Considering Jose Molina’s superb defense, I figured the Yankee braintrust was just fine with his mediocre (at best) hitting and fully expected him to remain as the starting catcher down the stretch following the the news that Posada’s season is officially finished. Chad Moeller would continue serving ably as Molina’s backup.
Apparently I was mistaken. In 302 at bats, Rodriguez (I won’t call him Pudge – as terrific as he’s been for a long time now, Carlton Fisk is the only “Pudge” as far as I’m concerned) is hitting .295 with a modest .417 slugging percentage. That gives the Yanks two of the best defensive catchers in the game, one who can hit in the middle of the lineup, to boot.
Presumably the Yankees will pay whatever is left of Rodriguez’ $13m 2008 salary. He becomes a free agent after this season, according to Cot’s Baseball Contracts.
I guess that eliminates the need to keep Moeller around, which is really too bad. He’s a blue collar guy who already survived being placed on waivers once and served admirably through what could have been a much more tumultuous period, helping keep the backstop position stable through the first significant injury of Posada’s career. I’m sorry to see him go and it’s a little sad to think that most new-age Yankee fans (people who wear Mattingly jerseys and t-shirts despite having no memory of those lean years, either because they are too young or are just fair weather fans) won’t remember his name a few months from now. Thanks for helping to hold it down, Chad.
Farnsworth was having his
best first decent season since coming to the Bronx and I don’t know any Yankee fans who trusted him to remain dependable through the stretch run and the playoffs. Girardi has been nothing short of superb in his management of the Yankees’ bulpen and the result has been that several options have emerged to set up mariano Rivera in the 8th inning. The controversy over whether to move Joba to the rotation seems like it was years ago now. Further marginalizing Farnsworth among the Yankee relief corps was last week’s addition of Demaso Marte.
The fantasy baseball impact here is also significant. Farnsworth becomes the Tigers’ closer two days after Todd Jones was demoted in favor of Fernendo Rodney. Presumably, Rodney moves back into the setup role.
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Dave Hall (aka Guru) announced in yesterday’s Daily Blurb (linked in the blogroll) that he has developed a new tool for upcoming batter/pitcher matchups.
If you like to look at pitcher-vs.-batter stats, I built a simple tool that looks up all of a given day’s matchups and spits them onto a single page. You just need to supply the date as the last three characters of the URL. Here’s an example for Sunday, July 13: http://rotoguru1.com/cgi-bin/dailyhit.pl?date=713. The format isn’t fancy, but it sure beats punching in a bunch of different links. The data is extracted from ESPN.com, so it’s based on their projected starters. You can click on any hitter link from the output page to see more ESPN detail for that hitter, or click on a column link to see corresponding pitcher detail.
Making this information easily retrievable is simply invaluable when deploying any type of strategy that involves rotating starting pitchers on and off your roster. Thanks, Guru.
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An arms race broke out in the NL Central this week that might leave the Cards in the dust. They just don’t have a rotation that challenges their division rivals. Their best pitcher this year, Kyle Lohse is probably pitching way above his head. Expect him to come down to earth in the second half.
The Harden deal does bug me a bit, the A’s are in 2nd place in the AL West, only 5 games out. Seems a little premature to pack it in now, no? The trade deadline is still 3 weeks away. Maybe they’re afraid of being bit by another injury between now and then. A’s fans don’t seem enthused.
These trades should add to the fantasy value of both pitchers. Both guys change leagues and it’s widely agreed that unfamilairity between batter and pitcher usually benefits the pitcher. And in both cases the move is to the more pitcher-firendly NL. Further, both move to contending teams with solid offenses, which should mean a better shot at a W with each start.
One thing working against Harden is moving from Oakland’s McAfee Coliseum, where pitchers enjoy more foul territory (and thus more room for fielders to retreive pop fouls) than in any other Major League stadium. Notably, Harden sports a 3.38 road ERA this year compared with 1.79 in Oakland. Maybe it’s time for me to step up the trade effort again.
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Maybe I’m crazy for asking. The guy hasn’t played a full season since 2004, the only full season (31 starts) on his resume. He’s already missed a month this year with a shoulder issue. But he’s an ace when healthy and he’s playing the best baseball of his major league career right now. And (I think maybe some people forget or don’t know) he’s only 26. Rotowire’s David Regan noted this week, “A healthy Rich Harden may be the best pitcher in baseball (no hyperbole). Harden is the only AL starter with a K/9 in double-digits (11.1).”
I inherited a completely decimated team in a keeper league (14 teams, 7 keepers per) and have been shopping Harden since late May, alone and paired with other useful players, hoping a contending team that needs pitching help might hand over a modest under-producing keeper. But few leaguemates take Harden seriously.
Maybe it’s just frustrated defiance but the longer he stays healthy and continues to dominate, the more I consider it. On a team mostly stocked with unproven riffraff of assorted potential (gems in the rough on optimistic days) he could be the comeback story that completes the turnaround. No one is surprised with his level of production. They’ll only be surprised if he stays healthy the rest of the way.
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