamic offensive player?  There aren’t many.  

Before I go on, I would like to note that I am changing my ranking scheme yet again.  Upon reflection, I figured that each position should have at least one S rank person, and I think that 150 may be a bit high.  I dropped it to 145.  So now, you have the addition of Johnny Bench to the S rank.

On average, for a HoF second baseman, you need to have played for about 16 and a half years, and have a career WAR of about 74.5.  That gives us a baseline of 4.54 WAR/yr.  And, looking at that list, I have a bad feeling like I’m gonna be kicked out of StL Legends.  Here we go:


Yep.  I knew it was going to happen.  Schoendienst gets the bump.  I think when I’m all done, I’d look back at guys who had long standing careers beyond being a player.  I think Red would make it back in when you count his player and management years together.  But, as just a player, gotta say no.  Other than that, really not a lot to say about this one.  Kinda cool to see Joe Gordon pretty high, he had a short but underrated career.  Jackie Robinson is right where he belongs, as are guys like Mazeroski (the man responsible for ending the old VC).  Could make the argument that Doerr should be lower, and believe me when I say I have 0 bias towards Boston, he was a very good offensive second baseman (377 wOBA) in an era of light hitting ones.

Counting from the previous entry, we have:
4 S Ranks
6 A Ranks
10 B Ranks
14 C Ranks
4 D Ranks
14 F Ranks

So far, doing a decent job.  13 of the 14 in the F rank have been voted in by the old VC.  The only one that was voted in by the writers was Hartnett on the catchers list, but he was pretty close to the C tier so not too bad.

Upcoming Ballots:
Pre-2013: None

2013: Biggio and Todd Walker become eligible.  I’m gonna just write about Biggio here.  I’ve always thought of Biggio as a solid player who probably stayed on a little too long just to get that 3000 hit plateau.  He was always a really really good player, and I would have no problem with him being in the HoF mainly because he played a lot of games at second, catcher and center field, so his offensive achievements probably get heightened because of it.  Now, his WAR+ is only an 82.  Had he retired just a bit earlier, his decline wouldn’t have been that much.  Again, no real issue with me if he gets in, but looking back he was a really good hitter who played a long time.

2014: Jeff Kent is eligible.  Before even running the numbers, I’d say I’m torn on him.  Part of me wants to say “Yeah he was worthy because he was a very good to great offensive second baseman.”  The other part is saying “He probably should have been at first base.  I don’t think he was good enough offensively to overcome his defense.”  So, with that out of the way, let’s calc his WAR+.  It comes out to 79.  So, guess not.  And yes, it was his defense that brought him down (-18.4 according to fangraphs).

2015 and 2016 don’t really have anyone worthy enough to talk about, and I refuse to calculate WAR+’s for Ray Durham, Jose Vidro and Mark Loretta.

So there are the little second basemen, who actually have a lot more people inducted than I realized.  Next up will be third basemen.  I’m enjoying this little dive into baseball history.  I hope whoever reads this does too.

Monday, July 30, 2012

High Octane Offense, and Low Grade Fielding, it's the Firstbasemen!

Ah first base.  The ultimate offensive position and the easiest defensive position on the diamond.  And more people at the position than I realized, seeing as how a lot that are typically associated at a certain position change to first late in their career and end up playing more there than people remember.  Ernie Banks, Rod Carew and Stan Musial were each listed by the Hall of Fame Register as being first basemen.  I’m not one to step on the HoF’s toes, so I will just nod my head and agree.  Again, with this list, you notice that a lot of players that you’d say “Yep, 500 HR and/or 3000 hits.  Hall of Fame” or something similar.  And you’re probably saying “Who the hell is this guy?”  Remember, that’s my reason for this tier system.  I want to try to separate the best from the rest.  I also am not taking special consideration to milestone numbers, so while 3000 hits and 500 HR may look shiny on a resume, I tend to think that they are more about just being able to play forever.  If a player was productive and valuable to his team, he’ll make it in.  Now, there are a lot of first basemen on that list, and in baseball history I think they are one of the more likely groups to get inductees because players tend to have longer careers there and have larger career totals, I decided to add a “D” tier for players that did accumulate a lot of time and wins at that position.  So, for this position, I used this ranking:

F 0-79 WAR+
D 80-89 WAR+
C 90-104 WAR+
B 105-129 WAR+
A 130-149 WAR+
S 150+

I figure for first base, this increases the average slightly, but makes it harder to be on an elite level.  I’d say that’s fair enough.  To be a hall of fame first baseman, you would have to play an average of 17.5 years, and have a WAR of about 76 to give a WAR/yr baseline of 4.41.  Without further adieu, here’s your tier rankings for first base:


Well, I’m kinda surprised.  Murray and McCovey are a lot lower than I expected.  So I dug into the numbers a bit.  Willie Mac was way WAY overrated defensively.  Yeah it’s first base, but fangraphs has him at a -78 fielding score which is pretty bad.  He put up tremendous offensive seasons, but the defense still cost him and the last 7 or so years of his career were fairly decent busts, at least compared to his earlier career.  Murray just stayed on a lot longer than he should have and brought down his career value.  It’s also hard for me to say he was anything more than a consistant hitter.  He would usually have between 25 and 30 HR, which is pretty good.  But that’s not much from a first base standpoint in a relatively liveball era.  Banks, Carew and Sisler similar.  Banks probably gets hurt because once he moved to first his offense wasn’t as valuable as it was from SS.  Similar to Carew, but change SS to 2B.  No problems with the top of the list for me.  Gehrig and Musial are definitely elites of elite, and I think that everyone else fills in quite nicely to their respective spots.  I don’t think many people would be upset if the Hall got rid of Cepeda, Perez and the like.

Counting from the catcher’s post, we have a total of
2 S ranks
3 A ranks
9 B ranks
6 C ranks
4 D ranks
10 F ranks

I’m not as surprised as I should be with the number in the F rank category.  A lot of the players getting booted are ones that were inducted by the cuddly teddy bear called the Veteran’s Committee before its overhaul post-2001.  Plus, you probably should have more B's and C's than A's.

Upcoming ballots:
McGwire- WAR+ of 107.  If you don’t regard steroids, he’s in.  If you do, which is your right and not what this is about, he’s out.

Raffy- WAR+ pf 89.  He’s close, probably in based on who else is in that tier group.  Again, if you don’t think about roids and such.  As an aside, I think Roids n Such would be a good name for the online store of steroids that Canseco could be in charge of.

McGriff- WAR+ of 77.  Close, but not quite.

Mattingly- WAR+ of 80.  Again, close but not quite.  I love Donnie Baseball, but his back just sapped his greatness.  Sucks, but it happens.

Bagwell- WAR+ of 127.  Why hasn’t he been inducted yet?  Is it steroids?  Or are the writers just dumb?

2013: No one worth thinking about.

2014: Still no one worth talking about.  Thomas shows up on the ballot if you want to call him a 1B instead of a DH.  If you do, his WAR+ is a 91 due to his years as a DH and usually poor defensive abilities.  But, again, I think he should be in and considered as a DH so what do I know?

2015: Darin Erstad.  I really want to see his WAR+ so I’m including him.  And, it is.....48.  Ohh so sorry.  Try again next life!  Carlos Delgado also comes up this year, and he has a WAR+ of 66.  Still not good enough.

2016: None again.  

So, there you have it.  There are some first basemen out there (Albert for one) who I think will eventually get in for the position.  Todd Helton may have an outside shot (WAR+ of 87 so far), but I think the Coors factor is going to affect him and he’ll probably be looked over.  All in all, not much going on in the future for first base.  But, that doesn’t mean that every position will be like that.  Tomorrow, we look at the other two bases and rank them.  I know Biggio is coming up soon, so it’ll be interesting to see if he does in fact rank somewhere on my tier listing.  Chipper will be up in about 5 or 6 years from now for third, and no one else is really popping in my mind about the position from recent memory, so it’ll be fun to look at it with fresh eyes I guess.

Back to the Backstops

Our first stop on this tour is going to be catchers.  The catcher position is one that is usually considered a defensive one, and any offense should be a gift.  However, with guys like Bench and Fisk and Piazza coming into the fold recently, the offense has taken on a bit more of a premium.  It’s difficult to say what’s more important now, but I think defense will still be a priority with most catchers, although the days of the Mike Matheny type catchers where they were all field and no hit may be gone.  With that in mind, here are the catchers currently in the HoF.  You may notice something about that list.  One is that I didn’t include the Negro Leaguers, even though a guy like Josh Gibson should be included in the HoF (and I’m OK with him being in, you can stop writing those emails and comments right now), the other is that it really runs the gamut from great to sucky.  So let's get down to business.

Among those catchers, the average WAR was about 55.4, and the average career was about 16 years, making the average WAR/yr for a catcher in the HoF 3.49.  I have no problem saying that a catcher worth more than 3 wins a year for 17 years is a Hall of Fame catcher, just given the difficulty of that position to play and play well for that long of a career.  So, with the averages set, here are the HoFers with their WAR+ values given:


Edited 7/30:

After some extra reflection and research, I decided to look at careers only after they got steady playtime. So, for seasons of 154 games or less, I counted the years after the player reached at least 30 games or 200 PA. For 162 game seasons (1961 and after), I picked 60 games. I figured this way, with the diluted talent and longer schedule it reflects the extra schedule to make an impact at the big league level. I was also nice and did it for the end of players' careers too. Like, Berra who in 1964 had 4 games and yet was being counted for a full season. I have no problem counting injury plagued years in the middle of a career because that paints the whole picture, but at the very end of a career I feel safe ignoring it.

I was honestly surprised by some of these.  I thought Carter would be lower and Berra and Fisk higher.  I think part of it with Berra is that since him, there have been some more powerful hitters behind the plate, most notably being Bench and Fisk, so in a looking back perspective he gets hurt a bit.  Fisk I think gets hurt by a long career of 23 years, but was productive for a lot of them.  Same thing with the other two in the C tier, which is why I included it.  I always forget just how good defensively Gary Carter was, and I think most people do.  I also initially thought that Bench would be an S rank, but now I think that I kinda agree with where he is.  I think the only reason he would get picked for an all time team would be his position, where he is the best of all time no doubt, but other than that he wouldn’t be a guy I’d want up in a key spot more than someone like Mantle, Gehrig, Ruth, etc.  I’m also OK saying that the 4 in the F tier don’t belong in the HoF.  And you should be OK with them too.

Upcoming ballots:
2013: Mike Piazza first becomes eligible for inductions in 2013, along with Damian Miller, Mike Lieberthal and Sandy Alomar.  Among that group, and believe me I don’t feel the need to finish this sentence but I’m doing it anyway, the only one that wouldn’t rank in the F tier would be Piazza, who would be right at the border between an A tier and a B tier (124.8 WAR+, would be a 130 if he got in), which is actually kinda where I expected him given his defensive abilities.  If he doesn’t get caught up in the steroid winds, then he should get in.  The others have WAR+’s right now of 23 (Alomar), 42 (Miller), and 47 (Lieby).

2014: Paul LoDuca is added.  And since I don’t add points for being a “heart-soul” type player, I doubt he should get in. WAR+ of 60 if you wanted to know.

2015: No new catchers added.

2016: Jason Kendall, Brad Ausmus and Bengie Molina are on the ballot.  No, no and no.  Kendall is vastly underrated, but had a solid career.  I’m not really interested in adding to the C tier to be honest, and he would rank at the bottom of it.  If you include Piazza though, his WAR+ goes to 86 (from an 88 right now), and to be honest, when you’re that close to the bottom do you really belong in?  No, not really.  The other two have WAR+ values (right now) of 36 (Ausmus) and 32 (Bengie) respectively.

So far, not too bad.  Had to get a little subjective with Kendall, but I think that’s to be expected when you look at inductions.  I’ve already kicked out 4 people.  Next stop is going to be first base, and that one will take some time because, as you could guess, there are a lot of them.

Peace out.

How I'm Spending My Summer Vacation

Have I talked about the Hall of Fame at all on here?  I have?  A lot, eh?  Well, guess I’m gonna keep talking about it.  Mostly because I feel strongly about it and have been emboldened by a certain idiot’s comments (check the article about Sir Reginald) and have decided to use my time off during the summer to undertake a serious challenge:

I’m going to develop a tier system for the Hall of Fame.

It’s going to be a totally useless endeavor, but I’ll enjoy it immensely.  

How it will work:

I like to do things as objectively as possible.  I enjoy debating with people about “Who’s the best catcher, Bench, Berra or Fisk”, but unless you have blinders on (looking at you Yankee and Red Sox fans), Bench is obviously the answer.  That’s how I think the HoF should work.  So, in order to be as objective as possible, I’m going to focus on Fangraphs WAR (fWAR) stat.  I chose fWAR mostly because I can filter by position and get right to the players I’m looking for in a group.  But, due to the fact WAR is a counting stat, I’m going to make it WAR/year (taking into account years when someone may have been a September call up or just had a cup of coffee).  Then, comparing that to the average for the position of players that are already in the Hall of Fame with a stat I call WAR+.  That will determine my tiers.  Sort of subjectively, I made up the following scheme for the teirs, which could be changed at any time:

WAR+ >= 150 is an “S” tier.  This is the elite of the elite.  Guys that are the best no matter position.

WAR+ between 125 and 150 are “A” tier.  The best at their position of all time, but maybe not in the baseball stratosphere of greats.

Between 100 and 125 is the “B” tier.  They are the pretty good players that may have suffered a bit  from a long decline phase, or just looking back at more history and more players.

Between 85 and 100 is the “C” tier.  Guys who were good, probably deserve induction, and might have had some fairly long but still productive careers.

Below 85 is the “F” tier.  Better known as “Why the hell is this guy in the Hall?” tier.

I know some people are going to pick at me about the subjectivity of my rankings, and the fact that I’m using only one real stat, but I’m trying to keep it as simple as possible.  I think WAR does that quite well.  It takes everything into account, a player’s base running, fielding and offense, as well as their position and league.  So, I’m fairly confident in its ability to aid me in this task.  Each position will include the inductees through 2012, meaning Larkin and Santo are a part of it.  My goal with this is to give people a guide to evaluate players positionally for induction, because a SS’s value is different than that of a first baseman offensively.  I’m also planning on looking at the upcoming ballots (BR has them up through 2016) to see who should get in and where they would fit.  In my mind, you’d have to be right around 100 for me to be happy.  I only included 85 on the C tier to allow for some of the older players who would play for 20+ years and have a significant decline phase.  I know that’s a little subjective, but you’re going to have that no matter what.  I hope you all enjoy this waste of time as much as I do, and hope that you all get something out of it.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Tim Lincecum

I felt bad for bashing the Giants in my last post, so let’s do some actual analysis of their worst starter....Tim Lincecum.  Fangraphs has done a decent look at what is causing the problems with Lincecum.  I’m going to do my best not to parrot them, but here’s their article on him.  In it, they explain that while Timmy’s xFIP and actual FIP are good, not stellar but good, there’s more to it than him not getting lucky, as his K-rate is inline with his career value.  The problem is that his walk-rate is up about one extra walk per game, his HR rate is much much higher than ever.  The sad thing is that this was coming, and was noticeably coming.  Since 2009, here are his walk-rates:


That’s a big increase in only a few years.  His HR rates are:


Again, since 2009, it’s gone up a considerable amount.  Like an amazing amount.  He was such a good pitcher a few years ago.  Now his slider doesn’t have the same bite, his fastball doesn’t move as much.  He’s lost about 2.5 MPH off of his fastball.  His slider has a batting average against increase from .118 in 2009 to .284 this year.

His mechanics and body frame have caught up to him.  His pitches aren’t as good.  That cooky delivery and large inning log from when he was younger (200+ innings each year from age 24 on will do that sometimes) have drained what life there was in his arm.  His fastball at most now is 94 MPH, his slider sucks, he’s got nothing left.

He’s got time to turn it around, but doubt it at this point.  It’ll be interesting to see what his contract will look like after 2013 when he becomes a free agent for the first time.  2 years ago you would have thought he’d set a record for FA pitchers.  Not looking like it now.  Unless Sabean has something to say about it.  Hell, he’ll probably give him a 7 year deal worth 150 mil just for old times sake.

Scrappy Whiteness will lead to a World Title!

If you’re a San Fransisco Giants fan, you have to be pretty excited right now.  One of your pitchers is in danger of posting the worst season ever for a starter, and it isn’t Barry Zito (who actually is putting up an OK season, not good but not piss poor either).  In the offseason, your GM picked did a great job by picking up a second baseman that has a scrappy-whiteness factor (SWF) of 3 (the lower the better).  For a frame of reference:

Darin Erstad: 0
David Eckstein: -5
Adam Kennedy: 5
Barry Bonds: 1000
Albert Pujols: 1400

Wow, Bonds really was not very scrappy....or white for that matter.  Pujols moreso.  Maybe all those people whining about him not running out grounders had a point.

And, as an added bonus, handed the starting SS position to another guy with a great SWF of 3.  You’ve got a scrappy scrappy middle infield!  And, as a surprise to no one, you’ve got a league average offense.  What is surprising to people is that it’s mostly on the strength of Melky Cabrerra, but also because of Buster Posey and The Panda.  Now that Panda is hurt, your GM decides to get even scrappier and whiter by picking up....Marco Scutaro.  SWF of 0.  Scutaro, while playing for Colorado posted an OPS of 684.  That’s a terrible terrible number, even for a scrappy white guy.  In Coors, he had an OPS of 793, which is pretty good for a guy at 2B and SS most of the time.  But, away from Coors, his OPS drops to 570.  And you’re going to put that in that cavernous ballpark in San Fran?

Is everyone thinking what I am?  San Fran just became the favorite in the NL.  And it’s not due to their 4th best pitching staff in the NL which has allowed the 5th fewest HR.  No.  It’s due to the scrappiness of their lineup.  Just watch.  The NL West will be dominated by this great scrappy team and they’ll march on to their 2nd title in 3 years.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Yankees Trade Needs, Wants, and Realities

It’s been a while, and we’ve discussed the trade market in general, and a few specific trade possibilities, but I’mma go ahead and look at the Yankees needs and wants. I have to stress my bias here, if these are less than perfectly logical trades, so be it, I have my allegiances, and I’m being upfront about them. It’s pretty common amongst Yankees fans to overvalue our farm system, so I’ll try to stray away from that, and it’s been said repeatedly that we as a fanbase feel entitled to winning, entitled to having the best of everything, no matter the cost.

I’m going to assume that what Brian Cashman says means more than placating the media, and that he doesn’t want to A) cripple the farm system or B) put the team in a position to be over the luxury tax threshold in 2014. So, knowing all that there are a few areas of “need” which is a term I’m forced to use loosely given that the team is in first place and owns the best record in baseball. In the short term, the yanks need a third baseman. No matter how much I like Eric Chavez, he’s a great backup, solid defense, productive bat, some power, but with all that comes the fragility that kept him from being a superstar. Behind him there’s Jayson Nix, Eduardo Nunez, and Ramiro Pena within the organization, all offering something but not the ability to lessen the blow of a month+ without Alex Rodriguez. There’s room to upgrade at catcher as well, I like Russell Martin and I want him to start performing like he’s able to, but right now he’s calling a good game, but he’s essentially a guaranteed out against righties.There’s also room to upgrade the bullpen in light of Mariano Rivera’s injury and the general (Insert handedness) One Out GuY nature of the bulk of the ‘pen. 4 days ago I would have likely argued that adding an outfielder would have been beneficial as well, but after trading D.J. Mitchell and Danny Farquhar for Ichiro Suzuki I think that’s reasonably well covered, though his bat may not be what it once was, he still has speed, and plays great defense, he’s more or less Brett Gardner with a modified howitzer for an arm (A Futurama reference, in a sports blog, does anyone else appreciate this?) at this point in his career.

the third base market is fairly thin, my knee jerk reaction was to say Ty Wigginton, he’s versatile, right handed, and has some power, but the Phillies have already shot that one down. Hanley Ramirez would have also been an option, but another prima donna in New York might be a bit much. Chase Headley is an option, in that he’s both good, and available, as well Aramis Ramirez is a possible fit. The yanks don’t need a long term third baseman, they are, for better or worse, A-rod is under contract for several more years, and making him a full time DH and part time fielder just doesn’t seem likely at the moment. so anyone like Headley or Ramirez would likely be acquired with trading them after the season in mind. Strategically, Headley could be a great fit, he’s young, affordable, has shown moderate power in the spacious Petco park, and plays solid defense. The biggest draw to getting, then flipping Headley would be the ability to potentially acquire a cost controllable pitcher for the 28 year old. Prying Headley away from the Padres would be a tricky proposition given the state of the Yankees farm system. Likely they would have to give up a number of prospects of some value, and at least one of the “can’t miss” prospects like Mason Williams, Manny Banuelos, or Dellin Betances would be part of that package.

As for catchers, the goal wouldn’t be to replace Martin, but to provide him a better platoon partner than Chris Stewart, though Francisco Cervelli can do that just fine. Catchers are tricky to trade mid-season, they have to build a rapport with the pitchers they work with, need to know not only what they like to throw, but how they’re comfortable operating. It’s a tall order to join a team in the midst of a pennant race, remain productive at the plate, and learn to effectively handle no less than 11 different pitchers. There are certainly good catchers on bad teams, though they all come with some caveats. while Joe Mauer would be a great catcher to acquire, he’s solid behind the plate, and he’s got a great bat for a catcher he did miss ½ of last year with an injury, and he is on a long term contract, so if his oversized (for a catcher) frame starts to break down, the yanks would be saddled with that. Knowing all of these things, there’s also no particular indication that Mauer is on the trading block, though the yanks could potentially deal some of their minor league pitching talent to entice the Twins who’ve got slightly less than no pitching at the major league level. Kansas City could potentially be enticed into giving up Salvador Perez, though overpaying for an unproven talent would be a near certainty, if the trade panned out, Perez would be a solid cost controlled addition. There is however no indication that he’s available, nor that at 6’3” he’ll be able to stay at catcher for his whole career. The Brew crew has two fairly productive, controllable catchers in Jonathan Lucroy and Martin Maldonaldo, and could potentially be talked into letting one of them leave. John Jaso could also be available at the right price given that he’s expendable with both Miguel Olivo and Jesus Montero in the fray, though the Mariners may prefer to keep Jaso with an eye to Montero’s future as a catcher being questioned. It has been mentioned that Carlos Ruiz of the Phillies would be a good fit, and given that they’re selling off pieces and Ruiz has an expiring contract I tend to agree, though for less than 1 year of Ruiz who has been tearing the cover off the ball this year the yanks would likely pay a king’s ransom. There just might not really be room to upgrade at catcher aside from letting Cervelli get his hacks in rather than stewart. He’s not exactly going to dominate pitching in the major leagues, but he calls a good game, he can hit a little, and having him spell Martin for 2 out of every 5 might just help Martin get his head on straight and start producing at the plate.

The market for relief pitching is pretty grim, most of the teams that are out of contention have either very young bullpens or very bad bullpens, in the former case the team trying to get a reliever is likely to have to give up a minor leaguer with some serious potential, and in the latter case, why bother? With that said, I tend to like pitchers leaving Colorado, if you can pitch effectively there, you can pitch effectively anywhere. You’re pitching in one of the most offensively friendly stadiums in the sport, and many breaking pitches don’t break as well there as they do closer to sea level. I’d be interested in Matt Belisle or Josh Roenicke if either is available, and failing that Shawn Camp is a relatively appealing option in his own right. The question is now, what are they worth? Roenicke is probably the toughest to acquire, though the Rox also say they’re not interested in moving Belisle either. I’d suspect that to get anyone really worth having, the yankees would have to give up something valuable from the farm, I’d be somewhat inclined to wait this one out, I think that Joba Chamberlain’s eventual return, and the prospect of Mariano Rivera being ready to pitch again before the postseason (nevermind) will be enough of a shot in the arm for the ‘pen, especially if David Phelps can keep producing like he has been.

Overall, I think that while a third baseman might be a viable trade option, I don’t know that if I were in Brian Cashman’s shoes I’d be too thrilled with what’s available. The Catching market is not friendly, everyone that’s an upgrade over Martin/Stewart is going to be cost prohibitive. I only really see Shawn Camp as an option as far as relief pitchers go unless someone begins shopping their closer at a discount price ASAP. I don’t personally believe that Cashman is interested in overpaying for anything short of greatness, and while the Montero for Michael Pineda deal hasn’t panned out so far, I seriously doubt that Cashman is in the habit of trading big value for very little return, and with that in mind I don’t really see any big moves for the Yankees between now and the deadline.