Mike Silva's New York Baseball Digest » Blog Archive » Evaluating Eric Chavez, Beating Tampa at Their Own Game, Jason Marquis and Mets Starters

Evaluating Eric Chavez, Beating Tampa at Their Own Game, Jason Marquis and Mets Starters



By Mike Silva ~ August 15th, 2011. Filed under: Morning Digest.

Eric Chavez has been a great story (.293/1/15) off the bench for the Yankees. Art Stapleton of The Record informs us that Chavez nearly retired this winter, but Dodgers manager Don Mattingly talked him out of it. Chavez also tells Stapleton that he nearly signed a deal to go to LA before he agreed to try out for the Yankees.

Chavez is a player that gets overlooked when you talk about top 3B of the last ten years. You hear about David Wright, Aramis Ramirez, Mike Lowell, Adrian Beltre, Troy Glaus, and Scott Rolen. According to Baseball-Reference, from 2000 to 2006 he produced 33.1 Wins Above Replacement (WAR). Only Rolen was more productive at 3b in all of baseball.

A combination of playing in Oakland and debilitating back injuries has taken Chavez off the baseball radar. It cost him a career that could have seen him mentioned with the elite 3b of all time.

Perhaps he will get his break and find a niche as a part-time player on a good team. Maybe playing for the Yankees will start to give the media a reason to give him the recognition he probably didn’t get in Oakland behind Jason Giambi, the Big 3 pitchers, and Billy Beane.

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Bartolo Colon and Freddy Garcia are the most talked about “scrap heap” pickups by Brian Cashman. Eric Chavez certainly should be put in that category as well, but Luis Ayala and Cory Wade gone overlooked despite giving quality innings out of the bullpen.

The Yankees actually beat Tampa at their own “value game” with the signing of Wade. He was pitching well for Tampa’s Triple-A affiliate in Durham (1.23 ERA, 8 K’s/9) when he opted out of his contract in late June. The Yankees saw an undervalued asset available, swooped in, and signed him to a deal. After just a couple of innings in Scranton they promoted him and the rest is history.

Wade struggled in Los Angeles the last couple of years, but is still young (28) and had an outstanding season out of their bullpen in 2008 (2.27 ERA, 0.925 WHIP). He could potentially be a bullpen piece for the team going forward. That’s the extra 2% we always talk about.

Ayala is particularly surprising because of how bad he was with Minnesota and Florida in 2009. Last year he pitched in the Pacific Coast League for the Dodgers, Diamondbacks, and Rockies and posted a 2-10 record with a 6.42 ERA. Mets fans remember Ayala for floundering down the stretch as their closer in 2008.

The key to his success is keeping the ball down and rediscovering the 50+ percent groundball rate that made him a very solid middle reliever with the Expos/Nationals. To date, he’s produced a 1.42 ERA.

Combined, Ayala and Wade have pitched 64 innings with an ERA of 1.69. You couldn’t expect any better from the injured Joba Chamberlain. As a matter of fact, I know you wouldn’t have received that kind of production from him.

From day one, despite injuries, the Yankees bullpen has been a strength.

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I said on yesterday’s show how the Mets don’t have many starting pitching options for 2012. The young pitchers (Familia, Wheeler, Harvey) will probably not be ready; at least not for Opening Day. Johan Santana’s injury is too serious to make him anything more than a bonus. Chris Capuano is a free agent. That leaves you with R.A. Dickey, Mike Pelfrey, Dillon Gee, and Jonathon Niese, with kids like Collin McHugh and Chris Schwinden as minor league depth.

That’s why I don’t think you can entertain the thought of non-tendering Mike Pelfrey. You are also going to have to bring in some “scrap heap” veteran arms to camp as depth. I would expect Chris Young to get a look again. Perhaps Boof Bonser gets a call as well. The name that was brought up this weekend was Jason Marquis, someone who we discussed during the offseason of 2009-10.

Marquis told the New York writers how he would like to pitch for either New York team after this year. A free agent, he’s been injured throughout the two year deal with Washington that netted him $15 million dollars. After breaking his leg yesterday, Marquis might be an interesting low cost veteran starter the Mets could consider on an incentive-laden deal.

Marquis is very similar to Mike Pelfrey. He is a groundball pitcher that needs a solid defense behind him to be successful. He is basically a 4th to 5th starter who, at his best, will probably give you 12 wins with an ERA of 4.50. He probably is just a right-handed version of Capuano, but his injury this year was more freakish than anything. Capuano has a history of arm injuries and can’t be expected to log the innings of a healthy Marquis.

The Mets have been fortunate they haven’t suffered major injuries to their rotation. If anything, it’s the reason they are within striking distance of .500 despite most of their starting lineup spending time on the disabled list.

For a reasonable amount Marquis would be a nice addition to the rotation. Other cost-effective possibilities include Chien-Ming Wang, Dontrelle Willis, and Bruce Chen. Don’t forget that Freddy Garcia wanted to pitch for the Mets this past offseason. With the depth of young arms it’s no shoo-in the Yankees bring him back. Again, the Mets finances will be predicated on how much budget they have left over if they sign Jose Reyes.

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Great show last night. If you missed it we talked to former Mets catcher Barry LyonsDarren O’ Donnell of the 2011 Baseball Biking Tour called in for a few as well. Darren is biking to all 30 MLB stadiums, which will total over 10,000 miles. NYBD contributor Joe Delgrippo gives his scouting report on top Mets and Yankees prospects who played during last week’s Trenton-Binghamton series. Hear his thoughts on Matt Harvey, Melky Mesa, Jordany Valdespin, Corban Joseph, Reese Havens, and Collin McHugh. I also give you a review of Darryl Strawberry’s Sports Grill, which I was in attendance on Saturday during Douglaston Community Day.

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Mike Silva has hosted sports shows on 107.1 FM Champions ESPN Radio Long Island ,1240 AM WGBB , Blog Talk Radio and live from Mickey Mantle’s Restaurant. He’s also built and maintained two popular social media hubs: New York Baseball Digest and Sports Media Watchdog. Mike has broken national and local stories, as well as been mentioned on the YES Network, SNY.tv, WFAN, Sports Illustrated, ESPN, NY Daily News, New York Magazine, Journal News and the NY Post. Contact Mike professionally at mikesilvamedia.com

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