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Gardner vs. Crawford, New Pitch, Mets 2012 Closer, Wild Card Fallout, Roger Maris



By Mike Silva ~ September 25th, 2011. Filed under: Morning Digest.

So is Brett Gardner a cheaper version of Carl Crawford as Brian Cashman claims?

They both play good defense; they got are going to steal 50+ bases; and they both are going to get on base about 34-35% of the time. If there is ever an example of how batting average is a bad judge of a player’s effectiveness it’s in the Crawford vs. Gardner debate.

For his career, Crawford has a batting average of .293 and OBP of .334. Gardner has a career batting average nearly 30 points lower at .265, but his OBP is .354.

I have watched Gardner play more than Crawford, but from what I saw he is a more patient hitter that works the count. When I spoke to him as a minor leaguer, he indicated the Yankees felt he was too patient at times, often letting that one hittable pitch go in order to work the count. It was something that contributed to a high strikeout rate in the minors.

Gardner still strikeouts a lot, but his ability to get on base via the walk makes him a better version of Crawford, in my opinion. I haven’t even gotten into his defense, which probably is the best in baseball. Eventually, the Yankees are going to have to move him to centerfield where they can exploit it.

According to Fangraphs, Gardner is the third move valuable Yankee behind Curtis Granderson and Robinson Cano using Wins Above Replacement. Since become a full-time player last year, only Cano has been more valuable to the team. If there is someone underrated on that roster it’s Gardner.

When you combine the defense and ability to get on base via a walk, give me Gardner over Crawford. When you add in the obscene contract it becomes even more favorable to the Yankees left fielder.

***

According to reports, Jason Isringhausen is working with Bobby Parnell on a knuckle-curve. Parnell threw a combined 2 scoreless innings in the double-header sweep of the Phillies yesterday. Pitch F/x data, however, hasn’t picked it up so I am not sure he is actually using it in the game.

Parnell hasn’t given up an earned run since September 6th, and hasn’t given up any runs since blowing a save to the Cubs on September 10th.

If he can master some sort of secondary pitch, then you might be on to something here. Parnell also has to learn to relax on the mound. He appears much calmer the last few times out. It seems once Terry Collins said “you’re the closer,” his level of anxiety on the mound increased.

I never suggested giving up on Parnell; I just don’t see a pitcher with a diverse enough repertoire to succeed at a high level in the big leagues. His command of his pitches is inconsistent, at best. Some will say it’s the power of BABIP working its magic. I say a better process, if it’s the knuckle-curve or whatever, is what has led to better outings by Parnell lately.

***

I wouldn’t trust Parnell to close next season, but with the Mets tight budget can they afford to bring anyone in? They can’t pay a closer $8-$12 million with their limited payroll budget.

A couple of names that might be available via the low risk/high reward contract route are Jonathan Broxton, Joe Nathan, and Brad Lidge. Broxton is particularly interesting. He is coming off elbow surgery and said he is probably going to have to “reinvent himself” since his velocity will be in the low nineties going forward. Both have been injured this year and might want to re-establish themselves on a one-year contract. Toronto’s Jon Rauch or Minnesota’s Matt Capps could be an affordable option as well. Both should come cheap since their ’11 performance is nothing to get excited about. Rauch has a 4.84 ERA closing part-time in Toronto, while Capps strikeout rate has decreased to an alarming level (4.6/9 versus 7/per nine in 2010).

Other affordable possibilities could be Kyle Farnsworth or Octavio Dotel if their respective teams buy them out.

Maybe one internal option to look for is Binghamton RHP Collin McHugh. Wally Backman has been raving about McHugh who was 8-2 with a 2.89 ERA for the B-Mets. Most impressive is his 9.3/per 9 career MILB strikeout rate.

He throws about 90-92, and Backman told WFAN’s Eddie Coleman that he could get up to the mid-90s out of the bullpen. Backman sees McHugh as a starter, but I suspect the Mets next closer will come from their young starting pitching prospects corps. Whoever shows an inability to be effective in the rotation could be converted to the bullpen.

Essentially that is how Parnell became a reliever.

***

I support the additional Wild Card team that appears to be part of the new collective bargaining agreement. There is fallout from the expanded playoffs. First, your season comes down to one game regardless of how far ahead you are as the first wild card. I am fine with that since it puts additional emphasis on winning the division. No longer will you see managers (i.e. Joe Girardi last September) play the final weeks of the season cautiously because they know they are in the playoffs and don’t value the home field that comes with winning the division.

Another fallout from a potential second Wild Card is the trade deadline. Is July 31st late enough in the season for teams to evaluate whether they are in the race? I think the answer is no.

The Mets will finish with a losing record, but they were within striking distance of the second Wild Card until late August. If they had Carlos Beltran and Francisco Rodriguez they would have been a more formidable team. That might be bad example because of both players’ contractual situations, but you get my point. There are also teams like Toronto and the White Sox in the American League that may have been buyers with the second Wild Card.

The point is July 31st is becoming an archaic date to have the deadline. They should move it two weeks later to August 15th, and then make the back half of August the waiver period. Perhaps they could eliminate the waiver period and just make August 31st the deadline for both non-waiver trades and postseason eligibility. If you are going to have more teams in the hunt for a playoff spot you need to give them ample time to assess their needs. A second wild card will naturally put more teams in play, and you will probably see less activity because of the decrease in sellers.

Knowing Bud Selig and how baseball works it will take years for them to figure this out.

***

Jerry Seinfeld’s new favorite movie of all-time is Moneyball.

 

“MoneyBall” my new favorite movie of all time! Disregard all previous!Fri Sep 23 23:36:44 via Twitterrific

 

***

With his home run last night, Jesus Montero is the fifth Yankee with 4+ HR in first 15 games. The others are Shelley Duncan, Steve Whitaker, Oscar Azocar, and Kevin Maas.

That is not what you would call “good company”

***

The Yankee honored Roger Maris historic 1961 performance yesterday. I had a chance to catch up with Danny Peary, author of the book “Roger Maris: Baseball’s Reluctant Hero.”

Danny did an outstanding job of looking back at Maris and his career.

You can download the interview here from March of 2010.

***

The Long Island Ducks are one win away from going to the Atlantic League Championship Series after defeating the Southern Maryland Blue Crabs 4-2 in Game 3 of the Liberty Division Championship series.

Their closer, Jon Hunton, wriggled out of a 2 on/1 out jam in the ninth to preserve the victory.

You can listen to Game 4, which is taking place at Regency Furniture Stadium in Waldorf, Maryland over at liducks.com

***

On tonight’s radio program, I discuss the movie Moneyball and how misunderstood the concept is in the media. Joining me is former big league pitching coach Rick Peterson.

You can listen live at 8pm.

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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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25 Responses to Gardner vs. Crawford, New Pitch, Mets 2012 Closer, Wild Card Fallout, Roger Maris

  1. Joseph DelGrippo

    Mike,

    Back in February we spoke (30 minute mark) and I mentioned Brett Gardner is better than Crawford, especially for the money.

    http://nybaseballdigest.com/?p=34202

    I also wrote this back on April 4, 2010:

    “Most baseball executives and media people believe Crawford will sign with the Yankees. Financial estimates are that it will take a five-year deal for about $15 million per year to get Crawford. That is $75 million for a guy with a career split of .297/.335/.437/.772 with an OPS+ of 103, just above league average .

    But he steals lots of bases, plays good defense, and has a little pop with his bat.

    Except for the pop, with the same amount of plate appearances, that description could be Brett Gardner—and he will cost a whole lot less. I am not saying that Gardner is as good as Crawford, but he will do a lot of the things Crawford does—except for the power.

    The Yankees do not need Crawford for 2011, and they will not sign him after this season.”

    And in December 2010 at the Winter Meetings: “They don’t need Carl Crawford, especially at about $17-20 million per year. Brett Gardner is fine out in LF; he gets on base, plays great defense and will probably be the full time lead off hitter in 2011.

    Yankees don’t need Crawford, but it sure looks like they want him….I believe (hope?) the Yankees are just blowing smoke on Crawford. They like to play the cloak and dagger stuff to the hilt and it seems are trying to bankrupt the Boston Red Sox.”

    Maybe in addition to the NoMaas website, Brian Cashman also reads my stuff.

  2. Brien Jackson

    Really Mike, you’ve seen Brett Gardner play? Wow, that makes you one of like, 50 million people!

    (I’m just kidding, but I couldn’t pass that up).

  3. Stu B

    I loved Moneyball as well, though it was a bit long, and two things I couldn’t get out of my mind watching Art Howe – Philip Seymour Hoffman as Truman Capote, so I felt like Capote was managing the A’s, and how terrible Howe was with the Mets.

  4. Chuck Johnson

    “For his career, Crawford has a batting average of .293 and OBP of .334. Gardner has a career batting average nearly 30 points lower at .265, but his OBP is .354.”

    This is a joke, right?

    When your OBP is walk dominated, it’s like bringing a slingshot to a gunfight.

    Is Crawford overpaid?

    Sure, OK.

    Is he a better all-round player than Gardner?

    Not even a question.

    Five years from now, Crawford will be the starting LF in Boston.

    Gardner will be starting somewhere in AAA or Japan.

    Christ…

    And by the way, if you use WAR to support your argument, you don’t know squat about baseball.

    Just sayin’..

  5. Brien Jackson

    #Monteroisalemon

  6. Joseph DelGrippo

    “Is he a better all-round player than Gardner?”

    Sorry, Chuck, I just can not agree. Right now, Gardner is better than Crawford at everything except the power department.

    “Five years from now, Crawford will be the starting LF in Boston.

    Gardner will be starting somewhere in AAA or Japan.”

    Crawford definitely WILL be the starting LF in Boston five years from now, but only because of the money he is paid, jsut like how the Yankees keep trotting AJ out there every six days. No other reason.

    All those years on the turf in Tampa will severely reduce Crawford’s ability to run, and his defense will become even worse than he has shown this past weekend.

    Theo shouldn’t worry though. All he had to do was spend someone else’s money, the gutless way to build a team. He won’t be around for that Crawford debacle five years from now.

    Gardner probably will not be a Yankee fiuve years from now due to his expected cost, but I definitely see him in the majors with a decent to good quality team.

  7. Chuck Johnson

    Expand your horizons Brien, you miss a lot when you focus all your attention on one player.

  8. Brien Jackson

    Yes, now we can expand our list of pithy comebacks to “Gardner will be out of the league in 5 years.”

    At least we don’t have to speculate as to why you’re no longer gainfully employed as a Major League scout.

  9. Chuck Johnson

    “At least we don’t have to speculate as to why you’re no longer gainfully employed as a Major League scout.”

    Sure about that?

  10. Brien Jackson

    Well I admit that I’m going on a) the fact that you probably wouldn’t be allowed to publish under your own name if you were actively employed by a team and b) the fact that your bio (which seems to have just been changed to exclude the bit about being fired by Jack Z) doesn’t say anything about working for a team.

    If you are employed by a franchise, I do hope it’s one of the Yankees A.L. East rivals.

  11. Chuck Johnson

    “a) the fact that you probably wouldn’t be allowed to publish under your own name if you were actively employed by a team.”

    Doesn’t matter as long as no proprietary information is divulged.

    “and b) the fact that your bio (which seems to have just been changed to exclude the bit about being fired by Jack Z) doesn’t say anything about working for a team.”

    LOL

  12. Brien Jackson

    Well if you are employed by a team spit it out already. Otherwise, just go back to saying stupid things and making me laugh.

  13. Chuck Johnson

    I’ve seen your website Brien, apparently saying stupid things isn’t limited to me.

    Have a good day, troll.

    Sheesh.

  14. Brien Jackson

    Or, in other words, no, you are not presently working for a MLB team. Thanks for clearing that up.

  15. Brien Jackson

    Oh yeah, Brett Gardner is a lemon also.

  16. Chuck Johnson

    Stuff doesn’t roll uphill Brien, and until it does it’s probably a good idea to play with kids your own age.

    How come you don’t ask what kind of dog I have?

    I mean, that’s no more or less relevant to knowing where, or for who, I work for.

  17. Chuck Johnson

    LOL..nice edit, Mike. :)

  18. Mike Silva

    LOL – the site automatically spams certain words because it could get out of control here… thanks to my writing

  19. Chuck Johnson

    No worries, although “stuff” kind of gets lost in translation, considering Brien’s not the sharpest tool in the shed.

    Hopefully he won’t need an explanation.

  20. Brien Jackson

    Yes Chuck. You’ve openly stated that anything above 8th grade level math is a “complex mathematical formula,” but I’m the one who’s not too bright.

    Never change man, never change.

  21. Brien Jackson

    Oh yeah, almost forgot:

    “According to Fangraphs, Gardner is the third move valuable Yankee behind Curtis Granderson and Robinson Cano using Wins Above Replacement. Since become a full-time player last year, only Cano has been more valuable to the team. If there is someone underrated on that roster it’s Gardner.”

    If you’re actually working as a scout for a real MLB team, why are you wasting so much time on a site owned by someone who doesn’t know squat about baseball, Chuck?

  22. Chuck Johnson

    “If you’re actually working as a scout for a real MLB team, why are you wasting so much time on a site owned by someone who doesn’t know squat about baseball, Chuck?”

    I could ask you the same question, Brien.

    “Montero is a lemon”

    Your words, not mine.

    “Gardner is a lemon”

    Your words, not mine.

    “You’ve openly stated that anything above 8th grade level math is a “complex mathematical formula,” but I’m the one who’s not too bright.”

    Nope, sorry.

    Can do this all day.

  23. Brien Jackson

    Um, no Chuck.

    “The Montero situation reminds me of those Carfax TV commercials. Keith Law and Jonathan Mayo and the rest of the media hype machine are the car salesmen, and Montero’s the car.

    They can BS us all day long about what a great product is, but when you ask for the Carfax, what you eventually see is a lemon.

    I’ve seen Montero play forty times at least over the past two seasons, and if you looked up lemon in the dictionary, you’d see his picture.”

    http://nybaseballdigest.com/?p=37413

  24. Chuck Johnson

    Wow, forgot about that one, an oldie but a goodie.

    Touche’.

  25. Joseph DelGrippo

    And all this time, I actually thought that Brien didn’t like Montero.

    But I always knew Chuck didn’t.

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