Thursday, January 17, 2008

First base: Where Yankee offense goes to die

Pardon me while I hop on the Steve Goldman memorial soapbox for a second.

In all the back and forth regarding whether or not the Yankees are still in the Johan Santana sweepstakes, a far more pressing issue -- one that has dogged the Yanks for several offseasons now and that Brian Cashman seems to have zero interest in resolving -- continues to rear its ugly head and yet receives very little media attention: who's on first?

While Cashman appears content with a three-headed monster (possibly four, depending on how non-roster invitee Jason Lan fares in spring training) of a broken-down 37-year-old Jason Giambi, and not-ready-for-prime-time players Shelly Duncan and Wilson Betemit. Don't get me wrong; I think the latter two make fine bench ornaments, but let's be honest here: neither one is a passable starter on a Major League Baseball team, unless your franchise calls western Pennsylvania home.

Giambi had that feel-good comeback season in 2005 and remained a threat the following year, but in 2007 he was pretty mediocre in limited duty. Anyone with reasonable vision can see that Giambi -- barring another miraculous rejuvenation -- is on the downside of his career, and while he should be good for a .375-plus OBP if healthy, that's probably a little optimistic. Giambi's 108 OPS+ in 83 games last year, his second-worst in the last 10 seasons, along with the fact that he's an absolute butcher with the glove should have Yankee fans praying he stays at DH and discovers some sort of legal performance enhancer or the fountain of youth.

In even less game action than Giambi in 2007, Shelly Duncan posted an 128 OPS+, which screams small-sample size. Duncan's a nice reserve, but it's highly unlikely he'll ever maintain that level of productivity as an everyday player.

In 37 games as a Yankee, Wilson Betemit had an OPS+ of 80. For those of you unfamiliar with OPS+, 80 is bad. For those more comfortable with less advanced metrics, Betemit's OBP was .278. That's Alvaro Espinoza territory.

As you can see, the Yankees' current first-base solution truly is a disaster, and they'd never have found themselves in this mess in the first place if they'd just held on to good ol' Nick the Stick and his OBP domination.

1 comment:

Nick said...

Keith Law: (2:18 PM ET ) I haven't looked at any #s yet, but I'd have to guess the Yanks are around 90-92 wins as is, 93-95 with Santana.

LOL if this were the case, only an idiot would trade for Santana to be able to wint he Yankees around 1 to 2 more games for 20+ million.

the Yankees if they stayed healthy would be a 100 win team with Santana