The Yankees released 15-year veteran Todd “Good Housekeeping” Zeile on Sunday.
Housekeeping was about all Todd had to do of late, given that the Yanks had recently acquired 3B Aaron Boone and jettisoned the lefty-susceptible Robin Ventura, whom Zeile had been hired to complement (“Nice bat, Robin.”) Besides this, Nick Johnson has recently come back from the DL, making it pretty tough to find playing time for Zeile at the 1B/DH spots.
I have two major observations about this:
1) I could have told you that Zeile was gonna suck.
B) The guys who pushed him out of a job have not exactly been hitting the cover off the ball.
Last year, Zeile hit .273 with 18 homers and 87 RBI, which looks pretty decent until I tell you that he played for the Rockies, and that his home/road splits looked like this:
AB R HR RBI BB K AVG OBP SLG OPS
Home 248 41 11 56 43 39 .315 .414 .500 914
Away 258 20 7 31 23 53 .233 .291 .353 644
So, given that a player's actual ability correlates much better with his non-Coors stats that with his Coors stats, what might we have expected out of a 38-year old with this kind of record? That's right:
AVG OBP SLG OPS
.210 .294 .349 .644
...which is exactly what we got. Nothing to write home about, unless you're Gary DiSarcina.
In fact there is good news here: Despite his relatively advanced age for a baseball player, Zeile didn't really decline at all from 2002 to 2003. He had the exact same 644 OPS, which, while stinking to high heaven, is almost Bonds-ian in its age-defying consistency.
Nick Johnson came off the DL in mid July after recuperating from (yet another) wrist injury, and has hit only .230 since. Thankfully, he walks often, so his .390 OBP bolsters his otherwise unimpressive .410 slugging percentage on the way to a decent 800 OPS. Presumably, Johnson’s patience and health will allow him to start hitting .300 or so again, but he hasn’t been scorching since coming back thus far.
And what about Aaron Boone? Boone has hit a pathetic .169/.182/.238, for a sub-Neifi .420 OPS. Two lousy walks in 63 at-bats? Three extra base hits in two weeks? Zeile must be really upset. At least he wasn’t traded for Dooley Womack. Or worse, Tony Womack.
Don't worry about Zeile. He'll catch on somewhere. Dusty Baker is bound to bench some kid and give Todd another shot at mediocrity.