Friday, February 01, 2008

Morgan Ensberg & Bobby Abreu

I really like the Morgan Ensberg move. Obviously low-risk. Decent opportunity for modest reward, and he's 32, so still a possibility to come back. He finsihed 4th for the 2005 MVP-Award, and had an injury that he played through in 2006. In '06 & '07 he batted .235 and .230, respectively.

I like this move because even if he does what he did the past two years, he can be a valuable asset to the Yankees.

Right now it looks like Giambi is the everyday first baseman, with Damon in left (where he was great last year) and Matsui as DH. Giambi has historically hit significantly better at first than at DH. Obviously if Giambi is the (almost) everyday first baseman, he'll clearly get hurt. I'm okay with that. I figure run him out there until he does, as it's the last year of his contract anyway.

If an outfielder gets hurt, you move Giambi to DH. So if either an outfielder or Giambi get hurt (clearly will happen at some point), then Wilson Betemit and Morgan Ensberg get to platoon at first base.

As bas as Ensberg was the last two seasons, it was actually pretty impressive what he did to lefties. The righthanded batter had a .925 OPS against lefties the past two seasons, seasons in which his average was in the low .230s.

Over 26-year old switch-hitting Wilson Betemit's last 3 seasons, he had an .840 OPS against righthanded pitchers. If they can both do that, that stacks up very well against any AL first baseman. Actually, other than Mark Teixeira, who left the AL before the trading deadline, only Carlos Pena had an OPS over .843 among AL first basemen. It's possible the Yankees could be well above average with a platoon of the two of them at that position.

I would really like the Yankees to go with 13 pitchers and have the bench just Ensberg, Betemit, and Jose Molina. Betemit can play all four infield positions, and the DH can cover the outfield. If somebody gets hurt you just go down to the minors for Alberto Gonzalez or Brett Gardner.

As far as Bobby Abreu goes, while I'm sure it won't happen, I'd like the Yankees to give him a 2-year contract extention right now.

Austin Jackson and Jose Tabata both look likely to join the Yankee outfield down the road. Abreu is in the final year of his contract, and Damon (as well as Matsui) have 2 years left. Ideally Jackson and Tabata replace Abreu and Damon, but I'd rather Jackson have 2 more seasons in the minors and Tabata 3 more years.

If you bring Jackson up in '09, you're looking at Jackson '09 replacing Abreu '08. He's not going to be able to do that. But if you sign Abreu for 2 more years, you're talking about a '10 Jackson replacing an '09 Damon. Followed by the next year where an '11 Tabata replaces the '10 Abreu. And obviously if either don't look ready the Yankees can cover it up with money.

Jackson and Tabata are legitimate top-tier prospects. One way of looking at it is some publications (like Baseball America) ranked them higher than Ian Kennedy. Kennedy was a 1st round pick, who in his first professional season pitched in 4 levels to a 1.90 ERA, and they're ranked higher than him.

The 20-year old Jackson batted .345 in 256 FSL at bats last year. 20-year old Jay Bruce (ESPN's #2 prospect) batted .325 in 268 FSL at bats last year. The FSL is a complete pitcher's league. Colby Rasmus (ESPN's #5 prospect) played there when he was 19 in '06, and batted .254. Last year 18-year old Tabata, playing with a broken bone in his hand, batted .307. Tabata was 5 years younger than any of the 4 batting title qualifiers who finished ahead of him.

The next highest FSL average by somebody not legal to drink was Tampa Yankee SS Reggie Carona who batted just .271.

Tabata and Jackson definitely have serious potential. But I'd rather give it a litte more time to develop, and giving Abreu 2 more years after this one would do it. It would be hard to get Abreu to sign a 2-year deal after the season, but the Yankees could probably get it done right now.

No comments: