Jorge Vazquez Should Replace Injured Eric Chavez on Yankees Roster

May 5, 2011

When Eric Chavez came up limping running out his third inning triple today, the first thing I thought was that Jorge Vazquez will finally get his chance to play in the major leagues.

Also, another reaction to the injury was a similar problem which Chien-Ming Wang had a few years ago in Houston. That of breaking a bone in his foot while running the bases.

Most non-players believe that the simple task of running the bases should be easy enough, and most of the times it is. But there are many times where the sprinting and turning take a toll on the feet. When players sprint, they run on their toes, and when a player is making a 90-degree turn while running on their toes, foot injuries can occur.

That is what happened to Wang in Houston while turning third base and now to Chavez while turning second base.

With Chavez now on the disabled list, the first and third back up role should be Vazquez’ now. It might have been Brandon Laird’s job, but Laird has not been hitting well enough at Triple A Scranton. In fact, since Laird’s great debut in Triple A last season when he hit two homers, it has been virtually all downhill for the Yankee youngster.

One thing against Vazquez is he is not on the 40 man roster, while Laird and Ramiro Pena (another possibility) are on the 40 man roster, No big deal. Just drop Kevin Russo, he of no shot of being a Yankee major leaguer. And who cares if someone (Pirates, anybody?) claim him., Guys like Russo are a dime a dozen.

Yankee fans should give Vazquez some space and patience because Jorge does not have much patience at the plate. He only has walked four times this season in 110 plate appearances. He only walked 18 times in over 350 PA last season.

Vazquez will swing at many first pitches, including some out of the zone, many times getting himself out. And he will strike out LOTS OF TIMES. And I mean lots of times, basically every third at bat, Vazquez will walk back to the dugout.

He is not the patient hitter Yankee fans are used to having in their lineup. Sometimes hitters are patient and work counts, etc, but many hitters do not like to take pitches, especially with men on base.

Vazquez is one of those guys.

He can play both first and third base, but does not have nearly the range, glove or arm as Eric Chavez. However, Vazquez does have decent footwork at both positions so it will not be a total loss.

He started the year very good at Scranton, hitting .323 with 9 homers and 27 RBI in April, but has struggled over his last ten games.

Vazquez is streaky and when he gets hot, look out, but when he struggles, the Ks really pile up.

Yankee fans should have patience with Vazquez. With Posada struggling a little, maybe Vazquez can also step in a DH a few games against LH pitchers.

I would also drop Eduardo Nunez. Maybe not right after the two-error game today, but maybe some time next week. Bring up Ramiro Pena, a guy I have always liked for his glove. When your reserve infielder does not play much, all you need is a good glove. Any offense is icing on the cake.

Pena has a great glove, and is more secure at all three infield positions.

So look for two moves by the Yankees. Vazquez replacing Chavez and Pena eventually replacing Nunez.

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New York Yankees: Do They Really Need Bench Help? Maybe.

July 21, 2010

With the best record in baseball, the New York Yankees have a 2.5 game lead over the Tampa Bay Rays. They are also six games ahead of the Boston Red Sox.

But according to the experts, the Yankees need major help. Since Andy Pettitte went on the disabled list with a strained groin, the Yankees now need a starting pitcher. Now that Joba Chamberlain has been very hittable, the Yankees need bullpen help.

Since their bench consists of defensive wizard Ramiro Pena, 4th outfielder Colin Curtis, LHH/DH Juan Miranda and RHH/DH Marcus Thames, the Yankees need massive bench help.

Yet with all these problems, the Yankees are still in first place with the best record in baseball.

But do they really need bench help? And if they get someone, how many games is the outcome going to be affected by their presence? What needs will they fill?

Let say the Yankees go out and get bench help. Supposedly they need a right-handed hitting bat to boost their presence against lefties. Isn’t that what Thames was signed for? Anyway, with Derek Jeter, Alex Rodriguez and switch hitters Nick Swisher, Mark Teixeira and Jorge Posada, isn’t that five really good right-handed hitters in the lineup?

And Robinson Cano does pretty well against left-handed pitchers, as does Brett Gardner.

So if they get a bench player, they want  a player like Jerry Hairston, Jr. who can play infield and outfield. Versatility is key.

Heck, the Rays are chock full of those type with Ben Zobrist, Sean Rodriguez and Reid Brignac.

Lets create this “perfect fit” for the New York Yankees.

Our made up guy has a season line of .247 BA/.325 OBP/.432 SLG/.757 OPS with 15 HR and 46 RBI? How about if I tell you our guy has hit .176/.234/.282/.513 OPS with 2 HR and seven RBI over the last month, and just as bad over the last two months?

And our guy is hitting against lefties he is .247/.340/.344/.684 OPS with a single HR and eight RBI’s.

Now what I mention that our versatile guy, despite his versatility, is really below average at every defensive position he plays?

I wouldn’t think you want that type of guy.

Then why would the Yankees even entertain the thought of trading for Baltimore Orioles player Ty Wigginton?

Those are his numbers and HE STINKS!

Now, there may be better examples of versatile players who can hit a little bit. Recent mentions include Wes Helms (puuleeze!), Willie Bloomquist, Adam Kennedy and Jhonny Peralta.

None if these guys, except for Peralta, will actually make any team better. The Yankees seem intent on getting a guy who could play third base, giving Alex Rodriguez a break here and there down the stretch. When Alex sits, it is usually the weak hitting Pena who gets the start.

My first choice for another bench player would be in-house option AAA right-handed power hitter Jorge Vazquez. I have been saying since Spring Training that Vazquez will have an impact on the major league Yankee team by the season end.

Vazquez is hitting .266/.287/.531/.818 OPS with eight home runs and 30 RBI in 33 games at Triple A. This was after devastating in Double A Trenton to start the year, which began in May after an appendectomy sidelined him in Spring Training.

He plays both first and third base, and I saw him play both positions this season in Trenton. For a stocky guy, he has pretty good footwork in going after ground balls at third base and around first base. Forget about his low OBP, he does not take pitches, and is very aggressive at the plate.

But if that does not thrill you, then this is the guy I believe is the best fit for the Yankees: Adam Rosales of the Oakland A’s.

First, the A’s are out of the race, and Billy Beane will gladly trade for a young pitcher. Second, Rosales has played all four infield positions this season (many very well) and also has played left field*.

*Although with the big three-run home run hit by Colin Curtis today, I don’t think he will go anywhere anytime soon. He also plays good defense, runs well and is a GREAT KID. By the way, Curtis was also on my Baby Bomber list with Vazquez as kids who made a show in Spring Training.

Third, Rosales can hit. He has a line of .283/.336/.429/.765 OPS with seven home runs and 31 RBI in only 72 games. He filled in admirably when A’s second baseman Mark Ellis was out with an injury. He has also hit very well throughout his minor league career after being selected in the 12th round of the 2005 draft.

Rosales has mashed lefties this year with an OPS of over .900.

A combination along the likes of Sean Black in Low A Charleston and Noel Castillo at High A Tampa might do the trick. But the Yankees can even go higher than these guys if they need to (like a Shaeffer Hall), but in trading a higher end guy you would limit your trading to one higher end player even up.

Black is a decent starting pitcher, but the depth of the Yankees starting pitchers in Charleston (Jose Ramirez, Brett Marshall) and above him in Tampa, Trenton and Scranton, there is no way Black will ever get a decent shot with the Yankees. And Castillo, who I saw threw 97 MPH two weeks ago in Tampa, is blocked by mucho power-armed talent as well.

And if they do not like that, throw in another position prospect among anyone in the middle not named Eduardo Nunez, David Adams or Corban Joseph.

Yankees might need a versatile player down the stretch, and it would not be a bad idea to replace Dustin Moseley’s roster spot with another position player. Then Ramiro Pena can be put back into his usual role of defensive replacement for second base, third base and shortstop.

The only issue I see is that with Rosales’ limited service time, he is still under team control for four more seasons. This could mean the A’s would want much more than what I am offering here. That would necessitate the Yankees “going up the ladder” in terms of prospects.

I am not sure they would be willing to do that.

But Rosales fits the bill, and I like him much better than Ty Wigginton or any of that other ilk. With only two seasons of major league service time, Rosales would be an inexpensive Yankee for a few more seasons.

If the Yankees are willing to afford him.


New York Yankees to Sign Free Agent Garrett Atkins

July 8, 2010

UPDATE July 9, 2010: The Yankees decided to sign free agent corner infielder Chad Tracy instead of Garrett Atkins.

No big deal as both players major league careers are just about over, and they are providing depth in AAA, not getting any major league time before September, if at all.

ORIGINAL ARTICLE:

New free agent Garrett Atkins will sign a minor league contract with the New York Yankees. Atkins was released a few days ago by the Baltimore Orioles.

This contract will be similar to the type of deal Pat Burrell signed with the San Francisco Giants.

Atkins, a right-handed hitting corner infielder, will be sent to Triple A Scranton Wilkes Barre, where he will get regular reps to see if he can still play.

Atkins had been disappointing this season for the Orioles, hitting .219 BA/.282 OBP/.292 SLG/.574 OPS with one homer in 152 plate appearances.  The 30-year-old inked a one-year, $4.5MM deal with the O’s over the winter after being released by the Colorado Rockies.

Getting a new environment has worked for Burrell, who had a terrible 2010 with the Tampa Bay Rays before being released, then signing a minor league deal with the Giants. Burrell hit .202/292/333/.625 OPS for the Rays.

He is now hitting .305/.389/.524/.914 for the Giants after a few games in Triple A.

Since Atkins is a corner infielder, this does not bode well for recent Triple A call up Jorge Vazquez, who also plays first and third base. The 28-year-old Mexican League import is seen by me as the future right-handed DH-type bat off the bench for the Yankees, and also spelling Teixeira and Alex Rodriguez on occasion.

Vazquez is hitting .301/.316/.581/.897 OPS at Triple AAA with eight doubles, six home runs and 22 RBI in only 92 at bats.