Larry Mahnken and SG's

Replacement Level Yankees Weblog

"Hey, it's free!"

The Replacement Level Yankees Weblog has moved!  Our new home is:

Larry Mahnken
Sean McNally
Fabian McNally
John Brattain

This is an awesome FREE site, where you can win money and gift certificates with no skill involved! If you're bored, I HIGHLY recommend checking it out!


Disclaimer: If you think this is the official website of the New York Yankees, you're an idiot. Go away.

February 4, 2004

by Larry Mahnken

The loss of Aaron Boone is significant not because of what the Yankees lost, but because of what they're left with. When Boone was injured, not only were the Yankees left without an acceptable option to play third base, they were without any players who could form an even remotely effective platoon. The Yankees have been left with options that the Tigers would pass on. They didn't go from good to bad, they went from okay to awful--but in the marginal sense, that's just as big a loss.

The Yankees have been scrambling to fill the hole ever since, and sportswriters everywhere have been scrambling to figure out how they're going to do it. For a few writers, reality didn't stop them from making outlandish suggestions:

Maybe they'll trade for Eric Chavez!

Maybe they'll trade for Troy Glaus!

Maybe they'll trade for BOTH, and platoon them! That's so unfair! Baseball needs a salary cap!

In reality, the only way the Yankees were going to get a remotely good player was if some team was looking to dump their salary, as has been rumored with Edgardo Alfonzo, but if that was going to happen, it's not going to happen right now. First the Yankees have to decide what to do with Boone--though it seems likely that they'll cut ties. All the indications are that Boone will need surgery, and that if he comes back, it won't be until much later in the season. I think it's not unlikely that they'll cut him, then re-sign him to a smaller, two-year contract. But I digress.

The Yankees have been forced to sift through the players that nobody else wants, with the hope that they'll get someone who doesn't totally suck. Homer Bush and Clay Bellinger serve no useful purpose other than to look Miguel Cairo and Enrique Wilson look good, so the move that they've made that have any promise are the signing of Tyler Houston and yesterday's trade for Mike Lamb.

Neither Houston or Lamb are particularly good players, and both are dreadful with the glove (though the Yankees seem to think that Lamb might be pretty good). Still, they both have a little bit of pop, and are better against righties than lefties, opening up the possibility of a platoon with Erick Almonte or Brian Myrow, which might give the Yankees a reasonable amount of offense out of the position, though the bad defense might negate most or all of it.

Now, the sabermetric version of the trading for Glaus or Chavez pipe dream is moving Derek Jeter to third base. The virtue of Jeter at third is debatable, some think he'd be a solid defensive third baseman, some think he'd be even worse there than at short, and still others think that even if he's worse, he'll have less of a negative impact on the Yankees than he would playing short. In the current situation, moving Jeter would give the Yankees more options, letting them seek out a shortstop intead of a third baseman.

But nobody's talking about moving Jeter; even when Alex Rodriguez's name has come up in the past, he was always the one who was supposed to move. This isn't because Jeter won't move--has Derek Jeter ever said or done anything that would indicate to anyone that he'd refuse or resist a move from shortstop? If Joe Torre sat him down and asked him to move to third, he'd say, "Okay, Mr. Torre," and do it. But he's not going to be asked, because the Yankees don't think his defense is bad. He's not moving to third.

Money can buy a lot of things, including good baseball players. But it can't buy what isn't there, and the Yankees are going to have to fill their hole with smarts, not money. They have the brains in the front office to do it, they question is whether they're going to use them.