Saturday, December 30, 2006

Salvage Projects: Andy Cannizaro

Age: 27
Height: 5'10"
Weight: 170 lbs
Drafted: 7th Round in 2001 out of Tulane University
Position: Shortstop
Throws: Right
Bats: Right

Tools: Cannizaro has only one real physical asset: his defensive skills. Minorleaguesplits recently labeled him a top-10 shortstop in the minor leagues. He isn't particularly fast or athletic, but he is very nimble and efficient in the infield. His arm is strong and accurate. With a bat, Cannizaro has few strengths. He puts the ball in play, but rarely will he drive it. He takes a fair share of walks, but nothing staggering enough to make up for his lack of power. He isn't particularly strong swiping bags anymore, even though he was a speed demon in college (he stole 52 stolen bases his final year in 69 games, getting caught just 6 times). Cannizaro has a strong reputation within the organization as a tough, self sacrificing, and hard working guy. A lot of his performance is the result of long hours in preparation and lots of hussle.

Performance: Cannizaro has struggled to hit in the minor leagues. More specifically, Cannizaro has struggled to hit right handed pitchers. In 2006, his best offensive year, Andy hit .276/.367/.380. However, he hit .361/.426/.484 against left handed pitchers. He may have found himself a role in the major leagues. Cannizaro lingered in Trenton for three years, which was probably one year too long. He managed a .314/.385/.396 line in 2004 there. He plays 2nd as well as short. Cannizaro was rewarded with a call up to the major leagues, where he his first MLB home run. His career minor league line is .274/.350/.351, which is about what he should be expected to hit in the majors.

Health: Andy Cannizaro is a healthy man in the prime of his career. He has no health issues to worry about.

2007 Outlook: Andy probably could have filled the back up middle infielder role in the Bronx this season, but the Yankees made the smart move and are looking to preserve their infield depth by pursueing Mark Loretta. If an infielder goes down, Cannizaro is the likely candidate for a call up (although Justin Christian might be the preferable choice to play 2nd). Cannizaro will be playing this season for a bench spot this year and in the future. In addition, I'm sure that the Yankees would love his strong glove in front Phil Hughes, Humberto Sanchez, and Tyler Clippard. He'll start in Columbus.

Comparison: Marco Scutaro

My Take: The really good farm systems in baseball develop a lot of guys like Andy Cannizaro. He's an expendable. He's cheap. He has the skills to man a major league bench spot. I think that if Derek Jeter or Robby Cano go down, Cannizaro could make a decent placeholder. He'll be a replacement level shortstop. I labeled him a "Salvage Project" because he's got one last season to avoid "AAAA" status as passed his prime. He's a depth guy, but that's not a bad thing. Expendable, cheap guys like Cannizar help a team stay flexible.