Is Manny Manny? Or Raul Ibanez? Or Nick Swisher?

There’s a provocative article in the New York Times today about how much Manny’s poor defense in left field hurts the Sox. According to the article, basically everyone is in agreement that Manny is the worst left fielder in baseball by a pretty wide margin. The question is, how much does that matter?

At one extreme, the most conservative estimates suggest that
Ramírez’s outfield play last season, when compared with an average left
fielder’s, cost the Red Sox 13 runs. That’s not good, but not bad
enough to make him meaningfully worse than elite corner outfielders
like the Angels’ Vladimir Guerrero, the Yankees’ Bobby Abreu and the Pirates’ Jason Bay.


By contrast, Lichtman’s system says Ramírez was 32 runs below average
last year, which would make him one of the game’s most overrated and
overpaid players. If he was actually that awful, he was no more
valuable than the Mariners’ Raúl Ibáñez, the Blue Jays’ Reed Johnson or the Angels’ Juan Rivera.

The
truth most likely lies in the middle: the average of the P.B.P.
systems’ results for Ramírez is 15 to 20 runs below average. That’s
enough to take a significant bite out of his value. If his hitting
begins to deteriorate this season (he turns 35 in May), and his base
running remains poor (subtracting another two runs or so), he is likely
to be worth about as much in 2007 as Oakland’s up-and-coming Nick
Swisher. In other words, an All-Star, but not a franchise player, and
certainly not worth anywhere near his $20 million salary.

The article raises interesting questions about the way the Sox’s roster is currently constructed. Would Boston be better served playing Ortiz every day at first, for instance? How much are fly-ball pitchers like Schilling and Beckett hurt by Manny’s performance in the outfield?

125 comments… add one
  • Well this is certainly interesting. No doubt Manny is an awful defensive player, he even had the worst counting stats in one of the easiest left fields to play in the majors. But these stats simply don’t count for the presence he has in the lineup. Seriously, who would you rather have on your team, Raul Ibanez or Manny Ramirez?
    But it does bring up the point of getting Ortiz to play first. I don’t think it’s a bad idea for the Sox – Lowell is a gold-glove third baseman anyway, and Lugo is okay defensively too. All Ortiz needs to do is scoop the ball, and he can be a better version of Jason Giambi. Plus, Manny gets to DH and not get injured, which would save the Sox many runs. Unfortunately unless they get Ellsbury to the majors that leaves a major hole in LF, unless Youkilis can play a decent outfield, which I’m not sure he can’t.

    Andrew March 17, 2007, 11:20 am
  • the counter argument for not starting Ortiz at first is that his body can’t take it and it will adversely affect his hitting. But this shows why, I think, it’s important to factor in position when discussing a player’s value. The fact that Ortiz can’t play in the field (per what management does) hurts the Sox in the field.

    Nick-YF March 17, 2007, 11:23 am
  • DHing seems more Manny’s style anyway. He gets bored out there and starts investigating walls and stuff.

    Kazz March 17, 2007, 11:24 am
  • The negative aspects of Manny’s defense are over-stated, if you ask me. He may be the “worst defensive left fielder in baseball,” but he also plays the smallest left field in baseball in half his games, so you have to account for that. His arm isn’t bad for a left fielder, and if the Red Sox could get an elite center fielder who could help compensate for Manny’s defense (like A-Rod helps compensate for Jeter) they could minimize the problem. If he continues to hit like he as (~1.000 OPS) I see no reason the Red Sox shouldn’t keep running him out there.
    Picking up his $20 Million options is something different. In the current market environment, paying $20M for Manny isn’t that bad, it seems to me. The unknown aspect is how else could that money bet spent. Are there better, younger, cheaper players available to the Red Sox?

    mattymatty March 17, 2007, 12:22 pm
  • Unfortunately, the article does not mention that left field at Fenway likely skews Ramirez’s stats. I don’t doubt he’s the worst in baseball, but nearly everyone involved with defensive stats does usually include that disclaimer. It seems that would be worth mentioning in an article devoed entirely to defensive stats.
    Also helpful would have been a look at Ramirez’s runs created above average on offense, so we could see exactly how much his net benefit to the Red Sox is. For example, Manny had 126 runs created in 2006, worth nearly 13 wins — as opposed to the two-to-three losses he’s worth under the most pessimistic systems.
    And: How much did his knee injury affect his range, considering his 2006 defensive stats all were down over his 2004/05 stats, according to The Hardball Times.

    Paul SF March 17, 2007, 12:23 pm
  • “under the most pessimistic defensive systems,” I should add.

    Paul SF March 17, 2007, 12:25 pm
  • Actually, the fact that he plays in baseball’s smallest left field actually HELPS his defensive stats, as there’s less range for him to cover. These defensive metrics are based off things like zone rating, so Manny is judged solely based on his performance in the field, which looks to be truly gag-worthy. When you simply add together the runs saved above (or in Manny’s case, below) average, and the runs created above average, you get a player’s ‘value’ (not that I agree with this method), but that’s where they get Manny being a Raul Ibanez or Nick Swisher.

    Andrew March 17, 2007, 12:44 pm
  • I don’t think that’s correct, Andrew. Fenway being a small left field hurts Manny’s ratings because so many more balls turn to hits off the Monster than they would in other parks. I don’t really do the defensive stats thing, so I could be wrong. But whenever defensive stats are analyzed, I see pretty frequently disclaimers that note that the Green Monster unfairly hurts Ramirez’s stats in left.

    Paul SF March 17, 2007, 12:49 pm
  • Manny sucks. I mean, if I were Theo, I’d just trade him for a couple B-prospect bullpen guys. Heck, I might even throw in a few million of his salary to make sure everything goes smoothly during the trade. It’s been such a hassle watching him boggle easy plays in the OF these past several years; I’m all for a guy who’s about to put up his 500HR mark, consistently bats .300, and easily knocks in a hundred, but this defensive thing really seals the deal for me on moving him. I can’t imagine having this cancer on my team for one more day. Who would? I can’t think of one other ML team that would want him on the roster. What a waste of a clean uniform. Bum.

    Brad March 17, 2007, 1:05 pm
  • speaking of bums, i always have to go around in circles to get mlb tv to work on my computer — like today — the normal way failed three times, so i had to poke around in links until i found an alternate route — too bad we can’t have giamatti anymore — bud will always be a used car salesman

    john March 17, 2007, 1:30 pm
  • oh yeah, I forgot to mention that he’s the best hitter I’ve ever laid eyes on, and an absolute ease of stress on my tendency to worry about who’s up next in important games. I’ll take the 13 runs, this year, and for however many years Manny want to give them up. Or, until A-Rod opts out and plays SS next year in Boston.

    Brad March 17, 2007, 1:31 pm
  • John, are you still having problems? I had some to start, but I’m in now.

    Brad March 17, 2007, 1:32 pm
  • It’s an interesting article. Obviously Manny and Papi are one of the great 3/4 pairs of all time, offensively. It never occurred to me that Manny cost SO many runs in the field that he all-round he might rank with more middle of the field players. Obviously Theo looked at those stats, because one of the first thing he did was put Manny on waivers. Since then, salaries have gone up, so relatively, Manny doesn’t cost as much as he used to.
    I’d keep Manny if I had him on my team, but I probably would try to DH him. What I’d do if I also had Papi, or Giambi, I don’t know.

    john March 17, 2007, 1:36 pm
  • yes i got in
    until A-Rod opts out and plays SS in next year in Boston
    Look what Robby said on LoHud (the last sentence):

    Errors are not always a true indicator of a player’s defensive ability. A player with good range will often make more errors because he creates more opportunities for himself. But most of Rodriguez’s errors last season were on throws.
    “It’s footwork,” said manager Joe Torre, who spent part of his playing career at third base. “I’m sure it’s hard for it not to be in his mind. If the first thing you’re thinking is to make a good throw, then that’s the problem. He’s thinking about something that always had come natural to him.”
    Rodriguez should have been charged with an error in the first inning of yesterday’s game when he let a grounder off the bat of Craig Biggio get by him. His feet, Bowa said, were not moving at the ball.
    “When you go catch a baseball, you have to go through the baseball. You can’t catch it flat-footed,” Bowa said. “Once you catch it flat-footed, you have to start up again. Then you have a tendency to look at the runner because he’s making up time getting up the line. Whereas if you come through the ball, you’re making a nice fluid motion.
    “With Alex, it’s all in his feet. His arm never gets to where it’s supposed to be. He’ll have the same problem this year if he doesn’t move his feet.”
    Said Rodriguez: “It has to be natural, no doubt. I’m working on that.”
    Rodriguez shed 12 pounds during the winter. But at 6-foot-3, 220 pounds, he still has a body better suited for first base or the outfield instead of third.
    “He’s a big man, and it’s hard to be smooth sometimes when you’re that big,” second baseman Robinson Cano said. “But he’s going to get it back. Alex will do what he has to do.”

    A-Rod was a great SS. Is he getting less flexible as he gets older?

    john March 17, 2007, 1:43 pm
  • A-Rod was a great SS.
    Understatement. A-Rod, while playing at his natural position of SS, is the greatest all around SS ever to tie on spikes. Period. I think if he moves back to SS, he lightens back up to his playing weight (not so sure why he’s put on so much mass the last five years), and resumes that role. That’s just my opinion. I really think if he gets that shot, and lets be real here – he’s not going to play third on any other team, and should not have done it for his current one, he’ll get back to his old ways.
    Just my opinion is all. Probably meaningless.

    Brad March 17, 2007, 1:49 pm
  • I don’t want to beat the horse, and Brad touches on it above, but I still find it quite extraordinary that the Yankees traded for the greatest player ever at his position, and moved him to a much less valuable position. I know all the politics behind it, and I know there’s a sacred cow involved, but it’s still unfathomable to me that you would shove the GPE into a new position, force him out of his comfort zone (that’s had to have impacted such a sensitive player), particularly one where his production is just not worth as much.

    SF March 17, 2007, 2:18 pm
  • It is a dead horse, and the arguments aren’t convincing (that’s why most of the BP guys who’ve written on the subject, have endorsed moving Alex). Maintaining Alex’s “GPE” status, which is probably a fiction to begin with, is not the Yankee responsibily. The team’s job is to maximize the return on what it has. They got an MVP year from Alex in 2005, and an MVP-deserving year from Derek in 2006, so any arguments about how the position change has negatively hurt the team offensive production, I think is ridiculous. So the issue is defense, and even if we take it on faith that Jeter is not that great a defender (despite the belief of many within the game, nevermind the gold glove bullshit) and that A-Rod would have been a superior defender and would not have deteriorated as a fielder as he has at third (wild speculation) then you’re still left with (a) a marginal improvement at short and (b) the prospect of moving Derek out of position, and then getting stuck with his defensive foibles wherever he would have moved–and nevermind the MASSIVE PR/Chemistry debacle that would have created. If nothing else, the past two seasons seem to support the decision to move Alex and keep Derek in place. If the argument is he’s feeling the pressure now as a third baseman, just imagine how bad it would have been if he’d displaced Jeter, and THEN had problems.
    Red Herring, anyone?

    YF March 17, 2007, 2:40 pm
  • It is a dead horse, and the arguments aren’t convincing (that’s why most of the BP guys who’ve written on the subject, have endorsed moving Alex). Maintaining Alex’s “GPE” status, which is probably a fiction to begin with, is not the Yankee responsibily. The team’s job is to maximize the return on what it has. They got an MVP year from Alex in 2005, and an MVP-deserving year from Derek in 2006, so any arguments about how the position change has negatively hurt the team offensive production, I think is ridiculous. So the issue is defense, and even if we take it on faith that Jeter is not that great a defender (despite the belief of many within the game, nevermind the gold glove bullshit) and that A-Rod would have been a superior defender and would not have deteriorated as a fielder as he has at third (wild speculation) then you’re still left with (a) a marginal improvement at short and (b) the prospect of moving Derek out of position, and then getting stuck with his defensive foibles wherever he would have moved–and nevermind the MASSIVE PR/Chemistry debacle that would have created. If nothing else, the past two seasons seem to support the decision to move Alex and keep Derek in place. If the argument is he’s feeling the pressure now as a third baseman, just imagine how bad it would have been if he’d displaced Jeter, and THEN had problems.
    Red Herring, anyone?

    YF March 17, 2007, 2:40 pm
  • And let’s not forget the idea that A-Rod’s range at third lets Jeter cheat toward 2nd and makes the left side of the infield stronger. As far as I know, no one says Jeter doesn’t have good hands we’ve all seen him make great plays like the dive into the stands against the Sox in one of the greatest games of all time. BTW A-Rad was closer to that ball and admitted he would not have taken the head first dive that Jeter took.

    john March 17, 2007, 2:57 pm
  • I think the “A-Rod makes Derek a better defender” argument lacks substance. Derek played with Robin Ventura and Scott Brosius, two superb defensive third baseman. If anything, finally having a decent 2nd baseman in Cano has helped solidify the infield, and improved his putouts via dp etc.

    YF March 17, 2007, 3:09 pm
  • I am not partaking in the “making Derek better” argument, just looking at it conceptually. I still (and this is my own personal thing) find it amazing that a team would make the GPE move position. I think the “Alex had an MVP season” is a red herring, simply because the MVP voting is based almost entirely on offensive production, and not on defense. Had David Ortiz played even a marginal first base (which he didn’t), Alex wouldn’t have been the MVP. Rodriguez didn’t win the award because of his D, he won it because the other guy didn’t play any.

    SF March 17, 2007, 3:30 pm
  • I think the “A-Rod makes Derek a better defender” argument lacks substance.
    I agree. Moving the best short stop on the planet to third base does absolutely nothing to reduce the amount of range needed by the SS. But, in reality, I think Jeter has been wonderfully complimented by having A-Rod next to him, chewing up ground that’s normally left alone, but as Jeter has aged, he has gotten much better at getting good angles on balls, and allowing himself to cover more of the second base bag because of A-Rod. But, in my years here I’ve learned that if someone said ” buiding a 17′ brick wall from third toward second would really improve Jeter”, you’d shoot down the idea.
    Having A-Rod at third, while I’m sure there is no real proof of this, would make any SS in the game better. Jeters best defensive year was the year A-Rod came to town, no? Was it the second baseman that year too?

    Brad March 17, 2007, 3:34 pm
  • agree, SF. This arguement will never hold water with Jeter lovers, and will be justification for his improved defense for the rest of us. It’s never going to go anywhere until A-Rod leaves and says the same thing himself.

    Brad March 17, 2007, 3:35 pm
  • Interesting that Lichtman had Jeter ranked 29th in 2005.
    http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/2006/writers/jon_weisman/02/03/defense.metrics/1.html
    What does that do to his relative worth, using the same metrics that were used for Manny?

    Tyrel SF March 17, 2007, 3:41 pm
  • Paul – Do you really think the defense gurus haven’t looked at Manny on the road and at home? I’d be willing to bet a lot of dollars to a just few donuts that he’s easily the worst LF in both circumstances. Simply – it’s not a Fenway excuse.
    YF – Please explain why, if Alex han’t helped, Jeter’s defensive stats improved across the board in 2004. His put outs, assists, AND doubles (to say nothing of UZR etc) all spiked dramtically starting in 2004. He’s simply getting to many more balls and especially those up the middle (put outs = unassisted at 2B, much easier to turn a double play up with a ball up the middle than one in the hole). They are all dramatic increases – check the numbers:
    http://www.baseballprospectus.com/dt/jeterde01.php
    Interestingly, Jeter’s defense got worse, not better, as Alex struggled last year. Why should it unless he was trying to cover more for A-Rod and thus there was less cheating toward 2B?
    Last I looked SS is much more difficult to play than 3B. So having a player like Alex at 3rd is still better than having good 3B’s like Ventura and Scotty. It’s like have two CF’s in the OF, versus having a decent CF and a decent RF – the former will always provide better range. And that’s what has helped Jeter most. His range was always terrible. Now it’s not so bad. Given that he’s been getting older past his peak, I can’t see how that’s happened just judging him on his own. That fact that it perfectly coincides with Alex’s arrival in 2004 makes my conclusion very easy. A-Rod simply makes Derek the SS better.

    Jim - YF March 17, 2007, 4:04 pm
  • Sorry, should be:
    His put outs, assists, AND “double plays” (to say nothing of UZR etc) all spiked dramtically starting in 2004.
    And, also Jeter had his finest defensive season of his career in 2005. He was simply a vacuum over there. Again, coincidence that A-Rod contiinued to be solid at 3B?
    Oh, and Alex was a Yankee Ventura at 3B in 2004. A bit less so in 2005.

    Jim - YF March 17, 2007, 4:20 pm
  • I have to agree with you Jim, that Arod makes Jeter better. Look at the graph mid-way down this page –
    http://www.hardballtimes.com/main/article/educating-buster/
    The weakest part of Jeter’s game is on groundballs to the 3b side. Having a third baseman with plus-range can only help Jeter’s and the Yanks’ overall defense.
    As far as Ortiz playing 1B, as someone aboove suggested, I think it’s a terrible idea. Youk played some outstanding 1st base last year, particularly on scooping and stretching for bad throws. And that was when we had an excellent defensive SS, instead of Lugo, who is known for erratic throws. I think in the overall scheme, it’s much more important to have a solid 1st basemen than a solid LF.

    Tyrel SF March 17, 2007, 4:29 pm
  • Great site, btw. It’s my first time here.

    Tyrel SF March 17, 2007, 4:31 pm
  • Excellent find Tyrel! That about explains it, me thinks. Any objections?
    I disagree with your last sentence though. I ask which would I rather – have my 1B play LF or my LF play 1B? I think we’d all answer that the same way. The LF is more important most especially because a misplayed ball out there is more likely to result in more bases than a misplayed ball at 1B.

    Jim - YF March 17, 2007, 4:38 pm
  • What about this though for SF’s?:
    Wily Mo to LF
    Ortiz at 1B
    Youk to 3B
    Lowell as trade bait or bench.
    That would be a better lineup and better defense (1B as defense is mostly unimportant. That’s why the Yanks are making such a huge mistake with Minky there.)

    Jim - YF March 17, 2007, 4:51 pm
  • Respectfully disagree, Jim. The first basemen is so much more integral to the overall defense than the left fielder (or “left out,” as we called it in little league), because over the course of a game or a season, the first basemen has so many more chances than the left fielder. For example, in 127 games at 1B last year Youk had 1033 put outs, 70 assists, and was involved in 110 double plays. Manny, on the other hand, had 175 put outs in 123 games.
    As for the argument that a misplay in the OF means multiple bases, a mishandled throw at first often ends up as a two bagger as well, because the ball will skip into the dugout or the stands. Anecdotally (I have no evidence for this), I think that many of Manny’s missed outs come from balls hit in front of him, where he’ll opt to catch the ball on a hop rather than hustle and dive for it. It’s frustrating, but I love him anyways : )

    Tyrel SF March 17, 2007, 4:54 pm
  • I really don’t think that Fenway helps Manny. Remember, I think someone said that Stats Inc. sent personal scouts to EVERY GAME to judge EVERY BATTED BALL to make these judgments. I really doubt that they completely ignored the Fenway effect. Put Manny in a normal outfield and watch the hilarity as he tries to run down routine flies. His legs are shot and he has no range, Fenway most definitely helps.

    Andrew March 17, 2007, 4:56 pm
  • More comments:
    Jim: there is a consensus that Wily Mo is just as, if not a worse defender than Manny. Putting him in LF will be a downgrade.
    And re: A-Rod moving to third, I really do think it’s worked out for the better. Jeter plays better defense with good defenders around him, and A-Rod was actually pretty darn good in 2004 and 2005 defensively. Actually, I remember his stellar defense really helped him get the MVP over Ortiz that year (nevermind the fact that all his stats were better sans RBI), you can bet he wouldn’t have gotten it if he played third like he did in 2006. Jeter would have been a complete unknown quantity at third, nevermind all the inevitable drama that would’ve surrounded it. He probably would have been pretty below average at third for a pretty marginal increase in defense at short. Instead you got solid defense up the middle and stellar defense (except for 2006…and most of those errors were on throws, not fielding) at third.

    Andrew March 17, 2007, 5:03 pm
  • I’m just not sure Tyrel. It seems like very few plays at 1B could be played any other way. That is, the vast majority of times he’s simply catching the ball. Is there even one scoop a game? Seems more like a few a week. Or plays in the 1B hole or down the 1B line? Again, those seem like one or two a week, if that. Even double plays started by 1B’s seem like they don’t happen all that often.
    LF though seems like it gets multiple balls every game. Sure, some are simple pop ups. But the rest are drives. And without a compentent fielder, those are morely likely fall in for a base or two. That’s every game.
    I think the number to look at is unassisted outs (though leaves out scoops at 1B). I’m not sure where to find it though.
    I also think about skill set. Seems like the LF has to have many more skills (some speed, an okay arm, and ability to track balls). You can get by with a 1B that has none of those. That’s where I come back to the old switcheroo. The LF could play 1B but not vice versa.

    Jim - YF March 17, 2007, 5:08 pm
  • Andrew – Wily Mo has the speed to play any OF positions. He just doesn’t track balls well. So I have a really hard time believing he’s worse than Manny.
    And I agree completely on A-Rod and the MVP in 2005. He had the numbers but the defense (and Papi playing none) put him over the top.
    Me, I thought they should have moved Jeter to 2B and A-Rod to SS. When you look at the numbers, Jeter was terrible, absolutely horrid, in the field 2000-2003. Then he was average in 2004. And the last two years he’s actually been playing A-Rod (SS version) quality defense (if you believe RATE). If he keeps this up, there’s no reason to worry about moving him. Of course, if A-Rod left it would be interesting to see what happens to Derek’s defense.

    Jim - YF March 17, 2007, 5:18 pm
  • SF: The issue isn’t whether or not Alex deserved the MVP in 2005, simply that he had a stellar year, which is inarguable.
    Jim: I don’t know what the jump in the Jeter fielding stats in 2004 proves, if anything at all. It’s a huge, unsubstantiated leap to suggest that his improvement is due to Alex.

    YF March 17, 2007, 5:20 pm
  • YF – It’s also a huge leap in the numbers when, if anything, they should be going the other direction. That combined with his range (worse in the 3B hole) answers the question for me. Without another explanation (and a simple one at that), I can’t see how it’s anything but case closed (no doubt as many YF’s would prefer to believe otherwise).

    Jim - YF March 17, 2007, 5:27 pm
  • Jim:
    You will probably need to learn that anything cited that suggests that Derek’s achievements aren’t his own will be met with fierce resistance and indignance from many at this site.
    Facts are incovenient truths sometimes, at least in terms of Jeter.

    SF March 17, 2007, 5:38 pm
  • Jim, are you arguing that Manny makes one or two mistakes per game? No way. According to Baseballmusings.com, the difference between Manny’s predicted out and actual outs is -19 (as a snarky aside, Jeter’s is -18, but the Times would never write a similar article about him, lest there be riots on 5th Avenue). Meaning that over 123 games, Manny costs the Sox @ one out every seven games. I stand by my ancedotal “evidence” that many of these are balls hit in front of him – he’s actualy deceptively decent tracking down fly balls, and I can only remember a handful of misplayed flyballs last year.
    You suggest that a misthrown ball happens a few times a week (though with Lugo that may go up), and balls in the hole and up the line happen once or twice a week. Plus say a DP per week started by the 1B, and a few throws by the 1B to whoever is covering 1B. That’s 7-8 plays a week where a solid 1B is required, or at least beneficial. As opposed to the on avergae game per week that Manny is Manny.
    I love Papi, and in interlague games he plays a serviceable 1B, but I don’t doubt that if he played everyday he would widely considered to be one of the worst defensive first basemen in baseball. Youk is MUCH better than him. And playing 1B would put Papi at risk for injury. I think the current set-up both optimizes our defense and is the safest bet to keep both of them relatively healthy.
    As an aside, baseballmusings has this to say about Manny’s defense –
    “I put the cost of Manny in left field at no more than 16 runs in 2006, whereas Dan believes that the minimum. Dan is also basing Manny’s worth on Ramriez’s worth on his continuing at that level of defense and his offense declining due to age. But of the three years I’ve measured Ramirez, 2006 was by far the worst reading I’ve seen on him. Manny complained of a bad right knee in 2006. If that’s better and he becomes more mobile, I suspect the number of balls he gets to goes up as well.”

    Tyrel SF March 17, 2007, 5:55 pm
  • SF – it’s not just this site, nor the internet. It’s true of all YF’s. Still, Jeter is easily a first ballot HOF. It’s just the difference between saying he’s a great SS to saying he’s one of the best ever – good for arguments over beer but nothing more.
    What’s interesting is Alex would have been in the running for the best SS ever had he never come to NY. I wish all YF’s saw that. The fact the team has both really is an amazing once in a lifetime pairing. Sure I’d rather have Ortiz and Manny hitting for the Yanks. But Jeter and A-Rod playing defense and in the lineup makes them that much more valuable. Plus they’ll be doing both longer (cue arguments :).
    Tyrel –
    No, not saying that at all. Just that there’s more room for error in LF – more balls that could be misplayed. See, almost all the put outs you cite at 1B really are routine – I’d guess 90%. By contrast I’d guess that the putouts in LF are much less than routine – maybe 50%. How that actually plays out I have no idea for worth I have no idea.
    Looks like the defensive spectrum thinks about these things (first by Bill James, of course):
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Defensive_spectrum

    Jim - YF March 17, 2007, 6:14 pm
  • SF: what are you talking about? i’m not arguing that the reasons aren’t ulterior to Jeter, just that the correlation of defensive “improvement” with A-Rod’s arrival is tenuous.

    YF March 17, 2007, 6:16 pm
  • YF: But when you make statements like that, don’t you think you have to back them up with something? Anything? Tenuous how?
    Shoot offer another explantion (Ventura doesn’t work, even Brosius in 2001 was like Alex in 2004). Otherwise, you just sound like an irrational fanboy.

    Jim - YF March 17, 2007, 6:19 pm
  • Jim, I’m not sure what you are talking about here – “By contrast I’d guess that the putouts in LF are much less than routine – maybe 50%.” ????? And some of the balls you say are “routine” for the 1st basemen (scoops, balls up the line and in the hole) are the ones that you pointed out as being more difficult earlier.
    I’d never heard of the Defensive Spectrum, and I get it on a broad level, that less athletic players move to easier positions. Stuff like this, on the other hand, makes no sense to me – http://danagonistes.blogspot.com/2004/12/defensive-spectrum-again.html
    The main question I have about the Defensive Spectrum is how much difference is there between LF and 1B. They’re only one step away from each other. And I can’t find anything in the literature suggesting that it’s better to have a weak 1st baseman than a weak LF.
    To me, the relevant question for the Sox is whether the status quo is worse than the alternative (Manny at DH, Papi at 1st, and at your suggestion, WMP in left, Youk at third, and trade Lowell). That’s a significant downgrade at 1st, a downgrade at 3rd, and an insignificant upgrade (if any) in left. It’s an added risk of injury for Papi (lots of quick pivots, dives, collisions, etc.). It doesn’t make sense to me to switch it all up.

    Tyrel SF March 17, 2007, 6:59 pm
  • When Ventura arrived here, he was well past his prime and his range was fair to poor. A-Rod has excellent range to his right and therefore plays farther to his left than Ventura. How his range and positioning compare to Brosius’s I don’t know, but we rarely heard any complaints about Derek when Scotty was here.
    Players do lose quickness, range and mobility as they get older. Shortstops and second baseman who hit well enough frequently move to other positions, a la Pete Rose. Now of course A-Rod moved because of the captain, but Robby did intimate A-Rod’s a little slower, and he’s in a position to know.

    john March 17, 2007, 7:16 pm
  • Tyrel –
    Routine to me means that the player moves little to perform his job. The 1B’s job is to cover the bag and catch the ball. That seems easy enough and seems to happen on 90% of plays that involve him (but again I’m just guessing).
    For the LF, the problem seems in getting to the ball, and on about 50% of balls hit his way, he’s going ot have to make a good effort to fulfill his job (again, guessing all the way).
    You raise good points. Frankly I’m just stuck with my general impression of switcheroo and the defensive spectrum. Now I’m not so sure about WMP in LF either.

    Jim - YF March 17, 2007, 7:21 pm
  • john –
    Robby was saying A-Rod was slower more because of the added weight last year. He’s dropped 15lbs, so we’ll find out soon enough.
    The stats show Brosius in 2001 = Ventura in 2002 = A-Rod in 2004. in 2001 to 2002 Jeter was horrid – truly bad in the field. The point is not simply that those other players were also good so somehow the pressure was off or something.
    Alex came over in 2004 as a very good SS. He might have lost some skill, but he still knows how to field the ball off the bat. His problems have been on the throws and coming in. And neither would affect Jeter much.
    Otherwise, I agree with everything you say. That’s the most damning evidence for me – Jeter should be getting consistently worse, but instead it’s the opposite – and radically so. Given how bad he was in the four years prior to 2004, and the arrival of a very good SS next to him, I simply can’t see any other explantion and I’ve tried might hard to find one.

    Jim - YF March 17, 2007, 7:33 pm
  • Turn out the Keeping Score column had inormation on the defense question last October:
    October 15, 2006, Sunday
    KEEPING SCORE; Beyond the Tumult, Rodriguez Is a Key Contributor
    By BENJAMIN HOFFMAN
    E-mail: keepingscore@nytimes.com
    In the wake of the Yankees’ failure to win the American League division series against Detroit — topping a six-year streak without a World Series title — no player has felt the fans’ ire more than Alex Rodriguez.
    The calls to trade him — or hire a new manager to get through to him — came quickly.
    Most of the criticism focused on Rodriguez’s failure to produce in clutch situations, a significant flaw on the championship-or-bust Yankees. Even Manager Joe Torre lost patience and batted him eighth in the Game 4 loss to the Tigers.
    But what is lost in the argument about Rodriguez is his quite significant contribution to the Yankees. And no one benefits more from his presence than Derek Jeter. Jeter has never been considered a top defender, despite his sparkling reputation, and he was on a downward spiral in the years before the Yankees acquired Rodriguez.
    From 1998 to 2003, Jeter performed below the league average for shortstops each season in a statistic called range factor per game, which shows how many plays (putouts plus assists) a fielder makes a game. He bottomed out in 2003, with a 3.65 RFg, a low figure in a season when the average major league shortstop recorded a 4.13. He also turned 29.
    For comparison, Rodriguez never recorded a RFg below 4.3 as a starting shortstop, and the category has been led the last two seasons by Rafael Furcal of the Dodgers, who had a 4.99 in 2005 and a 4.88 in 2006.
    The season he turned 30, which happened to coincide with the Rodriguez trade, Jeter suddenly turned a corner. His RFg improved to 4.32, and he was awarded a Gold Glove. The next year, 2005, was even better, with Jeter improving to 4.56 and winning another Gold Glove. With Rodriguez struggling through a difficult year in 2006 — and his fielding suffering — Jeter again regressed to below average, with a 3.97 RFg.
    After Rodriguez’s arrival, Jeter’s fielding percentage remained fairly constant with his .975 career mark, meaning the only difference in his game was that he was getting to more balls put in play.
    There are two possible explanations for Jeter’s transformation from a poor shortstop to a Gold Glove contender: either he developed more range at 30, an age when most players are beginning to decline, or he benefited greatly from having a Gold Glove-caliber defender at third base, which allowed him to cheat to his left, a weakness highlighted by many scouts.
    **********
    I cut the rest. It just talks about Jeter’s rough post-season in 2001 and replacing A-rod’s win shares.

    Jim - YF March 17, 2007, 7:42 pm
  • I thought people might find this interesting, from Schilling’s blog –
    Q-2) If you could have a ‘Super’ Team who would be in your lineup?
    A- Fun one. Starting 9 with a DH, and SP, from todays players? No payroll limit?
    C-Jason Varitek – As good a handler of pitching staffs as anyone I’ve ever been around, coach or player. Not to mention he brings value in the clubhouse as well. I have heard Joe Mauer is this same kind of presence, but he brings some pretty incredible offensive tools that no other catcher in the game possesses. I’ll stick with what I know though and that makes Tek an easy choice.
    1B- Albert Pujols – There are some other great ones here, Morneau is a stud, Helton, Ryan Howard. I love Lyle Overbay as well. But Albert is doing things no ones ever done, ever, and when you are doing things that have never been done in a game that’s over 100 years old, that’s something.
    2B-Chase Utley- I don’t know a lot about him defensively but his production at a position that doesn’t have a lot of power is huge. If I had to pick this based on defense I’d go with Orlando Hudson hands down.
    3B-Scott Rolen-Personal bias here since I had the good fortune of being his teammate. Along with Junior Spivey he’s the best athlete I’ve ever played with. Opening day in 1997, 9th innning, 1 run game, Brett Butler hits a spinning chopper over the 3rd base bag, Scott, running to his right, backhands the ball, falling into foul territory, spins and throws sidearm, perfect chest high strike on the bag. Still one of the better plays I’ve ever seen. Not to mention the guy runs the bases to perfection.
    SS-Derek Jeter-Lots of good choices here but Derek may be the only guy in the game that you’d not be able to find someone that had something negative to say. He’s money on the games biggest stage and an often overlooked fact is that he plays every single day. Tejada is another one. He brings an immense amount of energy to the field and he plays to win. For pure defense I’d pick Alex Gonzalez with no one even a close second. I will argue until I die that he’s the best defensive shortstop that ever played. I still think he played the best defensive season in the games history last year. Chuck the range charts or whatever ‘scientific’ method is used, this guy was a stud from pitch one until the end of the season.
    LF-Jason Bay-I think he’s a stud. Unfortunately he’s almost invisible in Pittsburgh. I don’t know much about him other than the few times I’ve faced him but he has put up some incredible numbers and I thought he was a pretty good defensive player as well. If it were pure offense I’d pick Manny hands down, twice on Sunday. Manny is still the best pure hitter I’ve ever played with. Matsui is, in my opinion, horrifically underrated as a run producer. The Yankee lineup is drastically different when he’s not in it.
    CF-Andruw Jones-I’d pick him just to watch him shag during BP. He’s so incredibly gifted it’s unfair. I had a chance to get to know him when we were on the MLB team that toured Japan after the 1997 season and I was blown away at what a nice and respectful young kid he was, and he was a kid. Didn’t he hit 2 HR in a world series game when he was like 15?
    RF-Vladimir Guerrero-Most plate coverage in the game. Can hit a ball a foot off the outside corner down the RF line and deep. Cannon for an arm. The funny thing about Vlad is that if you watch him doing something other than running or hitting he looks like he’s got a broken back. He limps around right up to the point where he beats you. Ichiro would be another great choice, incredible athlete. Bobby Abreu, JD Drew are both in for big years as well I think. Both can run, throw and grind out AB’s.
    DH-Who else? David Ortiz-I think he’s in the midst of one of the better offense runs in baseball history. Though I think you could argue that Travis Hafner is every bit as good or at least getting there. Hafner continues to amaze me with his ability to manage the strike zone. He’ll chase every now and then but most times, against me anyway, he chases ‘good’ bad balls. He chases in areas he’s looking, as opposed to guys that chase just because they are swinging. SP-Johan Santana-True legit ace. To me the earmark of an ace is innings. I think it’s far and away a SP most important stat. If you’re good, and you compile innings, the other numbers all take care of themselves. He’s dominant and he carries that to the mound with his presence. There are others I’d be more than ok with as well. Brandon Webb, Roy Oswalt, Ben Sheets, Josh, John Lackey, healthy Pedro, Carpenter, Halladay, Rich Harden, Sabathia, Verlander, Bonderman. True #1’s are guys who, if you don’t win on the day they start, everyone is stunned, I think every one of these guys brings that in spades. The guy that even on a bad day is going to get you through the 6th inning. That’s what I think about Halladay everytime he pitches.

    Tyrel SF March 17, 2007, 8:34 pm
  • And Schill still backtracking from Mr. Inevitable!

    Jim - YF March 17, 2007, 8:58 pm
  • That’s a fun post, but seriously, he really is overcompensating for his little misstatement. All the other picks are great and have great explanations, but seriously? Varitek? Over Mauer, who can actually hit and is infinitely less likely to go down with an injury?
    And Alex Gonzalez, best defensive SS of all time. Okay.
    But yeah, his other picks are really pretty darn solid, and gives good explanation for them as well.

    Andrew March 17, 2007, 10:10 pm
  • I misread that. He said best SS defensive season of all time. Sheesh, and the guy didn’t play the whole year, and I guess Schill’s never heard of Omar Vizquel.

    Andrew March 17, 2007, 10:14 pm
  • “That’s a fun post, but seriously, he really is overcompensating for his little misstatement”
    What mistatement?

    Tyrel SF March 18, 2007, 12:08 am
  • I tend to think that subtracting Clemens and Pettitte’s strikeouts, and Wells’ flyballs, and adding Lieber’s and Brown’s groundballs, had more to do with Jeter’s chances improving from ’03 to ’04 than the identity of the 3rd basemen.
    Unless appreciably more balls get hit to a SS’s left than his right(which may be true for all I know), how would a 3rd baseman with great range improve the SS’s individual numbers anyway? For every extra ball he gets to up the middle by pinching to 2nd there should be one that gets through or is caught by the 3rd baseman that he would have handled previously. And if its true that alot more balls go up the middle, why wouldn’t you pinch him there anyway, even if you had a wooden post at 3rd?
    Also, am I the only one who finds it hard to believe that Bobby Abreu is an elite corner outfielder? To me it seems like any time a ball is hit anywhere near a wall or another player he tiptoes after it like he’s running barefoot on broken glass.

    Anonymous March 18, 2007, 12:11 am
  • Abreu will score a ton of runs this year, that might be what Schilling was alluding too. I still can’t fathom how the guy I saw playing for the Yanks was the same one the Phillies were so eager to get rid of in a pennant race.
    As for Varitek, referring back to Jim’s Defensive Spectrum, offensive output isn’t as important for catchers as it is for other positions. And since it was a “fantasy” question, I don’t think the possibility of an injury is really a factor.

    Tyrel SF March 18, 2007, 12:37 am
  • That’s a fun list. I love his shout-out to Jason Bay, one of my personal favorite players. How I wish he weren’t stuck in Pittsburgh…
    His list of pitchers is very interesting. Santana, Halladay and Oswalt are kind of obvious, but Bonderman, Sabathia and Webb are neat semi-out-of-the-box choices. (Or at least smaller market choices.) Kind of surprised Jake Peavy’s not there, though. John Lackey seems like an odd pick to me, though I may just be biased from some of the stinkers he’s pitched against the Sox.

    mouse - SF March 18, 2007, 12:53 am
  • Tyrel, he misspoke about Varitek in a recent interview, or blog post, or he worded it badly, and he’s basically been fellating Tek ever since.
    If it’s a ‘fantasy’ question, there’s really no reason to choose Varitek over Mauer. Mauer’s a better defender, a (much) better hitter, and Schilling even recognized that Mauer was a good game caller. It’s just silly, that’s all.

    Andrew March 18, 2007, 12:58 am
  • I didn’t hear about the mistatement, or the felatio. Nothing wrong with Curt giving his man props though, like he did with Rolen and Beckett. I thought it was pretty cool of him to give a shout to Jeter as well. Personally I think Tejada would be the choice, but it’s Curt list, not mine.
    I liked the Bay pick too.

    Tyrel SF March 18, 2007, 1:21 am
  • YFs, eager to puncture the myth of Jason Varitek — though I’ll agree with them that his reputation does exceed his talents — are grasping at straws, including the fact of Schilling criticizing HIMSELF for not listening to Varitek as somehow evidence that Varitek is a poor game caller. Pay no heed. It’s been hashed, beaten and disproven. Nothing left to see here.
    Incidentally, if Manny and Jeter miss a similar number of plays (by some defesive metrics, cited above), Jeter plays the position where defense is more valuable, and Manny has a better career offensive line (greatest right-handed hitter of our generation, or some suh), does that mean Jeter too is no better than Raul Ibanez? Sounds like a topic for next week’s Keeping Score…

    Paul SF March 18, 2007, 2:03 am
  • SF: I don’t know the answer. For all the arguments about gaining Alex on one side, keep in mind that you’re also dealing with the removal of Soriano, a fielding catastrophe, on the other. So the improvement came from the addition or the subtraction? Both? How much? Neither? What about the pitching staff? The 2003 staff had more ks than the 2004 staff. So maybe the numbers are subject to the fact that Jeter was getting more opportunities in 2004, and that also had something to do with the improvement. Maybe the addition of Bowa helped last year. I really don’t have the answer, but the reality is that defensive metrics are notoriously difficult to interpret, and this is a case in point. Has Alex helped Derek’s fielding? Perhaps? A lot? A little? to pretend that we know something that we don’t doesn’t make sense for me, and it’s got nothing to do with Jeter’s glove. Which in any case was not even the issue i was responding to when this meme developed here. The point was that given the choice of moving either Alex or Derek, the decision to move Alex was smart. What are the arguments against this move? It didn’t hinder Alex offensively: he won the MVP in 2005. If he’s deteriorated defensively in the last year, why believe that wouldn’t have happened if he was at ss? Meanwhile, Jeter has played a solid ss and led the league in vorp. So basically this decision has been vindicated, and the only argument against it is a gut “you can’t move the gpe!” reaction, which is not a rational way of evaluation the options that were presented to the team.
    I’m out on this one.

    YF March 18, 2007, 2:03 am
  • I don’t see any harm in him going with the devil he knows either. Curt basically said he knew Mauer by reputation–that’s not the same as actually being experienced with his play.
    I’m not a particularly big Schilling fan, so I won’t go out of my way to defend him, but in this case I think some of you YFs are making a mountain out of a molehill in regards to his various comments about Varitek.

    mouse - SF March 18, 2007, 2:05 am
  • Likewise, we can all say we know Mauer is the better catcher (he is), but for a pitcher, I imagine the game he calls is more important, and Schilling knows nothing of Mauer’s game calling. I don’t either. I’ve never heard Santana or Liriano make a big deal about it like Schilling and Beckett have Tek’s, but I also don’t read the Minneapolis Star-Tribune every day like I do the Globe and Herald…

    Paul SF March 18, 2007, 2:09 am
  • Then again, I seriously doubt Varitek is some never-wrong, game-calling God. The difference between the two’s game-calling ability is probably minimal, and when you’re dealing with aces like Santana, Halladay, Oswalt, I doubt they’d have a problem pitching to anyone (And Mauer is no ‘devil’, he’s an angel when it comes to all-around production).
    And you’d have to compare Jeter to other shortstops, not outfielders like Ibanez. Ozzie Smith got into the Hall based entirely on his stolen bases and defense. His offense was atrocious. You could probably compare those two guys as well, Jeter’s dominance at offense (and while not as many, a better SB percentage) much, much more balances out his mediocrity at SS. If he continues on his career path, he’s going to go down as one of the ‘great’ shortstops, no doubt about it. He’s already the greatest Yankee shortstop in history. But then again, Manny is already one of the greatest hitters in our generation. It’s just that his defense, currently, is so atrocious it might just take a small bite out of his overall value.

    Andrew March 18, 2007, 10:31 am
  • The mystery poster doesn’t realize that Jeter was terrible, truly horrible, when Clemens and Pettitte were on the team. From 2000-03 he may have been the worst full-time SS in the league. Since? He may be top 5.
    YF – How often does the 2B range into the SS hole? Maybe never? I can’t see what effect having Soriano around would have on the SS’s putouts (unassisted at 2B and popups). The 2B might have a small effect on the assists (you know since they need to run four steps to cover the 2B bag). Maybe the 2B has an effect on double plays, but if anything Jeter should have turned fewer double plays in 2004 working with two new 2B (first Womack and then Robby). Unless, that is, he was getting to more ball to his left – i.e., up the middle. So, no, I don’t buy the Soriano explanation.
    Jeter turned from being perhaps the worst SS in the game to one of the best in two year’s time (when he should have been getting worse). The only clear difference is him having a great SS to his right. I’ll take that explanation thanks, rather than the fifty other minor things that *could* have happened.
    Paul – Jeter in 2000-2003 was like a Raul Ibanez. Now? He’s one of the most valuable players in the game. His short commings are duly noted in that Keeping Score column from October. Keep that objectivity in mind SF’s when I continue to rip apart the Myth of Jason Varitek below.
    As for Varitek – here’s what Schilling first said, Tyrel:
    “So we’re into the fourth inning, and the inevitable happens. I start Cuddyer off with a curve ball-strike one. My thought as the pitch is being called is, “OK, anything but a fastball here.” Tek puts down fastball in, I shake no. Tek puts it down again, which means he feels great about the pitch. At this point the ONLY thing to do is commit to the pitch and throw it as I called it or step off. I do neither. Mentally I think no, but physically I nod yes. In the middle of my windup I’m thinking, “OK, you idiot, why the hell are you throwing this pitch? About ten seconds later, when the ball lands over the left-field wall, I’m dropping words I’d put soap in my kids mouths for saying.”
    All the Sox fans forget – Why on Earth would Schilling say “anything but fastball” mentally. And that’s what Varitek offers?
    See, when his pitchers listen to him, the “inevitable happens”. Easy interpretation especially with the quality of the Sox pitching the last two years (since he was named ego-inflating “captain”). Folks can say whatever they want – the facts (Beckett, yuoung pitchers) are an inconvenient truth.
    And the big deal about Varitek is like the “solid defense” about guys like Fasano and Stinnett. Since they do nothing that shows up in the box score, you have lots of people saying nice things about them. Unfortunately, there’s nothing more to their game than other people’s words.
    Varitek had a few good years. But, it was a surprise to me to realize that Jorge throws out significantly more runners than Varitek. His myth has been greatly exaggerated, especially since when first started posting this line of thought around here the blowback centered on whether he was truly worse than Jorge.
    So if Varitek doesn’t hit particularly well and doesn’t throw runners out, what else is there to say about him? Oh, he calls a good game? Of course he does.

    Jim - YF March 18, 2007, 10:52 am
  • Andrew – you’re absolutely right on the proper comparisons for Jeter. I shouldn’t have been lazy and should have looked up his VORP in 200-2003 but relative to other SS.
    That’s what people forget when they talk about replacing and A-Rod. It’s not his offense you’re replacing – it’s his offense at 3B – big difference.

    Jim - YF March 18, 2007, 10:57 am
  • Jim. The ss makes far more plays with the 2b than with the 3b, and the yanks had a massive improvement in 2004 at 2b, with cairo taking most of the slack. i don’t think the “range” data set is particularly conclusive of anything, given the enormity of mitigating factors on the field, and the fact that the data for the stats themselves is subject to all kinds of errors, each of which is compounding. anyway, If alex is such a vaccuum over at 3rd, shouldn’t jeter’s number’s go down?

    YF March 18, 2007, 11:16 am
  • YF – Jeter’s improvement is about getting to many more balls. The 2B has absolutely no effect on that (unless you want to consider the three hoppers a year that go over the pitcher’s head). It’s not simply about range. It’s about Jeter fielding many more balls given his massive increase in putouts, assists, and double plays. Alex is a vaccuum and that allows Jeter to cheat more up the middle. Is that really so difficult to fathom?

    Jim - YF March 18, 2007, 11:24 am
  • Jim, why can’t it be the reverse? Jeter can afford to cheat to his right because the balls up the middle are being taken care of by Cano?

    Nick-YF March 18, 2007, 11:29 am
  • The proximities are much different, Nick, positionally speaking.
    The real story is that Jeter may benefit from both guys, frankly. The fact that it seems so difficult to get any admission (other than equivocation about the fact that “it might not be A-Rod and could be Cano” from YFs) that Jeter has greatly benefited from those around him is proof of my point. Jeter is above benefiting from his teammates, the tone of these discussions imply. It’s all Derek, always.
    He’s a GREAT player, like someone said a first balloter. But he’s part of a team that helps him, and in the last few years it’s helped him (and, by addition, his reputation) tremendously. This shouldn’t be the hardest thing to admit, unless you have some sort of bizarre Copernican view of the Derek Universe.

    SF March 18, 2007, 11:51 am
  • I think that’s a mischaracterization of YF’s posts on this subject. Although, I’ll let him defend himself here. But my interpretation of what he is saying is that it’s very difficult to get at the root of why Jeter has improved the last couple of years? Correlation does not equal causation. And a person such as Mitch Lightman (the creator of UZR) who thinks a lot about defense in baseball doesn’t buy into the notion that A-Rod improved Jeter’s defense either.
    As someone who never harbored any illusions about Jeter in the field, I don’t think taking the view that A-Rod and Cano might not have anything to do with Jeter’s improvement is hero-worship. I think it’s an admission that it’s hard to figure out how to analyze baseball fielding.

    Nick-YF March 18, 2007, 11:57 am
  • It may be a mischaracterization, but if so it is minor. There is only one subject that I find YF intractably stubborn on, and that is the subject of criticism of Jeter. Try finding any criticism of Jeter at this site that isn’t answered almost immediately with either a rationalization or explanation softening that criticism.
    Sadly, to be truthful, the Sox don’t have any players that approach demanding this kind of dedication or reflexive defense. It’s not a terrible thing to have a guy that you feel can’t do any wrong. It’s romantic, in a way. Guys like Lynn and Fisk got it, but they were shuttled out of town too quickly. Roger got it until people figured Roger out. Pedro got it, but Pedro (like Roger) only pitched once every five days, and even then he wasn’t homegrown, which adds another layer of possession. Manny gets it, sort of, but it’s pretty clear that Manny is majorly flawed as a player in the field (and also wasn’t a homegrowner). Sox fans might be accused of overly lauding Tek and objecting to criticism, but I am not one of those: he’s a good, imperfect player, certainly no luminary or Hall of Famer worthy of such vehement, stubborn defending. I think I likened him to a piece of toast last year in one of my threads, for whatever that’s worth.
    Yankees fans have something truly special in Jeter, and in my opinion it clouds their vision sometimes. The converse might be accused of SFs, that we are too quick to jump on Jeter for his flaws since we “hate him”. I don’t hate him at all, no matter what people want to think, but the general charge is legit sometimes with regards to Jeter-bashing. In most cases, though, criticism will not stand. At all. No matter the mathematical legitimacy.

    SF March 18, 2007, 12:14 pm
  • And to make this clearer, I put the attitude towards Jeter in the same romantic category as the “mythology of players” thing we discussed in an earlier thread. It’s part of what I love about the game, that we make bonds with players (and certainly in Jeter’s case that bond is understandable and deserved) that are unbreakable, uncompromisable. I can’t stress it more sincerely than saying that I actually yearn for a Sox player to reappear who I can make that connection with and who YFs can needle in order to get my goat. I can’t think of anyone other than Pedro (who, during the majority his time with the Sox was as close to flawless as one can possibly hope for) in the last ten years who fit that bill, and I don’t foresee anyone coming along in the forseeable future. The expectations around Matsuzaka have probably put a crimp in the possibility of it being him, and the team is otherwise too aged. Someday, though, I hope that player appears.

    SF March 18, 2007, 1:16 pm
  • Interesting thread here, make sure to peruse the comments, about Manny’s fielding.
    http://www.baseballthinkfactory.org/files/newsstand/discussion/ny_times_rosenheck_manny_being_manny_is_hurting_the_red_sox_rr/

    SF March 18, 2007, 1:32 pm
  • You don’t think Ortiz is in that mythological category yet?

    Nick-YF March 18, 2007, 1:35 pm
  • David Ortiz is the closest, SF. He’s not homegrown, but he was discovered by the Sox, which is almost as good. Nomar Garciaparra until 2004 was that player. Roger Clemens used to be that player for me.
    Nick, I agree that correlation does not equal causation. However, being as we’re all intelligent people who know the game well, are well read about the game, and like to analyze the game to what extent we can given our knowledge and information, I think the assumptions made about Cairo and Rodriguez helping cover for Jeter’s defensive shortcomings are logically sound. The key question I think Jim, SF and others are asking is: Are there any other possible correlations that could equal this causation? The only one I can think of is maybe Jeter did a lot of hard work in the 2003/04 offseason to improve his defense. If he did, I imagine there would be a news story about it (like the one this spring training about Manny working on his hitting). Is there any? I’m sure I don’t know, but I would think it would have been brought up in this discussion by now.
    Tha absence of any other logical correlation strongly increases the chances that it does in fact have a strong chance of equaling causation.

    Paul SF March 18, 2007, 1:35 pm
  • Nick – Cano might be the first 2B that Jeter has played with who can make the occasional play up the middle. Even then he’s not great. Those are extremely difficult plays to make for the 2B. More though, when I say up the middle I still mean to the left of the 2B bag. Those are plays that Jeter never made in his younger days. His range has always been bad, but now he’s gained two steps to his left because of two fewer steps to his right.
    Just look at the number of put outs Jeter has had 2004-06 versus beforehand. The number of pop outs right to SS can’t explain it. Otherwise, that’s unassisted plays at 2B. That’s simply Jeter getting to balls closer to the the base. And I would suspect that also explains the much increased number of double plays to – steps on 2B and fires to first.
    By the way, in looking up the numbers, I realized how amazing Cano was in the field last year. Even in 2005 he was average (when most Yankee fans thought he was lazy). It should be obvious now that he’s the best 2B in the game on both sides of the ball.

    Jim - YF March 18, 2007, 1:36 pm
  • other possibilities:
    There are a lot more groundball pitchers on the Yanks now, which in turn has made Jeter more aware out there.
    Independent of A-Rod and Cano, Jeter made an adjustment in his defensive game that would have happened no matter who was next to him on the field.
    Yanks management has figured out how to position fielders better in the last few years.
    There is better communication between pitchers and fielders now.
    Just throwing out theories.

    Nick-YF March 18, 2007, 1:41 pm
  • Paul – Jeter was absolutely horrid for the four years prior to 2004. I have a very hard time believing he could all of a sudden make that up with hard work especially to go from one of the worst to one of the best SS.
    Shoot, people will still believe whatever they want regardless of the evidence.
    You take an amazing SS and put him at 3B, people really have a hard time believing the defense on that side will improve dramatically?

    Jim - YF March 18, 2007, 1:41 pm
  • Nick –
    They had exactly one groundball pitcher in 2004 (Brown) and again in 2005-06. That’s not going to explain the improvement we’ve seen.
    What adjustment? As he’s getting older and slower, he suddenly and dramatically increases the number of balls he’s getting to? What – he made his arms AND legs longer?
    Like rest are just grasping at air, unless Jeter now has clairyoance and ESP.

    Jim - YF March 18, 2007, 1:45 pm
  • But this would be more convincing if Jeter had played with below-average fielding 3rd basemen before A-Rod. Brosius and Ventura were very strong. I’m not saying it’s not a possibility; I’m just not completely convinced. And I don’t think my skepticism is reflective of some needed to mythologize Jeter. It’s not an obvious cause-effect relationship…at least to me.

    Nick-YF March 18, 2007, 1:45 pm
  • All of those could have happened, Nick, and the result might be as dramatic. But some of those are pretty far-fetched — and are logically less likely to be causative than the bettering of the 2B and 3B positions at exactly the same time Jeter’s defense improved.
    It’s no big deal to me. I can always find ways to get digs in at Jeter, hehe. But logically it seems A-Rod (and Cairo/Cano) have helped Jeter to a greater extent than seems to be generally accepted. I’m wondering why.

    Paul SF March 18, 2007, 1:48 pm
  • The adjustment could be as simple as cheating more to his left, which could have happened regardless of what A-Rod is doing at third. Before A-Rod arrived, Jeter could have decided that in 2004, after looking at video, he was getting beaten to his left too much, and that he needed to overcompensate to make up for that. He made an adjustment. You believe he made an adjustment as well. However, you think it’s because A-Rod arrived. That might be true. Or it might be a coincidence. Or it might not be this adjustment at all. It’s just not proveable and obvious to me.

    Nick-YF March 18, 2007, 1:49 pm
  • Brosius in 2001 and Ventura in pinstripes WERE Alex in 2004. Indeed, Derek got worse as his 3B’s did.
    Hey, Derek doesn’t buy the theory either (as told to Pete Abe).

    Jim - YF March 18, 2007, 1:51 pm
  • Great link, by the way, SF. It better explains how Fenway’s left field hurts some of Manny’s numbers — for example, UZR, which tallies wall-balls as catchable, thus dramatically increasing the number of balls Manny “should have” caught, when in fact there’s no way he or anyone else could have caught them. The metrics that do adjust for Fenway show Manny’s defense costing the Sox 1 or 2 wins a year — statistically excusable when considering his offense is worth at least 10.

    Paul SF March 18, 2007, 1:51 pm
  • And, again, I think the whole idea that Yanks fans are reluctant to ascribe A-Rod’s presence as the main reason for Jeter’s improvement because of some need to deify Derek misleading and completely false in this case. What I’ve read on Yanks blogs is that a majority of Yanks fan believe this to be the case. They think Jeter has been helped by A-Rod. This is not some iconoclastic minority opinion. A lot of Yanks fans, Jeter fans, agree with Jim.

    Nick-YF March 18, 2007, 1:53 pm
  • For the record, Cairo was a below average 2B in 2004. Cano was an average 2B in 2005 and maybe the best 2B in the game in 2006.

    Jim - YF March 18, 2007, 1:54 pm
  • Fair enough Nick.

    Jim - YF March 18, 2007, 1:57 pm
  • Ortiz, perhaps is that player, but he doesn’t face the same scrutiny, this because the scrutiny is limited by the fact that he doesn’t field. So the mythology is limited to his hitting. And that’s no myth, right? He escapes the scrutiny that Jeter faces because he’s not as well-rounded a player. He exists to do one thing: hit. We don’t need to reflexively defend any part of Ortiz’ game, because he doesn’t actually do what he is worst at. Lucky for him, and possibly for us.
    In other words, Ortiz doesn’t need to be defended for his play on many levels because he doesn’t play the entire game itself. So that makes him different than Jeter, to me at least. He’s far more limited.
    (Does this make any sense at all?)

    SF March 18, 2007, 2:04 pm
  • It makes sense. However, I think the MVP debate surrounding Ortiz did bring up some tendencies among certain sox fans to over-defend his lack of a position.

    Nick-YF March 18, 2007, 2:08 pm
  • In other words, his DH status actually is a big flaw in his game (similar to Jeter’s inability to range to his left) but Sox fans do not readily admit it.

    Nick-YF March 18, 2007, 2:11 pm
  • Not this one! But yeah, I think too many Sox fans were willing to overlook the fact that he basically is the old chubby guy on “Survivor” that sits out the immunity challenges, at least when it comes to fielding.

    SF March 18, 2007, 2:11 pm
  • Further, Ortiz is going to be hard pressed to have a long-lasting impact. No doubt it is a great run he’s in. But given the late start and the lack of defense, if he slips to “just” a .900 OPS, his true value plumets.
    Giambi is facing a similar fate.

    Jim - YF March 18, 2007, 2:12 pm
  • On the other hand, Nick, it goes without saying that most Sox fans KNOW that Ortiz is a crappy fielder, and that playing him in the field would be a big mistake.
    That is different than Sox fans foolishly asserting that his inability to field a position should not be a factor in the MVP voting.

    SF March 18, 2007, 2:13 pm
  • We’re all in agreement suddenly!

    Nick-YF March 18, 2007, 2:16 pm
  • Even on Mr. Inevitable? :)

    Jim - YF March 18, 2007, 2:18 pm
  • (Does this make any sense at all?)
    In light of Schilling just picking him over all other shortstops, not a lot.
    Girardi just called it in the Pirates game. With two on, two out and no runs in, he said

    1) National league pitchers aren’t used to American league lineups and get worn out by no breathers in the lineup.
    2) Runs scoring with two outs upset the pitcher and can lead to more.
    3) Duke was getting tired in such a way that he was either missing or leaving the ball up.

    Grand Slam, Giambi. 7 – 0 Yankees.

    john March 18, 2007, 2:34 pm
  • “Cano was an average 2B in 2005 and maybe the best 2B in the game in 2006.”
    Chase Utley is a class above every other 2nd baseman in the game. Cano is good offensively, average or slightly below defensively.
    I’d take him, though. If he learns to hack a little less, he could become a real force with the bat for that position.

    Steve March 18, 2007, 2:40 pm
  • Cano was second-best 2B in the majors, by and far away the best 2B in the AL. We’ll see how he does in a full season of play this year, if he gets tired down the stretch. Because after he came back last year, Cano was one of the best hitters in the game.

    Andrew March 18, 2007, 2:47 pm
  • There’s Minky flashing his gold glove. It’s too bad he hits worse than my dead goldfish.

    Andrew March 18, 2007, 2:48 pm
  • And Schilling did not take Manny, despite his great offense.
    Moose is out, Mo’s in — Wang, Pettitte and Moose had three good spring training starts in a row.

    john March 18, 2007, 2:49 pm
  • If I remember correctly, his OBP is not very impressive when considering his average. The power numbers are gaudy for a 2B, but I doubt he realistically hits anywhere near .330-.340 again, probably somewhere in the .290-.300 range. That seems like a good window.

    Steve March 18, 2007, 2:50 pm
  • He doesn’t walk. This is true. Hopefully, he’ll learn some patience at the plate. His stroke though is encouraging. If he adds some power, it’ll make up for some of his issues with taking a walk. We’ll see. He’s an exciting player, and I hope his progress continues.

    Nick-YF March 18, 2007, 2:53 pm
  • And he is only 23. Last year was a pretty remarkable season for a 2b at that age. I think it’s more realistic to expect Cano to put up .320-.340 numbers than to expect Pineiro to put up a 2.90 ERA as long as we’re talking about realistic projections.

    Nick-YF March 18, 2007, 2:57 pm
  • Goodness gracious. As Nick makes clear–thank you Nick—i’m NOT defending Jeter. I’m just saying I don’t know how to interpret the data about this, and i don’t know that anyone else here does either.
    As for being reflexive defensive of Jeter, that’s specious. What criticism do we deny? That he’s not a genius gloveman? I think we’ve conceded that. SF has some moralistic bug up his hiney about Derek’s dating habits, but frankly they’re none of my business, and i don’t really see the issue with his dating the occassional supermodel. (I could bring up SF’s Tom Brady love here but i wont.) So what’s the other complaint? That he doesn’t “let us in”? That he “manages his image”? That he doesn’t take ARod out to dinner enough? What evs.

    YF March 18, 2007, 2:58 pm
  • Nirvana couldn’t last forever…
    Look at the defensive numbers for Cano and Utley in 2006. Utley was below average defensively. Cano was very, very good.
    That said, qualifications about playing time apply.
    YF – I’m capable of both presenting the data and interpreting it. Does it “prove” the A-Rod effect? Hello no. Theories can only be eliminated, not proven. That said, every other theory offered has been rejected by the evidence. The only one that remains is the A-Rod one.
    How you interpret your remaining skepticism is your call.

    Jim - YF March 18, 2007, 3:04 pm
  • It’s interesting that for years sox fans have been trying to downgrade Captain Jeter with fielding stats but now more punishing Manny stats show up.

    john March 18, 2007, 3:07 pm
  • oh yeah, that’s right. This post was originally about Manny.

    Nick-YF March 18, 2007, 3:10 pm
  • The stats for 2006 do show that Cano had a good season, but he is not a “very, very good” defensive 2B. Utley’s the better player, the best as the position. It wasn’t meant as a slight against Robinson.
    “I think it’s more realistic to expect Cano to put up .320-.340 numbers than to expect Pineiro to put up a 2.90 ERA as long as we’re talking about realistic projections.”
    Both are possible, and both would be fluke-ish. I don’t see how they’re all that different. Although, if Cano managed to do it again it obviously wouldn’t be a fluke, but the smart money’s against that kind of a feat.
    And the difference between Jeter and Manny is that Manny’s defensive stats are skewed by Fenway (even his positive ones, like outfield assists,) and Jeter plays a much more important defensive position (which, to his credit, is a lot harder, but makes his below-average defense count more.)

    Steve March 18, 2007, 3:23 pm
  • Steve, for one thing, Cano’s real success has been much more recent than Pineiro’s. Even if Cano bats .300 (regresses) and Pineiro pitches at the same level he has pitched the last two years (no regression), then Cano is still decent and Pineiro is still awful. Cano is younger. It’s more likely that he’ll improve since he is younger. Pineiro is a reclaimation project. There’s a difference. And do you really think Pineiro’s 2.90 ERA would be a fluke? This is what you wrote:
    “I don’t expect miracles from him, but I don’t think it’s unrealistic to think he could muster 30 saves with a 2.90 ERA and 1.00 WHIP (give or take on all three.)”
    Look, you’re a fan of the Sox. Level-headed and reasonable, but, in my opinion, you’re engaging in homerism here, especially given your attitude toward the respective cases of Cano and Pineiro.

    Nick-YF March 18, 2007, 3:42 pm
  • If Piniero is half as impressive as Cano was last year, I will be satisfied.
    I missed the orginal conversation about Tek, and I don’t know the entire context of it, but from the quote I understand “the inevitable” as shit happening. Shit happens. It doesn’t matter matter if you’re Curt Schilling, Johan Santana, Mariano Rivera, or Roy Oswalt – someone is going to hit a homerun off you sometime. It may be because you don’t mentally commit to a pitch, or because you don’t shake off your catcher, or because in that particular moment, on that particular pitch, you got beat. It’s inevitable.
    Comparing Varitek to Sal Fasano, you’ve got to be joking. The man has an injury plagued season and all of a sudden he’s chopped liver? Pleaze. There’s a good reason the Yankees didn’t let Posada represent his country in the WBC. It wore Tek out. But he’s recovered from his knee surgery, in shape and mentally focused. Let’s revisit this conversation in July, shall we?
    “‘s interesting that for years sox fans have been trying to downgrade Captain Jeter with fielding stats but now more punishing Manny stats show up.”
    I’d argue the exact opposite. Has anyone ever claimed Manny was a top defensive outfielder? Not that I’m aware of. It was pretty well known when we signed him that he’s an adventure in the field. As for Jeter, Jim says he’s a top five defender, and he won a gold glove in 2005, but the same stats people use to criticize Manny say that Jeter was 29th out of 30 shortstops that year. Now I respect Jeter and his approach, but seriously, his reputation far exceeds his defensive skills. According to most statistical models out there, he is a below average shortstop.
    http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/2006/writers/jon_weisman/02/03/defense.metrics/1.html
    Isn’t it time he moved down the Defensive Spectrum? Left field, perhaps?
    Fun thread, people.

    Tyrel SF March 18, 2007, 4:51 pm
  • Steve – Cano had a RATE 114 = 14 runs above average. Utley had a RATE 94 = 6 runs below average. Granted, Cano played less, but he was 20 runs better than Utley.
    Cano had a WARP of 7.4
    Utlety had a WARP of 7.8
    So, in plain English, Utley was a slightly better hitter. Cano was a significantly better defender.
    Me, I feel very comfortable calling Cano the best 2B in the game.
    And Pineiro – don’t hold your breath.

    Jim - YF March 18, 2007, 4:52 pm
  • Sorry – Jeter is very serviceable at SS now as above average defensively and well-above average offensively. Indeed, he may be the most valuable player in the game (see VORP last year).
    As for the stats I use, RATE works nicely as does the counting numbers. All show he’s much better than he was 2000-04
    – that’s good enough for me.
    (I’ll admit the top 5 bit was a stretch. Keep in mind though that above average = better than 13 other SS’s. I think the question is: Top 10?).

    Jim - YF March 18, 2007, 5:06 pm
  • You won’t find anybody, even rational Yankee fans, that think Cano is, in reality, better than Utley. It’s not happening. Again, not a slight against Cano. I like him as a player, and he might be able to be the best if he learns to take a few pitches. As I stated before, last year’s stats do apply, but he is not an above-average defensive 2B.
    Jeter, offensively, is probably the best SS in the game unless I’m forgetting somebody. Maybe Reyes if you count stolen bases. But defensively, Derek’s still below average. The players around him help his cause, but that doesn’t make his defense better, it only helps the total effect of the infield.
    Nick: It’s apples and oranges to compare two players when one is playing the exact same but the other is making a radical position change, one that will probably benefit him greatly. I still don’t think it’s unrealistic for Piniero to be a very effective closer (and for the record, I did say “give or take”. In his last few appearances, he’s struck out 1 batter per inning over 8 and only walked a few in that same time span. It’s a small sample size, but there’s a good chance he could spread that out over the course of the season. That’s not homerism. Same with Cano, I just honestly would not be surprised if the guy batted .280 this year instead of .330.

    Steve March 18, 2007, 6:08 pm
  • How did we get into comparing Joel Pineiro and Robinson Cano? That’s an example of Goodwin’s law, if ever there were one. “You think Cano might regress? Yeah, well Pineiro sucks!”

    Paul SF March 18, 2007, 6:55 pm
  • This thread is further proof that we need the regular season to start ASAP.

    mouse - SF March 18, 2007, 7:05 pm
  • Steve, all that was said is that is would be much, much more flukey to see Pineiro post a 2.90 ERA than Cano put up a .320 season. In fact, it would be more flukey than not to see Cano NOT because a darn good player. Ala the Replacement Level Yankee Weblog:
    http://yankeefan.blogspot.com/2007/02/looking-ahead-to-2007-robinson-cano.html
    “Here’s the list of players who’ve had a season where they hit for an average of .330 or higher at an age of 25 or younger in a full season (400+ AB) since WWII.
    Richie Ashburn
    George Brett
    Miguel Cabrera
    Robinson Cano
    Rod Carew
    Tommy Davis
    Billy Goodman
    Vlad Guerrero
    Tony Gwynn
    Al Kaline
    Fred Lynn
    Bill Madlock
    Don Mattingly
    Joe Mauer
    Willie Mays
    Brian McCann
    Vada Pinson
    Albert Pujols
    Alex Rodriguez
    Gary Sheffield
    Rusty Staub
    There’s not a bad player in that bunch, is there? What this tells me is that any player good enough to hit as well as Cano did in 2006 at a young age is not likely to be a fluke. He may not be a true talent .340 hitter, but he’s clearly talented enough to produce at an All Star level.”
    So, in light of flukes, you really should be surprised to see Cano hit less than .300 next year, and you should be similarly surprised to see Pineiro post a 2.90 ERA. And Cano has been rated as average to above-average defensively, while Utley’s a bit worse. Should we expect Utley to put up better numbers than Cano at this point in their respective careers? Yes, but Utley (age 28) is at his theoretical peak, while Cano has yet to even big to enter his. Thus, it would not be crazy for a rational person to reject a trade Cano for Utley straight up, simply because Cano will hit for longer and is currently much cheaper. Would I trade Cano’s numbers this year and next for Utley’s this year and next? Yes, but not their careers, not at this point. Utley’s the better player now, but Cano has the higher ceiling, especially once he learns a bit of patience and his power continues to develop.

    Andrew March 18, 2007, 7:20 pm
  • Sorry Andrew – regardless of whether Steve wants to believe it – Cano is the better player now. His defense last year was simply outstanding (check the numbers) and with Bowa watching over him, there’s no reason to think he’ll regress in the field.
    Utley may be the (slightly) better hitter (right now).
    Cano is the better player. And he still has a ton of room to improve, as you note.
    Meanwhile, I loved the Yankee lineup today and that was without Abreu. Phelps gives them more balance. Scary to think he or Posada could be batting ninth!
    See, that’s my greatest hope right now – that Phelps makes the team as a starter.
    On the other side, SF’s are left praying some semblance of a bullpen comes together. And Pineiro represents the best chance of a closer? Ha! There’s absolutely nothing to suggest that. Nothing at all, well except that he’s a pitcher.

    Jim - YF March 18, 2007, 7:51 pm
  • Jim – every statistical study I’ve seen suggests that Cano was average to slightly above-average, which are relative terms. There were many second basemen who were much better defensively than Cano was last year, it’s just a fact. The other fact is that Utley was slightly worse than Cano.
    But saying Cano is better now is ridiculous. Does he have 30-HR power? Can he steal 15 bases? Heck, his OBP was lower than Utley’s despite his average being 40 points higher. Anyone will tell you that a higher OBP is more valuable than a higher average. Cano can be better than Utley, but he’s not right now. It’s not a slight on Cano in the least, Utley is an amazing offensive force for a 2B-man, and Cano is not far behind. Both are outstanding players, and trying to say which one is better right now is as useless as trying to figure which shortstop is better, Jeter or Reyes. Both are outstanding (and they will hardly ever see each other), and that should be enough.

    Andrew March 18, 2007, 9:14 pm
  • Remember that Utley did his damage in the NL, on a lesser team (though he did have Ryan Howard behind him, so that could be a moot point. Or does batting order not matter, like some say?!). Cano surely benefits from his context. He’s a heck of a player, regardless.
    As for expecting Cano to hit in the .280s, that’s unrealistic. That would be a precipitous dropoff, worse than Jhonny Peralta last year, who sunk from .292 to .257, and whose regression was something of a disaster. No way Cano, in that park, in that lineup, drops 50+ points of batting average. If he drops off, I still think he’ll probably hit in the lowish .300s/310s. It’s his OBP that might be the problem. Despite his batting average, he gets on base about as much as Julio Lugo (smaller sample size, I know, and Cano is younger and conceivably on the ascent, but the numbers are what the numbers are), so take that for what it’s worth – we all know what YFs think of Julio Lugo, right? If Cano hits .315, and his OBP barely cracks .340, then that might be an issue for some.

    SF March 18, 2007, 10:47 pm
  • The thing about the NL is that there’s less good hitters, not that the pitchers are better.

    Andrew March 18, 2007, 11:17 pm
  • Andrew –
    Utley is below average as a 2B. Any worse and he’s not a 2B much longer.
    Cano by contrast had a very, very good defensive season last year. And he 11 HR’s in his last 211 AB’s. Considering that power is the last tool to fully develop, he could easily hit 30 HR as soon as this year.
    Just take a look at his 2nd half numbers:
    211 AB 11 HR 51 RBI .365 .380 .635
    And that’s 211 AB’s!
    Sure, he doesn’t walk much, but he’s hitting for average and power and he’s only 24. Oh, and did I mention he plays an above average 2B?
    See, it would surprise me more if Robby isn’t acknowledged as the best 2B in the game than if Pineiro was still in Boston. The former is one of the best players in the game under 25. The latter is a complete scrub awaiting the waiver wire. How’s idea was it to put them in the same sentence?

    Jim - YF March 19, 2007, 8:26 am
  • I find it hard to 100% buy this argument about Manny being the worst left fielder in baseball, given the difficulty of making fair comparisons on defensive stats.
    For example, I have often seen Manny grab a ball cleanly off the wall (sometimes with a bare hand) and huck it straight into second base without moving his feet — rendering a potential double into a measly single.
    How does one determine how often Manny is saving the team from a runner in scoring position, as compared to others playing the Monster? Pretty difficult to say.
    And in determining Manny’s overall value to the team, how does one statistically adjust for his contribution of hitting as part of the 3/4 combo with Ortiz — thus averting many intentional walks, an d also probably making the #5 and #6 hitters’ lives easier by grinding the pitcher down.
    I also don’t buy the “Ortiz is a bad first baseman” line. The sample size is tiny, but he’s performed pretty well on the rare occasions the Sox have put him at first. (Remember him nailing that Cards pitcher by making a perfect throw across the diamond in the 2004 World Series?)
    The much stronger argument against Ortiz at first is the risk of injury.

    Anonymous March 19, 2007, 10:42 am
  • I find it hard to 100% buy this argument about Manny being the worst left fielder in baseball, given the difficulty of making fair comparisons on defensive stats.
    For example, I have often seen Manny grab a ball cleanly off the wall (sometimes with a bare hand) and huck it straight into second base without moving his feet — rendering a potential double into a measly single.
    How does one determine how often Manny is saving the team from a runner in scoring position, as compared to others playing the Monster? Pretty difficult to say.
    And in determining Manny’s overall value to the team, how does one statistically adjust for his contribution of hitting as part of the 3/4 combo with Ortiz — thus averting many intentional walks, an d also probably making the #5 and #6 hitters’ lives easier by grinding the pitcher down.
    I also don’t buy the “Ortiz is a bad first baseman” line. The sample size is tiny, but he’s performed pretty well on the rare occasions the Sox have put him at first. (Remember him nailing that Cards pitcher by making a perfect throw across the diamond in the 2004 World Series?)
    The much stronger argument against Ortiz at first is the risk of injury.

    Hudson March 19, 2007, 10:44 am
  • Cano is a great hitter who’s still learning. It’s wishful thinking by fans of other teams to think last year was a fluke.
    Ditto for many of the Jeter comments (and Manny apologies). With A-Rod to his right, Jeter is an excellent defensive shortstop. That’s measured not only by his range, but by his baseball savvy, his outstanding plays at big moments and his leadership. That’s why Schilling picked him number one. It wasn’t only for his offense: Tejada had 150 rbis one year.

    john March 19, 2007, 11:01 am
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