Thursday, December 30, 2010

Report: Yankees Interested in Bartolo Colon

According to this report from El Día, Bartolo Colon says that the Yankees, Rangers and Indians are interested in him.

The 37-year-old went 3-6 with a 4.19 ERA for the White Sox in 2009 before being sidelined with a knee injury. He then spent last season training, and has had a solid winter, going 2-1, with a 1.97 ERA for Aguilas in the Dominican League. That followed a solid season in the Dominican League's regular season when he posted a 1.47 ERA over seven starts.

Desperate times call for desperate measures, and when you really only have two reliable starters you're pretty damn desperate.

Shoddy and Irresponsible Journalism: Dan Graziano Edition

This article in its entirety can be found on MLB FanHouse. My initial impulse was to offer a point-by-point rebuttal of Graziano's rant, providing the same sort of snark that I have generally afforded to other instances of questionable journalism. However, I found myself uncomfortable dignifying this with any sort of comedic routine. The crux of Graziano's argument is as such:
No, I didn't vote for Jeff Bagwell for the Hall of Fame. Yes, it's for the reason everybody loves to hate. I don't know for sure that Bagwell took steroids or any other performance-enhancing drugs to help him attain his Hall of Fame-caliber numbers. I don't have evidence, like we do against Mark McGwire and Rafael Palmeiro. But I'm suspicious. And this year, that suspicion was enough to make me send back my ballot without the Bagwell box checked. I'd rather withhold the vote based on suspicion than vote the guy in only to find out later that he cheated and I shouldn't have.
From that point forward, Graziano offers no reasoning as to why he is suspicious of Jeff Bagwell. There are a few references to the 'Steroid Era,' a mention of Bagwell's statements regarding his innocence, and a great deal of intellectual dishonesty. In short, Graziano preaches something akin to McCarthyism - no evidence, not even the vaguest murmurs or accusations, is necessary to paint a player with suspicion. The Hall of Fame is certainly a far cry from the moral hysteria of the McCarthy days, but the implications are clear and dangerous.

Perhaps the greatest point one can make against Graziano lay in his own lack of knowledge of and/or research into the matter. This may be a baseless assumption, but I would hazard a guess that Bagwell is "suspicious" due to his fantastic offensive numbers and abrupt decline and retirement (despite the fact that an arthritic shoulder had plagued Bagwell for the better part of a decade), given the context of the era. However, Graziano later states that he voted for (among others) Roberto Alomar and Tim Raines. While nothing concrete has been released, Alomar is rumored to be among the names listed in the infamous 2003 testing report. He was notorious for having a short temper, and made headlines for spitting on umpire John Hirschbeck. I am curious to see where he made the distinction here. Raines, while never linked to steroids, admittedly abused cocaine during the first several years of his career. This included keeping the cocaine within his uniform and using it in the locker room, before games, and even in between innings. Where is Graziano's moral outrage?

Several blogs have rallied against Graziano's lack of journalistic integrity in this matter, and I applaud those that have done so. This is the sort of schlock that hinders Major League Baseball's progress, while simultaneously alienating fans young and old alike. Here's hoping that Bagwell, perhaps the greatest first baseman between the heyday of Lou Gehrig and Jimmie Foxx and current superstar Albert Pujols, is able to rise above the matter and sail into Cooperstown with ease.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Romine Talks About Yankees Pitching Prospects

From Anthony McCarron:
"There are so many good pitchers in our organization and it's being overlooked. DJ Mitchell, (David) Phelps, (Dellin) Betances, (Andrew) Brackman. They're all really good. I had the good fortune to catch a few of them in Double A and see them go up and I'm really proud of that. Then I got a younger crop that came up from (Class) A. Those guys are making big strides. Banuelos out here was lights out in (the AFL All-Star game). That was one of the top starts I've seen.

"That's tough for a 19 year old kid. Ninety percent of the guys on that field (in the AFL A-S game) are going to the big leagues and he came out and to pitch the way he did, he should be nothing but confident now. And I love seeing him gaining that confidence every month, it seems like, from when I got him from high A. He came up wide-eyed, a young kid. I didn't know who he was and he was throwing gas. To see him mature over that time is great. He's only 19 now and that's young and he's mature over his years."
Having this many great arms in the system should make spring training a bit more fun than usual. If things remain the same (no Pettitte and only three real starters) it will be interesting to see if anyone has any standout spring performances that might get them in the mix.

As far as Banuelos is concerned, he's set to begin the year at Double-A Trenton.

Soria: I'd Be Happy To Waive No-Trade to Join Yanks

From the NYPost:
Soria told the Mexican newspaper Vanguard that he would have no problem being dealt to The Bronx.

"There is a no-trade clause to the Yankees in my contract, but did not put it in myself,” Soria said. “My agent put it as a strategy, but if the Royals decide to move me to New York I would be happy to play with the Yankees or another team.”


"I repeat, I would not block a trade to the Yankees. I like to play baseball and I would play with any team," Soria said.
I think it's smarter to just sign Rafael Soriano for a little more money than Soria is getting, rather than trading top prospects for Soria. Back at the trade deadline, the Yankees supposedly offered the Royals a very nice package for Soria and were turned down, so I'm assuming the price will still be high. Save the prospects, spend a little extra dough, and sign Soriano.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Tex: I think Andy is Leaning Towards Retirement

From Ian Begley:
Teixeira said on Tuesday that, through his communication with Pettitte, he's gotten the sense that the veteran left-hander is "leaning toward retirement." But the Yankees first baseman is holding out hope that Pettitte will return to a Yankee rotation that sorely needs him next season.

"I think, like everyone else [thinks], if he's leaning one way, he's probably leaning towards retiring," Teixeira said on Tuesday at a press conference to kick off Thursday's Pinstripe Bowl game at Yankee Stadium. "I think that's what he's publicly said. It's no secret right now. That's probably where he's leaning. But in a month and a half, a lot can happen."


"Selfishly of course, I love Andy Pettitte like a brother. He's such a great player. He's such a great teammate. I would hate to not play with him this year," said Teixeira, who reported no set-backs in his rehabilitation from the hamstring injury he suffered in the ALCS. "But his family is obviously No. 1 to him and if [returning to the Yankees] is not going to be in his plans then we're going to wish him the best of luck and when he comes back on Legends Day we'll give him a big hug and tell him we miss him."
Like I said a few weeks ago, we should all start (if we haven't already) getting used to the idea that Andy Pettitte has thrown his last pitch.

Heyman: Yankees Interested in Brian Fuentes

For his career, Fuentes does have some decent numbers against righties, as well, which may make him an attractive candidate at face value. Digging a bit deeper, we see that righties have batted .233/.333/.416 against Fuentes over the past two seasons, taking him deep eleven times in only 262 AB. Those numbers aren't horrific per se, but they are trending downward. In short, Fuentes is a fine lefty specialist at this point in his career - he's probably a better option than either Logan or Feliciano in that regard. However, with Logan improving as the season wore on and Feliciano making a fair amount, it doesn't really make sense to bring another expensive LOOGY on-board.

Yankees Interested in Blanton?....... Probably Not

There really doesn't seem like much too this, but it was mentioned very briefly in this article from Pete Caldera that Joe Blanton could end up an option since the Phillies have made him available. Not sure that means the Yanks are in fact interested, but I figured I'd pass it along since I haven't posted in over a day.

The guy had a 4.80 ERA in 28 starts last year for the Phillies and is set to make $2.75 million next year. And with that, here's a random picture of him partying with Nick Swisher when they were both in Oakland.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

This Week in Yankees History (12/26-1/1)

This Week in Yankees History 

December 26th - January 1st

December 26th

1889 - Former Yankees reserve INF/OF James “Queenie” O’Rourke (1908) was born (1899-1955). He appeared in 34 games for the 1908 Yankees, hitting .231. Queenie was the son of Hall of Fame player Jim O’Rourke.

1901 - Former Yankees INF/P Edward “Doc” Farrell (1932-1933) was born. Edward “Doc” Farrell appeared in 70 games for the New York Yankees, hitting .231. On December 19,1934, he was sent by the New York Yankees to San Francisco Seals (PCL) to complete an earlier deal made on November 21,1934. The Yankees sent players to be named later and cash to San Francisco Seals (PCL) for OF Joe DiMaggio. Doc Farrell refused to report to his new team in 1935. He will play for the Boston Red Sox in 1935, appearing in only four games, hitting .286. He retired from baseball, becoming a successful dentist.

1919 - Boston Red Sox owner Harry Frazee makes a secret agreement to sell Babe Ruth to the New York Yankees for $100,000 (one-fourth cash, plus $25,000 a year at 6 percent) plus guaranteeing a $300,000 loan with Fenway Park as collateral. The transaction will be announced publicly one week later.

1947 - Former Yankees reserve INF Roxey Roach (1910-1911) passed away. In August of 1909, the New York Highlanders purchased Roxey Roach from Lancaster (Tri-State League) for $2,500. He appeared in 83 games for the New York Yankees hitting .219. On June 15,1911, Roxey was purchased by Jersey City (Eastern) from the Highlanders.

1948 - Former Yankees AL All Star 1B and MLB Coach Carroll “Chris” Chambliss (1974-1979,1988) was born. On April 26,1974, Chris Chambliss was traded by the Cleveland Indians along with pitchers Richard Tidrow and Cecil Upshaw to the New York Yankees for pitchers Fritz Peterson, Steve Kline, Fred Beene, and Tom Buskey. Chris hit the game winning HR in the 1976 ALCS to bring the Yankees back into the World Series for the 1st time since 1964. He was an AL All Star 1B in 1976. In 1978, he won the AL Golden Glove for 1B. In the post season for the Yankees, Chris hit .281 with 3 HRs with 15 RBIs. He appeared in 3 World Series with the Yankees (1976-1978) hitting .275 with 1 HR, 5 RBIs. To get a replacement for the late Thurman Munson the Yankees traded Chris away after the 1979 AL season. On November 1,1979, Chris was traded by the Yankees along with INF Damaso Garcia and P Paul Mirabella to the Toronto Blue Jays for P Tom Underwood, C Rick Cerone, and OF Ted Wilborn. The Blue Jays would soon trade him to Atlanta Braves. During the 1988 AL season, Chris had a brief one game comeback with the Yankees.

Olney: Yanks Have No Interest in Manny!/Buster_ESPN/status/19063786426081280

Good, that would have been a headache that nobody needed.

George King: Yankees Interested in Webb, Garcia, and Francis (Updated)

(UPDATED: 4:57PM) So much for Webb, he just signed with the Rangers.

As per the New York Post:
The Rangers beat the Yankees in the ALCS, then watched Cliff Lee jilt both the Yankees and themselves.

Yet, the Rangers still have the Yankees on their minds. The AL champs have an interest in free agent pitcher Brandon Webb, and this week heard Webb had a visit with the Yankees planned this coming week in New York.

That, according to a Yankees source, isn't accurate. While the Yankees are monitoring Webb, they don't appear to be in a hurry to do anything with the right-hander who, due to shoulder problems, has worked one game in the past two years.

With Lee in Philadelphia and Andy Pettitte "leaning toward" retirement, according to general manager Brian Cashman, the Yankees need at least one starter.

However, the pool wasn't deep with Lee in the water.

"There is not much available," Cashman said this week.

The Yankees have asked for Freddy Garcia's medical records, have an interest in lefty Jeff Francis and are monitoring Webb. The Phillies are watching what Pettitte does, because they are expected to dangle right-hander Joe Blanton as trade bait.

Garcia went 12-6 with a 4.64 ERA in 28 games for the White Sox last year. Due to shoulder woes, he appeared in a dozen games combined in 2008 and 2009.

An organization not interested in Webb believes he might not be ready until July.

Francis missed the entire 2009 season due to shoulder surgery and went 4-6 with a 5.00 ERA in 20 games for the Rockies last season. He was 17-9 in 2007 but a combined 8-16 in 2008-10.

With Cashman admitting stud prospects Manuel Banuelos and Dellin Betances aren't ready -- along with existing doubts that Ivan Nova can fill a spot in the back of the rotation -- the chances of the Yankees adding an arm before the July 31 trade deadline are good.

Francis, 30 early next month, is intriguing. He has a 55-50 career record and a 4.77 ERA in six seasons. Shoulder surgery robbed him of 2009 and he didn't pitch until May of this past season. After paying Francis $5.8 million, the Rockies declined a $7 million option.

He isn't Lee or Pettitte. But if healthy, he likely is better than Nova or Sergio Mitre.

"He could be a fourth starter for the Yankees, he has no fear and a big heart," an NL talent evaluator said of Francis.
Of these three, I would prefer Jeff Francis - he's a lefty, he limits walks, and he keeps the ball on the ground. Brandon Webb would be next in-line, despite his injury concerns, as I cannot purge my memories of his past dominance. Freddy Garcia represents the bottom of the barrel, though he could be a solid back-end starter.

Prior Talks About Working His Way Back to the Big

From Anthony McCarron:
"I think a lot of people wonder if I'm bitter," Prior says in a telephone interview from his native San Diego. "But I'm not. I'm blessed to have three healthy kids, a loving family and friends. When I was a rookie, did I have a vision of what my career would be? Absolutely. Has it gone that way? Absolutely not. But that's life.

"I think I've proved, at least to myself, that I've been able to overcome a lot. I'm looking forward to this next chapter in my career. I knew back then that I was getting to the big leagues, but there are no guarantees at this phase ... Now I'm hoping to turn the page and reclaim my baseball career."


Prior, who hasn't pitched in the majors since Aug. 10, 2006, will try to make the Yankees in spring training as, of all things, a reliever. Not so glamorous for a pitcher who was 18-6 for the Cubs in 2003 and finished third in the National League Cy Young voting, helping Chicago reach Game 6 of the NL Championship Series, but enough.

"The endurance of starting, I don't know if that's still in the cards for me," Prior says. "I'd have to find that out after being healthy for a year or two. I'm still learning (to pitch in relief), the nuances."


"It hasn't been easy. I'd be lying if I said there weren't times I said, 'Enough is enough.' In 2009, I thought long and hard about it. I had done everything I could for two years and it wasn't working. But I didn't want to be 35 and say, 'Man, if I had given myself extra time, I could've gotten healthy.' It's worth being patient now rather than having regrets."
He seems to be doing everything in his power to get back, and for that I'll give him credit. Most people would have given up by now. That doesn't mean I think he's going to be an impact reliever on this team, but it would be great if things turn out that way.
[The Yankees] have followed his rehab for years, says Billy Eppler, the Yanks' director of pro personnel. Last summer, their scouts saw Prior's velocity and arm speed tick upward. "Small indicators," Eppler says, "but nonetheless indicators that he was getting better.

"He was getting up to 92 (miles per hour) and was averaging 90," Eppler adds. "With his pitching IQ, he's going to be able to get hitters out if he's able to throw at that velocity. He's got a chance to make the club."

Hilarious Mets YouTube Spoof

Oliver Perez and Luis Castillo have a New York Mets conversation from YouTube member cakt901:

There are also a couple funny versions with Jayson Werth and Cliff Lee, and Tom Coughlin and Matt Dodge.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

A-Rod: We'll Be Fine Without Lee

It's Christmas, so here's something positive from the third baseman via Roger Rubin:
Yankees fans weren't the only ones upset to learn that Cliff Lee had opted for the Phillies over the Bombers this month. Alex Rodriguez was looking forward to seeing the lefty ace suiting up in pinstripes.

"Everyone in the organization was disappointed to some extent," he said in a telephone interview from Cabo San Lucas, Mexico. "We were all looking forward to playing alongside him. It was unexpected, but when it comes to free agency, you sometimes have to expect the unexpected."

Fans, he suggested, should feel the same way about the potential in the Yankees farm system.

"There's a lot of talent there and people are always stepping up," he said. "Look at what Phil Hughes did for us - he basically competed for the Cy Young. He's going to be someone we can count on. And (Ivan) Nova has a good arm too. I expect a lot from him.

"But the one reason I don't worry is I know the organization and I know the Steinbrenners. We already have a very good team. Last year we didn't play to our potential and we were still just a couple wins short of the World Series. If there's something they feel we need, they're going to go out and get it."

Friday, December 24, 2010

Merry Christmas Yankees Fans!

From all of us here at Sliding Into Home, we'd like to wish you and your families a very happy and healthy Christmas. And to those of you that aren't celebrating Christmas today, Happy Holidays.

Oh yea... and Go Yankees!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Yankees Have Slight Interest in Ramirez and Damon!/JackCurryYES/status/18116132535803904

I'm not sure how news-worthy this actually is, but I've always been intrigued by the possibility of seeing Ramirez in pinstripes. I'm not quite certain that he'd be the type to settle for a bench role, though.

Sabathia Drops 15 Pounds

From Janie McAuley:
Sabathia has lost 15 pounds from his 6-foot-7 frame through a tough offseason training program of cardiovascular workouts and weight training. His knee recovered in just less than a month after the procedure, so he is well into his full exercise program and playing light catch.

He hopes to lose an additional 15 pounds before the season starts.

"I'm turning 30 this year, getting a little older," he said, chuckling. "Hopefully it will take some pressure off my knee and extend my career."
I think that's the first real positives news of the offseason.

Yanks Sign Steve Evarts to a Minor League Deal

Here's some info on the 23-year-old from Donnie Collins:
Steve Evarts was once one of the better pitchers in the Atlanta Braves system.


Evarts was taken in the first round, 43rd overall, in the 2006 Draft. The Yankees took Ian Kennedy and Joba Chamberlain that year. Evarts would go on to three pretty good seasons in the Braves system, going 8-2 with a 2.30 ERA in 22 games between the Gulf Coast League and the South Atlantic League.

At his best, he was a tall lefty with a great feel for pitching who posted brilliant numbers on the field. At his worst, he was a pitcher who couldn’t stay on the field or out of trouble off of it.

He hasn't pitched since Tommy John surgery in 2008. Last April, he was arrest on felony battery and marijuana possession charges. It was his fourth arrest since '06.

The guy seems to be a walking disaster area, but if he can get his act together and stay healthy--apparently two big ifs--maybe he can reach some of his potential.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Report: Yanks Talking To Damon About Return

From Ken Davidoff:
While the Yankees' primary focus remains pitching, they have been communicating with free agent Johnny Damon about a possible return to the Yankees for 2011, Newsday has learned.

Four sources said that Damon and the Yankees were talking about a role in which Damon, 37, would get occasional at-bats as a designated hitter and fill in at leftfield, allowing starting leftfielder Brett Gardner to either rest or shift to fill in for centerfielder Curtis Granderson or rightfielder Nick Swisher.

Damon would prefer a job with more guaranteed playing time, two of the sources said, so a deal is not close and far from guaranteed. But there have been multiple conversations between the two sides.

Jorge Posada already has been notified by the Yankees that he'll be starting at DH for most games. One of the sources said that Damon has been communicating with his friend and ex-Yankee teammate Alex Rodriguez about the possibility of rejoining the Yankees and whether he'd be a fit.
Ehh why not? Adding a bat like Damon's, even at 37, would improve the depth and give the Yankees a very dangerous veteran bat off the bench.

More About Patience From The Yankees Brass

This quote comes from Randy Levine via Andrew Marchand (hat-tip to WasWatching):

"Cliff Lee is one of the best pitchers there is in Major League Baseball," Levine said. "He made a decision for himself and his family that he wanted to be in Philadelphia, and that is what free agency is all about and we respect it.

"That is a lot of money we saved by not signing Cliff Lee. We have one of the best minor league systems in all of baseball. At this point in time, we are getting a lot of calls from a lot of people, agents and other teams and we are going to be patient about it. We have until spring training, until the end of March when the season opens to do the right thing, be careful and weigh our options. I've been around a long time, we have sometimes won the Hot Stove League in December and November and we haven't done too well in October. So hopefully, October is the main time that you have to perform and I'm confident we will have a championship team."

I'm glad someone is confident the Yankees will have a championship team come October, because I know very few fans actually feel that way.

Yanks Luxury Tax Down $7.7 Million

From Mark Feinsand:
Major League Baseball issued its annual invoices for the luxury tax, showing that the Bombers slashed their league-leading tax for 2010 by more than $7 million.

According to figures obtained by The Associated Press, the Yankees were hit with an $18 million luxury-tax bill, their lowest since 2003. For the '09 season, the Bombers shelled out $25.7 million.

"Atta baby," general manager Brian Cashman told The AP. "And right now we're in the $170s."


The Red Sox were the only other team hit with a luxury-tax bill, as Boston will pay out $1.49 million, the first time since 2007 that the Sox have exceeded the payroll threshold.

Still, with a payroll of $170.7 million, the Red Sox were a whopping $44.4 million behind the Yankees - more than the entire payrolls of the Padres ($43.7 million) and Pirates ($44.1 million). Both teams must send their checks to the league by the end of January.
Saving money, not landing any players that will improve the team, and they appear happy about it. If 2011 isn't being looked at as a transitional year than I don't know what is.

I wonder what George would be saying about all this if he were still around.

Crasnick: Yankees Have Some Interest in Francis

When healthy, Francis is a fine pitcher - he limits walks, keeps the ball on the ground, and garners a respectable amount of strikeouts. His 5.00 ERA is a bit unsightly, but his 3.88 FIP and 3.94 xFIP suggest that a fair bit of bad luck was at play, particularly when taken in kind with his solid 2.91 K/BB and 47.0% ground ball rate. The issue here, though, is that Francis hasn't been healthy over the past three seasons, with a problematic shoulder being the primary concern. While Francis did pitch without much discomfort is 2010, Ben Sheets and Brandon Webb are a testament to the potential ramifications of shoulder problems.

Even so, I do think that Francis would be a fine addition to the Yankees. He would likely be expected to be the fourth or fifth starter, and the team would be able to skip his turn every so often as a means to save a bit of wear and tear. It may not be saying much, but I do think that Francis is the best remaining option on the free agent market.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Cashman: Pettitte not "in play for Yanks

From George A. King III:
Andy Pettitte hasn’t told Brian Cashman what his 2011 plans are.

However, Tuesday in Washington Heights, the Yankees GM sounded like an executive ready to move on without the veteran lefty.

“There has been no official announcement that he has retired but I can tell you that he is not officially in play,’’ Cashman said. “We are focused on the players available in the free agent market and the trade market. Andy is currently not one of those guys.

“I have spoken to Andy, I know his position. There is really nothing more to talk about or write about. Right now Andy is leaning toward retirement. He hasn’t decided he wants to play next year. He wanted to make sure we were not being held up as we do our business. So, we are not. We are moving forward with what’s available. There is not much available but if there is something there that we like and we match up, we will strike.’’
I guess we should all start embracing the idea that we've seen the last of Pettitte. If he comes back, then that'll just be a pleasant surprise.

There was also this little bit of info regarding Brandon Webb:
Cashman was evasive about free agent Brandon Webb, who has pitched in one game since the end of the 2008 season due to arm problems.

“I wouldn’t be able to say,’’ Cashman said.
To me that sounds like he's interested, or at least intrigued by Webb, which isn't surprising. At this point, it's going to take something lucky to give the Yanks a rotation that can compete with the top clubs in the game.

The Leftovers

The following is a simple round-up of free agents that meet two relatively basic qualifications - they fill a professed need for the Yankees, and they aren't entirely worthless. Hat tip to MLB Trade Rumors for their free agent archive.

Utility Infielders
Willy Aybar
Decent amount of pop, strong history against LHP, adequate at 1B, 2B, and 3B
Christian Guzman
High-contact approach, middling power, switch-hitter (slightly better against LHP), adequate at 2B and SS
Jerry Hairston
High-contact approach, middling power, no platoon splits, fine base-runner, adequate at 2B and SS, solid outfielder as well
Scott Hairston
Mashes LHP, decent base-runner, solid defensive outfielder
Reed Johnson
Mashes LHP, sort of injury prone, solid corner outfielder, middling in center
Andruw Jones
Mashes LHP, solid corner outfielder, subpar in center
Gabe Kapler
Very good against LHP, solid corner outfielder, subpar in center
Manny Ramirez
Limited platoon splits in recent years, probably shouldn't play much outfield (though right could be easier in Yankee Stadium)
Marcus Thames
Mashes LHP, overachieved a bit last season, probably shouldn't play much outfield
Starting Pitchers
Justin Duchscherer
Limited to five (very good) starts over the past two seasons, decent groundball rate
Jeff Francis
Lefty, injury prone (shoulder issues), good groundball rates, good walk rates
Freddy Garcia
Injury prone, league-average innings eater
Kevin Millwood
League-average innings eater, trending down
Brad Penny
Injury prone, good groundball rates, good walk rates
Andy Pettitte
Baby come back
Brandon Webb
Hasn't pitched in nearly two years, shoulder issues - formerly elite, with very good groundball, strikeout, and walk rates
Grant Balfour
Type A free agent (draft pick), great strikeout rates, improved control, flyball pitcher
Todd Coffey
Underrated, very good groundball rates, good walk and strikeout rates
Octavio Dotel
Great strikeout rates, up and down control, flyball pitcher
Kevin Gregg
Very good strikeout rates, middling control, inconsisent groundball rates
Bob Howry
Did his best work with Larry Rothschild, flyball pitcher, good strikeout and walk rates
Chad Qualls
Very good groundball rate, good strikeout and walk rates
Jon Rauch
Good strikeout and walk rates, flyball pitcher
Takashi Saito
Great strikeout rates, very good control, neutral groundball/flyball splits
Rafael Soriano
Type A, elite reliever
While Cashman has certainly missed out on a fair share of quality players, there are still some fine options available. Signing the Brothers Hairston and Todd Coffey - reasonable targest, in my mind, would solidify the bench and bullpen quite a bit. If they're feeling frisky, perhaps the Yankees could roll the dice on Rafael Soriano (they do have a compensation round pick, after all).

Monday, December 20, 2010

Another Pettitte Rumor

Marc Carig is reporting that a "person with knowledge of Pettitte's thinking" believes that there is a 30% chance he returns.
"There is a very real possibility that he will retire."
Not sure what to make of these rumors anymore, but I felt like passing it along.

Cashman: We're Likely Going With Current Rotation

First there was this from Jack Curry earlier today:!/JackCurryYES/status/16910992961175552
Besides that, there were these quotes from Cashman himself, via Andrew Marchand:
Having finished second, or maybe third, in the Cliff Lee sweepstakes, the Yankees are prepared to go into the 2011 season with a pitching rotation of CC Sabathia, A.J. Burnett and Phil Hughes, with the remaining spots filled out by youngsters, many of whom have never pitched above the Triple-A level.

"I'm not saying I want to do it," general manager Brian Cashman said in a telephone conversation Monday morning, "but I may have to do it."

Cashman is operating under the assumption that Andy Pettitte, back home in Deer, Park, Texas, following a an excellent season cut short by a groin injury, will not be returning for a 17th major league season.

"If we get Pettitte back, so much the better," Cashman said. "But I'm not waiting for him. He told me not to."

"Could I go out and get a starter? Yes, I could. But there's just not much out there," Cashman said. "I have March, April, May, June and July, really, to come up with someone."


"In the past, we might have gone out and traded away prospects just to get someone in here," Cashman said. "But realistically, I have until July to get this solved."
Cashman also said that Joba Chamberlain is not an option for the rotation and that he would look to find two starters out of the Yankees pitching prospects at Double and Triple-A. Ivan Nova, Andrew Brackman, Dellin Betances, Adam Warren, Hector Noesi and left-hander Manny Banuelos were all mentioned in the article.

I'm telling you guys, the more I read about Cashman's expectations and his apparently lack of interest in making any major deals, the more I believe that 2011 will be a transition year for the Yanks. Not the best thing to do with so many older veterans on the roster, but we'll see how it goes.

Heyman: Royals Asked for Montero & Nunez (Updated)

(Updated 1:24 PM) I guess the earlier reports were only half right:!/Joelsherman1/status/16920146585067520

That deal is a lot harder to make if you're Cashman.

(original post below)

Taken in kind with the actual package sent in exchange for Greinke, this has me wondering whether or not the Yankees could have whittled down the Royals demands a bit further. In my opinion, swapping out Montero in favor of Romine, throwing in a mid-rotation prospect or two (such as Nova or Warren), and perhaps Corban Joseph represents a stronger deal for the Royals. More importantly, this would not really hinder the Yankees too much going forward.

In the end, maybe we should take these statements at face value - given the Royals quantity over quality exchange, the Yankees may genuinely have feared Greinke's ability to handle New York.

Yankees Sign Luis Vizcaino!/Ledger_Yankees/status/16700624888397824

I don't have terribly fond memories of Vizcaino, nor am I enthused by his recent injury history. That being said, I do like Cashman's low-cost, low-risk approach to creating bullpen depth throughout the system. Vizcaino isn't likely to provide the Yankees with much, and I would be shocked to see him receive any moderately leveraged situations, but it's a sensible move.

Scratch Nolasco Off of the Wish List

As per the South Florida Sun Central:
Not only do the Marlins have no plans to trade right-hander Ricky Nolasco, they're on the verge of making a long-term commitment.

According to a league source, the Marlins and Nolasco have agreed in principle to a three-year, $26.5 million contract. An official announcement should sometime this week. Nolasco would become the second starter in as many years to sign a long-term deal with the Marlins. Last January, the Marlins made a four-year, $39 million commitment to ace Josh Johnson.

Saturday, reported Nolasco and the Marlins had reached an impasse only to come back Sunday with news the two sides were closing in on a three-year, $27 million deal. This contract will buy out Nolasco's remaining two years of arbitration-eligibility and his first year of free agency.

While I would have liked to see Nolasco don the pinstripes in 2011, I'm not too torn up about this. Nolasco certainly had his flaws, and this sort of deal from the Marlins indicates that they have a fairly high opinion of the burly right-hander - which, in turn, would have driven up his trade cost. Regardless, it's good to see the Marlins opening the coffers after dealing Uggla earlier this offseason.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Newman on Montero, Romine, Laird, and some Triple-A Starters

This all comes from Chad Jennings...First, here what Newman had to say about the catching situation (logjam) at Triple-A:
Now that Russell Martin is on the roster, it’s likely both Jesus Montero and Austin Romine will open the season the minor leagues. In theory, each should each be in Triple-A, but that’s a logjam the Yankees don’t want.

“They need to catch, so that’s something we’ll deal with if we get there,” vice president of baseball operations Mark Newman said. “I wouldn’t want them to split right now.”

Montero and Romine split catching duties in the lower levels, but at this point, both need to get used to catching every day. They also need repetition behind the plate so that they improve defensively.

Obviously the Yankees won’t set anything in stone right now, but the arrival of Martin could force Romine back to Trenton, where last season he hit .268 with a second half that was worse than his first. I’m sure he’d rather move forward, but repeating the level might not be a waste of time.
Was signing Russell Martin really worth setting back Montero and Romine back this much?

Here's what Newman had to say about Brandon Laird:
So far so good with Brandon Laird’s work in the outfield. Newman said the Yankees are convinced he can play the corners. Left field at Yankee Stadium might be a little spacious for him, but they think he could play right field in the Bronx, and he could play left in most parks. “He’s going to do well enough out there that he’s going to be an option,” Newman said. The Yankees still think Laird is better defensively at first and third, but he could be a legitimate four-corners option as soon as 2011.
It'll be interesting to see how Laird does in Triple-A to start the season. After his promotion, he hit just .246/.268/.344 with 2 HR and 12 RBI in 127 plate appearances with SWB last year. If he can put up numbers like he did in Double-A last year (.291/.355/.523, 23 HR, 90 RBI) he may be an interesting midseason callup.

And some of those big name prospects who should be in Scranton to start the year (I suspect he's referring to Andrew Brackman, David Phelps, Hector Noesi, and D.J. Mitchell):
If the Yankees feel the need to move one of their prospect starting pitchers into the Major League bullpen next season, they can make that adjustment quickly. There’s no need to make that switch out of spring training. “When they get to Triple-A, they don’t need a full year doing that,” Newman said. “They need a month or two of adjustment. They still need innings. You don’t want to limit innings by putting them prematurely in the bullpen.”
The talented pitchers in the Yankees system are the only thing making this offseason hurt less, and the four pitchers expected to start at SWB are just the tip of the iceberg. Besides Brackman, Phelps, Mitchell, and Brackman, the Yankees also have the other two Killer-B's (Banuelos & Betances) and Adam Warren. Wilkins Arias, who is already a reliever, has had a very good winter in the Dominican and could open some eyes this year as well.

With all those arms in the top two levels of the pen (and I left out a few others) I would not be surprised at all to see at least a couple of them make some sort of impact, whether it's as a starter or reliever.

This Week in Yankees History (12/19-12/25)

This Week in Yankees History

December 19th - December 25th

December 19th

1915 - Former Yankees PH/INF Nicholas “Mickey” Witek (1949) was born. Mickey Witek was the 1939 Most Valuable Player for the Newark Bears (International League). He was brought up to the majors with the New York Giants. He spent the 1943-1946 MLB seasons in the U.S. Coast Guard. He appeared in one game for the 1949 New York Yankees, as a pinch hitter.

1930 - Former Yankees reserve OF Gordon Windhorn (1959) was born. On March 14, 1957, Gordon Windhorn was traded by the Boston Red Sox along with P Eli Grba to the New York Yankees for OF Bill Renna. In 1958 with the Denver Bears in the American Association (AAA), Gordon won the league’s batting crown. Gordon was selected as the 1959 James P. Dawson Award for being the best Yankees rookie in the 1959 spring training camp. Gordon appeared in only seven games for the Yankees in 1959. On April 5,1960, Gordon was traded by the Yankees along with minor league player Dick Sanders to the Dodgers for P Fred Kipp.

1934 - The New York Yankees send five players to San Francisco Seals (PCL) as part of the payment for OF Joe DiMaggio. He will play another season in the Pacific Coast League with the Seals. Joe will report to the Yankees at the end of 1935.

Sources: Greinke Traded to the Brewers

As per ESPN:
In the deal, the Royals are reportedly acquiring Brewers outfielder Lorenzo Cain, shortstop Alcides Escobar and pitching prospects Jake Odorizzi and Jeremy Jeffress for the 27-year-old Greinke, 10-14 with a 4.17 ERA in 2010 after winning the 2009 Cy Young.
This deal is, in my mind, about quantity over quality. The Royals were seeking up the middle talent and pitching, and they settled for a sampler of sorts. Given the depth of their farm system, it certainly makes sense to target certain positions (as opposed to asking for the best possible talent), but it still seems as if they settled when they really didn't have to.

While reading about this deal, it became apparent to me that the Yankees were simply not interested in Greinke. A very rough equivalent deal would be Brett Gardner, Eduardo Nunez, Adam Warren, and Andrew Brackman, and perhaps another middle infield piece (David Adams or Corban Joseph) - sure, that's a lot of talent, but they'd also retain their top four or five prospects (depending on how you feel about Brackman). The greatest difference between the two offers is the gap between Escobar and Nunez, which I believe the Yankees could have overcome in offering better pitching. That is entirely speculative, however, and the Royals search for trade partners could have hinged entirely on the shortstop position.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

For Wood, it was Chicago or Bust!/SI_JonHeyman/status/15897523046588418

According to Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times, Wood was hoping to latch on with the Cubs from the outset. His ties to the organization and the community have remained very strong to this day, and it seems as if he never really wanted to leave. Does this mean Yankees fans will stop blaming Cashman for Wood signing elsewhere?

Friday, December 17, 2010

Jeff Keppinger on Yanks Radar

From Ken Rosenthal:

The Yankees, searching for bench help, have spoken with the Astros about infielder Jeff Keppinger, according to major-league sources.

A trade does not appear close, but the teams have engaged in recent discussions, one source said.

The Astros increased the possibility of trading Keppinger on Friday, reaching agreement with free agent Bill Hall on a one-year contract to play second base.

The Yankees had shown interest in Hall, but Keppinger - who stands to receive a raise from $1.15 million in his second year of arbitration - could fill a similar role.

In 137 games for the Astros last year, Keppinger hit .288/.351/.393 with 6 HR and 59 RBI. Pretty solid numbers for someone who would be a bench player here. He's played every position besides catcher and center throughout his career, but spent most of last year at second base (and 12 games at short). As long as the 'Stros aren't trying to rob us I'm all for it.

Rivera May Ask Pettitte to Take One More Shot

As per the Daily News:
As Andy Pettitte continues mulling whether to play in 2011, a teammate who admires him is considering doing a little recruiting.

Mariano Rivera hasn't called Pettitte yet, but said Thursday, "I might try to reach him soon. My message will be - I want to hear what he's doing, what he wants to do. If he wants to continue playing, I think we would have a good shot."

Rivera even said he might try to talk Pettitte out of retiring, if the lefty tells him he's finished playing. "He would have the last word, but yes," Rivera said after helping with the Yankees' annual holiday food drive at the Stadium. "Andy, to me, is one of the best left-handers out there. I would take him any time."

While some may perceive the Yankees as more desperate for Pettitte since they were spurned by Cliff Lee, Rivera said Pettitte was vital whether the Yanks had gotten Lee or not. "Andy's always been important to me. Always, have Lee or don't have Lee. Andy, I would've signed him first, if it was me."

Would it be too much of a pun or terribly cliché to say that this would be Rivera's biggest save in over a year? I think so.

Feliciano To Sign 2-Year, $8 Milllion Deal With Yanks
Not a bad deal at all for the Yanks. At least it's something. In his career lefties are hitting just .214/.282/.297 against the former Met.

RIP @stevensmithy

For those of you not in the know, @stevensmithy (Steven Smith) was a passionate, intelligent Yankees fan from Scotch Plains, NJ. He was very active in the Twitter community, and added fantastic dialogue to many conversations about the Yankees. He was tragically killed in a car accident last weekend, and for the people that followed him, and knew him personally, the world is a little bit more lonely. That goes for the Yankees Universe as well.

We all gather together on blogs, through Twitter, and Facebook, as well as many other social network sites, and root on our Bronx Bombers. We form relationships with people across the world as we do this, and we become not only a "summer family", but a "year round" one as well, as we all rally around the Yankees.

So as you gather with your families this holiday season, please take a minute to remember Steven.

I'd like to share an article with you about Steven Smith that was published this week.

On behalf of the entire SIH team, I wish all of you a very Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah (a little late), and a very prosperous New Year.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Wood Signs With Cubs.... For $1.5 Million?!?!?!?

From Paul Sullivan:

Kerry Wood has reached a one-year deal with the Cubs for $1.5 million, sources said Thursday.

Wood had a physical Thursday and the signing is expected to be announced Friday. The deal is well below Wood's market value, but the former Cubs ace was willing to get it done to return to his former team and possibly end his career in Chicago. He'll also receive incentives based on games finished, in case he eventually becomes the closer.

General manager Jim Hendry was unavailable for comment.

Wood reportedly turned down more lucrative offers from Boston and the White Sox, possibly leaving $10-$12 million on the table. He offered to sign a one-year deal to return to the Cubs after the '08 season, but the Cubs told him to test the market, and he received a two-year, $20 million deal in Cleveland.
Nothing from the Yankees? I guess it doesn't matter really, if he turned down the money from the White Sox and Red Sox, I'm sure he would have done the same to the Yanks. I assume going back to his first team, and the opportunity to grab the closers job was just too much to pass up for Wood.

Sherman and Olney: Soriano isn't on the Radar!/Joelsherman1/status/15526920359776256!/Buster_ESPN/status/15535443500077058
While this isn't really surprising, it does leave me wondering what, if anything, the Yankees are going to do with the money saved in the Cliff Lee non-signing. If Pettitte returns, a fair chunk of that will go towards his contract, but I would assume that there was already something set aside there. Perhaps the new route is Mark Buehrle or Carlos Zambrano, both of which will make a fair amount of money this year and next? Or a mid-season acquisition?

Olney: Jenks to Red Sox

Well ... so much for that.

John Sickels Ranks the Yankees Top 20 Prospects

I suggest you go to John Sickels' website for a much more detailed version of this list. Suffice it to say that he's incredibly enthusiastic about Jesus Montero, as well as the system's pitching depth (stating "I count eight guys with the ability to hold rotation spots at the major league level, including a couple of potential anchors, and there are more arms behind them.").

01. Jesus Montero, C
02. Gary Sanchez, C
03. Dellin Betances, P
04. Manny Banuelos, P
05. Hector Noesi, P
06. Andrew Brackman, P
07. Ivan Nova, P
08. Austin Romine, C
09. Slade Heathcott, OF
10. Adam Warren, P
11. Graham Stoneburner, P
12. David Phelps, P
13. Eduardo Nunez, SS
14. Brandon Laird, 3B
15. David Adams, 2B
16. J.R. Murphy, C
17. Corban Joseph, 2B
18. Cito Culver, SS
19. Brett Marshall, P
20. Jose A. Ramirez, P

Yanks Looking at Freddy Garcia?

Umm... I really hope this isn't "plan B".

The 35-year-old went 12-6 with a 4.64 ERA last year with the White Sox. And no, that isn't terrible, but I really don't see where a pitcher like Garcia fits. At least not on the Major League roster.

As of right now the rotation is CC, Hughes, Burnett, Nova and I guess Mitre. Signing Garcia and slotting him into the 4 or 5 spot doesn't help this team. Unless they can resign Petttitte, I feel they're going to need to get a quality arm (much easier said than done), push Nova to the no. 5 spot and Mitre into the pen. At least if they want to be successful they do.

Russell Martin Deal Official

The Yankees have completed their deal with catcher Russell Martin. He will get a one-year $4 million deal. A pretty good deal considering his upside.

His first act as a Yankee?


Luckily, it's not a big deal--They wouldn't have signed him if it was. Here's more from George A. King III:

The newly signed catcher has a small meniscus tear in his right knee and will have arthroscopic surgery Monday.

Martin passed his Yankees physical making the deal official Thursday.

"It's a three-week recovery period,” GM Brian Cashman said. “We can take time with this. He will be full-throttle when called upon. We don't want it to become a problem. It's not a serious surgery at all."

CC Sabathia and Jorge Posada, who is moving to DH and being replaced at catcher by Martin, have undergone similar surgeries earlier this offseason.

"As long as he's healthy he will be the everyday catcher," Cashman said of Martin.

Yanks Close to Deal with Feliciano

Rosenthal: Yankees Have Interest in Bobby Jenks

With Kerry Wood looking like he's headed to Chicago, Jenks would be a very solid replacement. The pen would still need a little work even if Jenks signs, but it's a start.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Kerry Wood Close to Signing with Cubs

As per David Kaplan:
The Cubs, who have a major need for a veteran right handed reliever are moving towards finalizing a deal with free agent Kerry Wood.


Wood has made Chicago his permanent home and told me just last week that whatever decision he made about where he would pitch in 2011 had to be a good fit for his family. Being able to stay home and his longtime relationship with Cubs general manager Jim Hendry are huge factors in the Cubs favor.

I have mixed feelings about this news. The Yankees do certainly have a need for something of a sure thing in the bullpen, and Wood (when healthy) could fill that role admirably. On the other hand, the rumored cost is a bit prohibitive for a set-up man - particularly one with a resume riff with injuries and inconsistency. He certainly isn't the type of pitcher that the Yankees should throw a ton of money at, but he does toe the line between want and need.

What do you think? Where do you see the Yankees going from here?

Prior and Six Others Invited To Spring Training

Here's a list:
  • RHP Mark Prior, 30
  • RHP Brian Anderson, 28
  • INF Doug Bernier, 30
  • RHP Buddy Carlyle, 33
  • LHP Neal Cotts, 30
  • C Gustavo Molina, 28
  • LHP Andy Sisco, 27
A few interesting names on there... I'm a little busy right now, but for a nice summary of each, check out this post by Mark Feinsand.

The Sky is Not Falling

The Red Sox did what they HAD to do to compete. Like the Yanks did in the winter of '08. The Phillies swooped in and corrected last year's mistake. Apparently Lee did not want to be a Yankee. Contrary to what the radio meatheads are saying GMS III would not have made a difference unless he gave him an idiotic 9-10 year contract.

The Yanks have not had a bad off-season. Let me repeat, the Yanks have not had a bad off-season. They haven't had a great one either - clearly dragged DJ through public mud when none was warranted or necessary. However, they've done some little things right - getting Jeter & Mo re-signed & getting Russell Martin. Martin may end up with a great bounceback year if he's healthy and he serves 3 other purposes: (1)Gives Cashman flexibility if he entertains Montero trade offers (something I think he should resist but we have great prospect depth at Catcher); (2) The Red Sox wanted him and are weak at Catcher & (3) Allows Montero to ease into the job and provides a second teacher for him. If Montero shines, Martin can be trade bait. If he struggles, Martin is there while Montero adjusts.

They also don't seem to be panicking and signing or trading for mediocrity (e.g., Pavano, Jaret Wright (Wrong), etc from years past). We are deep in pitching prospects and it's time to see if the increased attention to the draft and the farms, especially pitching and catching, the last 5 years has paid off. The Giants won the World Series and the Rangers made the World Series based upon excellent pick-ups IN-SEASON. As constituted, the Yanks are still a play-off team. The dreaded Sox and Rays probably flipped positions on paper. Think how sweet it will be when we win in 2011 on the back of young homegrown talent.

Scout Says Yanks Should Start Martin, Not Montero

From Andrew Marchand:
This scout had the usual criticism of Montero's game. He is not good enough defensively. He said he had concerns about Montero's defensive mechanics and that is why he thinks Montero could be at Triple-A. Ultimately, the scout thought that if Montero remained a Yankee he eventually could be a couple of days a week catcher and a DH.

The scout also thinks Montero could be a first baseman, which why the Yankees may ultimately trade him. The Yankees say that Montero has improved defensively, but that could be designed to try to hike his trade value.

The scout projected Montero to be a .265 hitter with 25 homers one day. We'll see.

The scout thinks Austin Romineis the Yankees' future catcher because of his better defense.
With the Yankees signing Martin it signaled one of two things to me: either the Yankees are very open to trading Montero, or their scouts are saying similar things as the scout above.

Heyman Says Yanks are on King Felix's No-Trade List

Ever since Cliff Lee decided to go to Philly the name everyone has been throwing around as a potential trade target for the Yankees is Felix Hernandez. Here's some more info from Jon Heyman and Ken Rosenthal:

And Rosenthal:

The Yankees are free to inquire on Felix Hernandez, but the Mariners do not figure to move a pitcher who is under contract for four more years – and, ahem, coming off his first American League Cy Young award.

The Red Sox, Yankees and Rays reportedly all pushed for Hernandez at the 2009 non-waiver deadline, when he was 2-1/2 years from free agency.

The Mariners, who balked at trading him then, should be even less interested in moving him now.

At this moment, it’s difficult to imagine how the Yankees could put together a package strong enough to even tempt the M’s. Perhaps things will change by the deadline or by next offseason, when Hernandez’s bigger salaries are looming.

As much as I'd love to see King Felix in Pinstripes, I just don't see it happening.

Rosenthal on Wood & Soriano

From Ken Rosenthal:

Among the Lee losers, the Rangers are unlikely to spend big for a reliever, even if they move righty Neftali Feliz to the rotation. But one rival exec thinks the Yankees could target Soriano as part of their post-Lee recovery program.

The Yankees could pay Soriano closer money for three or four years, effectively buying insurance for Mariano Rivera while putting his successor in place.

Kerry Wood, another free-agent candidate for the Yankees, is seeking a two-year, $12 million deal, according to one source.

I hope they can get at least one of these guys. Creating a dominant bullpen, or at least something close, should be near the top of Cashman's list. With a starting rotation full of question marks, having a solid pen is vital.

Madden: Look For Cashman To Go After Zambrano

From Bill Madden:
In the meantime, look for Cashman to spend his saved money on shoring up the bullpen, with re-signing Kerry Wood a new priority. And in addition to re-signing Pettitte, he'll still be exploring the trade market with the Cubs' Carlos Zambrano, who experienced a turnaround both in temperament and results under the tutelage of new Yankee pitching coach Larry Rothschild the last six weeks of last season, a likely target.
In 36 games (20 starts) in 2010, the 29-year-old went 11-6 with a 3.33 ERA for the Cubs. He's also set to make $17.875M this season and $18M in 2012. He's also got a vesting player option for 2010 worth $19.25M.

He would be a very interesting pickup, especially with Rothschild in the mix. Of course it would all depend on who the Yankees would have to give up.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Did Pettitte really say that?

From Ken Davidoff:
Someone who spoke with Andy Pettitte last week said that the lefty told him this: If the Yankees get Lee, then he would come back. If not, then he would stay home.

That essentially matches what Joel Sherman reported last week. Now we'll see if Pettitte actually means that. It won't be easy for someone so accomplished, someone still so good, to step away.
Considering that this has been reported by two people now it may actually be true. Let's just hope it's not.

Yanks Sign Mark Prior To Minor-League Deal

It's a low risk move, but I wouldn't get my hopes up with this one. Prior hasn't throw a pitch in the big leagues since 2006 when he went 1-6 with a 7.21 ERA.

Matsui Finalizes Deal with the A's

From The AP via
The Oakland Athletics have landed their new designated hitter.

The A's and free agent slugger Hideki Matsui finalized a one-year contract Tuesday after he passed a physical. The sides had agreed to terms during the weekend.

Oakland planned an afternoon news conference to formally introduce Matsui, who provides a reliable bat in the middle of the order that general manager Billy Beane was seeking this offseason.

"Plan B is patience"

Those were Brian Cashman's words earlier today.

I'm not exactly sure what kind of patience he's talking about. Does this mean we need to sit back and wait a year because he completely messed this offseason? Or does it mean he's got a deal or deals in the works that will help the Yankees catch up with Boston and Philly, but that it may take a few weeks for anything major to happen?

As long as he doesn't trade the entire farm I hope it's the latter.

Maybe we can figure out more from these talking points from Cashman via Marc Carig:

- The Yankees'next moves will depend on what's left on the marketplace, though it doesn't appear that somebody of Lee's impact is left on the board. "There are certain areas that are easier to address than others," Cashman said. Just looking at the market, it seems that while top-end starting pitching could be had in the trade market, the price tags appear to be prohibitive. But the market has options as far as bench types and bullpen arms.

- The starting rotation remains a question mark, even though Cashman tried to relay a more optimistic message: "Is it perfect? No. Can it be improved upon? Yes," he said. But A.J. Burnett is coming off an awful season and Ivan Nova is young.


- Cashman took a long view, saying that improvements can be made to the roster, all the way up to next summer's trade deadline: "It doesn't have to happen in the winter time," he said. It's an interesting point considering how much the market could shift between now and then.


- Speaking of Montero, Cashman said he's not inclined to trade him this winter. "It would be a rare situation for me to include Montero in a deal," he said. Montero once again became the center of speculation regarding trade talks when reported this morning the Yankees had signed veteran catcher Russell Martin. Cashman refused to comment on the deal, which is still not official.


- "I don't think we have a lot of holes," Cashman on the Yankees roster.

- "We're not down and out at all. We've got a great situation," Cashman on the Yankees moving forward.

Well, that really didn't clear things up at all, did it?

What Comes Next?

Cliff Lee has signed with the Philles. Andy Pettitte is leaning towards retirement. The Royals want four top prospects for Zack Greinke. Carl Pavano and Freddy Garcia are the best bets on the free agent market. With two sizable holes in the rotation, what are the best options available for the Yankees?

01. Don't panic.
While this may be the same as filling the rotation with hopes and dreams and rainbows, it remains crucial. The laws of supply and demand dictate that the cost of pitching skyrocketed around the time Lee to the Phillies was announced. The Yankees cannot deal from their impressive prospect pool to acquire a mid-rotation option - it's simply not worth it.
02. Scour the trade market.
This sort of contradicts the first point, but not entirely so. There's no harm in asking what the White Sox want for Buehrle, or what the Astros want for Wandy Rodriguez. There are always buy-low candidates to be found. That being said, these aren't the sort of pitcher you sell the farm for - now if Felix Hernandez were available...
03. Sign a high-risk, high-reward starter.
Rich Harden. Brandon Webb. Chien-Ming Wang. Ben Sheets. Justin Duchscherer. None of these pitchers are in a position to ask for a great deal, and the Yankees have the funds to take advantage of that. Rich Harden could recapture his ace form, or struggle as he did with the Rangers - either way, it's a risk the Yankees can afford.
04. Stretch out Nova and Chamberlain.
Both have good stuff, and both would likely be in the rotation for twenty or so other teams - and many seem to forget that Chamberlain performed fairly well considering his age and experience level. With the money saved by not signing Lee, the Yankees could give Chamberlain a real shot at the rotation, then bring in Bobby Jenks or Rafael Soriano to fill the gap. They may not be able to offer them the closer's role, but they could overpay a bit.
05. Convince Pettitte to return.
This is self-explanatory, but I think it can be done. Pettitte left for Houston due to his not feeling wanted way back when. Ensure that he knows how much the Yankees need him, and I believe he will don the pinstripes for one more year.
06. Have Burnett move-in with Larry Rothschild.
Rothschild has a knack for harnessing a pitcher's stuff for the best possible results. For all of his faults, Burnett has very good stuff - this seems like a match made in heaven. The Yankees are invested in Burnett for three more years; they must attempt to maximize their return by any means necessary.

Yanks Have Agreed to Terms With Martin

Lee to Sign With the Phillies

And the terrible offseason for the Yankees continues...

First there was this from Jon Heyman:

And then this from T.R. Sullivan:

Cliff Lee is going to the Philadelphia Phillies, industry sources said Monday night. The Rangers were told Monday night that Lee is going to the Phillies, It is a done deal

Clearly, this is bad news for the Yankees, Rangers, the entire National League, well pretty much for everyone besides the freaking Red Sox.

The Phillies front four in their rotation is now Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee, Cole Hamels and Roy Oswalt. Might as well start fitting them for those rings.

(UPDATE) Jerry Crasnick is now reporting that the deal is for five years "with an 'easily reachable' vesting option for a sixth year." He's not sure about the money but the deal is worth more than $100 million. Apparently, the deal the Yankees offered him was a six-year deal worth $138 million, with a seventh-year player option for an another $16 million for a total of seven years and $154 million. So he left around $50 million on the table...... WOW.

(ANOTHER UPDATE) Heyman updates the contract figures:
lee received about $115 mil for 5 years plus 6th yr vesting option w/ makeable incentives. thats slightly higher AAV than yankees offer
(AND ANOTHER) According to Tim Brown, the Rangers, not the Yankees were the highest bidders for Lee. With a vesting option, they would have paid Lee $161 million.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Yanks Show Some Interest in Jerry Hairston Jr.

In 45 games for the Yanks that year, he hit .237/.352/.382 while playing various positions and giving the starters much-needed off days down the stretch of that championship run.

Last year, Hairston hit .244/.299/.353 with the Padres.

Summing Up Today's Cliff Lee Nonsense

You may have noticed there hasn't been any Cliff Lee posts today.

Sorry about that, but the news being thrown out at us today was crap and I felt no need to post three or four different posts about "mystery teams", Lee's indecision and whatnot. Instead, here's a summary:
“Dude, I got no idea,” he said. “In terms of when are they going to make a decision, when they do, the whole world will know.”

Those were Brian Cashman's words to Chad Jennings earlier today when asked about Lee.

As for that mystery team, it appears, at least according to Joel Sherman (and others), could be the Phillies.

There is a lot of buzz on the Phillies. I have it on strong authority that Phillie officials loved Lee and he loved playing there (that bodes well, for what it is worth, Lee being comfortable in a large, northeast city). The Phillies have shed a lot of money this offseason (Werth, Jamie Moyer, J.C. Romero) without doing anything significant.

On the surface it does not seem vital to add another high-end starter when the Phils already have Roy Halladay, Roy Oswalt and Cole Hamels. But the presence of Lee would give them arguably one of the best rotations ever. What if they were, for example, able to trade most of the salaries of either Raul Ibanez or Joe Blanton to provide additional funds to go after Lee and try to extend the best period in franchise history with a super rotation. Or maybe the Phillies could sign Lee and use Hamels or Oswalt to trade for a high-end, righty-swinging bat to play the corner outfield.

The Nationals and Angels have also been brought up as the "mystery team".

Karl Ravech
reported earlier today that the Rangers were making a strong push to sign Adrian Beltre, which to Ravich indicates that Lee may be leaning towards the Yankees... Who the hell knows?

And finally, the Daily News is now reporting that there will be no decision from Lee today:
The Yankees and Rangers will be forced to wait until at least Tuesday before learning of the star lefthander's fate, as a source told the Daily News that Lee is not expected to make his decision Monday night.

Lee has been mulling over offers from both the Yankees and Rangers since late last week, weighing the pros and cons of a move from Texas to New York. The Yankees have offered a seven-year deal in excess of $160 million, while Texas is believed to have guaranteed six years.
I'm officially starting to hate this as much as LeBron's decision... At least we all knew the date that would happen.

Report: Yanks, Rangers A Bad Fit For Greinke

From Jerry Crasnick:
Once Lee makes his call, the focus will inevitably shift to Kansas City's Zack Greinke, a 27-year-old former Cy Young Award winner and everybody's favorite Plan B. The news on that front doesn't look good for either Texas or New York.

Baseball sources said that Kansas City general manager Dayton Moore is actively gauging the market for Greinke, and that both the Yankees and Rangers rank down the list of potential fits for Greinke. The reason: Neither team has enough of the commodity that Moore is seeking in trade.

The Royals have a wealth of pitching talent in the minor leagues, a hot first base prospect in Eric Hosmer, an elite young third baseman in Mike Moustakas and a hard-hitting catcher, Wil Myers, who is probably going to have to shift to the outfield in the majors. As a result, sources say, Moore has focused on adding up-the-middle position players who are close to major league ready. And neither the Yankees nor the Rangers provide the best match for Kansas City.

The Yankees do have three catchers -- Jesus Montero, Gary Sanchez and Austin Romine -- among their list of top prospects. Infield prospect Eduardo Nunez would likely be part of a Yankees trade package, and sources said that outfielder Brett Gardner's name has come up in conversations between the clubs. But it appears that package wouldn't be enough to pry Greinke loose from the Royals.
I know some of you would love Greinke in Pinstripes, but as I've mentioned many times I'm not high on Greinke in New York, so this report doesn't bother me at all.

Olney: Deal with Martin Imminent?

I find myself wondering what this means for Jesus Montero - I doubt that the Yankees would be pursuing Martin to simply serve as a back-up or mentor, and I'm positive that Martin could find a starting job elsewhere. Will Montero begin the season in Triple-A? Will he be in some sort of platoon with Martin? Will he serve as Martin's back-up? Or, more pessimistically, does this mean that he's on the trading block? After all, were the Yankees to whiff on Cliff Lee, Montero would be the Yankees best trading chip.